Blog

  • With the new build we are changing our style a little bit. Instead of waiting weeks and even months to have a new version out, we are producing smaller updates that improve the game where it needs it most, in direct response to your feedback.

    Thanks for providing it in our forums, etc!

    So, our ‘hot fix’ 0.6.2 includes a few things we would like you to know about:

    1. The game should load and play more quickly than it was before. We also worked on eliminating run-time crashes and other bugs that make the game freeze and die in the heart of battle. These are the most crucial problems we found, so if you still experience them–LET US KNOW
    2. We have further balanced out the new combat system, specifically the strength of the Tamvaasa ‘Ice trap’ attack and the Shinse poison attack. Both have been reduced a little, as has the strength of the Shinse dash and heavy attack.We have also reduced the Shinse hit stun– Celea stand a chance now 🙂
    3. Animations are smoother now, and players should see more feedback when fighting Groth. We know that a lot of you notice these little changes, and we hope you can appreciate them. Skara is about being as smooth and realistic as possible when it comes to animations. Soon fatalities will make this experience more spectacular.
    4. The lighting in the tutorial has been adjusted (it won’t be so dark for new players) and a few other adjustments in the arenas have also taken place. We would love to hear more about the arenas–especially from players who remember 0.5.6 and before.
    5. Now for the new goodies. We have worked on some of the new skins! Check out the new Tamvaasa axe designs for the Rockaxe, Bentaxe and the Lakwarguard helmets and armor. As you can see, they are brighter and even more impressive–truly worthy of our favorite northern fighters.

    Expect more to come next week (and the week after that, and after that… )

    See you on the Battlefield!

    Pablo and the SKARA Team

    ΨΨΨ

    I did not know whether to trust the little craft in the open water or not. Nevertheless, straight North I oared, hoping to be over the horizon before Gaal’s light betrayed my position.

    Mercifully, the foodgatherers using the craft kept their tools and a store of water inside. Though weak I was not helpless, though grief at losing my companion of but a few passages weighed heavily on me.

    I oared all that darkness hoping I was headed straightwise North. It was no easy task, for the lights of Gaal’s absence were covered, even the Wandering Lamdeel hid Herself.

    I don’t recall falling asleep, but I must have, for the sound of the drifting watercraft made me shudder with pleasure in the light of the now familiar golden horizon.

    –I am dreaming.—I said aloud. But I lay back in my craft, not daring to try to awaken, as I had many dreams before, for the fear of finding myself again in the Cauldron mines.

    But then the light began to change, and I espied little sounds I had never before heard in dreams. The screeching of a distant skyling. The whispers of the wind, and a sudden chill as something new dawned upon my senses. It was the smell of the Long North, of frost on boughs, of fresh grass and even the frowzy stink of the Fadeel.

    –Now I know I am dreaming.—I shook my head sadly and cried unabashedly for a long time. I leaned over in the craft to splash some water in my face, thus waking up. To my surprise, the water washed my eyes and face without causing a start.

    I was not dreaming! It was so, and I had indeed escaped the Long South.

    Without a second thought, seeing that nought but water surrounded my craft, I lifted the little craft’s windcatcher and we leapt forward in the gentle breeze.

    The Gaalian design for watercraft is not bad, though it only befits the smaller kind. They can catch a forward wind and move almost in the same direction, unlike our heavier craft that must labour long distances back and forth to achieve the same feat.

    So on that whisper of a promise sent by Klara I advanced, hoping to make long distances in spare time.

    I wish it was all so easy. But I must make you all understand how it felt that brief moment of dreamfilling. Like a window, another moment of bliss that grasps and doesn’t let go for the while that it lasts. It is my hope in my elderhood that you all have this experience, though you must suffer long to truly enjoy it.

    Two passages of Gaal passed in peace, I forced myself to merely taste the water and handle only bits of the food. Fortunately my long austerities in the mines made this possible, even easy. And so my pleasant outlook continued until the approaching darkness of the third passage.

    As the darkness swallowed the sea and finally the sky I noted a shape bobbing in the distance, and sounds, which often carry so strangely in the open water.

    I made haste to lower my windcatcher and even the mast holding it, so as to not appear as this craft did to me.

    Long I belooked as I oared in the direction of the craft, silently gliding closer. Great lights flared from the craft and I had little doubt it held Gaalians, for the familiar sounds of the weed-revelry were strong on the wind.

    I closed the distance quickly, listening and looking. The craft’s movement felt familiar, as does the heartbeat of your lover. I came ever closer to the craft, despite the danger. I had to know, and indeed saw when a great flashing light lit the sky. It was Hal in the full swing of wandering, with a group of Gaalians aboard, dancing and hooting to the beats of their distinctive dances.

