Ever since the ancient wars of mages, the world has been a dark place. As to the Distorted Lands, regular folk avoid them like plague. Yet this is now your new home. Your magic powers bid disciples from all over the land to come look for you. Other forces are looking for you, too – and their intent is much darker.
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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“With our previous game (Gremlins, Inc.) we already went through 6 months of Early Access ahead of the full release – and we loved it! The community feedback that we received, lead to new features and improved balance of the game.

With Spire of Sorcery, our plan is the same: we will release the game, publish the development roadmap, and then will adjust our development plans according to the feedback that we receive from our core Steam community – with frequent updates and regular blog entries.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We plan that Spire of Sorcery will be in Early Access between 6 and 12 months.

However, as with our previous Steam release, we plan to keep updating Spire of Sorcery for many months (and even years!) after the full release. The day of the full release will be the day when we're confident that we arrived at version 1.0 of our game design objective; and then we will just continue updating the game as usual.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“In terms of content, the full release version of the game will have the bells and whistles that the Early Access version will not have at its launch date: unique icons and illustrations for different types of events and items; more music and more sound effects; more events in general.

In terms of game mechanics, the full release version of the game might have advanced levels of gameplay built on top of the core mechanics – depending on how we progress with the balancing of the overall player experience, and whether we find these extra layers of gameplay necessary.

In terms of user interface, the full release version of the game will definitely have multiple improvements based on what we discover during thousands of games completed by the community during the Early Access period.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“When Spire of Sorcery launches in Early Access in 2018, the game will be fully playable at its core level: recruit disciples, teach them and discover their personalities and traits; upgrade your spire and manage your resources; send parties on quests across the global map of the world and receive reports; conduct research and otherwise manage your mage's time. Finally, the game will already have a final stage and you will be able to win (or lose) the main campaign.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“Like with our previous project, we plan to increase the price once the game transitions from Early Access to full release.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“The close involvement of the Steam community is the sole reason behind our decision to launch Spire of Sorcery first in Early Access. During the Early Access period of our previous game, we already developed the tools that allow us to process player feedback and synchronise our development priorities with what the community feels might benefit the project the most – in a transparent way. We are used to releasing updates as often as every 2 weeks, in order to keep up to speed to the community feedback.

Our first game would not be the same without the many contributions (large and small) of dedicated players from different regions around the world. We know that we can design, develop and deliver a great original game – but we also know that we cannot predict all of the aspects that will make it truly enjoyable experience that will give players 100+ hours of terrific player experience, and this is where the involvement of our community is truly irreplaceable!”
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December 7

#39 – INTERFACE



In the previous issues of this blog, we’ve already discussed how Mage Suite, Living Quarters and Classroom work in the game; we also covered Workshop, Alchemic Studio and Kitchen. Today, we wanted to go over the remaining rooms: Library, Laboratory, Warehouse and Magic Energy’s Storage, but then decided to move this to another update, instead offering you a look at where we are today with the development process. We hope that you excuse such change of scheduled topic.

Now, where we are with the game and what is the hardest task at hand? For the last month, we’ve been doing a deep dive into user interface and user experience (UI/UX) across the whole game. This process is not yet over.

Some things are relatively straightforward: we look at the game mechanics that is already implemented in the code of the game, and then we find the most intuitive way to visualize it. For example, by now we already have rarity levels assigned to each inventory item in the game’s database; what was left to do was designing and drawing the specific looks for each rarity level.


Some things are much harder: once we started designing the Library interface, we faced the question of presenting to players dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of different books – each with different requirements and containing different amounts of knowledge.

Adding more complexity to this task, books also exist in a number of different states: from having different damage levels to being read/unread by a particular character (fully or partially) and to being related to one of the 14 possible subjects, possibly also with one of the 50 secondary skills.



As you can see, early interface of Library was rather confusing.

Considering that Library is just one aspect of the Spire (not to mention the exploration of the world outside), we felt that we cannot leave this as it were. No matter how we visualized the original mechanics, having a book that requires skill 50+ of Monstrology and yields knowledge in Hunting next to a book that requires skill 40+ of Literacy and skill 75+ of Battle Magic plus 100% knowledge of Ancient Tongue, was proving to be too much even for us, who spend every day looking at this game.



