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An enchanting Adventure/RPG set in a magical realm. Master spells, battle foes, and quest forth in this full-length game.
An enchanting Adventure/RPG set in a magical realm. Master spells, battle foes, and quest forth in this full-length game.
3,157 backers pledged $125,174 to help bring this project to life.

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Kickstarter Update #43: Summer Debugging, Happening So Fast

Greetings, wannabe witches and wizards! We hope that the Air Mages have been keeping you cool during this brutal summer. Or that the Fire Mages have been keeping you toasty warm if you're across the pond.

An Update on Beta Testing  

Now, you're probably fidgeting your idle RPG-desiring thumbs, saying to yourselves, "Hey, wasn't this Mages game supposed to be entering beta testing around this time of the year?" And to that, the answer is "Yes." The trouble is that our outlook was slightly more optimistic than this batch of stubborn combat bugs would allow, progress-wise. In fact, the combat bugs may as well have thrust a sturdy wooden staff in our faces and boldly shouted "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" To cut a long story short, we're still working daily (very hectically, I might add) on subduing the absolutely monstrous list of combat-related issues in this game! As of a week ago, there were approximately 260 entries remaining. That number is slowly starting to dwindle, but there are many cases where we fix one bug, and then 5 more spin-off bugs appear in its place! Ah well, good things take time.

To that end, we’ve brought an additional AGS programmer onto the development team to get through these issues at a faster rate, and to help keep us on track for getting the game out to you guys as soon as we feasibly can. Our new programmer is the talented James Spanos (AKA Dualnames) who is no stranger to AGS nor the adventure genre, having worked previously as the lead coder on Primordia and also on The Cat Lady. James is lending his talents to tracking down, solving, and polishing the many, many bugs in the Mage's battle system. We're now focusing on spell-specific bugs, and once they're done and dusted, we'll move onto monster-specific issues. Then finally, we'll tackle the remaining general combat issues. There's still quite a mountain of work in front of us, but over the past two weeks, James has already shortened the list considerably and has been very prompt in nipping those pesky "spin-off" issues in the bud, as soon as they appear.

While this has been happening, Morgan has been working on adding a canceled monster back into the game, and Jason has been linking more of the wastelands map together (which is almost complete now). A more "final" image of the game is now beginning to take shape, and in all honesty, we did consider pushing it out to beta this month, warts and all. Though in the end we had to decide against it, as the sheer amount of bugs being reported would have been overwhelming for us to handle… particularly when we're already aware of most of them, but have only been able to fix so many of them when already working at full capacity.

We know that you’re all chomping at the bit, eager to give the beta version of the game a shot! But at the moment, we don't want to jinx ourselves again by throwing another premature prediction out into the wild. So, let's see how well we can tame the combat bugs over the next month or so. Then we'll hopefully be able to give you guys a more accurate idea about beta testing in the next Kickstarter update.

All in all, squashing combat bugs (since the Chief Amphibian Officer unfortunately can’t just hop into Bitbucket) has been a fairly unexciting but necessary process to get this aspect of the game fully functional.

We’re sorry we don’t have more thrilling news to report on this front. But onward, we march!

Some Belated E3 Musings, and Other Upcoming Conventions

Rachel went to E3 out in Los Angeles in June, and it was a madhouse!

We missed the cutoff to get featured in the Indie Booth but hoping we can do so if E3’s in the cards for next year. Over 50,000 people attended and it’s a great way to meet various members of the press and the AAA sector. There were also really cool displays by the new Video Game History Museum that is opening in Texas and everything from Lego villages to cosplay contests and the countless afterparties, including at the ubiqutious Fig! It felt awesome to be included in that and have received praise for the mechanics, graphics, and storyline of Mage’s Initiation from both prominent indies as well as people in the AAA space.

It was also a great opportunity to meet people we’ve worked with for years and never got to meet yet!

If you’re on the East Coast or planning a visit, please check out A Video Game Con in Parsippany, NJ on September 19, Rachel will say hi to you. Himalaya is also getting a booth at Gameacon in Atlantic City November 19-22, it’s going to be a fun 4-day festival for devs and gamers alike!

Rachel is also going to be speaking on a panel about breaking into the business of indie games with Tim Train of Big Huge Games while at Gameacon, we’d love it if you could stop by if you’re attending!

