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The Kristala Dev Blog - Issue #31

Hello, and welcome to the official Kristala dev blog, where we break down the development process for 3D Dark Fantasy ARPG Kristala each month.

If you've been keeping up with our dev blogs already, you know that they're pretty hefty when it comes to content. But did you know that we actually hold back A TON of screenshots, lore tidbits, tutorials, and video walkthroughs each month?

Why, you might ask? Well, we've been carefully and strategically saving some of our best content in anticipation of finally launching the official Kristala Patreon campaign.

When you become a Kristala Patron, you'll instantly gain access to even more behind-the-scenes development content—like more comprehensive dev blogs; first looks at secret bosses, characters, and enemies; and in-depth lore and story goodies. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

Becoming a Kristala Patron also means you'll unlock a special, secret code that'll gain you tons of bonus entries for our upcoming PS5 giveaway!

That's right—skip the hassle of trying to track down a PS5 (and save your hard-earned monies!) and try your luck at winning a FREE PS5 Disc Edition, courtesy of women-lead indie games studio, Astral Clocktower Studios.

You can learn more about the exclusive content you'll receive when you join us as a Kristala Patron throughout today's issue of the Kristala dev blog, but for now, let's get into this month's titillating game dev updates!


Kristala at Play NYC 2021

After over a year of exhibiting at various online game conventions, we can't properly tell you how stoked we are to be presenting an exclusive build of Kristala—featuring our revamped demo level—at this year's Play NYC convention.

Not only is this our first in-person convention since the pandemic began, but it's also a bit of a homecoming for us since Play NYC was the very first convention we ever exhibited Kristala at back in 2019.

If you're not familiar with the event, Play NYC is New York City's premier gaming convention. Hosted at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the heart of NYC, Play NYC blends tabletop games and video games into a super fun event for anyone and everyone.

Featuring the latest releases from studios large and smalland from developers old and newPlay NYC celebrates every facet of gaming in a way that only the Big Apple can.

The con kicks off on Saturday, August 7th and runs through the following day, August 8th. We'll be live-streaming during the event, so be sure to stay tuned to the Astral Clocktower Studios Twitch channel and our other social channels to join us in the fun!


Concept Art

While most of our dev team focuses on preparing an exclusive build of Kristala for Play NYC, our talented concept art team has been pumping out fresh designs for current weapons and items that still need revamped before our official vertical slice is complete.

If you haven't been following our dev journey for very long, you may be surprised to learn that we recently decided to give our entire demo level a complete overhaul in order to better match the realism of our new player character.

This means that our artists have been diligently working on cranking out fresh concepts for existing weapons, armor sets, consumables, and other important goodies.

In particular, artist James has been focusing on some of the key weapons for our Nisarga clan, which is the only clan that will be featured in the official Kristala demo as a playable clan. In the full version of Kristala, you'll be able to choose from one of six different clans.

You can unlock even more concepts from James—including previously unreleased weapon designs—by joining us as a Kristala Patron.

With revamped weapons well underway thanks to James, another of our talented artists, Amanda, worked on revising the concept for an important merchant NPC that will help you score all the wares and goods you need to complete your Raksaka Proving.

Because Neil of Nisarga hails from the nature-loving Nisarga clan (as his name so adequately conveys), Amanda made sure Neil had the signature, tabby-like markings that can be found on most Nisargans.

Even cooler, Neil is modeled after studio founder Allie's IRL late father, Neil, who had a penchant for all things animal and a deep love for the Grateful Dead.

Here's a look at Neil's initial concept, followed by Amanda's revised version that really captures the true essence of this beautiful memorial NPC. We really love the realism Amanda captured in Neil's new concept, which is definitely what we're going for with these revisions.

Next up on our list of revised concepts are the beautiful potion consumables concept artist Ila worked on this sprint.

For some items in the old version of the Kristala demo, we used stand-in props from the UE4 marketplace as place holders until we could create our own, custom designs and 3D models.

We really love the elegant look of Ila's new potion concepts—complete with traditional Ailuran tags that let players know exactly what each potion contains within its glass bottle.