    I had just made my mind to turn away and continue my northwise retreat when I heard a voice shout above all others. He uttered Gaalian words, but his tongue was not Gaalian.

    –Who cares to challenge your Watermaster to a feat?—

    It was the voice of Fim. Even from afar I could belook his tall and willowy shape, covered in the golden armour of office.

    A great rush ensued. Safe in the shadows and knowing that none kept a watch during the revelries, I made my mind to stay close and belook.

    The feats were all the same ones I had seen performed many times before. Casting heavy loads far out, jumping into the water from the top of Hal’s mast, the Gaalians even held dancing feats. I waited in hope that they would have a distance swim, but unfortiunately they never did.

    When it seemed that Gaal’s absence could not continue much longer, my body stiff from sitting so long, the Gaalian crew grew quiet and restful, the flames guttered low. Group by group they lay down for their rest. Fim, who was among the last to retire, made his way to the rear quarters, where a fine cloth covering, like a camp, had been made.

    It was then that a bloodcraze rose up in me such as had never occurred before or since. Thinking of Kut and Brendar, I boiled insensate. But I knew it was nonsense to wake the crew up for a battle by raging in the customary battleways.

    So I swallowed my rage, and found a foodgatherer’s knife, its edge cocked forward to help make clear cuts, like a skyling’s beak.

    Silently I slipped into the water and across the distance from my little craft to Hal.

    Longworn practice made climbing Hal an easy feat, though I took care not to make one part of her creak or groan. I knew well that the sleep of the weed eaters is a deep one, ere they fall into it. And so I settled a long score, from the front to the back, one by one, I butchered the entire crew.

    It was a surprisingly easy job. I had but to hold the Gaalians’ mouth and slice, taking care that the seeping blood did not pour across the neighboring body.

    My rage burned a cold heat as I progressed. I did not tire, but I did not revel in my work either. The blood ran sticky between my fingers, and so I had to wipe them clean to avoid waking the next Gaalian victim.

    Soon I had reached the rear quarters, the cloth covering shivering vainly in the wind. Gaal was just rising, the morning silent.

    I pushed back the cloth covering to find Fim asleep on a cushion, his head tilting back from the weight of his armour which he wore even in sleep. A cup of the sweet liquid was in his hand, though it had spilled down his sagging front.

    –Wake, traitor.—I said calmly.—and belook what has become of your crew.—

    Fim started at my voice, a groggy noperson. Then his senses came to him and his eyes grew wide. By the time he could have given battle, I had grabbed him by the back of his armourplate and thrown him onto his knees, my foodgatherer’s knife posied at his throat.

    –Jonderen.—he began, a sob rising.

    –Save your apologies for your meeting with our dead Karkin.—I said. I did not wait. I cut clean, just like the others.

    Fim’s Long Northern blood seeped out a dark purple as he attempted to speak, but found he could only gurgle. Then he died.

    ΨΨΨ

    Here on my waist I have scratched 35 marks for the lives I took that day. The one completing the fourth octave is missing, for we do not remember traitors to Gaal. I poured each body overboard, loaded with an object to make them fall, but I soon ran out of good objects. It took the better part of a passage. By the time I finished, the watercreatures had swarmed around Hal to enjoy the feast.

    Then I took all the vile purple plant I could find and cast it into the water, uttering the best curses my lips could enword.

    With Hal back in my possession and cleansed, with all the food and drink I could need to make several trips, I continued my wander straightwise north.

    Directing a watercraft made for an octave of men with only four limbs and one set of wits is no easy task. But with time and a steady wind, I soon mastered the challenge. Every waterwanderer should know my manner of handling, which I am happy to show to the one who asks. The trick, I can say now, is to install guide posts for the rigging in the forecraft.

    But let me finish my tale.

    I wandered straightwise north for three octaves, moving forward when the wind permitted, drifting when it did not. I could not redraw that wander on a map, though I tried to keep measurements of the Lesser Lights.

    Every passage, Lamdeel’s presence grew more prominent. I had not noticed how little She seemed to be seen in the Long South, but it is true. Our home in the Long North might well be called the Land of Lamdeel as that of the Long South is called the Land of Gaal… Strange we pay more homage to Gaal than to Lamdeel.

    But my musings again take me away from my story.

    On the end of three peace filled octaves of passages, I spotted a shroud of mist afore. The mist was as long as the horizon, and this caused me great concern. So I turned Hal towards the rising Gaal, hoping to keep away from rocks, fearing I might have wandered to a dangerous shore.

    But one part joy also beat in my heart. For I had left the Long South behind, and met the shores of my land. From this shore, so I thought, I could walk on two limbs all the way to my Folkin.

