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The Kristala Dev Blog - Issue #23

Welcome back to the ever-enchanting Kristala dev blog, where you can get front-row seats to the development process for indie 3D dark fantasy ARPG Kristala, the first title from female-owned-and-operated indie game studio Astral Clocktower Studios.

Get ready to take a peek at what we've been up to over the past month and what's ahead for the rest of 2020. We'll dive head-first into the fantasy world of Ailur and get even more acquainted with the fantastical creatures that call this magic-filled planet home.

In this issue, you'll get a first look at the new tutorial section for our convention build, the treehouses that populate our Nisargan clan lands, the new models for our Kotakayan soldiers, a super sweet cinematic shot showing off our six clan biomes, and so much more.

Are you ready to enter the fantasy? Here we go...


3D Asset Design

Last issue, we shared the finished model of the gigantic coliseum our 3D Environmental Designer, Cass, created for our Nasahara Ruins level. If you're just joining us, you can read all about Nasahara's lore here.

The coliseum was a piece Cass had been working on for several sprints, and while the model certainly showcases the amount of work and attention to detail Cass put into it over the course of the past couple months, we know he was stoked to move onto something new.

As our ace of architecture and structural design, Cass now moves on to modeling out the sewer system that runs beneath the charred streets of Nasahara. Take a look at the progress he made on modeling and texturing the sewer pipes, grates, landings, and divisions.

Once the models for the sewer items were completed, Cass then shifted focus to texturing them. We wanted to use a mixture of brick and cobblestone for the sewer walls to help showcase the age of the materials, but we weren't sure which color brick to go with.

Cass gave us a few different options, and we ultimately ended up combining several of them together before deciding on the finished product.

After the sewer components were completed, we working on brainstorming a unique way to bring a source of light to the dark, winding tunnels.

You might think simple lights with bulbs would be the way to go, and if Nasahara were a Kotakayan city, traditional light bulbs would make perfect sense due to the Kotas' tendency to utilize science and electricity in their overall aesthetic.

Because Nasahara's sewers are part of Anagativan territory, however, we wanted to highlight the fact that unlike the Kota, the Ana tend to utilize more organic materials and items in their typical aesthetic.

Ultimately, we came up with the idea of using shards of crystal as a lightsource for Ana-owned cities, villages, and towns. Check out Cass's interpretation of that idea in the crystal sewer lamps featured below.

With the Nasahara sewer components completed, Cass was also able to knock out a few more light tasks before moving onto the next big architectural project he'll be tackling: the tree-house villages located within the great Jhacanda forests the Nisargans call home.

Before we show off Cass's start to the tree homes, here's a look at a Warhammer he designed that will be added to our growing arsenal of weaponry.

Now that Cass has the below base models down for the Nisargan houses that will be clustered together amongst the hulking Jhacanda trees, he'll move forward on individually detailing and texturing them to be placed in the Kristala game build.

Tune in to next month's dev blog to see the updates!

Speaking of tree houses, Cass isn't our only modeler working on Nisargan structures. 3D Designer Karena has also been working on the large, cylindrical tree homes that will be featured in the Nisargan capital city of Nisar.

In addition to the houses themselves, Karena has also been working on a series of ropes and bridges that will be used to navigate from one tree house to another.

We designed the Nisargan cities and villages in this way to not only showcase this clan's affinity for nature and the natural world of Ailur, but to also give them an offensive advantage that allows them to spot potential dangers well before they arrive.

Before she could move on to texturing the models for the treehouses themselves, Karena first designed a hatch that will provide access to the interior of each tree home from a system of ladders below.

Once completed, Karena will work on a rig for the hatches that will allow them to open and close during gameplay.

After the hatches, Karena began adding texturing and details to the tree houses, including natural-looking wooden walls and a unique thatched roof. She'll be finishing up these textures in the coming weeks, but here's where the structures currently stand.

In addition to beasting out the tree houses, Karena has also been working on the items and furniture that will be housed within these high-rise structures.

Last issue, we shared the three different variants of wooden nightstands Karena created. This sprint, she was able to get them textured and ready to be placed in the houses once they're completed and brought into the Kristala game build.

We really love how the raw, unfinished look of these models adds to the naturalistic aesthetic of the Nisarga clan.

Last sprint, 3D Character Designer Bianca was working on creating the different variants needed for our custom Kotakayan rat warriors and modeling out a base version, a mid-grade version, and a heavy version.

At the start of Kristala, you'll embark on your Raksaka Proving to become a famed Raksaka warrior, but that won't be the only challenge you face. Along the way, you'll soon encounter hordes of Kota warriors who are working against you at every turn.

Some of these warriors will seem rather small and unassuming, but others will be large and highly difficult to defeat. Though not all Kota wish you harm, these soldiers are acting on orders from their higher-ranking commanders...who would sooner see than you dead than see you succeed.

