‘Skald: Against the Black Priory’ is an old-school roleplaying game that combines modern design and a fully realized narrative with authentic 8-bit looks and charms.
Delve into a dark fantasy world, full of tragic heroes, violent deaths and Lovecraftian, cosmic horror. Explore an engaging, branching story mixed with rich exploration and crunchy, tactical, turn-based combat that will seem familiar yet innovative to RPG fans, old and new.
The game is currently in development and but coming soon. Skald is being published by Raw Fury.
Check out the store-page today and feel free to wishlist and play the free demo:
Greetings one and all! I hope this finds all you fellow RPG nerds well! I think it’s about time for me to emerge from my developer’s cave and write a little bit of a project update!
In case you’re reading this and don’t know what we’re talking about, you can start out by checking out the SKALD demo on Steam (and don’t forget to wishlist):
Skald has been making the news! We’ve gotten a round of some fantastic, organic coverage in the last few weeks and truly there is no better feeling for a solo-developer than to have people talk about your project in such glowing terms! A few of the bigger ones are PC-Gamer, Eurogamer and CRPG YouTuber Mortismal Gaming.
And best of all: These are just the biggest ones! There’s been a score of other content creators and gaming-sites talking about the game lately and I truly couldn’t be happier.
In a world where discoverability is likely the largest hurdle to indie success, word of mouth has once again become tremendously important.
There are so many things I could (and probably should) be talking about that it’s hard to choose. True to form I picked some of the things that are at the top of my head and those are some of the secondary systems in the game. For today I chose camp mechanics, crafting and magic items.
The idea of your party sitting around a warm campfire with a belly full of stew and a pipe stuffed with fine pipe-weed sharing stories of battles past is just so appealing to me.
Beyond that, camping also serves as a way of reinforcing the game-loop that is essential to RPGs: You occasionally need to take a break from adventuring to rest, recover and restock!
Camping in Skald serves as a way to recover lost resources and clear the injury conditions that accumulate during combat: You can recover lost vitality easily enough (by using spells) but if you get hit hard enough you may end up with injuries. These make adventuring harder and eventually you’ll need to make camp to recover!
You can either pay to sleep at an inn or, more commonly, you’ll be resting in the wild! Most surface areas are usable for resting (no sleeping in dungeons).
During rest, you need to feed the party. If you have less than the required food available, the party will not recover fully (providing only 50% of the food will only restore 50% lost Vitality etc). This means that gathering and crafting food is a good idea (more on that later).
In addition to eating, your party can also be put to work with camp activities! Activities like foraging for supplies, fletching arrows and training or entertaining other party members makes different classes and skills shine.
Camp logistics not your jam? Well, the game comes with a powerful set of difficulty settings allowing you to disable the food requirement so you can get the exact RPG experience YOU want!
As it’s already been featured in the demo, the crafting system is not really “new”. However this system has been recontextualized a bit with the introduction of camping because it influences the use of food in the game.
A character needs to eat 10 “points” of food per night. Eating a raw potato might give 1 point of food. Eating a bowl of vegetable stew might offer 10 points. So in other words, even though you can chomp down on raw ingredients, your characters’ lives become A LOT easier if you cook for them. Also, I’m making no promises here but I would just LOVE to give party members favorite foods. I’m trying to decide what Roland would like. Perhaps something sweet? Or sausage?
Oh and I also added alchemy to the game! Gather ingredients like flowers, monster parts and fungi and use them to create potions!
So how does it work?
Gather ingredients and examine them to learn which go together to craft new items! You can experiment with combining ingredients and you don’t lose them if you fail so there’s no reason to not play around. It’s a bit of a mini game and I find it to be a lot of fun. You can also find scrolls with recipes on them that automatically unlocks the recipe.
As it currently works, you always succeed at crafting if you attempt a valid recipe. However depending on your crafting skill and the item’s complexity there is also a chance that you get a superior result (more than one new item for instance ).
