Frost Giant Studios’ Debut Mixes ‘Starcraft’ With ‘Diablo’

Frost Giant Studios, co-founded by former Blizzard real-time strategy masterminds Tim Morten and Tim Campbell, has finally unveiled the trailer for its first game, storm gatewhich will be in beta on Steam next year. The trailer gives a taste at the feel of this upcoming real-time strategy throwback.

This first look was just a teaser though, so I sat down with two key Frost Giant contributors, writer Mickey Neilson and assistant art director Jonathan Ryderto delve into the game’s backstory and discover how Frost Giant plans to follow in Blizzard’s footsteps without repeating his mistakes.

Low-Fi Sci-Fi

The first moments of the storm gate trailer evokes the feeling of starcraft† It’s in the ghostly blue hue of a holographic projector, the subtle murmurs of an AI assistant, and the thunderous arrival of a sturdy sci-fi mech suit. Rather than going for a purely retro aesthetic, the trailer combines high-resolution modern art with the rugged, lived-in feel that the starcraft franchisee. This is also carried through in the game itself, which is built on Unreal Engine 5.

“When it comes to design and art, when we see something futuristic, whether it’s a vehicle or a doodad on the map, you should be able to see what the function of that thing is by looking at it,” says Neilson.

Human technology in storm gate is defined by bulky armor, pouches, and useful but imperfect holograms. Weapons shoot bullets, not lasers, and armored suits fly the old-fashioned way: with a missile pack. Not only does this capture the feel of early Blizzard titles, but also, by extension, the inspirations of that studiolike the war game on the table Warhammer 40Kthe Alien franchise and the 1997 cult sci-fi movie Spaceship Troopers

That’s not to say Frost Giant’s approach is stuck in the ’90s, though. Frost Giant assistant art director Jonathan Ryder says the team is updating the low-fi aesthetic by guessing at the impact of more recent scientific breakthroughs.

“MIT created this bacterium that can create an electrical charge in a battery,” Ryder says. “So, we thought, what would 50, 60, 70 years of innovation in that area look like, if we used it for clean technology?” This speculation helps the team bend the rules of physics without losing touch with reality.

The trailer also reveals the Infernals, Stormgate’s distinctly different second faction. These creatures are inspired by another Blizzard franchise, diablo, and bring an unexpected dose of high fantasy. This seems contrary to the speculative realism of the human faction, but storm gate hopes to keep the Infernals rooted in the same logic by walking a line between sci-fi and fantasy.

“They use magic, so those questions are always there,” says Neilson. “How much of it is artifact, or how much of it is innate? Sometimes magic and science can kind of come together. When you cast a cold spell, does it draw from the moisture in the air to create that spell?”

It’s a toy box

Thanks to Frost Giant

stormgates mixture of starcraft and diablo reminds me of the random action figure box I used to duck into as a kid. yes I could just play with Ninja Turtles or Transformers alone, but it was more fun mashing them together.

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