General Progress Report

Here's our up-to-the-minute gauge of progress:  

Writing & Design: 99.999999%

Background Artwork & Animations: 99%

Character Animations: 99%

Music: 90%

Sound Effects: 80%

 Voices: 0%

Adventure Game Programming: 98%

Combat System Programming: 97%

RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 95%

AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats  

And here are the latest numbers for resources being used in Adventure Game Studio for Mage's Initiation:

Total sprites: 18226 / 30000  

Sprite folders: 862

Total views: 770 

Total GUIs: 71 

Inventory Items: 300 / 300 (dynamic inventory system, we have over 300 items)

Characters: 213 

Dialog topics: 393 / 500 

Reminder for "Book of Backers" Reward Form

This is just a reminder that if you pledged to the campaign at $20 (Apprentice tier) or higher, you can have your name appear in the Book of Backers in-game!

Most of you have already submitted the form with your requested names either in the original survey or via form. And for that, we thank you. However, there are still a few people who haven't filled out the form (or maybe just didn't see the e-mail?). In any case, if you backed the Mage's Initiation Kickstarter (or pledged via PayPal), at the $20 Apprentice tier or higher, please double-check your emails for our previous update containing the link to the reward form. It was sent out on April 25th, 2015.

If you didn't receive the "Book of Backers" reward form and believe you should have, please email us at with the subject like "Book of Backers Form" and let us know how you’d like your name to appear.

Al Emmo Now on the App Store!

Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine has finally been ported to iPad, iPhone, and iPad touch, and is now available in the App Store! The iOS version features a new verb-coin style interface with large icons for touch-screen devices, and is optimized for single finger taps. Text size has also been increased for easier readability on smaller screens.

The game costs $4.99 USD and can be purchased at the App Store .

(Note that Apple doesn't permit us to distribute free game copies to existing owners of the PC version. You would need to purchase it again if you wish to play the iOS version.)

As this is our first title on the App Store, reviews, likes, and ratings would be greatly appreciated. We hope you enjoy having Al Emmo in your pocket (or handbag, backpack, and wherever else you can fit him.)


Please show this awesome, American-made workout tool, LoopRW, some love!

Fellow Playcrafting alums Goodnight Games also just released Blitz Breaker on the App Store and Google Play, they're really awesome so be sure to check it out!

And as the Seer's Sphere begins to fog over and the wand's wizardry begins to wane, we bid you fair tidings until the next edition of the Mage's Monthly.

 The Himalaya Team

What? It's June Already?


Hello, backers!

It's been a busy time, as usual, but we wanted to drop a quick update to let you know the latest goings-on and where the game stands at this point in time!

On the progress front, things are moving fantastically. For a long time there were 'symbol' limitations in the AGS engine that were really creating headaches for us. In a nutshell, the AGS engine placed a limit on the number of symbols that a game could include. Symbols are a essentially a collective of characters, global integers, music/sound files, dialog trees, and other things of that nature. Coding wise, Mage's Initiation is so big that we bumped into that upper symbol limit quite a while back and as a result, we kept running into compile errors when attempting to add new things to the game! This hindrance constantly forced us into finding creative ways to work around the limitation -- for example, by re-using characters for multiple purposes rather than creating a bunch of separate ones, by deleting global integers and using arrays in their place, or by shuffling dialog topics so that less tree options were needed to convey the same information that an NPC imparts.

This was all well and good, but it was getting to the point where we'd shuffled assets all we could manage, and it was taking increasing amounts of time to create enough space for even just one or two new symbols -- time that could be better dedicated to finishing the game! Plus, we'd hardly imported any of the sound effects into AGS, and each sound and music piece in the game requires its own symbol. It was apparent that we were running up against a problem that was not going to yield, and would cause us significant delays if left unaddressed for much longer. Thankfully, one of our backers, and as it happens, AGS code contributor, Benjamin Penney, stepped in and was able to increase the symbols table limit to… well, unlimited! This change has now been rolled into AGS v3.3.4 (the latest stable, non-alpha version of the engine), and we're free, once again, to import assets into AGS to our hearts' content. Three cheers for Benjamin and the AGS Development Team!

Progress has picked up since this symbols limited was lifted, but it hasn't been without its detriments. We've found ourselves having to play catch-up, as a result and there's still a daunting list of combat-related bugs (over 400 entries) that we need to work through and alpha test before we can even consider launching the first beta build of the game. With a multi-class, multi-spell RPG of this complexity, we really do need to have it stable and functional enough, prior to entering the beta phase, otherwise the sheer number of bug reports being posted (most which we'd already be aware of) would get overwhelming and things would end up taking much longer to manage and sort through. So, our goal now is to get as many combat bugs squished as possible, with an aim towards stabilizing the game for beta. We're still tentatively hoping for August, but it will really depend on how quickly we can whittle down this huge list of bugs. Of course, we'll keep everyone posted on the timing of the beta.