How many designs do we go through, for each room, before we are satisfied? On average, through about 30-40 versions. It is a painful process that requires patience and cannot be compromised.

And so, after some days of discussions, we re-worked the whole skill system across the entire game. Previously, skills could have had a value between 0 and 200. Now, every skill has just 15 levels. Progression between these levels requires experience (EXP), the higher you progress – the more EXP you need to move to the next level.

This change simplified a lot in terms of user interface, including the Library – which now has just 5 “shelves” for books, each shelf corresponding to specific skill levels. If your character’s Astrology skill is at level 10, then she can access shelves from 1 to 4. Once she progresses to skill level 12, she will be able to also access shelf 5 just as well.



Books are grouped by skill that they teach. Within each skill, there are 5 shelves. The higher the shelf, the higher the requirements to access it.

At the same time, we also unified secondary requirements: previously, some books would require Ancient Tongue, and some would not; and some books would additionally require advanced knowledge of Literacy.

Now this is easier to grasp: firstly, all books on each shelf have the same requirements. For example, every book on shelf 3 requires Literacy of level 6 or higher. If you can access one book on this shelf, you can also access all the others.

Secondly, now 25% of all the books on shelf 3 are written in Ancient Tongue; 50% of all books on shelf 4 are written in Ancient Tongue; and 75% of all books on shelf 5 are written in Ancient Tongue. This is also reflected on the covers of such books.


Books on shelves 3-5 can require knowledge of Ancient Tongue. The covers of such books are marked with the special symbol.

These sorts of rules do not impair our ability to generate re-playable, unique campaigns each time you run the game, while offering more structure to the experience.

In other words, in the process of constructing UI/UX for the game we not only want to “display the existing game mechanics”, but also to predict possible confusion of players, and to prevent such confusion by re-working the systems until they are easy enough to understand intuitively.

Our game already has dozens of systems that you will use in different ways to pursue different strategies to win the main campaign. Our goal is to immerse you in the gameplay and let you focus on making decisions, rather than on trying to figure just what the hell does “PRM! EXP 50 (100), DMG 25%, KWD LOSS 12.5%, REQ AT, REQ SKILL 120” mean :).

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Finally, as we progress with the UI/UX, we also progress with the animations of all the Rund’s dwellers, so here’s this week’s creature: Forest Cat. This animal lives in the forests (both regular and ancient), hunting for prey – and this prey also includes, sorry to say, your own disciples passing through the forest on their quests. If you are new to our blog and would like to know more about these (and some others) creatures of Rund, we covered them in our previous issues of this blog here and here.



That’s it for today! As always, for updates on work in progress, please check the game’s official Discord server.

–––



:summer_magic: Spire of Sorcery – Character Generator (Steam)
:summer_magic: Official Discord server
:summer_magic: Twitter (game updates)
:summer_magic: Facebook (game updates)



:malice: Official Discord server
:malice: Twitter (game updates)
:malice: Facebook (game updates)
:music: Original Soundtrack on Spotify



:notebook: Twitter (studio news)
:notebook: Facebook (studio news)
:notebook: "Behind the scenes" Instagram
:notebook: YouTube
20 comments Read more

November 27

#38 – ROOMS



In the previous issue of this blog, we’ve already discussed how Mage Suite, Living Quarters and Classroom work in the game. Today, we take a look at Workshop, Alchemic Studio and Kitchen. But first, let’s talk a little bit about the development process.

Hideo Kojima (小島秀夫) recently compared the work of game designer to that of a chef at a restaurant, and we tend to agree. You pick the ingredients, you learn the techniques, and then – importantly! – you taste and adjust, before serving the dinner.



In a similar fashion, we started on Spire of Sorcery with certain strengths (our experience of releasing and operating Gremlins, Inc.) and a number of big ideas that we intended to mix together (defined in the game’s motto: “Teach. Explore. Survive.”).

