Work In Progress / 26 September 2023

Project Chronovia WIP - Mortisoria, Kingdom of Ruin

This blog post covers the development process of Project Chronovia's first area, Mortisoria. Mortisoria is the Kingdom of Ruin, located on the lower region of the world map. The lands in Mortisoria are the most affected by Deus Nibiru's corruption, making its dark wastelands the largest source of Neonicite. This glowing ore grows from the corruption and is used as a power source by the Vaelthur Empire.

I started with the Mortisoria area, as Mortisoria serves as the beginning of Project Chronovia's narrative and is also one of the least complex areas to make, allowing for further experimentation when it comes to asset creation and the overall aesthetic of the project.

My Process

For Mortisoria, I divided the area into sections and focused on one section at a time. To plan each section, I began by creating blockout landscapes in Unreal Engine, screenshotting, and drawing some concept sketches on top of them. As the narrative follows a refugee escaping from the Kingdom of Mortisoria, I wanted the Ashlands section to be the opening point for this narrative, with the character camping in a cave and the kingdom in the background. Following the Ashlands is the Mortisoria Mire and the entrance to the mountain ruins.

Concept Sketch for the Ashlands section; some models added for height reference
Mire & mountain entrance concept sketch

The sketches also help me understand what assets need to be created to make each area.

Once I have finished the concept sketches, I can begin creating the 2D and 3D assets needed to populate the scene. My process for achieving the pixel-3D look slightly differs from how you would typically create 3D assets. For these assets, I will start with creating the textures/tilesheets and then create the 3D models using these textures rather than the typical modelling and texturing afterwards. I feel this workflow is more efficient for this art style and allows me to create all the models in the scene with only one 256x256 texture.

For the pixel art textures, I use a combination of Photoshop and Aseprite. I use Aseprite to draw all the tiles, normal, roughness and emission maps, which I then consolidate into one 256x256 tile map in Photoshop. I then take this texture into Blender to create the 3D assets, which are then exported and ready to be imported into Unreal Engine.

In Unreal Engine, I begin by setting up Materials for both models, VFX and landscape tools. Once set up, I start level-dressing with terrain painting, placing the 3D assets into the scene based on the designs, and adjusting to get the best result possible. When the scene composition is complete, I add lighting, VFX and post-processing to finish the scene. Finally, I will begin polishing by slightly adjusting the completed scene as needed for the final render.


Mortisoria Ashlands

The Mortisoria Ashlands is a dark wasteland where the kingdom of Mortisoria is located. The terrain is composed of floating debris of the planet, sharp, jagged rock formations and fissures glowing with the corruption of Deus Nibiru.

This image showcases the introductory area of Project Chronovia. Here, you can see the cave where the refugee has taken up camp, with the manacing kingdom of Mortisoria looming in the background.

Mortisoria Mire

The Mortisoria Mire is the swamp surrounding the kingdom of Mortisoria, filled with the bones and remains of those stuck in its muddy terrain. As Mortisoria represents Deus Nibiru, the god of death and destruction, I wanted to incorporate the theme of death into this environment.

The tree of Mortisoria, where the cultists of Mortisoria hang traitors and outsiders as a sacrifice to Deus Nibiru.
Throughout the Mire are large mushrooms grown from spores blown into the area from the mountain ruins.

Mountain Ruins (Entrance)

The mountain ruins are an abandoned ancient civilisation that an overgrowth of various fungi species has taken over. For this area/next area, I wanted to move away from the more generic biomes you usually find in other fantasy game worlds and create something more unique to this project.

The entrance to the mountain ruins is covered in spores and the growth of fungi.
The ruined stairway and gateway leading into the mountain ruins.


My biggest challenge with this project has been the scope of my project versus the time constraints of the due dates. While my project is progressing well, as I began production, I realised that the asset creation process takes much longer than I initially anticipated based on my prototype stage. I have managed to speed up some asset creation by re-using textures from other areas and modifying them slightly to suit the areas I use them for. However, while this has helped, it still hasn't sped up the production enough for me to complete the creation of the entire world as I originally planned. Because of this, I have decided to focus on one area at a time and create the final render up to whichever area I finish up with. I have decided to do this so I don't have to sacrifice the quality of each area by rushing to complete them on time. That said, I hope to complete the Mountain Ruins and Vaelthur Empire capital city areas and the animation sequences by the due date (October 20th). I also plan to continue the project and finish the render with all areas as a proof of concept for a game world and as a portfolio piece by the end of this year.

Overall, I am pleased with the results I have achieved within the time constraints I have been set and have made various improvements to my workflows as each area is completed. The most notable improvement I have made is with foliage - In my prototype, foliage was a static plane model with a grass texture applied. Now, my foliage consists of multiple planes with a grass texture. I also modified the material applied to the model in Unreal Engine that uses a wind node plugged into the world position offset of the material to give the effect that the grass is lightly blowing in the wind. I then continued using this material on other objects that the wind may move as I created new areas.

Thanks for reading. 

I look forward to posting more progress soon. Otherwise, you can track my progress on Trello here.