This was a BAD day to enter the wastelands!
This was a BAD day to enter the wastelands!

The other main thing we're working on right now is full implementation of the Points and XP leveling system. We have this large Excel document to keep track of all the points and leveling-up opportunities for each character class. It gets pretty complex when delving into optimal puzzle solutions and optional side and sub-quests. Suffice it to say that it's going to be quite a challenge to find all those XP points and completely max out your Mage!

To date, XP points have been programmed in and finalized for the game's first act. Within the next few days the entire system should be completely in place and ready for internal testing and any further tweaking that's necessary.

Here's our gauge of progress thus far:

    • Writing & Design: 99.999999%    
    • Background Artwork & Animations: 99%    
    • Character Animations: 99% 
    • Music: 90%    
    • Sound Effects: 48% 
    • Voices: 0%  
    • Adventure Game Programming: 99% 
    • Combat System Programming: 96% 
    • RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 95%
    • Pre-Beta Bug Squishing: 25%

    AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats

    • Total sprites: 17873 / 30000 
    • Sprite folders: 799 
    • Total views: 767 
    • Total GUIs: 67 
    • Inventory Items: 300 / 300 (dynamic system, we have over 300 items) 
    • Characters: 198 Dialog topics: 393 / 500

    "Book of Backers" Reward Form

    We've had a great response from backers who pledged to the campaign at $20 (Apprentice tier) or higher! Many of you have already submitted the form with your requested names to appear in the Mages' Tower's "Book of Backers". And for that, we thank you. However, there are still a few rebellious sorts who haven't filled out the form (or maybe just didn't see the e-mail?). In any case, if you backed the Mage's Initiation Kickstarter (or pledged as a Slacker Backer via PayPal), at the $20 Apprentice tier or higher, please double-check your emails for our previous update containing the link to the reward form. It was sent out on April 25th, 2015.

    If you didn't receive the "Book of Backers" reward form and believe you should have, please email us at with the subject like "Book of Backers Form" and let us know.

    Postcards and Al Emmo Double Pack on Steam

    Thanks to everyone for the votes on Postcards from Anozira on Greenlight. We got through relatively quickly and painlessly this time (which is the polar opposite to our previous efforts!) The game is available on Steam now, either by itself or at a discount as part of the Al Emmo Double Pack.

    Shoutout to Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

    Lori and Corey Cole are currently running a supplemental Kickstarter campaign to put the finishing touches on their upcoming RPG game "Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption". There's a couple of new demos available, too; a remake of the early break-in house demo and a new combat demo both featuring 3D graphical assets. Their campaign has 8 days remaining and almost reached its goal. If you were a fan of the "Quest for Glory" games and missed out on backing the first Hero-U campaign, or if you'd just like to help the Coles get across the finishing line, take a look at the Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Kickstarter campaign.

    Well, that's a wrap for this update! Rachel will be attending the upcoming E3 later this month and will be taking Mage's Initiation along to show. Hopefully we'll have more news to report after that!

    And as the magical mana meter depletes to zero, we bid you farewell until it recharges, once more, to full capacity.

    The Himalaya Team

For backers at the $30 and higher levels: Library Book Names!


For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

Mages: Almost Initiated

Welcome, once more, magical masters of the mystical multiverse,

 As you'll no doubt be aware if you've been following along with our updates, development has been advancing rather well on Mages' Initiation and the game is fast heading down the track to completion! Sure, there's been the fair share of hiccups, hurdles, and illnesses to stumble over along the way, but the overall forward momentum is unstoppable and in this update, we'll document our progress thus far and cast our prognosis for when we expect to launch the beta.

So, come! Gaze into the Sphere of Knowledge. Let the clouds of prophecy roll in and we shall see what the fates have in store.

Name in Library Book - Please Read if You Backed at $20 or More

We wanted to get this out there first-- we ran into a little snafu. Kickstarter lets us survey a tier just once and the only tier we've surveyed to date is the $20 Apprentice tier since these backers were only receiving stickers and no other physical goods.

