In this week’s dev blog, I’m going to talk about the core gameplay loop in Siralim Ultimate – specifically, what you can expect to find in realms this time around. In addition, I want to talk about how I’m approaching the game’s difficulty in Siralim Ultimate and how it differs from previous games in the series.
The Teleportation Shrine
The Teleportation Shrine works pretty much the same way as it did in the previous Siralim games. The only difference is that it’s a lot easier to use.
Here’s what happens when you approach the Teleportation Shrine in Siralim Ultimate:
- The realm depth menu will appear immediately. You no longer need to choose the “Teleport to a Realm” option, so this is a simple quality-of-life change that removes a key press. Simple enough, but it’s the little things like this that we’ll all be thankful for after we’ve played the game for hundreds of hours.
- The realm menu is now all-encompassing. You’ll start by choosing a Realm Depth, just like you’ve always done in previous games. Afterward, you’ll be able to choose which type of realm you want to visit (Cutthroat Jungle, Azure Dream, etc) which costs resources, or you can simply choose a random realm type which doesn’t cost resources.
- From this menu, you can also adjust something known as Realm Instability. This is a new feature in Siralim Ultimate, and I’ll explain more about that later in this post.
- After you select a realm type, you’ll teleport to the realm of your choice. Easy enough.
Everything’s a Sigil
Sigils have changed drastically in each new Siralim game. Despite these changes, I’ve been really happy with how they’ve worked in every game so far.
In Siralim 1, Sigils immediately sent players into a boss fight. Unlike other fights in the game, Sigil battles were hand-designed to make them more challenging than normal battles. There was a Sigil for every single creature in the game, so these items added a lot of content for players to enjoy.
In Siralim 2, Sigils worked the same as they did in Siralim 1, except these battles also had randomly generated properties associated with them. These properties changed the way these battles worked – for example, certain properties gave enemies various buffs or stat boosts to make the fight more difficult, but also more rewarding. They also weren’t hand-designed, which made them feel a lot more random.
In Siralim 3, Sigils could be inserted into the Teleportation Shrine before you teleported to a new realm. These Sigils had randomly generated properties just like they did in Siralim 2, except these properties affected all the creatures in that realm. These realms were called Itherian Realms, and they were easily one of the most well-received features in the whole series.
In Siralim Ultimate, there is no longer a distinction between a “normal” realm and an Itherian Realm. All realms now have randomly generated properties associated with them. For that reason, Sigils do not exist in Siralim Ultimate.
At the start of the game, realms won’t have any properties because that would make for some frustrating early game battles that rely too much on luck. As your Realm Depth increases, however, realms will start to gain additional properties. Starting at Realm Depth 20, for example, realms will have 1 randomly generated property. At Realm Depth 30, realms will have 2 randomly generated properties. The number of properties will continue to increase as your Realm Depth increases until realms have a maximum of 6 randomly generated properties at a time.
Additionally, all realms starting at depth 50 have yet another property, and this one isn’t randomly generated: “Enemies are Fused”. As you can probably guess, this simply means that all your enemies will be fused with another creature, which will impact their stats as well as give them access to an additional trait. Enemies will all be fused from creatures that belong to a certain race in each realm. For example, one realm might contain enemies that are all fused with random Angel creatures, while another realm consists of creatures that are all fused with a random Fiend creature. That way, you’ll have some idea about what you’re going up against in battles rather than feeling compelled to inspect your enemies to read their traits in every battle.
You can view a realm’s properties ahead of time at the Teleportation Shrine before you commit to traveling to that realm. If you want to get rid of a certain property for whatever reason, you can pay additional resources to re-randomize these properties until you’re confident that you can handle that realm.
Moving Everything Into Realms
I want to add more random events to realms. The goal is to make them feel a lot more dynamic and unpredictable from a gameplay perspective.
One great example of this is that Pandemonium Tokens no longer exist in Siralim Ultimate as you know them. Instead, you will now sometimes find “Pandemonium Statues” in realms. These have the same effects as tokens, but you’ll be forced to use them in that same realm rather than at your leisure.
Remember how you’d sometimes encounter a “special room” when you used the Teleportation Shrine? One room offered players a bunch of treasure chests, for example. Those rooms (including plenty of new ones) will return in Siralim Ultimate, but now you’ll find portals in normal realms that lead to these rooms.
The Divination Candle is no longer used to create Charm items. Instead, you’ll eventually find this candle in each realm you visit. You can use it to attract creatures to that realm. Overall, the functionality of this candle is still the same as it was in previous games, but there’s no longer a need to mess around with a bunch of menus to do what you want to do.
Another interesting addition to realms is that, occasionally, a realm will be invaded by a race of creatures. For example, the Great Pandemonium might get invaded by Golems while you’re playing. While the invasion is active, the Great Pandemonium will have a lot of creatures that belong to the Golem race running around. Creatures that are part of an invasion have an increased chance to drop their Cards.
In Siralim 3, players upgraded their Talismans by completing an Itherian Realm and then talking to an NPC to increase their Talismans’ ranks. Itherian bosses don’t exist in Siralim Ultimate, so the Talisman upgrade system is a little different.
After you complete a Realm Quest, you’ll earn a certain amount of a new type of currency called “Energy”. You can collect Energy and take it to an NPC in your castle to upgrade your Talismans that way. Your chance to upgrade a Talisman is always 100%, but the cost to upgrade a Talisman increases with each additional rank.
As you might expect, this new system makes the game flow a lot better.
