Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


HAPPINESS IS...?

We're back with yet another issue of development blog! This time, it is dedicated to the mood of your disciples, which can go as low as falling into depression – and rise as high as dancing in euphoria. But before this topic, a bit of news:

Ignas, our artist who is 100% focused on just the ːsummer_magicː inventory items since June, is showing great progress. Even though we comment and painstakingly re-draw every item multiple times – because we want to produce the best art that we can, both beautiful and functional – we finished more than 20 new items this month, and we expect to move even faster in July and August. Our ambition is to enter Early Access with at least 60 items illustrated (as for the rest, we will use placeholder icons which will be replaced by unique icons once we produce those).

Sergey, our junior game designer, moves forward with ːsummer_magicː disciple biographies. The game will have hundreds of biography blocks that offer thousands of unique stories (and skill sets, as the result). Some are dark (girls enslaved, boys abused), some are happy (teenagers falling in love, families offering their support), some are mixed. It is quite likely that we will have to make the game 16+ by age requirement as our dark fantasy lore makes us face some evil that would be too traumatic for kids to explore on their own.

Finally, our core team locked down the specifications for the ːsummer_magicː Disciple Character Generator & Editor – a separate product that we plan to release for free on Steam for you to play with. We have the user interface and the functionality that we desire, and in a matter of weeks you will be able to engage with the world of Rund through this portal.



And now, let's talk about mood – something that has the potential to significantly affect your Spire's everyday life.

FROM STATS TO STATES

Every character in the game has stats, skills and traits. These are the basic parameters. Some almost never change (stats) and some progress with time (skills). On top of these, there is another layer: character states.
  • Magic applied (a curse, a protective spell, etc.)
  • Alchemy used (drops that increase mental powers but cause bleeding nose and overall health damage once the effect wears off, etc.)
  • Current illnesses (a fever, a plague, a sexually transmitted disease, etc.)
  • Poison (if character is poisoned)
  • Wounds (if character is wounded)
  • Level of energy (energetic, or very tired - 5 levels in total)
  • Level of hunger (4 levels, from starving to overeating)
  • Current mood (9 levels in total)
Today, we'll focus just on one of these states: the mood.

FROM STRESS TO HAPPINESS, AND ALL THE WAY BACK

A character's mood in Spire of Sorcery can be any of these:
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Foul mood
  • Bad mood
  • Normal mood
  • Good mood
  • High spirits
  • Happiness
  • Euphoria
Foul mood, bad mood, good mood and high spirits add penalties or bonuses on the actions of character. Depression, stress, happiness and euphoria also influence character's stats.

An example of how this works: say, your character is having a lesson with a teacher. A "normal" progress for her skill is calculated based on the difference between the skill level of teacher and student. If the student is "happy", the progress will be more significant. If the student is "stressed", the progress will be below the normal value.

HOW THE MOOD IS REFLECTED

In addition to a unique icon that shows the exact mood of the character, we decided to also modify character portraits. Below you will find the "normal" portrait of three characters, and the progression of their moods.



DOES THE MOOD AFFECT THE STATS?

Yes, indeed. Depression, stress, happiness and euphoria affect character stats. If someone is really, really happy – they are definitely more attractive, and the other way around. Every stat in the game has "nominal" and "current" values, and mood is one of the things that has the potential to make "current" value lower – or higher – than "nominal".

More specifically:

ːgreengemstoneː STRESS

HEALTH -1
WILLPOWER -1
INTUITION -1
CHARISMA -1

ːgreengemstoneː HAPPINESS

CHARISMA +1

ːgreengemstoneː DEPRESSION

HEALTH -2
WILLPOWER -3
INTUITION -2
CHARISMA -2
INTELLECT -1
MEMORY -1

ːgreengemstoneː EUPHORIA

INTUITION +2
CHARISMA +2
INTELLECT +1
MEMORY +1

WHAT HAPPENS AT PEAK VALUES OF MOOD

If a character is depressed, that character faces the possibility of committing a suicide.

If a character is euphoric, that character runs a chance to experience a special positive event, which could be a breakthrough in skills – or a new trait.



HOW THE MOOD IS AFFECTED

And now, let's talk about the main question: how do you affect the mood of your disciples?

First of all, through their friendship situation:

If one disciple is a friend of another disciple, then sending them together on a quest will improve their mood. And if they are enemies, then sending them together will make both of their moods worse off.

Then, through their interests in learning certain skills/practicing them:

If a disciple hates domestic magic but you keep assigning him to study it, he will eventually become stressed with this unhappy turn of events. And if another disciple likes healing and you assign her on healing quests, such arrangement will certainly make her happier.

Finally, through their traits:

If someone is greedy and you give them a gift, they will become happier. But if their neighbors are also greedy… then of course they will become unhappy, seeing that someone else, not them, received that gift!

Or take disciples that are freethinkers. Enforcing discipline on them - such as cutting their hair or instituting new traditions - will definitely stress them. As to conservative characters, these will rejoice with stricter rules.

There are multiple ways of managing the moods of your disciples, as long you consider their skill interests and know their traits, and there is no "perfect formula" for running the Spire. A harsh punishment applied to a thief makes disciples with preference for violence happier, and stresses those who have compassionate hearts. And the decision to issue to all the disciples new, fancy robes makes most characters happier… except for ascetic ones, who will see this as weakness, with their mood falling down a notch.



IS THE MOOD IMPORTANT?

Very much so! You have stats and skills, and these more or less define the types of quests you can use these disciples for. But having a gifted disciple in a foul mood may ruin her chances of success on a specific assignment; while having a weaker student walk around happy can ensure that whenever that student applies her skills, they are applied with great results. Managing disciples is one of the key ingredients in winning the campaign!

---

That's it for today. As always, for updates on work in progress (including the Disciple Generator), please check the game's official Discord server.

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ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


Welcome back to development blog of Spire of Sorcery! Today we update you about the current state of development, as well as provide full character stats for the situation described in blog no. 25.

DEV UPDATE

Inventory Items

We've spent the last few weeks making major progress with inventory icons. There are hundreds of items that you will encounter in the game. Starting from June, we have a dedicated artist just for this task - making sure that the icons are easy-to-understand even when you have dozens of items in your possession.

And by the way, among the inventory items, the majority are ingredients and equipment. Weapons make a minor part of the overall inventory because your disciples are not really soldiers. Your main goal? To equip your parties in such a way that they make it safely to their destination, and safely come back.





Disciple Generator

We also significantly upgraded the game's disciple generator. We resolved multiple technical issues - making sure that dozens of different facial parts can seamlessly combine with each other. We also added a whole bunch of new details, from freckles to new types of eyes and noses and hair styles, as well as skin colors.

We currently expect to release a standalone version of Disciple Generator for you to have fun with, in a matter of several weeks. The generator will allow you to explore characters of Rund at random, as well as to create your very own portraits by choosing specifically this or that facial part. We'll share the news (and the download link) through our Discord server.





Global Map

At the same time, we continue to move forward with the upgrade of the global map: we have some types of terrain that we already like, but a lot more that we don't like much yet. The work here progresses rather slowly. It will take another month or two until we will be ready to present to you the updated look of the map.






Core Mechanics

As to the main focus of our team, this is the RPG System and the Quest System that are at the heart of Spire of Sorcery's gameplay. It's the invisible work that connects everything in the game - characters, quests and world events.

We are currently building a user-friendly set of editor tools that you will be able to use to mod the game from the moment it ships in Early Access, and we already started with the scripts that define consequences of game events. There will be lots of events. Probably, thousands.


TEN DISCIPLES: FULL STATS

And now let's revisit the situation described in blog no. 25, when 10 disciples knocked on the doors of your Spire – but you only had the space to take in 2 of them.

