An Indie Oldschool Role-Playing Game

Items in DarkDale, First Look

Items in DarkDale, First Look

on May 23, 2013 | 2 comments

Since the last update, we have been working on implementing the items system in the game, from design, to assets, to physics and gui. Many questions raised other questions, and as a result we also have basic sketches also for the attributes, classes, races, skills, magic & combat systems. The mechanics of the game are shaping up! But for now, let’s look at how items work in DarkDale.

Living in a Material World

As we mentioned last time, the relative power of armors and weapons (but also accessories such as rings, or necklaces) will be based on a material system. The material an item is made of will influence its rarity, power, value, properties, skill requirement to use or affinity to magic. There will be two scales, one for metals/hard materials and one for organic/soft materials. In each scale, there will be two common materials (low tiers), two uncommon (medium tiers) and two rare (high tiers) ones. Here’s a the “hard” scale at a glance:

  • Iron (tier 1): The most common material in the world of DarkDale. Iron weapons and armor are of crude making and hold little value. Items made of iron cannot be enchanted.
  • Steel (tier 2): Still very common but a bit more valuable are the items made of steel. Heavier and more robust, steel equipment will form the bulk of the party gear once they can afford it. Steel items can hold one lower enchantment.
  • Silver (tier 3): A bit more uncommon are silver weapons and armor. A magical alloy of pure silver and steel, this material can make light but solid armors and sharp, accurate swords. Silver equipment also has a greater effectiveness against undead, both on attack and defence, which makes it still pertinent in the late-game when the player has access to higher tiers of equipment. Silver items can hold one lower or medium enchantment.
  • Skaalstone (tier 4): Skaalstone is a special material that carries the flexibility of steel and the hardness of stone. It is a relatively scarce material in the world, but one of the few know sources is found in the northwestern area of the Kingdom of DarkDale, which makes it easier to come by, provided you have the gold to pay for. The Skaalstone Mountains and the Skaalstone Mines are pillars of DarkDale‘s economic and political struggles and will both be important stops on our main quest. Skaalstone weapons and armor are strong, effective, and can hold one lower or medium enchantment.
  • Black Ice (tier 5): Very little is know about the origin of this material, first of the high tier ones. Some tales tell of a Vindáar explorer (more on races another time) who brought pieces of it from the northern wastes, centuries ago. Others tell of a magic rain of ice that fell from the sky. Others yet tell of darker – and unspeakable of – origins. Truth is, more cannot be obtained, and the items sculpted out of this material are rare and very valuable. Dark and translucent, always icy to the touch but never melting, Black Ice has the sharpest edges and is unbreakable. Items made out of it can hold one lower, medium or higher enchantment, with the restriction of no fire-based enchantments.
  • Firebronze (tier 6): When magic energies of a cataclysmic scale are invoked, the fabric of the world itself is shaken and for a short while, matter and energy become one. When the storm calms, one may find slag or golden ashes, magical energy residue in crystallized form. Melted into steel, these ashes give the material a fiery gleaming color. Feeling way heavier than they should, Firebronze armor and weapons are the rarest and strongest available in DarkDale, unbreakable and with a strong affinity for magic. Like Black Ice, Firebronze items can hold any enchantment with the exception of frost-based enchantments.

So what’s all that with enchantments, you might ask? Well, all normal items can have one enchantment applied to them, while unique items will be able to hold many, or particular ones. The player will have a small random chance of finding enchanted gear in dungeon loot, they will be able to buy some at shops or off particular NPCs, and they will be able to apply custom enchantments at the enchanters’ shop. That last option will not however be available before mid-game at least, as enchanting is expensive and requires precious gems, consumed to channel and bind the magical energy into the object.

Modding-wise, adding new materials or replacing basic ones is easy by calling defineItemMaterial{} in items.lua. And defineItemEnchantment{} does what it says on the tin. We have also a clear vision of how the organic material scale will look like, but details need to be ironed out, so we’ll talk about it when we know more.

Making Assets

Once the concepts were nailed, we started creating assets to populate the game with. Design starts with sketching silhouettes to get a rough idea of the visual patterns associated with each material. Here’s a quick peek at design silhouettes for longswords:

Design silhouettes for longswords in DarkDale

Design silhouettes for longswords in DarkDale

After that, a more detailed sketch allows to set additional details before moving on to modeling a low-poly model, sculpting in high-resolution detail, baking-in normal maps back on a new game-resolution mesh, and painting textures. Here’s an image showing the steel longsword sketches and final result:

Steel Longsword, from sketches to final game model.

Steel Longsword, from sketches to final game model.

Getting the Items in-game

After some sketching and modeling, it was back at the programming station to write the code that would allow the player to interact with these objects in the 3D view, pick them up in a 2D icon form to interact with in the inventory, and drop or throw them back in 3D. The core of the system is now in a working state, here’s a shot of an iron longsword and a steel longsword lying on the dungeon floor:

Sword assets lying on the dungeon floor.

Sword assets lying on the dungeon floor.

The inventory gui has been redesigned to look a bit better with a dirtier texture (the whole game will have a worn-out, rough and dirty aesthetic, no saturated colors cartoon fantasy in sight…). A panel with item details and a slowly rotating 3D model view has been added that pops out when hovering over items in the inventory. We feel lore is important to make the game evocative, and all items will have descriptions, even basic ones. Here’s a screenshot of the item panel:

The item description panel.

The item description panel.


What’s next? The items system is now as ready as we can make it without more details on other areas of the game mechanics, such as attributes, skills and classes. Fleshing out these is what we’re currently working on, and the next post will probably give out some insight on how they will work. Stay tuned, like us on facebook (the f below) if you find the project interesting (twitter coming soon), and spread the news!



  1. Really nice!!

    Hope you make another update anytime soon, about character creation or skill/ability system , etc.

    Or a new screenshot ;b

    Keepe up the good work!!


    May 28, 2013

  2. GREAT ! I love crafting and random stuff, maybe I wouldn’t even have to mod this one ^^
    Keep up the great looking job guys. I am definitely following closely this project.


    May 30, 2013

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