As we moved forward with the production, certain mechanics were added to the mix, and certain were thrown out. Tactical battles? Out, because they would derail the experience. Books as a commodity, a source of knowledge and a possible loot? In, because they add a new layer on top of everything, from trading to learning and to exploration.

From a certain perspective, the whole process of development of Spire of Sorcery can be viewed as something like two thousand design decisions made in balance with each other, and then properly executed.



What does it mean for a character to be tired – in terms of game mechanics? What is the difference between a character who is simply “hungry” and a character who is “starving”? How does a poisoning reveal itself through external symptoms, and what does it take to discover the poison used – and then to find the cure?

Every day, we do our best to answer such questions, and then to execute the decisions at the highest level accessible to our team. Our artists scratch their heads looking for the best fitting icon to show “this character ate too much food and suffers negative consequences for it”. Our interface design team runs dozens of emulations of how players will access and use the Library in the game – to remove clutter and shorten the way for the most common actions.



Even I, the lowly writer of this development blog, go through 5 cups of osmanthus oolong tea (桂花乌龙茶) before I settle down on a specific topic, deleting the topics that are too boring or too complicated to expand upon (when you will eventually come across a boring blog post, please know that it is not because of my lack of trying, but because of my supply of this oolong running out!).

In the end, nothing that we do is “final”, because our ambition is not to cook a specific “soup” – but to cook a “soup” that would put a smile on your face. So, if today we say that every skill of a disciple remains hidden until an exam is undertaken, but during the beta test we discover that it causes a lot of unnecessary activity in the game – we will amend this mechanics in a blink of an eye. We want you to discover the world of Run, to teach and to explore, and to try to survive in the heart of the Wild Lands. And whatever adjustments it takes to make it a fun, engaging game, please rest assured that we are committed to make them – today and tomorrow, or during the closed beta test, or during the Early Access period… or even after the full release!



WORKSHOP

This is the room where your disciples (and your mage) use their skill of Artificing and the corresponding secondary skills.

Upgrades available:

Efficiency. Capacity.

Resources:

Here you access two groups of items: items from the Warehouse that are tagged as “raw materials” (for example, iron; wood; emeralds) and items from the Warehouse that are tagged as “damaged” (clothing, equipment, weapons).

Actions:

This is where you can make new things (for example, use tailoring – a secondary skill – to sew a new clothing set) and repair damaged things (for example, use blacksmithing – also a secondary skill – to repair a helmet).



ALCHEMIC STUDIO

This is the room where you disciples (and your mage) use their skill of Alchemy.

Upgrades available:

Efficiency. Capacity.

Resources:
Here you access two groups of items: items that are used as ingredients in alchemic recipes, grouped by their alchemic properties (there are 26 alchemic properties in the game, as discussed here); and alchemic items from the Warehouse that have been already previously produced (potions, powders, elixirs).

Actions:

This is where you can make use of the discovered (or purchased or found) alchemic recipes in order to combine several ingredients to produce a new item. Learning the recipes, discovering the properties of different items and mastering the skill of alchemy that allows to combine items and their properties in order to create new things, is a must in order to win the main campaign of the game.



KITCHEN

This is the room where disciples use the secondary skill of Cooking (it belongs to the primary skill of Alchemy).

Upgrades available:

Efficiency. Capacity.

Resources:

Here we see two groups of items: items tagged with “raw food” and “delicacy/exotic raw food”, which can be eaten raw right away or used in preparation of cooked food (we also see food tagged with “spices”, which is used in preparation of food but cannot be eaten raw on its own); and ready-to-eat food that has been bought/prepared before, and is currently stored in the Warehouse.



Information:

This room presents the data that is essential to proper management of the Spire: the amount of food currently in the storage; the amount of food produced in the last few days; and the amount of food actually consumed in the Spire in the last few days – as well as a prognosis as to how many days the Spire can survive using the existing supplies. The stats cover the days that have already passed because production and consumption depend on the individual disciples. For example, you may think that 10 disciples consume 30 rations per day, but with a few gluttons you may see that number climb up to 50, while if the cook is currently depressed, the production of rations will fall even below the nominal value.

Actions:

This is where your disciples cook food that is later stored in the Warehouse and consumed in the Mess Hall.

