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Enter a beautiful world haunted by its fateful past and join a party of unlikely heroes on their journey to rescue Amon's uncle from an ancient cult and uncover the secret of the Earthkey.
Enter a beautiful world haunted by its fateful past and join a party of unlikely heroes on their journey to rescue Amon's uncle from an ancient cult and uncover the secret of the Earthkey.
4,506 backers pledged $178,193 to help bring this project to life.

Legend of Amon and 48 HOURS LEFT!

Posted by Snowcastle Games (Creator)
58 likes

48 HOURS LEFT

We do not want to jinx it, because this campaign is far from over – but today has performed well above expectations. We have had an incredible turnout today and a great showing of community by our loyal backers.

Thank you – each and every one of you – for getting Earthlock to such a healthy point for the 48-hour rush! It means the world to us that you are so passionate about this game we are developing. 

Stretch goals are within reach with this funding level and tomorrow we will have an update or two where we discuss the first few stretch goals in more detail. We also have a reveal for a brand new add-on, but no spoilers for that tonight! You will have to be surprised! 

The Legend of Amon

Art Director Frits recounts how Amon came to be

Amon was the first character we designed for the game and also the one who would dictate the direction we went. 

Zabr - Amons Home Town
Zabr - Amons Home Town

Amon grew up in Zabr - a small Village in the canyon area of Zenit. He was orphaned at a young age when his parents never returned home from a raid. He started working as an artifact scavenger for his uncle and he quickly built a reputation for being one of the most fearless adventurers in all of Zenit. Before his parents left him, his mother gifted him with a strange compass which gives Amon the ability to control Amri and manipulate ancient mechanisms.

Amon and his trusty Amri compass.
Amon and his trusty Amri compass.

You can see Amon using this compass in our demo. He wears it on his right arm and it powers up in the Temple Puzzle scene where he uses it to activate the moving blocks as well as the gate. 

First Illustration of Amon
First Illustration of Amon

The first design reflected that the game was originally set in a Steampunk/Victorian kind of fantasy festival/theme park. The only thing we kept from the first design was his trusty spud cannon which had such a simple and iconic look. This was the very first illustration we did for the project showing Amon’s original design.

Here is look at a few iterations of Amon's design:

Note the Plumpet Amon is holding. He is an example of the ammo used in the spud cannon. Gives the term “live ammunition” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?
Note the Plumpet Amon is holding. He is an example of the ammo used in the spud cannon. Gives the term “live ammunition” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

Amon needed a design that reflected his personality, age, profession and function in the game. I had already done loads of rough sketches of facial features and outfits. The key word was desert scavenger - Amon makes a living of going out in the dangerous desert to find and claim rare materials and items. I gave him a middle eastern scarf-like thing, covered up his arms and gave him some new stylish leather boots. The swirly hair-do came from an old design I did - the swirl gives his face a recognizable look without going too extreme. 

Another essential factor was sex-appeal - we wanted Amon to be a real charmer with a handsome charismatic face, a muscular physique and a bad-ass attire. The next step was to refine the design and style of the character and also figure out the right proportions to match the other characters. We ended up with something in-between the Disney-prince look and the much more stylized old-school anime look.

The final design matched Ive (female protagonist) perfectly and felt both unique and familiar at the same time. I gave him warm earthy fall colors to contrast Ive's more synthetic spring colors and friendly features such as big eyes, messy hair and straight thick eyebrows. Below you can see parts of the model-sheet for the new design as well as a close-up portrait for the extra detail.

Hope you like the character design.
Hope you like the character design.

Video Interview with Geekdomo!

We were able to have an interview about Earthlock with Geekdomo. Be sure to check it out! 

That is it for today - we hope you enjoyed this Amon update about the character design and we want to thank you all again for the help making this kickstarter a pleasure and, hopefully, a triumph! 

Onwards and Upwards!

Harvesting and kittens!

Posted by Snowcastle Games (Creator)
64 likes

Today we would like to talk a little about our crafting and harvesting system! (We'll get to the kittens further down in the post)

We have gone about this the organic way by allowing the player to plant various seeds that will grow into ammunition for the different characters. We wanted to give the player a base to come back to after each quest, a place to rest and prepare for the next journey.

The idea is to split up some of the character progression elements into object and plants on your home base.

Original Harvesting Concept with Cloud Berries, Goose Barnacles, etc.
Original Harvesting Concept with Cloud Berries, Goose Barnacles, etc.

We want the harvesting gameplay to be fun, engaging, and never become a tedious chore, so we have experimented with setting Gnart, the Hogbunny, to work doing the watering and tending after you’ve planted a seed. This way you won’t have to worry that the spud production grinds to a halt while you’re away. Gnart will handle it, albeit a little more slowly than if you engage directly.