Vox Populi

These are the most and the least popular characters, based on 100+ votes:



Stats

Here are the full stats of these characters:



Note that Norhadd and Ascantha have "-1" modifier to their CONSTITUTION, which means current damage that needs healing. If left untreated, Norhadd is likely to get well on his own, while Ascantha is likely to continue to get weaker until she eventually dies, as her CONSTITUTION is too low to deal with the damage on its own.

Skills

And here are the skills:



Dark blue shows that character very much dislikes to study this specific skill, light blue shows a simple dislike. Light yellow indicates preference, and light orange indicates that a character very much likes to study this skill.

The two numbers in each bracket reflect Practice and Theory. So, for example, Gwuinitta has 5 in Theory of Artificing, but absolutely lacks any Practice there.

It's important to note that there is a huge difference between someone not having any skill at all – having 0 for Practice – and someone already having 1, because a lot of quests require a "minimal skill value" before you can assign a disciple to it.

Take Herbalism, for example: to be assigned with a simple mushroom-gathering quest, a character must have at least 1 in this skill. So among these 10 characters, Ascantha will be really successful and Miallita will be able to at least start with this quest – while the other 8 characters cannot be assigned to such a quest, until they learn at least something in this area.

Perks

Finally, perks:



Some perks are overall positive – for example, if character is a good scribe; or has strong magic talent; some are overall negative – for example, if character is lazy or has a weak talent; and some are a mixed bag – for example, being brave can be good if you need your character to stand her ground in the face of unexpected attack, but it can also be bad if your character rushes head-first into combat in a situation where a retreat would be more advisable.

Similarly, some perks are paired – for example, Conservative and Freethinker; and some are on their own – for example, Proud or Glutton.

--

Did you make a good choice about whom to keep, and whom to send away? Detecting skills and stats by reading character bios is something that you will get better at, with more game experience.

In the next issue of this blog, we'll try to touch upon game events. Meanwhile, you can follow our daily progress via official Discord server. See you soon!

–––



ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
Spire of Sorcery - Qfasa


ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD

Welcome back to the dev blog of Spire of Sorcery – and welcome back to the world of Rund! As all the different systems of the game are starting to come together, we become very excited about this project. After all the years when Spire of Sorcery was just a vision of our game designer, we now see it materialize as a living and breathing open world with its own character!

Today, we decided to talk a bit more about disciples, and to play a little game with you (if you just started reading this blog, you may want to check these past issues that talk about Empire, Inquisition and Guild of Mages).

Here are the rules:
  • Below are the 10 disciples that one day come knocking on your door.
  • At this time, your Spire has only enough living space to take in 2 of them.
  • Please make your choice about which 2 disciples out of these 10 you will accept into your Spire, and write it here in the comments – or on the official Discord server. For example, “Norhadd (1) and Tuania (7)”. In the game, disciple’s biography is the only thing that you know when you meet them for the first time. Learning about their stats, traits, skills and crafts requires specific actions (exams, horoscopes, etc.). Thus, your decision to accept, or reject, disciples is normally made based on your first impression.
  • Next week, we will reveal full stats, traits, skills and crafts of these 10 disciples so that you can see how effective was your choice to select the particular 2 out of the whole group.
Ready? Let’s go!

ON A DARK, STORMY NIGHT…

On a dark, stormy night someone knocks on the gates of your Spire. The knocking is insistent, and louder than usual – perhaps there’s not just one stranger, but a whole group? And look – indeed, there are 10 people there!

Even though they did not travel together, they arrived around the same time. And all of them would like to become your disciples, as they came hearing the Call of the Spire.

The problem, though, is that you only have 2 spare spaces in the living quarters. So, you must choose 2 among the 10, and reject the other 8…

This is what these characters tell you about themselves / what you can notice about them at a glance:

01. NORHADD



“I was born in the village of Downbog, in a blacksmith's family. From my early childhood I helped my father, learning the skills and growing my strength through the work with a hammer and blacksmith's bellows. As I grew up, I dreamed of joining the Inquisition. When my magic talent became obvious, my father was willing to take any risk necessary to hide me and protect me, but I didn't want to put my family in any danger and thus decided to voluntarily submit to the Guild of Mages. Life in the Guild was very different from the one I used to have before, and not in a good way. After spending several years to master the basic principles of controlling my magic talent, I made the decision to escape this “prison” and fled to follow the Call – which has been troubling me for a long time.”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • A club
  • Townsfolk’s clothing
This character arrives in the following state:
  • Hungry
  • Emaciated

02. ZARHON



“I was born in the village of Fierylands and grew up in a foster family. I always was a self-sufficient child who didn’t need any extra care from the adults. As a teenager, I shied away from most people, preferring to spend time alone. When I have discovered that I have the magic talent, it took me years before I could reconcile myself to having this curse. It took me even longer to study this field, and to understand how to use my new abilities. When I heard the Call, I eagerly followed it. I cannot say why, but it always seemed to me that the Call would take me to a safe place.”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • A knife
  • Torn and worn clothes of no particular origin
  • 1 x simple food ration

03. GAVION



“I was born in the village of Blackrock, in a craftsman's family. As a child, I fought a lot to protect my younger sister. Over time, I earned the reputation of a serious and responsible young man – and was very proud of it. After the death of my dear father, I planned to continue his work. However, the thought of abandoning everything in order to leave the village and search for the source of a Call that sounded in my head for a while by now, became more and more demanding...”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • An axe
  • Villager’s clothing
  • Warm coat
  • 3 x travel rations
  • 150 x coins

04. LEENTIR



“I was born in the city of Whyness, in a jostler's family. As a child, I was rather cruel and often found pleasure in torturing animals and hurting other children. When I got older, I noticed that I'm somehow different from other people, but I carefully concealed this from everyone. Once I was caught stealing and was thrown into a prison to wait for the trial. In captivity, I turned to my budding magic talent and escaped with the help of an improvised spell. I used city catacombs to hide from the authorities and the Inquisition. After hearing the Call, I decided to take the chance to change my life and followed it to its source without further delays.”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • A dagger
  • Townsfolk’s clothing
  • Poison
  • 1 x travel ration
  • 50 x coins

05. DAROS



“I was born in the castle of Iron Fist and grew up without a father. I spent my early childhood under the supervision of my elder brother, always trying to imitate him in everything that he did. When I became older, I often avoided the tasks that were assigned to me by adults and used that time to play with my peers instead. As soon as I discovered my magic talent, I voluntarily submitted to the Guild of Mages in a hope that they would help me to learn how to use it. It was never my intention to stay there for my whole life, so I escaped at the first opportunity and followed the Call, which I had heard in my head for some time by then.”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • A staff
  • Peasant’s clothing
  • A book: “The Basics of Magic”

06. ASCANTHA



“I was born in the village of Stonesides, in a miller's family. Most of my early childhood I spent playing with other children. As a teenager, I almost died, poisoned by the thorn-apples which I gathered for sale on the street market. My magic talent, once it manifested itself, appeared to be a great help to my family business – but my relatives were too afraid of possible punishment to ever really hide me and when my secret was revealed, my own father called the Inquisition so that they would take me to the Guild of Mages. After initial tests confirmed that I indeed possessed the magic talent, the Inquisition set to escort me to the nearest Guild, but I managed to escape along the way. After that, I became a wanderer who constantly moves from one shelter to another. I avoided crowded places and tried not to stay in one place for more than a few nights – until I heard the Call that drew me eastwards...”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • A knife
  • Torn and worn clothes of no particular origin
  • 5 x foraged rations
  • 4 x thorn-apple
This character arrives in the following state:
  • Coughing

07. TUANIA



“I was born in the village of Oaklets, in a brewer's family. As a child, I was often sick and spent most of my time at home. As I grew older, it became obvious that I have the magic talent. As soon as our neighbors found out about it, they reported me to the Inquisition. Learning to control my magic talent was interesting, but in regard to pretty much everything else, my life in the Guild of Mages was a nightmare. Upon hearing the Call, I realized that this might be my best chance of escaping the Guild as perhaps I could finally find a shelter where the Inquisition will not find me. Holding my breath, I waited for a convenient moment, one day I left the Guild's quarters under an excuse of a routine task – and never ever looked back.”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • Peasant’s clothing
  • A book: “Travel Magic”

