So, What’s Happened With Crowfall Over the Last Month?


So it has been…a bit over a month since I last looked in on Crowfall’s development, which oversight I shall attempt to correct here on the penultimate day of 2015.

Toward the end of last month, ArtCraft Entertainment launched Pre-Alpha 1.1 of Crowfall, another combat-focused test that also added a number of new features to the game (in particular, loot became something that enemies dropped, rather than something which was simply found in chests and crates). A few combat playtests were held soon after the pre-alpha went live, and then again as November drew to a close.

Concept art for Malekai, the Lord of Shadows (another of the gods in the Crowfall universe’s pantheon) was revealed in late November as well. ArtCraft also shared a video recap of a then-recent sprint review; these reviews evidently happen every two weeks at the studio (although it should be noted that not all of the reviews are followed by a public video recap).

At the start of December, another Q&A video featuring Thomas Blair and J. Todd Coleman was released. The big focus of this video, however, was actually another member of the development team:

UX Designer Billy Garretsen makes a guest appearance in the ACE Q&A for December to discuss opening up controller input and HUD customization. “The grand vision,” Billy explains, “is to really let people completely customize their layouts by position, scaling… maybe even being able to retint and reshape certain HUD elements.”

Other topics covered in this episode include the in-game clock and calendar, map features and hints about the upcoming ‘big reveal’ that Todd alluded to in one of the recent Founders’ Updates…

And speaking of Founders Updates, the video was followed-up a day later by just such an update, in which ArtCraft defined the meaning of the term pre-alpha as they use it. They also posted more results from their community survey.

In mid-December, a new video feature was launched: the first Systems Chat was published, the topic of which was the training and advancement system in Crowfall. ArtCraft also published another Founder’s Update, meant as a year-end wrap-up (although it was followed by another short update, on December 23rd, regarding pledge packages and testing progress). Bitcoin was also introduced as a pledge payment option.

For much of the rest of the month, a series of graphic novel pages (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) were revealed, each of which teased some aspect of the big reveal mentioned in a quote above.

This big reveal actually just happened, in the form of this video and FAQ page, which discusses Crows (which is what the players of Crowfall are called within the lore of its universe) and their Vessels:

How does advancement work in Crowfall?

Advancement in Crowfall is slightly different than what you’ve seen in other games. We’ve effectively broken advancement into two parts: physical (represented by attributes such as Strength, Intelligence, etc.) and mental (skill gain, such as concentration or competency with two-handed weapons).

Every player is an immortal, chosen by the gods to participate in an endless war to determine who shall be the King of the Gods. As an immortal, you have the ability to take different forms (or avatar) which provide you different attributes and powers. You retain your memories between these vessels, in the form of retained knowledge (skills).

What is a “vessel” and how does it work?

Vessels are (basically) bodies – corporeal forms that players can inhabit. You possess the body of a fallen hero and use it for as long as you like. It’s up to you how frequently you want to change vessels – some players will collect them and change often, other players will pick one that they like and play it forever.

Do the players have a spiritual (non-corporeal) form? How do I appear when I am in between avatars?

You have an immortal form that looks like a ghostly crow in the 3D world. This represents your immortal, eternal spirit.

In technical terms, the crow is really the “account level” version of you (the player). You take this form in the game when you die and remain in that form until you possess your next vessel.

How do you split advancement between the crow and the avatar(s)?

Character power is divided into two distinct parts:

Physical Attributes are dictated by the mortal vessel. This means that a Minotaur Myrmidon will be much stronger than an Elven Frostweaver who will be much more agile than a Human Knight. The avatar will set base attributes and will encapsulate the combined effects of runestones (archetype, disciplines, talents and traits).

Spiritual Knowledge is comprised of the memories that you accumulate over the course of many lives – which means that they are stored on your crow. Think of this as the residual knowledge that you carry between avatars, such as how to craft a helmet, recite an incantation or wield a blade. The vessel that you choose to possess (your avatar) will determine how much of your residual knowledge you can use at any time.

There’s quite a lot of additional detail and information included in both the video and the FAQ; if you’ve been following Crowfall at all, you’ll probably want to check both out.