All in all, I’m happy with the system. It doesn’t take up much space and if you don’t want to deal with it you don’t have to. But if you do chose to interact with it, it adds a layer of logistics that I personally enjoy a lot in games like this. Actually having to plan out the expedition to the nearby dungeon adding in stops for resting and making sure you’re carrying enough raw materials to craft the consumables you need as you delve into the darkness is my jam.
I’ve also been giving a lot of love to magic items lately. This one might be a bit divisive: There will be a lot of procedurally created and semi-randomly placed magic items in the game.
I know a lot of you don’t like this and I can certainly sympathize. In an ideal world, every item would be lovingly hand-crafted and placed in the world. The problem with this is that it takes a lot of time. As in A LOT a lot.
The result would be much fewer items to be found and after testing this game for hours on end my conclusion is that the game works better with more items even if that means they are procedurally created and placed.
Just to be clear: The fact that most items are procedural in the game does not mean there isn’t also the occasional hand crafted item to be found. Also, magic items are not dropped from random encounters. Once the game starts a set number of items are placed in the world and these remain static. The game does NOT feature Diablo-style grinding for loot-drops and there is no way to save-scum the system.
I’m going to make every effort to keep a close eye on the system here to make for a balanced and interesting distribution of magic items and I feel pretty certain that it will work out for the best in the end.
And there we go! A summary of three fairly nerdy subjects that I’m sure will be of interest to at least three of you!
Flashiest stuff first: I’ve spend endless hours writing coding and polishing the game and we’ve put together a little teaser for you all to show of a little sliver of it:
Secondly, we’ve officially set a launch-date for spring 2024. We originally had our sights set on late 2023 but the Elder Gods simply laughed. For me this is good news however as it will mean more time to make the game a great experience for all!
Thirdly, we’ve updated the demo on Steam and GOG (huzza)! This will be a lot shorter than the old demo but also a bit more representative in terms of features and gameplay. At the same time, development is still moving so rapidly that there is A LOT of stuff that we didn’t have time to get into the demo.
In Other News
We’ve spent a lot of time doing quality assurance stuff lately. A game like Skald is a strange beast: There is a balance between making the game as accessible as possible whilst also remembering that this is a niche game.
Thankfully, a good solution to issues of accessibility and player on-boarding exists: Allow players to customize their play experience as much as possible!
Having good and readable fonts are super important to people! What constitutes a good font means different things to different people so we’re leaning hard into letting people customize the visual style of the game (within the constraints of the game’s core graphical style).
I’ve also spent a lot of time setting up systems for players to tweak the gameplay experience – including fully customizable difficulty settings.
The game also has a ton of mechanical complexity. In fact, I suspect there is a lot more going on “under the hood” than most people realize. The great part about it is that once you learn the rules, you can really start strategizing and enjoying the tactical aspect of the game. The downside is you have to learn rules. But fret not: We’re adding tutorials to the game!
I guess what I’m saying is that we’re trying to make sure we cater to a wide range of play-styles and experiences.
I sincerely hope you all are having a good an peaceful December. It seems a lot like my December will be quite busy with making the Skald but rest assured: I’m loving every moment of it. I mean, just look at some of the art assets I get to be working with:
In all seriousness, I also take care to have a good work-life balance. The game industry can be grueling and a lot of people underestimate the toll it can take on you mentally, physically and in terms of relationships.
I don’t! I believe it’s one of my stronger skills and one of the biggest benefits coming into the industry as an “adult”.
Now I’m off to make (and eat) gingerbread cookies with the fam.
We had a little bit of a stumble this week with our media. In essence out plan was to announce the trailer etc. on the Steam forums and Twitter on Monday and then do a devlog-post later in the week. This was due to my call that it would allow us to get more exposure but the result was instead that a lot of our most enfranchised (and important) community members received the news later than others.
