“Elden Ring” features one of the largest and densest gaming worlds in recent memory, yet it’s also one of the most efficiently planned, according to many game developers.
The efficient reuse of monsters, buildings, props, and other assets by FromSoftware throughout “Elden Ring’s” Lands Between has caused debate among game developers. “A few modifications in important props and imagery,” according to Katie Chironis, lead world designer at Riot Games, may create “several different-feeling regions.”
“Many points of interest are similar or identical but are dressed a little differently; you’d never notice Roderika’s initial shack shares its pieces with the artist’s shack and the first shack you find in Caelid,” Chironis said on Twitter.
“Elden Ring“, according to Chironis and numerous other developers, uses tool-generated buildings as a base, possibly utilizing the aptly titled tool Houdini and then retouching the results to add some more vim. The specific development process used by FromSoftware is undisclosed, but there’s little doubt that the studio had it down to a science while developing “Elden Ring’s” obscenely enormous environment.
“They do a lot with fog, weather, lighting, and color grading to set each area apart too,” added Tom Farnsworth, senior design lead at Bungie. “Shows how important it is to know what’s actually distinct to a player’s perceptions vs adding needless variety and detail. Third-person makes this much simpler too.”
“Elden Ring” is “one of the greatest asset reuse case studios” out now, according to Bruno Dias of Failbetter Games, who also commended how well FromSoftware separates reused assets. As Dias put it, “the familiar churches are interwoven into their environment – they have local plants growing on them, or they’re fucked up and blasted in the unique manner the local area has been fucked up and blasted.” Dias underlined to GamesRadar that he doesn’t work closely with this type of asset flow and was only making general remarks, but his points speak to FromSoftware’s overall approach and have been mirrored by many other devs.
Others have noticed that “Elden Ring” not only makes the most of its own assets, but also repurposes art from earlier FromSoftware games, with various foes, bosses, animations, and more making cameo appearances in the Lands Between without looking out of place. Asset reuse is frequently mislabeled as a copout or a filthy term, while in truth, as “Elden Ring” and many other games indicate, it’s a common and valuable technique that can allow for more ambitious games and shorter development timeframes. Consider how much smaller the Lands Between would be if everything had been built from the ground up, and how much longer it would have taken to create.