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The Kristala Dev Blog - Issue #24

Welcome back to the fantasy, friends!

You're just in time for the latest installment of the ever-enchanting Kristala dev blog, a monthly compilation of the game development completed for indie 3D dark fantasy ARPG Kristala in November 2020.

If this is your first time joining us, we're super happy to have you! Kristala is the inaugural title from the leading ladies behind Astral Clocktower Studios, a female-owned-and-operated indie games studio based in Central PA, USA.

In this issue, you'll see the progress made on the tree house villages for our Nisarga clan, get a peek at three new armor sets for our player character, receive an in-depth look at the abandoned city of Nasahara, and so, so much more. Plus, we'll introduce you to three of our newest talented dev team members too!

Now, let's get ready to amp up the magic and dive headfirst into the dark fantasy of Kristala.


3D Asset Design

In last month's issue, we gave you a little introduction to the work our 3D Environmental Designer, Cass, had done on the first set of Jhacanda tree houses that will be featured in our Nisargan clan levels.

Much like the large Redwoods and Sequoias that exist in our realm, the great Jhacanda trees of Ailur are impressive in both their size and aesthetic. The nature-loving Nisarga clan not only values these trees for their connection to the natural world of Ailur, but for their height too.

As a clan that shies away from conflict, the Nisargans erected their stunning abodes way up high amongst the sky-high branches of the massive Jhacanda trees. This positioning allows the Nisargans to spot any kind of impending danger well before it actually arrives.

This sprint, Cass was able to make some incredible headway on both the first and second sets of houses that will populate these stunning Nisargan homesteads. Once he's modeled all three sets, Cass will then begin the tedious texturing process for each one.

In order to make each set of tree houses unique and varied, we've brainstormed several ways to implement small aesthetic variations to each model to make it stand apart from the rest.

In the images of the first set above, you can see that we've used a series of ladders to traverse from one house or floor to another. In the second set, Cass is designing a winding stairway that snakes up the side of the tree instead.

We're looking forward to seeing what Cass does to the third set of houses to make it unique. Stay tuned to future issues of the Kristala game dev blog for updates.

Shifting gears to 3D Generalist Karena's neck of the woods, we have even more Nisargan tree houses to explore. While Cass worked on more traditional-looking structures, Karena's been modeling a large, cylindrical tree house that will be featured in the Nisarga clan's capital city of Nisar.

While the houses above will be affixed to the outside of the Jhacanda trees themselves, the homes Karena's modeling will encircle the entirety of the trees' trunks, with the tree stretching up through the center of each rounded house.

These cylindrical homes are much larger than the traditional, rectangular models; because of this, we envision the models Karena's making to be home to more prominent Nisargans that hold some position of power or greater importance.

This sprint, Karena was able to complete her model and begin texturing. We're especially loving the detail on the gorgeous thatched roofs, flooring, and entry hatch pictured below. Once she's done with texturing, Karena will create a few smaller models to help detail and personalize the homes—like decorative curtains, planter boxes, and other items.

When you begin your journey to becoming a famed Raksaka warrior at the start of Kristala, you'll have more than one challenge to overcome. In addition to the Raksaka Proving, you'll also have to battle your way through hordes of Kotakayan soldiers that are mercilessly hunting you.

Over the past few sprints, our resident 3D Character Designer, Bianca, has been hard at work capturing the look of our Kota soldier concepts in 3D form. In order to properly create variation and individuality in the soldiers, Bianca created three different versions that will be prominently featured in the game.

Here's a look at Bianca's paint job on the three soldier variants. Next, she'll package the models, create fur, and then model their armor. Make sure you stop by our Concept Art section in this issue of the blog to get a sneak peek at what the armor sets will look like.

If you've been following our development journey over the past few months, you'll know that we've been working hard to create and implement a new model for our player character—one that more accurately matches the character's original concept.

As his first task this sprint, 3D Generalist Nick worked on modeling a set of eyelids to allow the character to properly blink and emote—one of the final steps in fully finalizing the player character's revised model.

Because the new model for our main character is vastly different than the existing model in the game build, we've had to go back through all the existing armor sets and properly adapt them for the shape and size of the new piece.

As the initial creator of the female main character's armor sets, we of course tasked Nick with amending his work to better suit the new and improved model. Before diving in on that task, however, we decided to give our character a set of base undergarments to with which to begin the game.

Here's a look at the pieces Nick created. We initially went with a strapless canvas top to match our initial concept, but we soon added in a leather strap to make the undergarment better suited for the intense battle you'll experience in Kristala.

