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Skald: Against the Black Priory

Skald: Against the Black Priory’ is an old-school roleplaying game that combines modern design and a fully realised 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.

Coming Soon!

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:

Features

Lovingly crafted retro-style art

  • Experience a richly illustrated world of authentic pixel art using thousands of hand-drawn tiles and images
  • A palette inspired by the legendary Commodore 64 computer.
  • Optional CRT filter for that authentic old-school experience.

Deep character creation

  • Build your main character and recruit a party from among a dozen diverse characters, each with their own skill-set, agenda and personality.
  • Choose from a dozen classes and backgrounds as well as heaps of feats, spells and equipment as you take your party from level 1 to 20. 

Crunchy tactical combat

  • Engage in challenging, fast-paced, turn- and grid-based combat.
  • Play it your way, with fully customizable difficulty and feedback settings. Or hit ‘auto-resolve’,  lean back, and (hopefully) watch your party cleave a bloody path through their foes.

A richly detailed, living world

  • Explore the vast expanse of Freymark and the Outer Isles and watch your actions spell doom or salvation for the region.
  • Focus on the rich, branching narrative… Or live the life of a mercenary and explore varied sidequests and encounters – the plot will wait for you.
  • Manage your party as you make camp, recruit hirelings, travel by land and  sea, and interact with powerful factions and their visions for the world.

Bigger than the box it came in

  • Skald was made possible by crowdfunding and already has a large, passionate and welcoming community that can’t wait to meet you.
  • By joining Skald’s Early Access you’ll have a direct line to the developer, get sneak peaks and give feedback on forthcoming plans and help shape the game into a modern classic.
  • We will publish the powerful tools used to create the game in an effort to support and encourage modding and content creation once the game has fully launched. 

Stay Posted

Subscribe to this devlog, follow us on Twitter and join our Discord!

Cheers,

AL

Project Update: Have Some Class (December 2022)

Greetings all! It’s update time!

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!

Human models are now slightly taller. I love the more natural proportions.

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:

—News—

Rawcember DEMO

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!

—Development—

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

Archetype Attribute Associated Class Role
Warrior Strength Officer, Veteran, Armsmaster A resilient combat workhorse and tank.
Rogue Agility Thief, Duelist, Assassin Uses the backstab ability to deal large amounts of damage. Also brings important adventuring skills to the party (traps and locks).
Magos Intellect Battle Magos, Inquisitor, Guild Magos Ranged damage dealers and crowd controllers.
 Wandere Fortitude  Skald, Ranger, Augur Varied support class that bring a variation of support spellcasting and important adventuring skills to the party.
Cleric Presence 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.

Say what you want about the UI but if it doesn’t give you a retro vibe, I don’t know what does!

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.

Customize your characters appearance or let fate decide! Note the the portraits are place-holders!

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.

—In Closing—

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!

To stay posted, be sure to follow the Skald Twitter and Discord and wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!

Much love,

 

AL

Project Update: Happy Halloween and MAC demo is LIVE (October 2022)

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!

—News—

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:

—Development—

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.

New Biomes

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.

Next Weeks

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.

—In Closing—

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.

To stay posted, be sure to follow the Skald Twitter and Discord and wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!

Love you all,

 

AL

Project Update: New Demo Launching! (September 2022)

Preface: I’ve been crunching for too long and I’m very ready to take a day off. Forgive the typos! XOXO

Hang on to your helmets! This one’s going to be big!

Holy crap these are exciting times. First of all, I finally get to reveal the new key art for the game:

It just blows my mind how awesome this looks! Here’s the original:

Original is done by Tuandat Phan and pixel conversion is done by MementoMoree.

Hats off for the stunning work!

—News—

New Demo!

Skald is participating in the Steam Nextfest starting Monday October 2nd! This means you get to play the brand new demo of the game! I can’t wait! You will be able to find the demo on the game’s Steam page come Monday!

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.

Interviews

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:

Testing

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!

—Development—

All the following updates are featured in the new demo.

Inventory

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.

Crafting Confirmed!

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

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 Closing—

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!


To stay posted, be sure to follow the Skald Twitter and Discord and wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!