We've reached the point where we need to collect backers' names for inclusion in the "Book of Backers" in the Mage's Tower library. Please note the following:  

  • There's a 30 character limit on names. (Due to the formatting of the book, each name can only occupy a single line. This character limit ensures the names will fit.)
  • Keep it clean, non-abusive, and avoid any mention of copyrighted terms or trademarks.
  • If you don't want your name or pseudonym included in the in-game "Book of Backers", please type OPTOUT in all-caps into the field.

Since we're not ready to receive the other data from the higher tiers (e.g. we don't need your mailing addresses just yet), for the time being we'll be sending a private message to each tier, linking to a Google Form asking for the name you'd like to have displayed in the library book. 

If you backed by PayPal, you’ll be receiving an email. Sorry for any confusion!

Progress Since January

We’re pleased to announce that we recently hit a glorious milestone! The art and animation assets for the project are now essentially finished. Every game background and associated animation (e.g. things like rivers, doors opening and closing, smoking fires etc.) has been completed. Our lead artist, JP Selwood, has worked endlessly, detailing over 80 game backgrounds. He has given each screen a consistent artistic style so that the landscapes appear seamless, without any clashes or variation in the style and quality (which is sometimes hard to avoid when multiple artists have worked on adjoining background pieces). We have truly strived to give the valley of Iginor the most verdant landscape we could imagine, remembering the way our imaginations ran wild playing all the classics on account of their brilliant art. We hope you'll enjoy getting lost in this lush, aesthetic world.

Karen also finished the last of the animated in-game character dialog portraits, which is another milestone worth celebrating. We're very pleased with the high quality of her work and it has been a blast seeing Iginor's diverse cast of characters come to life on-screen. Since none of the character voices have yet been recorded, their mouth frames currently just animate in a looping pattern. But we're really looking forward to getting the voices in place and the lip-syncing added, in order to witness the full effect of all those intricate mouth phoneme frames that Karen has painstakingly crafted.

Onto the final artistic front: the character animations. Shane and Jeremy have been knocking down the remaining entries on the animations list for both D'arc and NPC characters. Once a grand and intimidating sight to behold, the list is now dwindling and contains little more than a small handful of entries, which we expect will be finished in a matter of weeks. With 4 player classes and animations for nearly every player action, Mages is a very animation intensive title, and this, in large part is a major factor in what's contributed to the lengthy development time-frame. So to say that we're "elated" to finally see the animations list reach an end is the understatement of a quarter-decade… quite literally!

The music and sound effects are coming into the final stages. Brandon is currently working on polishing the remaining pieces for the game and we're getting them set up as they roll in. Adding sound effects, on the other hand, is a somewhat painstaking task which we usually leave until the very end.

In terms of programming, there are several outstanding areas that we still need to focus on before the game will be in a state fit for beta testing. Jason is getting close to wrapping up programming the Wastelands section of the game. This is a region which had to be put on the back-burner for a long time, for a couple of reasons The first being that the decision to re-include the wastelands as a fully-explorable area was decided upon later, as it was based on meeting our $80K Kickstarter Stretch Goal. And the second being that it's a complex area to script, with chasms, unique landmarks, and other obstacles - we wanted to get the combat system fully functional before implementing the wastelands as a secondary major combat zone (the forest being the first). That, and there were more important scripting priorities that took precedence, such as getting the RPG and Stats system working without flaws.

Simultaneously, Morgan is working through a very long list of combat-related bug-fixes. These tweaks are aimed at bringing stability to the battle system so that it can be fully-integrated into the RPG system. Hooking both of these together is something that still needs to be done, as if you were to test the game in its current state, it would simply play like a straight adventure game with optional combat tacked on that you could ignore. This means you could finish the game without raising any stats and the only mandatory combat encounters you'd face would be the bosses. Obviously, a lot of fine-tuning needs to be done once the combat and RPG systems are interlinked, and the timing of this long list of combat bugs is the largest variable affecting when the beta will be stable enough to release.

Those programming tasks aside, there's a trivial amount of work to be done on the class-based side-quests, one interface GUI still needs to be properly implemented, and a couple of mini-games are in need of fine tuning. That pretty much encompasses all of the remaining programming work.

A Word on Beta Testing

When all is said and done, we're realistically looking at a beta launch of around mid to late August 2015. Bear in mind, however, that this beta will likely be closer to an alpha, as the voices won't be present and there will be a fair few rough edges. Releasing a beta this way is a new process to us, as with all our previous games we've held off on releasing beta versions until the products were in a very polished state, complete with voices, and having been comprehensively alpha tested internally until we couldn't find any more bugs. At that point, we'd turn it over to a small, controlled group of beta testers to scrutinize and report their own findings.

