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?
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!