I cant wait to see my Dorfromantik dioramas quite right. Others seem to be capable of making their rural idylls look balanced and organized. Villages and farms are rounded while rivers warmly. For me, it''s opposite way around. Floats are scattered across the landscape in yellow lines.
It chafes particularly because they were all familiar with Dorfromantik''s bucolic landscape. By placing hexagonal puzzle pieces so that the edges line up tree to tree, field to field, and home to home, you build out these landscapes, and score points for keeping the jigsaw aligned. Every so often a tile will come with a quest, like turning it into a farm with 50 fields, and completing these gives you more tiles. You can play until you run out.
The whole game is played with a top-down view, presenting the land as a puzzle and art piece. Its beauty is an important component of its design, and it''s clearly been carefully examined by developers. Forests, villages, and little steam trains on rickety railways are in. While the only progress is further tile and overview aesthetics for completing certain tasks across multiple play sessions. Wheat fields might become lavender; towns might be speckled with tiny pumpkins. But these fundamentalities are unchangeable
Even the word Dorfromantik itself refers to a specific type of romanticization. It, according to Zwi Zauch, represents the kind of nostalgic feeling you receive when you travel in the countryside. It''s not surprising, therefore, that there are no skyscrapers or cars. However, what we were nostalgic for does not come from a vacuum.
Barbara Bender, a landscape producer, discusses how we make static landscape representations as something to be observed and what they miss out. No landscape has a single meaning; it is experienced differently by everyone who sees it, participates in it, or simply envisions it. The farm worker, the farm owner, the day walker, the wild camper, and the gamer differ in artistic representations.
Dorfromantik''s flooring features many people: food, the houses they live in, and the trains they carry, but they aren''t just passengers. We never see the individuals, and how they may all experience the breathtaking world they live in a little different.
It is a game that transforms the countryside into a play space, allowing the player to be a cocreator in its representation. And here are some of the truths that are concealed. When you have a mandate to both create a village of more than one hundred houses and a stream worth ten tiles, and you get a tile with both a stream and a cluster of houses, where should it go?
The objectives themselves have the influence and the pull of the political. Undoubtedly, connecting up as many trees as possible is a good thing for the (imagined) wildlife of the game. In the real world, theres been a push to develop forest corridors so that animals can travel between otherwise isolated areas of habitat, increasing species social groups, and reducing competition for resources. Making a sprawling town, perhaps not so much.
The concept of cocreation continues within the aesthetic limitations of the game itself. Nowhere is this more evident than in farm systems. Im not adept at the British patchwork, but by crisscrossing hedgerows. It''s clear why the Dorfromantik developers lack the same resentment to shrubbery.
Dorfromantik has its own contested meanings. As an aesthetic object, it bakes in assumptions about landscape and nostalgia. As a puzzle it may raise questions about interpretation and land usage.
Possibly that''s why all my forests and fields lie. I cannot want to make an area one representation. Where a neatly rounded village there is no space for a corridor of trees. Where fields walk off into the distance there is a blank space on one side of them, where I can imagine people gathering: workers on their lunch break mingling with children and dogs. Each experiencing the space differently, each understanding it in their own way.
This is, too, a naive representation, though. Perhaps everything ends up in lines just because Im missing hedges.