Find your Grail

This is kind of a big announcement, so bear with. I have been a hobbyist/Indy professional game designer since about 2004 with the creation and self publishing/distribution of a traditional pen and paper RPG, and a dozen other projects in various states of development for the aim of eventual self publishing. I didn’t come into modding with an intention to pursue anything other than some fun mod making, but Legacy’s sheer gargantuan size and scope coupled with the continued development of Odyssey and the resulting expansion of my skill sets from working with both, I have come to a realization, one that I have been rattling around for quite some time and one that has been spoken of at times in the past with folks on the Legacy page, and now I think it is time to start seriously thinking about this and laying some of the prep work for it. That is, I am going to develop my own game.

So without further ado, I present “Voldara”


The world of Voldara is dying. Nobody knows how and nobody knows why, but the mysteries of their world must now be uncovered if there is to be hope for survival into tomorrow. And it falls to you brave heroes to seek out those mysteries and discover the truth within the Nexus which threatens the world.

Ages ago, Voldara was a primitive yet prosperous world, rife with magic and wonder, with a vast wilderness of opportunity to explore. As the ages progressed however, technology and industry dominated and magic became all but forgotten. Cities grew in the vast spaces and forests fell, and mountains were leveled. Soon there was no place left uncovered by progress. Everything good and green had been stamped out.

The world suffered for it, as famine and drought began to take over. All resources became depleted and food became scarce. The oceans and streams began to run thin and eventually dried up altogether. Desperate, the Voldarians began to dig. They dug deep and they dug fast, searching for resources and for precious water. Their efforts were met with success and their demise was averted for a time at least. The ores and minerals exhumed from the planet left gaping scars and chasms in the earth. Their process for digging, literally disintegrating the matter of the earth, transmuting it into ore leaving the earth a hollow shell filled with networks of metal chambers and tunnels, veritable underground cities born within the sundered earth.

Life would move on for another age until word came that Voldara’s only sun was dying. It began to shrink and the world began to quickly turn cold. Once again, Voldara was at risk of catastrophe and so they dug once more. This time they sought to reach the molten core of the planet and tap into its vast energy.

Again they worked hard and they worked fast, managing to tap into the power of the core and utilizing recently rediscovered magic, which they could only apply through technology known as “Magitek”, they created the sky field which protected the planet and sustained the heat that would support life. It ensures that water is condensed and collected and made available throughout the entirely of the planet. Again, for a time, life went on.

Then the Sun died, leaving only a cinder of its former radiance and Voldara went dark. Radiation storms pelted the planet, weakening the sky field and threatening destruction of the planet again, yet they survived. As generations went on, technology continued to evolve and change. Now with limited resources it came to be that the people had to make do with what they had and soon the advanced and shiny new technology became ragged and worn, reclaimed and re-purposed over and over through the generations; threadbare and patch worked.

The science behind the power of the core which protected and sustained the world, was eventually forgotten and lost to the ages and soon history became legend and the legends became mythology. What once was a man made device to sustain life, soon was believed to have CREATED life on Voldara, and thus the Nexus was born.  Nobody understood any longer what it was, nor how it worked, all that was known is that as long as it existed, life would go on and so many worshiped it as their God.

Today Voldara once again stands on the brink of devastation. Power is failing, the sky field grows weak, water is becoming scare at times, and strange tremors seem to grow from deep within. The planet no longer is a planet by traditional standards. It was still round, and was once made of earth, but most has been sundered and converted into metal which makes up the framework of this world. Layer upon layer, from the near opulent upper city, to the sustained middle lands, to the desperate lower city, the reviled Undercity. From the catacombs to the old world, to the midden and the depths of the conduit labyrinth below, beyond which lies the Nexus itself. All people now wonder what is next in store for Voldara?


 

Voldara is the tentative working title for a game design project utilizing the Unity game engine. This game which at its core is an RPG dungeon crawler, is set in a steam punk, proto industrial world with elements of magic which was ravaged by millennia of hyper development and cosmic events. Think fantasy architypes in a steam punk world. The planet Voldara was slowly stripped back over the ages essentially leaving only a webbed framework of gigantic cities encircling the globe. Most people have never seen soil before as the only remaining sum of earth lies near the core, in the midden and beyond. All they know are vast cities, tunnels and corridor networks that build upon one another like the layers of an Onion.

The structure for the game concept at this point is a hybrid of real time action and turn based events. The world is seen in isometric view (think diablo) as your character navigates the environment and explores expansive areas as they work to build their skills, navigate challenges, survive battles and find all the lootz . My plan is to have class based characters, but have them be much more fluid as they can bleed into other classes to some degree or another. Each class will have its own specialty, but a large portion of skills will be open to all. I intend to create multiple challenges that can be overcome by a variety of skills or skill sets, so you will not require specific character classes in order to overcome the challenges. The levels of the game will be made in somewhat the same style that Diablo utilizes, yet the areas will be more vast and static in nature. Plus I hope to implement them to be more interactive and have multi-elevation mobility (eg areas to climb to, places to jump, etc). Universally needed feats such as detecting traps and secrets will be executed in a number of character friendly ways. Instead of merely making a detect traps or secrets skill that anyone can have, the stealth architypes will have sense danger and sense secrets skills, magitek (magic) architypes will have divination skills to find either and fight architypes will have a feat of endurance skill to shrug off trap damage and some other appropriate skill for uncovering hidden elements.

