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The Kristala Dev Blog - Issue #33

Well hello there, gorgeous creature! We're so happy you're joining us for another epically magical installment of the Kristala Dev Blog! If you're new 'round these parts, let us help you get properly acquainted...

This is the place where we break down all aspects of development for 3D Dark Fantasy ARPG Kristala—an indie game in developed by the wildly talented dev team behind women-owned indie games studio, Astral Clocktower Studios.

When we last met, we shared some exciting updates from our time exhibiting at Play NYC 2021, and shared all the work that went into ensuring the exclusive build we prepared for the convention was in tip-top shape and ready to be played.

Since then, we've been laser-focused on our next big milestone: completing the entire vertical slice for Kristala. ...Which means we're inching closer and closer to the official release of the game's demo too. YAY!

As you can imagine, this month was quite a busy one, so let's dive right in to what each branch of development for Kristala has been up to since our last chat.


Concept Art

Now that our concept art team has nearly completed the designs for all existing assets and items in the Kristala build that needed to be replaced with fresh assets, they're now able to move on to creating brand new items that don't yet have 3D counterparts.

If you're a big lover of fantasy games (and we're betting you are!), you likely already know that no Dark Fantasy Action RPG game is complete without a vast array of armor sets....and Kristala is certainly no different.

In fact, our six clans of Anagativa will each have dozens of intricate sets of armor that incorporate the primary color schemes, environmental materials, and general details that encompass each clan's unique and rich aesthetic.

This sprint, concept artist James started chipping away at creating some base armor concepts for each clan, starting with the nature-loving Nisargans.

Because the Nisarga clan dwells within planet Ailur's vast, forested lands, their armor typically features a stunning array of vibrant, green hues and warm shades of brown. Their leather armor is often decorated with twisting vines, animal imagery, preserved flowers, and other natural craftsmanship.

In stark contrast to the Nisargan aesthetic that celebrates the enchanting beauty of Mother Ailur, the Myrtunan aesthetic perfectly captures the mystery of this clan of necromancers' communion with the spirit world.

For a Myrtunan, death is not a macabre ending but rather an anticipated beginning. Death is simply another state of existence, and when a Myrtunan leaves her Ailuran body behind, the occasion is often marked by a raucous, days-long celebration.

In fact, it isn't unusual for Myrtunan warriors to adorn their armor with bones from loved ones who have passed on to the next realm. Doing so, they believe, imbues the armor with the spirit and strength of those who no longer dwell in the living world.

It's true that members of the Myrtuna clan are widely regarded as some of Ailur's most mysterious Anagativa, but no clan is more perplexing and mystifying than the desert-dwelling Sykomanans.

Masters of telekinesis, telepathy, and other matters of the mind, the Sykomana are the only breed of Anagativa that have no fur on their bodies. Perhaps a strange evolvement for creatures that live in an environment that provides little protection from the harsh sun, and yet still this clan has found a way to thrive.

Sykomanan metalsmiths tumble the gritty desert sand to create a smooth, hardened metal for for use in armor. Highly disciplined mages known as gold augers use their unique psychic skills to transform gold from a soft, pliable metal to a rock-hard, razor sharp material.

For this reason, golden weapons and pieces of armor are distinctly Sykomanan, and you won't find this precious metal within the other five clans' aesthetic.

Just as sun and sand reign supreme in Sykomana clan territory, snow and ice are the predominant elements found in the vast tundras of Tandara clan land.

The Anagativa that dwell in this frigid, harsh environment are thus covered in long, sleek fur to protect them from the bitter cold. Similarly, their clothing and armor is comprised of layered furs and skins, sourced primarily from the native Gelba—large caribou-like creatures—that thrive in this frigid environment.

Tandaran armorsmiths also avoid using metal in their craft, as it tends to amplify the cold air. Instead, fixtures or fastenings are crafted from native wood, antler, or bone.

If you'd like to learn more about each clan and see even more of James's impressive armor concepts, join us as an official Kristala patron.

