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.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sam's Orc recipe

Today Sam shared some insights into why the Green Dragons allied themselves with the Nature faction who are at war with the faction the Orcs belong to.

I suppose we all need our own inspirations.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not as they seem

On my way into the office today, a sign caught my attention.
I fancy myself a donut connoisseur and the presence of a fine donut establishment that previously went unnoticed was a shock. After a quick u-turn I pulled into a spot intent on purchasing an assortment of sweets, for my hard working coworkers of course.

I hurried inside only to find rows of tables, 2 waitresses and a display of cookies, but not a donut in site. Whats this I inquired, trying to keep from drooling on the counter in expectation of the tasty treat that I was sure would soon be forthcoming. One please, no two, better make it 3 dozen donuts please.

To my dismay I was informed that there were in fact no Donuts in the building. I could however place an order and have some delivered the next day.

This was not the instant gratification I was looking for. I briefly contemplated a world where one would place orders for every item desired to be delivered later. No I decided this was not a world I wished to be a part of.

Cookies it seemed would be today's treat. Quickly scanning the menu I located the price for the chocolate chip sweets. One dozen cookies for $4.99 or $.50 each. So be it. One dozen cookies please. Only 11 here mister, I was informed by the girl who seemed insensitive to my plight.

Soon all eleven cookies were bagged and I recieved my bill for $5.50.

Life is tough.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sam loves kittens

In her latest Saga comic, Sam combines her love of kittens with her admiration for her strongest unit the unstoppable Daemon.

The Daemon can be deployed as part of your army or summoned through the use of the Daemon Lord spell. Sadly in our world they do not come with kittens.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In Sam's world

When testing quests with the same army for extended periods of time, our QA team develops a certain relationship with their troops. They gather equipment for them depending on the role each unit is to play and even name each company.

This could explain the connection one of our internal QA testers developed with one of her boar rider units. I know I work with a talented group here at Saga HQ, still, often they exceed my expectations. Such was the case this morning when I passed Sam’s desk and noticed a doodle she had drawn depicting a story featuring her elite boar rider unit.

After a bit of coaxing we convinced her to share some of her doodles which feature many of her troops and their exciting adventures.

This is the first of the upcoming “In Sam’s world” series.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Drink of choice

Studios across the game industry vary in many ways. A few things however are constant. The culture is always relaxed and upbeat except during crunch time when even the office clown is surly and free beverage service is always provided and expected.

The Saga offices are no different. Truckloads of various caffeinated beverages arrive on a weekly basis and each case is quickly distributed to the correct departments. While one may find little troll dolls and family photo’s at your typical business, game developers choose to adorn their work environment in a slightly different fashion.
We do of course have the rebels. We shun and mock the healthy life styles chosen by these nonconformists while secretly harboring feelings of envy.

My desk is clear of such adornments. Brewed coffee leaves only bodies, not containers, in its wake.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Challenge

Often when I overhear people talking about the game industry it is with a sense of amazement and mystery. While I enjoy working on games over any other job I have had, I can assure players that the work is difficult, stressful and most rewarding after release through the positive reactions of our customer.

Granted the office environment is often more relaxed then working at a bank for instance, which I have also had the displeasure of doing for many years. While most tasks are assigned based on skill sometimes to lighten the mood we use other methods.

Our dreams of long storylines revealing game world history while putting players face to face with terrors only imagined in the nightmares of mere mortals are quickly becoming a reality. Today we had to choose which internal testers would be the first to experience the new content. The only fair way was to hold a contest. Those testers who volunteers had to eat not 1 but 2 One Pound burgers from my favorite restaurant Fuddruckers. The toppings were piled high and drinks chosen, and in the end...

No winner emerged.

Sometimes I suspect we ask too much of our team. After multiple 12 hour days testing code our testers seemed unstoppable, however 2 pounds of meat and all the trimmings finally brought them down. They did however give it the old college try and will be rewarded with a few more 12 hour days testing the new, larger than life super bosses.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cutting features

Our brave leader NOT choosing which features to cut.

One of the hardest parts of producing a game you are passionate about is cutting features. Often players feel that the process is handled like throwing darts at a dartboard or that decisions are made solely based on financial reasons.

While for many companies budget is a huge factor, in the end it comes down to balancing players' expectations and their desire to have the product on time. Some of the most successful companies such as Blizzard are well known for their stance on not releasing a game before they feel it is ready; however internally there is a producer who decides what features he is comfortable pushing into post release.