To be honest, we do feel a little 'exposed' at the prospect of releasing such an early build as a beta version to a much larger test group, but we also feel that this will be the right time to let backers at the appropriate tier levels see the game they've backed after the long wait. This new approach also comes with some advantages, in that backers/testers can help us weed out any spelling or grammar anomalies before the time comes to record voice actors. (It's always a bit of a hassle having to get actors back for pick-up sessions if you've already recorded all their lines prior to the beta.)

We're aiming to have the game and all of its systems fully-functional and playable to the end by the end of June, so we can spend adequate time internally alpha testing it for a month or so. We'll keep you posted!

General Progress Report

More than a few people have mentioned that they liked the way we gauged our progress with figures and estimated percentages, so here are the latest numbers for your perusal:

Writing & Design: 99.999999%  

Background Artwork & Animations: 99%  

Character Animations: 99%  

Music: 85%  

Sound Effects: 45%

 Voices: 0%

Adventure Game Programming: 98% 

Combat System Programming: 95% 

RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 90% 

And here are the stats for latest AGS engine assets being used.

AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats  

Total sprites: 17847 / 30000  

Sprite folders: 799

Total views: 767  

Total GUIs: 68  

Inventory Items: 300 / 300 (dynamic inventory system, we have over 300 items)  

Characters: 198  

Dialog topics: 393 / 500


Sojourning west to represent Himalaya, Rachel attended her first GDC this past March and was still pretty star struck weeks after heading back east! Unfortunately, we had missed the deadline to have Mage's Initiation featured at the Indie Megabooth or at the expo hall's indie exhibit.

However, GDC is one of those holy grail events where you have everybody from indies working on their first game, who tried not to cringe thinking about their savings, to designers representing billion dollar studios whose booth costs could've paid for ten more games.

While not formally exhibited, it didn't stop Rachel from pulling out her laptop and getting feedback from other developers, especially at the adventure game party. Reception toward Mage's Initiation has overall been extremely positive! People have been loving both the gameplay and aesthetics, the best comment received was that it had something for the players who want to get into a story and game world, and plenty of spells and monsters for the twitchier gamers among us.

"I stayed at this place that based on the trippy decor and colorful, abstract furniture made me feel like I was in an Al Lowe game in 1992. And I had an ice cream taco after looking for places where The Room was filmed. IT RULED." -- Rachel's GDC diaries from her upcoming book

A Green Postcard is a Good Postcard

Nothing makes us happier to announce that we're back in the Greenlight system with another game. Hooray! "Al Emmo's Postcards from Anozira", a casual game spin-off, is currently doing the rounds. We can think of few more joyous occasions than being in Greenlight. So much so, that we want to tell the world about it! Please note that the above statements may be laced with sarcasm. At any rate, please share in our emotions and give the game a "yes" vote, as well, as a favorite and follow, if you can spare the additional clicks.


Infamous Quests: The Trifecta  

The guys at Infamous Quests are going for the hat-trick in their latest Kickstarter venture, with no less than 3 new adventure games being funded in the same campaign! Count 'em:

Quest for Infamy: Roehm to Ruin  

The Order of the Thorne: The King's Challenge  

The Order of the Thorne: The Fortress of Fire

The entire team has a clear passion for adventures and they release great titles, which we can wholeheartedly recommend. Having met their initial goal, they're currently angling to reach their $35K Stretch goal and put all 3 games into development at once. If fantasy RPG/Adventures are up your alley (and we know they are, since you backed Mages!) these are definitely worth your consideration.

Tournament of Might

If you’re into card games at all, check out Tournament of Might. It's War on steroids! There will be a Kickstarter launching for this in a few weeks for new armies to be made.

Visual Design in Action

This campaign will be launching on Tuesday the 28th, if we have any graphic designers and lovers of print books in the house. Ladislav Sutnar's groundbreaking piece, Visual Design in Action, will be reprinted!

Playcrafting Spring Expo 4/29 & Upcoming Classes

Rachel is extremely active with Playcrafting, an NYC game developer collective. Mage's Initiation will be showcased at the spring expo along with 74 other games! If you're in the NYC or metro area and want to hang out with a bunch of cool indies and gamers, play lots of different games, and have free pizza, grab a ticket and stop by Himalaya's booth and say hi! The expo's at Microsoft's Times Square office, adjacent to almost every train.  

