The Burrows

Pride, the capital city of the Kingdom

“Sometimes I think, Charles, what’s the point of living underground if you can’t put your head under a rock and ignore the jibber-jabber from the Capital?”

The Burrows

The burrows is where we start the game. Here in this quaint little mining town, our protagonist (Charles, the hedgehog scholar) has his lab.

This is an early map we’ve made to showcase where the first part of the first act takes place, close to the capital city Pride:
We’ve made this map using the cool freeware program Inkarnate which is really cool if you are running DnD campaigns or just need to make some cool reference maps for your upcoming RPG masterpiece (like us)

It’s in the introverts goldilocks zone: far enough from the capital to be left alone by pesky colleagues but close enough so he can get his hands on all the latest scientific equipment on a whim.

Most rabbits in the burrows work as miners and live in the residential area below during the workweek. The rooms are very humble and simple but Charles’ has built a large lab for himself here:

The smith of the Burrows is Quince, a downtrodden lizard belonging to the vermin caste, the lowest caste in the Kingdom. He replaced the former rabbit smithy who got ill due to the poisonous fumes eroding from the metalwork. This is where the player first has a chance to explore the societal differences in the various castes of the Kingdom.

A short way away from Quince we have Orville’s mansion. Orville is a badger who is the foreman of the mine. As part of the highest caste in the Burrows, he is in charge of the entire mining operation, and de facto owns the whole underground site. He finds himself constantly competing with other mines and digsites and trying to stay afloat but the industrial landscape is changing fast and it’s hard for his little mine to keep up.

Thus, the Burrows serves as an introductory place to start the voyage into the world of Trip the Ark Fantastic. Here the player learns of the caste system, the way things are in the world and how characters react to it.

Since the Ark myth is central to the story of the game, its underlying hierarchy is important to understand as early as possible.

Learn more about Trip the Ark Fantastic

There is a lot more to be learned about the world of Ark Fantastic, and much more is coming in the future.

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Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Lav

This is the last Ark Lore about the line of kings, and ends with the current king. That would be King Lav the Rebel who deposed the Tyrant King Leopold.

During King Leopold, many animals saw their wealth and health diminish in newlyfound harsh industrial conditions. This, combined with Leopold’s cruel and non-diplomatic approach to many royal issues, led to a bloody rebellion. Leopold was finally deposed in a rebellion led by his younger brother, prince Lav 30 years ago today.

Lav, the current king

Lav is referred to in modern accounts as The Rebel King. He rolled back many of the authoritarian decisions created by his brother. He sought to rebuild the kingdom in ideas of enlightenment and freedom. In his 30 years in power, he has already funded massive projects such as public schools and hospitals. He also funded royal medics sent to take care of the workers in the mines and industries of the kingdom. As beloved as he is for his reforms, Lav is now in a difficult situation. Many animals think reform is coming too little and too late… For years there have been whispers of reforming the monarchy. As these whispers become louder and louder, Lav is finding himself in a very difficult situation.

Lav is a shrewd diplomat and has kept these dangers at bay, but he is growing old. He fears that when his cub Otto succeeds the Throne, he will be too inexperienced to prevent the brewing unrest. In this difficult time, he sends to you, Charles the hedgehog, to help him secure his hold on the monarchy. In modern times it is widely known that the ark wreckage found in Michaëls time was a fake. However, it is the king’s hope that if a scholar of your reputation were to find the real ark, this would again appease unrest and usher in much needed peace for his son Otto.

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Leonard

King Leonard the Wise

In the past few weeks, we spoke of many kings. There was Vincent, the beloved Explorer king. Before him, there was Valent, the scholar king tutored by master Dabrovit. Before Valent, there was Michaël, the king obsessed with the ark. Leonard, on the other hand, had no ambition towards exploration nor science nor mythology.

Known in the Kingdom as Leo the Wise, he focused on Making Things Work. In his reign, all parts of the Kingdom were developed and connected. Leo oversaw the implementation of intricate systems of sharing goods and information across the Kingdom.

