TSI News


RPGs and their words

We continue to move ahead on Seven Dragon Saga, working on different aspects of skill use in the wilderness and tactical maps. Doing a review of the magic system, and laying out enchantments to compliment. I’ve been playing a bit of the Torment: Tides of Numenera beta, a game boasting a million plus words, and since they have had a lot of experienced writers involved, we can expect quality words. At more than twice the length of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, that is an impressive volume. I’m not far in, but I can already say that Torment will not be providing the same experience as a good novel, no matter how much I end up enjoying the game. Games are different animals, and use words in different ways. Torment provides the player a character with a specific background, along with the a variant of temporary amnesia, plus a number of companions, many of whom knew a facet of the character from before the start of the game. The gimmicks provide the companions with plenty of specific things to say right from the start. The companions have internal moral rules, allowing them to react to the protagonist, based on player choice. They will undoubtedly leave, if the player offends them too much. I suspect there will be romantic options, though it is hard to say in the early portion of the game. The game is rich in objects simply laying around, with rich descriptions and interaction options. And it appears the player will spend time inside the mind of the protagonist, possibly in cases of death, or similar... read more

Shaping the World

The art team is beginning to shape the strategic map of the Firewind Coast, the setting for our first Seven Dragon Saga game. The water level is laid in, but not colored, and the rest of the color is just blocked in, but you should be able to see where we are headed. Harsh mountains, deadly badlands to the east, and sinister swamps to the far north will provide plenty of areas for exploration. The lands are several hundred miles east to west, so there are plenty of places to discover ruins, stumble upon dangerous monsters, and uncover artifacts of power. Skills determine what you can discover, and how much effort it is to travel. Players can camp to rest and recover. The game begins around the large bay in the north, the country of Aphelon, populated by the part draconic Feydri. They had belonged to a much larger, united kingdom, stretching well to the east, but their cousins, the Drakyri offended the dragons and paid the price. Now the mountains are awash in monsters, bandits and rebels, and the farther east is a parched badland, full of melted ruins, and shattered cities. The Drakyri themselves, cling to life deep underground, away from the keen sight and long memories of the dragons. As we want exploration to be a big part of the game experience, it’s exciting to see the land come to life. The engineers are already working on the underpinnings, so it will be great to see the work of the two departments come together. Should be a great year for Seven Dragon... read more

Happy Holidays

We’ve been chattering about the re-release of some of our old SSI games, so we thought we’d show you some current images of Seven Dragon Saga, the new one we’ve been grinding on. As you can see above, the environments have significantly improved. The player can rotate and zoom the camera, so they can get a good feel of the world, spot NPCs, and enemies, and plan their missions. We use real time lighting, so the shadows are dynamic, and we can shift from day to night without issue.   Along the bottom of the screen is our main user interface, sans final icons. Each diamond would represent a possible action, color coded by the size of the action (characters get one big, one medium and one small action each turn.) Hover over an icon and it will describe the skill. The sword and shield icon allows for changing weapon sets, such as dual blades to a bow. These depict the rebellious and ungoverned Mann Highlands, east of the Feydri Homeland. Home to bandits, rebels, and the dangerous Slyth. These worn buildings were part of the greater Drakyi kingdom in the days before the dragons turned their greatest cities to glass, and drove them beneath the ground. The Empress and even the Feydri Queen have little sway here. You will have to survive on your wits and strength of arms. In the lower left, we have a combat log, so players can review their results. Players can resize the panel to meet their needs, minimizing it if they don’t care. Let us know what you like about what you... read more

Personalities with Player Characters

Concept image of Goals interface(repeated placeholder text) Hello all! Lately the design team has been focusing on ways to imbue player made characters with personality, beyond their base stats and skills. Traditionally, most party based cRPG’s either allow players to create custom characters that are little more than walking stat sheets, or they provide the player with pre made characters with rich back stories at the cost of player agency. 7DS takes a hybrid approach, by allowing players to create a party of custom characters with unique personalities which participate in the game’s narrative elements by using our goals system. During character creation, players answer a short series of questions, like the one above, to create a personality profile for the character along with their race, class, and specialization. Based on those answers, the character gains one of 13 goals. A character’s goal awards bonus experience to that character when the player solves quests in a manner aligned with it. We also use goals to create conversations between characters. For example, a character with the Acclaim (seeking fame) goal, may chide a Compassion (helping others) focused character on how they try to help people, but always forget to trumpet the fact. The Compassion character could push back, about how being helpful is an end in itself, and worrying about what others think is stupid. The game also tracks when events occur, and overall ratings of how the party solves issues. So, if the game recognizes that the player likes to slaughter his way out of problems, a character with the Sanctity goal (respect for all religions), might commiserate with... read more