08. NARLA



“I was born in the city of Intast, in a librarian's family. As a child, I loved to listen to stories about distant lands, and dreamed of traveling around Rund one day when I grow old enough. Over time, I began to show great interest in the work of my father, helping him to sort the many books that he looked after. Then one day, I heard a strange Call, which was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. In the end, I gave up any struggle to pretend that I don’t hear it, and set off on a quest to find its source, its meaning – and, perhaps, my new destiny...”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • Townsfolk’s clothing
  • Warm coat
  • A book: “The Atlas of Rund”
  • 4 x travel rations
  • 90 x coins

09. MIALLITA



“I was born in the city of Merton, in an alchemist's family. Throughout my whole childhood, I was very obedient and never argued with my elders. As I grew up a little, my parents arranged to send me to a boarding school, where I became known as a hard-working and diligent student. When I got older, my magic talent revealed itself, after which the Inquisition took me to the nearest quarters of the Guild of Mages. In the Guild, I learned to control my magic talent, as well as to never contradict the inquisitors and the senior mages. As a young mage, I liked to help regular people, even though they almost never acknowledged my assistance or voiced their gratitude. My attitude towards them took a turn after the dwellers of a village beat me to half-death without any excuses or a provocation on my part. After this incident, I decided to escape the Guild – it's better to be burned alive if caught than to live in a constant fear that such cruel beating might happen again. I had no idea what to do after the escape, and decided to follow the Call, which led me eastwards.”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • Townsfolk’s clothing
  • 1 x anti-infective ointment
  • 1 x simple ration
This character arrives in the following state:
  • Coughing

10. GWUINITTA



“I was born in the castle of Hammar, in a scribe's family. I was a very naive child and my friends rarely missed an opportunity to prank me. I spent most of my adolescence caring for my sick mother. After I grew up and got married, my husband and I tried pretty much everything that we could, including the use of countless amulets, to cure my infertility, but it turned out that the reason why I cannot have kids is my curse of possessing the magic abilities. I got sad, and contemplated suicide, but decided against it. My friends only laughed in disbelief when I told them that I wanted to leave everything behind, and to go whichever way the wind blows, in order to find meaning in my new life. Now, they must be wondering where I am at this moment...”

This character arrives with the following items in their inventory:
  • Townsfolk’s clothing
  • Warm coat
  • Amulet of protection
  • 3 x travel rations
  • 120 x coins
––

With this, we finish this week’s dev blog – and we eagerly look forward to your choice of disciples! At the end of the coming week, we will reveal their full parameters.

Perhaps you made the best choice possible.

Or perhaps you missed the characters that could have saved your campaign?

We will see!

–––



ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
Spire of Sorcery - Qfasa


ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD


Welcome back to the world of Rund!

As our work on character generator progresses, we wanted to show to you a typical disciple that is created by the game without our direct involvement. We then sat down with our game designer to hear his comments about how he would use such a disciple in the game, if this character were to come knocking on the doors of his Spire. Enjoy!


MENKOR IS BORN

The first things that the game generates when creating a new disciple character are character’s gender and name. All names come from a database that is already rather substantial. Our today’s character was generated as a male, and his name is Menkor.


MEET MENKOR

The next thing that the game generates for newly created disciples is their character portraits.

Meet Menkor face to face:



We currently generate portraits from:
  • Coats*
  • Hats*
  • Hair*
  • Shape, skin of head/face*
  • Facial hair (mustaches, beards)*
  • Eyes and brows*
  • Nose
  • Lips
  • Ears
  • Extra details (glasses, earrings, scars, tattoos, etc.)
* – different colors are possible, in addition to different shapes

And do you know how many different unique portraits we can currently generate?

282 475 249 – without considering different colors. And with different colors?

Approximately 75 000 000 000 000 000.

So when we say that Spire of Sorcery offers a ton of unique disciple characters, we really mean that!


MENKOR’S STORY

The next thing that the game creates for disciple characters is the background story. All the RPG parameters of characters are based on their stories.

Here’s what Menkor will tell you when he arrives:

I was born in the city of Skilton, in the jeweler’s family. When I was a kid, I was a rather big boy. As I wasn’t as fast as other kids, I often got bullied. With time, I recognized that I’m gifted with the magic talent. Because of how people with this talent are treated, both I and my family did everything we could in order to hide this fact. Ever since I can remember myself, I had no doubts that my destiny is going to be special. When I heard the Call, I took it as a sign of that destiny beginning to take shape, and gladly followed it all the way to the Spire.


MENKOR’S STATS

Each disciple character has 6 stats in the game. With very few exceptions (like lifelong injuries), these will not change throughout the campaign:
  • HEALTH
  • INTELLECT
  • INTUITION
  • WILLPOWER
  • MEMORY
  • CHARISMA
Stats are measured from 1 to 20, where 20 is out-of-this-world exceptional.

Based on his story, Menkor’s HEALTH is at 09/20. With 10 being average, this is unsurprising. On the downside, he is rather fat as as he grew up in a rich family that didn’t need to engage in manual labor. On the upside, he always was well-cared for, and received good nutrition.

Menkor’s INTELLECT is an impressive 14/20: as a kid, he couldn’t play with others as he was the target of their bullying, which pushed him to spend more time on his own, reading books in his family’s library and advancing intellectually at a faster pace than the other kids.

Menkor’s INTUITION is at 11/20. He did not experience any situations where he would need to develop it, at the same time he’s well-read and has a good general idea of how things work in life.



Menkor’s WILLPOWER is 08/20. It is weaker than average as he grew up in a situation where others in his family were often, if not always, ready to do as he pleases. The hardships or other influences that would strengthen his resolve were absent from his life.

Menkor’s MEMORY is at 13/20: thanks to his reading, he is a fast learner. Having strong MEMORY is very helpful in developing one’s skills as Menkor is able to advance much faster in Theory than in Practice, because he can hold a lot of theoretical knowledge in his head even when it’s not supported by practical experience yet.

Menkor’s CHARISMA is at 06/20. He says he was “big” as a kid, which actually means “fat” – as he comes from a rich family where all sorts of sugary treats were always available to the children. He was never liked by other kids, and as he matured, nothing really changed much.


MENKOR’S TRAITS

Character Traits are special parameters that you don’t know until you either create that character’s full Horoscope, or until each Trait reveals itself during an event or a quest – each time a Trait works, there is a chance that it becomes ‘discovered’, giving you complete and accurate knowledge of that parameter.

One of the main rules of the game is that the better you know your disciples, the more control you have over the success rate of your quests – both inside and outside of the Spire.

Different characters have different number of Traits.



As to Menkor, he was generated with two:

As a GOURMET, he is very sensitive to the quality of food that he consumes. This doesn’t mean that he prefers certain type of food over another, just that his response to high-quality or low-quality food is greatly amplified. So that if you plan to send him away on a long quest and you want him to perform well, you’ll need to make sure that the party carries a good supply of high-quality rations for Menkor to go through.

Menkor’s second Trait is that he’s CRUEL. Suffering a lot of humiliation as a child, he now has little pity for the sufferings of others. His decisions tend to be hard and given a choice, he prefers to administer harsh punishments to his subordinates. Because of that, other disciples are also much less likely to like him. This Trait also makes Menkor happy when he sees others punished, and disappointed if mistakes or misbehaviors get forgiven in the Spire, decreasing his loyalty to you.

Whether you know about Menkor being cruel or not, such Trait poses certain challenges if you appoint such a character to be a party leader: in difficult situations, he will easily leave the weak – injured or sick – behind. And this Trait is not so easy to spot by accident, unless you really send him as a party leader on a quest, because Menkor is not stubborn – his WILLPOWER is weak – and so he will not manifest his cruelty before he gets into a position to manage others.