The next idea is that the plants will react to other spudplants that are placed next to them. It’s what we’re describing as a rock paper scissor relationship between plants that like growing next to each other and plants that will hinder each other's growth.

Harvesting
Harvesting

We are also thinking about tying the farming to character progression, like a super slow growing spud that will actually raise a stat. This will give the player more direct control in how their characters evolve, rather than just relying on standard levelling up to raise the stats in a general way. It’s like an ability tree that you can see on your expanding farm field.

A crazy idea, a rapid prototype! 

Since we have a world full of magic, we have allowed ourselves to do some crazy stuff. Last week the art team (all cat owners) talked about a cat tree (big scratch post) and Bendik did not know what it was. He took it quite literally and imagined a tree that grew fluffy kittens. Once the general laughter of the subject subsided, one thing led to another and we now have this concept that we would like to get your feedback on:

Presenting the Kitten Tree
Presenting the Kitten Tree

The idea with the cat tree is that it will grow some cute fluffy kittens that can be loaded in your spudgun and fired at enemies for awesome effects! (Disclaimer: No kittens will be harmed during these attacks.)

Charm Offensive - prototype
Charm Offensive - prototype
Charm Offensive - prototype
Charm Offensive - prototype

The attack that we have been rapidly prototyping so far looks like a super powerful attack, but in the end it is only a charm spell as the cute kitten melts the heart of the enemy.

So, awesome backers - what do you think? We want to have humor in the game from time to time, but is this too much? =)

Project Spotlight

Hex Heroes

For the Wii U and PC, Hex Heroes is a mashup of an RTS and an Action/Adventure game, where one player assumes the role of an RTS character and up to 2 players (4 on the Wii U) act as his minions. Play as characters from your favorite indie games. With a soundtrack by Grant Kirkhope, composer of Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64! 

Prismatic Games is about halfway in their campaign for Hex Heroes and could use some extra help, so make sure to check them out and consider pledging for this awesome game. 

Character Design: Ive Lavender

Posted by Snowcastle Games (Creator)
45 likes

Hi Backers! 

We are truly grateful for your support and encouraging comments. We are now into the final sprint to make this project come true! 

When we first started developing the world in Earthlock we knew we wanted to have a strong female main character.

Back then Ive was actually called Lavender and she had a Victorian outfit and was inspired by the Red Mages in the Final Fantasy’s job class system.

The early switch from Lavender (left) and Ive (right).
The early switch from Lavender (left) and Ive (right).

As the backstory evolved, we moved towards a post-apocalyptic type of universe with lots of deserts, wasteland and isolated cities. Amon went from being a boy in a green vest to a daring treasure hunter and Lavender was redesigned into Ive - a bright and meticulous ranger working as a pilot for the Suvian empire.

Suvia Plaza
Suvia Plaza

We wanted her to be the opposite of Amon in many ways.

Amon is the freelancer and a survivor taking one day at a time while Ive lives to serve the Suvian Empire and comes from a sheltered and safe society.

We wanted this duality to present in the character design as well. Ive’s colors are cool and synthetic reflecting her more modern and urban culture. These colors also contrast Amon’s earthy tones.

The design for her Suvian “minimal” uniform and the pilot uniform costume
The design for her Suvian “minimal” uniform and the pilot uniform costume

Before the Kickstarter we started the design for one of Ive’s alternative outfits. We wanted to give her more of a fighter pilot look and make her more in line with the Suvian soldier uniforms.

Chronicles of a 3D artist

Join us now as as our modeler Hanska gives us a deeper look into Ive’s character and her transition from 2D to 3D:

I've been working on Ive for the past few weeks. She's the female protagonist and is a contrast to Amon both in looks and background. She's a ranger class and uses a crossbow with magic abilities. Here's some of the progress making the In-Game 3D model:

Production Sheet
Production Sheet

As you can see, she's a very beautiful character that exudes self-reliance and grace. Now to make this look good in 3D, we need 3 things: a well sculpted high poly model, a low poly model with nice topology flow, and great Texture maps. This is especially true when it comes to her face.

The sculpture: With characters like this I usually start with the head. It's just a personal preference, but I think it's easier to adjust the body to the head later when I have that done. So with the head I really need to get some likeness from the concept as fast as possible. This becomes a tweaking job very fast, because small adjustments can alter the look of a face drastically.

The texture and hair will help this a lot.
The texture and hair will help this a lot.

