We haven’t written much about the world of the War Guardians, but this story was actually based on a series of fanfiction that I co-wrote with my Ragnarok Online guildmates. I couldn’t finish the fanfics because there were so many things I wanted to write about, but I got overwhelmed by the words. (I swear there’s a song about this dilemma by Gloria Estefan!) Some writers probably know this problem: that feeling when you want to tell a story but you get so caught up in describing things that you’d lose your train of thought and end up not completing the story. Becoming a game developer later in life solved this problem for me. I no longer have to describe people, places, and events because visual artists and musicians could help me build the world I envisioned without having to use so many words. A game designer like me could just assemble the pieces and then weave, weave, weave.
Upon the release of Book 1: Pisces, however, I realized that I also haven’t written anything about what the bigger picture is. In fact, as I re-read the fanfics, I noticed that even there, characters talked about the “impending war” without actually saying what the war was about.
These fanfics were largely character-based. We loved role-playing so much that we dedicated much of our time in doing so when not engaging in guild sieges. We spent countless hours sitting by the Flower Lady in Prontera just talking about this. So I decided that maybe books 1 to 4 will have to be character-based as well, with the main story line to be delivered in the Epilogue.
I’ve also received a request from some of the Book 2: Taurus Beta Testers about creating a wiki because they have become invested in the lore. Let me offer at least offer a brief summary of what we have so far, and what you can expect in future installations.
- Prologue – This was the first video game I’ve ever built without the comforts of a game development studio that paid me monthly. Except for Sao (the character illustrator), Kane and Thorton (the composers), it was mostly just me hammering at the keyboard. This was an introduction to the Guardians who would later serve as mentors to the protagonists of Books 1 to 4. I actually want to re-make this game in Unreal Engine because I’m kinda embarrassed to see how it’s so full of RPGMaker default assets.
- Book 1: Pisces – This is where the first warriors, under the guidance of Dr. Sorra Beam, are introduced: Haruka the artificial humanoid turned Templar, Sofi Yozora the Seer, Heliase Ashellenden the Mercenary, Pai Tokudaiji the Monk, and her twin Mai Tokudaiji the Minstrel. There isn’t much of a grand story here, with the characters just talking about the impending war, but it serves as a preview to the upcoming War Guardian titles. In this game, I started to get rid of the RPGMaker default assets but still had to use/buy some ready-made tilesets online due to budget constraints.
- Book 2: Taurus – Playable even if you’ve never touched Prologue and Pisces, this takes place in a completely different side of the world (except for instances wherein you may end up crossing paths with the Pisces characters). Professor Gladius Tauron grabs the reins as mentor of the Lucarre Guild, which is led by the half-elven Ranger Xylen Ashellenden. With her are Rahkee Calmirsson the Argyraspide, Shahai the Priest, and Kaozen the Blacksmith. This game marks the beginning of the Berkan-Lucarre War, with your team standing in support of Lucarre. Took me approximately two years to come up with the minimum budget to have the art assets developed completely in-house, but I’m pretty much happy with the results. See the difference?
- Book 3: Aries – You’ll probably need to play Book 2: Taurus in order not to be spoiled by the events that will take place in this game, but I will try my best to make it stand alone. Aries shows the other side of the Berkan-Lucarre War. This game will swing between two timelines: ten years ago and the present. Professor Arien Greaves is the mentor of four warriors fighting under the Berkan banner: Yorinai, leader of the Berkan Mercenary Guild; Colbey the rumor-mongering Engineer; Spike the Monk, who is Colbey’s rival in love; and Seth Vincent Cain the Immortal.
- Book 4: Gemini – Trying not to get caught up in the Berkan-Lucarre war, the Republic of Vyetarr seeks the help of Gen Tenkou. Seemingly a harmless writer, Gen is in truth the mentor of Catarina the Alchemist, Doji the Lancer, Chieko the Healer, and Zero the Bard. The Vyetarr region, also known as the floating continent, possesses the most advanced technology the world has ever seen. It is up to Gen’s team to make sure that these don’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Epilogue – While the games from Prologue to Book 4 all have turn-based battle systems, and with all 4 books having a hack-and-slash mechanic, Epilogue will have a different gameplay. The plan is to develop this into a turn-based strategy game, so that all characters from Books 1 to 4 can be deployed. There is no story written for this yet, as there is only one fanfic dedicated to what happens after the war. This will be created with Unreal Engine.
Some of you might notice that this game is heavily influenced by Ragnarok Online. Even for the soundtrack, I had asked Kane Aoki and Thorton Salvador to make players feel nostalgic about the old MMORPG while coming up with music that is completely our own. So far, this is what we have for the world of the War Guardians. Stay tuned as we continue to deliver each installation, slowly but surely.