Cheers,

 

AL

Project Update: Roll the Bones (August 2022)

Greetings all!

It’s time for a new update already. I get to nerd out hard in this one, so let’s goooooo!

—News—

Testers awaken!

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).

Steam Subscribers

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!

—Development Update—

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

Dice Mechanics

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):

  1. It is easier to explain the rules for the skill test mechanic: Roll over a difficulty number (typically around 10) with 2d6 + skill
  2. 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.
  3. It is self-explanatory how good you rolled on a test
  4. It ties the game more closely to it’s tabletop roots and makes a tabletop conversion MUCH easier.
  5. 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:

Numbers are the percentile chance of achieving a given result.

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.

—In Closing—

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!


To stay posted, be sure to follow the Skald Twitter and Discord and wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!

Cheers,

 

AL

Project Update: Summer 2022

Hello everyone!

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:

Cat gives zero f–ks about the wonder that is Imperial plumbing!

—News—

The Demo

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!

Your Steam Account Requires Action

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.

—Development Update—

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

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:

Nothing says “hero” like rummaging through random trash!

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:

Thought you’d pilfer a bit, ehh? Have at thee ye blackguard!

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.

Editor Updates

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.

—In Closing—

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!


To stay posted, be sure to follow the Skald Twitter and Discord and wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!

Cheers,

 

AL

 

Project Update June 2022: New Teaser and Stockholm

Hail serfs!

I’m taking a short break from coding to say hi and bring glad tidings! I’ll be back with more development updates soon, but for now, here is some media for you:

We Have a New Teaser!!!!

The “Eyes of the Dragon” are upon us as a new Skald teaser drops!

We promoted Skald at the Guerilla Collective stream this week and took the chance to showcase our newest teaser. Check it out above!

I Went to Stockholm!

Raw Fury and I finally found a window to meet up in Stockholm! I spent almost a week with Raw Fury and my team and we had the very best of times.

I got an amazing welcome and the week passed in a flurry of pre-lunch beer, barbeque, amazing Stockholmian restaurants and literally the most fantastic people in the industry!

There is something to be said for having worked remotely on a daily basis with a group of people and then finally being able to be in the same room together. That’s how magic happens.

Beyond meeting my team, through some true calendar-voodoo, legendary Raw Fury founder / CEO, Jonas Antonsson, and I also managed to finally spend some quality time together. We even recorded some of our high-flying musings on RPGs and all things nerdy that we’ll be posting in the months to come. We go deep so be sure to stay posted.

The plan was to take lots of cool pictures but we had such a full program that to my dismay, when I got home, the above images were pretty much all I had. I will say though, they are more or less representative.

And just to be clear: I didn’t just go to Stockholm to bro out. We also had some incredibly cool and exciting business discussions. There is nothing I can talk about yet but let me just reiterate how incredibly excited I am to have signed with such an amazing partner!

Learn how to Pitch a Game

Did I tell you we spoke to Raw Fury scout Johan Toresson? We did and we went deep on how you should go about pitching your game to a publisher. Johan is THE man for finding cool new games so be sure to get his insights!

 

Nerd out on Reddit

This one is very technical, but I had a question about how the “crawling” fog of war system works in Skald.

I wrote up a very high level concept of it and posted it on our Skald sub-reddit. Check it out and keep in mind that the sub-reddit exists and is a very good platform for asking about stuff like this. I do monitor it and I would love to see more activity there.

Have a Spectacular week!

There is so much cool stuff going on I just had to dump some of it out so there you go! There’s lots more coming so just be sure to keep checking out my Twitter and Discord and by the Golden Dead, wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!

Cheers,

 

AL

Project Update May 2022

Ho there travelers!

Hope spring is finding you all well! We’re having days in a row with no snow up here in northern Norway and that’s something I guess.

The upside is that “inside weather means more work is getting done on “Skald: Against the Black Priory”!

The Teaser and Demo

The teaser is a wrap! You’ll have to wait a bit more for it as we’re saving it for a festival this summer!

The cold, dead stars hate you!

It’s a bit of a challenge to find a format that does justice to the crisp pixel-art of Skald and I think we’re getting very close to cracking the code in this teaser. I can’t wait to show it off and hope you like it. A big thanks to Sarah Gonidec and Roland Smedberg for all their hard work and endless patience!

