Thursday, February 28, 2013

Travel in Elandor

Elandor Chronicles will encourage players to explore and adventure, with rewards, secrets and other incentives. With limited 'quick-travel', players will be obligated to often travel a familiar road, but may be greeted with variety, such as new content, and sometimes rare encounters. Players in most games have had the aptitude to teleport or quick-travel almost anywhere. However in Elandor Chronicles players will be encouraged to adventure often between different towns or cities, but each journey you may encounter rare creatures or other chance content, as the roads won’t always be the same.

I plan to implement features that are quite new to ORPGs. In most, set monsters will be designated to spawn in set areas based on a timer after they are defeated. Rarer monsters and encounters are usually still always found in the same area repetitively, but just are on a longer timer until they return. In Elandor Chronicles, each 'spawn point' will be able to able to spawn randomized encounters, including rare monsters. In one area for example, it might be possible for 8 different types of encounters to be found, each with a different chance. One of those types of encounters might spawn at only a 1% chance, so one day while traveling a familiar path, you might be lucky enough to run into this rare encounter.

Travel will be one small part of Elandor which will aim to immerse players into the game-world, and make them feel like a denizen of Elandor, and not just a player aiming to ‘beat’ the game.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Project Scope

The first release of Elandor Chronicles aims to provide content for 10 levels of character experience.  However contrary to many online role-playing games, Elandor Chronicles will have a lot more content for each level, and experience requirements for additional levels will be high.

Number of Locations-
  • 3 settlements. These include the capital imperial city of Helmsglade, the rural town of Greenbrook, and the Crossroad Inn located on Eagleford Road.
  • 9 Overworld Zones. Each area resides in the first province of Elandor, making up the meadows, hills, rivers and forests in the imperial region surrounding the city of Helmsglade. These zones include Ralok Hills, Eldor Heights, Desolate Valley, Sedon Reef, Cinder Fields, Eagleford Road, Riverdell Hollow, Scarlet Range and the Amber Forest. Each of these zones may also have a number of caves or other similar small dungeons.
  • 3 Major Dungeons. The Castle Ruins, the Moonlit Grotto, and the Abandoned Mineshaft.
 The map represents the first province of Elandor which will be in the first release. Proceeding the first release, Additional provinces will open and connect with the starting province. The top right zone on the map is a coastal region, so part of the first province is surrounded by ocean.

Number of Creatures-
  • Each over-world zone and dungeon will contain approximately 4-5 unique creatures or critters each, promising about 50 creatures (Excluding variations) for the first province.
Number of Items-
  • Approximately 120+ weapons, including swords, axes, maces, bows, throwing weapons and wands.
  • Approximately 200+ armor items, compromising primarily of chest-gear and leggings, and also boots, gloves, headgear and shields.
  • About 24+ trinkets, which range from rings and amulets to mirrors and compasses.
  • About 12+ consumables, including both potions and food to recover health, mana or stamina, provide buffs or reduce status effects.
Number of Skills and Spells-
  • About 30 spells, which are available at stores and also can be found in dungeons.
  • 3 different skill trees, with 10 skills each. All skills can also be upgraded 3 times at higher levels, totaling 90 different skills or variations thereof.

This project scope serves as a realistic design goal for Elandor Chronicles. Most independent developers make the mistake of planning a release that is too difficult or long to reach. It's important to set milestones and break down larger tasks into smaller ones so that the developer can see the well-defined steps to reach each of their goals.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Genre and Target Audience

Elandor Chronicles is an Online Role-playing game, set in a fictional fantasy world. The game takes place in a re-imagined middle age, which includes the existence of ‘magic and monsters’.  However, in comparison with most other MMOs set in a similar fictional world, Elandor Chronicles has less emphasis on magic and other surreal entities. This most particularly includes magic in both trade and civilization. Enchanted items and artifacts, and magical constructions are fewer in Elandor Chronicles then that of other games and franchises in this genre.

As is common in role-playing games, players are able to customize their characters appearance, skills, attributes, and also equip and use a variety of different items including weapons, armor and consumables. 

Elandor Chronicles is aimed at all ages, particularly those fond of the older generation RPGs from consoles such as the Super Nintendo. Likewise, the online capability is set to draw in fans of community-based online games, such as Jagex’s ‘Runescape’ and Origin Systems ‘Ultima Online’. By making highly considered and encouraged changes, Elandor Chronicles aims to acquire a large player-base of both newer and older generation RPG players.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Look and Feel

Elandor Chronicles aims to recreate the nostalgic feel of older generation RPGs, with carefully designed 16x16px graphics, 8 bit sound effects, and accompanying MIDI soundtracks. The game-world is displayed in a top-down perspective, comprised of moderate-color count pixel art graphics. 

The overall ambiance of the game is bright, and full of life and detail. The over-world comprises of different warm palettes, inspired by various old-generation games including ‘Legend of Zelda- A Link to the Past’, and the ‘Dragon Quest’ series. Dungeons and outer-regions however, often comprise of completely different tones, setting the mood and using weather effects such as fog.

While most of the initial game content is familiar to players, players will encounter fantastic scenery and settings such as giant-mushroom forests, and an array of entirely original creatures and critters. New players will quickly learn that the world is both unknown and foreign, which will make it a curiosity to explore, but also dangerous, particularly when off the beaten road.

