Xaviant Unveils Lichdom: Battlemage - A New Studio & New Game Worth Watching
Attendees at the recent PAX East 2014 couldn't help but notice a big, obviously expensive display for a game most had never heard of before - Lichdom: Battlemage. We stopped by to satisfy our curiosity and were pleasantly surprised to find a brand new studio bringing a very promising freshman title to the market. Read on for more about Lichdom, Xaviant, and why they might just be the next big emerging game studio to watch.
Xaviant: A New Studio with Strong Roots and Earned Confidence
Xaviant is a self-funded studio located on the oft overlooked east coast, built from a history of success in other industries - like the notoriously exciting genre of accounting software.
In speaking with one of the Xaviant engineers, it was plain that not only does this group have passion, they have their heads screwed on straight. Code is constructed, tested, and released in a rigorous process that ensures things stay on track. Playtesting and QA are core to their processes to ensure that the final product reaching players is top notch. When I asked why we're just hearing about Lichdom: Battlemage now when Xaviant formed in 2007, the answer was:
"Because we didn't want to talk about it until we knew when it would release."
...jaded though I am about release dates these days, something makes me believe Xaviant when they say Lichdom will reach the market in 2014
Now this is no knock on the other companies - making games is hard work with many unexpected twists and turns. But you do tend to treat 'release dates' with serious suspicion after seeing dates get announced years in advance, and pushed back repeatedly, as something of an industry norm.
Thing is, jaded though I am about release dates these days, something makes me believe Xaviant when they say Lichdom will reach the market in 2014. They don't strike me as a team who talks about a deadline before they know they can meet it, and for now, I'm entirely inclined to believe we'll be seeing players enjoy their "unmitigated badass mage experience" well before the year is out.
Lichdom: Battlemage Stands Out as a Rare Game Utterly Unafraid to Own Who It's For (And Who It's Not)
"We're all mage players, and we all sat down two years ago and said: I'm always left a little bit wanting in other games. I would like an experience where you craft the spells, build them to suit your playstyle, and you are not a cloth-wearing glass cannon."
- Tim Lindsey, Design Director
The Xaviant team is comprised of mage players who were fed up with being less awesome so that other classes weren't overwhelmed by their unfettered damage capabilities.
So they began work on a single player game that unleashes the mage character in all it's glory - allowing for flexible playstyles that range from standard 'stand back and spray magic until it dies' to more unusual close combat blasting. In fact, many players seemed to find that once they overcame the ingrained tendency to stand back and shoot magic, they were even more effective in Lichdom combat.
This Focus on Freedom for a Single Class Led to Unintended Consequences: Wider Appeal
For a game that is unapologetically targeted at players who love being a mage, playtesting revealed that people who usually passed up the class for close combat tank play were enjoying it thoroughly.
Pre-Alpha Access: A Double Edged... Fireball
Because of the strong culture of testing early and often, Xaviant decided to grant preorder players access to pre-alpha, a stage normally reserved for handpicked playtesters. This bold move assures a wider range of opinions will be heard, but can also lead to negative community buzz about the rough edges of an unpolished game.
Whether Xaviant can successfully help players help them make Lichdom an even more compelling experience while leading them to understand that the best is yet to come, is yet to be seen.
I've Got a Good Feeling About This
It's rare that you see a fresh company hit the scene with so much promise: they have their funding in order, a smart team who knows how to put products together that is passionate to be working on a game that speaks to their play experiences, and they aren't afraid to take a position and own it instead of shooting for mass appeal. I'm hoping for big things from Xaviant, both as Lichdom nears launch, and as they consider future games.
My takeaway? When you don't hear from Xaviant don't assume there's nothing happening; assume something awesome is happening.