To start with, in case you're not familiar with Whitby Abbey, I'll do a small image dump to bring you up to speed.
We cool? With the Abbey itself the immediate difference is that the building in our level is far less ruined than in reality and we felt it would be cool to visualise what the Abbey would have perhaps looked like during the setting of the novel and indeed through out the rest of the level we have a few small nods towards Stoker's story. While the Abbey may be more built up it's architecture remains faithful to what stands today and from the illustrations provided to us by the British Library however there were still a lot of elements that we didn't have reference for and that was mainly the roof and higher regions of the interior. Then the next major feature of the abbey that we've altered is how overgrown the abbey is, today the area is rather well maintained however we felt an overgrown aesthetic would provide a far more exciting setting for the player to experience.
We also made some large changes to the landscape and while the placement of the buildings largely remains identical to how it is we exaggerated the position of the Abbey to the cliff and the elevation changes to further emphasis certain features. The geography of the Abbey's position was a tad flat we felt and we could make it far more exciting for the player if it was more inline with some of the old illustrations of the abbey specifically the one shown below. We felt the Abbey's position on the clifftop would be far more dramatic if it sat almost on the edge of the cliff. The height of the Abbey in relation to the surrounding complex was something we felt could be used to really increase the Abbey's command of the area and as a side affect of this allowed for a smoother transition from the cloister to the crypt as they now roughly sat at the same level.
The surrounding foliage is far more wild with a couple of trees to help compose and direct the layer along the path. Most of the land around the Abbey is either residential or farmland and while we retained this for our background we believed we could create something that fell more inline with the tone we were aiming for.
Within our level the clifftop and Abbey is the areas that have seen perhaps the least amount of artistic integrity and as I continue with this series following with the cloister and ending on the crypt I'll hopefully be able to elaborate on more of our artistic judgement regarding our level. I'd also like to think this will offer a little bit of insight into the decisions we made and the reason we made them.