MENKOR’S SKILLS

The next thing that’s generated are the Sills of Menkor. Aside from their values – measured on a scale between 0 and 300, where 300 is an absolutely incredible value – each character also manifests a certain interest, or dislike, towards each skill. The higher the interest – the faster the learning progresses.

The interest is measured as such:

+ + very much interested in this skill
+ somewhat interested in this skill
0 has no preference towards this skill
– dislikes learning this skill
– – absolutely hates to learn this skill

Let’s start with the interest and dislikes of Menkor:

– HERBALISM
+ ALCHEMY
0 ARTIFICING
– MONSTROLOGY
– – HEALING
0 MAGIC, SOCIAL
+ + MAGIC, BATTLE
0 MAGIC, TRAVEL
– MAGIC, DOMESTIC
0 RITUALS
+ LITERACY
0 GEOLOGY
0 ASTROLOGY
0 CONCENTRATION



And now let’s look at Menkor’s actual Skills (which you won’t know until you either conduct an exam on each of them, or the skill is exposed through the Horoscope). Each Skill has two values: Theory and Practice (we spoke in more details about this earlier).

000 | 000 HERBALISM
005 | 000 ALCHEMY
020 | 005 ARTIFICING
000 | 000 MONSTROLOGY
000 | 000 HEALING
000 | 000 MAGIC, SOCIAL
000 | 000 MAGIC, BATTLE
000 | 000 MAGIC, TRAVEL
000 | 000 MAGIC, DOMESTIC
000 | 000 RITUALS
007 | 003 LITERACY
000 | 000 GEOLOGY
000 | 000 ASTROLOGY
000 | 000 CONCENTRATION

I think the explanation of this is pretty self-evident? Menkor has high interest in learning BATTLE MAGIC as he would really like to be hit back to his abusers. As to his Skills, he picked quite some ARTIFICING from his father the jeweler. His progress in ALCHEMY stems from his love of great food. And his LITERACY comes from his reading habits (LITERACY covers both the ability to learn non-human languages – each tribe has its own language – and the ability to learn the ancient High Tongue of Rund, commonly used in old books).


MENKOR’S CRAFTS

Connected Skills are Crafts: parameters that show how successful a character is, at attempting to perform relevant task. It takes some time for the Craft to become positive, and once it’s positive, it grows proportionately to its master Skill.

At the moment of his arrival, Menkor has no open Crafts, and two Crafts that are in early stages of reaching positive status:

25% COOKING
00% STREETWISE
00% SKULDUDGERY
00% SPEECHCRAFT
00% TEACHING
00% FARMING
00% FORAGING
00% LUMBERING
00% HUNTING
00% FISHING
00% TRACKING
00% HERDING
00% SMITHING
00% CARPENTRY
00% TAILORING
00% SHOOTING
00% MELEE
00% MINING
00% SURVIVAL
50% JEWELRY ART



With this, the generation of Menkor is finished, and we’re finished with today’s blog! Please let us know, here or on Discord, what do you think of this character – and how do you think you can use him? Could he pose certain risks? Do you envision a situation where Menkor can become your savior, and one of your best disciples – or such a danger to others than you’ll need to expel him?

See in this blog in a week from now!

–––



ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
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ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD

Welcome back to the dev blog of Spire of Sorcery! It’s been a few weeks since we posted updates here because Sergei – the person who writes these – was busy organizing a conference for a bunch of games industry lawyers (long story!). But now that he’s back, the regular schedule resumes! And if you’d like to check our work in progress regularly, make sure that you check out sketches and screenshots that we share every day on the game’s official Discord server.

In today’s blog, we’ll talk about disciples of the Spire, and how we worked on the generator that creates unique character portraits for them.


ONE HUNDRED DISCIPLES

In the course of one game campaign, you’re likely to meet about one hundred disciples. Some of them you will accept, and some you will reject. Some will die while out on a quest – and some will survive and return with improved skills, becoming your favorites. Since your mage cannot leave the Spire, it is your disciples, traveling far and wide, who will bring you success or failure.




ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE

As you remember, magic talent does not discriminate between poor or rich, dark-skinned or pale, boys or girls: people with the magic talent are born all over Rund. Thus, you will meet all sorts of people who, hearing the Call, come knocking at the gates of your Spire. Some will be younger, and some will be older; some will be naïve, and some will harbor dark plans.

It is up to you to choose those who will be accepted into the Spire, based on what your current needs are – as if you’re desperate to have someone to just cook the rations, then you probably won’t be too picky about whom to take in, even if they’re greedy, depressed and aggressive (that is, until they start a fight in the garden and kill your favorite alchemist).




A STORY AND A PORTRAIT

The two things that you always know about your disciples from the get-go are their character portraits and their biographies – that is, the story that they choose to tell you about themselves. Since the core concept of Spire of Sorcery is to build an open-world RPG with super-high replayability, both the biography and the portrait are generated from a database that we keep updating and expanding – so that each time you play, you get to play with new characters.

When the game generates a new disciple character, it all starts with a story: where is he, or she, from; what happened to them during their childhood; how did they discover their magic talents; and how did they eventually make their way to the Spire. In most cases, you will know the whole story, though the few disciples who are secretive may simply refuse to provide any information about themselves, or certain aspects of their earlier lives.

Based on each personal story, the game assigns to disciples their stats, traits and skills. It is important to remember that the things that you read in the biography, have a direct functional impact on all of the parameters of that character. The story is not “just a story”, the story is the foundation of the character’s personality.

Finally, there’s the portrait: for the Early Access version, disciples get unique, randomly generated portraits (some are clearly male, some are clearly female, and some offer multiple possibilities). And as we will progress from Early Access to full release, we plan to try our hand at creating a system that will also connect the stats and traits of each disciple with their looks. If we succeed, then the more you’ll play, the better your intuition will be able to guide you in ‘guessing’ the personalities of new disciples – just by looking at their portraits.


THE EVOLUTION OF THE PORTRAIT

We created the first sketches of disciple portraits about a year ago. The ones below represented a few different “types” that we started with, and their facial parts are freely interchangeable.



After some experimenting, we settled on a different angle:



The results of using these parts to generate portraits looked like this:





Then we tried the same approach with the girls:



It wasn’t bad, but we weren’t thrilled either. The style of these portraits didn’t fit the rest of the game that well, and so we went back to basics:



Which then evolved into this:



And then into this:



These evolution steps may sound simple but at each step along the way, we had tons of discussions and fine-tuning –



On each aspect, like shading and shadows, we tried multiple options before moving forward:



At one point, we arrived to this – and we quite liked it:



It took a bit more effort to get to this –



And then adjust it a bit more, to get to the version that everyone here really liked – see below – based on our quest to make the characters look more “real” and less “idealistic”, with their bruises and imperfections in plain sight.




SHOWING THE TRUE COLORS

Our ambition with creating character portraits for disciples does not lie with making them photo-realistic, as Spire of Sorcery is not really a simulation game. Rather, we’d like these portraits to reflect “the true colors” of these persons.

What are they like, as people? What are their hopes and dreams, what sorts of experiences shaped them to be who they are? Sometimes this means giving them red hair, or a big nose. Please don’t think about “whether real-life villagers in medieval Europe had such a fashion” – Rund is a different world, with a different culture, and we invite you to embrace it!

With this, we wrap this week’s blog – and we look forward to seeing you on the Discord server, or here on Steam, next week!

–––



ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
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ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD

CREATING THE WORLD

Welcome back to the dev blog of Spire of Sorcery! We spent the last two weeks working on how we generate the world of Rund – a part of design/code that is responsible for the specific map that you’ll see upon launching the main campaign.

As with Gremlins, Inc., our development process on Spire of Sorcery is split into two big stages: (i) preparing all the systems that we need in order to make the gameplay happen; and (ii) adding content to the already existing playable version.

