[DevSpeak] A Clash of Styles


"At the beginning the idea was simple: we wanted a fusion, a mix of different themes. We wanted to create a clash, a conflict at the very visual level. After that, well it just took off from there."

                     Kee Zhang, Producer of Black Gold Online



Black Gold Online is a game of clashing worlds, and this finds no clearer realization than the game’s very particular art style. Our team in the Snail Games art department took on a unique challenge with Black Gold Online. As the concept began to take form, it became increasingly clear that the team would need to draw on a breadth of sources in a unique mix of styles to create the environment and the feel that we aimed to achieve: a land driven to conflict, as two worlds long separated clash over land, over values, and over the future of their world.


Steam Stylized


The Kingdom of Isenhorst is a realm of powerful technology seated in a rough and inhospitable environment. The people’s who live there have seen rough times as well as good, and it’s their technology that gives them purpose and hope. As we set out to develop the steam faction of the west, our team delved into the world of Victorian Steampunk fan fiction and art.


“We wanted the Steam faction to embody this optimism, this expansionism that took hold of the world at the turn of the century. Anything was possible. But there’s also this darker side – the resources are running dry. People are dabbling in tabooed things – dark magic, unnatural experiments and the like. This was the way Isenhorst was supposed to be.”


Steampunk styles mix with Wild West motifs


Set in a mix of sandy deserts and rugged mountains, the wilderness of Isenhorst looks much like a spaghetti western. Enter the cities, and you find interesting mix of high-collared trenchers, sputtering automobiles and brick and mortar buildings. From the armaments to the outfits, the Isenhorst finds happy balance of drab Victorian and dusty Western to create a mechanized kingdom of outlaws, rebels, mutants and monsters.


Victorian futurism in an epic conflict

A Natural Fit


As the counterweight to the Steampunk aesthetic, our team needed to find something to oppose the industrial and technology driven elements of the Kingdom of Isenhorst. Looking to the fantasy genre, we found an easy choice in the naturalist mysticism.



“Erlandir could be no further away from Isenhorst, they are opposites. Whereas Isenhorst is drawing on technology and machines, Erlandir’s power is all drawn from the elements and the environment. Isenhorst using some dark magic, but Erlandir’s magic is mystical and elemental, drawing on the forces of nature.”


Creating Erlandir began with this notion of nature and expanded from there. The world is full of lush forests, bountiful resources, and beasts, some used as the powerful Personal Carriers for their faction. Modeling powerful cultures with a connection to nature, Erlandir draws stylistic inspiration from Mayan, Polynesian, and stylized variations on tribal cultures to create a world of natural magic and wonder.


Natural forces pervade, both for good and evil


Melding together these two distinctive art styles was a challenge, but the art team at Snail Games rose to the challenge. The result has been a stylized and graphically stunning game, in which two worlds with two separate styles come together in a clash for control. It is an artistic concept and game play concept that sets Black Gold Online apart.