    It was not to be so. For as soon as I had wandered in the direction Gaal rises, I saw the end of the misty wall and the opening of the sea again. Rounding this point, I turned straightwise north and soon enough espied land, but not a vast land that led to my home, but a narrow island.

    It was beautiful beyond belief; As beautiful as the havenlands were before they were tarnished by Gaalian hands. Every measure was a bright green when not lit by the colour of some flower. Such untended glory seemed impossible, and I cautiously held watch for the beings protecting this paradise. But long as I looked, I saw nought.

    Then with great desire I turned Hal to come near the land, so that I could wander in its glades and gaze at the beauty, up close.

    I had got very near when on the wind I heard a sound, a kind of groan. This sound sent a chill right up my limbs and down my back, for it was surely Brendar’s voice sounding in my ear.

    Closely I listened, but the sound had ceased. All that remained was the silent look of the land and a gentle padding of water against Hal.

    Brendar’s voice had seemed a warning; a message I could not mistake. So painfully I heeded the warning and forced my face forward, so as not to look back at that wondrous place. I pointed Hal straightwise East, where Gaal rose and left the isle.

    I wandered where Gaal rises another octave, well fed and drunk, but homeweary. Every passage my desire for the Long North became stronger.

    We of the sea do not call ourselves soft or sentimental, loss being so much a staple of our wanderings in life. But I am old. I can enword my mind without fear or care of youthful mockery. For hearth and kin, a good pot of Jonderail on the table, peace within, trouble without and a strong craft sitting in the water ready to take us wither we would wander, we are indeed sentimental. Who dares speak otherwise?

    I recalled how a great flow drug Hal towards the Long South in the deep Eastern waters, so fearing it would find me again, I continued my wander North, knowing somewhere near was the Shinse coast. Death by Shinse blades seemed a mercy compared to the chance of returning to the Long South.

    As it happened I sat awake in the depths of Gaal’s absence, lit by the light of Lamdeel, having caught a good wind from the West by South when I espied a shimmering glint over the horizon. It was the golden towers of Kunazem!

    They were white and pale, like tear drops, as beautiful as anything I had ever imagined. In the dark of Gaal’s absence, everyone in that great city was asleep and at peace. I had departed the Long North to make war here, but now such thoughts were far from my mind or heart.

    With silent cheer I praised Gaal and all the Authorities for having delivered me into familiar waters in the darkness. I swore never to swing my axe against that city. I have lived long under that oath.

    The more quickly I left Kunazem the less likely any Shinse would wish to draw a fight or come near enough to note I alone directed the craft. Nevertheless I hung weapons wherever I could and set up empty suits of armour to sit in the oarbenches. I saw a few foodgathering craft, but they swiftly turned back the way they had come when they belooked Hal’s windcatchers.

    It was only a few octaves later that the Karkin of Hildren espied Hal coming stiff in that same favourable wind. They found me asleep, my good hand on the till, my bad wrapped in the rigging, my hair white as winterwater, my face burnt beyond recognition. I’ll never forget being so soundly shocked as when they woke me with great joy and much thumping.

    The rest of my life is no mystery. I settled my hearth, sealed my bond with the Good Folkiness Kilain, and fathered an octave of your Karkin. Waterwandering I left off, except for the odd journey into the Long North. Hal now wanders the waters by the direction of Kut-dorin and Brendarin his Kin, both my seed.

    My song is now woven, rough and ragged though it be. I Ask the Authorities for it to serve you all well. Remember our Folkin who lay there to rest. Perhaps some still see with sightless eyes and work the mines of the Cauldron. Perhaps some others don false gold and title for traitorous acts, as did Fim. Whatever be truth, know this: A deadly enemy waits sleeping in the Long South. If ever it woke to wander North, we would be in for a disaster none have before dreamed.

    So end the words of Jonderen Bloodba, Master Mariner, a testament to his Kin and Karkin, lone survivor of the Long South.

    ΨΨΨ

    We scaled the rocky crevasse that rose high above the mines. We desired more than anything to reach the coast.

    So, with nothing but a broken pick edge each, we climbed the crumbling ledges of rock. I led the way, helping stiff Brendar through the difficult parts. I had become an adept metal grubber, and knew the ways of rocks as once I had known the ways of water.

    We made the top just as Gaal’s light began to burn hot. The wide barren lands stretched away from the smoke infused sky and with the giddiness of children we clasped and sang soft victory songs, for our spirits.

    Such freedom of open space! None of you Long Northerners, accustomed to your free movement and clear horizons, could possibly understand the taste of our joy then. We swore an oath under Gaal that we would die free, whatever Leel had written.

    And so we made our way away from the cliff and towards the wide water.

