An aspiring all-in-one collection of the Steam News, Youtube, and Kickstarter posts for the curious Traveller to dive into various snippets of the mechanics, aspects, inspirations, and developmental process of the game.
Introduction to Book of Travels
“Might and Delight’s peaceful online adventure could change the way we think of multiplayer experiences.”
Become part of a unique social roleplaying experience that doesn’t hold your hand. Inspired – [steampowered.com] by genre classics, this is an online adventure that sets you adrift in an intricate fairytale world designed to inspire exploration – [steampowered.com] … but it’s also an invitation to roleplay without the restraints of linear quests & plotlines. Feel at liberty to travel the wilds or vivid cities of the Braided Shore peninsula. Wander deep into the layers of this hand-drawn – [steampowered.com] world, stumble upon its hidden places or unravel one of its many mysteries. There is no overarching goal, no real beginning or end, & ultimately you are in charge of shaping your own journey – [steampowered.com] . It’s a land of elusive creatures, lush natural beauty & pastoral calm… but one that has known troubles, & where shadows play their part.
Right from the start, our ambition was to take the conventional elements of traditional RPGs and use them to make something new – specifically, a world where players can enjoy calm exploration, discovery, & quietly forged companionships. We knew that we wanted to offer the sensation of being a wanderer in a wild, luscious, unexplored world, where you can form friendships & overcome obstacles – alone or together.
We’re pleased with what we have made so far: an online RPG that focuses more on roleplaying & personality traits than on stats or numbers. There are no linear quest lines built into the game, instead we wanted Book of Travels to be a truly living world, one where you’ll stumble across events & characters unexpectedly. It’s up to you to follow the leads you gather & piece together the stories of Braided Shore.
In making our previous games we found that there’s an appetite for games that allow players to delve deep into a world & to slowly thread together events, moments, & emotions into something that’s all their own. With Book of Travels we’re bringing the same interpretive, creative style of play to a much bigger world.
When emotion plays a part
Your interactions & choices will have effects that you might not expect in traditional RPGs. Acting with curiosity & thoughtfulness will evolve your character in the same way as performing tasks or undertaking endeavours. Events that are usually trivialized in RPGs are instead made into strong emotional moments. Witnessing a death, for example, will weigh more heavily on your character for each day that passes, but by visiting the deceased’s resting place, your grief will be transformed into a new energy – one that will remove that weight & strengthen you instead.
Wordless communication for richer roleplay
When it comes to in-game communication, we’ve found that playing with a limited range of expression makes for more involving interaction between players – that’s why there’s no text chat in the game. You’ll communicate with other players using a unique set of emotes and symbols which are unlocked as you experience new things. This means that you’ll gain symbols to express ‘boat’ and ‘market’ once you’ve encountered them. We’ve used this bold kind of game design before – [steampowered.com] , and we fell in love with how wordless communication boosted players’ creativity as they found ways to say a lot with very little. This made for a more immersive kind of roleplay and also had a very positive effect on the culture amongst our community.
TMORPG – Tiny Multiplayer Online
Book of Travels also differs from traditional MMOs because of its multiplayer design. Instead, we’re calling it a Tiny Multiplayer Online. That’s because there really won’t be anything ‘massive’ about the multiplayer aspect of the game. Instead we’re building a game experience where there will just be a few people on each server, and when you cross paths, we want it to be a memorable moment. Should you choose to wander alone you won’t be missing out on any of the world’s wonder and enchantment. But if you do want to form a band of Travellers, the scarcity of other folk will make your companionships special and your group’s bond that much deeper.
Collaborate to delve deeper
Book of Travels is meant to be played in many different ways. It’s a game perfect for players who want to adventure alone, because there are no typical linear quest lines, and there’s so much to experience through free exploration. But the game is also tailored to be exciting when travelling with a band of new found friends. There are events in the game that we call Endeavours. These are things that players in groups can interact with, and they can trigger a variety of outcomes. Endeavours come in four categories; Mystical, Physical, Social & Mechanical. A group might find a machine that requires them to collaborate to activate it. They might come across a boat to reach a far away island. They might simply encounter a social situation that demands more than one player. This design is a key part of our intention to create a multiplayer culture based on roleplaying, social interaction and collaboration rather than PVP.
You never know what lies ahead
As you play you’ll encounter countless randomly occurring events. These can be anything from townsfolk that pass you by, a flock of deer, a travelling merchant or an event that tells a story. Some events will inspire you to seek out particular places or follow leads, others will need immediate action and decision-making from you and your group. Events have certain conditions, such as ‘can only appear during night’ or ‘only occurs in x location when raining’. This complex “procedural” design is what makes the game truly unique: it will present something different each time you play, giving every player a different story to share. Beneath this structure lie multiple large and small plotlines for you to uncover and by sharing your findings (on the game’s Discord – [discord.com] server, for example) you can start to peel back the layers of an immensely deep world of stories and secrets. We’ve worked on this part of the game more than any other – making the world ever-changing, and giving it a life of its own.
|From this Guide organiser: This Steam Guide conglomerates many of the Kickstarter, Steam, Youtube, Discord, and various other dialogue and resources between developer & community. It is in no ways complete, and some information may be outdated, or altered during the evolution of Early Access, but I have gathered it all here so you, the aspiring & curious adventurer, can dig your hands dirty ‘n’ raw in all that this lovingly-made, marvelous masterpiece of art, word, silence, and mystery has to offer.|
“Tiny” Multiplayer Online
What is a TMORPG?: Making player meetings special
We’ve used the term TMORPG ever since Book of Travels was announced back in September 2019, and if you’ve ever wondered why, we’re here to explain… The T in TMO signals an alternative to the more common industry standard MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) putting ‘tiny’ in the place of ‘massive’. Essentially, it means that players per server are limited and meetings between players will be uncommon.
If you’ve seen our Kickstarter campaign video the abbreviation may sound familiar, and we’ve been really pleased to notice that for some, it’s one of the game’s biggest attractions – [rockpapershotgun.com] . While it’s not exactly a genre, we think it works pretty well to describe a game where the amount of online players is capped. The result is that meeting other players is not commonplace and therefore, something a bit special.
It all began with Meadow
Might and Delight’s first networked game, Meadow – [steampowered.com] , was something of an experiment, bringing the style and ambience of the Shelter – [steampowered.com] series to an open game world where small groups of players can bound around together in animal guise, unlocking magic obelisks and communicating with emotes. The response we had from players was incredibly positive – they loved the magic of sharing wordless adventures together. Four plus years on, we’re proud to say that the Meadow forum and Discord channel is filled with stories of special moments of meeting and connection.
Find the Few
Feedback on the emotional impact of these connections took us by surprise, and we soon knew that the TMO experience was something we wanted to explore further. Players of Journey or Sky will know exactly how moving it can be to chance upon another player, especially in a non-directive, non-linear game world. In Journey, the multiplayer aspect is pushed to the limit of its definition: meetings with ‘companions’ being as few as one per game (and make for a truly sublime emotional beat). In Meadow up to fifty animals share a grove, and in Book of Travels we’ll be using our Early Access period to experiment with player numbers.
The game design challenge
While this isn’t entirely new ground for us, we know it’s going to be a challenge. There are many table top roleplayers in the Book of Travels dev team, and they know just how important player interactions are in bringing adventures to life. So, striking a balance between rich roleplay and sparsity of player meetings is the challenge that we now face! We’ll be counting heavily on your feedback and the help of beta testers to finetune that balance.
A living language with pictures
How emotes will grow players’ worlds
Communicating with emotes is one of our favourite features of Book of Travels, and we believe it’s going to play a key role in freeing you from your everyday self and really allowing you to get fully immersed in your character and the game world. Such a feeling can only really be understood through experience, and we can’t wait to set you free to do just that! Here’s an outline of how emotes will be part of your character’s development, and a little look at the way that you, the new denizens of the land, will shape its future course.
Lose yourself in a new identity
When Meadow – [steampowered.com] was born, we hadn’t quite expected it to work the strange magic that it did. Meadow was our first TMO – [steampowered.com] and players shared powerful feelings about running for hours with a player-badger or unlocking obelisks with a player-fox. It became clear that emotes were part of the magic and that these moments shared with strangers couldn’t exist with in-game player chat. With only symbols to communicate with, players came together with a shared sense of purpose and play, forging meaning through a system of rudimentary signs. If you’ve ever visited a place where you’ve had to speak a new language you’ll probably be able to relate to this! Without our native tongue we’re freed from our familiar identity and can let other parts of our personality come to the fore. In Book of Travels you’ll be able to make detailed characters and then set them adrift to be someone new – free of the language and mindset of your everyday self.
“It’s like how you communicate when you are abroad… You make gestures and try to use your actions more than using words.”
Creating meaning together
Just as in Meadow, meaning will be made as players work together. All practical bases have been provided for by way of a ‘starter’ set of emotes, so you’ll start your game with a range of emotes that will allow you to communicate enough to get by. How you use these with other players is up to your and their creativity. This is one of the ways in which Book of Travels will be a dynamic experience players will bring the language of emotes to life as they combine symbols to share feelings, convey intentions, and communicate knowledge and experience.
Evolving the language for you and for Braided Shore
As you journey through the land your collection of emotes will grow as you unlock the symbols and signs that correspond to the various places you visit and the encounters you have. Your growing collection of emotes will add another dimension to your expressive capabilities and we’re very excited to see how players use additions to build on ways to express themselves.
As your character grows through this language, so too will Braided Shore. Behind the scenes, this is one of many ways in which the team will absorb activity, watching the way that emotes are being used, checking for ways in which they help or hinder your fluency, roleplay experience and gameplay, and developing new emotes accordingly. Evolving this language together is one of the many ways that players will influence the world, and we’re very much in a state of anticipation at how early access will be the start of this long and exciting journey!
Of course many people will want to find spaces and places to talk to one another in text and speech, and that’s something we’ve heard a lot of requests for. We are very keen for you to do just that and we’re looking forward to watching the game world and the community develop side by side here on Steam and also in Discord – [discord.gg]
Have you played any games that have a special way to communicate? What do you think about our emotes design? Perhaps you’ve played Meadow and already have thoughts about it? We’d love to hear from you!
Areas hand-painted and designed for discovery
A look at some of our art techniques
It’s really important that everything you see in the game is carefully handcrafted and painted manually. This takes a team of four 2D artists working full time on the project. Some assets can be painted in a day, others take up to a week for one artist to paint. Below you can see two ancient trees that only appear in one place in the game world. Their names are Kesnan and Kham and they stand tall in one of the areas on the western side of Braided Shore. You can also see a tipping lantern, which can be interacted with via an Endeavour event and has to be created in several parts to be able to animate.
