Launch (August 13)
With the recent announcement of Emberlight reaching alpha, we are fast approaching launch. We wanted to breakdown our plans both at launch and the time afterwards. The team has some great concepts for where to take the game, but the sky’s the limit if the community finds new directions to take it. The launch is set for August 13th of this year. We look to have a full experience with both single player modes and the initial themes available.
- Standard Mode: The standard mode is the bread and butter of Emberlight. You select a quest from a randomized list which details the location you’re heading to, the conditions to complete the quest, your party, and the starting resources. When a quest is completed successfully, a new corrupted boss is added to the pool and can be linked to corrupted quests. This mode is recommended for new players to get a feel of the game, especially when choosing the easier quests that end on the surface.
- Daily Challenge Mode: The daily challenge mode defines a daily set of modifiers to the game (such as all enemies being stronger, or potions dealing damage) and pits the entire community against one another to top the leaderboards. The game flow is generally the same as Standard mode, with the modifiers adding a curveball into the mix.
- Surface Ruins: The standard theme for level 1 and include grassy areas, ancient ruins, and a mix of animals and elven enemies to fight. Every run will lead through the ruins and is an easy area to get acquainted with the features of Emberlight. It holds a few secrets that can either make a run substantially easier or wipe it early.
- Caves: The standard theme for level 2 and include underground caverns and a mix of animals, golems, slimes, and some more insidious creatures. Difficulty begins to ramp up, being on par with the player’s party at this point. Stronger enemies from the final levels have taken residence in rarely traveled portions of the caves which can propose a dangerous threat.
- Dungeon: One of two standard themes for level 3 and include the living areas of the orcish hordes with a mix of goblins, orcs, ogres, and more. These areas are very dangerous, with units focused on dealing heavy damage rapidly at the cost of defensive capabilities. Typically this leads into the final boss fight, and the subsequent corruption battle to end a run.
- Catacombs: The second of two standard themes for level 3 and include the decrepit ruins of an ancient tomb with a mix of necromancers, skeletons, zombies, and more. Equally as dangerous as dungeon, the catacombs units focus on defense and numbers with a necromancer quickly overwhelming the party. The player needs to focus on controlling adds to successfully complete each encounter.
Starting in October, up to 3 players will be able to join up and complete quests for the Ember Order together. This mode (at this point in design phase) will have a few adjustments to how it functions compared to Standard mode, but largely be the same. Players will each take their turn in combat, and be able to discuss out their progression through the level.
- Co-op Mode: The host chooses the quest, controls traversal through the level, controls interaction with props, and controls loot distribution. We’re still in discussion on other systems (possibly free for all on loot), but most likely it will stay this way when it goes live. It is meant to have a sort of pen and paper feel where you’ve all jumped into an adventure and are talking out progression that benefits all of you. However, the end corruption fight still takes place and there can only be one true winner per quest…
- Spectator Mode: Along with co-op will be spectator mode. This will allow others to watch a run play out in co-op and future modes. We felt this will also be a good way for a new player to see a run in action and get some pointers on how to overcome the many challenges each run can present, as well as the overall entertainment value of watching a run quickly devolve due to backstabbing.
Dungeon Master (December)
This is a mode we’re most excited for. It was requested from a handful of pen and paper fans that were looking for a way to be able to play a game that more closely mirrored the feel of those games without having to coordinate somewhere locally. The end result is a (we hope) virtual pen and paper experience that can be played globally.
- Dungeon Master Mode: In Dungeon Master mode, the host is able to customize their own quest. This includes putting together each of the levels, defining the encounters, setting the rewards, and more. The host has all the tools to setup their scenario as they see fit. Long term, we’d like to be able to submit these scenarios to a central database that would allow DMs to download new experiences and share their own with others.
- When a scenario has been loaded, up to three players can join in. Like a pen and paper game, the DM has full control over the progression of the run. They handle navigation after its been discussed, handle interaction with props in rooms, handle loot distribution, and overall drive the story forward. Combat is still controlled via the players like normal, with the added perk that the DM can jump into combat and control the enemy side at will.
