In Game Spotlights, we invite Game Studios using Sketchfab to share a little about their studio and their current game.
Hi, my name is Josh Nadelberg from Spiritwalk Games. We’re a small independent game studio located in San Mateo, CA. The core of the team worked together on Dawngate, a MOBA that was published by Electronic Arts. In 2015 they left EA to form Spiritwalk, and for the past 2 years, we’ve been hard at work on our first game, Shardbound. Shardbound is a tactical collectible card game that combines the strategic positioning mechanics of games like Final Fantasy Tactics with the breadth of content that you find in a collectible card game like Hearthstone.
Like in other card games, you’ll take turns with your opponent figuring out how to best utilize your hand. However, in Shardbound, playing a card summons a beautiful 3D character onto a hexagonal battlefield where tactical considerations like line of sight, cover, high ground, and map layout all contribute to a layer of depth you won’t find in other games.
At its very core, Shardbound is a different type of game. Everybody at Spiritwalk is a huge fan of Twitch. We have our favorite streamers that we follow, and we use Twitch to communicate with our community. We knew from day one that we wanted to make a game specifically designed for the unique social landscape of streaming. We wanted to give streamers and viewers a new way to experience a game together. If you’re watching someone stream Shardbound, you can engage in special objectives, like playing with an army that the streamer prepared for you, or queuing up for a chance at a showmatch against the streamer. The system has been designed to allow a multitude of interactions, and we’ve just begun to explore the possibilities.
In February, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring Shardbound to Steam Early Access. The campaign was funded in just 12 hours, and we’re on our way to raising 3x our target amount. At Spiritwalk, we see game development and community development as two sides of the same coin, and this approach really proved to be a huge help when it came to crowdfunding. Shardbound had been in a small “pre-alpha” testing phase for about five months before the kickstarter launched. We’ve been getting to know these players, communicating with them on Discord and in our Subreddit, and they’ve become an integral part of our development process by providing us thoughtful and constructive feedback. This dedicated community of players were there on day one, along with some of our great streamer friends and their communities, to make the campaign an instant success.
Utilizing Unreal 4’s physically-based renderer, the art in Shardbound is stylized but tangible, an homage to the miniatures of beloved tabletop games like Warhammer 40,000. We really wanted players to experience the fantasy of these awesome collectible characters coming to life on the board when they play Shardbound.
All of the art was sculpted in Zbrush, and textured using Substance Painter. While the shapes and silhouettes are a bit exaggerated, the material qualities and realistic lighting model give the game a look that’s seriously fun and appealing. It was great to be able to easily export this content from Substance Painter or simply drop the 3D file onto Sketchfab.com to showcase our artwork.
As a small independent studio making an ambitious game with so much content, we knew that we needed to pull together an awesome group of external concept artists, modelers, and animators to help us out. In late 2015, we reached out to some of our favorite artists from all around the world, and over the past year and a half they’ve become part of our extended Spiritwalk family. Be sure to follow Spiritwalk Games and Shardbound on Sketchfab to keep up with their latest artwork as we continue to develop the game.