In order to make all the painted assets of the game coherent we’ve created a meticulous 2D pipeline that ensures that the style is consistent and that all things visual are in sync. We use a specific brush for all assets and never stray from it or its size (15px). We also use a tricky hatching technique for the brushwork. It gives the art more of a textured feel and adds detail and variation to each piece. Besides that, we have also adapted a rather unusual way to underlight the objects, using brighter values low and darker ones high. This was inspired by A.J Casson whose unique style is one of our major influences. The underlight helps to create an unpredictable and odd impression that we really love.
Once finished, our game designers can start drafting and implementing events that take place at or near these unique props.
How each map level is molded to inspire exploration and depth of play
As you may know, the Book of Travels experience is one of immersion and discovery, so it makes sense that in this game, level design is as much the work of the art team as Narrative Designers. Here we’re sharing a little bit about our approach to designing levels and the intended play experience we hope to create.
Do you see just a passing place, or perhaps a site of hidden loot?
Working to a fairly wide brief, artists design spaces where players will discover items, lore, or story fragments while taking a rest or cooking up some roots. This means they must take into account both aesthetics and gameplay, so crafting a location that is as intriguing as it is beautifulis just one part of their work.
Where set design and gameplay come together
Of course levels in the game vary greatly in size and scope; some, such as cities and towns are bigger and more interactive, while others, like the one above, may appear to function as a passage or an interlude. But this being Book of Travels, the best things can happen off the beaten track, and all levels are designed to enrich your journey, often in unexpected ways…
Even from the safety of the road-side, I was tempted to instantly wade my way to those ruins…
Creating curiosity in different spaces
Working with narrative components as well as items and NPCs, our Level Designer’s task is to ensure that there’s not only a good degree of activity and discovery in all areas of the world, but that the experience of exploring them is rich and rewarding. In areas where the player’s field of vision is limited such as the one above, that means revealing small parts of hidden things – they might be spirits, bandits, buildings or beasts – to prompt further investigation. In areas where land is open and a long field of vision is available, levels must work to suggest possible pathways, challenges and rewards.
Multiple mysteries, obstacles, pathways and discoveries are hinted at from afar…
Levels that feel like a painted world
A large part of this work involves decorating the world with hand painted – [steampowered.com] props made by the 2D art team. These props work to reinforce the feeling of walking around in a painting. Since we don’t have full control over where players will go, the goal is to make every place one where a beautiful view can be enjoyed.
A village will likely have more NPCs to meet, but isn’t necessarily where the most interesting things happen, and a quiet pathway might not be as empty as it looks…
But it’s not all about the woods and wilds – following the main road will eventually lead you to one of Braided Shore’s more populated areas where you can find buildings to rest in, goods to trade with, and hear a tale or two.
Making a journey at night can be beautiful, magical, dangerous or simply peaceful.
Balancing design with open play
We’ve often said that Book of Travels doesn’t set your direction for you – you’ll be free to go where you wish, unbound by linear narrative or pre-planned player paths. However, levels are designed to offer suggestions to where you could go next. A fork in the road, a structure looming in the distance or dialogue with a passerby are among the many things that might alter or inspire your path.
The goal of designing to reward exploration is to have the player find something wherever they decide to go, be it an item – [steampowered.com] , a lurking spirit – [steampowered.com] or just a silent clearing to play an instrument or sit and take stock… Butto find what secrets hide in this world you’ll need to take risks and steer away from the roads – we think that you’ll be enticed by the levels that await you!
We hope this gives you a little more sense of how it will feel to roam free in Braided Shore. Please drop your thoughts in the comments right here, and tell us what kind of exploratory games you’ve enjoyed most for Olle, our Level Designer, to take a gander at!
Inspirations for Book of Travels (p.1)
We’ve been deeply gratified and inspired by reading your responses and suggestions towards books, art and other media – [steamcommunity.com] that you feel share similarities with the square-peg project that is our TMORPG – [steampowered.com] . With that in mind we dedicated this post to a deeper investigation of key inspirations behind Book of Travels, and we hope you feel inspired to share your own inspirations with us too!
The Library of Babel by Érik Desmazières
Circularity and uncertainty from literary magic realists
Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges is famous for fiction that undermines all notions of reality. One of his best known works is The Library of Babel – [wikipedia.org] , whose (almost) infinite stacks of randomised texts prompted the production team to begin designing a game world that has players get lost on an (almost) infinite quest of their own design. In Borges’ story characters respond to the uninterpretable texts in many ways – as cultists, cabalists, or simply on a searching for meaning and truth. The exploratory decentred experience that is Book of Travels owes a lot to Borges’ library and Ficciones. Other stories such as 1001 Nights and Judith Schalansky’s Pocket Atlas of Remote Island – [theislandreview.com] s have also inspired the dreamy reality and magical everyday of Braided Shore.
Tove Jansson’s Hattifatteners haunt Moominmamma
Light and darkness from Tove Jansson
All Moomin – [youtube.com] fans are familiar with how the light-hearted domesticity of Moomin life is made brighter by lurking darkness. A Groke, hattifatteners – [moomin.com] and the Lady of the Cold all loom in from the periphery to quietly nudge you out of your existential comfort zone. No matter the infinite beauty of the new day’s sun there’s always something unnerving in the offing. If Book of Travels gets anywhere close to conjuring this kind of uncanny we would be thrilled indeed.
Standing in the rain with Totoro
Peace and solitude from Studio Ghibli
Hayao Miyazaki’s work is much loved in the studio, and the stillness and silence in films like Spirited Away, Ponyo, and Totoro is something we love a lot. These daring minutes of peace aren’t validated by any narrative task, they’re simply part of a meandering journey, allowing us to get lost in something or nothing in particular. We’ve often written about getting lost in Book of Travels and about how tranquil it is, the effect of Ghibli’s ‘ma’ – [medium.com] is something we dream of achieving in game form.
Inspirations for Book of Travels (p.2)
David Lupton’s Ged from Ursula le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea
Ambiguity from Earthsea
Everything mundane and ethereal in Book of Travels emerges from a grey zone somewhere between good and evil, and the game’s design and scattered narratives quite consciously evade that classical binary. So while we’re clearly very inspired by fantasy RPGs, the spirit of the game’s design owes a lot to fantasy classic A Wizard of Earthsea – [theguardian.com] , in which Ged learns about the balance of the cosmos and fights inner turmoil rather than outer forces of darkness.
Layers of mystery from Baldur’s Gate
Open world gaming from Baldur’s Gate
If there is one game we never tire of paying tribute to it’s Baldur’s Gate – [steampowered.com] . This was the original it-doesn’t-hold-your-hand RPG and many of the team have spent uncountable hours playing it, both since production began but also way before the Book of Travels seed was even planted. The sense of just wandering the lands freely, just enjoying nature and the adventure is still an unparalleled experience in the RPG genre. Interestingly BG1 was created by medical doctors and not seasoned game devs – they wanted to make a game with a much more open style of play. In terms of game design, this is the team’s number one inspiration and we’ll be over the moon if we can even slightly live up to its achievements! Other games that we looked at are Journey, ICO and RPGS like Knights of the Old Republic.
A still from Jiri Trkna’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Character design and a diorama aesthetic from Czech animators
Czech animation has something of a cult following, but it’s Jiri Trnka – [imdb.com] in particular whose illustrations and puppets are an all time favourite of Art Director Jakob Tuchten. Trkna’s almond-eyed, graceful-limbed creatures are dressed in the deeply-hued cloaks of medieval style fairytales, an aesthetic that blends easily with feudal Japanese and Middle Eastern dress. Trkna’s animation also inspired Book of Travel’s diorama feel. This mix of 2D and 3D was a big technical challenge but, we hope, now evokes a Trkna-esque atmosphere, suggesting fictions consciously staged in a world that’s deeply immersive.
The Blue Heron by AJ Casson
Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of Death
A light and dark aesthetic from many fine art masters
While ambiguity is a source of dramatic tension in Braided Shore, visually, dark and light are very polarised. For the painting style, inspiration finally came from AJ Casson whose picture above became the cornerstone of the game’s visual style. Casson’s lines are fluid, vivid and detailed, and echo expressionists (such as Munch and Van Gough) in invoking the motion of wind. Wind is a very important phenomena in Braided Shore, so this aesthetic also works to hint at its continuing presence and magical influence. Away from the woods, dense looking rocks and flat reflecting water are borrowed from Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of Death series to create a bleak feel. The art team also looked to the Orientalists whose figurative art documented everyday life in Middle Eastern cities. From them comes the hustle and bustle of our biggest city, Kasa.
The Reception of Ambassadors in Damascus, by an unknown Venetian artist
Waterhouse’s Love for Circe
Those unexpected human things
Of course there are tons of other influences that go into the Book of Travels cooking pot to stew, some of which are those unplanned, organic and human things. There’s a phenomena in the theory of visual art whereby artists cannot resist the temptation to fill all available space with detail. It’s known as Horror Vacui, and unsurprisingly that’s exactly how the game ended up looking how it now does. For that we have Lead Artist Marcus to thank! A studio copy of Madelaine Miller’s Circe now creaking with use like it has a spirit in its spine has also bled into our approach to spells and magic.
We hope that this very brief dive into our various influences has inspired you to discover something new and fun. For sure, our journey of discovery is never over, and we’d love to hear all your suggestions for cultural rabbit holes that we can lose ourselves in!
Music for travelling the road or the unknown
How does it feel to travel the road? What is it like to take a turning from the beaten path? Well-worn tracks bear the shape of familiar behaviours, but making new tracks brings us to the present moment, releasing new energy for fresh adventures… Such choices in these times are, for many of us, flights of fantasy, and today we hope to keep those flights aloft with the help of some music from Book of Travels.
Different moods for different journeys
The title ‘Book of Travels’ stuck because it so clearly places journeying as the heart of the game, and so it’s vital that these journeys are rich in mood and ambience, and here music plays a huge part, creating not just mood but depth and variety. Lead Sound Designer Josef Tuule explains: “These two pieces are meant to be companions for different kinds of areas in the game. ‘The Elden Road’ offers the comfy vibe of walking a path that others have walked many times before. By contrast, ‘The Weaving Wilds’ describes the kind of terrain we think of as an off-shoot – where culture and tonality may differ from your normal path. The player should feel they have progressed into a new area, hence the expression is more vivid.”
Instruments from the East recorded live
Music in Book of Travels has many different roles to play in the game, as well as being present as a traditional game score, it will be performed by the inhabitants of Braided Shore themselves. All scored pieces are composed and produced by Josef Tuulse and Retro Family, who comprise Ulf Wahlgren, Jokke Pettersson and Alfred Andersson. The band has a long relationship with the studio and is responsible for the unique sound of the Shelter Games – [steamcommunity.com] series. Ulf Wahlgren attributes much of that style to the band’s method of recording live performance:“We play all of the music and instruments live, nothing is programmed or fixed, and that makes the music come alive within the game.”
Retro Family play instruments from around the world, and for this soundtrack combine the oud, flute, darbuka, saz and bass with hand percussion.
“The soundtrack takes influences from artists in Egypt, Turkey, Greece,” says Ulf, “A new instrument to us is the oud, an Arabic string instrument, which reminds me of a lute. It has no frets on the neck, so it slides beautifully between notes, and we use a fretless bass to blend with that.”