With the undergarments completed, Nick was then able to begin revising the existing armor sets. To start, he amended the base Nisargan training armor set that you'll don at the start of the game if you choose to play as a member of the Nisarga clan.

Check it out!

Once he finished with the Nisargan starting set, Nick then moved on to revising the Ancient Angler Armor set that you'll receive as a pickup in our Dalamase swamp level.

This gorgeous ensemble is a mid-grade set that's adorned with beautiful brass leaves and other additional natural elements to help highlight the Nisarga clan's love for nature and the natural world around them.

Last up for the armor revisions this sprint was the Myrtunan Enforcer Armor set. This ensemble is—as its name suggests—a piece that was crafted by skilled smithies for the necromancing Myrtuna clan.

Nick initially provided two iterations of this set that varied in the darkness of their tone and coloring. Our team was a bit more drawn to the darker version, so you'll see that set featured in the Kristala demo once it's released on Steam,, and Gamejolt.

In addition to the eyelids you saw Nick model above, the new model for our player character was also lacking an updated set of teeth and tongue. As the mastermind behind the revised model, we tasked 3D Character Designer, Pete, with whipping up a new set of chompers.

Pete is just days away from welcoming his first child into the world, so he'll be passing the teeth over to Nick to complete, but here's a look at what Pete was able to accomplish thus far.

Over the past month, we've had the absolute pleasure of welcoming a few new team members to the Astral Clocktower Studios family—and we're super stoked to have their combined talents adding to the overall allure of Kristala.

Our first new team member, Iuliia, was tasked this sprint with creating a few different variants of traditional tables that will be used in the Nisargan tree houses and villages you've been reading about in the past few issues of the Kristala dev blog.

Take a look at Iuliia's models thus far; we'll be proceeding with texturing and finalizing three of the five pictured below to be used in the game.

Stay tuned to future issues of the blog to see even more of Iuliia's beautiful work.

In addition to Iuliia, we also welcomed 3D Generalist Joe to our team. As his title suggests, Joe will be lending a hand to various modeling endeavors to help us better detail out our levels with custom 3D models.

First, Joe got settled in by creating this Nisargan stone axe weapon, utilizing the natural elements and green tones that represent the aesthetic of the nature-loving Nisarga clan.

Next, Joe tried his hand at creating the below crystal-powered lighting fixture that will be found in the upcoming Nasonder level, a vast, underground dungeon and long-forgotten secret passage out of Nasahara.

Much like the crystal lights Cass created that we showed off last issue, these illuminating crystal lights pay homage to the organic elements that are found throughout all Anagativan villages, homes, clothing, weapons, and level areas.

Next, Joe worked on crafting a couple different skulls that will be used to help amp up the "dark fantasy" factor of the game.

The first skull Joe created closely resembles that of a traditional domestic feline. The second skull—while still distinctly leonine—has a more humanoid look to it.

This was purposefully done to represent the evolution of the Anagativan species. The more humanlike variant represents our modern-day Anagativa, while the first iteration represents the catlike ancestors of the modern-day Anagativa.

Having both versions allows us to show the age of any given area in the game build, and ultimately helps showcase the evolution of the magical Anagativa beings from quadrupeds to anthropomorphic, bipedal creatures.

To round out this sprint, Joe started working on a bunch of props that will be found in Nasonder. This area was used as a prison/dungeon during wartime periods by both the Kotakaya and the Anagativa at different periods in history.

Tune in next month to see what else Joe has up his sleeve.


Level Design

Over the past few sprints, Level Designer Elsie has been piecing together the abandoned city of Nasahara. This sprawling Nisargan city was once home to some of the greatest thespians and artists of Ailur, and the hulking coliseum at the city's center served as a thriving mecca for Nisargan entertainment.

During the Great Kota Rebellion, the city was ravaged and razed, burned to the ground by the Mad Kotakayan King's relentless forces. When tragedy struck, the city's denizens fled and its streets and homes were left abandoned.

Decades later, Nasahara remains vacant, and nature has begun to reclaim what was once hers. To properly represent this, Elsie has been working on strategically placing thick vines and lush greenery throughout the level.

Take a look at the beautiful work Elsie's done on Nasahara over the past few weeks. We can't wait to see what else is in store for this eerie, abandoned city.



In our last issue, we showed off the forced tutorial section that Tiffany—our Lead Level Designer who also moonlights as one of our talented Programmers—worked on.