He funded the bastions of modern civilisation such as the Elephant Transportation Company and the royal newspapers. The printing press was brought to every major city of the Kingdom, and, after the steam engine was built.

A debated law regarded scholars in Leonard’s time – they were funded by the Crown only if they could show that their work would improve and modernise the industry. This led to less interest in historical and mythological discussions and ultimately gave rise to the steam engine, which would soon reshape the economy of the Kingdom.

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King Leonard the Wise

Due to his father’s early demise, Leo was very young when he ascended to the throne, and also a king of unusually old age when he died. His great deeds and accomplishments cast a large shadow on his two sons – Leopold and Lav, of whose reigns we will speak in later posts.

Until then, be sure to check out our Discord or wherever lore-junkies hang out these days!

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Leopold

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: Leopold the Tyrant

Leonard’s son Leopold started off his reign as a direct continuation of his father’s footsteps as King. However, his main preoccupation soon had to shift to stability and centralisation of power in the Kingdom.

The steam engine changed much of the industrial landscape of the Kingdom… This, along with the vast resources coming from the newly discovered colony, all gave rise to new powers. Not all of these new powers were satisfied with their newfound wealth, and some wished to secure even more power.

Add the proliferation of the press, and you have a Kingdom filled with various ideas. These ideas, when left unchecked, could unravel the Kingdom itself. This is perhaps what Leopold feared most- the undoing of his predecessor’s life’s work.

And so, for fear of being usurped, and to secure his hold on the Kingdom, Leopold tightened his grip. He slowly transformed the royal newspapers into a mouthpiece of the monarchy. In his later years, he also funded a secret spy network that operated throughout the Kingdom.

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Leopold the Tyrant

But as more animals saw their wealth and health diminish in newly-found harsh industrial conditions, resentment rose. Combined with Leopold’s non-diplomatic approach to many of the Kingdom’s issues, his end seemed nigh. He was finally deposed in a rebellion led by his younger brother, prince Lav. A small consolation, at least.

The reign of Leopold, “The Tyrant King”, was over 30 years ago, but the Kingdom still resonates from the consequences of his reign. Be sure to tune in for our next blogpost and read about the current king – Lav!

Until then – follow us on Discord and other social media!

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Vincent

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Vincent

In this blog post, we talk about probably the strangest of the recent kings, Vincent the Explorer. As the only son of Valent, the king who found the southern continent, he was less interested in ruling than in the vast unexplored reaches of the newfound land.

Nevertheless, denizens of the Animal Kingdom adored him, and his exploits were the talk of tales all over the Kingdom. He oversaw much of the Kingdom’s exploration and mapping. Indeed, most of the maps in his expeditions are in use to this day. Many feel that his early demise in the southern jungles was the end of an era.

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Vincent the Explorer

While still a prince, Vincent grew up with tales of strange animals and cultures in the southern continent – monkeys and crocodiles, mysterious jungles and wild rivers…

Some say his father financed the first colony in the south, Valencia, mostly to please his son. And indeed it was but it was King Vincent who made it into the huge town it is today. He was so enamoured with the colony, he spent more time ruling from there than from the capital, Blackbark.

He died relatively young, contracting a strange disease while leading an expedition into the heartlands of the colony. His most enduring legacy is his deathwish. On his deathbed, he decreed that his castle be remodeled into the central hub for exploration in the colony. Thus Vincent’s Keep becomes the Explorer’s Guild, a crown funded organisation tasked with exploring and mapping this new continent.

Does worldbuilding interest you? Do you love discussing royal bloodlines of fictional kings? In that case, be sure to check out our Discord! We’re also active on Facebook, Twitter and many other places! Till the next lore blogpost, Long Live the King(s)!

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent the Scholar

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent the Scholar

As we wrote about Michaël the Zealous in our previous lore article about the Kings of the Animal Kingdom, today we are continuing the saga with King Valent the Scholar who cherished the science and exploration during his ruling.

Prince Laurent was oft ill and short-lived, and so he died before he could succeed to the throne. His son, Valent, took on the Kings mantle at a very young age, and was thus the longest-ruling king in historical memory, being known as The Scholar King.