If you ever wanted to learn AGS, adventure veteran Francisco Gonzalez will be teaching an AGS class May 12. Rachel will also be teaching a new class on June 4, Taxes for Indie Developers. You don't leave until you've learned about at least one oddball tax loophole and laughed until your sides hurt!  

That's all Folks

If you backed at the $20 tier or above, remember to fill in your surveys, which you should receive shortly after this update goes live. Next update, we hope to be in a good position to tell you more about the Mage's Initiation beta testing phase!  

And as the Sphere of Knowledge's cloudy residue subsides, we invite you to reflect upon the newfound insight you have acquired this day, as we bid you a fond adieu.  

Until next time, stay magical!  

The Himalaya Team

Polar Vortex 2015


Greetings, mages, magesses, and familiars! We hope that the Fire Mages have been putting in overtime for you if you’re in the northern hemisphere. Between some major illnesses and housing troubles among team members that transpired over the last few months, this update has been incredibly delayed and we’re sorry about that. However, you’ll be pleased to find out we’re quite on track with the game! Behold:

General Progress Report

There's nothing scientific about these figures. They're our best estimates on where we currently stand in the grand game development scheme. Nevertheless, when one knows that the light at the end of a tunnel is rapidly approaching, one finds it far easier to gauge how close said light really is. So while these figures contain not a shred of scientific analysis (not even from a magical measurement spell) it's safe to say they are accurate guesstimates:

Writing & Design: 99%

Background Artwork & Animations: 95% 

Character Animations: 93% 

Music: 80% 

Sound Effects: 15% 

Voices: 0% 

Adventure Game Programming: 90% 

Combat System Programming: 95% 

RPG/Stats/Equipment Programming: 85% 

And for the RPG fans who are so hardcore, they need stats about stat-raising game, here are the latest AGS engine assets being used.

AGS Game Engine Assets & Stats  

Total sprites: 17203 / 30000

Sprite folders: 789  

Total views: 745  

Total GUIs: 68  

Inventory Items: 300 / 300 (our custom inventory system is dynamic, we have over 300 items)

Characters: 194 

Dialog topics: 402 / 500 

(Yes, some of these figures went backwards from our last update. This is due to us deleting unused assets and/or the streamlining process of refining certain scenes and removing any wordy or clunky sections that didn't work well to convey the story.)

At this rate, we will be aiming for a May or June beta sans voice acting!

January 2015 Summit Meeting in Oz

Early in January 2015, Daniel and Chris met up for the annual Himalaya Studios summer summit meeting (yes, it took place in Australia). We used this opportunity to carefully map out the remaining work to be done on Mage's Initiation, so that we can see it to a (hopefully relatively speedy) conclusion. As is usually the case, much was accomplished during this in-person developer meeting. It was really quite motivating to bounce ideas off each other, and quickly enhance segments of the design and puzzles in real-time. There's this peculiar phenomenon in game development where things tend to get taken care of faster and much more efficiently in real life. Or maybe it's just that sitting in cramped quarters for full 40c degree days, with just a small metal fan shared between two, swarms of flies to keep you company, and the prospect of a walk around the block the only reward for a hard day's work, were motivation enough to get our work done quickly.

The first order of business was to conduct a full playtest of the game from beginning to end. This was fairly entertaining to watch, because Daniel had not actually played any of our internal demos for some months and thus was able to approach this playthrough through the eyes of a "fresh" gamer. So, naturally, he was designated the test pilot for this play-test session. He started a new game as a Fire Mage (since that's our most solid class at the moment) and we were off to the races! This method worked out well, too, because through playing, we quickly located problem areas which needed extra attention and we were able address them as we played. For example, there were times when Daniel got stuck and didn't have any direction on what to do next. He would say "If I were an unaccustomed player and I were playing this part right now, I wouldn't know where to go." Such epiphanies where very, very handy in helping us to decide where we needed to insert new NPC barks, "hint" thought bubbles for D'arc, and sometimes subtle visual, graphical indicators to ensure that the sense of progression never completely faded out on the player experience. At the same time, we didn't want to make it to hand-holdy. So, while you may still need to pause for thought every so often, as you contemplate how to solve a head-scratching puzzle, you'll always have your next goal clearly defined, and won't be stuck wandering around for lack of something to do.

