So as anyone who has ever seen my backpack will attest, I am a fan of badges (or buttons, depending on where you live). Now, thanks to the tireless work of the other half of the Tyandae development team and the people at Pure Buttons, we have Death of Magic buttons to show off at GX4.
The elevator continues to move, the dark space crowded with two enormous crates, two dwarves, and one increasingly uncomfortable silence. It’s as if Rala can actually feel the shape of what they aren’t saying, what no-one is saying. The dwarf clears kaj’r throat – a little too theatrically – and turns to look at the indistinct shape of the other dwarf.
“No,” kaj says.
Rala blinks. “…No what, Kah Dahj?”
“No, we’re not doing anything wrong.”
The dwarf adjusts kaj’r collar, watching the Queen’s face closely. Her gaze sweeps the cavern, blue eyes and reptilian face unreadable as she takes in the rows upon rows of automatons. Lamplight shimmers in the gold thread woven into her mane of feathers.
“How many did you say you’d made, Kah Samaq?”
“Close to two thousand, your majesty.”
Magic affects everyone differently. When magic is weak people get sick, pixies go feral, and minotaurs forget. During the drought of 451, when heatwaves swept the city and there were riots in the outer districts, a young minotaur boy was found lost and alone. When asked his name, he said “I don’t remember.”
Lorel, a centaur matriarch, took the boy into her herd and named him Kyros. He grew up alongside a number of other foundlings from the outer city, learning to reach out and help others regardless of their race. When he started his own business and opened a public eating house in the outer city, he called it the Bar None in Lorel’s honour, making a place where all would be welcome. When a tired dwarf carrying a sick child on kaj’r back knocked on the door, Kyros was able to offer work and a place to stay.
It’s been a long time since Saral first moved in to the Bar None. Since then magic has grown thinner, prices higher, and Kyros’ mood crystal is less and less effective. When Jackin first came to live with them he’d recite poetry to send her to sleep – now he can barely read.
Orcs are almost invariably born as twins. The bond between twins is integral and lifelong, with orcs living either together or as close neighbours even into adulthood. For an orc, aunts or uncles are as important as parents, cousins as close as siblings.
For an orc to be born alone, then, is not only unusual but profoundly lonely. While loved by his family, Thuost always felt his difference keenly, and headed for a life at sea as soon as he was old enough to sign on to a ship. There, working alongside carefree elf men and homeless dwarves, he found a new family of his own, and soon grew successful enough to captain his own ship. Until one day, and much to his welcome surprise, his merchant trading partner Lilia proposed to him.
Between Thuost’s ship, Lilia’s trade connections, and her sister Khadren’s cooking for the Bar None, the trio were doing quite well for themselves. The blockade changed everything. Echalian ships now block passage through the Orothan sea, preventing trade between Alsvoran merchant vessels and the Ichikan Isles, Alsvor’s primary provider of quartz. Desperate to find an alternate source for magical crystal storage, Thuost now sails increasingly dangerous and clandestine routes to try and meet demand. The only help from Alsvoran authorities has been to quarantine Thuost’s ship and crew – twice – allegedly to avoid the spread of foreign disease.
Today Thuost’s ship arrived back in port, its legitimate cargo of Ralerin grain concealing a load of Echalian made mechanical prosthetics, the black market sale of which would finally get their family out of debt.
Until Protectors stopped the ship in the harbour, claiming that they’d been sighted on the north side of the blockade. Echalia was known to be in the midst of a plague, they said. There could be no risk to Alsvor: the ship, and all its cargo, must be burned.
While there are many mammalian races in Alsvor, tengu are the sole avian representatives in the city. Unable to articulate the same range of sounds as mammals, tengu speak their own language among themselves and communicate with other races through signing. While signing is fairly common in areas of the city with a high tengu population, it’s by no means ubiquitous.
Ulwrick is a professional thief and information broker, putting her skills to work for the dissident movement. Any suggestions that tengu make good thieves because birds like shiny things will be met with extreme displeasure.
As a concept, Death of Magic has been evolving since 2014. There have been shifts in focus over that time, but some of the most obvious changes have been in character design. Characters have changed race, age, and gender as various story elements have been updated and rearranged. One of the most obvious shifts has been Jackin.
In her initial, elementary incarnation, Jackin was far more of a blank slate. We knew she was an elf, was young, and we knew she had a prosthetic arm (even if we weren’t sure why). On the cusp of adulthood, she was fresh faced and impressionable, responding to events in the story impulsively, very much at the mercy of forces around her.
After several iterations of the script, it was clear that this innocent Jackin no longer made sense. Her environment is harsh, and although she is young she’s been through significant trauma (finally, her prosthetic arm got a backstory). Gradually she grew older, more cynical, more wary. She’s a young woman who’s known hunger, who’s lost family and friends, and who knows that if something seems too good to be true than it probably is.
These changes in her character are reflected in her appearance. Her face is lined, her hair tangled, her shoulders broad from hard work. There are aesthetic changes too – her nose is broader and more feline, her skin darker, and there’s (although you can’t see it in these pictures) a tail. As the appearance of other races such as dwarves became more animalistic, elves had to as well.
As the player character, Jackin will go on changing and evolving according to decisions made throughout the story. She may grow more hopeful, more trusting of new opportunities. Or she may grow more cynical, placing faith only in herself and her allies. It’s up to you.
Creating a character who can believably develop in multiple directions has been a challenge, but a fascinating one.
In 2015 MCV Pacific held the inaugural Women in Games Awards, an event that recognises the contributions of women in the Australian and New Zealand Games industry. For women who have paved the way for others, who have helped to promote the industry, who have worked to support the development of local games and who have been inspirations to the industry as a whole, this is a chance to have their work applauded.
This year, thanks to a sponsored ticket from Prescription Pixel, I was lucky enough to attend. The experience was nothing short of awesome.
It’s extremely common in gaming environments, from colleges to workplaces, that women will find themselves outnumbered. That was not the case at this event. The room of over a hundred attendees was full of women catching up, talking, sharing news and ideas. Some were local, many were from interstate or overseas, some flying in just for the day. But even for those of us who’d never met there was a strong sense of community, of immediate commonality and support, of being in this together and being there for each other.
I’m extremely grateful that I was able to be there, to meet so many new women and to connect with others that I’d only met online. It’s extremely exciting to be a part of an industry that is growing and changing so quickly. It’s even more reassuring to know that there is this community of women ready to help and support each other, to encourage each other. In her acceptance speech for the Creative Inspiration award, Kamina Vincent said “I only hope that I can do for others what they have done for me.”
It’s a good sentiment to live by.
Over the course of the year I’ll be sharing short pieces of fiction set in the world of Death of Magic, some of which offer insight into the characters of the game. This story lets you find out a little more about Safelor and her thoughts about life in the city.
Safelor is a centaur matriarch, acting as leader and guide to her herd. While centaur herds are traditionally made up of a few extended family groups, Safelor has a history of adopting people who she feels needs her protection, regardless of blood relation – or race.
Unlike Garros, Safelor’s appearance has been fairly consistent since her initial conception – a chestnut mare dressed in green. The dark pattern across her face and back is a burn scar from when the Baker’s Lane community home burned down. The bandage and sling on her arm are from injuries sustained in the opening scenes of the game.