With James taking over as our resident armor aficionado, artist Harold continued working on bringing the Nisargan capital city of Nisar to life via his gorgeous environmental concepts.

Harold's first piece this sprint was a snapshot of one of the many lush courtyards that can be found in Nisar's city proper, featuring a stunning statue of Atreus Stone, the leader of the revered Raksaka warriors in present day Ailur.

Although all Raksaka are required to forego their clan affiliation upon successfully completing the Raksaka Proving, there's an immense sense of pride in the achievement—a pride their former clan members don.

Unsurprisingly, no amount of pride is greater than the pride the Nisargans feel knowing the leader of the Raksaka hails from their forested lands. Many hopeful Kristalans regularly visit Atreus Stone's statue to pay their respects in the hope of becoming the next Chosen Warrior to take on the Proving.

Another keystone of the great city of Nisar is the stunning Kristal Cave that houses and protects the Nisarga clan's emerald shard of the ancient Sacred Kristal.

In addition to rapidly evolving the Anagativa into the sapient, intelligent creatures they are today, the Kristals are also the source of the powerful magic the six clans wield.

Because of this, the Kristals are widely coveted by other Ailuran creatures—primarily the rodent-like Kotakaya—and must be protected at all times. Thus, the Nisargans keep their shard of the Kristal deep within the depths of the Kristal Cave, which is always guarded too.

The effects of the powerful nature magic housed within the Nisargan Kristal has, over time, had a profound effect on the Kristal Cave's hollow interior, transforming it into a bright and vibrant grotto blanketed in glowing fungi and an iridescent, crystalline shimmer.

The third area within Nisar that Harold worked on this sprint was the treehouse dwelling that will serve as both the Nisargan player character's abode, as well as the starting point for the player in the Kristala demo.

While you can only play as the Nisargan female protagonist in the demo itself, you'll be able to play as a warrior hailing from any of the six clans in the full version of the game. Each clan's capital city will have its own unique starting point.

Stay tuned to future issues of the Kristala dev blog to see even more environmental concepts of Nisar, including the Blacksmith's workshop, the combat training yard, and snapshots of other treehouse dwellings you'll be able to explore.

With armor and environmental concepts covered, our third artist, Nicholas, continued working on the concept for Brutus the Blacksmith who will assist you with garnering weapons and training for combat during gameplay.

In our last issue, we showed off Nicholas's progress on the details he's added to give this NPC the signature Keozan look. An exotic breed of Anagativa that dwells on Ailur's remote, volcanic islands, the Keozans are known for producing some of the strongest armor and sharpest weaponry that exists on Ailur.

This sprint, Nicholas worked on adjusting the Keoza clan crest on Brutus's apron—an insignia that features a large anvil and massive hammer—to ensure the crest was easily visible and recognizable.

You can see the three options Nicholas shared with our team below. We ultimately ended up choosing the first option to include on the character in game.


3D Modeling

With our art team working ahead on fresh concepts, our 3D modelers have been sifting through our existing concepts to get started on transforming the 2D designs into 3D form.

In the August issue of the Kristala dev blog, we showed off the concept for a special amulet that will play a key role in Kristala's core storyline. This gorgeous, stark-blue stone encased in woven threads of Jhacanda tree bark will appear in both in-tact and broken forms during gameplay.

This month, one of our talented 3D Generalists, Bianca, worked on bringing both versions of the amulet to life. Here's a reminder of this asset's concept, followed by an in-progress turnaround and a snapshot of the finished piece.

Want to know more about the role the amulet plays in game? Join our Patreon to receive exclusive narrative details and tidbits of lore you won't find anywhere else.

With the model for the amulet prop completed, Bianca then worked on designs for the three variants of Nisargan magic staffs that will be found in game, as well as the model for a magical, Myrtunan shiv weapon.

The green crystal featured on the staff helps indicate that it's a Nisarga clan weapon, and the purple details on the shiv make it distinctly Myrtunan.

We've specifically designed the six clans of Kristala in this way—each with its own set of unique signature colors—to help players discern from which clan various weapons and armor sets have originated.