Inevitably every game experiences feature creep, where lessons learned during development and from player feedback reveal exciting new features that everyone wants to add to the game. It is the job of the producer to decide which of these features to add and which features to push off until after release to allow a game to ever go gold.

For MMO development these decisions are often based on what the producer feels the player progression rate will be. So for example if players will take on average 1 month to attain level 20 in Saga, then it is a wise decision to push off the creation of a level 20 boss encounter till after release in favor of a better chat system that players can benefit from right away.

For Saga we have learned so much and received so much great feedback that the release date had to be pushed back a bit to put in the features we felt were vital and worth the wait; however there are so many more features on the schedule down the road that we can’t wait to begin work on after release.

We thank everyone who has stuck with us, through the difficult testing process and those who are anxiously awaiting each new patch to return. We can assure you that the end result will be well worth the wait.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I try to visit the artists at least once a day. Often by sneaking a peak at their white board I can get an idea of what new art is going into the game. The maiden is surely a design for a new boss or unit, but why why the squid is in love with the Burger King bird, and how it will fit into the game is beyond my comprehension.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Its big, really really BIG

After hearing some excitement from the coding floor I had to run over to investigate. Everyone was crowded around two of the development machines where very large models were battling entire armies. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen, the goddess which is the only way I could describe her was casting various spells on the attacking armies. I turned to Monk to try to make sense of the situation. Why I asked would anyone want to face such a monstrosity? Rewards he answered me with a smile, players will do it for the rewards.
What could be cooler then a 60 foot tall goddess, except a 60 foot tall goddess who drops Phat Loot!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A large tree lives here

I've been walking around the office taking pictures of everything. A lot fewer however were taken at the desks of the developers then anywhere else. The reason is not that our art team is prettier, which I will leave you to debate, it is simply that art is more fun to look at then 80 lines of code, plus all my dev pictures were taken at 2am and no one really wants to see much of that.
Oh look a tree, nothing unremarkable here.

Hey why is this tree 3 times the size of a tower when you place it into the game world? Could there be plans to implement it in one of the story line quests?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The new world order...

We've had some big planning meetings of late, and may be prioritizing things differently for a month or two. There are a few issues that we've been putting bandaids on, and we feel it's about time to really fix them. I probably can't say much more than that yet, but we're excited about the direction we're heading. We have no doubt that Saga's poised for biggishness (or is that bigliness? or embiggening?), it's a matter of not taking a wrong step when it counts.

We're just coming out of the server re-coding phase, which unfortunately means there haven't been a lot of changes or added features or bug-fixes other than server stability improvements. But we're adding programmers to the team, and changes should come steadily now. A schedule of improvements and feature-adds and bug-fixes will be released soon, which we'll try to stick to.

Keep 'posted'.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Future of Saga

We plan to get big. Really big. We plan to add new troops and spells, and have some really exciting ones already in the making. We are looking to hire on a new C++ programmer to help us continue expanding. We've already taken on three new hires in the last couple of weeks, made possible by Beta pre-sales booster income (thank you all pack-purchasers so far!). Beta's going great, lots of players, lots of pack sales.

We sure appreciate good bug reporting to the forums. Sometimes we can't get to them right away, especially since right now we're finishing up a round of server improvements. But we will get to them, and it saves us uber amounts of time to have them well documented. Sometimes they can be fixed in a matter of minutes if we have reproduction steps that work to reproduce the bug.

Saga really gets the wheels turning in people's heads. Saga isn't done yet. We can go ANYwhere with it, but unfortunately not EVERYwhere. So here's a chance to contribute. Go ahead and post a comment of a cool troop you'd like to see in the game. It might be months before we have them completed, but make a comment if you have a great idea.

See you in game. If you get trounced by a War nation, it might be me. :)

Welcome to the Saga Developers Journal

We will be posting content periodically here that we feel will be of interest to Saga players that we might not be posting anywhere else. We might speak more freely, give spoilers, talk trash about other games, and take on any variety of behavior that we wouldn't indulge in on the official site.

As a result, anything you read here can't be trusted! Nothing contained in these journals can be considered binding. They might be the inane ramblings of sleep-deprived programmers, or the brainstorming of some game creators who never grew up, or the pipedream of what we all wish we had the funding to do with Saga!

Thanks many times over for your supporting our baby.

Hope you enjoy your stay. Game on.