Policies:

Here you set what we call “the eating policy of the Spire”: in the Early Access version, you are able to mark certain types of food as “off limits” for disciples (for example, prohibiting the eating of Travel Rations as you save them for parties of explorers). Later on, once Mess Hall is added to the game, we expect to detail the eating policy into creating groups of disciples with different access rights (for example, you may allow the Inner Circle of your disciples to eat Ideal Rations and Diet Rations, while the Outer Circle will munch on Magic Porridge and Regular Rations).



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That’s it for today! In the next issue of the blog we’ll talk about the remaining rooms from the Early Access version: Laboratory, Library, Warehouse and Magic Energy’s Storage. As always, for updates on work in progress, please check the game’s official Discord server.

–––



:summer_magic: Spire of Sorcery – Character Generator (Steam)
:summer_magic: Official Discord server
:summer_magic: Twitter (game updates)
:summer_magic: Facebook (game updates)



:malice: Official Discord server
:malice: Twitter (game updates)
:malice: Facebook (game updates)
:music: Original Soundtrack on Spotify



:notebook: Twitter (studio news)
:notebook: Facebook (studio news)
:notebook: "Behind the scenes" Instagram
:notebook: YouTube
23 comments Read more
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OFFICIAL DISCORD SERVER



Spire of Sorcery has its official Discord server, where we share our work in progress on the project. Use this link to join the community – or click on the image above!

CHARACTER GENERATOR ALREADY AVAILABLE!



Spire of Sorcery – Character Generator, a free standalone companion tool for the game, is already available on Steam! Download it here, create your own characters – and share them with the community!

About This Game



In this original mix of strategy and RPG designed by Alexey Bokulev (author of turn-based strategy Eador. Genesis and digital board game Gremlins, Inc.), you will:

  • expand and upgrade your magic spire, balancing the needs to research, craft and defend;
  • choose and teach your disciples, discovering their personal traits and collaboration capacities when matched in parties and sent on quests;
  • explore the vast open world stretching from the Empire to the Distorted Lands, seeking new knowledge, resources and sources of power – as well as establishing relations with the locals.
But above all else, you will try to survive: the troops of the Inquisition are roaming the land, hunting for runaway mages; and dwellers of the lawless wild, human and not, are on the lookout for easy prey.

Yet your most powerful enemy is neither of those. It is the time itself – the approaching death from old age. Only one thing can save you: the elixir of youth. Several ancient manuscripts mention it in passing... There must be a way to learn the formula. There must be a way to obtain the ingredients... Before it's too late.

THE ANCIENT WARS OF MAGES


A long time ago, powerful mages ruled these lands. They moved rivers, they summoned monsters, they created new races of non-human servants for their own needs and pleasures... They also waged wars. It is one of these wars that brought the whole world to the very brink of collapse. Whole regions burned and mountains melted as thousands of souls screamed in torture. In the end, the great mages completely destroyed each other, and as they died, their final curses tore the land apart, creating anomalies that we nowadays call the Distorted Lands. Places that a few dare to visit. Places where abnormal is the norm.

THE INQUISITION


The suffering of the people following the last war had been so great that once the world cooled down from the violent storms, one of the very first groups to rise from the burning ruins was the order of the Inquisition. Said to be more powerful than the Emperor himself, this order is focused on controlling each and every person who possesses any magic powers – and on hunting down those runaway mages that seek to practice the forbidden skill. To the Inquisition, magic powers are a curse, and any practice of these outside of the strictly licensed guild is a sin punishable by torture and death.

THE EMPIRE


As the troops of the Inquisition were making the first arrests, a new state – the Empire – was proclaimed in the part of the world least touched by the war. Officially, the Empire stretches from the coastline and to the mountains, and, with a number of strongholds, provides protection to the population otherwise besieged by all sorts of rogues. Unofficially, the Empire's influence starts to fade even before you leave the capital's gates, and by the time you're in the wild lands, the decisions of local lords always count so much more than anything that the imperial court may try to impose.