Bianca wasn't the only modeler working on props this sprint. One of our other 3D Generalists, Hassan, also spent some time knocking out a few pieces that will be found throughout the game, including disturbed graves and a gorgeous quill and inkwell pair.

We showed off Hassan's initial work on the model for the disturbed grave in our last issue, and you can see the updates he added this month in the first screenshot below.

Naturally, these environmental pieces will be found next to various headstones within the Graveyard level area we're currently working on detailing in Unreal Engine, but you'll have to wait until you play to find out who—or what—is actually doing the disturbing.

In addition to the assets above, Hassan also worked on creating new 3D models for the various potion consumables you'll find in Ailur. Each potion we've showed off below has a very specific effect on gameplay:

  • Champagne Potion: Refills your Eminence Mana bar

  • Red Potion: Refills your Health bar

  • Violet Potion: Refills your Malediction Mana bar

  • Green Potion: Cures poisoning

Much like Bianca and Hassan, our 3D Environmental Artist, Cass, has been working through a list of props to create based on concepts from our art team (like the fishing lamps and angler nets we showed off last issue).

This sprint, Cass completed his list of props before moving on to some seriously cool weapon designs. Before we get to those though, here are a few turnarounds showing off Cass's angler nets and rusty and broken gates.

You can also see some cool shots below of a few of the Nisargan rugs that will be placed in the various tree houses and dwellings that pockmark all of Nisarga clan territory.

And's weapon time! We know how much Cass loves to create intricate weaponry, so we were super excited to see his renditions of some of the unique Nisargan blades you'll be able to wield in game.

Both the Nisargan Impaler and Rosethorne swords Cass worked on this sprint will be available to you in the Kristala demo.

When wielded, each magic blade omits an AoE special attack that momentarily paralyzes unsuspecting enemies and provides a brief window of time during which to strike and kill.

Cass isn't quite finished with the designs for these impressive blades just yet, but check out his progress on the Rosethorne and Impaler so far.

As you battle your way through the Kristala game, you'll undoubtedly stumble upon various gates and doors that prove to be locked when you attempt to pass through. To proceed, you'll need to seek out the individual keys that fit each lock and grant you entrance.

This sprint, 3D Generalist Joe worked on modeling the various keys that will need to be found in the Kristala demo, including a few gate keys and a unique key to a special cave level area.

We love how intricate and detailed the keys pictured below are—especially the one that features an Anagativan skull with glowing, green eyes.

Speaking of skulls, Joe was able to model another skull-adorned asset this sprint in addition to the keys: the stunning Nisargan Blight Shield.

A treasure of the Dalamase region, the Blight Shield was forged by native Nisargans to absorb the most virulent attributes of the poison contained within the area's deadly flora and fauna. Wielding this shield in game will provide a resistance to this poison that just might end up saving your life.

As you can see below, this intricate piece features a series of interwoven Anagativan hands clasped around an eerie green center that encases another Ana skull. Joe is still making further revisions to this piece, so stay tuned to future issues of the dev blog for updates.

Although many of Dalamase's natural plants and foliage can be downright deadly, some elements found in the series of abandoned fishing villages can greatly aid you on your journey.

One such item is an equippable fungus called Bioshroominescence. As its name suggests, this radiant, cerulean mushroom can be found in game and equipped to your character as an additional light source.

One of our awesome 3D Generalists, Karena, has been working on this item for the past several weeks, finetuning its model and adding careful the leather stitching on its strap and the intricate markings on its cap.

With the model nearly completed, Karena then started playing with the actual glow of the item, testing out whether the source of the light should come from the top of the mushroom's cap or from underneath the cap where the fungus's gills are.

We ultimately ended up deciding to have the luminosity originate from the top of the cap so that the item will function as a sort of natural flashlight.

Here's a look at both versions of the glow test, followed by a shot of some similar-looking fungi Karena modeled that will be placed throughout Dalamase, either on the ground or attached to various boulders and walls.