When Balderich and I started worldbuilding for Drehmal five years ago, we had smaller ambitions. The lore was made to fit our friends’ survival world after I had said these simple words: “What if the oceans were like… gods?”. Avsohm didn’t exist, Maelihs was named Maelstrom, and the entire world was centered around Mossfield and the Order of Insohm. Your favorite yellow drake with a penchant for poetry was a total jokester that lacked a serious bone in his body… not like he ever had any bones.
It wasn’t until 2016 when Balderich and I had played the infamous Dark Souls series (well, I played Bloodborne first!) and discovered our love for game design. Games could be more than just fun, they could be deep and meaningful, they could be art, they could be life changing. Our vision for Drehmal shifted greatly at this time as we adapted it to a Souls-y formula of death and decay. As we grew into young adults, Drehmal changed, and so did the world around us. Conflict across the world was rising, misinformation corrupted the minds of many, and climate change was and still is a looming threat. Drehmal, soon to be renamed PRIMΩRDIAL, became a place where we could channel our frustrations into something meaningful. Something that we hoped others would enjoy and be inspired by.
It was also around this time that I had started learning WorldPainter. Experimenting, making small islands and landscapes. Eventually, I took up the task of remaking Drehmal as a hand crafted Minecraft map. After a lot of hard work and three months later…
Yeah. My first attempt wasn’t exactly stellar, but the groundwork was there. Balderich and I started making plans to turn this into an adventure map. We had huge ambitions of a massive Elder Scrolls style storyline that would take you across the map, talking with unique characters and visiting exotic locations, to culminate in an epic final battle that would decide the fate of the realm. One issue: We were still in the 8th grade. Our feeble minds dare not comprehend such grand achievements! Those plans fell through really quick.
PRIMΩRDIAL continued to expand and evolve during this time, however. We still wanted to create something special. Drehmal v0 was only our first attempt. Should we try again, or should we just give up?
I think you know what happens next. Plans were made for Drehmal v1 as my knowledge of WorldPainter deepened. I had learned a lot from making v0 and could apply that to make something far more refined. Our scope was decreased from what it was in v0, but that was ok, because we could actually do it this time. Well, so we thought. Steam ran out and we both stopped working on the project. Again, a Drehmal adventure map was put on the backburner as we lived our early high school lives.
We decided midway through 2017 that we should just touch up v1 a bit and release it. Just to get the name out there and see what would happen. The map got some attention, but it was just another mediocre WorldPainter map with a couple structures here and there. But hey - people showed interest! People saw that Drehmal v1 was a good WorldPainter map. With our spirits lifted, we got to work on another Drehmal adventure map yet again. This time, it would utilize mods such as CustomNPCs and Antique Atlas.
Again, those plans failed. We got very little into the project before we gave up. The idea of it was pretty cool though - Terraria styled progression through themed dungeons in the east and west, both entirely different ways to ‘complete’ the map. With our heads hung low, I vowed to never touch WorldPainter again.
On January 3rd, 2019, I messaged Balderich over Discord with these simple words: “im bored so im gonna make drehmal 3.0” (Called 3.0 because v0 was technically v1, v1 was v2, etc. This is why the download file for v1 is called Drehmal2.4!).
Things were different this time. We had a plan. A concrete plan. After we had both played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, we had something to base this new adventure map on. Something that hadn’t been done before to this scale. All thirteen originally planned towns, hundreds of biome structures, epic weapons with special abilities, fast travel, custom trades, loot tables, a main quest, and an epic final dungeon?! This was already larger than any of our plans for v1, both the vanilla and modded ones. But dammit, we weren’t gonna give up this time.
Well, we almost gave up a few times. Using WorldPainter for 3-6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for almost an entire year is both physically and mentally taxing. But I had to do it. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than stellar like in v0 and v1. The terrain had to be something special. It had to take gameplay into consideration, it had to have places to build survival bases, it needed spots for towns, structures, and it needed a natural gameplay flow. I had a vision for Drehmal v1: WorldPainter maps too often strive for realism and ignore gameplay, and Drehmal will be the opposite of that. Drehmal v2 was going to take that to the extreme, while also doubling the size of the original map.
Each biome needed unique trees. Each biome needed unique terrain. Every couple hundred blocks needed some sort of unique terrain feature that was entirely different from anything else in the map. Iterate upon previous ideas but with different trees and terrain types, or with slight tweaks. Oh, I need to make sure that every single item is obtainable! Concrete mountains! Coral reefs! Dead coral mountains! Concrete powder mountains! Rainbow desert! Slime island! MEAT BIOME! Everything needed to be perfect.
The map got complex very quickly. I had over a hundred layers, a hundred terrain types, a hundred different brushes. It got to the point where WorldPainter simply could not handle the complexity of it. There were a couple times where I lost a day's worth of work because of memory leaks or crashes. Yet, defiant against the limitations of WorldPainter (and equipped with a new gaming PC), I persisted.
Nearly a year later, the terrain was complete, and work began on populating the map with structures, towns, and dungeons. Luckily, we had enough foresight to build a lot of these ahead of time, so the rest of the map would only have to wait another… four months to be complete. But we were very efficient. Some towns were done in a day, entire biomes populated in a week. Command blocks and datapacks were set up, and everything was coming together. Soon, it would be showtime. Soon, we would see if Drehmal would finally see success.
On March 31st, 2020, we released Drehmal v2: PRIMΩRDIAL.
Balderich and I waited in anticipation to see if our work had finally paid off. Comments started to come in. At first, it was our friends hyping us up. Then, we started getting diamonds and favorites. People started commenting in amazement, praising the map. In under a month, we surpassed Drehmal v1’s popularity. Someone made a public Discord and linked it in the PMC comments. Soon, a small community began to form. Some were simply baffled by the scope and size of the map, but others looked a little deeper and discovered troves of lore. An entire timeline? A deep, rich history? Dozens of deities? In a Minecraft map?! I mean, it wasn’t perfect, far from it even, but it was a huge achievement for us.
A lot has happened since then. Drehmal has reached the front page of Reddit, been featured in articles, gained a strong active community, and more. 2.1 was released 8 months after 2.0 dropped, improving many aspects of the map. We grew a small dev team which slowly accumulated more members. 2.2 is well underway, and with the help of 5 builders, a programmer, a texture artist, and a composer, it’s going to bring Drehmal to new heights.
5 years ago, we started work on Drehmal as a universe.
4 years ago, we made Drehmal v0.
3 years ago, we made Drehmal v1.
2 years ago, we started work on Drehmal v2.
1 year ago, we released Drehmal v2.
I can’t believe it. I truly can’t. This stupid little worldbuilding project became something meaningful and lifechanging. It’s hard to grasp, really. I’m living it. I’m living my dream. I’m making something I love with people who are just as passionate as me. Drehmal, the child I raised, had been shown to the world, and the world accepted it.
Words cannot describe how much I appreciate all of you. My life would be completely different and worse off if it wasn’t for this amazing community keeping me motivated. While March 31st will be a day of celebration for Drehmal itself, every other day of the year is a celebration for you guys. You guys are the reason I’m still here, doing what I love. You guys are the reason why the entire dev team is so passionate about this nerdy hobby. For that, we are forever grateful.
Thank you for your time, and have fun when 2.2: APOTHEOSIS drops later this year. We know you’ll love it.