Exclusive Interviews

From Bioware to Blowout and New Beginnings: The Fall and Rise of Mooncrest

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Following the recent launch of a Kickstarter campaign for The Rise of Mooncrest, OnlySP had a chance to sit down with Rick Burton—founder of KnightMayor and lead developer on the game—to get some exclusive information on the game’s characters, races, story, and gameplay mechanics.

The Backstory of Rick Burton and The Rise of Mooncrest

KnightMayor is an independent video game developer founded by Rick Burton. He started the company after leaving Mass Effect developer Bioware to continue his passion for the province of Nocturne from his Mooncrest stories, which originally began as a series of mods for Neverwinter Nights (another Bioware title). After the original Mooncrest, which was to be a third-person RPG in the same vein as the Souls series, was scrapped, Burton began putting together a new project in the same universe, titled The Rise of Mooncrest (RoM). Now, Burton’s project has transformed from a third-person RPG to tactical RPG (TRPG).

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The Rise of Mooncrest Story Overview

Events in RoM take place in Nocturne, a province with seven major cities. Seemingly overnight, Nocturne has been invaded and almost completely conquered by a mystical foreign army, the likes of which the people of Nocturne have never before seen. The sole surviving city within Nocturne, Mooncrest, provides the last bastion of both hope and freedom for players and their armies.

The story unfolds in a way that thrusts players into the action from the beginning, offering a tutorial of how the game works and the roles of each of their respective Commanders (more on Commanders later). After familiarizing themselves with the mechanics, players will lead their forces against enemy armies and retake Nocturne in a fantastical war for the ages.

Throughout the tale, players will meet various characters on both sides of the conflict who play central roles as both allies and foes. The journey will introduce users to various types of Commanders, each of which can be catered to gamers’ respective playstyles and tactical planning.

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Characters and Races

RoM features a variety of races and characters. During his conversation with OnlySP, Burton spoke at length of two inhuman races present in Nocturne: the Dol-Fayn and Fayn.

The Dol-Fayn—a militant, tyrannical species closely resembling humans with different skin tones (crimson, for example)—act as the primary antagonists in RoM, leading their armies against Nocturne and the player’s Mooncrest forces. These magical foes are intimidating from first glance. An image of a Dol-Fayn mage can be seen below (all images taken from the official RoM and KnightMayor website).

Burton spoke at length about a particular Dol-Fayn commander, Anvayise. Similar to how fantasy fans would picture an assassin character, Anvayise serves as one of the main antagonists early in RoM. As a leader of the Dol-Fayn, Anvayise will be just one of several obstacles standing between players and their defense of Mooncrest and retaking Nocturne. An image of Anvayise can be seen below.

Accompanying the Dol-Fayn in their vicious conquests are the Fayn—a subspecies subjugated and enslaved by the Dol-Fayn to fight the Dol-Fayn’s wars. As unwilling participants in the invasion of Nocturne, some of the Fayn will look for opportunities to undermine the Dol-Fayn and help the player defeat the Fayn’s dictatorial masters. One such character, Fetillera—a Fayn sorceress—will act as the player’s guide to the Dol-Fayn, giving the user valuable insight into Dol-Fayn culture and military forces. No image of Fetillera is available at the time of writing.

Next, Burton spoke about the Urzai. Unfortunately, not much information about the Urzai was given, but Burton did say they are another species oppressed by the Dol-Fayn. Unlike the Fayn subspecies, however, the Urzai manage to escape their Dol-Fayn masters. Burton did not specify how the Urzai’s escape will affect the game’s story, but if Fetillera of the Fayn is any indication, maybe the Urzai will find a way to assist players during their campaign.

The final character Burton revealed to OnlySP is Luken. As a Paladin (more on Paladins later), Luken is a secret weapon available to players as the fourth Commander users receive in the story. He is a human granted celestial abilities by god-like beings. With these abilities, Luken, and all Paladins, are charged with the protection of humans and the people of Nocturne.

 

Commanders and Advanced Classes

Burton spoke at length about Commanders. The Commander aspect of RoM is one of the most intriguing because this portion of the game is where players have the most control over their armies and how they fight the Dol-Fayn. When in battle, Commanders use their abilities, based on their advanced classes, to reinforce their troops and help determine the outcome of a battle.

Throughout their campaign, players will receive various Commanders with different abilities. As gamers battle the Dol-Fayn and complete various objectives, their Commanders will gain experience and achieve new levels. Once a Commander reaches level 10, they will have access to two different advanced classes, depending on what type of Commander they are in the beginning (Captain, Sorcerer, Paladin, etc.).

Three tiers of advanced classes are available for each type of Commander, with a total of 22 advanced classes available in RoM. The advanced class system works in a way that gives players limited, but intriguing, choices on how to build their Commanders’ abilities. When a given Commander’s first advanced class is chosen (tier 1), a second tier becomes available, and from there a third. The second and third tiers offer two more choices, each for the Commander’s advancement, and the available options are determined by the decision players made in the previous tier.

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For example, when a Squad Leader Commander reaches level 10, their choice of advanced class will be between Marksman (archer) and Captain (soldier). Marksman and Captain serve as tier 1 of that particular Commander’s advanced classes. If players choose Captain, tier 2 will feature a choice between Paladin and Knight. Then, tier 3 will offer two more choices that are determined by whether players chose Paladin or Knight in tier 2.

Burton seemed the most excited about Paladins, which basically offer players access to divine powers to give them an edge against the Dol-Fayn. The Dol-Fayn Commanders cannot become Paladins. However, the Dol-Fayn do have access to Commander types players do not have, such as Necromancers.

Players will start out with three Commanders. At a certain point in RoM’s story, users will gain access to the fourth Commander, Luken (see above), and eventually two more Commanders as the story unfolds for a total of six. Players will be able to choose between two different Commanders each for their fifth and sixth Commander, meaning RoM has the potential for at least a couple playthroughs so gamers can experience every Commander and every advanced class.

 

Final Thoughts

Burton’s first independent project is gearing up to be a simple, yet ambitious, game that combines both passion and experience. The Kickstarter campaign launched on May 23, 2017, and is planned to run for thirty days. Similarly, the Steam Greenlight campaign launched on May 16, 2017. A game that combines strategy and RPG elements (hence tactical RPG), The Rise of Mooncrest is, at the very least, an intriguing take on strategic combat.

In a fantasy world, one would expect monstrous creatures on the scale of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. However, Burton has decided to take a different approach for the time being. Instead, Burton is choosing to blend fantasy with a more natural world, with the focal point of the fantasy content being the divine powers and the different sentient races.

All-in-all, The Rise of Mooncrest is a promising project from Rick Burton and his independent video game development company, KnightMayor. The Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight campaigns are in full swing, with a base goal of $35,000 and some stretch goals planned that have not yet been unveiled.

For a hands-on experience of the game, be sure to check out the demo. Also be sure to check out one of the game’s cutscenes below.

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