    We knew that the overseers would try to find us first without aid, so as to avoid any punishment for losing us. But this attempt could not last forever. Upon discovering we were truly vanished, they would sound the alarm and stop at nothing to capture us.

    For that reason, Brendar and myself made haste across the flatlands, crawling low and rolling in dust to blend in with the surroundings. It took three passages of slow and careful going in the middle of the wildlands before we espied the new Gaalian road that stretched from the coastal settlement to the havenlands.

    We sat coiled like groundwinders and slithered along, all the while keeping a close watch on the comings and goings of the Gaalians along the road, marvelling at the constant flow of industry and might.

    Those parts bore no familiarity to our earlier wandering. Such had been the industry of the Gaalians under Aflatan, A great city that rivalled Tu’Vrahadith had risen from nothing to guard the coastal approach to the havenlands. The settlement boasted of a new style of tall building with painted roofs and glaring white stone walls. In the middle, taller than the rest, rose a great golden dome, a wide flame burning at its peak.

    –We will never make it while Gaal shines above.—said Brendar with a weak weariness I could only clearly noticed since we had entered into the light of Gaal.

    –Nevertheless, we must try.—I said.

    And so we did, as soon as Gaal’s absence made movement easier. Slowly we worked our way around the settlement, hoping that the Gaalians still partook of evening revelries fuelled by the purple weed.

    In this, at least, we were comforted, for with Gaal’s departure we began to hear the loud and frantic banging of drums in the space beneath the dome. The sound echoed so clearly, we realized the golden dome covered not a building, but an open area.

    I thank Gaal for not giving the Long South animals like our Hrunde. These would surely have alerted the guard of our presence especially if they could scent us in the strong wind that began blowing.

    Windstorms in the Long South are as perilous as Klara’s breath is in the homewaters. They trouble the elements, flinging light earth and sand up to swirl it about until the senses are lost and there is no capacity left to draw inner wind.

    But that is not the worst of it, for sometimes the Whirling Ones, said to cause all winds, descend from on High to visit destruction and chaos upon all landdwellers.

    Whirling winds were rare in Tu’Vrahadith, but a common menace in the smaller hamlets, many were the stories told by the Gaalians in the early days of our wandering.

    We ought to have moved more quickly, but caution kept us from panic.

    We wrapped our heads in what was left of our meagre clothes, and Klara’s southern cousins blew with ever greater force, threatening to blind and choke us. Lost and moving blindly, we came perilously close to the settlement. The Gaalians must have called their revelry off, for all was quiet in between the gusts of wind.

    Then, like the swift silent swipe of an axe, a Whirling One descended. I will never forget its awesome power as dirt and stones were drawn into its grasp. These swirled around like new clothes.

    And our troubles were only beginning. The Whirling one drew out the settlement Gaalians, who looked upon it with awe and fear. Many prostrated themselves, shouting offerings and prayers. Some of the Gaalians, the ones dressed in the new ceremonial costumes of gold and metal, offered up flaming torches to ward off the evil. And some noticed us.

    With pointing hands and arms reaching for whatever weapons they could find, several octaves of Gaalians made chase.

    With heavy limbs, slowed by the flying dirt, Brendar and I struggled to stay afront of them. Twice Brendar fell from the effort and twice I came to his aid, the Gaalians a spearfling away.

    Then the Whirling One, with a sudden jerk, swept near us. Great flying stones bashed into the Gaalian pursuers, who cried out with pain and fear. Some of the slower Gaalians were even carried up into His embrace.

    Pursuit turned to flight as we all made for the outskirts of the settlement. Some Gaalians even passed us by, their weapons flung away, all thought of our capture disappeared.

    We made it to the settlement right before the Whirling wind. Frantically we passed through the narrowly twisting walkways, wind blasting behind us, threatening to unsettle our flying feet.

    –In here!—shouted Brendar above the noise, and he grasped my arm and flung me into a dark building, slamming the door behind him.

    The room was not the ordinary, plain style of the Long South we knew. Instead it was decorated in colourful paint. Thick cushions covered the ground, a long low table making up one end. We sighed with joy that it was empty.

    We did not wait, but quickly slid to the low table, which was piled high with food and drink, the likes of which we had not seen for untold octaves. The Whirling Wind had interrupted a great feast.

    We grasped at this food and drink with great desire and slid onto our bellies beneath the low table, munching and waiting to see what should happen next.

    It is an odd happening to be in a risky position that brings so much joy, one cannot think of what comes after that moment’s end. I have only occasionally been in that situation. In the arms of a Folkiness, for instance. But never do I recall being so absorbed in delight, as with that food, with the comfort of sitting indoors atop a soft carpet. It is a vivid memory, and I do not hesitate to say I was happy then. As happy as I had ever been in life after so much suffering.

