Chatting with EARTHLOCK 2’s developers, Snowcastle Games

by MaddOx
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Hello FULLSYNC readers! We had the opportunity to ask the talented team at Snowcastle Games to discuss their much-anticipated title, EARTHLOCK 2. It took us a while to get this up because of house moves and other hurdles life throws in our way, but we hope you enjoy this one.

Since its initial development phase, EARTHLOCK 2 has undergone significant changes, evolving into a dynamic and engaging RPG that promises to captivate both new and returning players. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of EARTHLOCK 2, from its unique features and intricate game mechanics to the lessons learned along the way.

EARTHLOCK 2 has undergone a reworked vision since its initial development phase. Could you share what prompted these changes and how they have shaped the current direction of the game?

We first started developing EARTHLOCK 2 back in 2019 and we had a very specific vision for it, but making games is not a straight line. The development was not going in the direction we wanted and we had to make a difficult decision: To stop the production of EARTHLOCK 2 for a while and instead begin to work on a new game called Ikonei Island, a smaller project compared to EARTHLOCK 2. This gave us enough time to rework the core vision for EARTHLOCK 2 and also to learn from the launch of Ikonei Island.

The Desert Ships in EARTHLOCK 2 are a fascinating addition. Can you elaborate on how players can customise these ships and their significance in the game?

Think of the desert ship as the player’s mobile base – and a weapon. The players will start with a small ship that can be upgraded and customised until a bigger ship is bought. Different ships will have different specialties like combat, cargo transport, general purpose, resource gathering (mining), monster hunting, and more. The ships are vital for combat and for the player’s survival in the unforgiving desert.

EVERLOCK 2 Early mobile base concepts
Early mobile base concept

The game features a dynamic ecosystem and biome manipulation mechanics. How do these elements affect gameplay and player strategy?

We augmented Unreal’s Landscape system by making it dynamic and we developed a full ecosystem simulator. The biomes will change over time and will answer to what the player does. The game world starts as a blank canvas, a desert, and the player can change it over time. Add to that NPC creatures with wants and needs that react to each other and the environment, and you have a World of Chaos where anything can happen.

Every biome is different. That means the player will encounter different fruits, critters, and other life forms. Each Biome has distinct Levels and Biodiversity Requirements, allowing them to transform into more vibrant or dangerous versions. However, tending to a Biome is not an easy task. If the player gets too greedy and takes too much from the biome, they might kill it.

How does the game world in EARTHLOCK 2 evolve over time? How do player actions impact this progression?

The world starts as a huge open desert, but over time, islands of green will pop up where the player has done what is needed. These islands can grow and become quite big with rich old forests of various climates. These old forests will be the best source of the game’s most valuable resources.

EVERLOCK 2 WIP Umbra World Map
WIP Umbra World Map

Can you give us a glimpse into the story and the characters players will encounter in EARTHLOCK 2?

Within the Desert of Kor, the player will encounter different factions that have made this harsh environment their home, each with their own agenda.

There are the adventurous Scallys for example, who instead of having one leader operate in smaller groups of outcasts, each having their chief. Despite that, they all share their wish for absolute freedom and a passion for picking apart existing structures and tech to make it their own. If it isn’t chained to the ground, the Scallys will come to take it, no matter who it belongs to. This mix-match of miscellaneous characters and equipment makes them an unpredictable and formidable if disorganised threat.

But change looms, as some are making plans to unite all the Scallys under one flag – making them a true force to be reckoned with, and someone the other factions should look out for …

And this is only one of the Factions the players will meet – All wanting to shape the desert towards their own goals.

What have been some key learnings or surprises for Snowcastle Games during the development of EARTHLOCK 2 since 2019?

Creating games is a challenging task, and the complexity increases manifold when it comes to developing an open-world, multiplayer game. Our journey began in 2019, as we expanded our studio and started prototyping various systems for the game. However, our initial vision for the game veered off course, and by 2021, it was evident that we needed to revisit our plans. Consequently, we put the project on hold and shifted our focus to Ikonei Island, a comparatively smaller game.

During this period, we returned to the pre-production stage for Earthlock 2. Despite the financial implications, this step proved beneficial for the project. We now have a more robust design and a clearer vision for Earthlock 2. This experience underscored the importance of allocating sufficient time for pre-production.

EARTHLOCK 2 Game Screenshot

How do you plan to engage with and incorporate feedback from the community as you continue developing EARTHLOCK 2?

Our community has always been vocal about what they want and how they want it, and we take it seriously. For example, we’re renaming the Desert Ships and we wanted the community to be a part of that name choice, so we made a poll on Discord and asked them to vote.

The results are not ready yet but we now have an idea of what they expect. Asking your players about what they want and how they want is one of the keys to understanding how to shape some of your game’s features. We can’t promise that we will implement everything that the community wants, but we try our best to do so. We’re building games for them, after all.

Are there any future expansions or additional content planned post-release for EARTHLOCK 2?

We do have plans to develop EARTHLOCK 3, but it’s a long long way. Making games takes time, and we’re just starting to develop EARTHLOCK 2 again.

Turning this question upside down. Can we release something on the way towards the launch of E2 given that it’s such a big game?

If you could bring any character or element from another game or universe into EARTHLOCK 2, who or what would it be and why?

I’d like to incorporate a sandworm from Dune into our game’s intro video. Picture a massive beetle rumbling across the sand dunes, only to be swallowed by a sandworm bursting from beneath the surface. The camera then pulls back to reveal two fingers, pinching the sandworm as if it were an earthworm. As the camera continues to zoom out, a child is seen hooking the worm onto a fishing line, revealing the sandworm’s true size to be that of an earthworm, and casts it into an oasis lake.

It’s clear that Snowcastle Games has put immense thought and effort into shaping EARTHLOCK 2 into a unique and engaging experience. From dynamic ecosystems and customisable Desert Ships to an evolving game world and rich storytelling, EARTHLOCK 2 promises to deliver an adventure like no other. We’d like to thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer our questions, and can’t wait to see how this journey unfolds and look forward to what the future holds for this exciting RPG.

EARTHLOCK 2 trailer

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