Just as the game design takes inspiration – [steampowered.com] from many sources, so does the sound design. Ulf and the band look to “classic adventure and RPG games, classical Ottoman music and a wide variety of traditional music from Armenia, Greece, Turkey and Iran to name a few.” As with all things Book of Travels, the aim is to take these most excellent ingredients to make something fresh and exciting. As Ulf says, “We want the player to feel that a new world is awaiting them, a world, mayhaps, that they have not experienced before.”
Celebrating music in our games
To hear more of Retro Family’s soundtracks and watch them play live, check their Youtube – [youtube.com] channel. You can also follow their Instagram – [instagram.com] where they post pics and the occasional musical video clips.
What music do you like to travel to?? What other games have you enjoyed journeying to the relaxing or exciting music to in?
We’re super excited to share details of our plans for Early Access development with this journey map – a quick scroll will give an idea of just how much we have ahead of us!
As we travel, we’ll be using this list to track our progress – right here in this post – so come back – [steampowered.com] from time to time and see what new features are on the horizon…
Bigger, deeper and more mysterious…
Our Early Access journey can be mapped across five areas, each of which comes with a combination of exciting new content, regions, areas and Forms – some of which are the fruits of our magical Kickstarter campaign – [kickstarter.com] . As Braided Shore grows, more Endeavours and dangers will expand across the land, giving even the most seasoned Travellers more to explore.
This map shows the area that’s currently yours to explore and just like the list above, it will be updated right here as we go.
HD version can be found here – [steamstatic.com]
Explore, meet and collaborate
We hope you like what you find and we ask you to step into this brand new world in a spirit of kindness, commitment and collaboration… Explore its corners knowing that it will only grow bigger – discover its secrets knowing they will only go deeper.
Together we are the founders of a new land. We will be few and we will be many – join us there and share your adventures here on Steam or Discord. – [discord.gg]
We cannot wait to travel with you!
Creating a Character
No doubt, character creation is a huge part of the soul and spirit of Book of Travels and we hope you’ll love getting deep into your character before starting your adventure. So today we’re sharing a little bit of insight into the thinking behind those character creation fields. We also have a peek at the artwork and info on a few of the game’s 15+ “Forms.”
The Wheel of Personality, Jung and Chinese Theatre
The character creation process in Book of Travels allows for very detailed and creative player input, which we think will enable rich and characterful roleplay.
Every character begins its life as one of a selection of Forms, each of which has been inspired by a combination of archetypes. In creating these, our research took in personality theory from many disciplines including Comedia dell’arte, Chinese Theatre and Jung’s personality types. All have been sources of inspiration rather than templates, and our main intention has been to build a framework that allows players to create complex, nuanced personalities.
Just like Classes in traditional RPGs, each Form comes with different gameplay orientation and skill affinity, but in Book of Travels, Forms are designed to help players create an individual playstyle and enjoy a high degree of personal expression in their roleplay. Further character complexity can be added by choosing background, gender (a freeform field), personality traits (that can give various passive buffs or debuffs), skills – [steampowered.com] , talents and appearance, which will together make for a unique character and a unique play experience.
There are over 15 Forms to choose from with more to unlock as you solve narrative chains and engage in gameplay events, and more as the Chapters of Book of Travels go along.
Every person has a connection to one of the four great winds. Affinity makes the skills of that wind cost less skill points to learn.
Southern Wind skills are orientated towards physicality, interactions and trade.
Western Wind skills are often focused towards creativity, illusions, and strong magics.
Northern Wind skills are cerebral and orientated towards science, protection and group aiding spells.
Eastern Wind skills are naturalistic, spiritual and often include animal skills and survival tricks.
Here are four Forms to get to know right now:
The Mirther and Dimmed
The Mirther is creative and embodies honesty and youth. They echo rural Romantic archetypes such as shepherds, wandering musicians and artists. They are a daydreamer and find much mirth in or out of company. By contrast The Dimmed is an older, wiser type whose light shines less brightly. Their stoic attitude in company does not temper their thirst for exploration, especially when the quest is enlightenment.
The Moss Walker and Weatherer
The Mosswalker has feet that are deep in the earth and finds magic in all things mundane. They live a relatively ordinary life but their values are wide and true, making them something of an unconventional, Bohemian type. Striding and far from domestic, The Weatherer’s spirit isforged by exposure to elements literal and metaphorical. Their unequivocal thinking and broad experience finds them well placed in exploration and adventure.
When you play with a new character you’ll begin in one of many start scenarios that we are creating. These vary a lot in their design and placement in the world. Don’t forget to check your backpack when you start, because there might be clues about how you arrived inside.
Besides being a corner-stone for your roleplaying experience, your wanderer’s personality traits will affect a variety of situations. The pool of options can vary from Form to Form. Positive traits will grant you advantages in certain aspects of your travels and can, with clever use, be used to your advantage. Your negative traits on the other hand may at times hinder you.
Practical: you travel faster on roads than other folk.
Peaceful: you gain more energy than other folk by resting beside a fire.
Romantic: you gain more knowledge in parties of 2.
Passionate: Your ‘can do!’ attitude helps you run faster when you’re in a Party.
Optimistic: you gain even more Knowledge when winning against bad odds.
Bad eyesight: max camera panning distance is less than normal.
Picky eater: You are unable to eat low quality food.
Shy: your emote icons are smaller than others.
Disoriented: you re-spawn further away from where you fainted or fled combat if you are not part of a group.
Regardless if it’s a past you cherish or despise, your background affects who you are and will influence your future. Your wanderer’s age and gender (custom set, you type it in) does not affect gameplay and is included solely for any roleplaying purpose you choose when playing your character.
Islander: You grew up on an island, shore fishing, gathering driftwood and pondering the mysteries of the tides and the endless horizon.
Mountains: You grew up in Mountainous terrain, tending goats, climbing rocks, exploring caves & listening to the silent heartbeat of the mountain.
Naval:A child of a seaborne family, you spent most of your youth on ocean going vessels learning the language of the waves & the weather.
Outlaw:You was raised as a cub in a band of bandits, learning the tricks & skills necessary to live outside of gentle society.
Lost memories:You have little recollection of your past, nor how you lost your memory. Unburdened by any dark memories, still you imagine you know something of what it is to be an uprooted tree.
Mystic:Your child spirit was open to the mysteries. You spent your youth learning to control your mystical gifts.
You start your journey with a handful of items in your pack & some worn equipment. On your travels you can strive to get new & better equipment by exploring, trading & overcoming challenges and enemies. There is no coinage or specific currency in use in the Braided Shore, so mastering the art of trading will be the key to your material wealth.
You cannot carry an infinite amount in your pack. Renting luggage space at a train station is a good way to store things you want to keep but don’t have immediate use for.
You have to roll ingame for starter items. There is no limit on how many times you can roll. Preorder and DLC bonuses will likely appear as “Heirloom” items during this phase.
And of course: a name
Like equipment, names are randomised with a lock-in feature, however they stay true to the game’s 18th Century Turkish, Italian, feudal Eastern, and Middle Eastern touches. If tradition & mysticism has taught us anything, it’s that there is power in a name. Who knows what knowledge you will carry on to your future generations, or how that name will affect the history of the lands…
Skills: Knotspells, Teas, Abilities, Passives
How to acquire skills
Unlike many RPGs, your character won’t learn skills per automation upon levelling up. Instead we have made gathering skills into something a bit more contextual and roleplay like (you’re likely to learn the fishing skill from a fisherman, and a master at a tea house might teach you a magical tea blend). Of course there are numerous ways to acquire skills, such as learning them from NPCs, receiving them as rewards in events, trading for them, or finding them randomly in loot. A skill you write in your skill book must be activated or learned before it can be used. This is done by allocating points in the skills you want to use. Skills vary in how many points are required to learn them, and it’s up to you to balance your array of skills. Will you collect many cheaper, simpler skills, or a few more potent and rare?
Skills all have conditions on when and where they can be used. We’re not very fond of “do whatever you like” type of RPGs and will prohibit players from assembling a fireplace on a wooden deck in a tea house. Besides the conditions of when and where, skills are used differently depending on type. Passives are always active. Abilities can be used freely without cost but work as cooldowns. Knots and teas both use the same fuel: reagents. These are things that you collect in the wild that you then use to craft knots and teas. A combination is often needed to complete a knot or a tea. “Dandelion” plus a “tuft of animal hair” to give one example. In our world the magical practises are somewhat alchemic and reagents are not always gathered from nature. Coagulated engine oil and driftwood dust are amongst the things you can expect to tie into your knots.
Even if the term is common in RPGs we treat passive skills a bit differently in Book of Travels. Obviously they work on the principle of giving permanent bonuses to your character, some are even attributed by your character’s chosen Personality Traits, but many of them can give you unusual and flat out weird bonuses if used correctly. Our idea is that players can use the other categories in conjunction with their passives to create tricky chains of bonuses. An example is drinking a tea that makes you unaffected by the elements, using a knot to call for rain clouds and then having a passive skill that gives you bonuses when standing in rain. With the amount of skills we are prepping, we are quite convinced that you can come up with some pretty awesome combos.
These are skills that don’t work by magical principles. Hiding in bushes, fishing, whistling while you walk, playing instruments, and various tricks and perks will instead improve everything from social skills, world interactions to survival gameplay. Some can be used all the time, others require special conditions or even tools
Knotspells from the Lore Compendium:
The tying of knots is a magical practice in the game world and allows fora variety of wondrous effects and functions. The time it takes to tie a knot depends on its complexity, but after untying it, the effects of knotspells are often direct.
Examples of knotspells, from the Kickstarter first stretch goal ideas by the community:
Firework knotspell: a celebratory knot that sends up a little firework display when untied or maybe spouts confetti (Thank you Ashley Corkill)
Deception knotspell: this will make you able to disguise yourself as anybody else – though it requires you to tie a second knot to whoever you want to imitate (NPCs as well as players). This could be great to use to ambush others, or just confuse them! (Thank you Joseph J. Gericke)
Rapid bloom knotspell: a spell that creates new growth or helps plants grow. It can be used by Travellers to help revitalize land that’s been ravaged by fire damage or left to decay, and will help buds to flower and plants to bear fruit. Travellers may use it to grow a tree or plant to commemorate a journey together (Thank you Annie Chartier and MegaMalboro)
Familiar-summoning knotspell: a knotspell to summon a spirit familiar to you, the spirit familiar might depend on the kind of knot you tie.(Thank you Dennis, Savinien and Kaz Floyd)
And last but not least…
If the knots are the “scrolls” then teas are the “magic potions” of our world. Deeply rooted in the culture of the world, the brewing of tea is a common practice both among ordinary folk and practising mystics. It requires preparation and patience but the results are often rewardingly strong and may last for long periods of time. The only limitation is that just one tea effect can be enjoyed at a time.