This will not do. I apologize and promise to do better next time. Just to be clear: If you’re having a hard time following our news, the primary source for now, is this devlog. At some point in the future, Skald’s publisher may lean more into using the Steam forums but if that happens we’ll be sure to let you know.
In classic AL fashion I’m long overdue with another project update! That means there is sooo much to show off and talk about. So much in fact that I’m not even going to try. Instead, today I’ll focus on one of the flashier updates: An improved lighting system!
There is a lot of level-design and building going on at the moment. Company is doing good as well and I’ve been able to get a lot more professional art assets in the last year without having to worry about cost (see some of the gorgeous environments below).
The issue I was running into however, was that I wasn’t able to fully convey the mood of the the environments I was making with the tools I had at the start of 2023. For a game that aims to have a bit of a darker tone, this was actually kind of a big deal.
The dilemma I was wrestling with was that I had committed to a 16 color palette; Adding a more complex lighting system would result in more than 16 colors being shown on screen at any given time.
None the less, I was feeling pretty strongly that something had to change so I set aside two weeks in April, cracked my knuckles and went into a coding frenzy! Turns out there are some advantages to having such a large proprietary code-base. Since I know every in and out of my draw pipeline it was surprisingly easy to set up what I needed.
As for the result, I’ll let this image speak for itself:
The first thing to keep in mind is that Skald is built as an “engine inside an engine”. In other words, the Skald engine lives inside Unity but it is 99% self-contained. For instance, it draws its graphics by baking sprites at run-time, completely independently of Unity. Once all the drawing operations are done and the complete screen image is baked, it makes a Unity texture and lets the Unity camera “photograph” it.
The advantage here is that it’s very easy to perform very precise operations on individual pixels. In other words, we can do pretty cool stuff that is still 100% “authentic” pixel art.
We leverage this in the lighting system: A lighting value is calculated for each 16×16 tile and based on this, the sprite for that tile is shaded with a bluish tint (pixel per pixel). As you can see on the floor inside the cabin above, this means the lighting is overtly tiled but in my opinion, this works beautifully with the tile-based nature of the game.
That is not all however! Light-emitters also have pre-baked “auras. These can have different shapes and colors: Note how the ritual candles in the GIF above have a green and purple tint. It also allows me to do stuff like god-rays.
Anyways, I’m pretty proud of the system and the result. It’s changed how I make levels and my only regret is not making it sooner. If you have questions about the system or its implementation, feel free to DM me!
In Other News
As I said initially, I have so much to show off that I don’t know where to begin. However, the finish-line is coming into view so for what it’s worth, you’ll all be playing the game pretty soon. That also means, stay posted for a release-date announcement.
Many of you will have noticed that Unity has been going through dire straits the last weeks. The engine revealed a new pricing model a few weeks ago that was extremely controversial and caused a mass-exodus of players.
For a lot of companies, this had the potential to be catastrophic. Skald was however, never in any direct danger due to the game’s pricing model etc.
That being said, it also appears Unity has rolled back their updated policies in the recent days. In other words: Skald was and still is, 100% safe.
The Lost Sector
I did an interview with Chris Freeman last week for the Lost Sector Youtube channel! I love the Lost Sector and if you’re reading this, so will you!
We talk Skald, retro-gaming and Unity (if you want to understand more deeply why the pricing change was so controversial). Chris also has a loop of the updated game build running in the background so if you want to see the new lighting-system in action, here’s a chance for a sneak preview of a very rough production build (Chris twisted my arm)!
That’s it for now! I’ll do my best to keep you posted but I also need to make a game so if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because I’m making cool stuff.
Hello dear friends and followers – It’s been a hot minute!
I’ve been much less active on social media for a few months and believe me when I say it’s been necessary. I truly wish I had more time to interact with all you amazing people but there is only so much bandwidth in my head and social media can potentially eat up a substantial amount of it so I need to be very careful.
Such is the life of a solo-developer!
Give us some news!
