Ardenfall: An Open-Ended RPG
Ardenfall is a open-ended first-person game where you decide where to go, what to do, and how to do it. Become a thief of the night, a hero in shining glory, a puppeteer of politics... become a master of magic, or a powerful warrior. Explore a deep and alien world, talk to townsfolk, learn of the culture and the people who live in this fantasy world. Whatever path you choose, it is your own.
This project is run by 3 people, all wearing many hats. An introduction to the team is in order, but for now, here is an introduction to our game, our goals, what has been done so far, and what will be done in the future.
Two games are the most prevalent inspirations for Ardenfall: Morrowind, and Fallout New Vegas. From Morrowind, the feeling of the vastness and seemingly endless depth to the cultures and lore of the world, as well as the alien landscape. New Vegas also has a believable world, but also has incredibly fascinating characters and stories, as well as an incredible classic-feeling rpg system. These components are fascinating to us, and Ardenfall’s main concepts and design are very much attuned to the likes of these two games. However, we are determined to stay unique as well, looking at each feature and redesign it to fit the fundamentals of the game, while also being realistic for such a small team to pull off.
Quests + Story
Another focus of ours is to create fun quests that are not the boring “fetch quests”. Rather, quests are designed not to pass the time, but to add more depth to the world, it’s people, or just for plain old fun. Ardenfall does not have a main storyline - in our opinions, an open ended game such as this does not need one, and in fact can be limited by such a constraint. Instead of a large storyline with a beginning and end, Ardenfall will have many “main” storylines, and many more shorter stories to tell. Instead of playing a game where developers tell their own story, we are here to give you the tools possible to build your own story.
A world is empty without people - one focus of ours is to create interesting and unique characters to add flavor to your adventures. The people of Ardenfall are diverse and differ depending on region and social class, with different races and cultures. Dialog is planned to be a major system - not only will it be a bridge into the depth of the world, but also a way to make your mark... just like the real world, how you act towards people will greatly change your options in life.
Player Agency and Choice
One major component in any classic RPG game is choice - Not binary choice, in which the player is given a red or blue pill, and each pill has a different ending, but rather the game itself is a modifiable system in which many many choices affects the world around them. Instead of a linear game, or even a standard “open world” game, the world is dynamic, reflective of the player’s choices through the experience.
The combat system is planned to stay simple, yet solid. Giving the player many choices in fighting style, such as relying on stealth, magic, or weapons. The magic system has the most depth at the moment, however much more is planned to balance this out. A major focus on the combat system is more to the likes of enemy types and strategy: if possible, we’d like to design many different monsters and enemy types, giving them small differences in attack patterns. This would keep the experience fresh.
Classic Role Playing
While the game has many “classic” role playing elements, we also are wanting to tweak it so to give both “modern” gamers and more classic ones a fun experience. For example, unlike modern games, fast travel won’t be as easy as opening up your map and pointing to a spot. Instead, we are planning on implementing other ways to enforce the idea of travel and exploration. Also, the dialog system and quests will be heavily interlinked with the stat system - if you have a level 30+ Strength, you may have a special dialog choice in certain cases.
While graphics are certainly not the main focus of development, we realize that it is the first way a game is judged, and are working to make Ardenfall have it’s own style. The low poly models kill two birds with one stone: not only does it make it much easier for our small team to model and create new things, it also gives the game a unique look that is not seen often on the market. However, we have found that having pure flat shading in a first person game can be rather ugly, especially with trees. The graphic style is still evolving, as we continue to work on making a world that is beautiful and unique.
The Project So Far
The project has been in development for many months now, and the foundation of it is nearly complete:
- World Streaming System
- Time of Day
- Foliage Rendering
- Basic Stats
- Inventory, Item pickups
- Combat: Melee Weapons, Fireballs, and Bows
- Simple Quest Scripting
- Basic AI
- Relationship System
- First person + third person Animations
- Containers (Crates, Dressers)
- Armor and Clothing
- Bodysliders for Characters
Over the next few months, the actual map will be started. We will begin where the game starts, a small port town next to a forest. This will be the first time all 3 of us will be editing the project at once, and it will put our world systems to the test. The starting map will include an introduction to the world of Ardenfall as you set out to discover the lore and gather resources to get started on the journey. Beyond these next few months, here are some main mechanics and systems that will be worked on.
- Better UI
- Hub and Spoke Dialog
- Merchants / Traders
- Enemy Spawning
- Magic Spells
- Quest scripting system
- Music System
- Item Durability
- Facial Animation
That’s it for now
We hope this has piqued your interest. If so, feel free to follow the project! We’ll be posting updates and dev blogs as we continue development. A possible future post could be a dev blog explaining our setup in Unity, specifically how we handle the world streaming, other ideas include our Foliage system or Avatar system.