Always Nintendo Interviews • Snowcastle Games

Earthlock: Festival of Magic Wii U

Earthlock: Festival of Magic

Always Nintendo recently got the chance to interview Snowcastle Games, a indie game development studio famous for their upcoming project, Earthlock: Festival of Magic! Without further ado, let this interview commence!


AN: Hey Snowcastle, Thanks for allowing Always Nintendo to interview you guys! Would you be able to introduce yourselves and tell us a bit more about Snowcastle Games?

Hi I’m Ben and I’m the Game Director at Snowcastle. I’m an old time gamer. I started programming basic on an IBM PPC back in 1984 when I was 10 years old. I specialized on Robotics and Virtual Reality at the University and have been dead set on making games ever since then.

Snowcastle Games is a group of RPG nerds who love our job! Some of us love JRPGs, some like WRPGs, some like MMORPGS. I personally like anything that ends with RPG. We all have fond memories growing up with these genres, so we are all committed and thrilled to be working on Earthlock.

Let’s visit the rest of the team in the video:

AN: Late last year, Snowcastle Games decided to re-schedule the Kickstarter campaign for Festival of Magic until 2014. What was your reason for doing so?

Two words: Lousy timing. We were high on the success of our Steam Greenlight approval which went through much faster than we expected and decided to go for a Kickstarter right away. It started pretty well, but we quickly drowned in the buzz around the big console launches, and then came the American holidays. We learnt a lot from the two weeks we ran the campaign and built a very ardent core fan base who still is with us. So this time around we are doing everything the right way, and judging from the great start the first couple of days we seem to have nailed it this time around. A big positive change is the name change, or rather expansion. The game is now Earthlock: Festival of Magic and both our fans and we are very comfortable with the new name which is both descriptive and mystical.

Earthlock World Map

AN: The long-awaited Kickstarter project for Earthlock: Festival of Magic has now re-opened! In just a few days, it’s managed to collect tons of pledges bringing Snowcastle even closer to their goal. How does it feel to know that you guys have so much support from fellow gamers all over the world?

We are making a game we really want to play ourselves. It is heartwarming to discover that it is also a game a lot of other gamers have missed and really want to play. The early stages of game development is pretty lonely in some ways and it is absolutely wonderful to put it out in the world and see all the love and support we are gathering. It is amazing how our supporters are pledging hard cash because they believe in us.

It is also quite scary when you think of all the work we have put into this project. Pressing that “Launch” button on the Kickstarter is the most emotional thing I have done in a long time. What if it fails?! What if we pass our stretch goals?! The possible range of outcome is mind boggling to say the least!

 Earthlock Frog Forest

AN:  The main points in this game seem to be story, combat, and crafting/harvesting. Characters seem to make up a huge chunk of the overall experience as well! How good of a job do you think this game will do at creating an immersive world and experience for gamers to enjoy?

The premise for the whole game is a world that has stopped revolving, causing perpetual night and day on each side of the planet. The ancient culture that lived there was mostly eradicated and great magic and technology was lost. As the civilization is re-emerging after the Deadly Halt as we call it, the culture is very different from what one would expect. People don’t look to science and research to make new inventions. Instead they dig in the ground to find old artifacts.

I think this is a really exciting world to explore! Our writer, Magnus, is making a captivating story and the art team is designing charming characters, monsters and plants. I really believe we have all it takes to make a fantastic experience for the player – a world they will want to investigate!

Festival of Magic Battle System

AN: I’ve seen that on your Kickstarter page, you have a list full of features, one of which is turn-based combat. Is there a specific reason you took this route, rather than say, another style of gameplay such as Real Time/Active Time combat?

I guess the biggest reason for us choosing turn based combat is that we love playing games that feature it ourselves. We also feel that turn based combat really fits with how we want Earthlock to feel. We want strategy to be a big part rather than reaction. The pacing of turn based combat also feels like a good match with our focus on storytelling and exploration.

Festival of Magic Artwork

AN: In the video above, there is some info about Warrior and Protector combinations. Can you tell us how these pairs/combinations will affect the outcomes of battles and the experience of battle as a whole?

The pairing is a big part of the strategy in combat. The pairs will drastically change the combined stats of the characters as well as giving access to unique combination abilities.
E.g. If you combine a physically strong protector with a physical strong warrior you get a super strong pair physically speaking, but this pair will be dangerously low on other stats.
The idea here is to allow the player to experiment with the balancing of pairs. Some battles it might be good to create extreme pairs and other battles might require a more well balanced pair. All these things will add to the deeper strategic parts of the combat gameplay.

AN: Do you plan to make any important additions to the battle system that will make it even MORE exciting than it already is? If so, what did you have in mind?

We have lots of ideas what we think could be fun, but until we have the current system working flawlessly and playtested rigorously we won’t add any more features. It’s one of the hardest things making a game – not getting delayed due to creeping features.

We have ideas for an affinity system as well where the characters develop a bond after being in combat together many times. This will give the pair stronger special abilities as their bond grows.

Festival of Magic Harvesting

AN: As mentioned above, another important game mechanic is Crafting/Harvesting. How will this entire system work? Any tips that will help future players out when doing so?

Hmm, some plants don’t necessarily like to grow next to each other. Some plants might need special care to release their full potential. Some plants might not even be all that…shall we say…‘kind’? I’m going to be vague here as the fun here will be to figure this out.

Festival of Magic Party

AN: Characters such as Amon, Gnart, and Ive have importance in the battle system, as shown in the videos above, but where will we be seeing characters like Taika, Bryn, Fay, and Olia?

Taika, Bryn, Fay, and Olia will be unlocked as you progress through the story. You’ll come across them in the world and they’ll join you on your journey.


AN: Could you tell us about some of the tiers in your Kickstarter project?

Yeah, in addition to the tiers people have come to expect like “Early Bird” tiers that have the game at a discount (these are quickly going away though! Get in early to grab yours!). We are also excited to have included what we’re calling “creative tiers”. The Creative Tiers involve the backers working with the developers to create something entirely unique for the game! Backers will work directly with the artists in creating objects, weapons, monsters, and characters for the game! We think it will be great to allow some special backers to leave their fingerprint in a game they are passionate enough to support and we are very excited to see what comes out of these collaborations!


AN:  Finally, why do you think people should back this project? What are some rewards that backers can get?

If you are into story and character driven, turn based RPGs, go pledge! We are passionate about the genre and we think there are a lot of people out there that miss the more old school approach we’re going for! We promise to do all we can to deliver a memorable experience!

We have some very cool rewards for our backers, like exclusive weapon and vehicle skins that are available from the $45 tiers and on!

Another reward we’re pretty excited about is the “Earthlock Origins” comic book that will be penned by our writer, Magnus Aspli, and illustrated by Frits and Fredrik, our resident artists. The comic book will tell the story of Amon’s origins that pre dates the game! Backers also have the opportunity to get the “Art of Earthlock” book, soundtrack, posters and more!

Earthlock is an RPG that comes by its roots honestly with a love of the genre and respect for its predecessors. Snowcastle is committed to creating a game that players will be excited to play because it is going to be a game that we would want to play.

Thanks again to Snowcastle Games for giving us the opportunity, you guys rock, and best of luck with your future projects! Stay tuned for more indie interviews coming in the future!

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