I’m really biting my lip here as I try not to spoil any of the cool, new stuff I’ve been stuffing into the game! My brand manager made me promise that I was going to be patient.
However, I won’t be spoiling anything if I say the late summer and early fall of 2023 will be really busy for us in terms of marketing. This means we want to save as much of the cool stuff for about another month or two. HNNNGGGGGG!!!!
Instead of showing off the game, here is some corporate news (“Yay!” said no one).
Current State of Production
Internally we have a release date set and we are fully committed to hitting it!
In other words, we’re currently pumping out content! That means levels, graphical assets, game-objects and writing. It’s hard work but we have an amazing team of freelancers and what we’re making looks fantastic.
We’re also doing an important job of adjusting scope to make sure that what we put out is as high quality as possible. Some side-content that was intended to be in the day-one release will get postponed and released in free updates post launch.
This one is all on me: Making RPGs are insanely complex and it has been very hard to predict the amount of time that goes into making different types of content. Some are much faster than expected, whilst other types (especially branching quests) are much more time-consuming – expected for small teams.
Nonetheless, we’ve cracked the code at this point and though it has taken trial and error, we will be delivering a retrogasmic RPG experience!
The Norwegian Film Institute
The Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) is backing the Skald project. This means we get to put more art in the game (focusing especially on environmental art and creature design) as well as hire more help with writing, editing and audio design.
This is honestly a pretty big deal. NFI is a fantastic partner to have on board that offers substantial long term support to projects and companies without any creative constraints whatsoever (sweet, sweet social-democratic tax policies). What’s more, NFI is VERY enthusiastic about Skald. Turns out they’re pretty big nerds with a lot of love for bespoke, artsy games.
In other words, this bodes well for the future of the franchise and company.
Studio Name Change
The company has changed its name from “Scape-IT” to “High North Studios”! The old name was a legacy name and it feels really good to get a name that more accurately reflects the company. I wish I had a fancy logo to show as well but this is just another item in a very long “to-do” list.
A Storm is Coming
At this point I’d rather say less and save the sexy stuff for when we ramp up marketing this summer. I truly hope and believe it’s going to be worth the wait.
Thank you so much for your incredible patience so far. Believe me when I say that the future is looking really exciting and pixelated for us retro RPG fans!
That special time of year is descending upon us and uncle Andy’s coming in hot with red cheeks and smelling vaguely of Christmas schnaps. He’s also bringing gifts!
By the time you’re reading this, we should have updated the demo online. This is a pretty chonky update that more then doubles the amount of content. It includes a bunch of never before seen areas and narrative content as well as a new recruitable NPC.
It also adds in a lot of new features, like the option to build your own character. We only have a handful of the classes, feats, portraits and backgrounds available yet but this still adds a lot of variety so go nuts!
Needless to say, we’ll be adding a ton more of everything in the final product so no need to worry.
The Quest for the Santa Fury
Adventurers and treasure hunters have been searching for her ever since. None have succeeded. Lately however, a rumor has begun to spread in dockside taverns and brothels:
The Santa Fury has been located. The rush to recover her is on. Will you partake?
Yes we hid an entire ship in the latest demo and you get to go on a real treasure hunt FOR REAL TREASURE!
How to enter
Download the demo and start playing. You’ll soon enough find someone who’ll tell you the legend of the Santa Fury and you’ll be off!
Once you find the treasure and see the phrase “amorphous shape of eyes, mouths and tentacles” take a screenshot.
Amble over to the Skald Discord and DM the screenshot to our lovely community person, Fiona (Discord name “Feeona#0001″) . Do NOT post the screenshot in one of the public channels.
Contest is open until January 9th and once it closes we’ll draw five winners who’ll receive a free key to a game of their choice from the Raw Fury catalogue!
Happy Holidays to you all
I’ll be lurking a bit and seeing how the contest is going but I’ll also try to take a few days off. In other words, I’ll see you all on the other side of the year in what will surely be the year of Skald!