THE SPIRE


Until recently, you were an ageing mage casting simple spells under the strict control of the Guild. As years passed by, this satisfied you less and less. You started to look for books that held secret knowledge, studying them when no one could see you... until the day of the surprise search in your rooms. Ever since, you've been on the run, escaping the Inquisition by moving to the only region which even they avoid: the Distorted Lands.

Here, on the edge of the wild lands, you cast the forbidden spell for Spire of Sorcery and, tapping into the source of power, erected your new home: a magic fortress bound to you alone. You and the spire are connected so close that when one falls, the other follows. This is the domain that you can never leave. Yet from here you can still explore the whole world – with the help of your disciples.

Build, upgrade and customise rooms of the spire: libraries and herbal gardens, classrooms and prisons, living rooms and monster kennels, laboratories and warehouses, treasury and caverns, observatory and watchtower – your priorities define the capabilities of your spire and shape your strategy of exploration and survival.

TEACH!


As you develop your spire, disciples start to arrive at your door. Some heard your magic Call; some just heard about you from their friends. At first, you don't know much about them except for their looks and what they choose to tell you. With limited number of living rooms in the spire, will you prefer to accept a farmer's daughter distressed by her own magic powers – or a dedicated student of arcane who yearns for new knowledge, even though his skill is on a lesser scale?

Some of these disciples come to you to escape repressions. Some seek the light of wisdom. And some come in the pursuit of greater personal power. As you accept and teach them, you will discover their true personalities and find them fitting roles in your spire. One will become a great explorer, traveling fast and surviving any hardships. Another will become a gifted gardener, and secure your supply of the rarest ingredients. Yet another will become a traitor, trying to poison you.

Select, teach and direct your disciples on the quests inside and outside the spire. Your choice of strategy may yield a few powerful young mages focused on deep research into the elixir of youth – or an army of simpletons excavating artefacts all over the land, looking for the books lost in the ancient wars.

EXPLORE!


Legends claim that back in the days of the powerful mages, there were spheres that could show you what happened all the way across the mountains – and that through them, you could even converse with others. Nowadays, one hardly knows what happens across the river, as the wild lands are overtaken by rogues and monsters. But perhaps one day you will re-discover these long-lost magic artefacts of the past?

With disciples ready to depart on the quests of your bidding, ancient ruins and abandoned mines will reveal their mysteries to those who survive the expeditions. By sending parties and setting their goals, you will map dwellings, points of interest and sources of power. Your disciples will meet rogues and vagabonds, settlers and lords, animals and monsters. Through the eyes of your students, you will discover the non-human races of the past as well as the few ancient creatures from the pre-war era who continue to prowl in the wild, accumulating greater and great powers.

Explore the open world created anew each time when you start the campaign, charting new lands and deciphering new secrets. Maybe your brightest disciples will go missing in the Distorted Lands, lured by the innocent-looking fluters; or maybe they will befriend the many-handed Librarian and unlock his treasure trove of manuscripts? The story of the campaign is yours to write.

SURVIVE!


Here in the wild lands, bandits and gangs are a fix of the local landscape. Looking for the weak, they will move to an easier prey once you step up your spire's defense. As to the local dwellers, not everyone appreciates a mage moving in, and quite a few may try to claim the contents of your cellars. Not to mention seasoned adventurers on the mission to raid a castle or two (and make it off with the artefacts).

As your spire gains notoriety, it will start to attract more visitors, including stronger private armies – as well as the troops of the Inquisition, who never forget or forgive. And as your disciples travel the world, other dangers will loom: from illnesses contracted far away on a quest and brought back to the spire by the returning disciples to dangerous spells triggered by the explorers, which can range from having a few ghosts to having to battle a full-blown death curse. Your old age is approaching, too, rendering you fragile... until one day you become too weak to defend the spire.

Survive the immediate dangers while looking for the formula and ingredients of the only thing that can offer you the truly lasting power – the elixir of youth. Whether you find it, craft it or trade it, this is the item that will decide the ultimate success or failure of your campaign!

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7/8/10
    • Processor: Intel 2.3Ghz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel Iris 5000
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Internal
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7/8/10
    • Processor: Intel i5 / similar AMD or higher
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 7XX / similar Radeon or higher
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Internal

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