Basic Controls and User Interface
One of the most crucial parts of any RPG is the interface: your inventory, your character screen, your skill book. Today we want to share the progress that’s been made and invite you to look, judge and comment on this omnipresent factor: the UI!
The interface is probably one of the more difficult parts to develop in any game, mainly because it comes with so many expectations. Its core purpose is functionality, but it’s also a vital visual component – one that appears on your screen almost the entire time you are playing.
Our idea is to make a somewhat classical interface that leans on many conventional solutions found in other games. But we also want to do it our way, adding flavors from the game’s ethos. One example is that we’re using a lot of icons and symbols instead of text – not everywhere, and not only, but often. Together with inspiration from classical pen and paper roleplay, the style makes for an interesting mix of traditional and new. To get around the annoying inconvenience that symbols can entail, one can always press the question mark to read about a particular UI-screen or use mouse over to write out the name of symbols.
Note: no, you cannot eat the sword
The look itself is inspired by paper and cards. Items and Skills are presented as cards and when creating your character you get to choose between different background cards that tell the story of your character. Being able to bring life to your character through its personality is vital for us, and we have added in many options to write your own custom information besides the choices of traits, origin and other factors that you must choose.
Skills and emotes are two major focal points of the ingame HUD and to always have access to these is very important. Their importance needs to balanced with the often large space of the screen they cover. So we’ve implemented functions that allow you to shrink, expand and hide individual parts of the interface – or hide it all together. Besides skills and expressions, energy and stamina status is visible in the top left corner, along with the “shortcut” buttons at the lower middle. Currently these include:
– Game view
– Character sheet, Stats, Custom info
– Inventory and equipment
– Skillbook and Reagents
– Map, Diary and notebook
– Take screenshot
In the top left of your screen is your Energy (see “Health”) and your Stamina. Your Energy will slowly drain over time as you explore and perform Endeavours or if your character endures specific environmental effects such as wetness and night-time drowsiness. If your Energy runs out, you collapse and lose a Life Petal. If all Petals are exhausted, your character will die. Some Skill cards and Teahouse locations can provide Petal restoration.
Developers have said that the “journey doesn’t end” on death, but what that “spirit form” entails remains to be seen.
The bottom right action bar handles abilities, combat, spells, and more
The bottom left action bar contains emotes and symbols to communicate strings of language together, or express oneself.
To move your character, you need to click on the screen and your character will go to the indicated point. You can also move the pointer around with WASD or with the arrow keys. (Controller support is currently limited)
Left Click will start your character walking to wherever was clicked
Middle Click makes your character vocalise, and makes your child or pet companions return to you
Right Click functions the same as left, but instead of walking you Run, consuming Stamina. Right click on an icon also can desplay more information about the item or ability.
- H makes you take off your headware
- + and – makes you choose the zoomed out or zoomed in view
- Left Ctrl and Left Alt opens and closes the menus on the lower left and right parts of the screen respectively
- Ctrl + F5 Toggles UI size
- Escape Opens the Settings menu
You can close an open window by clicking the ‘X’, pressing escape, or clicking outside of said window.
When your mouse hovers over a lootable object, the object will glow. Click to move to it. An icon will appear to loot the object when close enough.
If you’ve found something, open your inventory to examine the object. Your inventory is the sack icon on the bar in the middle of the screen.
Food with a deep blue background restores a lot of energy, removes hunger, and is expensive. Food with a white or brown background will restore a tiny bit of energy, remove hunger, and is cheap. Light blue is a middleground between the two. You can also use this to gauge Trade worth.
- Hunger – Accelerates Energy loss
- Tired – Accelerates Energy Loss
- You are tired after engaging in combat or completing certain Endeavours
- Sheltered – Active when protected by the elements via nearby constructions
- Can be aided by Create Windcover ability
- Wet – Accelerates Energy loss (?)
- Blessed – can be obtained from praying (Endeavour)
- Recovers Energy over time
- Empty-handed – you are quicker without the burden of weapons
Events and “Endeavours”
Book of Travels balances a lot of contrasting gameplay elements and it’s very much up to the player to pick and choose which parts to engage in. One of the core potential gameplay loops and pillars of the experience that we’re currently working on is a multiplayer cooperative feature we call Endeavours.
Endeavours are special events that require players to help each other and pool their stats or their talents to solve situations (players of Meadow – [steampowered.com] will recognise similarity to obelisks there). The amount of players needed, the context, the goal and the rewards all vary greatly from event to event. Starting out, your character represents one “slot” in any endeavour (see the above screenshot), but as your character develops it might gain the ability to cover two. Some Endeavours can be solved alone, but others will require you to gather a large band of travellers before engaging. Some will reward you with small magical boosts or items, and other rare Endeavours can be the starting point of larger adventures! Endeavours are divided into four categories:
These situations challenge your group with feats that require strength, such as operating a draisine cart, pulling objects out of a well, or clearing heavy rubble to uncover items.
These can be anything from praying by a shrine or singing at a graveyard to interacting with magical beings and invoking visions of the past.
Braided Shore is a land that inherited an ancient industrial infrastructure, some of it is still noticeable in today’s society. Through mechanical endeavours your group can use ancient steam boats and train engines, pick mechanical locks and use various mechanical devices in the world.
Examples of these are a merchant who doesn’t give access to her wares unless a group convinces her to, or a scholar who can give lectures to larger parties earning them valuable skills and knowledge in the process. Social endeavours are about interacting with folk in the world and affecting their response to you depending on your numbers.
Events and NPCs in Book of Travels
Every NPC you encounter in Book of Travels is part of what we call an “Event”, states Andreas Wangler, Senior Game Designer. I can set detailed properties for every event we create. Does the event reveal a small narrative or form a part of a greater story arc, or is it part of a specific level for game play reasons, such as a merchant or a vehicle?
I also fill the world with a lot of smaller events which you might experience as trivial encounters that occur often in the everyday life of Braided shore; A farmer walking the field or a child running down the street. Things that make the world come alive.
We can pull levers and change the values that define where events exist in the game, and also – maybe more importantly – how often they occur and when. Do they always occur at a specific point in the world or are they more random? If we want a happening to be talked about for a long time amongst Travellers in the game we can make an event really spectacular and set it up so that it only occurs during very specific circumstances.
A certain amount of these events will be part of the main story arc that’s buried beneath the world of Braided Shore, while others will combine to form a linked group of events which zoom in on a smaller narrative within the world, for example, the disappearance of a farmer’s family on the outskirts of Kasa. The events system also allows us to determine whether there needs to be a group of Travellers at a certain place in the world for an event to exist and be fulfilled, as is the case for our Endeavours.
I can also decide what the event should contain in terms of characters, beings, props, vehicles or specific things important for a certain goal to be reached. For example, maybe a group of sheep are running in panic due to a farmhouse fire while the farmer is outside crying for help while you calm her down.
More detailed tools enable us to select characterising features such as the exact clothes NPCs wear, what sounds they make, how they walk, their anatomy, what they carry, and what gossip they give you, amongst other things. NPCs in the vicinity of the farmer’s family mentioned above might give you valuable information about what actually happened. Interacting with an NPC should be something for the curious – you never know what the outcome will be. Maybe one NPC reacts to the fact that you’re holding a certain type of knot and suddenly asks if you want to trade it.Other NPCs might actually give you items of some kind, because you happened to pass by while using a certain skill.
All these seemingly endless variables will make each encounter in the world feel unique and special to YOU.
When it comes to merchants we have exact control over the items they trade and whether a specific item should be of higher worth in the north compared to the south. The list of commodities is huge and our trading economy is going to be really interesting to see come to life. To spice things up the system allows us to decide whether the seemingly lawful General Merchant in Kasa might hold underhand goods for trade… at night time when the Wardens are not around, of course!
The NPCs use what in AI language is called “Behaviour Trees”. We use behaviour trees to define the exact behaviour of each character. These are like tree branches that extend multiple times according to conditions. Ultimately these lead to an action for the NPC which depends on a whole set of prerequisites.The NPCs in Braided Shore adhere to different behaviours depending on the weather, time of day and even what day it is. They also react to their surroundings. Let’s say the aforementioned farmer is working her field and a wolf passes by, the farmer will probably then react and panic and might even leave the level for a time.
The event system described makes it possible for us to continue adding content to this game even after release with ease. If players and the community work out certain mysteries, we can add, subtract or multiply story components with ease, much like a dungeon master in pen-and-paper role-playing games.
Dangers in Braided Shore
So far we’ve shared a lot about how serene the Book of Travels experience will be, but as we talked about in our inspirations – [steampowered.com] blog, the beauty of the world lies partly in its shadows, and the tension that lurks at the periphery. This week we’re looking at some of the dangers that can sneak up on you in Braided Shore. Here we share a few that you can expect to encounter when early access launches this summer. Be warned – the shadows in this world do not fall at the usual angles…
Beware the chaos of a Kettem
Also known as the spirit of the middle winds, the Kettem (Plural:Kettem) is a malicious spirit that rides the winds that bisect the cardinal coordinates. Having no physical form Kettem animate themselves with any objects that lie in their path, creating wild and chaotic melds of unknown intent. A Kettem is a harsh opponent in all cases, but harsher still when animated by harder objects, such as parts of trees or broken boats. Other common Kettem components include seaweed (being plentiful on a high tide) and hay (being skimmed from hay bales). Abandoned junk and personal objects are also sometimes caught in a Kettem’s path. Once its physical form has been destroyed, a Kettem becomes a harmless wind spirit once more and will quickly vanish.
Never mess with a Maisu
The Maisu (Plural: Maisu) is not known as the ‘spirit-of-foul-words’ for nothing – this spirit is the embodiment of every expletive spat in vitriol and is said to be summoned by feelings of hate. Where spite is usually something unleashed in rare and hot flashes, for Maisu it is an eternally roaring fire. They love nothing better than to hurt folk and cause them distress, but their attacks can often be more baffling than life threatening. Maisu can also be cowardly and not particularly strong-willed – farm families will sometimes come together to vanquish a Maisu that has been troubling the surroundings. Because of Maisu, Braided Shore folk choose their words wisely, scolding “Curse-for-the-Maisu!” at folk who use foul words. Maisu are bound to a knot symbol of unknown meaning that also resembles their facial features. This “rune” can be seen floating in the air before the demon itself becomes visible.
The torment of Mares
Called simply ‘Mares’ these dream horrors take the shape of slender yet beast-like creatures that fly in a swimming fashion. Mares are a fairly recent phenomenon in Braided Shore and are believed to be a manifestation of the ills that have more recently troubled the region. There is no doubt that an encounter with a Mare is a very serious moment indeed: their uncanny aspect transfixes all who lay eyes on it, but a Mare must be quickly dealt with for their attack is mighty. Over time, Asken folk have come to know these ghouls as the nightmares of Sefra, wrangled loose from their dream world and drifting in torment across the land. Some say they have witnessed a Mare dissolve as its Sefra wakes, and others have been successful in destroying Mares while its Sefra sleeps on, more peacefully with its Mare now returned to its world of dreams.