The first stage is crucial for the long-term health of the project: this is where we build in the possibility for players to mod the game, and for us to expand the game with future updates that will add both features and content. The second stage is important for the actual world of Rund: this is where we fine-tune descriptions, art and sounds to bring the dream of our game designer to life.

Currently, it feels like we’re at the last stretch of the first stage. We still don’t know how soon we’ll cross the “magic line” to first playable, but we can definitely say that a lot of groundwork has been completed, and a lot of systems are already in place for Rund to start functioning as intended.



THE MAP

Every time you start the main campaign, you enter a brave new world. This is essential to our vision of the game: it is designed to be played again and again and again, always challenging your strategic thinking.

The borders of Rund remain generally similar between different campaigns, so that the area accessible to exploration is roughly the same. However, the specific terrain differs: the exact line of mountains in the north, the specific shorelines in the west and in the south, the precise line of chasm of the Distorted Lands in the east, these are all generated anew from one campaign to another.

Sometimes we’re asked: “Will players have the option of selecting the basic parameters of the world for their new campaign?” Our answer is: “No”. This is a balancing decision: the size and the style of the map for the main campaign are something that our game designer controls 100%, based on his vision for what this campaign should be, at any given moment.

If you plan to explore Rund from the very first days of when we launch in Early Access, you will experience this first-hand, as with every update we will continue to tweak the parameters of the world. We’ll start from a smaller world and will expand it as we add more content into the game world. We will also adjust other parameters of the world as we get more data on how people play.



ALTERNATIVE MAPS

Even though the main campaign of the game will always have the map generated according to the same parameters (size, style), we will make the parameters of or world generator available for modifications. Thus you can definitely expect to see mods that will play with sizes and styles of the map to offer different game experiences.



MAP SEED

For those moments when you encounter an unusually challenging world and would like to re-play on this very map specifically – or challenge one of your friends to beat the same map faster than you! – we give you the option called “Map Seed”: in your settings menu, you will find the “name” of the current map (for example, “#DarkValley”). When entered at the start of another new campaign, this seed will launch that campaign on the very same map that you copied the key word from.

DIFFICULTY LEVELS

Another popular question is about how Spire of Sorcery regulates different difficulty levels. Our plan is to change how fast your mage will age (so that with a higher difficulty level, you have less time for making mistakes, some of which may ruin you) and how motivated the Inquisition will seek you out (going from their attitude of “meh, another runaway mage!” to “this runaway mage is a big threat to the system, we must locate and burn him!”).

BIOMES

When the new map is generated, we don’t have a preset percentage of how much of the world should be covered in swamp, and how much in, say, forest. This results in a greater variety of campaigns: in some campaigns, your exploration will proceed easily; and in some, it will be a real challenge. Certain things remain constant, though: there are hills and mountains in the north; there are the Distorted Lands, and the ravine, in the east; and there’s the sea in the west and in the south.



TOWNS & DWELLINGS

Most towns in Rund are based on rivers, as access to water is highly beneficial to manufacturing as well as to supplying the population with clear drinking water. Most towns are connected to each other, and the capital, with roads. The roads, though, are far from the superb standard of the roads of the past, since the space currently occupied by the Empire used to be covered in forests back in the Age of Mages. The glorious cities of the past were mostly in the east of Rund, and haven’t survived the Cataclysm.

Towns are surrounded by farmlands and what we call “satellite locations”: mines, windmills, sawmills and similar. Between different campaigns, the number of towns will vary, we don’t have a constant that tells, for example, for Rund to have “10 towns” or “30 towns”. It could be 5, and it could be 25. At this time, we play around the map that offers approximately 10 towns.

As to dwellings of non-humans, we look at their rarity when generating the map. Some of the very rare dweller types have a good chance of being absent altogether from a particular campaign. So that if you run into the Many-Handed and its Library in one campaign, you may not have this creature at all in your next re-run.

THE LOCATION OF YOUR SPIRE

Your Spire will always be located on the same latitude of Rund (i.e. it will always have the same distance from the northern and southern poles of the planet). As to its longitude, it will vary – depending on how you complete your initial character generation quest. Some players will set their Spire quite closed to the borders of the Empire, and some will run away as far into the woods as they can afford to; some will start in the Hills, and some will start in the Swamps.



RESOURCES, LOOT, PARTIES

Some types of resources in Rund are sustainable, and can regenerate – for example, grass. Other types of resources can be exhausted all the way down to zero – for example, minerals.

Of sustainable resources, some can be harvested at “sources” – specific circular areas within the biome where, for example, specific mushrooms grow; and some can be harvested throughout the whole biome, for example in every part of the forest – however, different spots in the same biome will offer different yields.

When the map is created, resources as well as loot (hidden in chests) obey the same formula: we look at the chance of encountering these in biomes and in locations, and then at their rarity level.

For example, 100% of mandragora is located in biomes (say, forests and swamps); and being uncommon, there will be a total of 20 sources of this resource placed around the relevant biomes of Rund. Another example is cinnabar: 20% is located in biomes (hills, in this case) and 80% in locations (caves and mines). Based on its level of rarity, there could be just 3 sources of this resource on the whole map, if it’s rare – or 30, if it’s common.

As to the parties of robbers and adventurers, these fall into two categories: those with a base camp are generated similarly to dwellers and their dwellings; while free-roaming parties – those on the move – are generated dynamically during the actual game.



EXPANSIONS AND BALANCING

At the time when the game releases in Early Access, we will have more biomes, dwellers and creatures designed than what we already have brought to life in the game with visuals and sounds. Thus, the first order of the day, once we release in Early Access, will be to add visuals and sound effects to the content that’s already present “in the mind of the game”, so that our visuals catch up with our internal mechanics.

Additionally, we have a long, long list of content that we would like to design and add to the game once we get to a later point: new creatures and new biomes that will be quite rare, so that while in every campaign you’re bound to run into some Ancient Forests and Weavers, you may only have a 1 in 10 chance of encountering these new, more advanced creatures.

Whenever we discuss the way that we will process feedback during the Early Access period, we identify few channels:

First of all, we rely on both Steam Discussion Forums and on our official Discord server, where we can provide help and advice in the fastest way possible. We also consider few other sources of data to be very valuable to us:

  • Watching player letsplays – which is invaluable since we can spot both balancing issues and interface issues from these;
  • Looking at the server data – thus initially we’ll give a priority to the always-online mode of the game, where we can track the internal progress of each campaign; and
  • Player logs – something specific to each campaign, so that if someone reports a specific issue, then we can track it down to particular decisions and consequences.

With this, we say goodbye for now, and we look forward to seeing you here next week when we’ll show off our progress with other game systems!

–––



ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
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ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD

Earlier, we showed you how we design characters as well as how we create visuals for the game’s biomes. And today we’ll show you how we bring these images to life through creating custom sound effects.

MEET ANNA



Since 2015, all of our sound effects are created by Anna, who goes by the stage name of “A.Fruit”. She has created over 300 custom sound effects for our previous game Gremlins, Inc. as well as wrote all the songs for the game’s soundtrack (here on Spotify and here on Steam), and since 2017 she’s in charge of both sound effects and music for Spire of Sorcery.

Even though Anna is an independent musician and DJ, playing sets around the world, she fits our studio really well because, like us, she gives a lot of attention to details, and she shares the ambition of bringing our game designer’s vision to life.

THE PROCESS

When creating a new creature or a biome, we start with the brief written by our game designer. Such brief serves as the basis for our concept artists, who then create the first black and white sketches. Once we settle on the black and white sketch that we like, they proceed to preparing the first color sketch. And once we have the color sketch approved by everyone in the team, two things happen:
  • our artist, Rita, starts working on the final art, which may take a few more versions due to tweaks and improvements in colors and composition;
  • our sound designer, Anna, already starts working on the custom sound effect.
Normally, we don’t wait for the final art to be finished before starting with the sound effect – because “the feeling” of new creature or new biome is already present in the color sketch.

