This adorable WIP project is like Townscaper with castles

A little castle on a little hill
(Image credit: Anastasia Opara)

Ruined castles on lonely hills are hardly a rare sight in games. But never have they looked so delightful as procedural artist Anastasia Opara's generative ruins, which promise to one day let us cobble together our own delightful diorama forts.

Opara started working on the project around the end of 2021 as an experiment in procedural generation, generating curved castle walls on a blank background. Even at this early, desaturated stage, you can already see the tactile joy of snaking castle walls around start to take shape—and it would only grow from there.

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Subsequent updates would add paths (and archways where paths and wall intersect), uneven terrain that blooms into hills and cliffsides, rocky decorations and some properly lush looking grass. While initially just a weekend project, ongoing positive feedback convinced Opara to build it out into a proper, tiny building game.

Every month, Opara posts an update with what's new, be it terrain editing, winding paths, or a delightfully animated undo system. While ostensibly 'just' a game about drawing walls and hills, Opara's wee game already feels a lot like Townscaper—another tiny toy for building architectural dioramas, but one that trades grid-like seaside towns for more naturalistic scenes

They are lovely scenes, at that. We're spoilt rotten for ruined castles up here in Scotland, but the sight of seeing an old tower or crumbling wall jut out of a field or forest never gets old. As the wind blows long grass against Opara's procedural rubble, you feel the same excitement at discovering something lost and mysterious—even if it was generated by a computer 15 seconds ago.

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It's an apt comparison too, considering Townscaper developer Oskar Stålberg similarly developed the game publically on Twitter. It's a trend I'm really appreciating as of late—game development is often treated as an absolute black box, but getting to see developers publically experiment on their games from start to finish really de-mystifies the process. 

Opara's little castles have already come a long way, but I'm excited to see where she takes them next. I want to see how complex these ruins will get, how malleable the landscapes around them can become. I'm excited by the idea that one day I'll be able to tinker with my very own tiny castles, knowing how much they've grown since that humble weekend project.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.