The new demo will be out in mid June if all goes according to plan! The aim is to polish the game-systems as much as possible so that the demo represents the final game as much as possible in as many areas as possible.

In particular, we’ll be digging deep on combat and the general UI.

I’m going to add more of a button and icon-based UI in the cases where it makes sense – such as in combat.

I’m adding in a lot more animation frames in general. Both for creatures and specific weapon attacks.

There is still some work on the timing aspect as some animations are a bit too fast or “off” but I can see this will go a long way towards making the game look a lot more varied.

Adding more detailed monster models also makes everything look a lot cooler. I really hope we’ll have the multi-tile monsters fully up and working by the time the demo launches as they have quite a battlefield presence.

Also note how the fire above has a new look! All the flames in the game will now be made by procedural effects. This includes props like camp-fires and torches as well as spell effects. Stay posted as we show off some of the flashy and arcane magics that will be at your disposal!

As the demo comes out, just keep in mind that it will be shorter in content then the current demo – at least in the beginning. It’s very important that what we put out is polished and making it short and sweet is the priority to begin with. Stay assured though: We’ll be padding it with more content as we go!

Streams

In case you missed it, Fiona and I recently did a stream with my producer at Raw Fury: Daniel Jonsson. We had a little round-table about what the day-to-day collaboration between developers and publishers looks like and I warmly recommend giving it a watch.

Coming up, on May 12th at 4PM CET at Raw Fury’s Twitch channel, we’re having a talk with Raw Fury’s rock-star scout Johan Toresson!

Raw Fury's Johan Toresson to co-host NG20 - Nordic Game Community

We’ll be talking about how scouts work for publishers and how and why you should pitch to them! This is a must for fellow game developers or anyone who is just interested in how the industry works!

If you love indie-punk, ramen with an attitude and new curse-words, Johan is your man!

EDIT: The video is now up on my Youtube channel so check it out!


Keep following this devlog, my twitter and the Skald Discord to stay posted on our awesome quest to bring you more retro-RPG awesomeness!

Cheers,

 

AL

Skald Project Update March 2022

Hi there!

It’s time for another devlog update for “Skald: Against the Black Priory”!
These are busy and very exciting days. A lot of very important development is being done on the game and tools and we’re having a lot of very interesting talks regarding the long term perspective of the Skald brand both internally and with external partners. I can’t really say much yet but hopefully it will be worth the wait.

In terms of the game itself, the current priority has been on tool-development (the level editor), preparing content for the upcoming teaser and working on the redux version of the prologue (to be released this summer).

New Media Content

We’ve also been looking into more ways of communicating with the community and I’ve made a vlog update as well as a stream with Fiona Martin of Raw Fury. I’m still finding my footing on the technical side and I’ll be working on improving audio so sorry if the quality is a bit low for these two.

We’ll be doing more video content as we go and streams in particular are something we’ll be digging deeper on as they are easy to make and provide a way for you to communicate with us directly.

For upcoming streams we’ll be talking to some of the awesome people at my publisher, Raw Fury, to learn more about what they do and how the collaboration between developers and publishers look. I can guarantee you it’ll be worthwhile if you’re interested in the indiegame industry.

If you have suggestions for topics for either the stream or the video-blog, be sure to leave them in the Youtube comments of the vids above. I read everything.

 

Community Created Content

If you’ve been following my social media or the Discord, you know that I’ve become enamored with my new level editor (I talked about it in my first devlog of 2022).

The short of it, is that it’s turning out better than I hoped and I’m now super pumped to be able to offer it to the community so you can make content for Skald yourself.

And let me be clear here: The editor I’ll be releasing will be the exact same tools I’ve been using myself to make this game. You’ll be able to create (or edit) any asset in the game from maps to objects (items, characters and props), factions, quests, difficulty settings and on and on. EVERY aspect of the game.

A test I did with the Ultima 5 tileset. This took about 2 minutes to make, from importing the art asset to making the map.

Personally I think the true power of this isn’t creating more Skald content; it’s making your own awesome fan-projects. Ultima 5.5 fan-project anyone?

