Earthlock: Festival of Magic is a modern JRPG from Snowcastle Games that is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. The game promises to provide a unique story and gameplay experience, so Wii U Daily sat down with Fredrik Tyskerud of Snowcastle Games in order to discuss the upcoming game. Fredrik is one of the artists who is working on the game.
Wii U Daily: First, how big is your team and tell us a little bit about yourselves!
Snowcastle counts six in-house. We are connected to various freelancers that are involved in the production as well. All told we are ten at the moment. We have also entered a collaboration with SuperGenius in Portland that have provided us with awesome animation and VFX work!
Snowcastle was formed in 2009 originally. Back then we did contract work, smaller flash games, until we migrated to Unity in 2010. We still had some contract work going on, but we wanted to make something from the ground up. The first Snowcastle production that was entirely ours was “Hogworld: Gnarts Adventure” which we released in 2011. It was very well received and we learned a lot about making games in Unity in the process! After we published Hogworld, we sat down and discussed what we wanted to do next, and out of that round table came Earthlock!
Wii U Daily: What inspired you to make a modern JRPG?
All of us at Snowcastle like RPGs in some form or another and we all have fond memories of playing turn-based combat games, be it X-Com or FFVIII. Another thing that we dig as a group are games that have a good narrative throughout and we wanted to make one as well. Those ideas together formed the base that Earthlock grew out of.
Wii U Daily: What are your plans for freshening the traditional JRPG battle system? Will it be 100% turn-based or have an action component?
We wanted, from the start, to make the combat strictly turn based. We feel that the pacing of our game lends itself to that. We’d rather have people think about what pair combos and which spuds to bring into combat and once in combat, which way to layer the elemental effects, rather than relying on stressing people out with time based mechanics. In short; strategy over stress.
We’re adding our own to the formula through the pairing system, which we haven’t seen before, as well as the fact that you grow and harvest your own magical ammo and consumables. The crafting, harvesting, combat and adventure parts are tied together in a pretty elegant way!
Wii U Daily: Have you worked on Nintendo hardware before and if so, how easy did you find the experience?
We haven’t. This is the first time around for us, and we’re very excited! The Wii U was the first console we could announce Earthlock on! We have been treated very well by Nintendo so far!
Wii U Daily: Are there any unique features for the Wii U GamePad you want to discuss?
The GamePad has great potential in a game like ours, and we are toying around with ideas of how to use it. Nothing is set in stone, but the most natural thing is putting maps, inventory and menus on that screen. Seeing as how combat is turn based you have time to navigate the GamePad without taking important attention away from the main display. For us, the most important thing, is that the game feels great to play.
Wii U Daily: So Earthlock: Festival of Magic has craftable ammo! What balance are you going to have between the crafting and adventuring aspects of the game?
Crafting and adventuring will be tied together in a very real way. When you’re out adventuring and battling creatures and bad guys, the ammo used is the one you’ve grown and harvested yourself. Different combinations of spuds yield different effects in combat, and we’re hoping, on your characters. If you’re on a quest and find a plant you’ve never seen before, you can try to take the seeds home and see what comes out of the ground next, and how that will affect the harvesting field as a whole. We hope to be able to do a deeper crafting system as well, all depending on how well the kickstarter goes, with weapon and armour crafting and brewing of magic potions as well!
Other than that the adventuring will of course take a very large role in our game. This is where you’ll experience the story, see all of the world and have exciting battles with strange and wicked creatures!
Wii U Daily: Can you elaborate more on the combinations detailed in the Kickstarter promo video?
The character combinations are one way we’re trying to add some spice to the turn based formula. Combining a warrior class and a protector class yields a combat pair. The way you choose to combine characters will affect the combined pair’s stats as well as give access to unique special abilities for the pair. This way you can make a super powerful offensive pair, or if a boss battle dictates, more on the defensive side or go for a balanced one. You’ll have control over several pairs in your party so there will be lots of opportunities to make the ultimate combo of pairs!
Wii U Daily: Why did you turn to Kickstarter for backing your project instead of seeking a traditional publisher?
We are funded through a combination of investors that believe in what we are doing, paying for ourselves and government funding through the Norwegian Film Institute. Kickstarter and the gamers we want to make this game for is the final piece of the financial puzzle really. By doing it this way, we are free to make the game as we want to without answering to anyone besides the ones we are making the game for; the players!
Wii U Daily: Do you have anything else that you’d like to add?
If you, like us, dig colourful, story driven RPGs with turn based combat, check out our Kickstarter page! We love what we’re creating, and we’d love for you to get involved as well!
Wii U Daily would like to take the time to thank Fredrik for answering our questions about Earthlock. As of the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has about half the funds it needs with 23 days to go. If you’re interested in playing this game on your Wii U, be sure to show the team at Snowcastle Games your support!