THE DISTORTED LANDS

Let’s take a look at one of the biomes from the game: The Distorted Lands.

This is what the brief says:

“These lands are the result of the Cataclysm, which in places tore the fabric of the world. The landscape is distorted, the vegetation is extremely unusual. The ground is crisscrossed with multiple ravines, some of which emit light.

There are plots of land that float above the ground, ranging from small (stones) to huge (whole islands). Some of these floating objects are connected to the ground with stalagmites. Occasionally, there are electrical discharges in the air, between two or more floating pieces.

Most trees and bushes are covered with thorns, with little or no leaves. Some of the vegetation produces its own light, which may have a pulsing rhythm. The flora and fauna of this biome has little or no connection to the regular world of Rund.”

And this is what the first black and white sketch looked like:



Following that, we settled on the color sketch that everyone liked, which then went to Anna as the basis for her work designing the sound effects:




BRINGING THE DISTORTED LANDS TO LIFE

Here’s the very first version of how this biome sounded like:

https://youtu.be/nKirMgnFtd4

We made the following comments:
  • we hear a lot of sounds from Fluters, but they are not the only creatures who inhabit this biome; we need more animal/event sounds in the background;
  • we need sounds of electrical discharges;
  • we need more wind;
  • perhaps some rustling sounds from dry branches rubbing against each other?

A few days later, a revised version arrived:

https://youtu.be/-aMz4YTcLtE

It seemed like we went a bit away in the wrong direction:
  • the location is now too peaceful, while this is the most dangerous biome in Rund!
  • birds now appear in the background, however ordinary birds don’t survive in the Distorted Lands;
  • we still need the sounds of electrical discharges and currents;
  • we miss the sounds of larger creatures that inhabit this biome.

Then the third version arrived:

https://youtu.be/iTdoK-qzZlc

This version made everyone happy: the electrical currents were included, the vibrations of the ravines were included, and there was finally enough activity of insects and small animals in the background. The only thing that was missing: the sounds of larger animals.

The next revision became the final sound of the Distorted Lands:

https://youtu.be/QnuhFIGbQFY

It took us less than a month to get here!


THE FLUTER

Once we’ve dealt with the Distorted Lands, we wanted to check on how some of the animals and creatures of this biome will integrate there – sound-wise.

Meet Fluter:



“Fluters are a new type of animals that evolved in the eco-system of the Distorted Lands. Most likely, they used to be small animals or birds, that found a way of surviving in the new environment.

The main food source of fluters is all kinds of large flowers that are quite common in their habitat. They are also able to directly consume magic energy whenever they come across a thick flow: some travellers mention seeing whole swarms of fluters in the range of thousands, whenever a burst of magic energy is released in the Distorted Lands.

Fluters emit sounds similar to high flute notes, hence their name. Their wings are a valuable ingredient used for a number of magic potions and remedies. It is rather expensive since to obtain those, one needs to enter the dangerous and unpredictable region of the Distorted Lands.”


BRINGING THE FLUTER TO LIFE

Here’s the first version of Fluter that Anna sent over:

https://youtu.be/fi19SwhSyeA

We liked the emotion, but we felt that the flapping wings sound too much like it’s a bird, whereas Fluters are closer to hummingbirds. We also wanted to play with the sound of the “flute” a little.

https://youtu.be/hlrTlzDbfiw

The next delivery has exactly the “flute” that we wanted. As to the flapping wings, it was now too much like it’s an insect. So we asked Anna to make a small step back.

https://youtu.be/XQ6uNhVAh3M

The third version ticked all the boxes! Everyone was happy.

And here’s how the Fluter sounds against its biome, the Distorted Lands:

https://youtu.be/mFq6tKyzKPw

With this, we end this week's dev blog, and as always, thank you for your interest in the game! Please join us on Discord if you would like to participate in the weekly Q&A sessions with our game designer, as well as to see work-in-progress materials that we regularly share there!

–––



ːsummer_magicː Steam page
ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Steam page
ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
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ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD

Last week, we showed you how we create characters for the game. Many thanks for all your comments here and on Discord! It feels great to know that you also appreciate smaller details that are so important for us. And this week, we’d like to share our process behind creating the art for biomes.


BIOMES

When you play Spire of Sorcery, the whole world of Rund is yours to explore. You can send your parties to any point on the map, though some points will prove hard to reach (for example, Catacombs surrounded by Swamps) and some will prove too dangerous to explore (for example, Castles controlled by the Empire).

Once you explore a certain area, you can always hover over any of its parts to access basic information about the biome. Knowing biome types is useful when planning expeditions: cutting through Ancient Forests or Battlefields may take a lot of time, and also presents risks specific to these areas – so maybe traveling by road over Plains or crossing Hills on foot is a better solution, as even if such route will be longer, it still will be faster and safer.

We currently have 20 biome types, ranging from Forests to Waterfronts, and from Caves of Eternal Darkness to Black Pools. Each type must have its own artwork that communicates the atmosphere as well as delivers additional details of the lore.



Since Rund is an original world, for us it is extremely important to make sure that the biome art transports you to the right universe: for example, something as simple as a village can look rich or poor, idyllic or beaten up, relaxed or on the defensive, depending on how the villagers in Rund generally feel about their life and the threats of the world outside. And it falls to our concept artist Rita to express our game designer’s vision with each such piece. Let’s take a look at how we created artwork for one of these biomes – The Rusted Forest.


THE BRIEF

The work begins with a brief that our game designer writes. Some biomes prove more difficult to describe than others, especially those that are common to many worlds (forests, hills, caves), because with Rund, we’re looking for a very specific interpretation of these concepts. Other biomes are much easier – because they are unique to Rund (such as Distorted Lands) and have a wealth of specific details that we can fall back on.

With the Rusted Forest, the brief went like this:

Rusted Forest is an area inside the Distorted Lands. It’s a zone that used to surround the citadel of an ancient mage who developed sophisticated magic machines and mechanisms. This zone used to be full of traps, including huge metal spears that shot up from below the ground.

Currently, almost all of the traps lost their power, and the area is covered in rusted spears, often covered in remains of gigantic monsters who attacked the citadel before the Cataclysm. With time, these spears got covered in moss, while the ground became tinted orange with rust. Wherever cracks appear on the surface, one can glimpse parts of old mechanisms – gears, levers and other parts of once powerful machinery that powered the traps.


THE REFERENCE BOARD

Based on the designer’s brief, Rita came up with this set of references:



A reference board is a quick way to align an artist’s vision to that of game designer: we keep looking at different pictures until everyone agrees that some of these are “relevant” to the new work that’s about to be created, at which point we lock down the reference board and proceed to preparing the first sketch.


BLACK & WHITE SKETCHES

The first sketch is equally useful for showing what we want to create, and for showing what we do not want to create: we try to eliminate unwanted elements from early on, as well as to identify that “something is missing here”. Here’s how the first sketch of the Rusted Forest looked like –



We liked the menacing feeling, but we found it lacking a few things:
  • Not enough overgrowth
  • Missing the remains of the gigantic monsters
The next sketch addressed these issues:



The team agreed that Rita was on the right track, and she moved to creating the first sketch in color.


COLOR SKETCHES

Color is important to any art, and for Spire of Sorcery’s art style colors do carry an additional meaning: all of our locations have their “key colors” that help to differentiate one biome from another. Why? Because the global map shows all of these biome types to help you plan your expeditions, thus it’s important that you are able to immediately distinguish, say, Ancient Forest from a regular Forest, and Plains from Hills.

The first color sketch of the Rusted Forest looked like this:



We felt that it works well for the overall atmosphere: clearly, the place is abandoned, and bears signs of past attacks where monsters were confronted by mechanical traps. At the same time, we also felt that it would be hard to distinguish the Rusted Forest on a global map from other biome types that relied on blue as their key color: namely, the Ancient Forest and the Distorted Lands. And so, Rita went on to create another color sketch –



We liked it much more.