I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to pursue my passion and I hope this is a project that will bring joy into people’s lives for years to come. Be kind to each other and please be mindful of those who find the holidays difficult. A kind word or gesture might go a long way.
What remains is to wish you all a very happy holidays and good luck on the hunt for the Santa Fury.
I try to get one update out per month and this one was slated for November but the weeks are just flying by. You’ll have to forgive me and rest assured the time not spent writing this was well spent elsewhere!
If you’re reading this and somehow don’t know what the game is about yet, check out the Steam page and demo before reading on:
We’re doing a major update to the demo around the 20th of December as part of Raw Fury’s Rawcember promotions.
This means a bunch of new demo content including a character creator, a new recruitable NPC, several new map areas and… *drum roll*… a special Rawcember contest:
The Hunt for The Santa Fury
Uncover cryptic clues and mysterious leads as you embark on a quest for the mysterious missing vessel the “Santa Fury”.
If you uncover the secret at the end of the puzzle, you are eligible to enter into the Skald Rawcember lottery and compete for three Steam gift cards!
We’ll be dropping another devlog update when the demo goes live and you’ll find all the details in there!
In preparation for the upcoming Rawcember demo I’ve been doing a lot of work on the character creator. It was noticeably absent in the latest demo builds but it’s coming home for Christmas.
Even though only a few of the character options (classes and backgrounds) are playable at the moment, we’ll be showing them off in the demo to at least give you an impression of what we’re aiming for in the final game!
Classed in Skald are each tied to one of five archetypes which, in turn, are tied to on of the five primary attributes. Behind the curtain, each archetype conforms somewhat to the classic tank / DPS / support trinity
Officer, Veteran, Armsmaster
A resilient combat workhorse and tank.
Thief, Duelist, Assassin
Uses the backstab ability to deal large amounts of damage. Also brings important adventuring skills to the party (traps and locks).
Battle Magos, Inquisitor, Guild Magos
Ranged damage dealers and crowd controllers.
Skald, Ranger, Augur
Varied support class that bring a variation of support spellcasting and important adventuring skills to the party.
Champion, Hierophant, Hospitaller
Healers and buffers.
Note that the archetype role is a rough guideline. The different classes may vary greatly in how they actually play. I’ll say more about the individual classes as we go so stay posted for this in the upcoming devlogs.
Backgrounds are much lighter than classes and help flesh out the character in the context of the world. They will add bonuses to skills and may affect starting condition (such as starting gold and equipment). I also intend to use these to provide world interactivity as certain NPCs may react to your background in dialogue etc.
As for attributes you’ll of course be able to edit these as well in the character creator. I’m doing my best to keep the rules as transparent as possible and visualizing the interrelationship between the attributes helps a bit. Note how updating a primary attribute causes the rest of the sheet to update etc.
Some players might be a bit off-put by the wall of numbers but we’ll try to add options for them as well (maybe an “auto complete” function?).
In general however, I think RPG fans enjoy a bit of rules crunch and I intend to deliver that.
Finally, here is a peek at the character editor. Nothing revolutionary here but I am proud of how modular the character models are. You can pretty much edit any aspect of them and this carries over to any outfit you might equip etc. It’s a small thing, but I think customization is a pretty big deal to a lot of players.
Be sure to check out the updated demo as it drops December 20th! I’m excited to see it any of you manage to learn the fate of the Santa Fury!
Hey everyone and happy spooky season! I for one love this time of year and I couldn’t help myself from sharing some love with the Skald community!
Halloween Update for Demo
There’s now a new area to the demo for you to explore. It even has a creepy little Halloween-encounter in it! And I promise: It’s still very much Skald-themed.
Download and play the new Halloween-demo here:
We’ll be expanding this area quite a bit further in the time to come as we try out and test “new” features (more on this below) so keep checking in.