I usually block in the underlying body after the head is complete. I use zspheres in Zbrush and try to focus on silhouette and shape. Just trying to get it as near to the concept as possible. After that I go into Maya and block in the base meshes for the equipment and clothes. Then back into Zbrush for repositioning small tweaks and detailing.

When the sculpture is done, it's time to do the low poly. I do this in Topogun. It essentially lets you paint polys on top of a high polygon model reference. This takes about a day on a character like this. And it's important to think about animation when it comes to poly flow. The mesh needs to have enough polys where there is deformation. Like the face, knees, elbows etc.

When the UVs are ready, baking the sculpture details over to the low poly model is the next step. I use Xnormal for that.

The texturing process was done using a combination of Photoshop and 3D Coat. I painted the main flat colors in photoshop giving me a base to work on and a mask. Then I hop into 3D coat and can paint onto the 3D model in real time using a photoshop-like toolset. It's pretty neat. I recommend trying it out for any texturing needs.

I hope you guys like it!”

Stay tuned for a post on Amon!

Project Spotlight

The Red Solstice

The Red Solstice is an 8-player coop strategy/RPG game where the players need to survive in hostile environment on Mars during the huge storm while trying to complete various missions. They have a demo and you should try it out as it is a lot of fun! 

--

4 Days to Go!

We have four days left in this campaign and we have a bit more to obtain in these final days to reach our goal of $150,000. We believe we can achieve this, but we do need your help! 

We are reaching out to contacts within the press and we have some exciting updates and reveals to share with all of our backers in the coming days.

Forums, reddit, social media, word-of-mouth (friends and family), e-mails, plugging it with press sites... all of it helps and we know many of you have been doing just that. 

This journey has been an exciting one and we thank each and every one of you for sharing it with us. Let's continue to do spread the word so we can make this dream of Earthlock a reality! 

Thanks for everything!

Your friends at Snow Castle Games

$100K+ and 3000 backers strong, New Tiers, Amon's Brother and a mini interview with 'The Seed'

Posted by Snowcastle Games (Creator)
32 likes

We have breached $100 000 and 3000 backers! We have said it before but we will say it as long as we can: You backers are amazing! Thank you so much for your continued support, help, and encouragement. We are getting ever closer to the goal and nearing the final stretch with 7 more days to go. With all of your help we can make this game be the best it absolutely can! 

Amon's Brother
Amon's Brother

We wanted to introduce everyone to Amon's Brother (that is his name for now). This is actually Amon's original design, but as our story and world developed so did our main hero. This character will now be included as Amon's Brother an NPC in the story. He is holding what is called a magical plumpet. It is sort of a living spud which was a collectible in our previous game: Hogworld. He will be making a return in Earthlock as ammunition. 

New Tiers and Reward Updates

Because we are closing in on the end of the campaign we have made a few reward adjustments. 

New Tier: 
We have added the BASIC ALPHA tier at $35 which contains the SUPPORTER TIER and an Invite to the Alpha testing. This is a tier for you who may not be that interested in neither the Art book, Comic Book or Soundtrack and just want as much game as possible. 
The higher tiers do not include this new tier. 

Lowered Tier Cost
The MONSTER DESIGNER tier has been lowered to $400. This is your chance if you want to join us in creating a monster enemy for the game. 

In-Game content adjustment:
1x DLC key for each copy of the game. If you choose any of the In-Game addons / rewards (Weapon, Vehicle Skin, Character Skins) you will receive one key for each copy of the game you pledge for.
If you are at the SUPPORTER tier and choose an extra game copy and In-Game content as an add-on you will receive 2x keys for the In-Game content. If you are at the EARTHLOCK SEQUELS tier which gives all In-Game content and 3x copies of the game you will get 3x keys for each of the In-Game content. 

Earthlock stream with BurkeBlack

Mr Burke from DOCNation will be streaming our Earthlock demo on Sunday 11pm EST. He will also be showcasing a couple of other kickstarter campaigns. Our own Lead Programmer Eivind Ljones will be there as well and there will be some sort of game giveaway! So be sure to check it out! Sunday 11pm EST at http://www.twitch.tv/burkeblack

Thank you everyone again for all your support! Keep being awesome! To top it off this Friday and beginning weekend we have special Spotlight for you. Hope you enjoy!

Project Spotlight

The Seed

Our friends over at Misery Development (It is a much happier studio than it sounds) are creating a fantastic 2D interactive visual novel called The Seed set in a post-apocalyptic world. Together, with their creative director Nicolai Aaroe, we decided to do a small cross interview to learn a little more about their game and team. We hope you will find it as interesting and entertaining as we did.

