A Switch in Focus

A Switch in Focus Smithers! Time for another little update! Most of the progression and quests have started to find their rightful place, although we’re still tweaking and balancing both difficulty and pacing of the first area of the game. This is something that we are going to revisit again and again, many times, all the way to release. Going forward we are going to slowly switch our focus and push more of the visual aesthetics, random encounters and events. We want this world to feel alive and interesting, filled with a cozy atmosphere.     Here are some things in the pipeline! Fire Spirit rework: Yes. Our artists are working on a brand new model with animations for the Spirit. We’re also looking into fun and engaging ways for the player to interact with it. Some examples could include: cuddling, playing and feeding. Naturally, it loves firewood! We also want the spirit to have different mood states such as happy, hungry and bored. We want to give it a unique personality.     More weather events: As you might have noticed, if you have played the demo, we have rainfall that spawns from time to time. We want to expand this a bit. For example with different rain intensities, heavy winds, thunderstorms and overcasts.   There will also be a lot, and I mean A LOT of new models. Julia has been grinding hard with getting really nice models into the game to fill out the forge, making it feel more lived in. Everything will also be interactable in one way or another.     You can expect more screenshots and gifs from now on, so stay tuned!     Have a good one!   – Erik at Mana Brigade May 25 – 2023

Smithers, Tinkers and Thinkers

Hello Smithers! Recently we have been working on the game’s progression as well as planning and building the introduction of the game. We want to introduce the game’s mechanics without overwhelming the player with information in a static and “game-y” way. The Traveling Merchant will be an important part in this. Having a character in the actual game world showing you the ropes feels more intuitive and interesting than throwing a bunch of popups with text in your face. He will show up early and start by teaching you about woodworking. He needs a new handle for his cart. Not long after this, someone will tell you about a mine closeby. They are willing to supply you with copper if you help them out with some wooden tools. When this request is completed, you now have access to metals and the Merchant will tell you all about how to use it. More types of metals will be available throughout the game. You will even be able to combine different types of metals to make alloys! After a while, you will, in a similar manner, unlock leather wrapping, which you can use to bind your handles for some extra grip and flair! We have a lot of different wood, metal, wrapping as well as some cosmetic items in the making to add a large variety of options to choose from when a new quest ends up in your hands.  We have also made it so you have access to more than one quest at a time so you can freely choose which one, and in what order you want to complete them! We have chosen to space out all the tutorials to let the player get familiar with one mechanic at a time. We want to avoid overwhelming the player with a bunch of new things before they get a grasp on what’s already available to them. There are a lot of features and mechanics that need to be introduced, which have shown to be a challenge to implement, balance and pace properly. So we have spent a lot of time with this. So many documents and spreadsheets, let me tell you.. As I mentioned in another post, we would love for some people to try out the most recent build and give us some feedback. As soon as we have a stable enough build with everything in place we will announce this on the discord server. Until then, have a good one!  – Erik at Mana Brigade May 11 – 2023

Library of Monsters and Myths

Library of Monsters and Myths Smithers!   Hello! This week I am going to showcase some early ideas and progress on what the second floor of the forge is going to be used for.    In this world there are scholars that have documented the world and its many monsters and animals. These documentations have been summarized into compendiums that will become available to the player throughout the story. They will give valuable information about all the creatures as well as what type of weapon that would be best suited to deal with them.      Now, to sit and read a bunch of books in VR sounds extremely tedious. To combat this, we want to introduce the “reading podium”. Place a book about something you want more information about on top of the podium and it will open up and show you its contents in a fully 3D environment. We think this is a really cool effect that feels awesome in VR! Please note that these pictures show an incomplete version of the final visuals for testing purposes and everything is subject to change, as per usual. 😉      We can’t wait for our 3D artists to get their hands on it to make it look and feel even better!    Here’s a scenaro: Let’s say that you got a quest where an adventurer is going deep into a dangerous forest and they know that there may be aggressive bears roaming around. Now they need something for their protection. What kind of weapon would best suit this quest? Walk upstairs and find the book that deals with bears and place it on the podium. The environment and animations that present themselves shows you that something long and pointy would be best. So a spear, maybe? Get to forging!     Until next time, have a good one!    – Erik at Mana Brigade April 13 – 2023

Some Screenshots from me to you

Some Screenshots from me to you Hello Smithers! Right now we’re working on quests and lore for the first area of the game: The Woodlands! I’ll tell you more about it in a future blog post. I dont have alot of new things to share as of now but I would like to show some screenshots of how things are looking. Enjoy! View from the backyard looking in Moon in the night sky Top floor of the Forge. What will this area hold? New early quest board! (Models are not done. But this is kinda the idea) These stones make items inbetween them spin really fast! Keep an eye out for more future updates! Have a good one!  – Erik at Mana Brigade March 30 – 2023

Showcase: The Merchant

Showcase: The Merchant Hello Smithers! I want to tell you about what we’ve been working on these past weeks. Let me introduce you to “The Merchant”. This mysterious, happy, old giant will have a close connection to you as the player. He’s wandering the lands, searching for adventure and business opportunities. Due to recent looming threats in the world, he is very keen on sharing his knowledge with you. He strongly believes that you will play an important role in bringing back peace and balance to the world. He will, from time to time, visit the forge, dragging his carriage full of precious materials and mysterious trinkets that he has gathered on his travels. Maybe you have collected enough things that he is willing to make a trade deal? He will also bring new quests, or commissions for you to complete, furthering your reputation as a Blacksmith.   He’s not the only character that is going to visit you throughout the game, but I am going to leave that for another update! I would also like to announce that we’re thinking about putting together a small group of external testers sometime this spring/early summer. A little community of people that wish to try out the newest features at an early stage. We want to be able to get some fresh eyes, valuable feedback and input on what the community thinks and wants out of the game. If this is something that we will settle on, more information is going to be announced on our Discord server. I hope that you are as excited to meet The Merchant as we’re at designing him. Have a great weekend!    – Erik at Mana Brigade March 16 – 2023

