The Sinking City is an open-world investigation game with a Lovecraftian twist, set in the 1920s in Oakmont, Massachusetts, a city plagued by flood. And not just any floods: Supernatural floods. It's the biggest game ever made by Ukrainian developer Frogwares, which has previously developed a number of Sherlock Holmes games and the 2013 Portal-esque Magrunner: Dark Pulse. With its first public showcase about to take place at GDC and EGX, the studio has released a trailer looking at the challenges of creating a demo that will properly showcase what the game is all about.
The goal, the narrator says, is to show off as much "diversity" as possible: "Diversity of gameplay features, and cultural aspects as well." At first the developers intended to make a new quest set in a small, standalone area specifically for the GDC presentation, but the idea of putting all that effort into something that would be thrown away after the show didn't sit right. Instead, they opted to use a slice of the in-game map, cordoned off and tightened up to make it suitable for the demo: "A more or less finished and polished part of the map that we can use in our final product."
Interestingly, the biggest challenge proved to be lighting, although given the subject matter I suppose it's not entirely surprising. The team eventually employed "professional photo artists" to help nail down the visuals they were looking for.
It's an interesting look at the work that goes into making a demo, and also of their importance. For our more immediate interests, the video also provides a good look at the game itself, which does seem visually impressive, and could be very interesting if it comes together properly: BioShock meets LA Noire crossed with Cthulhu fhtagn is expecting a lot, but that's what I want and if this comes close, I'm in.