How mobile Disciples turned into Lords of Discord, as well as about the difficulties of developing a three–dimensional turn-based strategy, – the Kaliningrad studio Herocraft told.
The history of the development of Lords of Discord began in 2012, when we received the rights from Akella to create a mobile version of the popular Disciples strategy.
Our team had a difficult task: to make a mobile game in the best traditions of the first and second parts of Disciples, which were considered canon, while repeating the visual style of the third (there was an agreement with the copyright holder that they would provide all the graphic sources of the third part for development).
The team was happy to get to work: 90% of the visual elements (characters, surroundings, bushes, trees, buildings, characters) were already available. It seemed that the work would be done faster than developing a new project from scratch, because only the program code was required from us.
The contract was signed for 2 years: after the deadline, we had to develop and release a mobile game. Unfortunately, due to organizational processes within the company, we did not meet the deadline. We also failed to agree on the extension of the license rights.
There was a situation when the code for half of the game was already written, and we no longer had the right to use the graphics.
I really didn’t want to quit the project, so we decided to do the graphics ourselves.
Since, along with the rights to Disciples, we lost the rights to the world, we had to invent our own universe, starting from the creation of the world, to the first gods and the appearance of the first creatures and people.
Sumero-Akkadian mythology, a bit of classical fantasy and real history were taken as a basis. For example, the political structure was taken from Ancient Rome and Byzantium.
Models and textures
The game is a three–dimensional turn-based strategy. There is always a lot of content in such games.
Our artist did a concept, and sometimes even a concept and a half, a day, which we then outsourced. It took about a week for a model with a texture like this.
Initially, more than 100 units were planned, today about 70 have already been implemented and added to the game.
During the development process, we came across the fact that it is very difficult to find high-quality animators.
The specialists we found one after another could not cope.
We decided to try to cooperate with a Chinese studio. It was very expensive with them.
They had already started thinking about working with motion capture studio, but around the same time they accidentally found contacts of the same animation team that worked on the third Disciples. We stopped at her.
Initially, all interface solutions were made in a classic way: there is a screen with a list of characters, there are buttons of their choice, and so on. But none of the team liked it.
As an experiment, we decided to try to visualize part of the functionality. For example, the game has a castle in which the player hires troops. And instead of a screen with signs, we drew a three-dimensional scene with characters.
In the soft launch on iOS, the game came out with this interface element. But, unfortunately, in the future it had to be abandoned due to the volume of content and for optimization purposes.
The game is being developed on Marmalade. Ogre 3D is used as the graphics engine. And, of course, a system of partial effects should be used for the 3D engine, but here again there are technical limitations. Whether it was Unity or Unreal Engine 4, we would have simply ordered the effects outsourced, in our case, we had to buy a particle editor, and already do all the effects from scratch in it.
The difficulties were also added by the fact that none of the team at that time had experience in creating such effects, and had to spend time studying the issue.
Our artists created the effects, then remade, deleted and started again. But in the end, we made great three-dimensional effects, which we are proud of.
Losing a license is, of course, unpleasant. But thanks to the fact that experienced specialists who love what they do work on the project, we can say that at this stage we have succeeded. The game is earning, although it has not yet reached its highs, and its history is far from over – we are waiting for a release on Google Play ahead.