 

I also dislike grinding, especially at peak levels. So my goal is to have the game be a little less about gear grinding and more about customization and supplementation. Some items will give new skills and abilities, some items will have attachments and modifications to go on them, some will be personalized and have extra features, etc. The idea is that everyone in this world tinkers with things to a certain degree and the player will heavily get the opportunity for this with equipment in this game. You will play through to a certain point level wise and as you play your will continue to find bigger and better loot. Most of it will be easily replaced with better gear within a few levels, a few pieces will have options for addons and customizations. Once you reach a certain level however (where the gear grind would normally start in games) gear you find will begin to hold greater permanence and have many more upgradability and personalization options.

 

Monsters are not going to be as heavily populated as in Diablo. This is more of a hero quest style concentration where you hit a few pockets of monsters here and there but otherwise find random enemies patrolling around to encounter as you explore, seek out secrets, solve puzzles and escape hazards. I am not certain yet about the method of monster battles. My inclination is to have phased combat rounds like in an RPG or Final Fantasy style game for example, but these battles will not drop in on you from nowjere while you are working to get somewhere. That’s one thing I’ve always found annoying in FF games of the past (with a few exceptions). I want people to be navigating through a dungeon, see a clockwork corpse in the corridor ahead and use stealth skills to try and sneak by if they wish, or use a skill to set a trap and then lure the enemy over to get blown to smitherines before combat can actually begin (or get a good jump on them at least), or have a magitek wielding character activate an invisibility device and sneak through, or a fighter to use some sort of bum rush ability to get the drop on them.

 

Money in this game is called “Cogs” and you will find treasures which can also be sold specifically for cogs. Sometimes these treasures can be appraised (either in town or using the right skills or powers) to discover it is really an ancient artifact; some lost piece of tech that nobody understands or maybe even a rare magical relic that was lost eons ago. Archeology also plays a heavy role in this game. You can discover fragments as you play, survey and utilize dig sites and put fragments together to create treasures, artifacts, equipment or even relics. Many items are rare or unique and can be obtained only in a certain way and once they are found, the item will no longer drop or be available in that current character’s playthrough. There will of course be high end rare items that do drop with random traits in an effort to get bigger and better versions as you play, but again, upgradability is more of the angle than gear grinding; accumulating points and resources, materials and artifact fragments to supplement your high end gear little at a time.

 

Character Types: These are the basic blueprints of a few character types with their fantasy equivalents mentioned.

  • Knight of the Mechadrone: This is your typical close combat, damage soaking type character
  • Wrecker: A more brute force fighter that relies on defense being a good offense.
  • Gear Mage: Combination of a wizard and an engineer/tinkerer. They utilize Technic abilities (magic) and utilize Magitech (enchanted equipment) more freely and effectively than others
  • Tech Smith- The gadget driven character whose primary focus is on tricks, gadgets, mechanical followers, etc.
  • Mecha Priest: Cleric like character. Utilized some technic abilities (magic) and has good fighting skills and some mechanical aptitude as well. Very good jack of all trades but is more of a battlemage class
  • Gunmage: gun fighters and snipers who wield offensive technic abilities through their guns. Ranger-like
  • Underkin: Thieves and assassins. Focus on stealth with equal secondary aptitudes in technics or Mechanics.

 

The nature of the world map is a multi-layered onion. You start at the midlands or the surface of the upper city perhaps (TBD), and as you go deeper and deeper, the outer layers basically break apart like an exploded view schematic to reveal the next level below, all the way down to the core. Of course you can’t see anything until you’ve been there or acquired maps, etc. The idea is that you start in one area and work your way down. This will allow for easy expansion of the game later as you can grow outward as much as you like around the planet. My hope is to allow modding capabilities for Voldara, and in a way that has not been attempted before. My hope is to allow modding to implement into the existing world on an official level in some way. For example, someone develops a new section of the middle city which has its own lower levels of dungeons with new challenges, characters, quests, equipment, etc. The mod must reach a certain level of endorsement or something, then the author can submit the work, have it screened, played, bug checked and if it passes and is immersive to the existing game, it will be included in a future expansion of the game. All contributing authors will receive a free copy of the DLC their work is included in, as well as a small royalty of the sales of any DLC their work appears in. Modding of this nature would be much more streamlined and somewhat more limited in what the author can do of course because full overhauls for instance would not be included in possible DLC collaboration. Most of what would be considered would be quest content and new lands/dungeons/items.

 

This is still very much a work in progress and though I have a great deal of the mechanical concept already worked out in table top gaming format as this derived from a board game concept of mine, there is still a great deal to contemplate and plan as I being to learn Unity. But I have not even cracked the Unity software open and have not sat down to research in earnest yet, so I am unsure of the capabilities, so things are certain to evolve a lot.

I still intend on working on Odyssey of the Dragonborn over the coming months, but I have decided to put Relic Hunter on semi-permanent suspension until I investigate the plausibility of this new pursuit.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Find your Grail

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s