Mac demo is finally live on Steam
This is criminally overdue, but it’s finally here: The Skald Mac demo! To all my awesome Mac fans, I’m so sorry for the wait and hope this makes it up to you!
Once again, check out the demo here:
Some “New” Features
The new area that we’ve added to the demo will be used as a little sandbox for us to add in all the secondary mechanics that need to be (re)implemented. For now we’ve added in trading and leveling up, and next on the list is the character builder and camping mechanics.
Quite a bit of dev-time the last few weeks have gone into redrawing tilesets for some of the biomes that feature in the new demo content.
Caves are a staple of any self-respecting CRPG:
… and this part of the game features a lot of costal areas so costal cliffs and shore lines are a must as well:
I’ve done some work on making the submersion into water look all nice like but the GIF above has too low FPS to do it justice. You’ll just have to see it yourself in the demo.
We’re spending the next three weeks fixing bugs and reacting to feedback as well as increasing the size of the current build to be as big (or bigger) than the prologue.
Some of this might be featured in the demo (though we might keep it shorter than the old prologue) and all of the content will of course be available to testers.
Still waiting for your tester’s key? It’s coming once I get Halloween out of the way.
Keep playing the game and as always feel free to reach out to me at any time. Note however: The last weeks have been insanely busy and I’m behind on all my social media. I 100% indend to catch up though so please just be patient with me.
Please note this is NOT the prologue page. In fact, as of next week, the prologue will be unavailable going forwards as we phase it out for the new and updated demo.
As for scope, the build you’ll play on Monday, is much shorter than the current prologue. It should take you about 20 minutes to finish and it recycles quite a bit of dialogue content.
However, as Nextfest progresses, we will be adding content to it so be sure to stay posted and follow our development as the demo grows.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Raw Fury head honcho Jonas Antonsson last time I was in Stockholm. We had an awesome talk about all things fantasy and RPG. Check it out:
I just thought I’d give a short update on this as well! We’ve invited a small subset of the community to start testing builds and I fully intend to get keys distributed to all the other testers in the coming weeks. I’ve just been so swamped with demo development that it has had to wait.
However, if you backed the game at the Freeman level or up, your key IS coming!
All the following updates are featured in the new demo.
Inventory system has gotten a huge update where I converted it to the new UI system. It’s far from done but it’s still a huge update! It looks a bit noisy, but I promise it plays well and feels snappy and responsive.
I’m also going to do more tooltip stuff where you can hover over stats on the different character sheets for explanations etc but didn’t have time to do that as fully as I wanted for the demo so you’ll have to wait a bit to see that feature in action.
Yup! I put crafting in the game! For now you can cook stuff and there are just four recipes. The system of course still needs polish as well but it’s technically sound and I love it.
I’m going to delve deeper into crafting and consumables in an upcoming devlog when I’m less sleep deprived. Stay posted!
Stealth was very wonky in the prologue. Who knows how it even worked! I’ve updated it now to a more active system, where you can choose to enter “Stealth Mode” Your model then goes transparent and your see a stealth meter. As you move around the meter drains. Having a high stealth skill, wearing light armor, sticking to shadows etc, all influences how fast your stealth meter drains.
All in all it works really well for all it’s simplicity and I’m pumped to see the hijinx it will lead to in the final game!
In short: Play the demo on Monday! Keep checking in as we add more content!
I’m exhausted now – this is me looking for a bottle of wine to knock me out!
It’s time for a new update already. I get to nerd out hard in this one, so let’s goooooo!
We’re getting pretty close to sending out a round of builds to our testers to get some more eyes on the upcoming demo!
WHEN: Within the next week!
WHAT: The builds we’ll be sending out will be VERY short (about 5 mins of gameplay). It’s critical that we get a first round of testing in to see how the project works on different setups. More info on what to look for will follow as the test builds get sent out.
WHERE: We are moving testing to Steam (from itch.io). This means you’ll need a Steam account to continue as a tester at this point.