CREATING THE FINAL ARTWORK

Following the color sketch that we all liked, Rita started to develop the final artwork. This involves adding many more details as well as balancing the overall colors. Here’s one of the versions, which we thought to be a bit too much on the red side:



One thing that you might notice, is that at this stage Rita also increased the exposure of the parts of trap mechanisms, which were less visible in the color sketch. After several revisions, we’ve got even more details:



With this version, everyone in the team was pretty happy – except for one thing: the horizon. In the game, the Rusted Forest covers a pretty big area, but here it looked like it ends pretty soon in the distance, and the empty horizon suggests a desert stretching behind. Thus, we made a minor (yet important to us!) change, making sure that the image represents the actual in-game area –




MAKING ART GAME-READY

After creating the final version of the Rusted Forest, we had one more task left: making the artwork game-ready, which in this case means preparing this art to be used in combination with other assets.

In Spire of Sorcery, a major part of gameplay is about reading the reports of disciples who return from their expeditions. And whenever something happens – a meeting with another party, a discovery, or a battle – quest log shows the biome where it happened, the object that is present there, and the characters or creatures who interact with your party.

Rita had to prepare the Rusted Forest for a possible combination with other objects that could appear in the foreground. Here’s the first test that showed how objects may possibly fit on this background:



Picture 1 shows the Rusted Forest split into 3 areas: background, and two foreground parts. Pictures 2 and 3 show how the Ruins and the Death Altar may possibly fit (we used these to run the test, even though in the world of Rund, neither can be found in the Rusted Forest since it’s so deep in the Distorted Lands).

To make the art ready for being used in combination with other assets, artists often have to prepare versions that look like this (in our case) –



And here’s a combination of background and object that you may actually meet in the game: The Anomaly (something similar to our world’s black holes) tested against the Rusted Forest.




ART MEETS SOUND

Lastly, what happens next is that we have one more issues to tackle: creating sound effects for each piece of art. All of the sound effects for Spire of Sorcery are created by our long-time professional partner Anna Fruit. Perhaps in one of the upcoming blogs, we can talk about the specifics of her work (she’s set to produce several hundred original sound effects for the game, after all!) – in the meantime, here’s how the Rusted Forest came to life:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA1H3rXDflA

With this, we end this week's dev blog, and as always, thank you for your interest in the game! Please join us on Discord if you would like to participate in the weekly Q&A sessions with our game designer, as well as to see work-in-progress materials that we regularly share there!



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ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
Spire of Sorcery - Qfasa


ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD

Welcome to this week’s Dev Blog! This time, we’d like to tell you a little bit about the process behind the game, and specifically – about how we create our concept art for humans and non-humans of Rund.

ONE TEAM, ONE VISION

We’re a small development team (currently 7 people), which has a lot of advantages. Amongst these advantages is the opportunity to use everyone’s experience to make our games better. Anything that we include in our released games, is the result of our teamwork. Everyone at Charlie Oscar makes suggestions and offers feedback, and what you see in our games is there because at some moment literally everyone agreed that this is the best that we can deliver.

At the same time, there are 2 areas where we change the approach: game design and server technology. We believe that these areas are so specific and require such special knowledge and experience, that the feedback that we provide to our game designer and server programmer is no more than just suggestions, and they have no obligation to respond or defend their choices. This is especially true for game design.

A big requirement for any of our games is the consistency of its creative vision. Sometimes it comes down to quite unusual rules, for example in our previous game (Gremlins, Inc.) characters can smoke cigars – but cannot eat food or drink liquids, based on its lore. And so when recently someone in the team suggested a card that involved characters drinking wine, it was shut down by our game designer.

With Spire of Sorcery, the impact of consistency in game design is tremendous: the world of Rund is a complex system, with everything connected to everything else, thus any change and design decision taken has multiple indirect consequences. Take mutants, for example: most of us on the development team know a bit about them because of the discussions that already happened; but if you ask us, whether or not you may meet a mutant while paying a visit to a nearby village fair, we’ll refer you to our game designer, who has the whole world of Rund in his head, and who will know for certain.

In this way, we combine the Occidental and Oriental approaches to team work: for most production issues, we’re running a leader-less team process, where every person’s opinion counts; and for everything related to game design, we’re running a “king and his servants” kind of system where we never question the vision of our game designer, but rather see our ambition in helping him to bring that vision to life.



BUILDING RUND FROM SCRATCH

Our designer’s vision for Spire of Sorcery is to build from scratch a new, original world – the world of Rund. This doesn’t mean that we want to have, say, flying dolphins or two-headed horses – those would be “exotic” rather than “original”. What we’re after is a world that is free from pre-existing conventions and concepts, while being both captivating and believable, in order to take our players all the way to Rund.

Because the world of Rund is original, every piece of concept art that we create carries a lot of weight: this is the window through which you, the players, will see that world, and we must try to make it as close to the original vision of our game designer as possible. And today we’d like to walk you through the creative process behind one such piece of concept art: the Alchemist.

THE ALCHEMIST

The Alchemist is a human character, a trader in rare items, whom you are most likely to meet in towns and in villages, though sometimes you may encounter alchemists in the wild – where they forage for their ingredients.

Once we discussed this character, our concept artist Rita came up with these three ideas:



Option 1 resonated the most with Alexey, our game designer. At the same time, he did not like “the wizard hats”, as he called them: they were out of place in this context. While members of the Guild of Mages are required to wear easy-to-notice hats, alchemists are just regular traders. He also highlighted the fact that the life of alchemist is not an easy one, from handling all the weird stuff that he’s selling to traveling around, and so his dress should be more worn-out. Finally, our alchemist is supposed to be an old man, but in option 1 he displays a posture of a young man. So, we should deal with this in the next revision, too.

The next revision addressed these comments, and offered 4 options to consider:



The hat is gone, the look is more tired (both in posture and in the dress). Now is the time to discuss what exactly the alchemist should be holding up in his hands. The book (no.3) wasn’t a good fit because there’s a separate character, Bookseller, who’s trading in these. The orb and potions (no.1, no.4) were not a good fit to the lore, either. And thus, we settled on the jar of eyes and a small precious bottle from no. 4 and no.2.




This version of the Alchemist everyone loved, and so Rita moved from creating an “idea” of the character to creating the actual line art for the concept.




Next comes the question of color. For coloring, we work with a dedicated colorist, Sasha, who takes it very seriously. She started with a few options.




Everyone on the team liked no.3 the most, and so we went on to work from that image further. We asked for the following changes:
  • That the label on the small bottle (with precious liquid) be more like an old paper label, rather than a modern-looking full-color label;
  • That the basket be more like in no.1, while the small leather bag be more like in no.2;
  • That the eyeballs be less colorful, because while they may come from a wide variety of animals, they are still eyeballs in brine, and not snooker balls =)
  • That the legs of an octopus-like creature from the lower bag be more like a freshly-caught animal and less like a dried/cured one.
Meet the next version –



Here, wanted to correct a few more things:
  • The eyeballs became faded (good!) but we wanted a deeper color, as well as a more natural color to them;
  • We really wanted the amulet of the alchemist to stand out, and here it was lost against his dress;
  • The robe looked too simple in terms of color: yes, his dress is worn-out, and old, but at the same time it was really something when it was new – his profession is quite special, and he wouldn’t order just any regular dress;
  • Finally, we wanted a more “sea-like” look for the tentacles from the lower bag.
And so, another revision happened:



We loved the golden amulet, and we loved the new tentacles, as well as a “richer” robe. The only remaining issue? The eyes in the jar were still not really authentic.

After this has been addressed, we arrived at the final version of this character – hurray!



WHY ALL THESE REVISIONS?

Some of our friends are making fun of us for going through all these multiple revisions, and for including into discussions every member of our development team: does it really matter for our players, or we’re doing this simply because we are having fun in the process? =)

Our answer is this: we believe that the visuals are super important for Spire of Sorcery, as they communicate not only a particular gameplay value, but also open for you a window into the world of Rund. We have chosen to create the game in the current hand-drawn style because we love details, and this style allows us to add a ton of them to every single piece of art.

