Zaharia [indie turn based rpg]
Hi, I’m Nathan, game designer and writer of Zaharia, I’m starting this thread to introduce Zaharia, an RPG with an oriental flavor that we’ve been developing for some time.
Developer: Inner Void Interactive
Release date: TBA
Game type: Isometric RPG with turn based combat
Official Website: www.innervoid.net
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zahar…30755437025285
Huge wall of text to follow ^^
An original and well-structured setting
For this game we started from scratch to create an original fantasy setting, which is different in appearance as it is in essence. To make this setting we didn’t take inspiration from the European Middle Age with the addition of some monsters and magic; instead, we took inspiration from late Medieval Persia and Arabia, creating a cultural context that is extremely different from what we can find in most of the fantasy-based settings. In fact, in a typical fantasy plot there’s the theme of a great but now disappeared past, where magic (and often elves) had a glory now faded. The cultural set-up we wanted to give to the setting is the one that characterized the European modern age: a world which is living an age of growth and development.
The game is set in Zaharia, a coastal territory that lived under a foreign domination for long time. Recently it experienced its ascent thanks to the Prophet, an individual that wasn’t only able to set free the Zaharian people from the foreign power, but also managed to innovate the religion and the culture of the nation, being able to unite the whole Zaharia under the same huge and powerful empire.
An innovative magical system
Unlike many other RPGs, the mage won’t simply be the fantasy version of a rocket launcher, but instead he will be a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. In Zaharia, as well as in the rest of the world, mages aren’t soldiers or adventurers. They’re mainly wise and studious people who train their mind for a long time to reveal the secrets of the universe, to understand universal laws and to observe the world through the language of science. That means that in the game, the mage will have a totally different role from the one he normally has: in fact he will be a character that will mostly have a supporting role during battles; outside battles, however, he’ll manage to show all his abilities, being able to overcome situations with the power of his mind, with the force of his magic and also thanks to his social and political weight.
A more absolute concept of balance
In many RPGs, balance is something that only concerns the battle: each class or character is created in order to serve a key role inside battles, even if this is contradictory with the setting. Our intentions are completely different and balance will be something more absolute, so that battles will be an element inside a bigger scheme. There will be a huge amount of abilities for the character, which will be able to solve a problem not only with violence, but even using his dialectic, his magic, his problem-solving skills, sneaky approaches or in general his own characteristics and abilities. This is the way we want balance to be and each character will have strong and weak points depending on the context he finds himself into. That’s the reason why the world’s greatest warrior won’t stand a chance against he who’s able to destroy him politically, while the most prestigious and powerful mage of all Zaharia will easily fall pray to a group of mercenaries in battle.
A free but not empty game
We see too often the making of games that promise absolute freedom, endless different activities to do and tons of characters to meet. Unfortunately, these features are almost always realized without proper care, or in most cases they are just randomly generated. In Zaharia we’ll try to offer a large freedom to the player for interpretation and action, but that doesn’t mean we won’t take care of personalizing the characters (even the less important ones), to create engaging stories in a living and coherent world. Our purpose is that of modeling the experience around the player’s choices, in a way that for every action there will be a very tangible consequence in the game’s world. The player will be free to choose his own way to act, and the game will consistently interpret these choices offering a good and effective feedback.
A rich and varied gameplay
Battles won’t be the core of the game and the player will be able to decide how to face each situation, choosing from the most violent approaches (like fighting, threating, murdering), to some more diplomatic ones (like dialogue, coercion, and the use of allies or political connections), or even more discrete ways (for example theft or infiltration).
In line with the chosen character, there will be several approaches available to proceed with the game, and different advantages or disadvantages for every chosen path. That means that the player will have to think hard to understand the context and then choose the option he judges the best between all the options given depending on his skills. In Zaharia there will be no “click to win”, the only way to go on in the game will be to reason. A character profile featuring high skills won’t be enough, if the skills are not properly used.
An original combat system
The concept of our combat system is different from the one we used to see in some RPGs, since it’s related to the strong idea of avoiding to insert inside the game a growth that could be only vertical. The battles in the game will be somehow plausible, let’s then forget the characters that take 10 critical hits without dying, or the explosions that aren’t even able to hurt a human being because of the rules used in the game. The gameplay we want to create will constantly remind the player of the mortality of his character: in fact, even though the characters will level up several times, that doesn’t mean that one could just throw himself inside a battle careless of his health, since even the weakest enemy, in the right conditions, can be able to cause problems to a skilled warrior. In addition, all this allow us to avoid the classic problem of constantly having to balance battles, to make enemies level up together with the player unrealistically.