The graphics of Elandor Chronicles will be inspired by many popular 2D titles, including 'Terranigma' and 'The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap', as pictured above.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

World Concept

The World of Elandor Chronicles will contain some very different features and design changes. It aims to break away from how popular but also generic online role playing games are designed. Below I've dot-pointed some examples and ideas of how I plan on developing the game world.
  • The world is not fantasy-driven. Magic is rare, and often feared. The arcane arts is fathomed by few, and trained by fewer. Magic artifacts are rare, and civilizations do not have enchanted weapons, portals, or magical devices.
  • The world is not linear or balanced. Adventurers are not limited in any way; roads between all cities in the entire continent may or may not be safe. Dangerous encounters do not necessarily get more powerful in each subsequent province. Although adventurers will be challenged as they generally progress, not every landmass is crawling with increasingly difficult creature and critter.
  • The world isn’t as dangerous as you might think. Every single online game is swarming with unfathomable amounts of monsters and difficulties. For once, Elandor Chronicles introduces a world not overrun by demons, or at the brink of invasion or war. There are safer zones and wilds, and most roads between towns and cities are safe, even for the newest and weakest players.
  • The world is not complicated and full of story, rumor and lore. There is no history for the king's castle and any previous wars or fights for the throne. There is no learning curve or names and story to remember. NPCs won't present you with rich dialogue, or give you seemingly complicated quests with a lot of back-story.
  • Wolves, bears and rats do not exist. The world is unfamiliar. Every creature and critter will be original, and have their own tactics, weakness and defenses. There may be forests of giant mushrooms, rivers of fire, or underground civilizations.
  • Currency is rare. An adventurer won’t return to town hoarding thousands of coins and dozens of new items. Shops don’t have many powerful or overly fancy items and weapons for wealthy and strapping adventurers. And money isn’t found on and under everything in the environment. No more picking up gold coins or swords after slaying a wolf.
  • There won’t be a recorded quest log or sub-story line. Adventurers can perform side quests for townsfolk; however their needs will be simple. Rewards for such tasks could range from additional helpful items, money, or unlocking or opening something. In most MMO's, every player is tasked with quests which logically are unreasonable. Every player in the game won't be able to retrieve a quest to obtain a special treasure from a dungeon. Instead, these 'treasures' in dungeons can be brought back to any major city and presented to a 'collector' for payment.
  • Adventurers won’t find and fill up their inventory with all manner of items. There will be very few enchanted items or weapons in the game. There won’t be randomly generated treasure or magical swords such as ‘brawling great sword of the demon’. Instead, each item you find will have a specific use, and may serve important in the game.
  • Items aren’t detailed and numeral. Weapons won’t be looked at as a number of how much damage they deal. Instead, each monster faced will react differently. No weapon or armor in the game will show exact statistics. They will be different under every circumstance and encounter, so the adventurers will have to tactically think which to use.
  • Due to the simple format of the graphics (low-res pixel art), it will be much more plausible for more time to be spent in designing and mapping out the world. This will promise a large game-world for players to live in.
  • The graphics will be inspired by some of the greatest video games on the Super Nintendo, with modern and original designs and capabilities. The world will be huge and diverse, with many different settings, creatures and civilizations.
  • The music will be memorable. The most famous tracks in video game history focused on a memorable and original melody, and not the format. Some of the memorable songs, included tracks from franchises such as ‘Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Castlevania’.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Game Concept

From the beginning, I’ve wanted to recreate game elements and features reminiscent of the golden age of gaming, inspired from famous titles such as Final Fantasy series, Legend of Zelda series, and a handful of others. I wanted to revive what was lost, or is otherwise a dying breed in today's gaming world. Elements such as 16x16px tilesets, MIDI soundtracks, 8 bit sound effects, and a world presented with both retro and fantastic themes and feels. 

I wanted to immerse the players in a unique world that doesn't feel clich├ęd, overdone or generic. I didn't want to limit the player's game-play and possibilities to his level, restricting him to specific zones, areas and dungeons until he musters up the experience to unravel only a handful of new content, but instead give them the freedom to explore and ponder wherever they wish. I wanted a world where a new player could travel between many cities, towns and landmarks, without being quickly felled by monsters in an area that otherwise should be left for higher level players. Elandor will eventually be huge, and I will include secrets and an incredibly diverse amount of areas that a single player may never see all of.

The game will seize a fine combination of realism, fantasy and simplicity; roads between cities will be long, areas will be huge and open, and monsters won't be swarming every road between every village. The world won't be linear scaled, as such as you move further away from the starting village, things won't always necessarily be harder. When providing new content and updates, I won't just add new content for higher level players. Emphasis will be on adventure, social interaction and other elements, as so that 'leveling' isn't the primary task in game. Player's shouldn't feel that in order to enjoy and prevail in the game, they should grind for experience, and raid dungeons for loot. 

To build a community, I will be heavily focusing on aspects to encourage players to role-play, socialize party together and travel together, and otherwise build themselves a social stature. I want players to crave mystery and adventure, and to be rewarded for it. When new areas are added, I often won't reveal many of them, so players will be encouraged to search for new content, areas, encounters and even secrets.

After all, Elandor Chronicles will be a role-playing game. Too many MMORPGs focus on completive play. I want to change what’s important in an online RPG, I want to put the role-playing back into the genre, and create a world which is more than just combat and quests. 

And of course, accompanying the immersive gameplay will be completely original and high quality music and graphics, appropriate and reminiscent of the golden age of gaming.