Good morning all. I’m Michel Ziegler, the creator and developer of Mundaun, a folklore-inspired horror game and my first full title as a one-man game development studio!
Mundaun has been a passionate project for me ever since I started development in 2014. Every character, scene and even the environmental textures in the game are hand drawn – you can imagine how many designs I have had to do over the years. .
It’s amazing to finally share the game with all of you after working on it for so many years. Creating a game as a single player developer has certainly been an exciting journey, with a lot of ups and downs.
Collect references for inspiration
The Alps are of particular importance to me, and everything from Mundaun’s history to its people and surroundings celebrates the remarkable culture of the Swiss region of Grisons. Mundaun draws heavily on the rich mythical and cultural history of the Alps and pays homage to the oppressive atmosphere of works like “The Black Spider” by Jeremias Gotthelf.
To do this I have tried to collect as many books and references for many of the items I have included in the game. I have searched thrift stores over the years and must have collected at least 50 books with it. old photographs of rural life in the Alps, which are my biggest visual inspirations for the look of the game. The atmosphere that these black and white images have, for me, is a window to an almost different world, and I wanted to immerse myself in the world in a certain way.
Locating real places
The Mundaun Chapel was the very first thing I modeled for the game. I didn’t really have a plan for a game, but I started to create this little piece of a world that had a chapel, and the ideas kept flowing from there.
It’s still one of my favorite places in the game, and one where you can see the game is all hand drawn. Everything from the ceiling to the windows and the benches was inspired by this Chapel of Platenga, which is full of these incredible drawings and paintings. It’s like a drawing inside the game.
Another place in the game is the Painter’s House, which is a real house that was built and used by an artist named Alois Carigiet in the 1950s. He was a well-known Swiss painter and illustrator of children’s books. He put a variety of designs on the walls of the house, one of which inspired an in-game puzzle, which makes you try to enter the mysterious cellar of the painter’s house.
There are several real references like this in the game, and it was helpful to work outside of those places to make the world feel more real. I would go to these places about three to four times a year to walk around, gather ideas and create reference photos from interesting things I encountered, including buildings, signs, small objects, rocks. and wood burnt by the sun.
Draw everything by hand
I first studied software engineering and worked in this field for a few years. It didn’t really suit me and I had always wanted to create something, so I decided that I wanted to learn to draw for the purpose of creating comics. I hadn’t drawn anything since I was a kid, so I had to learn and entered BA Illustration in Lucerne, Switzerland.
I have this deep passion for drawing because I love the complicated process with an element of randomness. Everything from sketches, to stains and eraser marks, there’s an element of surprise you discover as you work, and they feel natural to the process of creating. The process of hand-drawing textures and the resulting aesthetic is really close to my heart.
Real scares in Mundaun
There’s this old hotel in Mundaun that I remember as a kid that’s been abandoned for some time now and reminds me of the one in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”; in fact, the first sequence of the game sees players arriving in Mundaun by bus, which was very inspired by the movie.
The whole area around the hotel, with the barns and the surrounding nature, has served as inspiration for the world. While we were filming a special behind-the-scenes documentary, we were exploring the land around the hotel at night – probably not the smartest idea, come to think of it – when a light in the hotel went on. is on, and we started to hear children’s voices. It was certainly very strange.
Challenges as a solo developer
Early in the game’s development cycle, I hit that tipping point knowing I had to finish it. But there were always times of doubt and desperation when I felt I couldn’t finish what I intended to do. Game development, especially as a solo creator, is an emotional roller coaster.
But I really love this world, and seeing it deepen and develop has been a big motivator over the years.
Fortunately, I was able to collaborate with talented people to help see the game through to completion and bring it to market, including story co-author Gabrielle Alioth, music composer Michel Barengo, the sound design artist Eric Lorenz, programmers Ryan Miller, Simon Hischier and Petr Karbula, and the wonderful team at MWM Interactive.