Witching Hour Studios is an independent developer out of Singapore. Ian Gregory Tan is the Creative Director at Witching Hour Studios and he came to GDC 2013 to show off his new game, Ravenmark: Mercenaries. Their original game, Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, was a single-player turn-based strategy (TBS) game where you controlled an army throughout a 30 hour single player campaign.
Taking influences from Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, Fire Emblem, and other older TBS games, the sequel moves beyond single player and introduces a focus on multiplayer gameplay. There is still a single player part of the game, but is in the form of smaller battles called “Contracts,” where you play against the AI. The improvements of Ravenmark: Mercenaries are apparent from the beginning with fully animated battles, which were lacking from the original game.
A TBS game is a hard sell on mobile devices because of the necessity of asynchronous multiplayer. Witching Hour’s multiplayer is a bit different. While there is a turn replay system allowing you to see the last turn, Ravenmark; Mercenaries will also allow you to take a turn ahead before you’ve seen your opponent’s turn. It’s a different gameplay system which could actually ruin your chances for victory if you think too far ahead. The studio took us through the mechanics of the single and multiplayer which you can watch below.
Witching Hour Studios is looking to release Ravenmark: Mercenaries soon with more updates in the future. For an TBS game, it has the classic feel of older TBS games on PlayStation and Nintendo, which isn’t a bad thing. As an indie developer, Tan said there are a lot of challenges because Singapore isn’t known for game development but as a place for outsourcing game assets for big name publishers. The Ravenmark series goes against this trend because the gameplay and visuals are brought to life by Witching Hour Studios who are fans of the genre.