Following its 28th May, 2017 launch on itch.io, the publicly playable pre-alpha of skill-based card game, State of Wonder, went on to debut at this year’s Gotland Game Conference for a round of play-testing. Bugs aside, the majority of player feedback stood against the game’s lack of UI Design and Feedback Systems despite being generally well-received.
Production issues encountered in the following months however led now-sole developer of the game, Emelie Rodin, to indefinitely push back the game’s digital release that was originally estimated for 2018.
‘Right now the game has no planned digital alpha again, but there are things being worked upon that will be disclosed in due time,’ she writes.
Consequently all focus has shifted towards development of a physical, tabletop version of State of Wonder, that can now be experienced for free by means of two print and play decks alongside a mod of Berserk Games’ 2015 Tabletop Simulator.
‘Currently we are in an alpha environment, trying to get as much testing done on the elements planned for the launch of the game’s physical version, simply called State of Wonder, as well as planning ahead for the expansions to come.’ continue Rodin.
‘The Mechanics and game-play components have fallen into place, mostly with card design and art being the biggest problems as of now. ‘
Rodin’s goals currently involve fostering a community of players willing to download and try the print & play decks with friends/family, engage in tournaments over the Tabletop Simulator mod, discuss the game’s existing rules designs and shaping development of physical/digital versions via one-on-one feedback therefrom.
Originally a student project helmed by a team of five at Sweden’s Uppsala University circa August, 2016, State of Wonder is a turn-based card game that tasks two-or-more players with competitively expanding their empires through the war-ravaged Kingdom of Scathia.
Following the Queen’s demise, alliances are formed and otherworldly powers are sought between the Kingdom’s various feudal regions in a desperate push for power.
Players choose from one of three such alliances to align with — The Crux Militem, Frifolk and Ritualists — whose weaknesses and strengths they must then exploit to establish dominance over the land.
This may be achieved via simple military might, training powerful Unit and Hero cards, establishing Fortification and Building cards, strategically working towards constructing a Majestic Wonder.
State of Wonder further does away with all traditionally randomized elements such as that of drawing cards, granting players full control of their decks to rely on decisions, bluffs and planning instead as means for victory.
Each game begins with the entire deck in hand, that players take turns producing and training over Start, Main, War, Battle, Retrieval and End phases. The player that wins is usually the last one standing, or one that reaches a set value on the progression counter before the other; as such then, all that’s required to play State of Wonder’s current tabletop build is a bunch of dice, 7 counters to track progression with (paperclips, beads, etc.), at least one other person and two card decks.
Readers might recall that as current manager and representative of South African freelance multimedia artist, Brandon Crampton‘s services, I’d connected him with Rodin and her team-mate at the time, Simon Lundgren, preceding the game’s pre-alpha launch.
Crampton went on to create various graphic assets for State of Wonder’s play area, user interface, card faces and backgrounds before taking a brief break through the months of June and July.
‘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.’ stated the artist then, who has yearned to expand his digital art talent into card-based game design ever since commencing his freelance career.
Since August, this year, production resumed with Crampton at the helm of State of Wonder’s graphic design, who continues to develop various card illustrations and relevant visual necessities ever since.
While a few of these designs are seen through the course of this article, perhaps a more comprehensive look at the game and its imagery can be obtained via State of Wonder’s re-designed website.
Once familiar with the rules, either jump in to the physical alpha with a friend by printing the Crux Militem and Ritualist decks from the website for free, or by downloading the Tabletop Simulator Mod from Steam.
To interact with the developer, discover other play-testers, provide feedback and get involved in State of Wonder, a dedicated Discord Channel is also in effect.
With Brandon Crampton continuing to work on State of Wonder, expect to hear a lot more from the card game’s development progress and milestones.
Alternatively, you may also sign-up for e-mail updates on Crampton’s profile here on Higher Eclectic Ground, that also houses a detailed breakdown of his portfolio of work, professional history, experience, references and a contact form to connect.
Will you be trying State of Wonder? Let me know why/why not in the comments below.
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.
Kevin, The Guardian and Scream; within merely a week from April the 10th, 20 year old South African Brandon Crampton piqued quite the interest in artistic circles both within and outside the Community by way of three, three dimensional extra-terrestrial character models that were put on display in commencement of his tenure as a multi-faceted, freelancing Video Game 2D and 3D artist herein.
These three models, each crafted as a means of practice and venting artistic angst, come supplemented with detailed overviews of their creative processes that serve to but touch upon the thought and work methods that outlines the majority of Crampton’s work.
A wide area of work that is, given six years of experience in 3D modelling, two years in Digital Art, a year of playing Junior Artist at Lighthouse Games and a proprietorship of an independent gaming studio to his name.
All of this of course, is put to use by him in offering services in Pixel Art, Vector Art, 3D Modelling & Animation, UI/HUD Design, Logo Art, Conceptual Art, Banner Art and a whole lot more to Game Developers and other Gaming creators on and via the Higher Eclectic Community.
