It’s no secret that I kind of disappeared from blogging for a bit. The reason is, surprisingly, also the reason for my return to posting: I was deep in the development juju of getting a new project up and running. It’s called Alchementalist, and it’s a rogue-like dungeon crawler, where you mine elemental ore and craft ever more powerful spells.
I’m pretty excited for it and it’s a fair bit more ambitious than my last project, Spaceslingers, which is either a sign of personal growth or a terrible scoping problem. I’m ok with either.
So anyway, I’ve been spending a lot of time prototyping and testing and seeing what pieces fit together and I’m finally at the point where I feel comfortable properly starting to push the game into the wider public sphere of consciousness.
Let’s talk a little bit about what my design plans are.
My brother, RestoTurtle, and I recently got Divinity: Original Sin 2 and we were having a ton of fun playing a two person run through of the game. We were both particular fans of the terrain mechanics, with things being able to be lit on fire and emergent chaos erupting from stupid decisions we made. In my downtime, I started tinkering with a small prototype of that kind of behaviour.
It was a lot of fun to work out the logic for it and it had a certain visceral feeling to watching chain reactions go off:
I liked the feeling of controlling the elements and I wanted to play with that both in terms of storytelling and mechanics. I also have a long running “meta-verse” background that I’ve been toying with for years, involving a mysterious sect of underground dwelling mages called Ember-mages. This fit perfectly with the elemental theme and I decided that this concept would take place within that world.
To further extend the feeling of having control over the elements, I was thinking of mechanics that would allow me to have that special rogue-like quality of runs being individualised and having to adapt to changing circumstances on the fly. This led me to three main design pillars:
- I wanted the player to be able to create elemental effects beyond that of just casting a spell and doing some damage or a buff/debuff.
- I wanted the player to be able to craft their spells to their liking.
- I wanted the mechanics behind this crafting to naturally fit into the elemental nature of the game.
This is where the Ember-mages backstory started to shine. You see, Ember-mages live underground and mine elemental minerals to use for their magic. The most important, and rare, mineral has always been Ember-source, which is where they get their name from. This gives me perfect groundwork for the crafting system.
There are four ore types in the game, fire, water, wind and earth. These line up with the four types of magic you can cast. So naturally I wanted to make it so that you mine ore by attacking the ore with your spells. By making mining and spell casting one and the same, a special thing emerges. You see, if the player finds fire ore, it’s not simply a fire ore material that they can get. They get to choose, within a range, what type of material they want. If they hit the fire ore with a water spell, they will get a different material than if they hit it with an earth spell. Here’s an example of what I mean:
If you ignore the screen-hogging size of the notification windows (which were only there to test out the 9-slice I coded), you can see that hitting the same ore with different spells yielded different materials.
This gives the player more agency over their play and gives them more chances to be able to craft “that thing they want”.
In regards to the actual crafting (which is the section I’ve prototyped least so far) I’m looking for the player to be able to both enhance whatever spells they currently have equipped (with some of the enhancements also applying to the player themselves, such as speed) and also craft new spells if they wish.
At least so far, I think I’ve managed to fulfill my three design desires.
About the only thing I really feel I’m missing so far is a logo for the game. I’ve had a lot of trouble trying to design one and I’m really feeling it as I start to push things live, lol.
If you’re interested in following the development of Alchementalist, you can, of course, find all the updates posted here, specifically at the Alchementalist page. I’ve also created a twitter account and a subreddit. A discord will be coming soon.