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.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Busy week!

Well, it's the very end of the week, but we've got some fun stuff for you.

The next patch is still underway. The bugs and kinks are worked out, the new features are in place, but we're still wrangling some final text display issues. We'll have more news for you next week on that.

So, instead of bringing you more 'next patch's notes' entries, I figured I'd do something a little more interesting. I went around the office and asked everyone to submit a screen shot of their desktop. Only rule: no sensitive info.

So I present to you a bunch of screen captures of our desktops. Not everyone who works on SAGA participated, but some other employees who don't work on SAGA did. You'll see some interesting things. And yes, we strategically positioned some of the windows on our desktops.

Take a look. You might just see some cool stuff.

- John's desktop. Tweaking the animations for the new Orc Pavises.

- Dennis' desktop. I got to work on a lot of Photoshop stuff today while blasting music. Slava has now made a 'no showtunes' rule in our office.

- Andrew's iMac. (obviously not part of the normal SAGA staff)

- Eric's desktop. He's been working on the market.

- Adam's desktop. In the map editor working on a quest.

- Sam's desktop. Just starting to work on the next newsletter.

- Mark's desktop. After a long day of squashing CP and double loot bugs.

-Kynan's desktop. Playing... *ahem* Conducting 'market research'.

-One of our Interns' desktop. Testing that particles and flags are working again.

- Slava's desktop. Figuring out upcoming promotions.

- Mike's desktop. (Not a member of the normal SAGA staff)

Until next week!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Call to War

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a player who had spent many hours putting together a guide to the War faction. Today, I am happy to be able to present you with not only the guide, but an interview with the author, Makash. Earlier today, I sat down and chatted with Makash about the guide, his opinions about War, SAGA, and Flying poodles.

The guide is a .pdf file, which you can download here (~2.3 MB).

Makash is a long-time SAGA player, War faction enthusiast, amateur designer, and proud polyglot who speaks at least three languages fluently.

Dennis: I'm looking through the War guide now, and I have to say, I'm impressed.
makash: I personally think it features 90% of what it is necessary to know. All the PVE & PVP tactics explained in there have been tested as well... that's why it took so long to finish it!

How long did it take you to write the guide?
makash: Altogether, including all the pics, the layout, the info... at least 72 hours. About 3 weeks, adding to it each day.
makash: Having the idea is the smallest part, getting it on paper is the big work. And then making it look the way you want it to be is... almost impossible
Dennis: I can appreciate that, having worked on the SAGA manuals myself.
makash: You coulda asked me for help :-P
Dennis: I just might in the future! The content is amazing. What program did you use for type-setting and putting everything together?
makash: Publisher mainly

That's pretty impressive. So, when it comes down to it, why did you pick the War faction?
makash: It was more of a random choice. I chose the faction which had the best logo and that was War (in my opinion). Also, a friend advised me to make a Brotherhood nation, as he was one himself. After a few Quests, I got used to their way of game play and I enjoyed that. The brutality was a main factor that made me stay with War as my main Nation. I've also tested Machines, Magic and Light, but I didn't like the idea of leaning back and waiting to see what the enemy does before I could actually plan an attack on them

What was the inspiration behind writing this guide? It's obvious you continued to be driven by it, as evidenced by the amount of effort that went in to writing it, organizing it, and making it look appealing.
makash: My intention was to show other players how powerful War can be. Most of the community consider War to be completely useless (at least before the Melee Change).

On several occasions, players have commented that they feel the War faction is under-represented in the player base of SAGA. Would you agree?
makash: War has a lot to offer, they have a counter unit/spell to almost any situation, whether it's PVE or PVP. I guess people underestimate it, because they don't take the time to take a deep look at what War units can actually do. Many people still have the opinion that flyers are the best units in the game. WRONG!. Flyers are good, yes, but flyers don't have as much versatillity as ground units. For example, I can use Orc X-bows to simultaneously capture a building and take out enemy flyers...

So, do you feel like the new Neutral flyers have been a useful addition to the War faction and have helped level the playing field a bit in regards to flying strategies?
makash: I don't think they make much of a difference for War, at least they don't for me. If a Red Dragon is equipped right, it can even take down a Great Dragon in a one on one. I'd rather say, that the neutral flyers have OP'ed other factions, which already have massive air power. But then again, War has Orc X-bows, which do a great job on decimating flying poodles.
Dennis: Flying Poodles, huh? (laughs)
makash: Never heard of Pink Poodle Island? Those Great Dragons seriously look like pink poodles with wings.