Mini Interview with Nicolai Aaroe of Misery Development

From Bendik Stang, Game Director of Snowcastle Games
To Nicolai Aaroe, Creative Director of Misery Development Ltd.  

Bendik Stang:
You put a lot of emphasis on creating an ambiance to go with the reading experience. Sound design will be a very large part of this as it’ll go along with the words. How are you going about designing the soundscape while keeping in mind different reading speeds and the different ways people can interact with your story?

Nicolai Aaroe:
The soundscape reflects the artwork and weather dynamic of each scene. If the player stays on a certain location for a long time he will experience everything each scene has to offer. If the player rushes through the texts and scenes the change of weather condition will speed up accordingly.

Bendik Stang:
The Seed features some very unique art by combining photos of real world locations with artistic touches. What was your inspiration for this choice of art direction?

Nicolai Aaroe:  
We wanted to go with life-like artwork while adding a conceptual decay and deterioration. The style is visually authentic while portraying an edge that will allow for something fantastic to happen. The basis of this style is to be found in real life photo manipulation, then applying the synthetic touch and design as a second phase. We are privileged to have more than one photographer in the team and a range of countries to gather footage from.

Bendik Stang:
You have a great and varied team consisting of Authors, Musicians and Designers. How did you all meet and how did you figure out you wanted to create games?

Nicolai Aaroe:
Born and raised like friends within the online gaming community we created a small group under the name of MDT in 2009. Our modding project MISERY attracts a diverse range of talents from every continent and our team members have all proven their skills and interests in a non-profit teamwork during the last years.

Bendik Stang:
We’re very fascinated by the branching story and the multitude of endings planned. How difficult is it designing a story which takes so many choices into account?

Nicolai Aaroe:
Although the plot branching is very complex in theory, it can all be programmed without much hassle. The full plot branching is fully visualized and drawn like a black tree on a wall in my apartment. It is a lot of work to do it our way, but it pays off by offering a extreme replayability value.

Thank you so much for your time Nicolai Aaroe and good luck with the rest of the campaign.

The Seed is shaping up to be a really intriguing and emotional journey. Please consider helping them make their goal. They are almost there with 12 more days to go. 

The Seed - Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/989416433/the-seed-0

Press Coverage

We have gotten some new press coverage lately contributing to our upswing. Check them out as well. 

Shoutouts

We have also gotten some great help from our other kickstarter friends. They are awesome and deserve our absolute gratitude! Thank you so much!

And lastly please check out Planet3, as they are on their last day! 

A Visit to the Dark Side

Posted by Snowcastle Games (Creator)
46 likes
Nadirian Mining Outpost - click image for desktop background version
Nadirian Mining Outpost - click image for desktop background version

We wanted to show you some more of Umbra. In the last world update we focused on Zenit, the desert side of the planet. This time around we wanted to show you a couple of pieces of concept art from Nadir, the dark and cold side of the planet.

As Amon and Ive and their friends have unravelled a small part of the mystery of Umbra’s past, clues will eventually send them on a quest to the cold and treacherous - albeit mythically beautiful - Nadir, and into the depths of the ancient mining station above.

Deep in the mines
Deep in the mines

Since the planet doesn’t revolve, Nadir never sees the sun. We talked about how to light this side of the planet. Being from the cold and dark north ourselves, we thought about the aurora borealis and how it creates an otherworldly and eerie light when it appears. It seemed like a fitting way to lend this inhospitable region a mysterious vibe.

North side of Nadir
North side of Nadir
Nadirian Amri Scavenger
Nadirian Amri Scavenger

Several other mysterious locations in Nadir are places we’d love to explore further into Earthlock, in episode 2 and 3. Nadir is a dark land, where anything can be buried beneath the snow and ice - and many things that should never be found, as well. We have many ideas for our main story line, and smaller quests, throughout the Earthlock saga, where we use the mythical lands of Nadir and its many strange and dangerous locations.

We are designing Umbra to offer a great variety of environments, we’ll get around to showing some more temperate areas later, now that we’ve covered the polar opposites!

If you like the Mining Station concept art, here's a handy link to 1920x1080 desktop background version!

Project Spotlight

Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today

Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow comes Today is an old-school 2D graphic adventure game, featuring space-time distortions, concentration camps, a dystopian atmosphere... and a dark, bloodstained plot. It pays homage to classic adventures (The Secret of Monkey Island, Broken Sword...) but revolves around a more mature theme, along the lines of games such as I have no mouth and I must scream or Sanitarium. You can even play the demo!

This game looks amazing and the demo is very fun! It sort of gave us a little Beneath A Steel Sky feel and that is definitely not a bad thing! Please consider pledging to them as we would love to play this.