    Noble Brendar was the one who pulled me out of my reveries.

    –Karkin—he said with tenderness, his mouth half full of a dried fruit slice.—I would that we may long remain here, but to do that, we must seek arms, and attempt to bar the entry. Seeing no substantial arms and no way to close the doors, I am afraid we must go.—

    The Whirling Wind raged outside, a roar covering any other sound. The Waterwandering Jonderen would not have hesitated at this sound, but the metal grubbing one did.

    –What if we should fail to live?—I replied with urgency.—I have no desire to perish. And it is so nice in here and comfortable.—

    Brendar, whose life in the mines had been a good deal more difficult even than mine, shook his head silently.

    –If you make comfort your measuring rod, you may pass a painless death. But you will also pass a servant of comfort, and not free.—

    This statement made me tremble, pondering on how many decisions I had made to avoid pain and embrace what was comfortable and easy. Pursuing these things had created the monster Aflatan, had gotten my Folkin killed or turned into shells. It had ruined my health, hope, and my honour. Now, only a few lengths from water and freedom, with only the courage to make the wandering in a windstorm needed to finish, I yet hesitated.

    Long I looked at Brendar who looked long at me. He stood then and took another bite, piling as much provisions into his soiled garment, which he wound into a pouch. I followed his lead, the strength within all but disappeared, mournful for the trials that yet I faced, a broken one.

    I make no matter to try and hide my shame. I was no good member of my Kin or Karkin, I was then a disgrace to the entire Folkin, gifted with glory by the Authorities. I must dwell on this and dirty my name, lest the Songweavers try and clear me of what happened next.

    With provisions enhand, we made for the door. The howling Spinner swept above with great crashing and chaos.

    –We will not make it!—I shouted above the howling.

    –nevertheless, we must try.—Brendar then shoved his shoulder into the door.

    Caught into the wind, the door ripped off in the sweep of that narrow street like a piece of parchment. The howling grew very much louder, so that words were lost in the wind as they leapt off the tongue.

    But Brendar did not hesitate, he jumped into the street and ran, the wind whipping, threatening to make him lose his balance.

    I watched him from the safety of that doorway, willing myself to follow. Just as I made my first step, a great crack and a bang were sounded, and the building roofs flew up like great skylings and then came crashing down, Brendar beneath.

    I did not believe what I had belooked. Rooted where I stood, I called out. Brendar! Brendar!

    I heard nothing back but the howling, so heavy limbed I went to the wreckage to try and find him.

    The Whirling One had moved across the settlement at this point, leaving stumps where once the pride of Aflatan had shown, strong and tall. With the lessening wind, the sounds of Gaalians, frantic with grief, rose up.

    However, a Gaalian guard, the masters made by Aflatan, had begun to organize and I could hear their collected march, wandering my way.

    I waded through the wreckage calling for Brendar, overturning wood, tile and wattle with speed and worry. Where are you? I cried.

    The Gaalian guard then turned a corner. My wits returned and I threw myself beneath some wreckage on the side to hide as they passed.

    None of the Gaalians espied me as they passed by, clearing a way, neither did they find Brendar.

    Lying there in wait, I knew what I had to do, what Brendar would have wanted, so as soon as the guard was gone I got up and ran for the water.

    The true devastation of the Spinner could only be seen from beyond the settlement. Built a bit back from the coast, as is also our fashion, lest a troubled sea cause trouble on land, you could see the whole settlement from water’s edge.

    When I made it to this strand, I wondered at the work of the Whirling One, who could be seen going further aland and away, black and sparkling with the riches He had taken with Him in the last glowing gleam of Gaal.

    All that remained of the great watercraft was wreckage, rolled over and dashed to pieces. But mercifully there lay a small foodgathering craft, of the old Gaalian style, floating unhurt in the water. Old Hal was nowhere to be seen.

    I did not hesitate, but tightened the spiral of my cloak to protect my small supply of food and made for the little craft, eager to be away.

    The last month before releasing a new build is a crazy, non-stop working spree.

    The work leading up to Build 0.6.0 has been no exception. Our programmers have been coming to the studio to work on most of the Sundays and EVERY single Saturday for the last 2 months. The amount of work that needed to be done to bring our vision of a close-combat multiplayer fighting game is humongous.

    First of all, our entire replication system had to be re-configured and adapted to the new dedicated servers. The new Skara is finally going to be available for a whole bunch of players, not just a few chosen testers. For that to work, everything had to be rock solid to avoid lag on multiplayer matches.

