[Blog] Building the World

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about crafting a world. One of the most difficult things we as game designers face is putting our world together. Deciding where things are, how far a player can go, and how interactive the world is. With Skullforge: The Hunt, we started with this notion that we would do an open world game. However, the difficulties in building such a world became apparent almost immediately. We then decided to scale things back and make zones as it was a bit more focused and easier for us to handle. My “team” is only two people and crafting a seamless world with the two of us would have been a nightmare.

That doesn’t mean our job has gotten any easier. Building a world for players to run around in is a large undertaking. It takes a lot of work to make zones meaningful and varied. Players shouldn’t be bored running around in the world so we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get people motivated. We looked at varied landscapes and large cities. With the biggest problem being that the game takes place on a tropical island. I did a bit of research into tropical islands with Puerto Rico being the model for the climate of Sorova. There’s a lot of things going on there, but I didn’t feel like things were varied enough so we had to use some creative license to vary things a bit. Being in the forest or plains for the whole game wouldn’t have been all that interesting.

The first city that the players start in, Hamlin, is large. It’s really amazing how big that place is. We had decided to craft a smaller city with only the relevant buildings, but over time, it just got bigger. This is one of the dangers of game developing. Letting feature creep get the best of you. At some point, we cut things off and scaled back what we had planned. We did keep the size, but the number of buildings the player can actually enter was cut down substantially. It would have been nice to actually have almost every building you see accessible, but the amount of work to do that would have been insane. Not to mention, that we’d have to do a lot of repeat zones and there’s nothing interesting about that, either.

It takes a long time to craft a zone, and depending on the complexity of the terrain or area, it can take even longer. The goal in recent months has been to manage the time between writing code and working on features and crafting zones and buildings. I mix this up because working on one thing specifically can lead to boredom and eventually burnout. Switching up from time to time can keep the creative juices flowing. After the zones for the demo have been crafted it was time to take the fight to Hamlin. Since the game starts at the docks, I figured this would be a great place to start. Watching the zone slowly take shape is one of the best parts of game design. Unfortunately, I have been working almost nonstop for a little over a week trying to get everything built. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s the sheer number of man hours put into the zone that’s pretty staggering. We just hope that in the end, all the effort is worth it. Below, I included some screenshots from the dock area. It’s all still a work in progress and we’ll eventually have some comparison shots of the more final area once we get there. Thanks for reading.






[Blog] Exploring the World

When I first set out to create Skullforge the series, I thought about how we could make the world interesting. The first design of the game called for an open world approach with a seamless connected world and not much loading. We eventually scrapped that idea since we were using Unity Free at the time and it didn’t allow for doing that in a way we were happy with. We then decided to make the world a collection of zones and just make each zone fairly large so that we had a big enough canvas to do what we wanted in that zone.

What this meant was that we had to get creative about how we utilized all that space. I always felt that one of the best parts about playing an action RPG was exploring the world and looking for some trouble to get into. With this idea, I set out to populate the world with lots of interesting little things. Some of those things don’t have any gameplay value other than to add more lore to the world. Other things start tasks or add to a player’s treasure list. Some things are requests by NPCs to find landmarks, animals, trade goods, etc.

One thing I decided to do early on was to avoid holding the player’s hand and allow them to chat on forums and Miiverse to get information. I think healthy player interaction keeps the game fresh and gives a sense of accomplishment when you do find something out there and you can tell your friends about it. We hid many tasks (quests) and things out there for players to find. Some of them are easier to find than others, but that’s what makes it all interesting.

If players come together and pool information to find all things out in the game world, then I’ll consider my job done. More than that, I hope that players actually find it fun to wander around and look at all the stuff going on. I guess that’s the most rewarding thing about being a game designer.


[Blog] New Screenshot (May 27, 2015)

It’s amazing to think that so much time has passed and how much the game has progressed. Oh, there’s still plenty of work to be done, but every now and again I like to step back and reflect on how things have changed. The other day, Heather and I sat down and looked at the original screenshots we used for the Kickstarter and how it’s hard to believe it’s really the same game. Regardless of how the game turns out, I’m still proud of the work we’ve done. Ultimately, that’s all that matters anyway. Though, being successful and making enough money to bring to life our next project is good, too.

Next week, we should be able to do a video blog showing off one of the tasks in the game and perhaps some combat. We still haven’t finalized the A.I., so it’s a little screwed up at the moment. I mainly want to show how the game looks in action and how the player will interact with the world and the things in it. I’m a little nervous and excited at the same time. I hope you guys like what we’ve come up with.