- This concept is still very rough, and we’re looking for feedback from the pen and paper community on how to refine this. We’ve discussed both hands on (the concept above) and hands off (functions identically to co-op mode but the DM is watching the party’s progression and can change on the fly). We’ve also discussed the potential for actual dice rolls. But the mode is an open book and we’re looking for any critiques to refine.
As this is a few modes rolled into one, we’re expecting a longer development cycle to complete. Competitive is, at the moment, split between three modes: Arena, Asymmetric Competitive, and Symmetric Competitive. These each provide new ways to compete amongst the community and claim dominance.
- Arena Mode: With Arena Mode, this provides a quick play mode that works as either single player or multiplayer. When entering Arena Mode, the player is able to set their party and define the 10 abilities they want from the full list. In single player, they fight a defined amount of encounters (or infinite) and see how long they can survive against an ever increasing wave of enemies. In multiplayer, Arena pits parties against one another through matchmaking. We have discussed in game tournaments on the multiplayer side.
- Asymmetric Competitive Mode: This mode (which will get a better name shortly) pits 8 parties against one another in a larger Standard mode setup. The run still functions the same, but the game begins with 4 surface ruins, 2 caves, and 1 larger final area. Each surface ruins has two entrances for each party, and outside of the standard gameplay, parties can engage one another. Upon reaching the final area, there can only be one party before the final boss is accessible to complete a run.
- Symmetric Competitive Mode: This mode (also needs a new name) functions largely the same as Asymmetric Competitive Mode, but the generation of the surface and caves areas are identical for everyone. This was brought up to provide an even playing field for everyone. Otherwise, it plays out the same way with only one party surviving to final boss and winning the run.
Outside the large modes we have planned above, we will be constantly be adding content post launch to expand out the options within the game. The main content updates include new abilities, new party members, new quests, new themes, and new units.
- New Abilities: We’ll be constantly adding new abilities to the game. While abilities are driven primarily by enemy units, we will be expanding out the abilities that are accessible via town portal to give more usage for gold. Right now, while there is a good selection of utility abilities and some real gems to be found in the town portal, it is really for filling out the characters versus a true way to find stronger and useful abilities.
- New Party Members: We’ll be adding new party members to the mix, and setting up a process to select the party members you want to use in your party at quest selection. While the Ember Knights are largely clean slates, driven by the abilities you decide to add to them through a run, their starting stats drive a lot of what is most useful on each. We’ve also discussed subclasses for the current party members that can be unlocked via certain achievements. These subclasses would allow you to start with different abilities and stats (i.e. the Blaze Knight could become a Hell Knight which starts with three Hell-based Ember abilities instead of the usual ones).
- New Quests: We’ve discussed quests other than simply killing a boss. Concepts include destroying portals (keep a sorceror alive while he closes a portal which constantly spawns enemies), escort (keep an NPC alive in party to end), and side quest driven events that would include a journal in the future. These are still very much in early design and we’re open to feedback to refine these.
- New Theme (Hell): A theme for level 3 and is a burned out and hellish landscape that combines demon and devil enemies. It will focus heavily on arcane and psionic abilities (which are lacking in the current themes due to the enemy types).
- New Theme (Lair): A theme for level 3 and is the home of dragon-kind in the peaks of faraway mountains, combining a mix of draconian humanoid warriors, dragons, and flying creatures. It will be a balanced area. Depths is a theme for level 3 and is the area of nightmares, mixing Lovecraftian creatures with other swamp-based abominations. It will focus heavily on psionic abilities.
- New Theme (Depths): A theme for level 3 and is the area of nightmares, mixing Lovecraftian creatures with other swamp-based abominations. It will focus heavily on psionic abilities.
- New Units: While the bulk of the new units will come from the theme additions, we will be identifying new units that can be added to the current themes without unbalancing the game. Our initial focus will be new miniboss and bosses primarily, with additional units added where it incorporates new abilities that can benefit the player as they progress.
We are always looking for feedback on every front of development. As we still have three months before launch, there’s still plenty to do to refine the core game experience. If anyone has any input on anything (art, audio, gameplay, etc), we always welcome it via our various channels. We’d recommend joining our Discord server as we’re always around to respond, and can quickly plug the feedback in to see what can be done from it.
– Quarter Onion Games