Thorvalla - All News
Tuesday - December 04, 2012
Thorvalla - Cancelled
While we were away Guido Henkel pulled the plug on the Thorvalla Kickstarter.
When we started the Kickstarter campaign for Thorvalla, we did so with the best of intentions, to build an exciting role-playing game, putting to use our countless years of experience in the industry and knowledge how to build solid RPGs. It took a lot of work to prepare this campaign and it took the team two months to prepare the initial pitch and the materials to go with it, so it was not something we took lightly.
At this point, however, it has become evident that there is not enough interest in and public support for such a game, and that we will not able to raise the funds necessary to make Thorvalla.
We are therefore canceling this campaign.
But not all is lost. The project may not have found the backing we needed to make it a reality, but if nothing else, it showed us that many of you do care. The 1,300+ backers, the countless messages and posts are testimony to that, not to mention the generous financial support many of you pledged. Many of you wanted to see this game made very badly, and we know how disappointed you must feel at this time.
Believe me, when I say that we feel with you and we feel for you. You are the real fans and you will always have a special place in our hearts as those who believed in us and our vision!
Even though it didn’t succeed, we are very proud of Thorvalla, and we are glad that we tried, rather than never having tried at all.
Thank you all so much for your support.
The Thorvalla Team
Saturday - December 01, 2012
Thorvalla - Update #10, Want to see a dragon?
You can't accuse the Thorvalla folks of not trying, that's for sure. Update #10 has added an animated dragon to the previously seen "house" scene.
As you can see from the demo, 3D objects integrate very nicely with the pre-rendered background — the house and trees — appearing seamless as a unified image, without any degradation of quality. That is the level of quality and detail you can expect from the final game!
In the demo you will notice that, once again, the light changes from day to night and you can use your mouse to scroll around the area. In addition, using your mouse wheel will give you the opportunity to zoom in and out of the scene.
Thursday - November 29, 2012
Thorvalla - Update#9, Get Yourself a Mouse
In update 9 for Thorvalla, Guido Henkel lets us know that there are two new tiers. By pledging to these tiers you get a Logitech mouse as a reward.
Today we have an exciting new pledge reward for you. We are proud to announce that computer accessory giant Logitech is supporting our efforts and we are giving away Logitech’s G600 Gaming Mouse with the new $225 and $235 pledge reward levels. We have only limited supplies for this mouse, so we have to limit this G600 mouse reward strictly to these levels only. It will not be propagated down to the other reward levels!
Thorvalla - Update #8, New Stretch Goal and Lay of the Lands
In update number 8 for Thorvalla (which isn't going too fast with 42K out of a requsted 1 million) Guido Henkel talks about a new stretch goal at 2000 backers, a new playable character class named The Jester.
Furthermore also some more information on the Thorvalla world is shared with us.
The region of Thorvalla makes up only a small portion of Azuria, the universe we are playing in. It is located to the North in an area that is covered in snow for much of the year. You can see the Bloodstone of Aing on the map, a landmark of significance, as it was here where the First King, Thorval Ironsky, turned into Snowfist, the Father of Dragons and thus united mankind with the dragons. (See our update “The Myth of Thorval Ironsky and the Birth of Thorvalla” for more details on this pivotal moment in history.)
Roval is the capital city of Thorvalla, just west of the White Hood Mountains.
To the west lies Cluivil, a close ally of Thorvalla, a vast tundra where long ago tribes of proud warriors and bands of dwarves fought for their freedom. Today, Kilrog Watch, a massive fortress high in the mountains, still serves as a reminder of these epic battles against an army of necromancers and their foes. It was only with the help of the airborne dragon force from Thorvalla that these necromancers had been vanquished and driven out of these lands in the most memorable battle of the Necromantic Wars at Haudruf’s Peak.
To the east lies the Norval territory. Ruled by minor lords constantly feuding with each other, the forested woodlands of the Crimson Forest are also home to the last of the wood elves. With its unique location, bordering so many neighboring states and a direct water route to the rich south, Norval has become a major trading hub for many years. But with the riches, also arrived brigands and highwaymen, eager to profit from the prospering people of Norval.
