Journey Log #06 - Before the Frontier

[This Journey Log comes from Sandcaster, guest hosting for Zantai! Sandcaster is one of the artists who’s been working on Farthest Frontier since the beginning of its development.]

Your new settlement in the wilderness is off to a strong start, but today we’re going to look at what happened in the past, before your people set out for the frontier. We are excited to tell you a bit of their story in our animated intro cinematic!

With the story cinematic, we wanted to give you some ambiguous context as to how your people got where they are but deliberately avoided being overly specific, so you can imagine your own origin story and fill in the details yourself.

The Old World

In the old world, life was harsh and cruel. Famine, poverty, and squalor plagued the lives of your settlers in their homeland. Overcrowded cities, swarmed with rats, bred deadly diseases. Meanwhile, outside the walls, farmers in their fields struggled to produce enough to sustain the population, leaving many hungry.

What little food and wealth the people could produce inevitably found its way into the hands of the ruling class. These tyrants clutched the reins of power, levying harsher and harsher taxes to satisfy their greed and gluttony.

Some of the gravest threats to your settlers came not in the form of famine or disease, but in bands of hostile raiders. These marauders would burn and pillage settlements outside the city walls, leaving only smoking destruction in their wake. Worse yet, the ruling class withheld their armies behind the safety of their walls, seeing the suffering of the farmers as beneath their notice.

After one such attack, a group of people who would become your settlers looked at the ruin of their homes, and decided that enough was enough. It was time to strike out on their own, forsaking the relative safety and certainty of the life they knew, in the hopes they could build a better life for themselves in the farthest frontier.

Their journey took them through deep forests, over craggy mountains, and across endless plains. They marched through the seasons, following their covered wagon filled with everything they could bring from their homeland, through mud and snow and wind and rain. The elements and the grueling journey claimed many lives along the way.

Until at last, as the snow thawed and the warm sunlight of spring illuminated the landscape before them, they knew they had arrived. This would be the land they would come to call home, and that they would tend to, so that their future generations might survive, prosper, and flourish.

Behind the Scenes

Creating this animated cinematic was a long process that began just over a year ago! We wanted to tell more about the context of Farthest Frontier, what brought your settlers to this new land, and why they had decided to brave the elements to start a new settlement.

The first step of the process was creating the script. Medierra had a general idea of the story he wanted to tell with this cinematic, and wrote out the dialogue. I worked with him to translate the story and dialogue into rough ideas for visuals, and we began to get a sense of the length and amount of shots we were looking at.

We took our rough draft of the script and reached out to an animator. Together, we refined our early ideas into specific descriptions for each shot. The visuals began to take shape to match the dialogue.

Then, our animator translated the written-out descriptions of each shot into rough grayscale sketches, then broke them apart into layers and added camera movement. We added temporary voiceover to match the script we’d written, to ensure that the timings of the animations would be in the right ballpark once we got a voice actor to record the final dialogue.

From there, I painted second drafts of each shot, iterating on the rough work we had already done. I still kept everything in grayscale and very undetailed, but this let me plan out the layers I would need to paint in the final draft and get everything organized. We refined the animations and camera movements from our earlier drafts using these new layers.

In the meantime, we worked with Skewsound to produce a brand-new music track and record professional voiceover. We revised the script to get it ready for the voice actor - they have specific formatting requirements!

At last it was time to start painting the final artwork, colors and all. I went through each shot and added color and refinement to the grayscale rough layers I’d already painted. I tried to add as much detail as I could fit in to tell as much of the story as I could visually.

Here’s one extra tidbit you may not know: creating a 2D animation that feels like it has realistic depth can be challenging, so we ended up creating scenes in 3D space with each of the painted layers applied to cards. This way, camera movements would feel that much more natural and convincing.

And in the end, final artwork, animation, voiceover and music came together to create the finished product at last. We hope you’ve enjoyed watching the story of the settlers of the Farthest Frontier!

Eager to learn more about Farthest Frontier? Check back on 07/04/2022 for the next Journey Log!


Love hearing the background to how gaming stuff is made, be it scenery, sound fxs or a trailer like this one. Thanks for this Sandcaster. I hope you’re pleased with the result after all your hard work on it. :slightly_smiling_face: You’ve given us a real treat.


Thought it might’ve been something like this but seeing it unfolded is absolutely wild.

Really cool stuff here!



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I have a question to the devs: I remember ‘taxes’ being mentioned in some Journer Log and I wonder if there’s an actual income simulation, including money supply and things like that, like the case in the Victoria series. I know the game is going more into the Banished/Anno direction and not the Paradox games one level of complexity, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Anyway, very excited for FF. City builders are one of my favorite genres along with rpgs, so it seems Crate will keep being my favorite studio for quite some time.

Edit: by an income simulation I mean workers and villagers actually having salaries, spending their money in the market and on taxes, the global money supply being limited (I see gold is one of the goods, perhaps it’s use its to actually mint new coins and such).