Not a fan of the Great Dragon model, huh? What did you think of the Ogre re-models? Also, are you excited for the Orc re-models?
makash: the Ogre Models are fantastic, better than i expected. They now look scary and powerful, just like Ogres should be. Great job. And yes, i am excited to see the "new" Orcs. I bet they'll look great too, even though I'm still curious about that strange "Rider" unit shown on the Dev Blog... the one that isn't a Boar :-O
Dennis: Ahh... yes. I like that unit. I don't think I'm allowed to give its name yet, though.
makash: I'd suggest degenerated Llama Rider :-P
Dennis: I'll pass that along! I know that we've been trying to come up with original mounts (such as the Rhyax). Will you miss any of the old models at all? Any attachment there?
makash: that depends on how the new models will look. I personally like the look of the Boar Riders, but then again, I don't use them much, so maybe if they looked even cooler I'd use them again.
Dennis: Want a sneak peek?
makash: Of course!
Dennis: Let me see if I can get a render of the new Boar Rider.
makash: *drools*
Dennis: Rendering... I don't have a finished Boar Rider yet, and my 3D skills are limited... but here's what I've got for you:

The new Boar and its rider

Dennis: And as a fun side note:

Not a Boar Rider.

: Good thing I didn't sell my lotus firearms :-D
Dennis: Yes, it is a good thing.
makash: It's a sorta Tasmanian tiger thing, right?
makash: the stripes at the back remind me of a Tasmanian tiger, but the feet are more herbivore like.
Dennis: Interesting... I don't know if that's where the inspiration came from or not! I'll have to ask the Art Director.

Dennis: OK, next question: If you could add any unit to the War faction, what would it be, and what would it do?
makash: Well... toughie there... Even though the Giant Bat Rider came third in the contest a while back, I'd rather like to see something Big instead. A Troll or similar, something that focuses on massive Structure/Building Damage OR (keep the troll idea) something big that can also attack Flyers, smashing them down from the sky.
Dennis: Trolls it is! I'll be sure to pass that along to our Art guys. I believe the current expansion is finished in terms of planning, but that's not to say we won't start working on more cards in the near future!

Dennis: So, do you have any questions that you want to ask?
makash: hmmm... most of my questions will probably get answered in the next patch... Does the light in the fridge turn off when you close the door?.... Serious now... Will War be able to make use of all sort of items after WC was released? (as of now they can't use firearms, staves and axes)
Dennis: I know that they'll be able to use firearms (but I'm sure you guessed that!), but as for staves and axes, I don't think staves will make the cut, as they aren't very Orc-like. Ogre Magi use them, but they're in the Magic faction...
makash: Fair enough, but Axes should really make it... I mean, Axes are a sign of Brutality and yet War can't equip them.
Dennis: I completely agree. I just asked our Art Director about it. There is a new War unit coming with Axes.
makash: Yay, good thing I saved my lotus axes, too :-D
Dennis: And as for all of the other weapon types that certain factions can't use, there are some new Neutral units coming in the expansion that will help in those areas.

Dennis: English isn't your first language, though you speak English impeccably. What do you think of the possibility of playing SAGA in your native language?
makash: I'm used to playing games in English. When I buy a new game, I always set it to English to begin with. Though for other people, it would really save me some time, it would be great if they could play this fantastic game in their native language. I certainly think that if the game was in the 4 main languages (English, Spanish, French & German), it would for sure attract more players. Not talking bout my friends here, as most of them are WoW Wussies, they just don't have what it takes to succeed in Saga ;-)

Dennis: Do you ever play games in other languages?
makash: Depends on the games. I admit being a Soccer Fan, and at the soccer game I play (it's a manager), I always adjust the language to the team I play... so if I manage Barca, I set it to Spanish.
makash: gives the game a tad more realism
Dennis: Indeed. I think there's something to be said for accessing a work (whether it be a video game, novel, or movie) in its original language.
makash: Movies in Spanish... *runs*

Dennis: Any final thoughts?
makash: Happy Birthday Saga :-D