Dangers of the garbage islands

Lately I’ve been exploring lots of different design ideas for creatures that might appear in the game. I’d like to show a glimpse into this process, so here is the first entry in a series about the art of Flotsam!

This post will cover some ideas about the dangerous creatures of the garbage islands. I thought of a lot of different things initially, like large salt-water alligators that would nest in floating trash, hiding their eggs within it. Or a slug-like animal engulfed in garbage that spits corrosive trash-juice at passers by.

The initial brainstorming session inevitably gave birth to some improbable ideas, so I decided to think about it more from the gameplay perspective, to narrow down concepts I thought would be worthwhile to expand upon.

I want dangers to be somewhat noticeable to the player, but still not obvious. I definitely don’t want players to be frustrated because their drifters die inexplicably. On the other hand, I really want to strike the proper balance between risk and reward: the player should be tempted to approach a garbage island, for resources and rare materials, but weary and cautious at the same time.

Here’s one of the first sketches I made with this in mind:

Sea lurker fish flotsam creature

This creature hides in the floating garbage, where it waits quietly among valuable wreckage for its prey. When something brushes up against its whisker-tentacles, like an unsuspecting salvager, the fish quickly snaps at it, kind of like if it were fishing for humans!

In order to make these dangerous islands more attractive to the player, the wreckage you collect here will be quite valuable, like fuel from a plane crash, or engine parts from other broken down vehicles.

Here is another image showing the full design and some of the different types of wreckage these fish would be guarding:



The next idea came from a good friend of mine at Skarfox studios.
Here, we approached it a bit differently:



For this design, I wanted the teeth to clearly act as a visual warning to the player, so they know the resources in between them will be valuable. This venus flytrap-like lurker, would snap your villager right off the water if its precious loot is touched. However the player can choose to ignore the rare wreckage, and collect the many lesser materials around the creature. The trigger for the mouth snapping shut could be the tongue, or the teeth, so the sea being calm or agitated, could be an important factor that the player needs to take into account.

This is the game this kind of feature reminds me of:

Operation game sarlacc flotsam creature

Many things can still be explored as far as large garbage-island-dwelling monsters go, and I’ll be sure gameplay always comes first in designing these creatures.

Not all dangers come from below, however! I’m sure you recognize this tragically happy seagull from our header:


seagull creature flotsam


Well, we’re planning a feature with these and garbage islands as well, more on that next time!

And that about wraps it up for today!


A lot can still change, and as always, comments and suggestions are very much welcome!