A Editor Road-Map

Our tentative plan for the editor, is to get it out there soon (meaning before the main game launches). I also don’t want the commitment of having to maintain another piece of commercial software so likely what we’ll do is release is as a free beta for the community to play around with.

Ideally this will allow for a community to grow up around it that could sustain itself while I’ll provide tech support, beginning tutorials and take feedback for updates.

Needs more trolls!

It certainly wouldn’t hurt if, by the launch of the main game, we could point to a vital modding community that already had a stack of awesome fan-made content ready for consumption.

Getting Yourself Involved

If you’re intersted in this aspect of the project, I’d love to hear from you! I’m setting up a discord sub-channel (FAN CONTENT on our Discord) for this discussion and I’d love for you to head on over and offer me your feedback on the following:

  1. What are some case studies of INDIE games that have strong modding and fan-content communities? WHat are they doing right?
  2. If a community springs up, where should it live? What platform works best for both providing a way to offer tech-support, asset sharing, project collaboration and perhaps even hosting of projects?
  3. How can I support the community whilst still making is as independent and standalone as possible?
  4. What are some cool projects you’d like to do? Share them in the #my_dream_projects channel!

See you there!


I hope to hear from as many of you as possible. Till then, have a fantastic weekend!

Keep following this devlog, my twitter and the Skald Discord to stay posted on our awesome quest to bring you more retro-RPG awesomeness!

 

Cheers,

 

AL

SKALD Stands with Ukraine

I try to keep my game and community a safe-space and politics free. Sometimes however, evil finds you no matter what.

Putin has ordered his forces to commence a war of aggression and full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This hits close to home for the Skald community:

Skald composer and vital community member Surt_R is Ukrainian and lives in a Ukrainian city currently under attack by Russian forces. I spoke to him this morning. Surt_R is a positive guy but needless to say the situation is chaotic and it’s hard to know how the next days will play out.

Surt_R has been with me since the start. He’s an amazing creative and a fantastic guy so I’m asking you all, as the head of our community: come together and support Surt_R.

Supporting Surt_R

Thankfully, supporting him is easy. Surt_R has a large Steam cataloge of his wonderfully quirky games and amazing music!




Disclaimer: Surt_R also made the Skald Demo soundtrack which is available for sale on Steam. Though it is on sale at the Skald site, Surt_R receives 100% of the revenue for that product.

Again: I’m NOT receiving any money for this soundtrack – it ALL GOES TO SURT_R!

I’ll try to  stay in touch with him and if there is anything the Skald community can do for him, we’ll do it!

Supporting Ukraine

I’m going to keep this short and refer you to this excellent article.

Ukrainian Flag with their national symbol (Tryzub) : r/vexillology

Stand with Ukraine. Stand against tyrants.

 

Anders Lauridsen

Happy New Year!

Happy new year!

Wait, what? Is it February already? All I can say is time flies when you’re having fun. This update is a bit overdue but as always, if I’m a bit tardy in posting on the devlog it’s because I’m making our dream game.

The new year has been a torrent of making cool plans, have Covid wreck it all and instead write awesome code!

Our big carrot of Q1 2022 was that Raw Fury and I were going to GDC in San Francisco to promote Skald. We always knew it was a risky prospect and as Omicron ramped up over Christmas we reconsidered and canceled the trip. And let me tell you: I’m almost glad we did!

It’s given me time to dig deep on a few areas that I always wanted to improve in the game. I’ll try to summarize some of the latest developments:

The GUI System

I’ve rewritten the GUI system. Yes, pretty much all of it. It was pretty much one of the last components of the game where I used Unity’s built in system but it was a bit of a mess. I’m sure someone who’s better at Unity could pull it off, but I really just want Unity to compile my game and leave me alone beyond that.

Thankfully, the Skald engine is really good at drawing pixels on screen with perfect precision and so I was able to use my engine to do stuff like draw fonts, UI-elements and handle transitions and mouse interactions.

One of the first big advantages is that I can now have the game scale perfectly to the screen so it gets pixel perfect resolution.

If you zoomed in on the game in full-screen mode, it used looked like the left image. Now everything scales perfectly and it all looks like the right image. Crisp enough to make your eyes bleed.

