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 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

New Party Members

Greetings fellow RPG fans!

As you all know, it’s more fun to adventure with a party than going alone! That’s what I’ve been doing since I went full time as a developer: I’ve encountered a new party-member (of the “publisher” class)! They’re very passionate about the quest we’re on (making Skald) and bring a ton of new feats (QA/testing) and magic items (a marketing budget) to the fight! Even better: They have high-level henchmen/henchwomen (awesome experts in fields ranging from brand management to development, marketing and testing).

Who is this overpowered new character you ask? Well, I’m going to keep you guessing a little bit longer but some of you will have heard of them and you’ve certainly played some of the games they’ve published. They’re also chaotic good and can rage 2 / day.

Here’s some early stage concept art for different monsters of the more bizarre persuasion by the awesome Gustav Samuleson (@MechaBarbarian)

 

While I’m finishing my due notice from my (soon to be old) day-job, we’re taking the time to put together some promotional material, planning the development and release schedule and making our two organizations work together like a well-drilled adventuring party!

We’ll be announcing our cooperation and revealing our newest party-member December 15th so stay posted!

 

Early Access

One of the subjects we’ve been working on a bit internally, is the original plan of going to early access (EA) with Skald.

More concept art! Are those eyes following me?

This was originally predicated on the fact that as a solo-developer with no support, it would not be possible for me to make Skald as polished as I would like in time for a full launch. EA would provide proper testing and polish.

EA is great for this but there are also downsides:

  1. The Steam community in general have begun expecting more polish from EA games than before. There is a tendency for EA games to get quite a lot of negative reviews for being “unfinished” which is ironic and sad.
  2. Once you launch on EA, that’s it: You’ve had your launch. You don’t get a second launch day once you leave EA.

Though I’m sure the Skald community would have handled EA great, there is some risk involved and there is no doubt in my mind: Given the support and resources I now have access to (especially in terms of testing), I would much rather deliver a game that is polished and finished.

This means we’re aiming to launch the full game properly in 2022!

The Road Ahead

There will be a lot more info coming out just over the new year but here’s a rough outline:

THE PROLOGUE / DEMO

I’ve always strived to have development be transparent and inclusive. The prologue has been a hugely important tool towards achieving this and it will continue to be so. We’ll be “chonking” up the demo in 2022 as a kind of miniature Early Access to show off, and widely test, the game in its final form.

Make it stop!!!

TESTING

Testing for backers will continue as before and backers will be getting beta builds as they roll out. We will be looking into updating the testing infrastructure a bit and at some point we’ll also consider opening up beta-testing to a larger audience.

SCOPE

We’re not increasing the game’s scope or adding more features. What I am doing is spending more time polishing the tools for data-entry. Not only is this making the game (and any sequels) easier to build in the long term, it also means you’ll get better modding-tools (we’re releasing all our tools post launch).

CROWDFUNDING REWARDS

Needless to say, our new partnership does not change anything in regards to the rewards we’ll be producing. All I can say is that there are exciting discussions being had about how we can make the most of the physical products we’re going to make. Stay posted!

As for those backers who get to contribute with portraits and game-content, it’s not too late at all. We’ll be sorting this as we go and the train will not leave without you.

IÄ IÄ!

In Closing…

There is a limit to how much I can say at this point but more info is coming. Just remember: Save December 15th for the reveal of our new party member and there may even be some Christmas shenanigans coming up!

For everything else, follow us on Twitter and join our Discord!

Cheers,

AL

 

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 is set to release in 2022!

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: Beta 1.3.1 is up!

Phew.

With a few intense days of receiving, processing and addressing feedback behind me, a new version of the Beta is up (already)!

What’s in the new Beta?

This one does two major things:

  • The game is now in a 16:9 ratio. This is is pretty distinct departure from the boxier look of before and the UI might need some tweaking. However, 16:9 is now such a prevalent AR for both monitors and media (such as Youtube videos) and I feel it is the right move in terms of making the game look as good as possible for the majority of costumers.
  • There is now a bunch of updates to speed up combat. You can now use SPACE to “repeat last command”, the orders execute faster, and there is a “combat log” you can view to see things like rolls and calculations (though that is till a bit primitive).

Of course, there are also a LOT of minor bug-fixes and other updates.

Where to get it?

The demo is still available to backers only (Not a backer? Go here!). This means that you have to use your download link to access it.