Great team, Great game

Great team, Great game Smithers!It has been a while! Let’s just jump right into what’s going on at Mana Brigade. We are now all hands on deck with the development of Black Forge. There are alot of new things being worked on right now and I will talk a bit about it at the end of the post. But first I would like to introduce our newest hire, Julia! Julia is a coffee drinking, weight lifting, 3D-modeling magician with main stats in creative work, art and a love for all kinds of games! You will probably see and hear more from her in the future as she will also be taking over the role as community/social media manager. We are stoked to have her onboard. Welcome Julia!   As you might know, if you have played the demo, every piece of material acts in the same way. Hammering on a piece of wood does not really make sense. No fear, we have new, early systems in place that I would like to introduce today. The art isn’t ready yet but this should give you an idea. Woodturning! You will be able to select from a wide variety of different types of wood that you have unlocked through the story. You can choose how long of a piece you need, chop it with an ax and then bring it over to the magical woodturning table. Here you will be able to cut and mold to your heart’s content and create handles for any type of weaponry. When you are happy with your work you can then bring your creation over to the leather wrapping table. Yes, leather wrapping. Surprise extra mechanic!   Here you can wrap leather straps around your handles for some better grip as well as some aesthetic flair. Just like everything else in Black Forge, only your imagination sets limits on how you want to incorporate leather wrapping into your masterpieces.     That’s it for now. Have a good one!    – Erik at Mana Brigade March 02 – 2023

Demo and the Future

Demo and the Future Smithers, Hello! Man, time flies huh? And oh boy, I will bring you exciting news today. Things are heating up (pun intended) and getting real, real fast. First of all, demo. Yes it has taken a bit longer than expected. Those last minute bugs just keep piling on. But we can proudly say that the demo will be up shortly! Keep an eye on our Discord server for access to the new demo. It’s a little rough around the edges but brings in some new features and design choices that we would love to hear some feedback on.     Second, we will have two more people come in and work full time on BlackForge, starting next month. We are so excited to have them onboard!   We can also announce that BlackForge will be available on the Meta Quest store on release, which is huge!   This year will surely be a good one for BlackForge and we would be honored to have all of you with us through this journey.   Thank you and have a good one!  – Erik at Mana Brigade January 20 – 2023

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Hello Smithers and a happy new year! First off, we didn’t post an update last time due to a well deserved christmas to new years holiday. It’s been nice to get out of the office for once to see family. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday as well!   We are now back, energized and going full on planning for the coming spring. We don’t really have any huge news as for now but we have some new ideas and features cooking! What I can say is that 2023 will be an interesting year for us here at Mana Brigade, no doubt! So please join us in our adventure to make Black Forge a reality! Your support, ideas and criticism are going to help us make this game into the best it can be.   We wish you all the best!  – The whole team at Mana Brigade January 5 – 2023

Hammering Down Features

Hammering Down Features Hello Smithers! As mentioned in the last blog post we now have more hands on deck with actually working on the game. We are pushing towards the new demo, one row of code at a time. The plan is to have a proper gameplay loop with quests that you will be able to interact with, ending in a sandbox mode that will let you freely create and explore the opportunities and limitations as you please. Because Black Forge is a game that is restricted to a single area we want to make the world around you feel alive and interesting. Some things that have been in the works are a day and night cycle as well as weather changes. The sound of rain tapping on the windows around you just hammers home that cozy feel as you tirelessly work on your creations. We have also built a system that keeps track of what in-game day of the week it is. So we can place world events on specific dates. An example of these could be church bells ringing in the distance or the sound of a busy market in a nearby village. We are also looking into updating both the visuals and the audio a bit for the demo. The entire adventure and quest system is very prototyped as of now. This is something we are going to work on to make it fit in the world better. We are very excited for this demo and hope that you are as well!   That is it for now.    – Erik at Mana Brigade November 24 – 2022

Business & Prototypes

Business & Prototypes Hello fellow smithers!   Welcome to our first blog entry. Every two weeks we will make one of these to update you all on what is happening in our little indie studio. You can expect news regarding the studio as well as our upcoming VR title BlackForge. So let’s get into what we’ve been up to in the past months!   Recently a lot of time has been put into the business side of game production. This means that we have been working a lot on pitch material, budget planning, meetings with publishers and other potential partners. Development on the game itself has slowed down a bit but we have been able to push through some new features as well as prototyping new solutions for the game.   The game now has a working save system! So you will be able to continue your adventure where you last left off.   We are also working on a system that can evaluate the weapon you have created when you hand it over to an adventurer. This system will be able to identify what type of weapon you have created as well as how well it will perform in combat. This system is still in an early stage of development but works surprisingly well already.     When playtesting the game we noticed that players were a bit confused on exactly what they were supposed to do and how. We tried to combat this with a streamlined tutorial with text messages. I don’t know about you, but reading text in VR can be a pain. So we reworked that whole thing. Now you will be able to get support from the ghosts of your ancestors as they show you exactly how tasks are done. We feel this is a much better and intuitive way to teach players about the game. Of course more testing, polish and fine tuning is required to be sure.     So what’s next? A new demo of course!   We will soon be able to move more manpower into development. The plan is to create a more polished version of the game that is more in line with our vision on what the game will become in the end. We expect this to take two to three months to complete and will be available free for Oculus, Steam and Sidequest.   That’s it for now!   – Erik at Mana Brigade November 10 – 2022