You can get a full breakdown of the Ailuran alphabet and its linguistic rules by joining our development journey as an official Kristala Patron, where our Lead Narrative Designer, Emily, will walk you through exactly how she created each individual character.

In the last issue of the Kristala dev blog, we showed off some of the items artist Harold had been working on to help detail the various fishing shacks and abandoned cabins that pockmark the Dalamase—the Nisargan level featured in the upcoming Kristala demo.

This sprint, Harold continued working up fresh concepts for some of the aging items that will help detail this once-bustling, now-vacant series of villages.

In addition to these items, Harold also started working on base sketches featuring each of the six clan biomes for our feline-like Anagativa characters. We'll be sharing some of Harold's finished biome concepts in our next issue, so stay tuned!

With artists James, Amanda, Harold, and Ila working on revised concepts for items currently featured in the Kristala demo, our fifth concept artist, Nicholas, began working ahead on a fresh design for an important character you'll meet in the full version of the demo.

Brutus is the resident blacksmith players can periodically visit to score new weapons and upgrade existing pieces in their arsenal. Because of his propensity and skill for blacksmithing, Brutus hails from the islandic Keoza clan.

After The Shattering, the ancestors of present-day Keozans gravitated toward the fieriest piece of the ancient, Sacred Kristal, landing at the base of a large, slumbering volcano along the coast of Ailur's largest ocean.

It's here the Keozans thrive to this day, utilizing the hot magma from the now-active volcanoes surrounding their clan territory to forge awe-inspiring weaponry and sets of armor.

Here's a look at the start of Brutus's concept. Nicholas will now craft this character's clothing and tools before going back through and detailing the entire piece.


3D Modeling

Our concept artists aren't the only ones working hard to fully transition all the assets featured in the Kristala demo from their current state into pieces that better match the overall realistic aesthetic of our revamped demo level.

In fact, our 3D modeling team has been working overtime just to ensure we have all the models needed to replace the existing assets in the Dalamase: the Nisargan level that's featured in the demo.

Last sprint, our 3D Character Modeler, Bianca, took a break from character design to help with a few steampunk-esque weapons for our Kotakayan soldier enemies.

Because the magic of the six Sacred Kristals is an organic substance, we purposefully designed our Kotakayan species to be more adept at science and technology in order to contrast the organic magic of the Anagativa.

Here's a look at some of the Kota daggers Bianca whipped up this month. You can see the metal gears and details that help to make these blades undoubtedly Kotakayan.

With the daggers complete, Bianca then moved on to modeling the new version of a statue of Ellaria Keyva, the first of the Raksaka warriors, using a revised concept from artist Harold.

Unsurprisingly, Ellaria—who originally hailed from the Nisarga clan but denounced her clan affiliation after completing her Proving and becoming a Raksaka warrior—is widely celebrated to this day by all the Anagativa that exist on planet Ailur.

This statue now proudly stands at the heart of the Nisargan capital city of Nisar, reminding all hopeful Kristalans about what it truly takes to take on the Raksaka Proving and become a famed member of the Raksaka.

Last on Bianca's to-do list this sprint was recreating a few Anagativan plushies that will serve an important role in the Kristala demo's storyline.

You can see more of Bianca's work—and learn exactly what role these Ana stuffies play in Kristala—by joining us on our Patreon journey for as low as just $1 per month.

The series of fishing villages that comprise the entirety of the Dalamase are pockmarked with aging, abandoned fishing cabins and shacks.

The Nisargan denizens that once dwelled within these structures were callously driven from their homes during the Great Kota Rebellion many years ago, and the homes remain abandoned to this day.

In previous iterations of the Dalamase, we utilized Unreal marketplace assets for these shacks, but with the aid (and incredible talent) of 3D Generalist Hassan, we now have plenty of custom 3D fishing cabins for you to explore in game.

Here's a look at just a couple of the dwellings Hassan was able to create this sprint.

With the fishing shacks complete, Hassan then worked on modeling a few other important items that will be showcased in the upcoming Kristala demo, including the Lantern Tree, Lantern Fruit, and Gravestones pictured below.