King Valent the Scholar
King Valent the Scholar

Even as a child, King Valent was tutored by Master Dabrovit, and fell in love with science and exploration from an early age. He funded many great expeditions to all sides of the Kingdom during his long reign and remade the kingdom in the image of science.

He funded academies in every regional capital, and built the largest library in Blackbark, holding copies of every book found in the Kingdom.

His biggest legacy, however, is finding the southern continent, a huge unexplored region whose location across the sea was lost in history.

If you want to stay informed, be sure to visit our Facebook, Twitter or Discord.

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Michaël

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Michaël the Zealous

It’s hard enough figuring out the politics of the Animal Kingdom. Even though, we decided to clue you in on a bit of history as well. So in January we are going to go through the rulers of the Animal Kingdom one by one.

The lions ruled the Animal Kingdom for millennia, but the elder line of kings has been mostly lost to history. The past few centuries, though, are very clear. This is due to several factors:

  • the influence of Dabrovit, a scholar who worked at the court of King Michaël
  • the relative peace and prosperity that ensued after King Marius
  • the invention of the printing press which helped preserve historical manuscripts

So we will start with King Michaël, the first king of whom most information is known without doubt. Like all kings, scholars posthumously gave him an epithet defining his rule – King Michaël the Zealous.

 A portrait of King Michaël the Zealous
A portrait of King Michaël

The King Who Found the Ark!

Michaël inherited the kingdom in great unrest from his father Marius. However, Michaël actually spent less time dealing with the unruly nobles and more time obsessed over the ark myth. At the time, a young scholar beaver named Dabrovit has popularised the scholar’s method in the Kingdom. The scholar’s method (similar to the scientific method in our world) is a methodical way of approaching the Kingdom’s mysteries. Inspired by Dabrovit’s method, Michaël funded many scholars and explorers and tasked them to find the mythic Ark Fantastic.

Eventually, after many failed attempts, one scholar returned with good news. He found a wreckage on an island shore southwest of Pride, with evidence suggesting it is the Ark Fantastic. Along with its great historic significance, this had a surprising effect on quieting the kingdoms unrest. Many historians believe this discovery was what ushered in centuries of peace in the Kingdom.

If you want to stay informed, be sure to visit our Facebook, Twitter or Discord.

Ark Lore Tuesday: The Lynx Rebellion

Ark Lore Tuesday

The Lynx Rebellion

In today’s Ark Lore Tuesday (check out our other Ark Lore articles) we want to talk about the Lynx Rebellion. This is an event that took place hundreds of years before the game takes place and therefore does not feature in the game (bar a few history books and fireside tavern songs). However, the event is one of the bedrocks of the current social order of the Kingdom and has shaped the Kingdom into what it is today.

The relative autonomy

While the Animal Kingdom is a monarchy ruled by lions, the other noble families still have a degree of control over their own territories. This relative autonomy came about hundreds of years ago as the aftermath of the Lynx Rebellion. This rebellion started after a series of imposed regulations and levies in the Kingdom by the lion king Red.

The lynxes pushed back on this, declaring complete autonomy from the crown and thus a long struggle ensued, sometimes called The Third Northern War. In the beginning, King Red believed the rebellion will be squashed soon and gave it no thought, but similar rebellions were soon beginning to spark in other regions of the Kingdom as well. That’s why Red decided to send his son Nathaniel to help the royalist soldiers squash the rebellion.

Healing a broken paw

As the story goes, Nathaniels carriage broke down near the battlefield so he never made it there. He stayed at a northern village nearby for the next few days, healing his broken paw. When he healed, the battle was already over and the lynxes had won yet again.

Instead of regrouping and continuing the fight, Nataniel decided to solve the problem in a different way. He rushed back to Blackbark and, having learned much about the northern problems in his brief stay in the northern village, he told his father about their problems and how the policies and regulations imposed by the crown are hurting them.

A new system was born

Advised by his son and heir, King Red started a series of reforms, which his son finished, which transformed the unitary nature of the Kingdom into a more decentralized structure.

