The two-man game development studio of Better Built Studios has unveiled a first look at its upcoming multiplayer strategic card game, State of Wonder, by means of a special cinematic trailer. Featuring in-game art developed by Higher Eclectic Ground affiliated 2D/3D artist Brandon Crampton, the trailer serves to set the tone for the game’s upcoming pre-alpha that followers will be able to get their hands on Sunday, the 28th of this week.
Originally a student project helmed by a team of five at Sweden’s Uppsala University circa August, 2016, State of Wonder tasks two-or-more players with competitively expanding their empires in a period of post-apocalyptic war and strife.
As the ruler of a city state driven towards expansion of their empire, one must claim dominance over what’s left of the land — waging war against enemy states, building trade economies, bluffing and implementing political tactics to ensure supremacy.
Facilitating all of this is a system of uniquely designed card mechanics, that enables players to train powerful unit cards, build mighty fortifications and send out heroes on their enemies in a race where the only means to achieve victory is by constructing a majestic Wonder.
State of Wonder does away with all traditionally randomised elements such as that of drawing cards or rolling dice, encouraging players to employ a plethora of tactics — from going head-on against aggressive conquerors to constructing superior defence systems that none can oppose.
‘It’s not an easy task,’ states the development team, ‘for the leader to first build a Wonder is sure to be attacked.’ Much of these tactics, mechanics and other elements of the in-game setting are not only previewed in the aforementioned trailer, but will be publicly playable in their pre-alpha form at 13:00 GMT +1, on the 28th of May, 2017, on itch.io.
With a functional game-play system, the pre-alpha will also serve to fuel the development and implementation of others such as in-game account, chat and friends systems, improved menu experiences, card-acquiring methodologies and a shop for added card purchases.
These improvements, along with a greater number of playable card designs, are intended for the beta version that currently sits with an estimated release of Summer, 2017.
Expansions, ranked and tournament play modes are to follow, all en route to a potential 2018 release of the full game on the Steam marketplace. A physical table-top version is also being actively considered, with plans to expand currently dependent on player interest.
As a freelance artist hired by the development duo of Emelie Rodin and Simon Lundgren, Brandon Crampton’s role for the past month has been that of developing various graphic assets for State of Wonder’s play area, user interface, card faces and backgrounds, several of which are seen displayed through the course of this announcement and the entirety of the pre-alpha trailer.
‘The art style I’ve implemented has personally been influenced by Blizzard’s Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering; as both have amazing top-notch artwork, I figured it would be something to aim for.’ recalls Crampton, who has yearned to expand his digital art talent into card-based game design since commencing his freelance career.
‘Putting everything I had into it while having fun, I’ve set out to create aesthetically well-rounded artwork that I hope will leave players going “Oh wow, that is indeed awesome.”‘ More of Crampton’s creations from the forthcoming months are to subsequently make their way into the beta and eventual full-release.
‘State of Wonder began with the original team conducting a survey on random elements in card games in 2016, and discussing how a fun, entertaining card game could be built without random elements.‘ explains Rodin.
‘Early production heavily relied on this survey before designs of the card game were established, with an early paper prototype further made available at local conventions. The game was very well received with many returning to play it; local tournaments were also held.’
Despite the game’s development and three of the team’s early members falling by the wayside in the early months of 2017 however, Rodin and Lundgren have pushed forward to transform State of Wonder into a full-fledged game project with focus appropriately shifted towards its marketing, business and public release. ‘Our goal is to build interesting game systems, where the player is challenged to think and work within these systems to accomplish their goals.’
To this end, Rodin plays the Studio’s Lead designer, Marketer, Technical Artist and Project Leader, employing her love for analytics, years of experience crafting role-playing and board games for local youth communities since the age of 16 (inclusive of two Gotland Game Conference attendances), along with the academic study of Game Design in her arsenal.
Lundgren on the other hand functions as Lead Programmer and Designer as he constructs State of Wonder’s digital systems, bringing to the table his fascination for the mechanics involved in the MMO, MOBA and RTS genres, as well as programming expertise that dates back to high school.
‘We at BetterBuilt Studios couldn’t hope for a better person to work with,’ they write. ‘Brandon has exceeded our expectations with both the speed and quality of his work. He is good at both — discussing concepts and understanding instructions, but can also be given free rein to create artwork based only on thematic instructions.’
This is the fourth collaboration Higher Eclectic Ground has succeeded in effecting for Brandon Crampton, a South African freelance video game artist that has been affiliated to the network since 2016. Previous contracts have included avatar work for YouTube/Twitch streamers Evanzo7 and Potshotpete, as well as the complete design, texturing and rigging of a playable character for Two Piece Games’ upcoming 3D-platform fighting game, Melee Masters.
While associated professional details, a broader view of his portfolio and bio-data lays centralised on his Space, Higher Eclectic Ground will continue to broadcast various milestones and development related achievements pertinent to State of Wonder with regards to the artist’s contributions henceforth.
Those wishing to interact with the team of Better Built Studios on a first-hand basis, follow the game’s progress more closely or prepare for the upcoming pre-alpha meanwhile, may do so via its Website, Facebook and/or Twitter pages.
A dedicated group for those wishing for a more nuanced involvement in State of Wonder’s development can also be found on Facebook, while announcements linking to the pre-alpha’s itch.io page will be put up across each medium on or before the weekend.