“Where is that link” you say?

Well, for Kickstarter backers, you received in a message from me. For Indiegogo backers you received it in an email with “SKALD RPG” as the subject line.

But easiest of all: You can just log onto your Itch.io account and you should be able to find it there if you’ve already played it before.

How to offer feedback?

Use the Discord, PM me on Twitter or send me an email at contact@skaldRPG.com!


Cheers,


AL

Project Update: Beta 1.3.0 is out!

Finally! The time is here to release the next version of the “Skald: Against the Black Priory” beta for backers! I’m not going to lie: It feels pretty fantastic to get it out there.

Get a piece of that pie if you haven’t already!

Wait what? Not a backer? You can be! Support SKALD via our Indiegogo Indemand page and help make my dream game whilst getting some awesome rewards!

What’s in the Demo?

The demo is still fairly short (but longer than before at 2 hours+) and still focuses on the starting area of the game. It does however, rework the different locals to take advantage of the new level-design paradigm of larger, more complex local areas.

It also adds a new hub area, a vendor, a recruitable NPC, a bunch of NPCs and minor quests, some new monsters and items, random encounters and so forth.

In other words, in addition to offering a basis for testing a lot of new systems, it also contains a complete RPG gameplay loop.

However, it’s important to keep in mind: The purpose of the demo at this point is still to provide me with play testing – not to offer a fully complete, play experience.

This means that it’s super important that you

  1. Realize that there are A LOT of rough edges
  2. Take the time to offer constructive feedback if you play it!

What to look for when testing

Please use the Discord to report feedback on the following:

  • Most of the dialogue in the game is still pending editing for grammars and proofreading so feel free to give input on spelling etc. But more importantly: Keep an eye out for, and report and broken logic in the dialogue!
  • Try to keep an eye out for bugs related to how objects appear and spawn in-game. Especially after saving/loading and when entering or leaving areas. Do objects spawn where they shouldn’t?
  • If you exhaust the demo content, I’d be very interested in hearing how long it took you.
  • PLEASE report any crashes or freezes!

I’m not looking for:

  • Notes on balancing, character development (feats, spells etc) or combat encounters. These are all placeholder at the moment and there will be a more comprehensive overhaul of them in due time.
  • Notes on character models. These are mostly placeholder as I’m yet to add a larger variety of models and outfits.

The Next Steps

I’ll be doing a burst of fire-patches the next week or two in response to incoming feedback and then I’m planning to step back and do some work on a few larger technical issues I identified whilst making the demo.

I’ll also be adding a few new batches of content as I flesh out the refugee-camp and even open the way into the ruins of Horryn so stay posted for that!

The end goal for this round of demos is to have a well-rounded and semi-polished public demo for use in promotion; especially towards press and content creators.

Let Word Spread Forth!

Skald has the best community in RPGs. Ever. It’s a huge joy, support and resource to me and we’re truly making this game together!

Honestly, the size, interest and support of the community is the bread and butter of the project at this point, and the best way to keep making SKALD great, is to keep the community growing!

And so your Wizard-Emperor decrees:

If you played the demo and enjoyed it, please tell your friends on forums, Twitter, Discords, Reddits and wherever else you hang! Invite them to our Discord server and bid them check out the blog!

That’s it for now. Enjoy the demo and please get in touch via the Discord or Twitter for all things Skald-related.

Cheers,

AL

A Seasons Greetings Update

Hello and merry yule-tide to all friends, fans and followers of the Skald roleplaying game! With 2020 coming to an end, it feels about time for another project update. After all, there’s quite a few new features to show off and even a few delays (believe it or not).

So, what’s been going in the SKALDiverse?

The final game will contain quite a few minor towns and at least one major city. Figuring out how to create large, interesting and good-looking urban environments has been a huge point on my to-do list and something I’ve spent most of the last 6 weeks figuring out.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of architectural style should underlie the look of the Gallina Empire. Having gone back and forth a few time I’m tending towards “Romanesque“: The rounded arches and pillars lend themselves very well to the resolution of the game and the palette feels sufficient to portray a large variation in materials.

The images above are some early examples of the tile-set. Pretty happy so far and now it comes down to adding a bit more flourish. I just love the look of Roman buildings in the Middle-ages where the secrets that went into building them are long gone and they end up being patchworks of increasingly poor repairs. Seems a pretty good fit for this period in the Gallian Empire so why not embrace it!