The Queen’s Empire is at the heart of Azuria; a remnant of the old Necromantic Wars. For countless generations it has been a boiling hotbed for violence and some of the darkest creatures in the entire world. Ruled by the evil Queen from her floating fortress in Keyzer, it is a haven for users of black magic, such as certain sorcerers, necromancers, and demonizers, as well as the progeny spawned from their dark arts. Beasts run rampant in this land, as it is home to hordes of orcs, ogres and other creatures, many conjured to life by the most deadly magic imaginable. For many years, since the end of the Second Necromantic War in fact, the Queen and her allies have been virtually jailed in her domain, with magic barriers and walled borders in place. Many wager that it is only a matter of time until she will once again try to extend her territory, but for the time being, much of her Empire remains locked away.
Isolated, sitting just below The Queen’s Empire, is Malaos, a region overgrown by heavy jungles that stretch from the foots of the mountains separating it from The Queen’s Empire down to the gentle slopes that lead to the ocean. Because of its remote location, not much is known about Malaos, but many seafarers have admired the beautiful shoreline from afar, marveling at the smoking volcanoes and the lush green foliage and many would have gone to explore the country, if it weren’t for the sawtoothed shoreline, and heavy jungles that make access virtually impossible.
Despite the merciless sun that bakes the Bleached Bones Desert, Sinta to the east of The Queen’s Empire has long become a prospering land. Savory spices and aromatic fruits are exported from here around the world, and exotic animals call this region their home, alongside the Sintian people, who are known for their exquisite beauty and fairy-like qualities. and seem blessed with the natural ability to heal. But despite its obvious beauty, Sinta has had a history running with blood. Ruled by warlords throughout the ages, not all rulers were as benevolent and open-minded as its current potentate, Khan Li. The books are filled with feuds and battles for dominion of this region until less than 150 years ago, Khan Li united the independently ruled districts into one empire governed by his authority alone and opened the country up to the outside world for trading.
To the south lies Lotos, a small kingdom of majestic beauty that is starkly counterpointed by the dangers lurking here. Many poisons beast make their home on the forests of Lotos and the humid grasslands. Insects of enormous scale and spiders the size of horses are only some of the denizens of this area. Haunted also by undead creatures and spirits of old, it appears that only the people of Lotos themselves are capable of surviving and thriving among these dangers. What is their secret? No one knows, but many speculate that a strong kind of magic springs from here. Magic hat has, perhaps, even spawned these creatures.
Monday - November 26, 2012
Thorvalla - Update #7, Animated Demo
Here is update number 7 for Thorvalla, which is currently at 39K out of the asked 1 million.
Clicking on the image below leads you to the Thorvalla website where you can see, after installing the Unity web plug-in, an animated demo of a hut with a torch in front of it, showing the dynamic lighting in this scene.
Thorvalla - Update #5 & #6, Engine and Characters
As you will probably recall, we have been deliberating whether we should implement the game as a fully sprite-based 2D game, as a 2.5D mix or a complete 3D implementation.
I have covered some aspects of the respective implementations in my update An Overview from a few days ago, and today we have come to a final decision.
I’ve been a champion of the 2D approach because I love the level of detail that 2D sprites allow you to implement. Always have been. They can be beautifully crafted and every frame can be tweaked to perfection. The big drawback is, however, that sprites take a lot of time to do and are by their very nature very costly because you need a lot of highly specialized artists to create the assets. In addition, the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming and most importantly perhaps, the fact that everything has to be prepared in advance, limits what you can do in terms of to movements and actions, since every single frame that makes it onto the screen has to have been prepared by an artist during the development. 2D sprites are extremely memory hungry on top of things, making them sadly unfeasible for high resolution desktop games of the scale we are trying to create. Therefore, the 2D approach has been abandoned.
Instead, Thorvalla will be implemented as a 2.5D hybrid. Backgrounds will be pre-rendered and polished by the artists in an isometric view to make sure we can add a high level of detail to these graphics. Characters and monsters will then be layered on top of these backgrounds as 3D models. While perhaps not as perfectly crafted and polished as 2D sprites, the benefits of this approach are undeniable.
We just wanted to bring you another brief update today, giving you a first look at the character art of Thorvalla. Please meet Dyrfinna, a warrior from the Frozen North.