    Doing this may sound a little bit crazy, but is was certainly worthwhile. There are a lot of different situations that had to be reviewed and coded over again. The team had to try and consider gameplay situations from multiple perspectives to ensure that everything looked the way it should. This included situations like when a player is hit in the middle of a dodge. What animation and distance displacement should each of the players see? There is a lot of prediction involved in the code of most multiplayer games, and Skara is no exception, but that comes with thousand of hours of hard work testing, coding, compiling, and testing again.

    Ciro and David were our chosen programmers for this, while Juanma worked on the dedicated server integration. Jacobo, meanwhile, has been working on the interface logic to include player parties, in-game chat, and a social/friend system in Skara.

    Yes, that is right: Skara is being made by only 4 gameplay programmers!

    Our designers had a hard time on all these features as well. Since the whole combat system was going to be re-configured Joan – our Lead Game Designer – took advantage of the great feedback our player base provided and re-calculated distance and power for all the attacks in the game to re-adjust the character balancing. Sara and Adrià, junior part-time designers, helped him out to test and adjust each one of the blueprint and animation montages to make sure everything matched.

    The Art department meanwhile gave a warm welcome to a couple of new additions. Marc Obiols joined the team as an Environment/Materials artist, and Adrià Najar is now the Lead Artist in charge of the whole department.

    As some of you may know, the Jaarvi Duel Arena has been totally redone. Most of the animations – more than one hundred animations for each character – had to be re-adjusted to match the new gameplay and replication logic. We also seized the opportunity to connect a couple of Kinect Ones and try some motion capture for the first two in-game cinematics. You will see them the first time you open the game.

    Finally, we were waiting to add a lot of new cosmetic and customizable options for your characters in the game store. New complete skins, isolated items, helmets and looks will be available in Skara 0.6.0… and this is only the beginning! We are planning to release a new character customization system in version 0.7.0 to allow players to choose their character faces and skin color, individualised mockeries, and a lot more content.

    Get ready! Skara 0.6.0 is coming!

     

    What’s new in the 0.6.0 build:

    • Dedicated servers.
    • Huge replication improvements.
    • Matchmaking.
    • All animations rework.
    • New rankings refreshed every two weeks: one global ranking with the sum of all the ranking points from all your characters + one ranking for each character.
    • Groth chained into the Lava coliseum. Visible from the first second. New animations.
    • HUD: Frag display screen redesign.
    • Skins: 1 mastery skin per character. This skin will be purchasable only with in-game currency (not premium currency) when reaching a certain level.
    • Skins: 1 new purchasable skin + 3 isolated items (helmets or weapons) per character.
    • Skins: Old skins visual improvements.
    • Arenas: Jaarvi (duel arena) complete redesign (design + art).
    • Arenas: Tutorial visual improvements.
    • Arenas: Two matinees in the tutorial, one at the entrance, the other at the end.
    • New gameplay feature: dash.
    • New gameplay feature: dash attack.
    • Optimization: VFX.
    • Optimization: maps.
    • New menu feature: Friends invitation and friends list.
    • New menu feature: Menu chat and in-game chat.
    • New menu feature: Parties. You will be able to group with your friends to enter all together into the matches.
    • Menu improvements: Karats packs visual redesign.
    • Menu improvements: New menu animations for the characters.
    • Menu improvements: better user experience. It is faster to equip and purchase items.
    • Menu improvements: Menu personalized for each character (personal background + pedestal).
    • Menu improvements: Cards visual redesign and cards rarity logic.
    • Spanish localization.
  • ΨΨΨ

    The burden of living became lighter through the distraction of work.

    There is nothing that destroys the Lifewill of a Waterwanderer more than grubbing through the dirt in pursuit of metals.

    The only reason I survived was by letting the Waterwanderer die.

    Born anew as a metalgrubber, I poured my energy into the task. The shells were obedient and fearless, but they were also stupid. They did not know a seam of metals when they saw one, and they would not follow one when it opened to them.

    Upon seeing my changed attitude and eagerness for food, the overseers set me to directing the shells. Whenever it became complicated, I would take over.

    I do not know the amount, but I think that the camp produced several times the amount of metals as before. This was good for the overseers, who got praise for this from their overseers in the new hierarchy surrounding Aflatan. They in turn rewarded me.

    Many passages turned into cycles of Gaal, though I never kept track. I recovered my strength and perfected my abilities. In all that time, I never saw one of my Folkin working among the shells.

    Then one passage working a seam on the lower arm of the mine, a part of the mine I rarely ventured, I did see what appeared to be two Long Northerners.

    It was Brendar and Kut. Both were shells, slowly, clumsily acting upon the stones, grunting like the other host of shells I had come to know so well.

    I cannot easily describe the feelings seeing them again brought to me. It was like waking from a very long dream. The Waterwanderer, Jonderen Bloodbather, rose up from the dead then, seeking vengeance.