Here are some screens of the game:





[Blog] New Screenshot (May 8, 2015)

We’re making a lot of progress these days and it’s really cool to see the game change as time goes on. Right now, we’re working hard on the demo that we plan to release next month and the foundation for the 4 different zones has been crafted. The dungeon is still in the early development state, but it’s coming along nicely. I figured I’d post a couple of screens of the new area. It’s not really populated yet and there are whole sections that haven’t even been made yet. I figure we’ll be done with the frame of it this weekend. We’ll post some more screens once we get it populated with props and the like. I’m sure Heather is looking forward to that.





[Blog] New Screenshot (April 29, 2015)

I haven’t posted new screenshots in a little while, so I decided to post a couple today. We have been working hard trying to get everything working and we are almost done with the key systems. I finished the quest UI and system yesterday and now I’m working on little things like exiting to the title screen and just simply exiting the game. The UI is far from finished, though. I believe I’ve spent the most time trying to get it functioning properly and in a user friendly way. There will be a lot of iteration as we get closer to release, but the basic system should be working in any case.

One thing I do have planned in the nearish future is posting a little video showing how a quest will work in the game. Not sure exactly when that will happen, but hopefully soon. We’re getting close to where we’ll be simply working on content and that has be excited. Enjoy the screens.





[Blog] Future Plans

We started Skullforge: The Hunt late 2013 and at that time our main goal was just to see if we could even get the game rolling. I was new to Unity and had gotten back into programming after many years. We’ve been working on Skullforge for a little over a year and though we still have a lot of work to do, we’ve made some great progress.

Moving into the future, our goal is to ramp things up to prepare for upcoming trade shows. We hope to have the game at the show in some capacity and so our current focus is to make that happen. On a more technical note, we are working on getting more of the main systems in place now that we’ve finalized a lot of the basic design. The testing and prototyping took a little more time that I expected, but it should turn out for the better at the end of the day.

Finally, we will be working on getting the model for Desi finished. She’s gone through some iteration and probably will go through another one before all is said and done. Below is a new design for her that I think looks great. Once we have her basic look done we’ll start to work on the model. Hopefully we’ll be able to unveil the new model at E3.


There are more things going on and I hope to share more details in the nearish future. With that said, let me leave you with a GIF of the new water we’ve added to the game. It’s an unfinished zone, but I really liked how it turned out, so I’m sharing it with you now. Take care.



[Blog] Talent Trees and Builds

One thing I’ve been working on recently has been talent tree and abilities/spells for each spec. Deciding what skills should be available to the player and how they work is both fun and frustrating. My experience playing other games sometimes clouds my judgement and that makes it hard to be creative sometimes. It’s a natural thing, I suppose, but knowing when a spell or ability won’t work in the context of Skullforge is something I’ve had to struggle with a little bit.

In Skullforge: The Hunt, the player will be able to choose between three trees:

  • Elementalist: Specializes in hard hitting magic spells.
  • Astral Knight: A master of both light and dark magic.
  • Spellbinder: Conjuror of spirit beasts and debuffs.

Continue reading


[Blog] New Screenshot (March 10, 2015)

There have been a lot of changes happening in the last few months and I hope that it all works out for the best in the end. So even though I haven’t posted much on the blog in the past couple of months, things are still rolling along. I’ve made a few milestones and that’s made me a bit happy. Still more to do, but it’s the small victories that really drive us, right?

So today I provide you with a new screenshot of Skullforge: The Hunt. This is of Kellum’s Inn, but a different part of it. This inn is relatively large all things considered. We put a lot of effort into the details, even though most players wouldn’t even notice half of them. It’s okay as it’s all about the “feel”. Still, I think the overall look is nice and that look should be shown throughout the game.



[Blog] New Screenshot (Dec. 24, 2014)

The year is almost over and what a year it’s been. This week’s screen is showing off the new UI…or at least one aspect of it. I’ve always felt that the old UI wasn’t very interesting and had been trying to find a way to replace it with something cool. Looks like we were able to finally get it done. Here’s the first look at the changes. I made a point in snapping a picture out in the world of the game instead of in a building. We hope that you can appreciate the changes we’ve made. There’s still more work to be done, though it’s nice to celebrate these little victories.



[Blog] New Screenshot (Nov. 22, 2014)

This week’s shot is just a little shot which shows off the early stage of the Mercenaries Guild. The structure has been completed and now we just need to populate the place with furniture and such. This place is pretty huge, so it may take a while to get it up to snuff. I’ll post another screenshot of the area once it’s all done.