A second pretty big change was making maps a bit more integrated by having building interiors and exteriors be on the same map. A large reason for this change is that it allows me to have the players be able to enter any structure with minimal extra work. Previously this would have required that I created submaps for every single interior and this quickly becomes messy. I still can if I want to, but for most buildings it’s much more interesting to have it all on one map.

Now you can try and steal from a vendor, have him catch you, flee into the street, dive into a tavern and dash through the kitchen to the back exit and alleys. I love stuff like that.

I also spent quite a bit improving the look of the fog of war. The way it just snapped into place tile by tile, was a bit jarring. Notice how it now “grows” and retracts in a more organic way. Believe me when I say, it makes a huge difference when you play the game on full-screen!

I’ve also spent quite a few hours polishing the combat system. As you’ll recall, I massively overhauled in October and that was a pretty big update that still has me discovering occasional bugs and idiosyncrasies.

None the less, it plays super-nice now and in combination with the new, more complex city maps, it’s truly taking the game to the next level.

What’s next?

Well, it’s no secret that I had hoped to make Early Access by the end of 2020. That’s obviously not going to happen (lol).

No one likes to have delays in their project and I’m no different. However, playing the game today and looking at the build from 6 months ago, all I can say is that it’s been worth every second of work so far.

I always knew the combat system and city maps were “on the chopping block”, and looking back now I’m super happy I took the time to change them. For what it’s worth there are no more major systems that are scheduled for revision (tough there will of course be tons of refinement going on).

Based on that I think a careful estimate is early access in the summer of 2021.

I hope that’s not a huge disappointment to you guys and that you share my enthusiasm for how the game looks at the moment!

The next big milestone for me is finishing the “press demo” which will include most of the first chapter of the game. It is intended for playtesting and as a demo for the press, and content-creators that follow SKALD. This will be around early Q1 2021.

From me to all of you…

Thank you so much for all of your support, friendship, advice, encouragement and enthusiasm throughout 2020. It’s been a hell of a year for a lot of you guys but the SKALD community has remained a warm, inviting tavern in a storm for so many of us. This is a strong reminder of the power of games to comfort, entertain and bind us together.

So from me to all of you: Seasons greetings and a happy new year!

Anders

Post Script: Show some love for Nox Archaist

Nox Arhaist has been released! Journey back in time to the 1980s and experience an 8-bit adventure inspired by classics like Ultima and Bard’s Tale! Order your boxed set while supplies last!

Project Update: Beta 1.2.0 (Combat Revision)

The beta build (1.2.0) is up on itch.io for testers right now! SKALD has gotten a huge update to its combat system (as well as some new features) and I can’t wait for you to have a look at it!

The New Combat System

Combat is now resolved directly on the map itself. In other words, it no longer swaps to a separate combat map.

As I’ve been developing the game, one of the biggest shifts in my approach to designing SKALD, has been in level design: I originally saw exploration of the physical spaces of the game to be a distinct pillar of game-play alongside combat, character development and interaction.

However, as I’ve begun designing levels, it has occurred to me that interacting with the physicality of the world, could not be seen as a separate aspect of game-play: The physical layout of the game world is the canvas that encompasses all other aspects of the game and combat, dialogue and exploration is made more interesting by the fact that it takes place in a “physical” world with components that interact with, and affect each other.

Placing combat on the map itself was a natural consequence of this. This will make it possible to interact with terrain during combat, NPCs will join fights and destruction will linger after combat ends. You can approach enemies from different directions, become surrounded or attempt to use the terrain to your advantage.

Combat isn’t the only subsystem that is being adapted to this shift in design mentality. More on that down the line.

The combat system as it is in the coming update is still pretty bare-bones. It doesn’t really take advantage of it’s new form yet, but I need to get some play-testing done none the less: Both to weed out bugs and to get a basis for improving the system.

The main design principles for combat moving forward are:

  1. Combat should feel fast and smooth
  2. Combat should stay tactically interesting from early to late game
  3. Combat should be narratively expressive (e.i. it should serve as a tool for storytelling)

There’s also a number of issues I need to explore:

  1. How much information does the player need and how do I present it in the best way?
  2. What are the best controls for combat and what is the optimal relationship between keyboard and mouse input?
  3. How do I visualize all the different options players might have during combat in a good way?
  4. What types of terrain layout make for the most fun combat whilst avoiding overly dominant strategies (such as defending doorways)?
  5. What are some interesting combat-role archetypes for both enemies and PCs?
  6. How can feats and spells take optimal advantage of the combat system?

