Kickin’ it with Snow Castle – Earthlock: Festival of Magic

by Antonio Garcia

UPDATE: The Kickstarter Campaign for Earthlock: Festival of Magic might be over, but you can still pledge for the campaign with Paypal by following this link!

I got in touch with Snow Castle, an indie development studio with a very ambitious plan to release a trilogy of games under the new Earthlock series. Check out this interview to learn more about this PC/Mac/Linux/Wii U release!

4cr: Hello, and welcome to Kickin’ it with. Could you please fill us in on who you are and what you do?

In super short: We make games and we love our job!

The longer answer: Snow Castle is a Norwegian game developer based in Oslo. Even so, we’re pretty international with staff members and contributors on both sides of the Atlantic.

The company is four years old, and we have done quite a bit of for-hire work before we set out to do our first in-house productions. The first one was a cross between an interactive children’s storybook and a side-scroller called Hogworld: Gnart’s Adventure. It made it onto Apple’s Best of 2011 list in the App store and put us firmly on the map. What connects that first game to Earthlock is the story-telling element, something we really believe in. We have been working on Earthlock: Festival of Magic for two years now and funded development through Government funds, for-hire work and lately some very patient investors.

4cr: We’ve hearing about Festival of Magic for a long time now, and now you have a Kickstarter campaign for the game (with the full name now being Earthlock: Festival of Magic). What can you tell us about this project?

Earthlock is a story and character driven turn-based RPG where you harvest your own magical ammunition. We’re making a fantasy world with a helpful sprinkling of steampunk and a bunch of interesting characters, and we have a writer that is interested in turning some of the tropes of the genre on their heads storywise!

Players join Ive and Amon on an adventure that will see them cross an entire world to prevent a coming war against a mysterious cult set on the destruction of the world as they know it. The story unfolds as players experience and learn of the history of Umbra and the motivations of this mysterious cult.

We are very much making a game we want to play ourselves. It is a throwback to the classic turn-based RPGs, but also incorporates some new elements that makes for intriguing gameplay and content. Like the pairing mechanism of the characters that let players combine classes to gain access to unique abilities and form bonds between the pairs that strengthen their combat skills. The addition of growing and harvesting ones own magical ammunition on ones own island makes for an interesting way to interact with the world!

We have an additional name which was announced with the campaign! A little while back we added the name “Earthlock” to the game as the main name. ‘Festival of Magic’ will be the first story we tell in the ‘Earthlock’ series. It is much more descriptive of the world the players will experience and we are pleased that the new name has resonated so well with our fans!

Earthlock 1

4cr: How big is the team at Snowcastle Games that is currently hard at work on Festival of Magic?

We are currently six on the team in Norway, but with our team members outside the country we add up to ten members.

4cr: Developing a J-RPG inspired game in this day and age might seem like a risky endeavor. What made you decide to pursue a release for this genre?

It’s our favorite genre! How can we not make it? Although it might seem a little more risky, Earthlock will be a great game because we can put our passion, love, and devotion into it because it is a game that we would genuinely want to play. From the enthusiasm of the current backers, they seem to agree!

Earthlock Concept Art

4cr: The game is set for release on PC/Mac/Linux and Wii U once the funding goal has been reached. Are you thinking about a PS4/XBO port as well for late 2015?

We will have to take the platforms on one at a time because we are a small developer. That said: Yes, we are licensed developers for all three consoles and our intention is to cover them all. We have a lot of experience with the Unity 3D engine and porting is not quite as big an endeavour as it would be otherwise. Getting the game out to as many players as possible is, of course, vital for us and we hope to earn enough to make many more games in the series!

4cr: Since it’s a digital only reward, how big will The Art of Umbra Book be?

We have a lot of artwork done already, but the biggest part has yet to be made. It’s too early to tell exactly how big it will be, but I’ll tell you that we all love good artbooks that deliver insight into the artistic process and we aim to deliver one that covers everything from sketches and initial idea through to fully realized illustrations and 3D assets. We will not disappoint!

Earthlock Reward Matrix

4cr: Why isn’t the game scheduled for release until early 2015?

We have spent quite a lot of time gathering funding for the production and this diversion from production has caused some delays from the initial goal. With a successful Kickstarter campaign we will be able to fully concentrate on making the game. We might also pick up speed by adding a few more on the team, but early 2015 is our end goal should the kickstarter campaign be successful!

4cr: Have you considered any extra goals for once the main goal has been reached?

Certainly! We have quite a list of stretch goals already posted, and we still have a few secrets up our sleeve. We’ll be constantly talking and listening with the backers so if (when!) we pass our current stretch goals we will have some very attractive additions.

Earthlock Village

4cr: Would you like to say anything else before we end this interview?

Yes, we just made this public: the Norwegian Film Institute has promised us a grant worth $200,000 if we hit our goal of $150,000!. We have known about this for some time, and it was main reason we were able to set the Kickstarter goal at $150,000.

It’s really awesome news for us to be able to finally share it, and since the funds are tied to the success of the Kickstarter, you can all imagine how stressed we are about making sure the campaign is successful!

Other than that, we are truly fortunate to be working on Earthlock! It is a dream project and we are doing everything we can to make this as memorable and exciting game as we possibly can! The support we’ve seen so far in the campaign has been fantastic, and we are grateful to everyone who has backed us so far! Thank you all!

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