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Happy Birthday Silversword! 5 years and still rocking!

Bildschirmfoto 2016-02-12 um 13.40.52The first “commit” was made on February 13th, 2011.

And it was a real commitment. I think at that time I just wanted to make my own little dungeon crawler. In the style of the old classic games like Eye Of The Beholder, Dungeon Master and of course The Bard’s Tale. Didn’t spent too much time on fancy 3D engines like Unreal or Unity. I am more a creator and visionary than a programmer (really). I can tell you what I want and I hope that you will get the job done 😉 Maybe that’s why I am working as a project manager in the first place (developer comes second) nowadays.

The maps were ASCII based text files. A “.” was a free place, a “*” was a wall. “+” were doors. The first map was drawn, I was satisfied. The next step was adding some events. A text output when you reach a certain spot on the map. Or displaying a certain picture. More events came. And then, I needed a virtual representation of the player… the first character was born. It really was that easy – no, it was not. Because I had to learn Objective-C and the Apple way of thinking. Getting that thing to the iPhone was a PITA.

The events were written in a pseudo script language I implemented:

3/5 (x/y coordinates on the map)
10:OUTPUT|Hey look what a sweet spot!
20:OUTPUT|Oh wow, this is more text...

Nowadays the maps are in a compressed XML format, and are generated with my own MacOS map editor software.

Scripts pretty look the same, but there are about 100 different commands that let the game world come alive. But back to when it all began. In 2011 I really wanted to play a dungeon game on my iPhone. Not a rogue like game (I hate perma-death!), and no real time hack & slash. I needed a game for casual playing, where I can pile up gold like Dagobert Duck, and slowly climb the level ladder until I feel like a half-god (I AM a munchkin 😉 ). Kinda… The Bard’s Tale 😉

So I grabbed The Bard’s Tale Construction Set and began to implement everything that was needed to let the same feeling come alive. Well – to be honest, I thought that when I implemented all of the mechanics, the nostalgic feeling would come to life again (all that was needed was a story that explained the whole lot of battles you had to fight until the end). It worked out. I often cursed about not being able to implement a true 3D engine (if you haven’t noticed yet: when you turn left or right, the next picture simply slides in, giving you some kind of turning illusion — it is no 3D, the view is simply made up of some-thirty different graphic tiles that are positioned more or less clever). And I hadn’t the chance to get animated pictures for a reasonable price. In 2015 I tried to work on animation, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results so the game probably won’t get any animated pictures ever.

The game grew. The hardest part was of course implementing the many spells. But I succeeded. Illusions and monsters that fight for your party were a pain, I tell you! Many people argue on the forums that summoning a monster in the first slot is useless, and playing with seven characters is much reasonable. I disagree 😉 Here’s why: My winning tactic in The Bard’s Tale III was to get a “Master Demon” early in my party. It would cast “Restoration” without spell point cost – full party heal for free. Try to beat this! So in Silversword there are certain creatures that will give you such benefits, too. But this is just one tactic – and it’s my personal playing style. If you want to give it a try, I will tell you later how I play the game.

The light version of the game (no longer available) was for testing things out and to get an echo from the community. I was overwhelmed when I saw that the game got many five-star reviews. Time to get the thing going. With version 2.0, the full game was released, together with a classic manual. I added In-App-Purchases because I am a player that wants to be able to progress faster. But I hate Pay-To-Win mechanics, so I designed every IAP to be NOT necessary. You can easily win the game without any purchase besides the game itself. Promised! You will get lots of money before the final fight, you will get lots of armour and enough means to win every fight without Deus-Ex-Machina-Potions from the IAP Store. Promised! So, if you don’t want IAPs, just ignore them. To satisfy the people who want a “fair” game, I even implemented a special game mode that does not allow IAPs (except the expansion) so that your Game Center Score will be comparable.

At the time I developed Silversword, the original The Bard’s Tale games were included in “The Bard’s Tale”. You don’t want to play those games with that interface. Sorry Brian Fargo, I know you could do better – if you wanted to. That being said it was clear that Silversword needed more love in designing the user interface. It all had to be touchable. It worked out. And many people gave great tipps on the forums – most of them were implemented in the released updates. I thank you all very much for your support! 617 registered users, 5509 posts! Wow! And I don’t want to forget Craig aka wizardz who is still playtesting the game and informs me about bugs that only an insane player could find (no offense meant 🙂 ). Craig, a thousand thanks! Without you, the game wouldn’t be the cool thing that it is now 🙂

Enough said. How do I play? Simple! Generated party, fetch gold from the bank, get weapons and the first armour upgrade and fight through the forest. Repeat until at least level 3, earn money to get some plate armour. Then work your way to the mountain site where decent XP awaits (“Quarry”: hits hard but gives good xp). Always use a shield spell, always use hp regeneration song. Climb up the level ladder and change caster profession as soon as possible so that you gain access to the first summon monster spell (summon elemental). A summoned elemental will be very useful in Savage Crossing. Grind further, continue slowly to explore everything until you get the first wizard spells. They will give you means to take on bigger enemies, and get really good summoned companions. Some people complain about too much grinding. Aside from this game being designed to be a grinding game, the only real grind spot imho is the underground Tarasz temple. Go in, kill the Tarasz Stoßtruppen, go out – and repeat. This will get you the levels needed to progress further. After that, you will level while solving the tasks that will lead you to the endgame content. I just finished another complete new game, starting from level 1, and ending after defeating the Defiler (Rise Of The Dragons). Unfortunately, I had to reset the game because of development needs and my save games are gone again. Time to start another game 🙂 You think I am kidding? No, my love for the genre is so deep that I really like playing my own game again… I did so many times, but I can’t stop. And as long as I can’t stop – I will continue creating content for it. At the moment, progress is going VERY slow (too many real life things), but step by step the flooded isles and the heritage expansion grows…

Special thanks (once more) go to Frank Klüppel for the world Tarnak, and to Kristina Giepen for the creature pictures!

Hooorray Silversword! Congrats! Now everybody, start a new game and kick Maruziel’s ass once more 🙂

 
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