As Daniel discovered issues and areas to improve, Chris was busy addressing them in the AGS engine and cracking out bug-free code. Another painstaking task that Daniel commenced during the summit was going through every… single… line... of dialog in the game, and condensing the text where necessary. Rewriting lines if they no longer fit the context of the scene or the overall game narrative (some of this dialog was written years ago and the game's design has evolved significantly in that time!).

While the dialogue clunkiness was being... declunked, we brainstormed several ideas for spell-casting opportunities using the player's existing "adventure" spells. (Each Mage class gets 5 "adventure quest" spells and 6 "combat" spells, for a grand total of 11 spells per Mage class!) We wanted to put more of these "adventure" spells to use and thought of some alternate puzzle solutions for the varied Mage castes. A few sections of the game were trimmed down and fine-tuned. Some unnecessary art and animation assets (that were yet to be made) were scrapped in the interests of consolidating specific scenes and shortening the production time. We felt particularly good about getting rid of these assets from the pipeline, as they were weighing the project down and didn't really add anything to the story couldn't be told without. The benefit was that important scenes became faster-paced, snappier; like they should be, rather than getting weighed down by overbloated dialog and overreliance on animations. In some cases, clever wording of a character line could give the same impression without the need to visually show a character's action on-screen.

As the playthrough reached the final Act, we redesigned the slightly outdated ending scenes to make them fit into the events of the scene better, and reworked the final adventure puzzle there so that things feel more intuitive and the right emotions are being conveyed.

By the time Daniel departed into the sunset (actually, he left at 4am) and was on his merry way back home, we felt that (aside from creating a monstrous to-do list) we had succeeded in planning exactly what needs to be done in order to transition things smoothly towards alpha testing and eventual beta testing. Make no mistake, there's still PLENTY of work remaining, and our noses will be to the grindstone for the next several months while attempting to complete everything for a prospective mid-year beta launch. Fingers crossed, and we'll keep you posted!

Second Rule of Mage Club: Talk About Fightin'

Since the last update, the Mage's Initiation combat system has transformed from a rather simple affair, with just a handful of opponents and a majority of missing spells, into a spell-casting, battle-blasting, gem-crafting, spectacle. Morgan, our fantastic combat programmer has been devoting much time, of late, toward getting the entire system completed and his hard work is paying off in spades! The battle system is now almost feature complete. All of D'arc's stats are in the process of being hooked in, with the appropriate buffs and debuffs attributed to equipable gems being applied in real-time.

As mentioned above, each Mage class (of which there are four: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water) has 6 different combat spells - each one unique to that class. That equates to a grand total of 24 combat spells in the game! These have all been fully-programmed now, and we're almost ready to start bug-fixing all the known issues pertaining to them. Completing all of the combat spell programming, including the backer-created ones, was a huge milestone and we think you guys will have a lot of fun laying waste to the beasts of Iginor with this magical arsenal.

As of writing this, we have just 3 boss battles left to program. (All the regular enemies are already done) One of these 'bosses' is the backer battles, which we've just started working on, to be programmed in the coming weeks. For their generous pledge, these two lucky fellas not only get to be D'arc's spellcasting test-target during the tutorial, they'll also be endowed with magical gifts and get to duke it out with him mano e mano in real-time.

We're expecting the combat system to finish up soon. Very soon. This will go a long way in moving the project toward beta on schedule. The general RPG/Stats system is still lagging behind a bit, but because the combat system now necessitates its inclusion, it's likely to play catch-up very quickly!

Check Out Mage’s Initiation at These Upcoming Events!

If we have anyone reading in the New York area, please check out Playcrafting’s Winter Expo! Over 50 games will be on display including Mage’s Initiation. There’s free pizza and all kinds of games: what’s not to like?

If you’ll be in New York next week, Rachel will also be at Gamedev Hacker if you want to say hi.

She'll also be representing Himalaya for the first time at GDC 2015 in San Francisco, which we’re extremely psyched about! If you’re going to be there, feel free to stop by and give some feedback on what you’ve seen so far... and tell her where the adventure game party will be at!

RIP Astrid PolloDiablo

We received the sad news that one of our backers lost her battle with cancer recently. She was an integral part of the adventure game community and our hearts go out to her loved ones.

This concludes our broadcasting schedule. Please remember to wipe-off your combat Conductors, unequip your gems, and keep your tunics crinkle-free while you wait for our next action-packed update, which is sure to level-up on even this one!