Painted character portraits like this one by Thu-Lieu Pham serve a number of purposes. For one, they are used to base the 3D models on that you will control in the game. In addition, these portraits will be used for things such as a Cast of Characters overview in the game, as well as the character descriptions and biographies. Naturally, paintings, such as this will also go straight into the Art of Thorvalla Book that is part of our pledge rewards.
Thursday - November 22, 2012
Thorvalla - Update #4, The Story of Thorvalla
In update 4 of Thorvalla (33K, 26 days to go), Guido Henkel tells the tale of Thorval Ironsky and the birth of Thorvalla.
The First Chief, god king, the sea thief, the founder of the Thorvallian city-states. In the rest of the world he is considered the Reaver, the Snowfist, Father of Dragons.
The people of Thorvalla believe that once all the world was green and lush, but it was ruled by monstrous snakes, and that they preyed on the men who cowered in all the low places in the world. With the coming of every new moon, men brought before them their newborn babes in swaddling, the third of their households, so that they could be consumed in tribute. And so the legend tells that upon the new moon of the fourth month, Thorval was laid up on the Bloodstone of Aing as a sacrifice.
And so there came first a young serpent, and it attempted to seize Thorval in his teeth, but his fangs snapped off as he tried to bite into the infant, and so was he thus repulsed.
Then came to the child another serpent even larger, and it too bit down upon the child’s stony flesh and broke it’s teeth, but still it held the child fast, hoping to drench him in it’s poisonous issue. But young Thorval merely laughed and drank down the serpent’s vile mile, and he in turn bit the snake back, and there it fell dead before the stone.
Enraged, the greatest of all snakes rose before Thorval and swallowed the child whole, and for a time all believed the wondrous event had come to a tragic end for the child. But the great serpent began to writhe and hiss, and the ground beneath its coils shook with it’s anguished fury. Blood boiled on its lips, and fire ignited from its mouth. Thunder came from it’s belly, a fearsome bellow the like of which had never been heard before, and at last the great serpent vomited out the child and fled into the Great Desert. And thus was Thorval spared of sacrifice, the rite of the thirdborn ended, and the close of the Scaleage begun.
Wednesday - November 21, 2012
Thorvalla - Interview @ Gamers.de
Gamers.de has interviewed Guido Henkel about Thorvalla:
Gamers.de: Let´s move on to "Thorvalla". How´s the production coming along? Did it already start or are you still in the conception/pre-production phase?
Guido Henkel: Currently, “Thorvalla” is in the pre-production phase and will remain there for a while longer. We are creating preliminary art to determine the look and feel of the game. Some of the early sketches we have on the Kickstarter page does not really reflect the look we want to go for in the end. It is hard to put a “look” into words and communicate it to the team, so it is a bit of a trial and error process where you have artists play around with different styles and look at them to see which ones best fit the vision you have in your mind.
During this phase we are also looking at the game mechanics, toying with various ideas that we’ve had how we could handle gameplay. A lot has been made of some of my comments regarding the changes I have in mind, but the truth of the matter is that if the concept I have in mind right now will not work or won’t be fun, we’ll scrap it just as easily. These are things you have to do early on in the life of a project, however, so it is one of the things we need to tackle and decide first. This process also goes hand in hand with the decision which core technology we will be using. I am not much of a 3D fan. While it gives you all the control in the world, I just don’t like the looks of it. Therefore, my initial approach will always be a 2D or 2.5D approach, where you use 3D technology to render sprite art, essentially. That has some serious drawbacks, however, and depending on exactly which game mechanics we will settle on, will not have much of a choice and have to go with a full 3D core approach.
The key to me is - and has always been - that technology is a tool, a vehicle to drive the vision, not the other way around. Overall such a pre-production process does take time and often yields very little to look at. Traditionally this was never a problem because at this stage no one ever knew of the existence of a project outside the developer or publisher, but with Kickstarter people immediately expect results. It’s understandable, of course. they are excited and want to digest as much as they can, but at the same time such results are sometimes hard to produce, particularly so early in the life of a project.