He’s currently doing so by means of the service of Fiverr for rates as low as $5-$10, which then fluctuate depending on the complexity and demands of the task at hand, slowly working his way up the skill and experience ladder in the hope of eventually toiling for a AAA Video Game studio.
‘All the art I do now is for practising new techniques and portfolio pieces that I would like to one day use to apply for a job at one of the bigger gaming companies; I do after all, plan on doing digital art and 3D models for the rest of my life’, read one of his earlier correspondences with us.
I remember quite a few drawings being torn up in class when I should have been focusing on work!
A dream not too far from his reach it might appear, given the vibrant assortment that is visible on his Instagram profile amid his sizeable following of independent game developers therein. As is with a lot of talent of his calibre, Crampton’s fondest childhood memories centre themselves around art.
‘I remember quite a few drawings being torn up in class when I should have been focusing on work! But nonetheless, most of the time I remember classmates asking me to draw things for them all the time during my junior years in school — I absolutely loved it’, he recalls, stating the reasons behind this fascination of his being a yearning for attention and a chance to prove himself to others.
With his transition to senior school came a more serious understanding and appreciation for the art he practised, realising that its magic lay in but leaving his created works to talk for themselves. ‘I remember stepping into Grade Nine, where I was doing a painting as part of a school project — my teacher loved it so much that he took it all around to show it off to the rest of the Seniors. It’s always good to have someone love your work as much as you do and till date, it remains ones of my proudest moments as an artist.’
Traditional painting and sketching aside, another one of Crampton’s laurels lay in being one of only three students in his division that practised 3D Art; a practice that stemmed out of hours spent in the school’s Computer Room. Besotted by his friend’s drawing and playing around with shapes on Blender 3D one day, Crampton began playing around with those of his own — putting into a motion an obsession that would have him learn all he could about the software, create his his own character models and eventually detail them with the intricacy visible today after his introduction to ZBrush.
For me it was an amazing experience; I got to learn some of the tools of the trade, the pipeline workflow and its just really awesome being able to work on something with talented people that love the same things as you.
‘I think what really drew me into 3D Modelling was my love for games at that time — Ratchet and Clank was my favourite, by the way’, explains Crampton. ‘I absolutely loved the idea of bring able to sit down, create awesome characters that people could play as all over the world; It’s what draws me to game design — the variety scale in terms of how far one can push designs and concepts as opposed to movies.’
This innate appreciation for the artistic design of Games finally manifested itself into his tenure as Junior Artist at South Africa based, Lighthouse Games Studio in 2014 — where he spent a few months developing character, environmental and other game asset concepts for their 2015 release Shark Deathmatch 2. ‘For me it was an amazing experience; I got to learn some of the tools of the trade, the pipeline workflow and its just really awesome being able to work on something with talented people that love the same things as you.’
Interestingly, the shift of his two dimensional art to a digital platform came around about the same time — when the purchase of a Wacom tablet coaxed the artist to cast a more serious look towards digital painting –which he continued to build on using Feng Zhu School of Design’s YouTube tutorials. While naturally the style of a large amount of his digital artwork resonates with Zhu’s own, Crampton maintains that the biggest inspiration in both his 2D and 3D artistic career remains to be his grandfather.
I’m very thankful my grandfather was with me when I was growing up.
‘He helped me develop my painting skills and the ability to look at objects and interpret them properly in my paintings. I used to go down to his house and we’d spend the day painting and truly, it was then that my work started to improve and become a lot more professional looking. I’m very thankful he was with me when I was growing up.’
Capitalising on his experience with 3D modelling and a new found interest in the digital medium of 2D art then, Crampton finally went on to release up to four free-to-play Android games under the Box Panda Games banner in the same year.
While this was done as an attempt to personally contribute towards the near non-existent Gaming Industry in South Africa, the artist’s hopes of the brand growing into a larger company remain bleak. There just aren’t many interested in this sort of thing, as he admits.
Nevertheless, what keeps him path of artistic enlightenment is the continued interest in his services as a freelancing Video Games artist from the world over — services that were put forth only by last year when his work reached an acceptable level of personal satisfaction, and services that Higher Eclectic Ground is now making accessible to Game Developers, YouTubers and other gaming creators within its network.
Over the next few months you’ll probably see a wide variety of characters of mine
‘At the moment I’ve been focusing a lot on my 3D work really, trying to perfect that and improve as much as I can, building up a decent portfolio for hopefully Game studios to see,’ speaks Crampton of his immediate future on the Community.
‘But over the next few months you’ll probably see a wide variety of characters of mine, as I am trying different methods and styles, improving my texture work, character hair and the like — so ill probably be doing a lot of testing and messing around there.
In terms of my 2D work, I’ll be looking to keep creating vast environments as I have been documenting on Instagram. I’d like to get better at that as well particularly because it makes for wonderful backgrounds for my 3D work. So really just lots of practising and working on areas of my work that I am not yet happy with.’
Whether you’ll be looking for a 2D/3D artist of substantial talent and reasonable fees, or are a fellow artist looking to trade notes and work together with one of Crampton’s calibre, the artist will now be reachable via his Higher Eclectic Space where all of his ongoing and forthcoming independent art work will continue to be documented.