Ravenheim Studio was formed (unofficially) in 2017 with the intention of creating a game that could provide a meaningful gameplay experience with some of the features that were (and still are) being planned for contemporary sci-fi games.
I got involved with this industry primarily as a 3d artist, modding games, and doing minimal scripting. However after a period of time spent as an alpha-tester for Star Citizen, I realized that although the features promised some very enjoyable combat gameplay, the scenario was incredibly generic, and (to me) the soul of the game universe simply didn’t exist. It was cold, corporate, and materialistic at every level.
This is not to say that ‘Corporate Space’ is good or bad – some people love it – but my personal feeling was that we’ve had this kind of sci-fi game for over 20 years and nothing has varied. CorpSpace has defined the genre thus far, and I felt there should be more games that provide a window into some other things that might be going on in a sci-fi world aside from gathering materials. So I abandoned my post as a alpha tester, and dived into coding.
Exalted Seracthon began on Unreal4 Engine, however I ran into some hard limitations with their physX implementation, and I could not achieve flyable ships you could move around in, land on planets, and keep stable with double precision. However I could do this in Unity, and I have achieved the same functional goals that I experienced in Star Citizen.
Once the technical hurdles were overcome, this project became a matter of world-building and design, which was geared to effectively immerse a player into the story.
Exalted Seracthon – Story and Concept
I entered the 3d game development with a background in esoteric study, and Exalted Seracthon is the product of that background. Around the time PC games started to reach a visual plateau (2012-2016), I got the idea that this medium might become a good means for discussing and exploring metaphysical concepts. I believe this is not only possible now, but it is also within the reach of independent creators like myself.
What constitutes a ‘mage’ in popular fiction and gaming is essentially a technological soldier, and has little to do with the mage archetype. When one ‘plays’ a mage in a game today, they define themselves on physical powers they can apply against physical targets. All the things that these casters do are imitative of technological weapons that have been developed and used in the modern world; radiations, explosions, chemical effects, and so on – they are always destructive or manipulative forces.
Nowhere is it found, the depth of the mage’s mysterious life. Nor is it experienced, the path of one who has acquired knowledge and wisdom, nor are they ever tested on these kinds of strengths. No attempt is made to quantify them, or stage them as significant factors in the game world. Finding keys to doors is usually as close as one gets, and that really shouldn’t be the only challenge for a mage.
It is central to Exalted Seracthon to introduce this dynamic in an approachable way, and allow players to experience the mage archetype in a way similar to how the Thief franchise made it possible to experience the life of a rogue – it was a very different thing than a warrior, and which required a very different perspective and way of thinking.
If this kind of game sounds interesting, then I hope you will give it a try.