    But I was careful not to let any of this show. I dove straight into my task, directing a confusing cross seam of Gold and the heavy-metal known in the Long South as Sinkermetal and among us as Lead.

    As I had hoped, the overseers failed to notice my fellow Folkin enter into the hole behind me. There, deep in the dark, I came near to my fellows and spoke softly, offering the water and breadfruit I had brought with me.

    –Thank you.—said Brendar, upon drinking the sack dry.

    I looked at him with amazement. I had never heard one of the shells utter intelligible speech before.

    –Brendar!—I said.—You are not…–

    –I am not.—he replied softly and hoarsely.—but in the pretending I very nearly became so.—

    We clasped and wept like little children then for the joy of it.

    With the shells working tirelessly on the cross seam, Brendar and I continued to talk. It did not take long for us to hatch a plan of escape, though it took much longer to act upon it.

    ΨΨΨ

    Upon capturing him, the Gaalians had attempted to make Brendar a shell. He spoke of the room in Tu’Vrahadith filled to choking with weed-smoke, the dancers that held him in place while a Gaalian female stuffed Brendar’s mouth with the powder of the purple weed.

    And yet, to Brendar’s joyfilled astonishment, nothing happened. Brendar was mysteriously immune to the effects of the plant, be it the protection of the Authorities, or the strange complexion of his body.

    However, Brendar knew that, to save his life, he must pretend to be under the weed’s influence. So he became a great actor, as great as any Songweaver, keeping his secret light burning through austerities that mindful ones would not have been able to endure, for the shells require little in the way of rest or nourishment.

    Fortunately for him the overseers chained him to Kut, who had become a mumbling shell, his eyes unseeing and his ears unhearing. When not watched, he would speak to Kut, hoping to get a response from some deep part of him that remained intact. He spoke of the Long North, of the Authorities, he shared the tales of our Folkin and Karkin, of the great battles lost and won.

    It is my belief that this activity saved Brendar from madness. There is something powerful in remembering stories, something that guides the inner spark just as the lights of Gaal’s absence guide a Waterwanderer.

    Having seen Brendar once, I dared not return to him in the presence of the overseers. So for another octave or so of passages, I collected spare scraps of food and drink. I kept these in a spare work bag the overseers had let me keep near my sleeping place.

    On the eighth passage, I committed myself to the escape. Deep within a mining chasm, I took the pick off of a shell and spent the entire passage working it into two pieces. I very nearly failed to break it before the overseers horns sounded. But it snapped with a great crack, the shells watching impassively. On our way out of that horrible, narrow place I pushed the shell whose tool I had taken, he slipped and dragged the entire chain of shells with him. A great shouting was heard everywhere, and I emerged at the end of the chain to help haul the survivors up.

    We succeeded in bringing half of them up out of pit alive, but in the chaos, the overseers did not look for missing tools.

    I was given an early rest, having saved half of an entire octave of shells. And so I built up my strength and waited.

    When Gaal’s absence had grown to its’ deepest point, and the overseers were lost in their weed infused revelries, I made my escape. The broken pick made a magnificent lever that detached my chains and like a treecrawler I advanced rapidly where most sane ones would not dare to go, towards the lower arm of the mine where Brendar waited with the other shells.

    Finding him was not difficult, though the shells grew excited upon seeing me.

    In two deft strokes I snapped Brendar’s chains, giving him some of my extra stores to eat and drink.

    –we cannot leave him.—said Brendar, looking sadly at the swaying form of Kut, the shell.

    –if we do not leave now, his sacrifice would have been for nothing.—I replied.—the real Kut would have wished it so.—

    Brendar nodded and turned to clasp his companion through fire and water, leaving tears, the best gift a Waterwanderer knows to give, upon Kut’s stained brow.

    We said the words of departing then and without another look back, made our escape…

  • ΨΨΨ

    If I shut my eyes, I can see it clearly. Cliff faces with rope ladders stretched across, hollowed out caves and chasms that went deep into the ground, black rocks, and smoke. Smoke was everywhere as the very earth seemed to expel a heavy wind.

    Blackened figures climbed up and down these ladders in a tired, dull manner. They did not seem to be of any race I knew and Gaal’s Spark, kindled by Klara when time first began, seemed to be non-existent in their cumbersome movements and empty eyes.

    I surveyed them closely, the Dancer-soldiers were tense with anticipation, expecting my reaction to be violent.

    But I had mastered that impulse at the very beginning, and now felt quite relaxed. I pointed at the head Dancer, and asked him where my Folkin were.