Realm Instability and the Will of the Gods
In Siralim 3, players were able to adjust the game’s difficulty by speaking with an NPC in your castle named Casual John. CJ allowed you to greatly increase your enemies’ damage, defenses, and give them additional traits. In exchange, players were given increased rewards for defeating these enemies.
CJ is one of my biggest regrets about Siralim 3. When players feel the need to “max out” their difficulty settings with CJ, it greatly limits the amount of creativity players can use when assembling their party of creatures because fewer party compositions are viable at that point. In addition, when your enemies are modified to deal 10,000% extra damage, it leads to an “all or nothing” mentality wherein players feel obligated to create a team that can one-shot enemies before they get a chance to take a turn.
So, CJ is dead, and has been replaced in Siralim Ultimate by two new features that are not only more interesting, but should also incentivize players to be a little more creative with their party compositions:
- As I mentioned earlier in this post, Realm Instability is a new game mechanic in Siralim Ultimate. At the Teleportation Shrine, you can now choose a number between 0 and 5 that determines a realm’s instability. Each number adds an additional property to the realm. The catch is, you won’t know what these properties are until you’ve already used the shrine and entered the realm. The higher a realm’s instability, the better your rewards for defeating enemies, opening treasure chests, completing Realm Quests, and more. Realm Instability is also known to cause some other strange things to happen, but you’ll have to discover what I mean by that yourself.
- Another feature that I’m really excited about is called the Will of the Gods. There are 21 gods in Siralim Ultimate, and each one will request that you use a certain trait in your party. For example, Surathli might request that you use the Firewound Angel’s “Pyre” trait in your party. While doing so, you’ll earn increased rewards in realms. The more of these traits you use at a time (up to a maximum of 10, because I also don’t want players to feel like the game is forcing them to play a certain way), the better your rewards. Each god’s requested trait will change each week (measured in real time), and all players will have the same trait requests. The goal of WotG is to inspire players to think outside of the box and try out some new traits that they otherwise wouldn’t ever use. And, since all players will be asked to use the same traits at the same time, I’m hoping that you’ll interact with each other and try to figure out some interesting party combinations together. Obviously, Will of the Gods is largely an end-game activity since players won’t have access to too many traits early on.
Unlocking New Realm Types
One common point of confusion (and sometimes even frustration) for Siralim 3 players was that different realm types are constricted to certain realm depths until after you finish the main story quests. For example, you can only visit the Cutthroat Jungle at realm depths 1 through 3, so you can’t access a more difficult version of this realm until after you finished the story. This meant that if you wanted to grind favor ranks with a certain god, you were probably wasting your time on extremely easy content that also wasn’t giving you a satisfying amount of experience points, resources, and items.
In Siralim Ultimate, the story will still be told in a similarly-linear way. However, after you travel to a certain realm for the first time, that realm type will be permanently unlocked for your character and you’ll be able to either randomly access that realm at any depth, or cast an Alteration Spell at the Teleportation Shrine to choose that realm manually. That way, players will still be eased into new realm types over time, but they’ll be able to grind in these realms at any realm depth if they choose to do so.
Difficulty In Siralim Ultimate
Everyone has a different opinion about how difficult various parts of the game should be. There’s no way to please everyone and to do exactly what they want, but I’m pretty sure I have a better plan in mind for Siralim Ultimate’s difficulty than I did in previous games.
Certain pieces of content are simply meant to be more challenging than others. Some players think that every single battle should be challenging. I disagree. I think that would make for a really tedious game, and you’d feel burned out before you’d finish the main story quests. I think what makes Siralim so much fun is that, later on in the game, you can blast through a realm in under 5 minutes and have some really nice rewards to show for it. Something about the way realms are set up has a “zen” appeal to it in that you can pretty much zone out, listen to music or watch Netflix, and make some decent progress in the game whether you have 10 minutes or 8 hours to play.
On the other hand, if everything is that easy, the game will feel unsatisfying. Why should you bother thinking about your party composition when you can blow through the game without thinking about it? My solution is to break off each piece of content and decide how difficult it should be, and then balance the game around these labels accordingly. Optional fights should be the most challenging – that way, they won’t interrupt players who are trying to relax. Plus, there’s something to be said about having some control over the way you play – if you intentionally pick a fight with an enemy you know is overpowered, it won’t feel as frustrating when you get your ass handed to you.
I could babble on and on all day about my philosophy on game difficulty, but I’ll spare you my prattle and break down each piece of battle-oriented content Siralim Ultimate has to offer and show you how difficult I intend each one to be. I’ll rank each type of battle on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the easiest and 5 being really, really hard.
- 1: normal battles in realms
- 1: ??? (unannounced content)
- 2: nemesis creatures
- 2: optional battles in realms (such as Yseros’ quicksand portals that lead to a mini-boss)
- 3: story boss battles
- 3: arena battles
- 4: nether crucible battles
- 4: ??? (unannounced content)
- 5: super boss battles (such as Lord Zantai and the Pandemonium King/Queen)
- 5+: god battles
- 5+: ??? (unannounced content)
- 6: treasure golem (you’ll see why)
- Varies: tavern brawls (I’m hoping to do a better job at offering players a diverse array of easy brawls and hard brawls this time around)
The nice thing about the Realm Instability and Will of the Gods features that I mentioned earlier in this post is that they’ll allow you to adjust these difficulty values across the board. While Realm Instability only affects realms, the Will of the Gods will be relevant for almost everything I listed above.
Please note that nothing mentioned in this blog post is finalized. I reserve the right to change or remove anything mentioned in this post at any time. If you’re reading this post after the game has already launched, your best bet is to forget everything you just read because very few of the things I write about will remain untouched in the final product.