Be watchful as you wander
These are just a few of the dangers you can expect to face in Braided Shore, but there’s plenty to watch out for on the roads and in the wilds too… All kinds of earthly good-for-nothings will knock you off your path. Poachers, kidnappers, smugglers and bandits may choose to rob or attack you, and though they may not be the most daunting of foes, an encounter with one may leave you as confused and depleted as any sprite or gast!
To learn more how to deal with (and prepare ahead for) such dangers: check out the Conflict, Combat, and Tension blog post – [steamcommunity.com] !
Conflict, Combat, and Tension
What happens when you find a foe?
Combat in Book of Travels has been something of a (ahem) divisive issue, with many wanting a damn good brawl while others would rather avoid confrontation altogether. There will indeed be avoidance tactics at your disposal – more on those later!
Combat is not the protagonist of the Book of Travels, but it can be a larger or smaller part of the experience depending on a player’s choices. When you’re traversing more urbanised and populated areas, you’ll be fairly safe from combat situations. But if you go further out into the wilderness to explore the wilder and less wandered corners of the world, threats start to become more common.
When in combat, you can choose to do weapon attacks, use certain abilities, or unleash certain knotspells. There are some combat-specific knotspells that do damage, but also plenty which you can use to aid your allies.
Pit your wits against bandits and beings
As you might imagine, there’s no PVP combat in Book of Travels, instead you’ll face off against characters, creatures and mysterious beings, most of which you’ll find in the Wilds. Towns or villages are somewhat safer, where the main threat comes in the shape of bandits offering a duel, but off the beaten track packs of wolves or bandit gangs may present you with a heavy duty challenge. Supernatural adversaries may appear too, so stay watchful or you may just find yourself up against the might of a Maisu or the chaos of a Kettem – [steampowered.com] . Fighting for survival is one thing, but acquiring exceptional items or bounty hunting may also find you baring arms. We’re designing the game so that it won’t be necessary that your character needs to seek out combat situations to progress in the game. But when it does happen, it should be dramatic, interesting, and have an impact.
Preparation, tension and targets
Should you find yourself in a combat situation, the first thing you’ll need to do is prepare. This is a combat system designed around preparation, initiative and timing and there are three essential stages that build up to the decisive moment. Before you begin of course, you’ll first need to survey your surroundings for a worthy opponent. Putting your hand on your sword will cast a red circle about you, alerting you to anyone (or anything) within challengeable radius. You’ll also be able to see their Force and Ward numbers, which will help you decide if you want to take them on.
There is strength in numbers, which goes both for you and your allies, and the dangers you might face. Preparation, team work, and knowing your limits can be the key to your survival and success when wandering in the more dangerous parts of Braided Shore.
Having selected a worthy opponent, you’ll need to make sure that you’re ready for action: equip your gear, cast any knots or drink any teas that you think are fit for the occasion (such as the Warding Arc – a knot that protects you from one hit, or Lilit’s Cinnabar Brew – a tea that increases your force). This is also a course of action that you’ll need to take as a preventative measure should you see a threat close by, so even if you’re not looking for a fight, it’s a good idea to keep some spells close to hand. Some opponents are aggressive and will put their hands on their swords or enter combat preparation stances (e.g. wolves or Kettem) if you get too close!
Once the initiative has been taken it’s all about the timing! The longer you wait to strike your opponent, the more accurate your blow will be – so while your chance of hitting your target increases you will remain vulnerable to assault. Every second that passes between you and your opponent will be loaded with the tension of not knowing who will strike first… Dare you risk receiving a blow or will you deal your own, less accurate strike? The choice is yours! The stakes get higher still once you’re hit, which will leave you dizzied and knocked off balance and with your chance to hit back diminished – a very strong blow can significantly reduce your chance of landing a return strike.
Should you take a hit during battle, your Ward becomes depleted by the total count of the Force owned by the attacker. But once it’s all over and should you survive, your Ward will return to its full value.
Fight, flight or flee?
We’ve often been asked, can you evade conflict altogether? Certainly! Just as in life there are ways to stay out of trouble! If you’re a more peaceful player and you detect a threat from afar (red name tags are an indicator) you can choose to skirt around it, and if that doesn’t work, then you’ll be able to evade it by equipping skills such as a Smoke Cylinder – a fast acting ability that grants temporary invisibility. This way you can choose to quietly pass trouble by, or hide, or become invisible. And if you’re feeling cheeky and in need of supplies, you might be able to nip in and steal from a bandit without any conflict at all by using teleportation!
Oops, I changed my mind – get me out of here!
And what if you want to decline? Or if, once that circle is drawn an enemy takes initiative, you don’t want to fight? You can simply walk away. If it’s bandits you face, then in this case your worst fate is usually robbery, and unless you refuse to hand over what’s demanded you won’t face an attack. Your final get-out option after initiative is taken is to flee – fleeing won’t have any permanently adverse impact on your character, but it will mean that you’ll wake up somewhere completely new and for a while you’ll be slow and demoralised.
Items, Objects, Artefacts
Items and their uses: What will you collect on your journey?
In between dev updates we’ve trickled out some of the lore of this land, peeking in on spirits – [steampowered.com] , listening to the thoughts of everyday folk – [steampowered.com] and soundtracking – [steampowered.com] its wilderness. But we want to share how it feels to play a part in this world, so today we cordially invite you to imagine immersion through… stuff. So this post is all about the objects and items that you’ll be able to toss into a backpack as you travel around Braided Shore and how they’ll enrich your play experience.
Backpack slots accommodate Accessories and musical Instruments created in our 2019 Kickstarter
Fill your pack with many things
As with most RPGs, one of the most appealing aspects of collecting items is in imagining how they may one day serve you well in trade. Among the many items you’ll come across on your travels you’ll find various edibles (pickled seaweed, simple soot bread) and equipables (alabaster armbands, a walnut flute) – together these will protect you from dangers, keep you fed, and ready you for all kinds of possibilities.
But many items don’t seem to have an immediate obvious benefit… do not dismiss them, for who knows what unknown trade potential they may hold? One person’s junk is indeed another person’s treasure in this land, and a perfect example can be seen in this
where a bag of rusty nails brings joy to an NPC building a treehouse:
Skills are also items: skill cards can be acquired, used to learn new skills, or traded. Recipes, knot skills and fighting techniques are some of the skills you’ll be able to acquire from those in their possession. Items vary in quality and rarity, but all can be used to trade – either for other items, or for skills or services – and such trade deals will be one of the many beats in your story’s journey. Here’s a little more about the different kinds of items you can find…
Poor & good items
Poor items are exactly that – low quality items that usually have low use value and little trade value. Often discarded, such items may be broken, rusty or mouldy and can be found in all kinds of places for you to pick up and keep. But they are not all without value – stale bread will sustain you and a poor sword will still serve as some defence. Whether for reasons of practicality or curiosity, a Traveller with an empty backpack would be well advised to hang on to some poor items.
Unsurprisingly, good items can be useful in all kinds of ways and include everything from clothing, weapons and backpacks to lights, lanterns and umbrellas. Much like real life, these objects of use will need to be obtained from a merchant or in a shop. Amongst the many generic pieces there will also be many outstanding items with individual appeal. Besides those pictured above, examples of good items include a flower-scented tunic, protective tombac footwear, a conductor’s lucky knot ring and an adventurer’s blade.
Great & exceptional items
Great items are very rare and sometimes unique and come with a story that reveals something of its past. There are countless great items in the region but they’re not to be found in shops or markets and are unlikely to be traded – possessing them takes some effort and will require an undertaking such as a search or quest. Should you acquire a great item, listen to its lessons, carry it safely with you and let its spirit lighten your step and warm your heart.
Extremely rare and always unique, an exceptional item is tantamount to a historical artefact. Each one of these special objects has played a part in the history of Braided Shore – imparted to its owner, such story fragments will contribute to a deeper understanding of the land and perhaps give clues to one of its unsolved mysteries. Effort alone will not yield such items – time and luck will also play their part.
Pack smart… and look out for Reagents too
Since there’s no currency in Braided Shore, when managing your inventory it’s good to aim for a selection of items of varying value, that way you’ll have items small enough to trade should you need a quick snack, and you’ll be able to avoid being forced into an unequal trade in an emergency. A Traveller who carries only a diamond and a Master Iron cog will have a hard time making a good trade for a torch or some farmers’ field bread.
Reagents – [steampowered.com] (Braided Shore’s magical ingredients) will also need seeking out, and each one will bring new possibilities to your story
Are you a hoarder or do you travel light? What games have types of items that you’ve enjoyed?
Reagents for spells
Explore, discover and make magic…
What word best describes those items used in spell casting? In Braided Shore these ‘ingredients’ are known as Reagents, and as your travels unfold you’ll come to know a great deal about them…
As with all things that nourish our lives, the occurrence of these magical ingredients is sometimes logical but at other times seems to have no obvious cause. When it comes to logic, Reagents manifest as a complex expression of many things: the natural landscape, the relationship between the land and its various inhabitants, and the history of both of those things. Like mycelium beneath mushrooms and the roots under trees, there are deep systems at work, and they’re largely the labour of Game Designer Beto who took inspiration from picking flowers for a midsommar garland:
“I knew vaguely where I could find each flower I wanted, so I went kind of where I remembered them to be, but I still had to do some searching, and as I did, I found pleasant surprises – it felt so much like the experience I wanted for Travellers in Braided Shore”.
“Those who dig deeper are more attuned to the gifts of earth and can express themselves with the language of the Winds and the aroma of Tea.” – Soyda, Mushroom Specialist, Rivenleaf College, Naturalist Faculty
What are Reagents?
While we’ve talked a little about some of Braided Shore’s more supernatural aspects – [steamcommunity.com] and some of the effects and skills that can be conjured by way of teas and knots – [steamcommunity.com] , we’ve shared little about the items required and how you might encounter them. With the correct combination of Reagents, players will be able to use skills and make knots spells and magic teas (such as the Brew of Hidden Cries). Reagents can manifest as many things – beautiful, ordinary, natural or manufactured, and their properties are studied by scholars and Mystics across the land. As a newcomer to Braided Shore you too will become a student of Reagents as you get to know the many aspects of Reagent lore and usage.
Tune in to the presence of Reagents
The most obvious way to detect the whereabouts of Reagents is by paying attention to the world around you. Just as with items, you’ll find them in hidden places, and thoughtful exploration will pay off – light, colour or movement might signal that something potent is close by. But as you familiarise yourself with the world you’ll also learn its logic and figure out where you’ll have the most chance of searching out more common Reagents such as Dandelion or Garden Balsam. Folk you meet and conversations you overhear may also reveal tips and pointers to an all-important, spell-completing Reagent.