Here is a simple list of all the main features of the game:
• 3D Isometric Graphics;
• Turn-based battles, based on a proprietary rule system;
• Nonlinearity in the narrative and interpretative aspects, allowing the player not only to choose which quest to start from, without urgent obligations, but also to make a lot of choices and then solve a problem in more than one way;
• A fallout-like open world;
• Lots of choices and consequences that dynamically influence the context of the game;
• A huge variety of abilities and statistics to manage, in order to craft and personalize one’s own alter-ego in every possible aspect;
• An original setting created from scratch, completely different from the usual fantasy worlds and inspired to the late Medieval Persia and Arabia;
• An original combat system with dynamic and tactical battles;
• Living NPCs, provided with an IA that allows them to react dynamically to the player’s actions and to create really deep interpersonal relationships;
• A coherent and plausible world that doesn’t give in to compromises with the market and will never give senseless situations to the player;
• No fillers, like useless fights, made to extend the game’s longevity in artificial ways;
• Presence of mature themes like slavery, sexuality, racism, theology, philosophy, morality, politics, and so on;
• Five main factions to choose, each one deeply characterized and different from the others;
• Innovative magic system that turns mages into something different from just portable siege machines;
• Extreme personalization of the game experience for the player, who’ll be able to choose in every detail the difficulty of the game, the composition of the User Interface and the presence of helps and tips;
• Fights aren’t obligatory in most cases, and it won’t be necessary to use a character who can fight to end the game;
• Tons of multiple choice dialogues, in order to grant the player a large range of interpretations;
• An incredibly huge number of interpretative and gaming approaches;
• A gameplay that will constantly test the player’s abilities, in all its aspects;
• No moral dualism.
Here are some screenshots of a pre-alpha version of the game:
Here are some artworks and concepts made by our artists:
In our Dev. Diaries we examined in depth some of the contents related to the game, and through them we’ll constantly release news and details about the game and its development.
1. General setting overview
2. Religion overview
3. The world and the player
4. The characters and their skills
What platforms will Zaharia be on? Zaharia will be on PC (Windows, Linux, Mac). It’s also possible a Tablet version, but only after the PC game release, since PC is the reference platform.
What is the present stage of the game’s development? What should we expect? The development is still at an early stage, but soon we’ll release a prototype that will show some features of the game.
When will the game be released? Not before the end of 2014.
Will you use crowdfunding platforms? Yes, soon we’ll start a crowdfunding campaign.
How many languages will the game be translated into? The two reference languages at the moment are English and Italian. We don’t exclude adding further languages in the future.
Will the game have a multiplayer mode? No, Zaharia will be a single player experience and we’ll only focus on this aspect of the game, to make it as coherent and deep as possible.
I will be available to answer any question, but forgive me in advance for any murder attempt of the english language, I'm not a native.
Nice! It's great to see a setting different from the standard fantasy or post-apocalyse settings.
Welcome to the forums and good luck with the game. The staff here will be happy to assist you with publicity as you get closer to release.
Sounds and looks interesting, added to my watch list.
Thank you for the support. I'll be here for any question, explaination or insult. If there's anywthing you'd like to ask, I'm here.
Looking good and the unusual setting is a plus
This sounds like a really promising cRPG… Almost too good to be true. I look forward to hearing more.
We released a Dev Diary with some details about the magic in Zaharia.
The magic system we want to implement in Zaharia will distinguish from the ones usually found in classic fantasy, as it will offer a different version of the magician, that will not be a portable siege weapon, but will play a his own role in the game consistent with his background.
Disciple of Unity
The magic in Zaharia is an art which everyone can access, but few are sufficiently equipped to achieve acceptable results. Throughout history, in Zaharia world, scholars have sought to understand and explain the nature of magic, every culture and religion did it in a different way but we can identify some common points. First of all, the magic is the result of a mind capable of thinking outside the box creating its own schemes and going beyond immediate reality that appears on the surface. There are several ways to achieve this result, not surprisingly, there are both magicians who get their powers through the study of philosophy and magicians who choose the path of religious studies. This means that the magic does not arise from purely practical needs, such as combat, but its roots are tied to the religious and philosophical thought; so this should be reflected into the game, a magician must have powers consistent with his course of study, his inner growth. How does this all transfer to the gameplay? The magicians in Zaharia do not go around throwing fireballs, they will not be able to destroy strongholds by him/herself, to summon mysterious creatures or stop time; the spells available to wizards not only vary depending on the type of magician, but they will have a more consistent effect with the setting and the nature of the magician.
