Welcome to the Saga Developers Journal.

Silverlode Interactive has released the worlds first “Collectible MMORTS” game, SAGA. This developers' blog is here to give you a never-too-serious behind the scenes look at the company.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's up SAGA fans!

Well, lots has changed since our previous post's burger adventure. Not really because of the burgers themselves, but because time marches on and stuff continues to happen.

People have left Silverlode. People have joined Silverlode. People got married. Babies have been born. Hollywood has put out a lot of remakes of old properties. Weather patterns have continued to shift. Mass pandemonium. Dogs and cats living together.

Enter me. Hi, I'm Brent. You may know me as William of Gearvale on the forums, or just Gearvale within SAGA. I'm the new marketing director. It's my job to let everybody know about the promos we're doing to get more people playing SAGA. I write news, and emails, and blog posts like this one. I also use my ninja abilities to keep the office safe from... other ninjas. Like me.

This is NOT me. You can tell from the fact that you can see him coming.

When I'm not SAGA-ing or Ninja-ing, I like music, hockey, and stand-up comedy. I just graduated from college and am never going back ever even though I have nightmares about it almost every night. My favorite games/series are Chrono Trigger, Smash Brothers, Contra, and Starcraft.

This is me with Logan (he's on the left and I'm on the right):

Thumbs up to you if you noticed my ballin' Mr. Kool-Aid Shirt.

Logan's job is to add new content into SAGA, mostly in the form of new quests. He has a degree in Computer Science from Neumont University and his favorite games (other than SAGA, of course) include Pokemon, Mario 3, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and Civilization 5. In the Marvel Universe, he has cool claws that pop out of his hands that he can use to open letters and stab people he doesn't like. In the Real Life Universe, he is an eligible bachelor who likes redheads, chocolate milkshakes, and long walks on the beach.

The redhead thing spans across both continuities.

Together, Logan and I form the Super Awesome SAGA Team that more or less keeps the game running, just for you. You're welcome and we heart you, too.

Happy gaming!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Burger Hell

For a game developer, there's nothing quite like fast food. It's quick, convenient, and it's saturated with enough grease to get the gears in your head turning again after a long day at the office. If there's one thing even more irresistible than a good burger, though, it's a challenge-- and if you put those two things together, well... pretty much anyone with a y-chromosome and a sense of adventure is doomed. This potent combination explains how a simple poster on the wall of the local Easy Take-Out Burger turned an otherwise commonplace lunch into half an hour of pure burger hell.

The innocent-looking sign reads, “Take the Title to Receive 50% Off Every Visit.” The “title,” of course, is the dubious honor bestowed upon the individual that is able to consume the largest burger within the time limit. Despite America's reputation for gratuitous gastronomic indulgence, the Easy Take-Out Burger's ultimate record sat at a mere 12 patties. Ha! Such a record is regularly broken at family cook-outs and college dorm picnics-- surely, one of the devs could down a 13 patty burger and gain the coveted 50% discount!

After some encouragement from the rest of the gang (taunting by Slava), Dennis decided that the greasy glory could easily be his. It is import to note at this point that because of several genetic quirks, a full 80% of the human population is physiologically incapable of backing down from a dare. It's a fact! Maybe. Unfortunately, Dennis had bravely accepted the burger challenge without knowing the horrible truth behind the poster; it was almost tragically out-of-date. The current record for patties consumed was nearly double the old, sitting at a gut-turning 20 quarter-pound patties. This meant that in order to claim the title, he'd have to down at least 21 patties within 30 minutes. Alas, despite the obvious insanity of the challenge, Dennis was already irrevocably committed. Genetics are a bitch.

And so it was that an edible abomination was delivered unto the hapless challenger, a great and terrible lunch that had likely required the sacrifice of 50 head of cattle and an entire lettuce field. This was the sort of sandwich that, if successfully devoured, would probably devour about a decade off of the life of its consumer, in turn. Dennis struggled mightily with the meaty monstrosity, and by the 7 minute mark, he'd managed to wolf down 15 patties, the buns, and all the tasty fixin's. Meanwhile, to show support for Dennis' undertaking (and perhaps to assuage his guilt at suggesting such a thing), Slava ordered and consumed an entire 8-patty burger. And in what was either a rare display of sanity and moderation or solid proof of a dainty constitution, Eric and John only ate good ole-fashioned single patty burgers.

The battle raged on for the full 30 minutes, but in the end, meat-product ultimately triumphed over man. With what looked like 3 patties left, Dennis' time ran out. Slava, though, finished his 8-stack within the time allotted, and Eric just barely managed to finish his single patty burger before time ran out. There's probably some great moral that can be gleaned from this whole story, but honestly, we're not quite sure what it is.

31 patties later, we're just happy that none of our team has suffered any massive heart attacks, loss of will to live, or cattle crossings. Everyone returned to the office later that day, a little older, a little wiser, and a fair bit heavier. One thing's for sure: it'll be a long while before the devs can look a cow in the face, again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Expansion Units: Order's Big Guns

When half of your army has wound up in the belly of an undead dragon, and the other half is trying desperately to avoid becoming part of an orc's home decor (skulls are totally chic, you know), it might be time to call in the big guns. While some warriors of justice merely proficient at Brotherhood beat-downs, these three Order faction heroes truly excel.
  • Hildea

    • Light - You might recognize this fiery maiden from one of SAGA's loading pages. Trained in the deadly art of swordplay since her birth, she strikes evil down without hesitation or mercy-- and looks damn fine doing it. She is a unyielding commander, expecting complete dedication from her underlings, but giving the same in return.