From such a small thing as the color of the eyes in the jar that the alchemist holds, and to such a big thing as the banner of the Second Legion, we strive to deliver to you the amazing vision of our game designer to the best of our ability. Like many of our players, we love to dive into new worlds, and we feel that our work on small details is going to make a lot of you really happy on the day when you launch the game for the first time!

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With this, we end this week's dev blog, and as always, thank you for your interest in the game! Please join us on Discord if you would like to participate in the weekly Q&A sessions with our game designer, as well as to see work-in-progress materials that we regularly share there!

---



ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
Spire of Sorcery - Sergei Klimov


ːsummer_magicː OTHER ISSUES OF THIS BLOG
ːQuestionsː CONSOLIDATED Q&A THREAD

Today, we'll talk about the goal of the main campaign of the game: getting access to the Elixir of Youth.

DEATH FROM OLD AGE

When you start the main campaign in Spire of Sorcery, you have multiple ways of addressing the challenges that the world throws at you:
  • building a stronger defense against a possible attack by the Inquisition;
  • exploring the distant corners of the world to obtain rare resources;
  • increasing the strength of your magic Call to attract more disciples;
…and so on. However, there is one challenge that stands out: your mage's age. Every day the mage gets older, and death from old age is the hard limit that the game sets for the main campaign. You may slow down the decaying health, but you cannot stop the onset of decay - unless you win the main campaign by accessing the elusive Elixir of Youth.


STAYING HEALTHY, STAYING STRONG

Since different players start the campaign with different characters (based on the initial text quest), the basic life expectancy of your mage varies. Just like some mages will have better skills than others, some will also have stronger health stat.

The other thing that affects the longevity of your mage is your decisions on his or her way of life. The following points have a strong effect on how fast your mage ages:
  • the sort of food that your mage eats;
  • the amount of sleep that your mage gets;
  • the frequency of mediation;
  • the mood of your mage;
  • the regularity of his/her overall schedule.


Food

The basic thing than you can eat, is what your disciples can forage from the land: mushrooms, berries, roots and wild fruit. On the next level is meat and fish ("game") that your disciples can hunt.

Then comes the cooking: a basic ration requires resources and basic cooking skills, as well as time to prepare, and is more preferable to what you can forage. A ranger's ration is a ration that can last for a long time - so it's possible to prepare those in advance and store them; or use them during expeditions; but at the same time, this ration is not as good as the basic ration in terms of nutrition.

Finally, there's the special healthy ration that needs an advanced cooking skill to prepare: while it cannot be kept for a long time, it provides all the nutrition that a character needs. Eating these healthy rations will delay the decay of your mage's health.

Sleep

Every day, your mage gets tired and needs to sleep to get back to shape. There is a physical limit on how long your mage can go without sleep - after certain time, any character just drops down from exhaustion and falls asleep no matter what you tell them to do; there is a similar limit also on how long a character may stay asleep - if you pushed character for all-nighters the whole week, you won't be able to just tell them to go and sleep for the next 60 hours; rather, characters have natural limits as to when they wake up.

Meditation

There are several meditation techniques, all of which can be learned, that help your mage to regain stamina and improve body/mind balance. Regular meditation helps to delay the disintegration of your mage's health stat.

Mood

Stress and unsatisfied desires negatively affect your mage's health, while keeping him/her happy and providing the small pleasures that they desire has a positive effect.

Regular schedule

Every person in the Spire reacts well to having a regular schedule. Eating three times a day, sleeping in the night and meditating or exercising at specific times keeps people in a good shape. Waking characters up in the middle of the night, skipping meals to address urgent issues and so on, has a negative effect on the current health parameter.



HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT?

Your mage doesn't really have any special "Life Clock" ticking away in his/her hall, that would show something like "You have 352 days to live". As the mage gets older, he/she is more likely to succumb to illnesses; you may approximate the expected lifetime that remains - especially if you've already played the game and developed an "intuition" for your mage's current state - but this is nothing more than a guess, since so many factors, internal and external, affect the outcome.

Technically speaking, every character in the game has a "current health" and "overall health (constitution)" parameters. With disciples, the value of "current health" is automatically restored with time. You get tired, you fall sick, you get injured… but there's always the cure that can set things right, and by default your characters will restore their current health with time. With the mage, though, this parameter is not restored on its own, and once "current health" reaches zero, the overall global health stat loses another point.

As you may remember, character stats in Spire of Sorcery are measured from 1 to 20. On this scale, 10 is the average value corresponding to a regular healthy person, 20 means "super-human" and 0 means "dead". Since we don't show specific numbers in the game, but rather an overall characterization - "strong", "frail", "very frail" - you will have a general idea of where your mage is, on this global scale, and you'll need to figure the rest based on your overall situation.



THE ELIXIR OF YOUTH AND THE END OF THE MAIN CAMPAIGN

The Elixir of Youth should not be mistaken for the Elixir of Immortality. While there are known references to the Elixir of Youth as something that existed during the Age of Mages, the Elixir of Immortality is more a myth than a reality - in theory, it could be possible; but in practice, no one ever heard of, or read about, such a thing.

In the Age of Mages, the Elixir of Youth was used by powerful mages to restore their health and extend their lives. There is no single recipe for this elixir, as mages kept their discoveries private - some formulas resulted in another 100 years of life; some resulted in just 20; and some formulas were so risky that the mage who consumed them, may never wake up at all.

To win the main campaign of Spire of Sorcery, you need to, first, access, and, second, use the Elixir of Youth. It is not enough to find it somewhere - as it may get stolen on the way to the Spire. It is also not enough to produce it, and store in the Treasury - as you may end up being unable to consume it due to special requirements.

Important: once consumed, the Elixir needs years of undisturbed rest to take effect. Thus any mage that walks that path needs to prepare for the occasion by constructing a special chamber, where he/she - and only a few select disciples - may remain safe from the world outside for as many years as the elixir requires, while the other disciples are sent out into the world on their own, and the Spire itself is destroyed in order to hide the resting place.


ACCESSING THE ELIXIR

There are two ways of getting your hands on the Elixir: finding it; and producing it.

In order to find the Elixir, you'll need an extremely advanced skill of Astrology, which may reveal the location of one of the bottles with the Elixir that remain from the Age of Mages; or a success in exploring the world, which may allow your parties to reach such remote places and uncover such information that would yield the secret knowledge.

In order to produce the Elixir, you'll need an extremely advanced skill of Alchemy - as well as a large number of rare ingredients. Like with any other potion, your mage's personal formula of the Elixir will be the same form one campaign to another - but as the properties of different world items change, so with every campaign you will be looking for a different set of ingredients.

Once you find - or produce - the Elixir, and prepare to consume it, you will enter the final part of the game: choosing the disciples who will be sent away and choosing the disciples who will remain with you in the sarcophagus. And here we'd like to reveal a special feature of the Iron Man mode: the disciples whom you send away at the end of the campaign, are able to cross the parallel universes, and come to the Spires of other players that are just starting their own campaigns in the Iron Man mode!



With this, we end this week's dev blog, and as always, thank you for your interest in the game! Please join us on Discord if you would like to participate in the weekly Q&A sessions with our game designer, as well as to see work-in-progress materials that we regularly share there!

---



ːsummer_magicː Official Discord server
ːsummer_magicː Twitter (game updates)
ːsummer_magicː Facebook (game updates)



ːmaliceː Official Discord server
ːmaliceː Twitter (game updates)
ːmaliceː Facebook (game updates)
ːmusicː Original Soundtrack on Spotify



ːnotebookː Twitter (studio news)
ːnotebookː Facebook (studio news)
ːhypnoheartː "Behind the scenes" Instagram
ːfireappleː YouTube
...

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