Ealdorlight [Kickstarter page] generates a world, the history of the locations in that world, the histories of the people within the locations in that world, and then it lets you wander around taking on quests. Some of those quests will involve hitting people. Combat is turn-based but there are no hit points. Instead, you can punch someone right in the…skin?
“Instead of using hit points, the game uses realistic damage, modelling bones, skin, muscle, hearts, brains and limbs.”
Well then. The project has just hit Kickstarter and is the work of Chris Parsons, who made the flawed but fascinating Sol Trader. This picks up some of the ideas from that game and looks to put them in a more enjoyable and comprehensible structure.
The ultimate goal in every kingdom that Ealdorlight generates is to replace the current king and take the throne for yourself. Depending how you play, you can do that by winning the support of nobles, creating and/or exposing a scandal, or through force. Before worrying about any of that though, you’re going to be exploring and questing and collecting and crafting. Here’s a handy summary of what’s involved from the Kickstarter page:
You start by travelling between villages and towns on the edge of a randomised kingdom map.
You might craft simple items and farm crops, selling them at the market, all the time asking for information about your family from tinkers and travellers passing through.
You can take on quests from the townsfolk, and be rewarded with reputation, gold, and ancient items. Alternatively, you can steal money or items from them.
Work for someone with the right contacts, and you might also gain introductions to more powerful characters.
Impress the right people, and be granted lands and titles as you get ever closer to the King.
You can recruit characters with different skills, abilities and contacts to aid you in your struggle.
Along the way you may discover who you are and where you came from, and why you cannot remember your past.
Parsons says Ealdorlight is built on the technology used in Sol Trader and if you played that game or followed its development, you’ll probably agree that the procedural generation was the strongest element. Not in terms of generating places or quests, but an entire social fabric across which the necessities of questing and the rest were stitched. Unfortunately, the entire game involved navigating menus within that social fabric, and as much as I admired the concept, I felt like I was playing with numbers rather than people and spaceships.
Ealdorlight looks like it might address that issue head on by having maps and fights and actual characters interacting with the world rather than piles of menus. I really want to see these ideas translated into a game that appeals to me in practice as well as conceptually.
The Kickstarter goal is £40,000 and Parsons says he has the advantage of starting crowdfunding early in development so he can react to comments and feedback.