    –Here comes one now.—

    That is when I noticed him. It was the gigantic frame of Kut, stepping slowly down the ladder at the same slow dull pace as the others. His skin was blackened beyond recognition and his once proud hair hung in loose, soiled curls. It was a terrifying sight, made worse when he turned to look around. Instead of the proud dancing eyes of a Long Northerner, one who had never seen defeat in feats of strength or courage, I saw only the crazened look of a weed-eater.

    But it was more than what I had seen of weed-eaters in the past. His eyes held no gaze, betrayed no thought and contained no emotion. It was as if the weed had eaten everything of worth, leaving him a shell.

    It was upon belooking Kut that I finally lost control. With a wild warscream that overpowered the clanging of the miners, I swung bare-limbed at my captors. I succeeded in striking the leader in the face, and knocking one of his compatriots off the path and into a boiling chasm below before the third had grasped me from behind. With the help of several Gaalian overseers who came rushing to aid, they had me bound and at their mercy.

    –Struggle shadowman, and you will become just like your fellow.—said the leader.—But by the orders of the Itȃm, Sire Aflatan, you are not to have the Gift of Fire forced upon you. Consider it a mercy and a curse. You shall have to endure this place without the Bliss of Atash.—

    He then laughed a laugh that still haunts my darknesses and my rest.

    I was led bound into the makeshift dwelling that made the end of the path. Here were the troupe of overseers and all their food and comforts. Next to that were the piles of rock later melted and fused to find the metals desired by Aflatan to be worked into all manner of objects.

    Beyond that, in the open, chained in a long line, were the captive weed-eaters, who sat swaying, waiting without tiredness or care for their turn to continue the mining.

    I was beaten and have but spotty memories of the first few passages in that awful place. They chained me up and cast me out over a ledge, hanging helplessly as the fiery earth moved below. At first I fought back and hoisted myself back to safety to sleep. But every time weariness overcame me, the overseers would cackle and push me off again to swing and hope their rudimentary metalwork did not break.

    Hunger was bad, but it was the thirst that proved my worst torment. I lusted for water in that place, dreaming of long swims in the cool, clear crystalline water of the havenlands. Knowing they were but a few lengths away proved irresistible to my mind. I am not ashamed to admit I howled and whined like an animal caught in a snare.

    Once my strength and will were stretched to breaking, the overseers brought me up and savagely beat me. Then they made me watch as they ate and drank a feast and only stopped their carousing when I nearly succeeded in cracking my chain in two from anger.

    Never underestimate what a mindful being will do when given absolute authority over another. It is a matter of mystery how the real Authorities do not make our lives more miserable for pleasure.

    As I said, my memories all run together and are difficult to separate. I know that I killed several overseers who ventured too close, caught in the power of their purple plant. In my desperate thirst, I ripped them open in their soft places and drank their blood. I remember these events like they were dreams. For instance, I do not recall tasting blood, rather it was Jonderail, pouring mysteriously out of my victim’s veins. Similarly, I would wake to find myself floating alone on the open water, heading for a great golden horizon. Longer and longer did I spend in this vision, it being a much more pleasant place than my waking world. To the passage of my final departure, I claim it was a gift of Gaal Himself to keep me from total despair.

    I know not how long I held onto life in this way. I think it must have been so many passages that counting is impossible. Perhaps an entire Cycle! The overseers changed hands several times, and new groups of shells came replacing those that passed, led from inexplicable places to work the unpleasant mines.

    Eventually the change in overseers benefited me. This was when I began receiving regular allotments of food and drink, and in decent quantities too. With the sustenance I began to re-acquire some of my mind and my memories become clearer. Awaking from my madness I lapsed into the habits of a Hrund—eager for any scrap offered to me and a feeling of overwhelming gratitude to the one that provided it.

    Loathe I am to admit this, but my hopes were all broken. The only thing left to me was the dream of the golden horizon, and my struggle to experience it daily. So I curled up in a place overlooking a steaming chasm, to avoid watching the miners at their work. I did this for fear of seeing another of my Folkin, a living shell chipping without knowledge at the rocks, and I left the overseers alone, even when they made fun with me.

    The mine overseers had been given orders not to make me into a shell, a kindness they said I should credit to Aflatan. This meant that the overseers, being stupid and used to working with shells, could not predict my behaviour. So they experimented.

    Having tried every kind of cruelty imaginable, they eventually handed me an axe to try working like the shells. Then they directed me to work in a place all by myself. Surprised by the joy I felt at activity, I spent the next passage exploring the rocks. Ere the second passage set, I had located more gold than the entire camp of shells had.

    This was the beginning of change for me. The new overseers were so astounded at my abilities, they gave me a double portion of food and even a flask of their sweet drink. That absence of Gaal I slept more soundly than long before, Lost the entire evening in my dream of the golden horizon…