Prototype Proceeds

A look at the latest concept work for Port Aphelon, the starting point for Seven Dragon Saga. Much to explore. The art team continues to move ahead. We have a white box version of our first environment in the prototype, and people are having fun using leap to bounce up to the tops of the lower towers. From there, they get the height advantage to shoot the Slyth and dark wizards patrolling below. We have the hooks in for dynamic lighting, but haven’t started experimenting with setting different times of day. Lee also passed on the current user interface pieces to Sebastian, and he’s starting to overlay them onto the screen. So the blocky programmer art buttons dotting the screen should be gone, and we’ll move a step closer to having the prototype look and feel more like the combat portion of Seven Dragon Saga. Edwin and David are exploring the different ways players can complete the game. Noisy discussions on whether to have an ‘evil’ ending, where the party switches sides, and wins one for the Dark Gods. On the one hand, it provides for more freedom of play. On the other hand, it’s not heroic, and we’re not quite sure how triumpful players would feel. If any of you would like to chime in on this, feel free to post comments on one of our social media pages. Paul is taking another pass at the Borderlands concept, where the party can seize control of regions of the strategic map, and give them to factions they want to strengthen. The player can then convert them to Settled Lands... read more

The Saga continues

A servant of the dark, hungry for life’s energy. One of the many less savoury beings which inhabit the shadowy corners of the world in Seven Dragon Saga. We continue heads down through summer, though it does look pretty seeing the blue sky out through the windows. We are pushing forward until we have sufficient material for the game to really feel like something of quality and polish. The design team completed a draft on the various types of crafting, and Paul is taking a new pass at looting, merchants, quest rewards and the economy in general, in light of ingredients and recipes. The goal is to get the characters not too rich and not too poor, as well as distributing items throughout all the regions. On the story side, David and Edwin have broken the world down into seven regions, each with an average of four major points of interest. From this, we can fill out the details on factions and important NPCs, and how the whole game should play out. Starting to tally up asset requirements, and working with the art team to confirm it will all fit within their budget. Sebastian has completed the basics for combat and movement in the prototype, and is now laying the groundwork to import the new player character models, and their whole range of animations. As that wraps up, we expect Amanda of the art team to start delivering full quality environmental assets. And the animation team should also be set to deliver the first batch of fully rigged and animated enemies, such as the Slyth we showed last update.... read more

Announcing Lee Dotson, new Art Director

I’m Lee Dotson, I’ve been making art for games for about 18 years now covering almost every genre of game out there including games like Anachronox, Star Trek Online, and Diablo 3 but classic RPG’s are what make me want to create games in the first place so 7DS’s open ended storylines and rich X-Com like tactical gameplay makes this a total dream project for me.

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The world of Seven Dragon Saga is populated with a wide variety of beings; humans, humanoids, monsters, dragons and many strange creatures that defy categorization.  For instance, the Firewind Coast is noted for its dragonkin. Dragonkin is a broad term that covers any living creature that has some proportion of dragon blood flowing in its veins.  Dragons are highly inquisitive beings, driven by brilliant intellect and strong passions.  They love to use their shapeshifting powers to mingle and breed with the humans, humanoids and beasts of the Firewind Coast.  As a result, they have spawned many a unique and often bizarre breed of creature.  Two such monstrous dragonkin are the Drakes and the Wyrms.  Drakes are airborne whilst Wyrms are earthbound, yet their individual strengths and weaknesses can vary dramatically depending on the concentration of dragon blood in their veins.   Early Draft of Drakyri Feydri, Drakyri and the Dragonspurn The Feydri and the Drakyri are humanoid races that are native to the Firewind Coast.  Both claim varying degrees of dragon ancestry, although it tends to manifest more prominently in the Feydri. The Drakyri These resilient dragonkin have dwelt underground since a tragic conflict with their dragon ancestors drove them from the surface, many centuries ago.  Seldom growing over five feet in height, they tend towards a light and agile build, a physicality best suited to subterranean living.  Their skin is pale and their eyes have grown accustomed to dark conditions. The Drakyri live in small, tight-knit clans ruled by a patriarch.  They subsist on a combination of fungus farming, and hunting and fishing in chthonian lakes.  Their economy... read more

Jigsaw Storytelling

In a nutshell, Jigsaw Storytelling involves the baking of lots of little narrative goodies that a player ‘consumes and digests’ in any order. In this way, we whet the players appetite for story without cramming it down their throats in ‘storytelling sessions’.

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