Development Zaddiary #1
THE FATE WEAVER'S SHOP IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Welcome to the first development diary for Fate Weaver Zadarra and her Unfortunate Misfortune (FWAHZUM)! As I wrap up various elements of Trolltem Poles, I found some time to start a new project. It's always fun to start something new, and I am having an extra fun time with this game as I am exploring a new art style. I have jumped head first into FWAHZUM, so let's take a look at where I am with the game.
After I started Kingdoms of Immacus, I wanted to work on a solo game I could play test and work on in my free time. Unfortunately, every time I tried to make a solo game, it evolved into a multiplayer concept. Solo games are a great way to get some gaming in when you don't have a group to play with, and you have that itch to play. Seeing that the other games I am working on are multiplayer, I really wanted to round out my catalog by offering a solo card game. After toying with some old ideas, I came up with the fate weaver concept.
Catching the Muse
It's funny how ideas tend to build on themselves. I knew I wanted to make a game about fortune telling and use tarot-sized cards, but I didn't know what art style I wanted to go with. After the difficult position I put myself in with an ungodly amount of vector art with Trolltem Poles, I wanted to play with a style that allowed me to paint in Photoshop, but wasn't as intensive as Kingdoms of Immacus. I needed a project to have a little light-hearted fun with. I have been re-watching Adventure TIme, and I really like the art style. I wanted to do something similar, but with my own spin.
The sketchy art look has been appealing as of late, and I found this great website called True Grit Texture Supply that has all kinds of cool textures and brushes for digital editing software. I found a brush set that I liked, purchased it, and used that as my foundation for the art direction of the game. For the character style, I went back to my roots with the '90s-inspired anime eyes and Western styling. Now that I had my theme, brushes, and art style finalized, it was time to focus on the mechanics and story of the game.
Mechanics from Games Past
Fate Weaver Zaddara and Her Unfortunate Misfortune is a Frankenstein of a bunch of concepts I had work on across various projects. The biggest one I wanted to highlight was the Synergy System from Kingdoms of Immacus I blogged about a while back ago. Basically, you set two buildings next to each other, and if their icons match, the buildings get a bonus. I liked this system, but I found it added another layer of complexity to an already complex game.
I scrapped the Synergy System and reworked it to the Rune Flipping System in FWAHZUM. The Rune Rotation System works by the player placing cards down on the playing field and attempting to match the corresponding runes. If the runes match, the cards rotate 180° revealing a new set of runes. If the player matches the runes again, the cards rotate 180° and the player increases their rewards.
The extra hook to this is if while you are in the rotation process, if a new set of runes match, the cards rotate again, creating a chaining or combo system. If anyone has played Kingdoms of Immacus, you know I like rotating cards. This is Kingdoms domain rotatation-lite.
The other key mechanic is the leveling up of the shop relics. I love leveling up cards, which is very clear from Kingdoms of Immacus, and I wanted to include that in a small way in Zaddara's game. Thus, you can purchase relics for your shop and upgrade them to increase their abilities. This adds a layer of depth to the game that would otherwise be too straightforward I feel.
How the Game Plays
The game is set up by separating the tarot cards into their four suits. Players will place X amount of death cards in each suit for the level of difficulty they want to play and make sure each suit has ten cards. All extras are set aside.
The player will then shuffle the customer cards and then discard down to 10. The top card of each suit deck and the customer deck is flipped and the game begins. The player needs to play from the suit the customer requires, but then is free to pick cards from any suit until 4 cards have been used for the customer. Based off of the cards played and the amount of rotations each card did, the player will get fate shards, gold, and clairvoyance points, which can upgrade the maximum number of fate shards they can store. It is also used as a top score mechanic where players can keep track of their best score and try to beat it. The gold allows you to purchase and upgrade relics, and the fate shards allow you to use the abilities of those relics.
Focusing on the Characters
I wanted the game to focus on a character and their story, while filling in some of the gaps in the Kingdoms of Immacus timeline. I'll probably release a real timeline once get a few more games under my belt, but this game happens before Kingdoms of Immacus and Trolltem Poles and after two unannounced projects I am working on. Basically, this game leads right into the Great Interloper War where D'Dorian Star and Xenic try to overthrow the Crystalynn kingdom.
In Kingdoms of Immacus I talk about this war and the Trilisians, but by that time, the Trilisians were wiped out by the Astracites. Zaddara is a player's first look at the Trilisian race before the Astracites took over. It also gives the player a look at main characters before the war and after the events of previous games in the timeline, which I am working on.
Since I wanted the game to be character focused, I named the game after the main character and made the story about her journey helping these Immacus icons alter/fulfill their fate despite the Astracite intervention. Originally, there were no customers in the game, just objectives, but I thought this game would be a good opportunity to show the world of Kingdoms of Immacus a little bit more.
Weaving the Future of Zadarra
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I jumped into this game head first, and I have already created a lot of content for it. Expect to see another update soon for the game including a post on the inspiration for the Fate Weavlings, Zadarra's little poppets. I also will have some notes on the playtesting sessions I have done since the creation of the game. I'm looking forward to sharing this with you all.