This sprint, Tiff made a bunch of revisions to the tutorial to improve its performance and functionality. Here's a list of all the bugs she addressed:

  • Enabled functionality that forces players to equip consumables and spells, and to ensure the correct item is consumed (Kris Pearl) during the tutorial

  • Created a blocking volume to force players to complete the Kristal checkpoint portion of the tutorial; once the checkpoint portion is completed, the blocking volume is destroyed

  • Fixed a spell step that now locks all other slots except the spell slot, and addressed a bug that was displaying the spell prompt too early. Also implemented a spell cast step that ends the tutorial once completed.

  • Updated an incorrect frame as well as a portion of code that displays keys to update in real-time when players switch controllers.

In addition to working on the tutorial, Tiff also mapped out a Boss Wall that will be used to prevent players from progressing past a particular level area until defeating the boss.

To connect the wall with Kristala's story and aesthetic, Tiff then created a BluePrint using a translucent crystal material that renders the wall invisible (without collision) on the first passthrough.

Once initially passed, the wall becomes visible and has collision. Upon defeat of the boss, then wall is then invisible without collision.

Stay tuned for a visual shot of the player passing through the Boss Wall in upcoming issues. For now, here's a look at some of Tiff's work on the tutorial section.


Concept Art

Earlier in this issue, we showed off the models for our Kotakayan soldiers that 3D Character Designer Bianca has been working on. Next, Bianca will move on to creating some Kota armor sets based on the below designs Concept Artist l_aciel has been working on.

These are still pieces that are in progress, but here's a look at the evolution of the armor concepts thus far. Stay tuned to see the finished pieces and get a look at how they'll appear in 3D form.

In addition to the Kota soldier concepts, l_aciel also whipped up a quick concept that 3D Generalist Nick used to create the canvas and leather undergarments for our Anagativan player characters of the Nisarga clan.

We already introduced you to the two new members who joined our 3D modeling team, but we also welcomed a new addition to the ACS concept art team too.

Ila joins us as an Environmental Concept artist, and this sprint, she kicked things off by creating a beautiful concept of one of our Nisarga clan's famous Jhacanda tree house villages.

Here are a few in-progress shots so far. We'll show off the finished piece in the next Kristala dev blog issue, and we're looking forward to seeing what other magic Ila can create.


Game Production / Rigging / Animation

This sprint, Game Producer Allie continued her work on the rigging and skinning for the revised model of our female main character, ensuring its skeleton and controls were sound.

While working on the detailed facial rig she's got in the works, Allie properly added in the model's eyes with an eye control group. Though a few adjustments will likely be made moving forward—like enlarging the irises—the model is finally nearly ready to be animated and brought into the game build to replace the current main character model.

We're ridiculously excited to see the new player character in action and we can't wait to see her properly kicking ass in Kristala!


Kristala Featured at IWOCon 2020

Did you know that Kristala has been accepted as an official selection at this year's IWOCon digital convention? Sail the high indie seas with us and the rest of the talented indie developers as you explore the IWO island in a fun, engaging mobile app.

Wishlist the app now on Steam and get ready to sail the high seas!


Sound Design

Music is an important piece of the Kristala puzzle. Not only does it help set the mood and provide some background noise, but it also serves as an important storytelling device.

Because of this, we've been working incredibly hard to ensure the original soundtrack for Kristala is packed with harrowing tracks and magical songs that really cause players to feel something.

Recently, we had one of our Internal QA Testers, Caleb—who's also the frontman of his very own metal band—record a few Ailuran sayings and phrases that will strategically be used in future Kristala tracks.

We're not giving away too much about what this demo will be used for just yet, but we wanted to show off Caleb's incredible work backed by some consecutive gameplay footage captured and recorded by Game Producer Allie.

Need something else to feed your ear piece? Get a peek at the tracks that will be featured in the original soundtrack for Kristala by visiting our official Soundcloud page.

All songs are composed by our resident musical wizard, Adeel - who professionally goes by AdLibPiano - so be sure to head on over to his Twitter page and send him some love too.


Kristala Stream Team Corner

Every week, members of our dev team stream their work LIVE on Twitch. Follow us on Twitter to get instantly notified when we go live. We're gearing up to kick off some exciting giveaways soon too, so be sure you don't miss out!

Here's a look at some of our favorite stream moments from the month of September. Tune in live every weekday (except Mondays) to chat with our team and follow our dev journey.


Thanks for tuning in to another installment of the Kristala Game Dev Blog. If you've been enjoying our monthly development updates, we wanna hear about it!

Register for a site account and leave us a comment, or join our Discord community to chat directly with the members of our dev team and stay up-to-date on all things Kristala. You can also follow our dev journey on social media via the links below.

Until next time, dear friends...thank you for your continued support, and thanks for stopping by.

-The ACS Games Dev Team


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