For a pixel-purist like me, another advantage of the new system is that we can swap Unity’s vectorized fonts for home-made “real” pixel fonts.

I also added the ability to insert big illuminated first letters at the start of the script. I need to polish the graphic design a little bit but all in all I think it’s going to look amazing.

But there’s more: The new system allows for highlighting of keywords in the text that you can mouse over to get helpful info. Naturally this will also be possible on menus like the character sheets where you can mouse over attributes to get a description or on the map where mousing over objects will allow you to get info in pop-up boxes.

Finally, note how the menu above slides on and off the screen for a bit of a smoother transition.

With all the UI stuff, the technical stuff is now done but there’s still work to be done to really take advantage of its full potential. Stay posted for more updates!

The Animation System

The moment I signed with Raw Fury, one of the first features I knew I wanted to expand upon a bit was the animation system.

Building an animation system that cycles through frames of animation is easy enough. The trouble is scaling it. There are basically three types of models in Skald:

  • Simple Models: These are models like the rats in the demo. They have few animation frames and very few customization options. This works because for the most part, you won’t see them doing anything outside of combat so all you need is a few idle frames and some combat frames.
  • Custom Models: These models have more complex animations so we can have it perform more complex actions. A great example of that is the big monster below. These are very cool and expressive but costly to make since each frame needs to be hand drawn. The upside is that there isn’t a ton of them in the game.
  • Humanoid models: This is the tricky part and where the Skald engine shines. The humanoid models in Skald are “paper-dolls”. That means you can swap costumes, items, skin-color, hair etc and have it show up on the model. They also need dozens of animation frames (and perhaps hundreds by the end). This means hundreds of thousands of different frames to account for all possible permutations of costumes and animations.

Fear not! The Skald engine solves this by doing humanoid animation in a semi-procedural way. Basically each  model consists of a dozen components drawn using a kind of animation skeleton. Legs, torsos, arms, heads, hair, items etc are drawn in relation to each other and colored according to specifications.  This means that for each new behavior we want to animate, we’ll only ever have to add a very few frames.

As an example, look at the image above again. The character falling to his knees is not a unique animation. Any of the characters on-screen would perform the same animation if given the command.

The awesome part is that adding that particular animation strip to ALL HUMANOID MODELS in the game took only about 20 minutes.

Anyways, you’ll be seeing a lot more of this system as we go. Here is an example of me experimenting with adding some animation frames to the player’s attack animation:

Trust me; the system works – it’s just that I’m not a very good animator 🙂

The Level Editor

This one is the Golden Goose for me. My level editor has been a pretty big bottleneck so far. I just couldn’t get it right and I lacked a clear vision for what a great tool would even look like for Skald. Then I saw the amazing “Tiled” editor and I was saved.

“Tiled” had a simple suit of features that were all I had ever asked for and I knew I needed something like that for Skald. I had two options:

1) adopt “Tiled” (it’s free) and use it for Skald or 2) try to write my own version of it? Well, I just told you I rewrote my whole GUI system to get nicer fonts so I doubt you’ll be surprised to hear I made my own in-house version of Tiled.

This may seem excessive, but a good level editor is critical and this way I get one that is seamlessly integrated with my other tools. I also don’t have to depend on external software. Most importantly though: All the Skald tools will now be collected in a single application so the Skald community can eventually get to mod and create their own application using the exact same tools I used to make this game.

I still have some development to do on the editor before it’s fully functional but as soon as it is, I’ll be doing some streaming of me making levels in style!

Next Steps

So in broad terms, the next big step is doing a major overhaul of the demo to be released in spring / summer. This is primarily to show off and test the new features and it’s also a hugely important tool to get Skald on the radar of press and content creators.

To that end, we’re also going to redo the Steam pages, the website and make a new trailer.

We will be doing more Beta testing before then as well but I’m waiting till things are a bit more stable so I don’t get swamped in reports of issues that are already known. Testers are a limited resource and we need to save it until it really counts.


That’s what I had time for today! I hope it was somewhat informative. To stay posted, follow us on Twitter and join our Discord!

Cheers,

AL