Archaelund Development Update #6

4 Dimension Games is looking to launch their Gold Box-inspired RPG Archaelund into early access as soon as possible. But according to this recent development update, due to some recent changes to the game's spellcasting system, that release date is still at least a few months away.

Here's more on that:

Greetings everyone! No pretty pictures on this update I am afraid, since we have already revealed too many environments and we want all the rest to be a surprise.

Archaelund internal testing revealed that some core mechanics that sounded like great ideas on paper, turned out to be more hassle than fun.

For instance, I implemented Stamina and Fatigue as a limiting resource for the adventuring party capabilities, and in particular magic. I wanted magic to "take a toll" on spellcasters, making them more frail and exhausted when they cast spells instead of using other well-known systems such as spell slots, "mana", etc. My idea was that spellcasters fell sicker and more vulnerable the more they cast.

But testing revealed that this idea, which can be interesting from a narrative or "realistic" point of view, did not work well in a combat-oriented roleplaying game such as Archaelund, where you explore huge dungeons and large wild regions, while involved in many fights. "Stamina" and "Fatigue" mechanics were quickly becoming a burden, instead of providing interesting choices.

Furthermore, too many game mechanics were tied to Stamina (special abilities, magic or even regular attacks), which also caused character progression and itemization to feel wrong, since increasing Endurance trait (from which Stamina derived) quickly became the "right choice" for most builds, be it warriors or mages. All of this required deep changes in the ruleset. After much consideration I found a way to preserve my original intent (magic takes its toll on the caster) but in a way that no longer disrupts playability. Instead of Stamina, magic and some special abilities will now spend "Willpower". Willpower is derived from mental Traits, and is helpful to resist fear, insanity, and mind control. It can also be spent as a boost during battles. This means a depleted willpower can be, situationally, very bad; but it is not as limiting as Stamina was, nor it is linked with physical endurance and doesn't result in beefed-up wizard apprentices. Fatigue still has a place in the game, as a special status, but it is not so central anymore.

Besides this, several other minor adjustments were needed, regarding things like avoidance and armor, or Trait distribution. Together with the removal of an "attack options" system that was extremely confusing and didn't provide the variety it was supposed to. After a redesign of the rules, all seems to have "clicked" in place; it will take a few weeks to have all the new mechanics working and then they will be internally tested again. Eventually testing will involve more people, when we are ready for Alpha and Beta phases. All of this will be announced in due time.

I know what you're thinking. This means more delays for the release. But wait, it gets worse!

Since Willpower was added I got a few great ideas about new additions to the game mechanics, which I am currently implementing. And more quest ideas for the early areas popped in and I am writing them now. What can I do? I just can't pass up on making the game better. Let's hope the world doesn't end before I run out of ideas.

As for release estimates, I just can't provide them at this point. We want to release the Early Access as soon as possible, but it's clear we still need at least a few months of development, plus some testing time. If testing reveals issues, we may decide to delay the release. I am ready to concede on certain things, like not including some areas in the first release if they're not ready yet; but essential game mechanics must feel right. The priority is to give you the best role-playing game we're able to produce, and we will give it all to get there as soon as we can.

I'll try to make another post on December to keep everyone updated. Thanks for all the support, wishlist additions, and encouraging messages! And a special thanks to all the Exiled Kingdoms players.