  • Mechanos

    • Machines - Dwarves are renowned for their engineering genius, but there's one individual whose knowledge is envied even by his peers. Mechanos has constructed what is perhaps the finest mech giant of this age, and he's not shy about letting everyone know it. Don't judge him too harshly, though-- if you'd hand built a pimped-out mechanical giant, you'd be tempted to boast about it, too.

  • Albans Boke

    • Nature - Deep within Nature territory, there resides a colony of the fiercest eagles known to Gaia. No sane elf has ever tried to tame one of these giant, headstrong birds, but then again, nobody has ever accused Albans Boke of being sane. This bold hero has somehow earned the trust of his magnificent mount, and now the two rain terror upon the hapless ground forces of the Brotherhood.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Expansion Units: Mounted Madness

There are few things that Order and Brotherhood nations see eye-to-eye on, but one thing is certain-- no matter which faction you pledge your allegiance to, mounted units are pretty damn spiffy. Whether your soldiers are riding musk oxen or abnormally large crustaceans, they're sure to inspire envy in the lowly foot soldiers. Pictured above are three such units being planned for the new expansion.
  • Red Mantle Knight
    • Magic - Wise men dread encountering a creature as beastly as the rhyax, especially if that rhyax that is being directed by an equally beastly dark elf. Order flunkies had best steer clear of this duo, unless they're aiming to be trampled under six steel-clad feet.
  • Musk Ox Rider
    • Machines - Dwarves are choosy about the company they keep. If it doesn't have beards or gears, then it's usually not worth their time. The Machines faction makes an exception for musk oxen, however, which are every bit as stubborn and hardy as their riders.
  • Centaur Warden
    • Nature - Alright, alright-- so they're not technically mounted units, but they're close enough. The Nature faction has called these stoic, four-legged soldiers out of their forest homes to aid in the desperate battle against the Brotherhood.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The SAGA Soundtrack

You've listened to it while slaying dragons. You've listened to it while pummeling the snot out of unruly peasants. Now, you can also listen to it while you make your morning commute. We've compiled 25 songs from SAGA's original soundtrack and put them here for download. Be sure and grab a piece of this musical goodness. Your cochleas will thank you for it!

Download the mp3's here

Friday, May 8, 2009

Captivating Cartography

Every SAGA player is familiar with the quest map. It is a portal to fabulous riches, grand adventure, and shiny new toys with which to poke, bludgeon, and generally harass one's adversaries. What you might not know, though, is that before it was ever digitized, it existed in physical form as a pen and paper drawing. This is not a small work of cartography, either-- this is the sort of chart worthy of a Roman general's war plans. Today, we'll be talking with the madman behind this beautiful work of art, Andrew Black.

So much art is done digitally, these days. Was there a reason you chose to draw the map by hand, first?

I wanted it to look hand drawn and since my art skills are more traditional I honestly didn't know how else to do it! I think all the small variations in weight of line and shape give it a verisimilitude that you wouldn't achieve digitally. But the color was added later in Photoshop, and that allowed us to play around with some different combinations and treatments.

It's just about enormous, and there's quite a lot of detail packed in there. How long did it take you to complete?

I didn't really keep track, but I'm sure it was more than sixty hours.

The SAGA map has a very distinct style. What inspired you to take that approach? Were there other works that influenced you?

I knew I wanted it to be hand drawn. The style is blatantly ripped off from maps that J.R.R. Tolkien drew for LOTR, especially the simple shadowed trees and mountains. Those in turn inspired the building icons, etc.. I also looked at some 15th and 16th century Scottish maps - I think that's where the wave element that edges the coast came from.

Is there a reason for the scale?

Doing it on as big a scale as possible made drawing the fine detail a lot easier.

Did you suffer any setbacks? I heard there were some adventures concerning the undead expansion.

There weren't really any setbacks as such. I'd sketched the map roughly on a small scale first and used feedback from that when doing the finished version. The Undead was a bit of a challenge. I'd deliberately designed the original map to be expandable in all directions (in the early days we spoke about the possibility of adding lots of new factions) but when it actually came down to it, making the two halves "join" was a little tricky but it worked out all right in the end. A little judicious Photoshop editing helped.

What did it take to get such a large drawing into digital form?

A really, really big scanner! Just when we thought we'd have to cut it up to scan it at Kinko's we found one that was big enough at a university copy shop.

Thank goodness for that! And thanks for joining us for this week's Developer's Blog post.

Stayed tuned for next week's post, readers-- there'll be a special treat for the musically inclined.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dragon Pong

The multiplayer PvP scenario affectionately nicknamed "dragon pong" is still in the development stages, but our lead quest designer was kind enough to give me a peek at the map- which, as it turns out, is as chock full of oldskool goodness as you'd expect it to be. Sure, we were playing with ranged units instead of paddles and bouncing a dragon instead of a ball, but the basic principle is the same, isn't it? Seasoned gamers, be prepared to experience a strange, heady mixture of nostalgia and murderous glee. Your favorite childhood game now includes just the right amount of violence.