In Zaharia you will find four different main approaches to magic: we will find the philosophical-scientific one, born in recent years due to the emergence of scientific thought, the most mystical and shamanic approach of the Wandering Warlocks, the more holistic and instinctive approach of the Disciples of Unity and finally a more traditional one, linked to the Azhanit religion. The first three approaches will also be available to the player, while the fourth one, which is tied to the zaharian clergy, will be a prerogative only for NPCs. Each of these approaches will stand out from the others in terms of gameplay, offering different attitudes and powers, with the result to create three different gaming experiences.
As to the scientific approach, we must first consider what the recent history of Zaharia is, which saw the birth of the Zaharian Empire and the capital city transfer to Ashantir, in an area far from the influence of the conservative Azhanit clergy. Thanks to the creation of a more modern and innovative cultural environment, in Zaharia was born scientific thought, capable of renewing the classical methods in the study of nature. The study of physics, philosophy and magic ceases to be related to theology and science but is stated as a doctrine in its own right, with its own rules and its own methods. Scientific thinking also applies to magic, which is no longer treated as an esoteric discipline or a mystery, but as an object of study of the rational thought. This means that magicians do not train as fighters, but they are first and foremost scientists, regardless of whether their magical powers can have practical applications of various kinds. Mages who study magic through the scientific approach have at their disposal a wide choice of spells with the most various effects.
The Wandering Warlocks are instead a sect of magicians nomads, the legacy of a nomadic civilization that in ancient times moved to the territories of Zaharia and that over time has become sedentary and has been able to integrate seamlessly with the natives. The Wandering Warlocks are the only ones who still retain the old traditions. Although they converted centuries ago to Azhanism, their approach to this religion was very special, in fact, they integrated their previous religious beliefs with many theological precepts of the azhanit cult. The Wandering Warlocks magic comes from a mixture of metaphysical religious beliefs, meditative practices related to the use of psychoactive substances of various kinds and arcane traditions that have been preserved, not without some evolution, for centuries. The magic and rituals of the Wandering Warlocks was born for practical purposes, is much more immediate and direct than modern scientific magic, but at the same time is strongly linked to the tradition, which makes it less versatile. History teaches us, however, that progress is not linear and the Wandering Warlocks know a particular branch of magic that scientists still fail to replicate that is the Curse. The curses generate long-term adverse effects on a person and it is this persistence that is difficult to reproduce for scientists, who can create magic persistent over time almost exclusively through the use of magic items.
The Disciples of Unity are a secret sect, born after the founding of the Zaharian Empire, which offers a vision of magic, on a philosophical level, distinguishing from all the others. In the history of thought in fact there has always been a dualism collocating mind and body on different levels, a dualism fueled not only by the existence of magic, but also by azhanit theology which describes the human as a union of body and soul. For the azanit Disciples, however, after the act of creation, soul and body mix evenly in order to create the living subject, and the understanding and use of magic must necessarily pass through a better understanding of human nature, a nature that does not intend the body as a mere vehicle of the soul, but as an integral part of man himself. The Disciples of Unity own powers different from those of other mages, because their magical tradition is relatively young and needs time to develop properly.
As to the game we will have three different types of magician: the scientists-magicians will have at their disposal a large number of different spells having disparate but often indirect effects; the Wandering Warlocks will have at their disposal only four schools of magic, whose effectiveness may be increased by the proper use of various drugs, the Disciples of Unity will be able to magically strengthen their body and have access to unique and special powers. This ability applies not only to combats, on the contrary the wizards may be useful in every situation, the various spells in fact will often have useful effects in contexts of all kinds. Our aim is to offer the player a chance to take advantage of their characters not only to launch a couple of spells in the fighting, but also to use them in any situation where it would be consistent for a mage to use his powers . For example, if a door is closed, and the player does not have anyone in the group to pick it, there is no need to give up, a wizard can in fact burn down the door or reduce its integrity at molecular level. Similarly you can distract a guard, make the witness of a crime you have just done to forget, convince an individual to do something, pick up objects from a distance, identify the forms of life in the area and so on.
I love the setting, and hope that gameplay and lore will be faithful to this rich setting and environment.
Looking forward to your crowdfunding campaign.
Out of curiosity, what is the story behind the name Zaharia? is it an area, a well known character?
Sounds like a good idea. Might be good to get away from European settings.
In terms of gameplay it sounds a lot like age of decadence…
Zaharia is on Kickstarter!
I will cover it on the frontpage and I hope it gets funded.
Thank you very much!
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