Hey Travelers, it’s Purrly here and on behalf of the team at Northern Forge Studios I’d like to welcome you all to the Orna Developer Blog. We plan to use this space to bring you the latest news from the studio, provide you with insights into why/how we change up the game and give a deeper inside look at what goes on at the studio on a daily basis.
So why choose a blog to do this? We know that the beating heart of Orna is our community. We always try to spend some time chatting with you where you like to hang out be that on Discord, Reddit, Twitter, in-game chat, etc. This form of general chit chat with the community isn’t going anywhere as we love getting to know Travelers.
The idea to start a dev blog came from noticing that company communication can be hard to keep track of in its current casual format. We’re finding that we are putting some of the work on our community members who champion our message by pulling up a Discord chat from weeks prior in an attempt to show where our company stands on certain features and even core beliefs on the future of our game.
While I personally love that Travelers are so helpful to one another and so dedicated to what we’re putting out into the world, we feel it would be best to have a central resource for thoughts and plans we as a team have on the development of Orna. This blog will (hopefully) serve as a resource that folks can direct newer players towards for the latest and greatest from Northern Forge and and a place we can talk to all of our audience regardless if they are a Redditor, Discordian or Facebookee. And it won’t always be me chatting away, expect the rest of the team to chime in on development and artwork processes and some fun stuff too.
We have some exciting stuff in the pipeline and while we’re not ready to pull back the curtains on certain projects just yet, we’d love to start things off here with a quick walk down memory lane to talk about what has happened in Orna since the year started – and maybe a sneak peek at what’s to come in the back half of 2022.
State of the Game: 2022
Can you believe we’ve halfway through the year already? Between many balance changes, UI improvements and quality of life fixes, these past 6 months have seen us set the foundation for many new key features that we are able to build on over time.
When thinking about future patches of Orna, we try to marry our vision of what we see for the future of Orna with what the community is most commonly requesting. This led us to build new features to meet three particular goals: new-user experience, massively multiplayer functionality (while retaining our focus on privacy and player protection) and putting a focus back on GPS gameplay.
RISE OF THE UNFELLED STORY REWORK
Recreating the onboarding experience for new players was our chance to iron out some of the rough patches in Orna’s early game. The fellas at the studio draw some inspiration from the design of FromSoft titles. As such – discovery, experimentation and a wee bit of difficulty are a core part of the Orna experience.
Our new storyline offered the chance to inject more personality into the characters and world of Orna, but also gave a new structure to the onboarding of new player and the tutorialization of the game. The new quest and dialogue interface will allow us to implement future content in the form of side quests, allowing us to explain new features more easily from within the game itself. A good example of this came with the addition of Memory Hunts, where we used a new NPC Pythia to add both lore and explanation to a complex new feature.
Running a GPS empowered game during a global pandemic offered up some unique challenges to the team. Over the past few years, we made playing from home easier in an effort to keep folks safe, adding in increased Orn gain and gauntlet cooldown reductions.
With life (somewhat) returning back to normal, we started to see two types of players in the community. Some were requesting that the pandemic buffs remain, but on the flip side we had users that missed getting outside and playing a GPS focused game.
We made the choice to keep the buffs going, as they do allow for different types of players to enjoy Orna. However, we do fundamentally see Orna as a GPS powered game. This led to the creation of Memory Hunts. We wanted to create a feature that was engaging enough to get players off the couch again. We coupled this with an exciting new equipment slot to make it even more enticing.
We really believe that we can expand on Memory Hunts and Amities in exciting ways and can’t wait to look back and see what these systems look like in a year from now!
Other Realms was a concept that was worked on at the studio for a long time. We are always trying to bring Travelers together in a safe but meaningful way. The emphasis on safe GPS gameplay for us is paramount, so creating systems on the overworld map come with a lot of restrictions as to avoid any territorial fist fights.
Still, Orna is an MMO and we wanted to have a feature that brings players together in a large-scale manner. Other Realms offers players a few things: the opportunity to see players from around the world, the ability to obtain seasonally restricted loot all year long and epic battles with a sprinkle of environmental storytelling.
We’ve had a few beta tests now and we’re hoping to get this up on a regular 15 day rotation as soon as we can, just ironing out some of the final loot distribution snags we’ve faced.
Other Realms is a system that holds so much potential. We can do a lot of interesting things with the system we’ve built and we’re excited to see where we’ll take Travelers next.
Got any (future) stuff? Got any (future) things?
While I’m walking on mighty thin ice in terms of spoiler territory, I’d like to cover what we’ve got on the horizon at Northern Forge in the coming months. You may have seen various teases or mentions of these floating around the interwebs, but here is the official on paper list (which of course is subject to change):
You may have heard us talking about working on something big on our Discord channel. Let’s just call that Project A for now. More news on this will be coming soon.
July Mechanics Update
With most of our focus set on Project A and the (note: really hype) August content drop, we took this time to shakeup the follower system that hasn’t seen large scale balance updates since things changed with patch 3.0.
Followers will be gaining new skills that aim to bring more variety to which Follower you take along for the journey as players level through tiers.
Create a Follower Competition Winner
In addition to the skill shakeup, we’re also adding the winning entries of our Community Contest to the game. We asked our community to create their dream followers and had an overwhelming amount of talent in the submissions. In the end, we couldn’t resist the concept of adding weapons that had been taken over by magical power to come alive, a follower concept that is drastically different from anything we’ve implemented to date.
August Content Update
The August content update has me counting down the days. We’ll be teasing out more on this soon but for now I’ll let you in on the special sauce: wicked new artwork by Covyn and a new and interesting way to engage with seasonal content – get hyped.
Summoner Class line
Orna’s nostalgic vibe stems from the classic (J)RPGs of the 80’s/90’s, and it feels like it’s missing something…
The summoner class line is coming!! This one still needs some time in the oven but we’re really excited to bring a new gameplay spin to the later tiers.
Just putting this here to note that we hear you on this – endgame players are looking for more to do. This is something we’re taking very seriously at the studio. This will take time as we’re looking to create meaningfully crafted endgame content. We’ll take you along for the journey as always but just know we see you wild-child Tier 11’s and we’re working towards something great in this department.
That about wraps up our first dev blog, hope you’ve enjoyed your stay! We’ll be back every two weeks with one of these posts but for now, happy adventuring!