WHO: Steam beta keys will be sent out to crowdfunding backers who serve as our primary testers. We’ll start by sending out keys to a small subset of testers to begin with just to see if this is a good workflow (sending out keys takes time and I don’t want to send out 500 keys before realizing something is wrong).
As I mentioned in my previous post, we have quite a few fans who are subscribing to our Prologue Steam page instead of the main game page. Our intention is to move all of our Steam activity to the main game page and we’ll only be publishing updates there from now on. We’ll still nudge the Prologue followers when we post stuff but be sure to make the swap if you’re following the Prologue instead of the main game.
The same goes for wishlisting: Be sure to wishlist the main game – NOT the Prologue!
As I’ve talked about before, a big emphasis for this period of development has been to add interactivity to the game world. Allowing players to interact with objects encourages exploration.
I needed a UI feature for interacting with objects that was different from the dialogue UI that I’ve used as a catch all so far. The solution was a pop-up box.
They are super easy to work with and flexible enough to offer anything from an interface for interacting with objects to adding more fourth-wall breaking stuff such as giving prompts (“Are you sure you want to attack this friendly NPC?”
I’ve also used them to help make skill-tests more transparent and interesting:
I personally think the dynamically animated dice are a cool touch. It adds a bit of a tactile feeling and ties the game closer to its tabletop roots. Here we see an early draft of interacting with locked doors:
And don’t worry: I’ll be super careful to not make this take too much space. It’s reserved for when you actively use your characters skills to interact with the world and the reason I like this system is that it makes it more explicit what your skills actually do in the game.
Save or Suck?
In general, skill tests in RPGs can be tricky. I’ve written about the challenges before but in short the issue comes down to the fact that a lot of skill tests in RPGs are “save or suck” meaning the game penalizes the player so badly for failing tests that the player is incentivized to reload every time they fail a test. I’m very cognizant of this problem and I think the best way to solve it is to:
Avoid having save or suck tests be random. If a test is save or suck, then the test should be static (not based on a random dice roll).
When random rolls are used, failing should be as interesting as succeeding and the player should feel “going with the result” is as viable as save scumming.
Of course the problem cannot be fully avoided but I feel pretty confident that I can strike a balance the allows for the best from both worlds.
Warning: We’re about to go down a pretty nerdy RPG-rabbithole here.
Observant readers will have noticed that the game seems to use 2d6 as a basis for the tests above. This is correct! I may tune this before launch but I feel like emulating tabletop dice mechanics has a few advantages to the old (more abstract system):
It is easier to explain the rules for the skill test mechanic: Roll over a difficulty number (typically around 10) with 2d6 + skill
It is easier for both me and players to assess what is an easy vs a hard test: A roll of 2d6 + 3 vs 7 is easy. A roll of 2d6 + 3 vs 15 is pretty hard.
It is self-explanatory how good you rolled on a test
It ties the game more closely to it’s tabletop roots and makes a tabletop conversion MUCH easier.
Dice-rolls can be visualized (as in the GIFs above).
2D6 is also an interesting base-dice (compared to, say, a D20) since it has a bell-shaped probability distribution. You are much more likely to get a result close to the average roll (7) versus very high or low rolls:
This makes play feel a bit more predictable. Superior skill will win the day more often and unexpected results are, well, more unexpected. This will make it easier to play around you character’s strengths and weaknesses whilst still retaining a potent element of chance and chaos.
We’ll see how it does. Nothing is written in stone.
Phew, that got real nerdy real fast. I hope it made sense! As always, I love interacting with the Skald community and please reach out to me on one of the sites below if you have questions or comments!
Time for a summer update! Hope you’re all well and enjoying your summer. Here is a GIF of a procedural fountain effect to cool you off in the summer heat:
As you know, we’re working on an updated demo for testing and promotional purposes. We were originally planning to enter it in an event in late June. However we elected to go for a different venue and now we’re aiming for late September. HOWEVER, the community will be getting builds in late August for testing so stay posted for more info!
