This month we spent some time to walk through Mission #1 and the process for building it.
Mission #1 - The Bridges of Branholme
Lasfaria is a turbulent world easily manipulated by sound magic. The Opus, or the First Song, was created thousands of years ago to help keep the world stable and more hospitable to the mortal races. This scene establishes Branholme, the capital city of the Alionne Kingdom, as the central location of this chapter where 77 years of war with the Saxtel Empire has taken its toll. The Alionne army is failing, and the country is suffering from unexplained earthquakes and tremors. Times are desperate.
Cutscene #1 - The Branholme Opus Room
After the intro cinematic and character customization, the game starts with a brief cutscene in the Opus Room in the School of Technology. This room lies at the heart of the school and is a large cylindrical space of immense power with a hovering ball of light and energy at its center and a series of large rings in place spinning around it.
Maestro Greymore, the Head Master at the school, has hired the player's characters to travel to the edge of the city and escort Sirena, a reclusive Lore Master, back to the Opus Room safely. She has recently discovered critical information and needs to convince a gathering delegation to end the war.
The player leads a small mercenary band called The Unsung. This group does not have loyalty to any of the warring factions and are relatively unknown, making them a perfect choice to help the Maestro; they can be trusted not to betray for political reasons, and they can operate covertly.
Cutscene #2 - The outskirts of town
The player finds Sirena just outside the city's walls at the Branholme Observatory. She wears the robes of a Lore Master (one of our Prestige Jobs) and wields a staff.
Sirena thanks the player for their help escorting her, worried that it’s not safe travelling these days. The war has created lots of conflict and you never know someone’s allegiance or intentions.
Suddenly Branholme guard bots approach Sirena and the player from the direction of the first bridge. The bridge is disabled behind them. These bots have a strange green magical aura circling around them, and they claim Sirena is trespassing and must be stopped.
She explains that the city is normally guarded by these mechanical constructs, but something has turned them hostile, and the mission starts.
Earlier this year, I walked through the process of our Vertical Slice. We started with the overall narrative, and identified 50 missions. Our level designers created sketches for each mission, and then started building out white boxes so we can play and test them.
Once a white box is complete, we create a Concept Guide.
Here is the Concept Guide for Mission #1.
From there, we work with the concept team to flesh out a series of 2D paintings that match the layout of the white boxes. These concepts are used by the 3D team to build the final level.
Post Mission Cutscene #1
Sirena and the player arrive safely at the School of Technology. It's been years since her return, and she circles the Opus Room in wonder, talking out loud. “You’ve heard about how we sing into the Opus stories about our world and our lives to preserve it. At this school, we use Technology but each other school is unique with their own form of magic - Mana, Divine, and Nature."
She motions to the Cantors, old singers stationed around the room casting spells directly into the ball of light. "When they sing about our accomplishments, our mastery of magic, and our progress as a society, it strengthens the bonds of the Opus which helps hold Lasfaria together. The world literally depends on this act, keeping the energies of the Opus in harmony."
Gravely, she turns to Greymore, “But something is wrong. I have long been researching the decline of the Opus. The tremors that break our land. Chaos is growing, and soon every nation will suffer as we have. For years we have only sung songs of death and destruction. It's time to end the conflict."
Greymore presses Sirena to convince the gathering delegates from each nation of her findings.
She agrees to go to the meeting but asks for the player to stand guard in case it erupts in violence. But first, the player needs to prepare.
Introduction to the Hub
At this point the player gets a brief introduction to the Player Hub where the player's units can rest, equip themselves, and work with other craftsmen to improve.
End of Mission #1.