Find signs of Reagents in the wild
When it comes to wildlife, there’s more to the surrounding flora and fauna than decoration. For example Yellow flowers indicate that Garden Balsam or Char Mustard are somewhere close by, and noticing where wolves like to hunt will help you seek out a rare tuft of animal hair.
Look for logic in towns and villages
Just as with items – [steampowered.com] , towns and villages are the site of a greater abundance of Reagents, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll need to be any less discerning. Some Reagents will be found in places they’d naturally occur, such as the Pure Soot in dockyards and railways, and Woots Powder which is also commonly found by train tracks and sites of rudimentary industry. But Reagents may be moved, dropped or hidden and as a result, turn up in some unlikely locations…
Rare Reagents may mean high stakes
Rare Reagents are much sought after owing to their special properties or simply to their scarcity value. The rarest are as elusive as they are powerful and players will most likely need to invest some energy to locate them. One may be cause for a special expedition, another may require the kind of commitment that involves risking one’s life… A Silk Flower, for example, grows far from any road or settlement, where landscapes are desolate and sublime, and should you seek a Tuft of Animal Hair while wolves are hunting, you might run the risk or a wolf attack. But not all rare Reagents are as pretty to behold as flowers and fluff – Coagulated Engine Oil is as sticky and stinky as you might imagine (its rarity owes to the sparsity of oil in this inherited railway infrastructure).
Once you’ve packed your latest Reagent safely in your pack, it’s yours to use as you wish. There’s a plethora of Reagents already in Braided Shore, but nothing is fixed – some Reagents may disappear while new ones may emerge or be discovered.
We’re really looking forward to hearing about your discoveries come Early Access! No matter what the findings, there will be an endless abundance to seek out as the world opens out before you and countless tales are told…
Are you a believer in the power of spells and magic? Or do you only harvest magical ingredients in your gaming life? If so, where?
Food and drink
Sample the delights of a travelling life!
Today we sample some of the culinary delights available to the visitors and denizens of Braided Shore. Among them are the rudiments of sustenance found, foraged and bartered for, as well as more gastronomical delights to be enjoyed at moments of leisure.
When it comes to food, our design is comfortably conventional, with nutrition and nourishment coming by way of breads and vegetables. And when it comes to variety and distribution, Travellers will find much that is familiar – a socio-economic pattern has been applied, with pastoral regions such as Crossroads consuming much grain and bread and coastal areas like Myr enjoying abundant fish suppers (even game designers should pay attention in Geography class).
Of course the larger the settlement, the more likely you’ll be to find a variety of imported or cultivated foods, and in Kasa in particular a wide range of regional treats are yours to barter for in local and occasional markets. Among the fanciest of pleasures are Honey Marinated Boar Ribs and sublime dessert, Wanderers’ Joy, as well as a very expensive wine cheese (an exceptional item – [steampowered.com] ) which has been marinated in wine for reasons revealed two paragraphs below.
Foraging in the Forest
Having packed a bag full of food for fun and fuel, you’ll be ready to strike out into the wild yonder of the city’s hinterlands. Along the way there will be opportunities to purchase local and more limited food items, but you may find it more fun to forage for your supper. There are lots of edible treats growing in the nooks and crannies and even the wind strung peaks of this land, and most can be eaten raw and cooked.
Drinks and drinking
Drinks are sweet or savoury and of course a nice cup of tea is the staple of Asken life and can mean much more than a simple cuppa in both flavour and function – [steampowered.com] . But ‘drinkers’ should know that wine is forbidden, being deemed too chaotic and perturbing on the spirit. Cider, on the other hand, is much enjoyed among some and perfectly permitted. But since wine is banned, grapes are also hard to come by. That doesn’t mean that the odd illegal vine can’t be found curling out of a crevice here and there, and there’s a small hatch in a wall in Kasa through which, for a price, one can be served a very fine and suspiciously grapey tasting ‘cider’.
The role playing dimension
When it comes to the importance of food in roleplay joy, there are many games to look to for inspiration, but foremost comes Zelda, Breath of the Wild (and we’ve heard from many of you in this last year about your love of Zelda!). And yes you will be able to cook in Braided Shore! That’s a feature we’ll be working on while you are playing through Chapter Zero, aka Early Access. But have no doubt that there will be plenty of cute, quirky, vile and strange foods to choose from to furnish your character with, and veggie and vegan lifestyles will of course be catered for.
What are your best game food memories? We’d love to know! And as always, let us know how you’d like food and drink to feature in your Book of Travels adventures…
Music and instruments
We reached our $150,000 Kickstarter target and can now commit to making the feature that allows you to play music together! We can’t wait to get together with you in Braided Shore and play beautiful music… Instruments are one of the many items or accessories a player can carry with them. You might even hear inhabitants of the Braided Shore playing them afar when wandering the wild, like an audible lighthouse guiding your way to either safety, companionship, or mystery…
Travel, meet, rest and play music
Here’s what the Illustrated Lore Compendium of Braided Shore tells us about music:
Sprites and small spirits
A look at some of the tiny beings of Braided Shore
In Braided Shore a whole range of encounters is possible; an enraged Sefra might knock you from your path or a happy hearted one surprise you with a boon, or perhaps a meeting with a Malku Su might leave you feeling a little small. But look down and think tiny, because little lurkers are also on the move! Some will come in single spies, and others in battalions, but in most cases these little creatures will cause you no sorrow and are in fact as harmless as rabbits or Borrowers – [imdb.com] …
Folklore from all around the world tells us that spirits aren’t always spooky – they can manifest as many moods and keep all kinds of habits, and so it is with the ones you see here. You might recognise the predecessors of these little creatures in the worlds of Studio Ghibli or the Moomins – [steampowered.com] – they also echo the sprites of Swedish folklore where their collective name is ‘Oknytt’. In Braided Shore, the collective name for this range of sprites and small spirits is Omin, and today we’re taking a look at production sketches outlining many kinds of Omin.
The early sketches of Omin here are just some of the many that may come into being. Some will debut in Early Access, but most will have to wait until Chapter One commences, and some may in fact never make their escape from paper to game world… We’d love to hear which ones you like the most so that we can take your wishes into our design considerations
Lore: What are the Sefra?
Here’s some information on the Sefra and their relationship with the people of Braided Shore from the Illustrated Lore Compendium. You’ll encounter Sefra at some point when you play Book of Travels, and if you look carefully, you might see one on the cover image for the game…
Spirits and mystical beings abound in Braided Shore, all greatly varying in number and character. Sefra are the most powerful of all spirit beings and have, over time, entered into cordial relations with the Asken people, mediating their relationship through especially chosen individuals known as Voices. Sefra are large and elusive beings known for their erratic moods but who work with communities to assist in council and community decisions.
“There’s been a murder in the city… A mythical creature called a Sefra has been murdered and that’s never happened before. There’s a whole mystery surrounding how it died and how it’s affected the politics of the city.”
Writing Braided Shore
Writing a game like a picture book
You probably know by now that Book of Travels isn’t a game that fits neatly into any kind of genre, well the same can be said of the writing in the game. Together, the different modes of ingame text comprise the contours of the story world: the backstory, NPC dialogue, item descriptions and UI text all play their part in bringing Braided Shore to life. Of course we can say this about all game worlds, but Book of Travels is a bit different: it’s a non-linear, exploratory, immersive experience where questing isn’t centre stage. So in this case, the main role of text isn’t to drive forward stories or point players through the next beat of an epic plot. This means we can have a bit more fun and allow it to enhance the experience in different ways.
NPCs as story book characters
One of the major differences between Book of Travels and conventional RPGs is that you won’t be able to converse with the NPCs you meet. In Braided Shore NPCs speak repeatable, poetic lines – they’ll still do all the conventional work of lore seeding and world building but since they don’t simulate conversation the NPCs work more like two dimensional story characters than limited chatbots. We hope that by creating them this way players will have a less wall-breaking and more immersive experience, and withits pop-up book aesthetic and 2D feel Book of Travels feels like exactly the right place to invite the player to encounter text in this bookish way. For me, the more poetic lines echo the painted, two dimensional ‘scenery’ of Braided Shore – they add atmospheric detail and depth to the world as you navigate through it. Here a merchant and musician speak some character ‘poems’.
Getting the tone right
Writing dialogue for NPCs is an obvious opportunity to enrich the fairytale picture book aesthetic of the game world, and the style and tone that we hope to have achieved is a mixture of folk wisdom, upbeat chit chat and lore-based whimsy. Each class of character has a range of ‘lines’ that are each designed to reveal a little about their role in the world along with a tint of personal attitude. We’ve crafted them to be a little bit poetic – some use rhyme, others use phonic or rhythmic patterns. The intention is to create a style that enhances the feeling of being in a picture book world at the same time as withstanding a fair degree of repetition. Players will also encounter dialogue that imparts something less ordinary, little parts of story or information. We wanted these to stand out a little bit and be less two dimensional so they are written in a tone that is more personal and direct – these are the aspects which signal happenings beyond the ‘scenery’ and rhythms of everyday life. Stories, if you like!
As with all RPGs, the text is a worldbuilding, ambient component of the game world and being so, must seed notions of the past history and current issues affecting its inhabitants. When I write dialogue I try to write it as though through the eyes of someone living its lore and history, so that fragments of these are revealed naturally when characters ‘speak’. This is one of the major ways that players will discover things about the magic, infrastructure and social practices of Braided Shore. There are a lot of unique and complex aspects to life there and they all matter to its inhabitants – we hope that over the course of your time there you’ll be able to learn from them and to piece together its unique culture. When I’m writing text I have all this in mind – the challenge is to seed little bits of lore without being overly explicit or compromising the integrity of character voice, it’s a balance I think I’ll always be in the process of perfecting!
Glimmers of story
While there’s no overarching questline in Book of Travels, there are intrigues to explore – eventually players will start to see signs of a region-wide drama, but mostly they are event chains with narratives that have the small-magic feel of folklore. Both will be seeded throughout the dialogue, so look out for hints or between-the-lines implications.
Finding the balance between subtle, naturalistic exposition and something more clearly revealing isn’t easy, so we expect to be working hard at that balance and we’ll be listening to your feedback to do so.
A Capital City for Braided Shore
Sketching out the intentional contrasts of Kasa
Today we’re sharing some sketches and screenshots of Braided Shore’s chief urban hub and capital city, Kasa. With its deep waters, Kasa has been the launching and landing place for Travellers for time immemorial, and for most visitors it’s their first impression of the region. But bustling as it is, they’d be deceived to think the whole of Braided Shore as dense and thronging; a Traveller need not wander far to find themselves in nature and tranquility.
A hive of activity in a serene land
In both our game announcement and Kickstarter campaign we described Book of Travels as a serene game, a description that received a very positive response. Certainly players of the beta will have found the world very tranquil, so it might seem a little surprising that the region’s capital is as dense and demanding as any real world one – so much so that Travellers might feel disinclined to stay for long.
“They’re high energy areas… We want to create a stark contrast between the countryside and civilization that make you feel like you just want to get back on the road and be collecting flowers.”