Thus a new system was born – in which the local royal cats have more autonomy over regional issues and established permanent embassies in Blackbark for each noble family where their envoys can discuss grievances over issues pertaining to the entire Kingdom.

These Embassies have since moved to the new capital Pride but serve the same function since they were introduced – to coordinate and adjust the kingdom rules to the specifics of each region.

Nathaniels wise decision to use diplomacy and lenience instead of war is hailed by historians as a very intelligent, compassionate and prudent move by the lions, and the wisdom and wits of lions in this situation is one of the many legends immortalised in folk songs and sung throughout the Kingdom by royalists.

However, those who oppose the crown believe that this peace was a squandered opportunity for ending the lion’s rule.

Bonus content: How Snowy Wasteland came to be

A sketch
Work in progress
Final scene
Animated scene

Our plans for Ark Fantastic in 2020

Our plans for Ark Fantastic in 2020

In many aspects 2019 was crucial for us – we decided on all the main story beats, finally found and gathered the entire team which (crossing our fingers) won’t change for the rest of the game’s development, secured funding and started working on the project, even releasing a teaser trailer and going public with the project. It’s been great, a lot of good feedback and even some early fans on our Discord.

As we enter the roaring 20s, we prepare ourselves for the coming year and our plans for it.

Drafting the entire game in 2020

On a productional perspective, 2020 should see us finish drafting the entire game (sounds ambitious but since we’re working on this full time, it’s doable). 

We should be done prototyping most of the mechanics (dialogues, languages, science, research, reporting, exploration, day and night cycles, etc), and that would leave 2021 for making sure they work seamlessly together and that our hunches were correct. Once this is done, our plan is to produce a demo that showcases how it all works, and then keep tweaking it until release in 2022.

Finding the perfect character animation frames per second

The story and dialogues should be completely drafted in 2020 for all the (three) acts of the game and should leave 2021 for revising and tweaking the script where needed, adding fluff and so on. We have finished the draft of the Burrows, Scurries and started on the largest city in the Kingdom – Pride, but we still have a lot more to go. Ideally, we will start on the Colony (Act II) sometime in the summer, and Act III mid-autumn. 

Artistically, we are slowly creating characters, locations, and UI for the game, trying to wrap our heads around the idea of musical leitmotifs for various themes, characters, and locations and have it all work in tandem with the story, which is proving to be a very difficult job, but we hope to have some kind of musical prototype of how this works by spring.

Finding the publisher

On an organisational perspective, we’d like to find a publisher with a deep understanding of what we’re trying to do here (on a thematic, narrative, artistic and gameplay level), as well as better understand where our potential player-base resides (since what we’re doing isn’t a clear cut genre, this has been difficult to pinpoint so far).  We will keep producing content for this blog since it greatly helps us organise our thoughts and, naturally, keep a steady momentum and maintain a dialogue between our three avid fans who read this and us.

Since many have clamored to see more gameplay in our trailer, we will try to produce a “gameplay trailer” as soon as possible, maybe even some time in the summer if we’re lucky. Some things, like the reporting mechanic, are going to be extremely difficult to craft and hone, but until we capture that fine line between fun game-like reporting and actual dull reporting, we will just use the examples we know must work.

More trailers and gameplay

We will also start going to game events in Europe and showcasing our trailer(s) and gather feedback on them. Most probably we will not go westward to the Americas, so expect us in the major European capitals such as Vienna, London, and Berlin, as well as all over our immediate neighbourhood in cities such as Ljubljana, Dubrovnik, and Belgrade.

Our other projects

On a final note, the year 2020 will be interesting for our studio from a different perspective as well – we will release the interactive comic books and retro games we developed in 2019. They might not be as huge of an undertaking as Trip the Ark Fantastic (all of these interactive comics are short 20-30 minute experiences), but if you’re here because you’re fans of interactive story-telling, these games are something you might be interested in as well.

Hopefully, some of you reading this will stick around till next year and we’ll see how well we managed!