Here's a look at all three of the common soldier variants you'll encounter along your travels, plus a close-up look at the mid-grade variant Bianca completed this sprint.

Once our 3D Generalist, Nick, had completed his long list of environmental items to help detail the Nasahara Ruins level, he then shifted gears to work on one of our most morbid models to date - an emaciated Kota soldier and Ana warrior.

These morbid models will be used to create piles of charred corpses to help depict the carnage of war that remains in Nasahara. We've been classifying Kristala as a 3D dark fantasy since its conception, and these models are some that really help showcase the gorier side of Kristala's many storylines.

To create these harrowing pieces, Nick used the existing models for each creature as a base and then altered them to arrive at the below skin-and-bones versions.

These beasts are of course fictional characters, but the emaciated models might be a bit graphic for those with weak stomachs; just a forewarning that the following images are slightly unsettling, especially with their textures added.

With the corpse piles complete, Nick turned his attention to a few gothic stone archways we'll be using in the underground dungeon area featured in the Nisargan clan levels.

We'll have additional shots of these structures in future dev blog issues, but check out Nick's work on these beauties so far.


Level Design

For the past few months, Level Designer Joey has been working on building out the large stone walls and pathways of the once-great city of Nasahara. Though its streets and buildings were once bustling with life, the city has long been abandoned ever since its tragic burning.

Though the city's walls and integral structures still stand, nature has begun to reclaim the land that was once hers. To properly represent this, Joey's been strategically placing vines and greenery throughout the level to highlight the abandoned feel of Nasahara.

Here are some progress shots of the work Joey completed this sprint.

In our last issue, we showed off a sneak peek of the work Lead Level Designer, Tiffany, had been doing on the biomes for each of the six Anagativa clan territories. Much like the magic of the six clans' Sacred Crystals, their biomes are also all each unique and different.

This sprint, Tiff was able to finish setting up each clan biome based on the concepts our artist, l_aciel, sketched out. Here's a look at each clan biome concept followed by its corresponding level area in the Kristala game build.









If you've been following our journey for awhile now, you may have caught the playable build we debuted at this year's PlayNYC virtual convention. The build contained a portion of our demo and opened with a tutorial section at the start.

While the tutorial was incredibly informative and contained some really valuable information on how to approach Kristala's gameplay, it was an optional tutorial that many eager players inadvertently skipped past or didn't fully read.

Because of that, some of the most important information about how to equip armor and consume items was overlooked, which ultimately caused some slight confusion. For future builds (like the one we'll be featuring at this year's IWOCon), our programming team has been hard at work making the tutorial mandatory upon start of gameplay.

Our lead programmer, Will, got things started with the tutorial, and then Tiff took over to finesse and work out the kinks. Here's a look at the tutorial section as it stands today. We can't wait to see how players fare after beginning Kristala with this crucial information.


Concept Art

After beasting out the base concepts for the Kotakayan sentries that will be patrolling Ailur as you embark on your Raksaka Proving, l_aciel turned her attention back to the rough sketches she completed a few months ago for our Anagativan armor concepts.

Beginning with the Nisargan armor concept, l_aciel will now go back through clan by clan and fully detail out these incredible designs.

As a reminder, pictured first is what the Nisargan base concept looked like prior to l_aciel's revisions; following is her progress on the fully detailed set. Once these are completely finished, they'll be passed along to our modeling team to bring the 3D armor sets to life.


Game Production / Rigging / Animation

Earlier in this dev blog issue, you saw the clan biomes Tiff put together for a special video project we've had in the works. After Tiff was done creating each biome, she handed the files over to Game Producer Allie to create a beautiful, cinematic shot featuring all six crystals.

While working on the shot, Allie shared some progress pics of some of the crystals and biomes along the way before showcasing the final, finished piece. Check it out!

In addition to rigging up and applying some animations to a gnarly creature we're currently keeping under wraps, Allie continued her work on rigging the updated model for our female main character.

Once the model for the new character's base skeleton was properly rigged, Allie was able to add controls, get the character skinned, and get some initial textures applied.

Next up, Allie will begin customizing all the combat animations for our new badass kitty before officially bringing her into the game build.

Because most of the animations used on our existing character are customized themselves, Allie will need to make several tweaks to each one in order to get the character properly moving and ready for combat.

We can't wait to see what she looks like in action.


Kristala Featured at IWOCon 2020

Don't forget! You can catch Kristala as an official selection at this year's IWOCon digital convention. Wishlist the app now on Steam and get ready to sail the high seas to IWO Island.


Sound Design

Need something sweet 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 Merch Alert!

Don't forget! We now have a Kristala merch store!

Make sure you check out our most recent products: the new 3"x3" and 5.5"x5.5" custom vinyl stickers and slaps. They're the perfect way to rep Kristala in your everyday life.


Kristala Stream Team Corner

Every week, members of our dev team stream their work LIVE at 9 pm EDT on Twitch.

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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