Trade, commerce and culture
But just like a real world city, Kasa will be the place for those wishing to acquire basic provisions and the odd item of exotic equipment, it’s also a key destination for Travellers interested in the variety of the region’s culture and customs. Being a harbour city means there will also be chances to encounter the immigrant cultures of the Malku and Selka people.
Design sketches from Kasa
These sketches show various buildings from Kasa which draw on 18th Century Turkish and Italian architecture. While they hint at an industrial society the intent is to keep a largely romantic feel.
Intense as it may be, we think Kasa will be a place to stimulate the senses, thronging with the kind of sights and sounds that can only be found in a highly populated area. However, its very existence is intended to contrast with the region’s peaceful hinterlands. We think there’s something more satisfying about solitude when the knowledge of human tumult is somewhere in the distance, and a visit to Kasa is sure to enhance the feeling of peace beyond it.
Thank you for reading about Kasa! What are your experiences of urban density in games – and in life? Do you enjoy tranquillity more when you know that bustle is close at hand or further away?
Map and light history of Braided Shore
High resolution version – [mightanddelight.com]” rel=”nofollow noopener”>High resolution version – [mightanddelight.com]
Here we share a little outline of the region – just enough to help a newcomer get their bearings but not too much to dampen the curious spirit. We hope your interest is piqued and we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Geography and climate
Braided Shore is the western peninsula of a large uncharted land mass to the east. This fertile region is largely divided in two by a stretch of sea called The Verve, and the entire land mass is characterised by its many waterways, islands and rugged shorelines. Flora and fauna proliferate across the region’s fertile and undulating landscape. Mineral deposits are plentiful, however none have proven of the quality to match Master Iron, the material that comprises the region’s inherited industrial infrastructure. Small desert areas provide the only sand in Braided Shore, and as it is unsuited to glass making, the domestic life of its inhabitants is one without glass panes or vessels (although some imported items can be found). The regional climate is very temperate, with cold spells being incredibly rare and the notorious local winds being mainly warm. Braided Shore is separated from its eastern neighbour by cliffs, rapids and an ancient wall; the region beyond it is uncharted.
Key Historic Periods
Visitors to Braided Shore have made observations that give clues to something of its past. The rudimentary industrial infrastructure points to a legacy left by inhabitants who lived in a culture marked by a moderate degree of manufacture and travel. These mechanical relics and the mechanised society that produced them are the subject of much research, but at present, remains little understood by today’s inhabitants. Machine parts, made of a foreign material known as Master Iron, have never been replicated or reworked.
Thought to come after the Machine Age is the Varhim period, the key artefacts of which are a scattering of busts made of an unknown composite. The busts and their shadow are considered bad portents and so remain untouched. Several large structures sharing similar sculptural characteristics are also attributed to the Varhim era. Most scholars agree that it was the Varhim era that saw the destruction of much of Braided Shore’s industrial infrastructure, although contradictory theories also abound.
The current people of Braided Shore are known as Asken. The Ancestors of the Asken folk are said to have arrived as boat dwellers, bringing with them a practice of complex knot crafting. The name Braided Shore was given to the land by these people whose search for a homeland brought with it a yearning for the order and harmony symbolised in braids.
The spoken language of the area is known by the locals as Elskeni, and since The Age of Halzhaan, the languages of the Malku Su and Selke have been widely spoken and can be studied in the region’s college in the north west.
Elsken syntax and orthography is formed by a symbolic language of knots thought to be the primary means of communication used by the first settlers who, both young and boat-bound, were without the means and methods to develop the writing skills of their forebears. Knot tying as a practice of both magic ritual and communication remains at the heart of culture in Braided Shoreand a small iconography of common knot sentiments can be found across the land. Visitors to Braided Shore may glimpse a little of the lives of its folk in the fragments of knots that can be found dropped around the place, lost or kept for recycling.
Sefra and spirits
Spirits and mystical beings abound in Braided Shore, all greatly varying in number and character. Sefra are the most powerful of all spirit beings and have, over time, entered into cordial relations with the Asken people, mediating their relationship through especially chosen individuals known as Voices. Sefra are large and elusive beings known for their erratic moods but who work with communities to assist in council and community decisions.
Other ethereal beasts include the shape-shifting Omin, chilling ‘Mares’, the Kettem wind spirit and a mischievous storm child spirit called Little Lilit. Phantom fires and energy draining spirits of wanderers, ghost dogs and rail walkers also inhabit the peninsula.
Much of Braided Shore is yet to be known, and we are all very excited to learn the findings and theories of future Travellers!
Ways to Travel Around Braided Shore
Trains, boats, draisines, and more!
As that title suggests, the heart of Book of Travels is about your journey and your stories, threading together as one. Through wandering and roaming your adventures will unfurl, in traversing and trundling your discoveries will enrich them. Mostly this will be done by foot, but respite can be taken on boats and trains, and from time to time magical means might see you travelling in more unexpected ways.
Ride the rails
A single train track runs around the central basin of Braided Shore in a loop, stopping at the busy city of Kasa and the town of Crossings. Other stations will be open along the way as further areas of the land open up beyond early access. Each station has a warden who you can speak with to find out when the next train leaves, and if you see a train about to leave you’ll be able to call out to the warden to get that extra few seconds to climb aboard. Trains are fairly frequent so if you need a break from walking or just want to take a journey with a fellow Traveller, a scenic ride to Kasa might be just the ticket (ahem). Of course train travel will not take you to the outer wilds and all that lies beyond the middle ways, but it should be a merry treat and might save time if your adventure involves getting to a faraway destination or the need to pick up some supplies in Kasa. And if you’re looking for somewhere to stash some items, you’ll be able to leave them safely at a tarin master’s chest.
Boat across The Verve
If you want to cross between the western and eastern islands of Braided Shore, you’ll need to cross the great lake known as The Verve, which currently requires travel by boat (no air travel exists in the region as yet). Boats travel regularly from Myr and are a very relaxing way to get to the island of Bat Saha and the north west lands beyond. As with trains, boat stations have wardens who will let you know when the next boat taxi will depart. Travellers can also find abandoned boats around the shores of the region and can be unlocked for use through Endeavours, so these journeys will be for pairs or small groups and will take you to places off the beaten path.
Pull the lever, Kronk!
Draisines are small carts that require two people to lever them across tracks. We don’t expect draisines to be any use in closing distances since they cover a small area. But if you’d like to meet with a friend and spend a little time spending some energy on a metaphorical mini journey of friendship, these might be the wheels for you. Funded by one of our Kickstarter stretch goals, we are looking forward to finding out how players engage with their draisine mini-travels.
We’re not going to give too much away here, but for now we can reveal that the magic unlockable in knots and tea might also lead you to magical means involving travel… Shapeshifting can also be explored as a means to taking on the travel abilities (or forms) of another animal or being, and of course the Travellers’ Portal from our Kickstarter…
Lore: Stories of Everyday Life
Reading through the lives of inhabitants
There are many ways in which we’d like to bring you closer to the world of Braided Shore – in music, travel guide and lore readers of this post have come to know how it feels to live in its woods and wilds and to travel its age old roads. But there’s no better way to understand a land than by listening to its people, and in this post we hear a little bit about life for four of the region’s denizens. Below, a Travelling Merchant, a Historian, a Farmer and even a Bandit give us their views on how life is for them. We think you’ll find that there’s much to ruminate on in the hopes and fears that their words reveal.
Magdra, a travelling merchant
“The road is long but my pack of trade goods is light – I can ill-afford ample stock. Unless I spy a possible customer I keep my eyes and my nose to the sides of the road. Now and again a little something to eat appears among the bushes and the undergrowth like a Sefra’s bounty. Now and again I meet someone who is looking to trade for something. Like my grandfather taught me, I keep little samples of the things I have to trade hanging from my pack in little colourful strings so that wayfarers might readily spot them. I am so very hungry all the time, and my legs ache along with the soles of my feet. But I know of a Nomad’s rest some way up ahead, and who knows maybe some Wind-spun luck will be lingering there. It is a long road, but it is my home. And should I settle in some bountiful place, I know I would soon get homesick.”
History Professor Myrak of Rivenleaf
“Yes, the university City of Rivenleaf is a site to behold for sure. But I prefer to muddy my sandals in the field, digging in the dirt and lost ruins for the truth. Sadly, a large part of my time lately is spent in the teahouses, trying in vain to open the eyes of the faculty professors to the implications of my findings in the Potter’s Field and the emerging revelations in the writings on the Maratesh shards! I’m most upended at how the old professors refuse to support new discoveries. That they value the comfort of their reputations as experts rather than embrace curiosity over new evidence is a disgrace to our profession. Knotting these lines, I now realise how I’ve wasted my time. I will grab my shovel and join my servants in the Potter’s Field! Thank you for helping me realise where the true value of my work lies!”
Mijha, a grain farmer from Myr
“It’s hard work drawing bounty from the earth. We must spend most of our daylight hours tending the fields, keeping only the dark of morning and evening to tend to ourselves. But though hard, there is a feeling of security in the strict repetition of each day, and each evening’s rest is a welcome reward. We enjoy good food, with vegetables and meats traded with our neighbours, taken with the hum of song and pipe of the family’s music making. I feel fortunate to live in these times, where the climate is mild, the wardens keep the beasts of the wild from our doors and the tax burden is fair for all. The old folk reminds us it has not always been so, and the wiser among us try to set something by for a future that may not be as kind as the present.”
Ezra of The Broken Lantern Gang
“I used to work one of the wool carders in the Milomak Weavery. I had seven younger siblings and parents who seemed to take me for granted. Every day I felt the monotony crush me little by little. Every day the same work, the same people, the same places – like eating gruel at every meal. One day I broke away, walked into the forest and wandered. I guess I got lucky – a group scooped me up before the woods took me – the Broken Lantern Gang. We are banded together now, like-minded and free! The carding made my arms strong and I am good with a blade. Tomorrow we might clash with some nasty bandit gang, the next day we’ll lighten the purse and knapsack of some overfed merchant. I might be taken by a warden but what does it matter? Today I’m the hammer and the world the anvil. Tomorrow the roles might change.”
Meet some of the team (p.1)
Might and Delight is a small independent game studio based in Stockholm, Sweden. Founded in 2010, the studio has released over twenty projects including games, digital books and artwork, all of which have a highly crafted visual style and explore emotionally engaging themes such as motherhood, loss, freedom and solitude.
We take our inspiration from many sources including art, history, music and folklore. All of our games have a unique aesthetic and we work hard to craft digital experiences that are beautiful, immersive and emotionally provocative.
The games we make at Might and Delight don’t fit neatly into genres, but what they have in common is the way they allow players to explore, speculate and reflect. Our workstyle is similarly reflective and we think that this results in games which aren’t just something a bit unexpected but that also have a lot of integrity. We enjoy connecting with people outside of the games industry and beside our own productions we engage in collaborations with art institutions, museums and libraries.
