History of Son of Nor – Part 4

HAPPY MONDAY EVERYBODY! Yes, in our last post we revealed the incredible piece of information that we planned to have a spell editor where you could build entire spell machines that interact with each other. That was probably the most crazy idea we had so far that didn’t work and it only lived a few hours before we dropped the whole concept again. That’s why there are no records. No pictures, no white board photos, nothing.

So, we were still in Julian’s apartment that December 18th-19th. We went back a few steps to continue where we left off.

The Prototype

Remember. Son of Nor was then going to be an arena-type PvP game. We discussed cool spell combinations and monsters. We drew maps of potential PvP arenas. One map looked like this, it was my contribution (so don’t pick on the childish drawing style) and it was never implemented (click to enlarge).

Another map of that time is our “Ritual Place”, a PvP map you know quite well from our current teaser trailer. It was designed by Julian. Just look at this coder’s scientific drawing style, haha (click to enlarge).

We started to block out some levels and to implement all the spell combinations from that insane list we created during that meeting (click to enlarge).

Implementation in Unity 3D

Julian realized mouse gestures to invoke spells and added some effects work. Back then we didn’t have an FX artist, and also nobody to really supervise the visual style. Also, no animator. But we managed to build what was the most feature rich prototype to that date. How did it look like?

So you still have to draw dots and lines on the ground, like I showed in the video in part 3.

Another basic concept of this system was that you didn’t immediately shoot a spell. In other games you target an enemy, you push a spell button and the spell flies to its destination. Not so in Son of Nor. It was one of the basic principles of the game that it’s not your skill pushing buttons that should determine if you win or lose. It’s your personal skill playing the game, aiming with the mouse, being skilled. It should feel a little bit like a first person shooter, but with magic.

You would invoke a spell like a fireball. It would appear in the game world. Then you had to use your telekinetic powers to move, throw, or shoot it at something. Look at this video to know what I mean.

The video also nicely illustrates how spell combinations worked. As long as a spell existed in the game world, you could manipulate it. This is shown by the fireball being duplicated and one of the copies then turned into a fire trap. This opened a lot of possibilities!

Neutral Spells And Spell Robbery!

By design, spells didn’t belong to anybody. It was not the caster that controlled them. Once invoked, spells neutrally existed in the world. ANY player, also enemy players, could take them, use them, manipulate them. So it could totally happen that you spend 4 seconds invoking and energizing a fireball only to see it get stolen by an enemy player. A tornado you invoked got turned into a fire storm and then treated with the beam of life to make it move and look for a target.

In our PvP test matches, we regularly stole each other’s invoked and energized fireballs. Which later turned out to be more and more of a problem. As funny as it was, a culture of spell robbers developed, waiting for someone to create spells only to steal them. Nobody would invoke spells anymore that took a long time to cast. A classic case of a bad incentive system.

The Peak of Our Development

This 8 minute video shows the peak of our development of that time. We wanted to publish the idea behind Son of Nor and also attract new talent to help us with the FX, modeling, and visual style. It shows concepts, a little bit of lore, and most of the game’s features like telekinesis, magic, spell combinations, terraforming and multiplayer. And it still features the old stillalive studios logo, hehe! I’m happy we have a new one now.

Deutsche Gamestage- dgt’12

We were proud of our demo and what we achieved. We limited the scope, we were testing and iteratively implementing features so it was fun to play. Then we attended Deutsche Gamestage in Berlin. Julian and me (Chris) traveled to Berlin, attended many of the interesting sessions and showed our game to other game companies to get feedback. The idea was well received. But as free2play and freemium was a huge topic and everybody seemed to think along those lines, we were advised to re-think our strategy and try to implement some kind of free2play elements.

Oh noes. Did that mean back to square one AGAIN?!?

At first it seemed like it did. We started to think about new models and gameplay. Free2Play monetization models, browser game modes… Even our website said it’s going to be a free2play game (click to enlarge)!

HAHA. I still laugh about it :) Our visit to Deutsche Gamestage was not all in vain, however!! Apart from getting really cool contacts, we met our today’s partner company Remote Control Productions. They helped us shape Son of Nor into what it is today and they are actively supporting us in finding publishers or investors for the game.

Read about the state of Son of Nor after everything we discussed with Remote Control Productions in the next historical episode. See you there!

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