Archive for September, 2016

Shadowhand Dev Diary #9: RPG inspiration from an English castle

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Both Jake and I are very interested in history, and we like looking around ancient buildings and monuments. We’ve made a point of including elements of British history in our games, so we were open to inspiration for Shadowhand when we went to visit Dunster Castle in North Somerset, UK last summer.

There has been a castle on the site for over a thousand years – back in the early days supporters of Empress Matilda used it as a major stronghold against King Stephen in a civil war known as The Anarchy. So already this is a location that resounds with lore that any RPG fan would appreciate. Much of the castle still standing today was built or extended in the 17th and 18th centuries, making it ideal research fodder for our RPG card game, set in 1770.

Saddle up

The castle is extensive and we explored it all, but one area that we really loved and wanted to include in the game was the stables. A game with a highwaywoman set before motorised transport must feature horses. These stables, built shortly after (another) civil war in 1660, have horse stalls that are late 17th or early 18th century.

The light coming in from the old windows was very atmospheric, even though no horses are kept here now.

I knew that Shadowhand would have to come here at some point in her adventures, but perhaps by moonlight. Here’s the resulting level:

Every level needs to have a purpose. After battling her way across the Somerset Levels (Avalon Marsh in our game) Shadowhand gets some valuable information from the Ostler who works in the stables, looking after the horses.

Imagining our character travelling around a landscape loosely tied to real locations in South West England at a specific time in history helped to inform not just the story but also concrete details of the people she would meet, tools, weapons, and other story items that would be part of the game world.

Whips and guns
Being British, there are many items on display in stately homes and castles that we almost take for granted. Having game design in mind definitely makes us look more closely.

Weapons were presented in glass cases in a slightly more modern gun room or armoury.

We didn’t draw directly on images from Dunster, but we did end up including an armoury level with weapons on display in our game.

The format has changed slightly from a riding whip to a riding crop, but again, this historical item fed into game ideas that led to a whip being included as a weapon.

Living game design

We don’t do all our game design this way, of course we also do a lot of research from books and the internet. But visiting historical locations and museums in person definitely keeps it fresh and sometimes gives us original ideas. It’s also extremely valuable to take your own (copyright free) images for our artists to use as references.

The Shadowhand world, its story and characters definitely extend far beyond the scope of what will eventually be used in the game itself. We think the attention to detail and depth of research add something special, which players recognise and enjoy.

Shadowhand developer vlog #6

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

We would love to give you a flavour of the music and ambiances that we are currently implementing in our unique RPG card game, Shadowhand.

This time Helen talks about the music that we’ve been adding to the game to lend atmosphere to the story and battles. Check some of them out for yourself in Developer Vlog #6 and let us know what you think!

Shadowhand Dev Diary #8: Dressing for Success

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

Our RPG card game Shadowhand is set in the late 18th century, around 1770. Our heroine, Lady Cornelia Darkmoor, spends much of her time in disguise as the eponymous highway woman, Shadowhand.

Outfit items work along similar lines to “armour” in many RPG games, and so changing your garb has a significant effect on gameplay.

Riding in style

The riding habit Shadowhand is wearing is inspired by this one, held at the V&A museum in London. Made from woven wool, with a silk lining and a heavy metal braid, the style is definitely Rococo.

Shadowhand’s riding jacket boasts 1 defence, with an additional defense bonus if worn with the riding boots, as she is here. It also gives you big pockets – you get an additional gear slot for bombs and potions, boosting the number available from three to four.

She also has a riding whip that she won in a duel with an angry aristocrat seeking vengeance for an earlier robbery. It’s a nasty weapon with a chance to cause bleeding, and does even more damage if you equip it as part of the riding set, with the riding jackets and boots. Tally ho!

Be your own superheroine

Some of us spent a lot of time pretending to be superheroes when we were kids – some of us maybe never stopped. If so then this outfit ticks many of the right boxes.

Every superhero/ine needs a great cape. This cloak has the ability to withstand animal attacks and comes highly recommended by the local hound master. In addition to dog bites, if also repels rats and leeches. Yes this game does involve getting attacked with rats and leaches – these are practically household items: it is 1770.

Meanwhile Shadowhand does have a run it with a mean executioner:

If she gets his mask it increases both her stealth, and her chance of going first in duels.

Finally, the brutal glove. These are pretty lethal, with a chance to cause bleeding and to stun. Wearing a pair makes them recharge between strikes even faster.

Classic highway robber

Some people like to go for something classic and understated. Shadowhand can certainly don appropriate work attire for night-time heists if that’s your preference.

Her black coat boosts defense specifically against “land” weapons. We’ll be delving into the weapon classes in more detail in a vlog soon, so watch out for that.

The lovely feathered tricorn is great for deflecting thrown items. There will be plenty of these coming at you – in addition to the aforementioned rats and leeches you should be ready for bombardment with flaming grog bombs, throwing knives, snuff, wig powder and a range of other bombs. So this hat could be viewed as the essential hard safety hat for dangerous highway work.

Shadowhand’s sea service pistol is standard Royal Navy issue, and teams perfectly with the ornate gilt smallsword for roadside intimidation. Ornate smallswords were often worn by men in the 17th and 18th centuries as a status symbol, and were the forerunners of duelling swords. Her gun is a “sea” weapon and her brown gun belt is well suited to swashbucklers, giving a damage boost to “sea” class guns.

As well as being a stylish accessory, Shadowhand’s freebooter kerchief not only shields her face but also adds to her ‘luck’ stat, which can be found in her character sheet. Luck helps you to find more gear (bombs and potions) in loot.

Tailored to you

There are over 13 million unique combinations of clothing that you can pick for Shadowhand, so there’s bound to be something there to suit your playing style and strategy.

You can mouse over your own load out and your enemy’s pre-duel, and you may choose to alter your outfit to ensure you are optimised for the very different enemies you will encounter.

What’s your favourite outfit in the post above, and why?