Thorvalla - Update #3, Party Building
Guido Henkel writes about party-building (and a new pledge tier) in Thorvalla Update #3:
The game then starts with this one character and very soon, our hero(ine) will meet an NPC who is willing to join the party. What happens next is putting the control back into your hands.
While the NPC willing to join you might be a centaur and you may not have an option to change that particular fact, you will now get back into a character generation screen that will allow you to make modifications to that centaur character. You will roll the attributes, but more importantly, you will be able to determine the class of the character as well, along with his traits. It’s not just a question whether he’ll be strong or weak. We are talking the entire gamut here. It means that the centaur who just joined you can be a Warrior for one player, but a Sorcerer for another player. The choice is entirely up to you, and it is my way of giving control back to the player, even though he is dealing with a recruitable character.
To me it combines the best of both worlds. The player is mostly free to shape the characters he is playing with and from a dramatic standpoint, we can use these NPCs to great effect in the storytelling. It is additional work, of course, to accommodate actions, reactions and behaviors for the different classes within the story, but ultimately I think it will pay huge dividends. It will increase replayability of the game dramatically and it will allow us to throw in some wicked plot twists in the story, directly surrounding and affecting these characters. It will even allow us to unlock entire new branches in the story, because to us, as designers, they are not an unknown quantity any longer. They are still planted NPCs, but with so much flexibility that we begin to blur the lines.
There's also a new concept art piece.
Thorvalla - Update #2, An Overview
The second update for Thorvalla offers a detailed overview of the main systems. If you thought the launch was a little light on details, this update is worth a read:
Characters will also have the following, fairly standard set of attributes. I am not sure I am entirely happy with these yet, so I may tweak these a little as we go along.
Combat skills are calculated from these attributes and cover Attack, Damage, Defense and Armor. Note, that Armor is not an armor class rating but an actual point value. I’ve always found that much more intuitive and easier to read while playing games.
In addition, there will be calculated general magic skills, of course, such as Magic Attack and Magic Defense. On top of those come the elemental magic armors against Fire, Water, Ice, and so on, which are item, spell or effect driven during actual gameplay.
Then, to deepen characters, there will be the traits and skills. Look for things such as various weapon skills for Swords, Axes, Two-handed weapons, staffs, projectile weapons, etc. Unarmed fighting skills will also be included, particularly for the Monk class, which you will find have tremendous bonuses here because I like Martial Arts. :-)
Other, more general traits will include things such as Charming, Taunting, Temptation - which is important because there will be succubi in the game -, Dragon Taming, Lock-Picking, Stealth, Tracking, Languages, Cultures, Herbal Knowledge, Poison and pure Luck, to name a few. As we design the story and quests, etc. we will make sure to create proper challenges and plot branches that make the most of each of these attributes so that you will feel that they truly have purpose.
Tuesday - November 20, 2012
Thorvalla - Kickstarter Launch Video with Neal Hallford @YouTube
The full Thorvalla Kickstarter opening "event" video has been posted on YouTube. Although the video quality is crap, it's worth watching. Neal Hallford talk for 2.5 hours about Thorvalla, Guido, Betrayal at Krondor, his time working on a Might & Magic title with JVC, and much more.
Thorvalla - Kickstarter Update #1
Here is the first update of Thorvalla on Kickstarter, talking about the first day and about the game engine and looks of the game.
The first day of our campaign is over and we’ve heard a lot of voices making their support for the project known. Naturally, there have also been a number of questions, of course. All of you want to see more of the game, and that is completely understandable. You are excited about the project, as are we. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t giddy to the bone.
However, at such an early stage of the project, it is not easy to create material that lends itself to being shown off. Much of it would be simply confusing or misleading. Currently, there is a lot of experimentation going on, as we try to lock down the look and feel of the game, and the first sketches we put up along with this campaign are a perfect example, how quickly wrong impressions can be created. Therefore, let me just assure everyone that we are not going for a cartoony look. These first sketches were just random ideas that artist Juan Garcia jotted down based on story ideas we floated around the team. Juan has a strong comic book background and as a result some of his images also turned out a bit comic book-like. Visually, this is not the style we are aiming for. What we do aim for is the kind of kinetic energy you can see in his drawings. There are some incredible dynamics at work in his pictures, creating very striking poses. That part, we definitely strive for; characters that instantly fascinate and rev up your imagination.
