The opening CG
Our original aim is to design the game experience of a "continuous journey". So naturally, we began to notice the silk road: an important route system in history that connects the east and the west of Eurasia.
After research, we focused our sights on the Loulan kingdom, a famous hub on the silk road which mysteriously disappeared around the 4th century. In the game, players will play the roles of adventurers and team up with each other to look for solutions to the kingdom's increasing environmental and social problems.
In order to present a more immersive journey, we built the regional map according to the actual geographic information and tried to recreate the diverse cultures of different states of the region. Players can experience trading, collaboration, diplomacy, and make their own choices in various events. Hopefully, through this game, we can introduce the silk road region to more people, and raise more concerns about environmental protection.
From East to West
The Silk Road
From the real routes in history
To the board game prototype
From the general desert depiction
To a full view of diverse states & areas
From one single trading function
To a complex quest & event system
From three different attributes
To various characters with unique backgrounds & skills
From the interception of "ride"
To the adventure mission with CG, tutorial, and diverse sidequests
Spirit of Nature! The fabled magical diamonds!
We need to collect three of them and use their power to bring vitality back here again.
Above are the three ways to collect the spirit of nature.
The task is arduous, who can take on such an important responsibility?
Of course our great adventurer team!
These adventurers have different talents, but they all have out strength and wisdom.
Together, they will overcome all the difficulties, and save our home.
Buy or gain three important goods on the silk road:
spice, jade, and silk
Sent them as tribute to the Great City and get presents in return.
Trade those goods along the silk road to earn coins.
Join the auction at the Camel Market and exchange coins for precious items.
Learn the scriptures in the Land of Lotus.
Then preach the knowledge to the aim city and get residents' reward.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the game designed to be collaborative, not competitive?"We actually had a careful discussion on this. I think the biggest reason is that the main theme of the game is to save the silk road region from environmental degradation. This theme has a strong indication of the importance of environmental protection, and we believe it’s a task for all of us. We want to say that in order to protect our home, the earth, we really need to work with each other, and help each other. During this journey, the biggest enemy is not you or me, but the existing problems we have caused in the past. So an embryonic collaborative model was born from these thoughts. Also, collaborative board games are pretty rare in the market. Designing game mechanics to create a linear flow and an exciting experience is challenging, but also interesting to explore. The idea of making something that hasn’t been common is very attractive.
How does the gameplay connect to the actual Silk Road history and culture?We referred to the book The Silk Road : A New History and other historical documents for cultural research. As mentioned above, the game map is designed based on the actual geographical information of the silk road region. We select representative states from different time periods and put them to our fantasy world. The three ways to get the spirit of Nature: tribute, preach, trade, also shed light on the important functions of the silk road. China, which has a strong influence on this region; India, where the Buddhism was born; and Sogdia, the hub between the east and the west — famous cities and countries are depicted in the game with crucial functions. In addition, the stories and the characters in game contain a both realistic and imaginative background. We made a lot trials combining cultural content and entertainment. Personally, I really like these trials, as I believe they can give more meanings to the game. (Picture from Tao Ye)
What is the iteration process?There are only three people in our production team, and we need to cover the work of designing, writing, drawing, programming, testing, etc. So the economical way for us to iterate the game is to do small quick changes. And before we actually make changes to our code and art, for most of the time we will test on paper first. For example, just for the map, we have over ten different prototypes on paper. From time to time, we invited different friends to join our test sessions for new voices. We also gradually found out a more effective way to discuss: list out possible design solutions and then discuss them one by one.
Do you have any future development goals?Sure. The thing we want to improve the most is the dynamics. Since players are fighting against game mechanics, we really hope to reduce the repeating experiences and make the fun even more fun approaching the end. For now, we have designed a linear development for the game difficulty — some routes will be cut off and events setting obstacles for players will be added to the system. But these are not enough, as there is great potential for the story. We plan to diversify the prices of goods in cities according to time and events so that trading can contain more strategies. We also plan to add a weather system to influence the traveling on the map, which will need players to take more careful consideration before moving... In a word, we want to make the silk road alive. Besides that, game balance is also something we will continue working on. The balance between characters, the balance between events... We want to make sure players won’t purposely stick to some characters or tricks just because they are too powerful. After all, we hope the stories and topics behind our designs could be discovered. In order to reach this balance, we will keep testing and iterating the game with more and more users in the future.