The Lantern Tree is one of the Dalamase's most stunning wonders. It's not only beautiful and luminous, but it plays an important role in gameplay too; the luscious fruits of the Lantern Tree provide a powerful resist to the poisonous plants and creatures found in this area.

Without the Lantern Tree, you just might unexpectedly find yourself buried beneath one of the moss-covered tombstones Hassan also whipped up this sprint... ;)

Speaking of trees, the Lantern Tree wasn't the only flora Hassan created for the Dalamase this sprint. Because this cluster of villages is located within Nisarga clan territory, there was no question that it needed plenty of trees, flowers, ferns, and shrubbery.

We knew we'd need a bunch of varied tree models, so we had Hassan team up with 3D Environmental Modeler, Cass, to tackle this task and properly detail the Dalamase to give it that signature Nisarga look.

We think both modelers really knocked it out of the bark (yes, that was a terrible tree pun...DON'T JUDGE US)!

In addition to the trees, Cass also started working on a few hanging lanterns and fishing nets that will be placed throughout the various fishing shacks and cabins in the abandoned Dalamase villages.

We can't wait to see what all these look like when they're fully detailed, textured, and placed in the Kristala game build.

In our last issue, we introduced you to our newest 3D Generalist, Fede, who was just getting started on modeling the base, mid-size, and large variants of our Kotakayan soldier enemies.

The Anagativa and the Kotakaya have been at odds for centuries, with contention coming to head during the Great Kota Rebellion. Since the Anagativa emerged victorious from that war, the creatures of Ailur have been at relative peace.

Still, unrest remains and a new battle is brewing. During Kristala, you'll be faced with many Kota enemies that are working to keep you from succeeding at becoming a Raksaka warrior. These soldiers Fede designed will be the most prevalent Kota enemies you meet.

After nailing the anatomy and base models for all three Kota soldiers, Fede then focused in on creating the armor for the smallest variant using a concept from our Lead Character Artist, Pete.

Wanna see what this set looks like fully textured and detailed? We'll be showing off Fede's completed model and accompanying armor set exclusively via the Kristala Patreon, so stay tuned for details on our official launch.

Once he was finished with the Kota soldiers, Fede then spent some time creating the 3D models for a few of the enemies that will be featured in the Kristala demo—like the Shroom beast and Gromphas insect pictured below.

The Shroom beast is one of two mushroom-based enemies you'll find in the Dalamase, and the Gromphas possesses an appendage on its backside that omits a poisonous gas.

Don't worry though...we've strategically placed poison Antidotes and Lantern trees throughout the level to help you survive any unexpected poison attacks.

We already showed off the Kotakayan daggers Bianca modeled this sprint, but she wasn't the only modeler focusing on Kota weaponry this month.

One of our talented 3D Generalists, Joe, was also able to texture and detail some pretty badass weapons you'll see our Kota enemies wielding in game—including a huge Great Hammer and several steampunk Rifles.

Which of these weapons are you hoping a Kota foe drops after defeat? Let us know in the comments on this post or join our Discord community to share your feedback.

With the Kota weapons completed, Joe then returned to the mushroom lantern he'd started last sprint to give it its finishing touches and final details.

In Kristala, a mysterious sickness has befallen planet Ailur, blanketing all of Ailur in a thick darkness that can make it hard to see where you're going during gameplay.

But worry not, young warrior. We've strategically placed items like this lantern throughout the entirety of the Kristala demo to help light your way and guide you through the dark and misty Dalamase.

In our last issue, we showed you the progress 3D Generalist Karena had made on a special consumable that, when selected from your Inventory in game, will allow you to warp to the last checkpoint you visited.

The sprint, Karena was able to finally nail the crystal-like texture she was aiming for for this important item. She may still add some additional details before this baby is brought into Unreal Engine and placed in the game build, but we love what she's got so far.

Once she was happy with the butterfly crystal warp consumable, Karena then shifted gears to model up a few environmental props and items that were still needed to complete the Kristala demo revamp.

First, Karena took on a few of the torches that will be ignited to help lead you towards important areas in the Dalamase. She made sure to add a bit of rust and wear to the textures to help show the age of these pieces.