Other New Features and Updates

There is months of work in this update so changes are too numerous to mention in a lot of cases.

One of the more notable updates, however, is the ability to customize the character model (hair, colors, clothing etc). This adds a bit of flair for players but more importantly, it reduces the need for me to create custom models for NPCs! This is going to be a huge time-saver down the line as I can now swap around outfits to make an infinite amount of variations. Needless to say, there will be A LOT more customization options down the line. It also opens the door for stuff like faction-based outfits.

I’ve polished the input system a bit and vastly improved the path-finding AI so movement and controls should also feel quite a bit more snappy. Try to keep an eye on this and be sure to report any bugs related to movement, path-finding and input.

The Next Steps

For the next weeks I’m going to keep polishing the combat system whilst working towards the press-, and content-creator demo (which will of course be available for backers as well). It will contain new, unseen narrative content as well so it’ll be fun to see you guys dig into it.

There will probably be a couple more beta updates before the press demo is ready to drop so stay posted for that as well. I REALLY appreciate it if you take even 5 minutes to test the game and reporting any bugs or impressions afterwards: It really helps to make this the game we all want it to be!

In regards to the game being ready for early access in late 2020 – we’ll see. I’m truly working as fast as I can but it’s hard to predict the flow of the project. Rest assured however, that all the time is being spent make SKALD awesome and I can guarantee you it’s paying off!

Farewell!

I’ll keep you posted on updates as I go so be sure to check in wherever you follow me from time to time (Twitter or the SKALD Discord). You guys have been beyond supportive so far and I love being on this journey with you. All I can do is offer up a big heart-felt “thank you”.

Cheers,

AL

Project Update: Beta 1.1.0

Hello everyone! Hope you all are enjoying your summer. July has been pretty sweet up here in Northern Norway for once, making it the perfect “stay at home” summer. But fear not: I’ve still gotten a ton done with SKALD, and it’s now time for a new (minor) demo update!

Beta 1.1.0 is up for Backers!

The demo is still pretty short and adds about 20 minutes of game-play to the first iteration. It’s still an important demo for me, since I’ve done a lot of work under the hood (as always) and now those features need play-testing.

I’ve also added some in-game features: Most notable is grid-based combat. That system is still pretty bare bones as I’m yet to add enemies, feats and spells that really take advantage of it, but you should non the less be able to get an idea and provide some feedback.

What do I need from play-testers?

Bugs first and foremost. This is by far the most important feedback you can provide for me at this point!

Typos are always welcome too. As are logical inconsistencies in dialogue and scene flows.

I also want to hear about game-play feature requests or feedback on existing features.

I’m not really super interested in stuff like “this was too easy” or “There needs to be more loot in the second area”. It goes without saying that a lot of this is unpolished at the time and pacing etc will get a second pass as the whole first chapter begins to come together 🙂

As always, my preferred way of receiving feedback is via the SKALD Discord chat. Once there, look for the feedback sub-channels.

A Word of Caution

The demos, at this point, will usually break saves and force a restart with each demo iteration. This might seem like a chore BUT for play-testing this is essential. The scripting of the game can only be truly tested if the game is played from the start each time and this is super important to the final quality of the game.

So please be patient with me (I know you will)! Also, is play-testing feels like a hassle, it’s 100% fine for you to just hang back and wait for the finished product!

What Else is Going on?

Currently we (me and the writers) are doing a lot of work writing and implementing narrative content. This is the main priority besides polishing the engine at the moment. As we finish writing for chapter 1, the artists will then get to illustrate the content and we’ll start work on chapter 2.

I’ve been working on fog-effects a bit. They are great for setting a somber tone and I can’t wait to use them. They were however not ready at the time of 1.1.0 so they’ll hopefully feature in the next update.

At some point in the near future I’ll probably start working of feats and spells as well so stay tuned for that.

Have a great Summer!

That’s it for now! Have a great weekend and keep enjoying the summer (try to get out in sun a bit)!

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter or join the SKALD discord!

Cheers,

AL