The actual look of the game will be much more realistic, offering beautifully painted characters and 3D-modeled representations of them. We may be a bit experimental in parts of the game, but I give you my promise that the look will not be part of it. I am simply too much in love with traditional fantasy paintings.
There is also some confusion already about the core technology we will be using, so let me try to cut through the muddle a bit. In various statements I pointed out that we have not yet decided whether we will use an isometric view, a perspectively corrected 2.5D or a full 3D approach.
Understand that this is merely a matter of aesthetics, nothing else. The viewpoint will always be the same. Regardless of the underlying graphics technology to draw it, the game will always have a top down view. The technology changes nothing in that. The only difference it makes for us as developers is how we implement it, and how we will have to prepare the graphic assets. That is a perfectly normal process, however, and is how games are developed. Unless you start out determined to use a specific technology, you run tests to determine feasibility before you commit to something that will have consequences for the entire length of the project, and this pre-production phase is exactly the time to do these sorts of evaluations.
Making games is a highly iterative process and we will provide a lot more materials and information as time goes by. I am sure it will be a very thrilling look behind the scenes into the making of games for many of you, a process that for most of you has traditionally been hidden behind closed doors. With our project, we’ll give you an insider’s view of the process.
We will start putting out materials and more details as soon as we think they are suitable to be seen by a wider audience, and that they truly reflect ideas we are seriously considering. I feel strongly that especially at this, the funding stage, it is crucial not to send the wrong signals. Naturally, it is also important to satisfy the hunger for information, so we will try to balance it all nicely to keep everyone happy. If all else fails, you can always bank on our extensive experience and the knowledge that we are dedicated to creating a high quality and polished product, and that we have the track record to prove that we can do it.
Monday - November 19, 2012
Kickstarter - Thorvalla Waiting for your Pledge
As has been announced last week, today marks the start for the Kickstarter campaign for Thorvalla, the Norse RPG from Guido Henkel (Realms of Arkania, Planescape:Torment, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout 2).
They are asking for 1 million dollars, which is quite a large sum, to be pladged within 30 days.
Enter a world steeped in Norse mythology, tribal mysticism and sword-and-sorcery fantasy. Meet a people as rugged and fearless as the elements they weather, fueled by an indomitable spirit of adventure. Come face to face with monsters, beasts and denizens of the Underworld in a heroic tale of conquest. Come, enter Thorvalla!
Featuring single-player party-based play, Thorvalla allows you to take advantage of the traits and abilities of a variety of NPCs that you can add to your party as the story unfolds. Along with meaningful character interaction and a wealth of dialogue, these kinds of decisions influence not only how the story evolves but also the strategies you will have to apply in order to succeed and progress through the game. Unlike modern RPGs, in Thorvalla, there won’t be any babysitting the player, funneling you down a virtually linear path of no-defeat. This is going to be an RPG where you will have to save your game… often.
Oh, and did we tell you about the dragons? Yes, they will be there. Some friendly, others not so much. Mostly not so much. Nasty problem, that… but it’s all good. Some dragons are your friend. In fact, some will serve and fight for you. Harness a dragon and he is yours to command.
This is fantasy with a real air force, but don’t expect a first person dragon flight simulator. We are still talking about a hard core role-playing game that throws you into a world of adventure, filled with twisting plots and missions.
Friday - November 16, 2012
Thorvalla - Starts Kicking on Monday
The Kickstarter for Thorvalla, the RPG from Guido Henkel and Neal Halford will be launched next Monday.
The exciting new RPG collaboration from game designers Guido Henkel (PLANESCAPE TORMENT, REALMS OF ARKANIA) and Neal Hallford (BETRAYAL AT KRONDOR, DUNGEON SIEGE) launches on Kickstarter on Monday, November 19th. Please join us in spreading the word to your friends, fans, and everyone else who loves computer role-playing games. A new adventure is beginning!
For our VIRTUAL event, we're just asking that everyone drop by our Kickstarter page, and if you like what you see there, send out the link to your friends. Please send out the message far and wide, and feel free to share this event as well!
The link for the Kickstarter page will be available on Monday...