Game Development Cultivate

The Evolution of Digging

02 Mar 2020
Written by Jenny

Hello all!

This blog post is about the evolution of digging in Cutivate: Before Time.

We use a shader to give the digging a more organic feel - you can dig anywhere, and it’s not restricted to a grid.

We originally wanted this sort of non-tilemap-based style of digging, but when I explored the possibilities, I realised the best option was to write a shader to do this. At that time, I didn’t know much beyond the basics of shader writing, so we decided to use a tilemap:

Cultivate: Before Time's first digging design.

We’re using the Unity game engine to make Cultivate, which has a tilemap editor built in. It made writing the ‘click to draw the correct piece of tile” code relatively easy.

But we felt that the terrain looked too flat, so to add a sense of depth and texture, I wrote a simple shader that let us add detail to the tiles - it made a massive difference. Klei Entertainment’s Don’t Starve was an influence here as their tiles look amazing.

Cultivate: Before Time's second digging design.

We stuck with these tiles for a while, but kept going back to the idea of letting you click anywhere to dig, without the limitation of a grid/tiles. Between our first tilemap attempt and then, I learned a lot more about shaders. So I wrote a new tilemap shader that uses a particle system and render textures to change the texture. It adds earth wherever you click, and watering happens in a similar way:

We’re really pleased with how this looks now, but I expect I’ll keep tinkering with it!

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