Spells & Secrets interview: achievements let devs “communicate directly with
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Spells & Secrets is an upcoming action-adventure game inspired by roguelike elements where we use our magical abilities to save our school. We spoke to developer Alchemist Interactive to find out more…
Spells & Secrets is set to launch for Xbox Series X|S later this year as an action-adventure game all about the creative use of our magical abilities. We reached out to developer Alchemist Interactive to find out more, with CEO and founder Florian Mann having been kind enough to answer our questions.
What is Spells & Secrets?
Spells & Secrets is a 3D action-adventure game inspired by roguelike elements, in which we’re a student of magic, trying to free the Academy of Greifenstein from the magical creatures that have overrun the school. Spells & Secrets is developed by Alchemist Interactive and rokaplay, and published by Merge Games and rokaplay.
When does Spells & Secrets launch?
We don’t yet have a release date for Spells & Secrets, but it’s currently set to launch for Xbox Series X|S later this year!
What’s it about?
We go to the Academy of Greifenstein as a first-year student looking to study magic, only something happens soon after we arrive that throws everything into chaos, leaving us to explore the castle and its grounds, rescue any lost students, and drive off the magical creatures attacking the place. “This roguelite begins with the first day of the new school year at the Academy of Greifenstein going horribly wrong, as a group of dark Wizards and Witches overtakes the school,” Mann explains. “Players will find themselves in a spot where they are the best chance the school has to prevent the intruders from fulfilling their plans and to save the other students still lost in the ever-changing castle.”
How does Spells & Secrets play?
First you’ll have access to what looks to be an extensive character creator, where you choose everything from your height to your eyebrows. Spells & Secrets also combines a number of gameplay elements such as puzzles and combat. “At its core Spells & Secrets is a roguelite,” Mann begins. “The main thing players will do is to wander around the procedurally generated castle where they will fight enemies, solve puzzles in creative ways, and rescue their schoolmates. After a trip through the castle’s corridors and estates, players will return to the schoolyard which contains multiple areas. Each area offers different activities which range from learning new spells, talking to newly rescued students, changing their appearance, and preparing their next adventure.”
Spells & Secrets places a lot of emphasis on using your spells creatively as you encounter puzzles or enemies. “Players will have access to a variety of spells. Like different tools in a toolbox, every spell has its unique functionality,” Mann explains. “But when cleverly combined these tools can achieve more as the sum of their parts. To set it in the context of the game: a few spells will straight-up deal damage to an opponent but a wider selection of spells will not. Those spells have the potential to weaken enemies or to set up powerful synergies with other spells. A keen eye will also discover opportunities to use the environment or to manipulate objects and enemy behaviour to their advantage.” Mann continues, adding, “Spells & Secrets offers an extensive array of ways in which players will be able to manipulate their target, regardless of it being an enemy or object. Players will be able to heavily utilise objects or the environment, thus opening up gameplay styles with which they do not even have to use any damage-dealing spells at all.”
This creativity with combat is one aspect Mann is particularly excited for players to experience with Spells & Secrets. “I really enjoy the variety of options you have in Spells & Secrets to overcome an obstacle. I think the game offers a lot of moments where it ‘clicks’ in the players’ heads after they get a new ability and they come up with a new solution for a puzzle or with a new combat strategy. So I’m excited for the players to be creative with the spells and experience moments when they can feel clever.”
We wondered how the school setting would be affected by all the chaos, and whether we’d still need to stick to a timetable. “No, there will be no timetable,” Mann says. “Over the course of the game more and more teachers will find their way back into the initially deserted hub area. When they have made themselves comfortable the player can learn new spells from them. How to make the most out of a newly learned spell is up to the player’s curiosity.”
What’s the world like?
We’ll explore not just the changing castle but the grounds around it too. “The castle Greifenstein and its surroundings are a historic landmark that is used to house and educate young wizards and witches,” Mann says. “This creates a varied atmosphere in which the modern interior furnishings and electronic devices brought in by the current generation of students contrast with the archaic architecture. However, the old building hides a lot of secrets and has a lot of history to uncover.” It seems we’ll also have access to a hub area which we can return to, to speak to our classmates, progress the story, and organise ourselves before our next adventure.
Any news on the Spells & Secrets achievements?
We don’t yet have the Spells & Secrets achievement list, but Mann gave us a few hints about the design process. “What is so great about achievements is that you as a developer can communicate directly with the player,” Mann says. “For example when players come up with a super creative idea for the usage of a spell or find a really hidden secret and get an achievement for that, they will know that we thought about this and appreciate their time and involvement with the game. So when we play the game ourselves we take notes of what could be a rewarding achievement and later discuss what will make it into the final cut of the game.” And as for Mann’s opinion on what makes an ideal achievement list? “Hand out enough achievements to everyone who puts time in a game. It’s a great way to reward players and to motivate them to guide them to try out different things in your game. But keep some achievements for your most committed fans,” Mann says.
So, what do you think? Will you be swooping in to try out Spells & Secrets when it launches for Xbox Series X|S later this year? Let us know in the comments!
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