This only includes team Q&A that has been posted, so not everyone is present as in-depth!
Sound Designer Magnus Mikander
Where have you been until now?
My life travels started in Porvoo, a small town in southern Finland. It was mostly “normal growing up in a small town stuff” with lots of video games, movies, music and books. I sorta stumbled upon music production at around the age of twenty, this rekindled my lost passion for creating thing. This then grew into my hobby, passion and career, which led me to my current path of working in video games. This was quite obvious once I connected the dots in my head and I decided to combine my interest for audio, with my love for storytelling in games. This is also when I moved to Sweden to study Sound and Music Production in Falun, my studies ended with an internship at M&D.
How did you find your way to MaD?
The internship was about three years ago, but I was not offered work after my internship. So I went on to start my small business and worked as an audio freelancer in Stockholm for around two years, until last year when I got a call from Josef asking me if I was interested in working with Book of Travels again! I was really happy to jump back on the project! I also worked on Book of Travels while doing my internship, felt great to dive back into a world that I was already so heavily invested in.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
Having a job in these rough times feels like a blessing in itself, so I’m very grateful for that. But most of all I enjoy the atmosphere around the studio and working with my teammates, there is a creative energy that I haven’t felt in any other place.T his I feel can also be seen and heard in the studio’s games. I think we can make something truly unique and wonderful with Book of Travels!
Where do you get your inspiration?
This might be a boring answer, but from all around me. Actively listening to my surroundings and walking in nature is my go-to. But some other inspirations for me lately have been music composed by Austin Wintory, the game Inside, Critical Role (D&D in general!) and I’m currently re-watching studio Ghibli movies!
Lead Narrative Designer Dennis Gustafsson
Where have you been until now?
I have been in too many places to mention since my first game was released in 1991. Most recently I worked for King as a combined Art, Level & Game Design Lead in King’s Malmö studio.
How did you find your way to MaD?
I’m an old friend of Joel’s [Studio Manager], and when Book of Travels needed to evolve its narrative, he got in touch and offered me a position supporting the Game Designers as a Narrative Designer. I’ve always dreamed of working on a game that’s as ambitious as Book of Travels is, but until now I’ve never had the chance. As a professional Game Developer getting the chance to influence the type of game you work on is the rare exception rather than the norm! Book of Travels will be my first indie game and I’m honoured, humbled and delighted in equal measure to be invited to join the team and the studio.
What do you most enjoy about your work at MaD?
Being part of a game team who’s design vision is driven primarily by aesthetics and feel, all else follows in its wake. Another rare exception in game development.
Where you get your inspiration?
Music, mainly – it has a lovely habit of kicking down hidden walls in my imagination!
What other experiences do you bring to the role?
I’m a fully trained train engineer!
Programmer Charlotte Auger
Where have you been until now?
Mostly in France where I studied Game Design and then Game Programming. I also spent a few months in Belgium for an internship and it made me very excited to go abroad again.
How did you find your way to MaD?
The Book of Travels Kickstarter sparked my interest for the company and since I really liked their values and projects, I just applied as an intern. I guess luck did the rest because they apparently needed someone with my profile right at that time for Shelter 3!
What do you most enjoy about your work?
Working with amazing people and especially our dream team of programming women on Shelter! And I’m so happy to discover Sweden, I just love it here! Regarding the games, I’m very pleased to work on experiences focused on themes such as emotions, communication and care.
Tell us about something that you love doing when you’re not working.
I usually enjoy socializing, parties and going out a lot, but with the current circumstances I try to draw, send letters to the people I care about, work on some lino printing and other cosy activities.
Your favourite game and why?
Recently I would say “I am Dead”. It’s playful, genuine, emotional and well-crafted.
Quality Assurance Officer Anne-Fleur Neerings
Where have you been until now?
At Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlshamn studying digital game design, I loved the programming part of the course although the story elements hold a close second. Before that I lived on a small farm outside of Grythyttan where we keep sheep and chickens, of which my favorite is the big grey rooster Sebastian which I raised from a hatchling.
How did you find your way to MaD?
Through a student group posting job advertisements where I fell in love with Might and Delight’s art style and game concepts, it [quality assurance] was a completely new position at the company so it seemed intriguing.
What do you most enjoy about your work at MaD?
The people! Everyone is super kind and welcoming, almost feels like an extended family.
What’s something that you love doing when you’re not working?
I love cross stitching and reading fantasy novels! The Terry Pratchett series Discworld holds a special place in my heart for their witty style, intriguing plot and cleverly disguised social commentary. Cross stitching is a relatively new hobby which I started with to keep my hands occupied while watching [tv] series but found that it’s really relaxing to do as long as the threads cooperate.
Meet some of the team (p.2)
Game Designer Beta Alves
Where have you been until now?
My arrival in Sweden happened in 2017, after working as a game designer in different Brazilian studios – Aduge, Aquiris and Black River. Here in Sweden, I studied Serious Games in the University of Skövde and worked at Attractive Interactive in Karlskrona.
How did you find your way to MaD?
After playing Tiny Echo, I got inspired to reach out to the studio. Joel [Studio Manager] was super sweet and invited me for a coffee. It wasn’t until 2018 I managed to get there, and it was such an inspiring day!
What do you most enjoy about your work at MaD?
The nurturing environment and kindness of everyone. No wonder the studio creates such unique heartfelt experiences. It seems very natural to me that the games are what they are. After all, they carry bits of several beautiful souls.
What are you most excited about with Book of Travels?
To me it’s the fact that the game is built around the aesthetics of serenity. That, combined with the genre defying aspect – a TMO instead of an MMO – frees me up to explore so many unique designs.
What do you love doing when you’re not working?
Making more games? That shouldn’t count, right hahah! A few years ago I rediscovered nib calligraphy and that’s been a passion again. Either writing or drawing with nibs.
Do you have a favourite game?
Kentucky Route Zero
Press and PR Manager Anna Westerling
How did you find your way to MaD?
I went to a party at Might and Delight and met Jakob and it was game-love at first sight. I liked his approach to making games and the Might and Delight aesthetic. Ever since then, I’ve been looking out for when a suitable position would open up… and then it did!
What are you most looking forward to in your work at MaD?
To step into a new organization and get my hands dirty! Until now, the team has been handling their own PR in between the cracks of game development and marketing, so I’m excited to come in and continue the work with building a PR-organisation and spreading Might and Delight’s games to the world.
Tell us something about your previous experiences?
As a Marketing Manager in the culture/geek sphere I’ve done a lot different things, from filling the Royal Opera with 1200 vampires for their premier of Dracula, to producing the Swedish version of the computer-games exhibition Game On 2.0 for the National Museum of Science and Technology. Previously I’ve run my own marketing company Westerling PR & Events, and I work with marketing for Sverok, the national non-profit youth organization for gaming and gaming culture. I also do events for the roleplaying game publisher Free League Publishing.
Tell us about something that you love doing when your not working?
I come from a gaming background and love larping and roleplaying. I also love nature, dancing Lindy hop and since Corona I’ve begun working out, and it turns out moving your body is fun!
Tell us about a favourite film or book…
I love Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, both the book and the Ang Lee movie from 1995. It is a debate on whether to use your sense or sensibility in making decisions and that question never gets old.
Last but not least:
Did you know we have one member of the team who is not quite human? She is Flik, our visiting cat. To celebrate the end of the campaign, and to honour the calm and chaos she brings to the studio we’re going to add her into the game as a rare event, try to spot her on your travels!
That’s all for now! Hopefully we’ll get more tidbits of personal connection to everyone over the course of time… For now there’s also the Fireside and Ask The Dev videos to see them unfiltered in their elements!
Firesides and Ask the Devs
Some more morsels of both game details, and the general antics, personality, mindsets, inspirations, humour, and more of our various MaD members:
Ask the Devs 1: Lead Technical Artist Peter Strahle
Discussing Unity, 3D meshes, and 2D sprites in the game, the hand-drawn aspect of all the textures, and Peter’s evolution into technical art from 3D art. Sharing the concept of forced camera and its relation to landscape paintings.
Ask the Devs 2: Programmers Sofia Landin and Jens Berglind
Exposing that they’re utter dorks. Discussing the “Game Design Document” and its evolution over time. Measuring quite a few Events numbered in the game. 😉 Features they’re personally eager to add to the game and funny bugs encountered during production. The potential to add narrative events in Easter Egg like fashion. Weather generation mechanics, potentially making nearby zones have similar weather vs having it be fully random or timed. The mechanics upon loading assets for the client. Alleviating the troubles of 2D objects blocking player view in a 3D world.
Ask the Devs 3: Animators Rasmus Hillberg and Alexander Poon
Excitement over dance, both in-game and not. The process with models before animation. The balance between how motions feel and how it looks. The balance between realism and a gameplay mechanic. The joys of being forced to emulate an animation… personally. Making animation noticeable or recognizable even at long camera ranges. Inspirations to match animation flair to the unique art style. The differences in each team member’s method, such as letting the character decide themselves how the animations should feel.
Fireside w/ Audio Director Josef
Fireside w/ Andreas and Beto: Game Designers, Anna PR
Firesides w/ Lead Narrative Design Dennis Gustafsson
Fireside w/ Creative Director Jakob Tuchten
Sketches from the Attic
Now let us take you for a rummage in the studio attic. In its many drawers, folders and cabinets are sketches showing Book of Travels in many stages of its life. The first sketches were made in 2016, at the very beginning of development and were created by the art team to explore the kinds of places and people that might exist in this new world.
Below are sketches from the pre-production phase – exploratory designs from a time before the style had solidified.
These are sketches from the ongoing production. Traditional pen-and-paper designs play a major part in the design of the in-game graphics – the current amount of sketches could easily drive a fresh recruit mad!
Sketches to come back to
These strange looking sketches haven’t found their way into the game yet but may be part of the future of Book of Travels.
We hope you enjoyed this little peek into the attic and the process of our artists!
– Fin –
Thank you for taking the time to gander at this endless treasure trove information on Book of Travels. Thank you to Loyzallie, Yuritau, Soren, Moo and many more for their endless support and help in the community and mining of data. I hope this additional aid helped answer some questions, sated a few curiosities, or inspired grabbing the knapsack and driving into the unknown ahead.
The developers have truly made something entirely beautiful, mystical, and creatively awe-inspiring here. It never ceases to amaze me just how much poetry, depth, and love they’ve put into the piece of art that is this “game.” From the procedural, randomised exploration, to the masterfully created levels made to inspire peeking into every nook and cranny, to the poetic dialogue of the natives, the focus on mythology and folklore, the hauntingly soul-tickling soundtrack, the way they tweak our own psychology and nature in gaming or real life against us… I can’t wait to dive into the world they’ve created.
I’ll see you off the beaten path, Travellers.
– Mister Wekonu
This is all for Book of Travels Story Guide + Walkthrough – Overview hope you enjoy the post. If you believe we forget or we should update the post please let us know via comment, we will try our best to fix how fast is possible! Have a great day!
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