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Maybe. As you know we have two Steam pages: One for the main application and one for the prologue. As we move towards the new demo and eventually launch, the prologue page will have outlived its purpose. But the thing is, a lot of you guys have subscribed to, or even wishlisted (!) the prologue!
If this is you, I’d love to see you subscribe to, and wishlist the main application instead.
Some Cool Video Content
I just did a roundtable with a bunch of fellow indie RPG developers! I’m sure you can recognize some faces and names below. We had a great talk about the art and craft of making indie RPGs and I can’t wait to bring you the vid! We’re going to edit it a bit and then I’ll be sure to let you know the moment it goes live.
Currently development is all about making content, evaluating the workflow and then updating the tools and engine to become faster and safer. This is the only way we can keep the code and data manageable as the project grows.
Props are the most important piece of the puzzle right now. They represent all interactable objects in the world that are not characters or inventory items. A huge priority has been to make the game world a lot more interactive by adding lots of interesting objects for the player to interact with (hidden secrets, loot, workbenches, lore-heavy decorations etc),
Now your character is constantly using their perception skill to try and spot hidden doors etc but also containers that may contain minor loot and fun secrets. I loved how “Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous” had a lot of hidden loot laying around, really incentivising you to put points in the “perception” skill and explore the environs:
Doors and chests can now be locked and you have to decide between looking for a key or picking or forcing the lock. Be careful however, props can be trapped:
All of the above might sound like stuff that has always been in the game though? Yes and no. The change is that this stuff was always possible (more or less) but it needed to be scripted on a case by case basis. Now it’s all been streamlined and standardized so that creating a trapped chest is as easy as two clicks on a dropdown menu.
On the same note as above, a lot has also happened on the editor side. I’m putting a lot of effort into limiting manual data entry and instead focusing on creating objects for all kinds of data that is then linked together. This makes the data a LOT more error proof and also a lot faster to work with as so much data can now be reused.
A good example of this are “loadOut” and “appearancePack” objects. It used to be that I had to manually enter each item that I wanted to add to a character or a container. This a surprising amount of work if you want to carefully place items by hand as there are thousands and thousands of items in a game like Skald (and a big reason why the old demo had so much randomized container content). Same goes for character appearances: I had to manually pick primary, secondary, hair and skin color as well as hair styles and animations for each character and the work adds up quickly.
Now I instead create loadOuts and appearancePacks which are collections of data that can be referenced by several other types of objects. I can create a “Fighter loadout” and add in, say, a leather armor, a long sword and a shield. I can then assign it to the fighter class meaning that the items will be given to all characters with that class. I can also add that loadout to a container if I want to let players find that collection of items somewhere or even set it as a reward for a quest.
The same goes for appearances! I can assign appearancePacks to characters directly but also add them to objects like factions. That way, each character from the same faction can have the same colored livery etc. The cool part is that appearance packs can also be assigned to props so that props in certain areas can dynamically change color to reflect factions and so forth.
This will go a long way towards letting me customize the look of areas without having to create separate art assets to reflect different color schemes. And again: Doing so, is as easy as selection an appearancePack from a drop-down menu.
I’ve also done a HUGE job of creating meta data for all the game data. This means the editor now knows stuff like allowed ranges for numeric data, what objects can be linked to which, it can add tooltips and even to some auto-completing. This was a pretty huge job (I had to write a separate program to automate a bunch of the coding to get it done) but once again: It will make the game data sooooo much easier to work with and debug.
There is a lot more that has happened but I’m already running long so I think I’ll round it off there! I’m actually taking more or less a week off starting tomorrow so huzzah I guess. I’m also a little less active on social media in the summer since I try to limit non-essential screen time so expect me to be a bit slower in responding to messages etc.
Have a wonderful summer and try to spend some time outside!