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Topic Subject: Work in Progress Spotlight XXXVII: The Shadows of Kalpireia!
posted 07-13-21 05:07 AM CT (US)   
Today we return to the fabled Works in Progress Spotlight to feature one of the biggest campaigns to every grace our heaven. For those of you who are unaware of the Works in Progress Spotlight, it is an opportunity for me, everyone’s favourite Cherub, to interview the creators of some of the most exciting upcoming projects so we can learn more about what to expect and build up the excitement to their eventual releases.

Today’s feature is one of the most ambitious campaigns I have ever heard of, but don’t worry about it not being finished because it’s coming from one of our most experienced and popular members – the scenario making machine that is Lord Basse – and the campaign is the highly ambitious 8 scenario campaign; The Shadows of Kalpireia!
For those who may not know, could you summarise what the Shadows of Kalpireia is about and how it fits into the larger Gwyndlegard series as a whole?

"The Shadows of Kalpireia" is essentially the Next Generation (or, rather, Next-Next Generation) of Gwyndlegard. It takes place roughly 50 years after the end of the original trilogy, and the main protagonist is Samuel Fardaugh, grandson of Immanuel, the hero of the original series. You will encounter a few familiar faces, and play in some familiar (but significantly better designed) locations, but overall the cast is fresh, and the story takes you to places that were left largely unexplored in the original trilogy. The closest link to a previous work is actually my defend the spot scenario "The Winter Storm", which takes place right before the events in "The Shadows of Kalpireia".

This sound amazing, and it's refreshing to be able to explore a whole new part of this world a generation later. When you first released The Relics of Athalen it was marketed as the final instalment in your grand Gwyndlegard series. What made you want to come back and revisit this series?

For about three years, I was certain that "The Relics of Athalën" would be my final major campaign, but even then, I had had this idea for a sequel kicking around for a while. Over time, that vague idea grew and grew until I almost had no choice but to turn it into a campaign!

When you spend so much time creating a world, as I did for the original campaigns, it's very hard to ever truly leave it behind! Over the years I have had ideas for a host of campaigns and smaller projects set in that same world -- a prequel campaign where you play as Xaphira during her rise to power; an adventure scenario where Marvin, Rob and Urdana go and explore the far west of the world; and a few campaign ideas set in between the fall of the Old Kingdom, and the "present day" timeline that begins in Gwyndlegard. They all had one thing in common, which is that they never grew beyond a vague outline. "The Shadows of Kalpireia" was the first one that did.

As you've said, the whole Gwyndlegard saga is set in a grand world with a huge amount of backstory. I have to admit, that I personally find the series to be one of my favourite set of scenarios ever, and the Relics of Athalen to be my favourite campaign ever, and one of the best things I have ever experienced in AOK. How to intend to top that with this new campaign?

Thank you, that is really awesome to hear!

I think that you actually nailed what has been the biggest question for me over the course of this project. I knew the story I wanted to tell, I knew the world I wanted it to take place in, and I was (and am) quite confident that it will make for a campaign which I will be proud of in the end. Still, it is hard to make something that feels bigger and better than a massive project such as RoA. The simplest way (well, sort of) to do so is to just make it longer, which is something I have done: "The Shadows of Kalpireia" has 8 scenarios instead of RoA's 7, and a total of 7 playable missions as opposed to RoA's 5; but that happened mostly by accident, as the story I wanted to tell here required more room.

Rather than trying to make this bigger and more epic than RoA, I have primarily tried to make it better and deeper. I have kicked up the map design another notch or two, improved on things I really liked from RoA -- like indoor scenes and boss fights -- and, most of all, tried to make the world more immersive; more real. You very likely won't see a single typical B&D base in this campaign, even when there is B&D gameplay, as the maps are designed to resemble, as far as possible, actual places.

In this vein, another thing I have focused on in "The Shadows of Kalpireia" is the characters. Creating fleshed-out, three-dimensional characters in a top-down, 2½D game like AoE2 has always been a challenge, but I do think it can be done, just as you can create relatable characters in top-down RPGs like "Pillars of Eternity". Each character among the Band of Heroes™ will have a somewhat fleshed-out personality and at least something resembling a character arc. So, if you liked the character interactions and world-building elements from RoA, I think you are going to enjoy this campaign quite a lot as well; and if you're only here for the gameplay, you can always taunt 50 to skip the cut-scenes!

That's all very exciting. I've always personally felt that a scenario is only as good as its story, and you have definitely proven yourself a master storyteller. Now moving on to gameplay; just like RoA, this campaign also utilises extensive modding. Can you give us a little insight about what we can expect from the mod?

Much like for RoA, the mod for "The Shadows of Kalpireia" is made entirely for the purpose of enhancing the story and gameplay. You won't see any new civilizations or complete building sets, but rather a ton of smaller items that serve a specific purpose in the campaign: new indoor graphics, old ruins, unique castles with walkable walls, the snowy bridge that our very own Matt LiVecchi originally made for the AoKH RPG that never got finished, and much more. The mod for this campaign expands upon the one used for RoA, so both campaigns are going to be compatible with the new mod. At this point I have added roughly 1,000 new units to the game; and while many of those work behind the scenes, that is still more than most official expansion packs come with!

I love how you can use the same mod for both this and RoA, it allows people to play both campaigns without having to switch Mod Packs. So when can we expect to play this epic campaign?

This is by far the hardest question to answer! So far three of the eight scenarios are done, except for some final polishing, and the fourth one is in a good state as well. I am hoping to have the first six scenarios done by the end of the year, but time will tell how optimistic a goal that is. In any case, if things continue in the pace they have been going for the past year and a half, the campaign should see release sometime late next year.
And just when you thought you couldn’t get any more excited about this scenario. Here’s a couple of exclusive screenshots for you to drool over.

How excited are you to play this epic campaign? Keep up to date with all the latest news about its development over at the Project Thread.

[This message has been edited by Pecunia (edited 01-17-2022 @ 04:22 PM).]

posted 07-13-21 07:39 AM CT (US)     1 / 3  
Nice write-up, gents

~ Forgotten Empires ~

Storm on the Steppe | Galderton Hill RP | Proud member of Stormwind Studios

"Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjálfr it sama; ek veit einn at aldri deyr, dómr um dauðan hvern." - Hávamál 77.
posted 07-13-21 08:28 AM CT (US)     2 / 3  
I've already had the honor of being allowed to play a few scenarios and I can say that Basse will, without a doubt, deliver another masterpiece here. Everything that could be improved about RoA has been improved for the new campaign, so we can expect a perfect gaming experience. Once again, Basse shines through the extensive modification of the originally available graphic assets, so that the scenarios will truely take every player into a completely foreign, fascinating world.
posted 07-14-21 06:04 AM CT (US)     3 / 3  
Thanks guys! And thanks for putting my project in the spotlight, Possidon!

The ||||||||||||||||| Hus
OF | [/ \] |¯| [/ \] | ME
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The Relics of Athalën (5.0) | AoK Opus - 100,000+ downloads | StormWind Studios | "I consider the conversion of Basse to be one of the great triumphs of my modding crusade" - Matt LiVecchi
Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » News Discussion » Work in Progress Spotlight XXXVII: The Shadows of Kalpireia!
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