Roughly two years after first announcing the project, indie studio Ink Stains Games is set to release the turn-based role-playing game Stoneshard in Steam Early Access next month.
Last week, the developers released a new batch of screenshots and confirmed the February 6 Early Access date. The Kickstarter-funded project looked interesting to me, so I invited the team for a Q&A to learn more about their game. The responses are from Andrey Tsypaiev (Game Designer) and Anton Grischenko (Programmer) over at Ink Stains Games.
What can we expect in terms of gameplay?
Stoneshard is a challenging turn-based RPG, featuring an unrestricted character development and a complex injury treatment system. Players who are well-acquainted with the traditional roguelike games will certainly find similarities between a classic dungeon crawler and Stoneshard. However, our game puts a larger emphasis on strategy and resource management. The game is set in a world rich with lore, which helps players immerse themselves in this setting while they explore the dangerous lands of Stoneshard.
Where did the idea come from? What are some of your inspirations?
Our initial idea was to put a new twist on roguelikes by combining the deep gameplay the genre is known for with high-quality pixel art and well-thought-out UX. The final vision for the game was developed throughout the course of Stoneshard‘s development. We’ve explored a lot of concepts and, in the end, decided to cut out everything that didn’t gel with our initial vision. Gradually, the game became more and more complex. By trial and error we finalized the core gameplay, although some of the features had to be excluded. In the end, Stoneshard had become something akin to a simulator of a lone mercenary in an open medieval world.
We were inspired by a lot of different games: classic roguelikes like ADOM and Caves of Qud, big RPGs like Gothic, Diablo, The Witcher and Kingdom Come: Deliverance, indies including Darkest Dungeon, Battle Brothers, and many more. While exploring sources for inspiration, we’ve mostly stuck with the history of the European Middle Ages.
This project was funded through Kickstarter. What was that process like? Would you do it again?
When it comes to crowdfunding, Stoneshard was our second campaign. Before that, it was for 12 is Better Than 6, our previous title. So when we started preparing for Stoneshard, we had some understanding of how to approach the campaign and did things a little differently, and that helped us to gather over 300% of our initial goal.
Kickstarter is a great tool in terms of gathering a very active and supportive community, and we’ve made sure to keep our followers and backers updated on the goings-on with Stoneshard. So, to sum up, we’d probably do it again, even though it’s very troublesome and requires a lot of work.
Can you tell us more about Stoneshard‘s story and the world of Aldor?
Aldor is one of the kingdoms in the universe of Stoneshard. Not long before the game’s events, Aldor went through several years of a devastating civil war, in which none of the three participating sides were able to prevail. A shaky truce was concluded between them. However, the threat of bloodshed still permeates the air.
We want to convey the feeling of traveling through the country at a crossroads. No one knows how long peace will last and when a new round of conflict will take place. The player will travel the world, constantly encountering scars of wartime: battlefields, ashes of burned villages, execution sites, and mass graves.
At the same time, all of the politics are more of a background for the main campaign, in which an old relic-seeker named Varren seeks help from the player character. All to fulfill his last, the most difficult and mysterious contract.
The game is set to enter Steam Early Access next month. Do you have an idea of when it might be available as a full release?
We have a lot planned for Stoneshard, so it’s hard to estimate when it’ll be released. Our best guess for now is 2021, but we’ll see how Steam Early Access goes. We plan to listen to our players’ feedback very carefully, and it may result in some changes to our development roadmap.
I’m curious to hear more about your background. How many games have you and your team worked on?
We’ve worked on one game as a team: 12 is Better Than 6. It’s an action-packed top-down shooter with stealth elements, presented in a Wild West theme. The whole game looks like it’s drawn with a pen, kind of resembling doodles you make in a notebook when you’re bored in class. It’s a much smaller game than Stoneshard, but it helped us to get a lot of experience on which obstacles we may face while developing games.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Good luck with the Early Access release!
Thank you for having us! We’ll make sure to deliver the best experience possible to the players.