Duels with ink strokes and Illuminati animals that in addition to attacking may also decide to mock the opponent in various ways. If you think you have never seen anything like it, we confirm that it also applies to us. Let’s talk about Inkulinati, a highly original project being developed by the talented indie studio Yaza Games.

Inkulinati turn-based stategy

We were lucky enough to get in touch with them and interview them to learn more details about their original project.

1st turn) First of all we want to thank you for giving us this interview, we are very excited about Inkulinati, but before talking about the game, could you tell us a little about Yaza Games studio?

Mariusz: The core of Yaza Games is formed by 4 people. We all met at Game Design School in Warsaw and although we all met in Warsaw, we’re all scattered around in different parts of Poland. We all have day jobs and we are working on Inkulinati in our spare time/after hours. 

Wojtek: That’s right. All of us have day jobs, and we all work on something different. For example, I’m a video editor by trade, and as much as I like doing what I’m doing, I wanted to try something else – something new. I wanted to be a part of a team that together would create something unique, something that can’t be done by one person.

Dorota: And I like the idea of working with people from different backgrounds who have a different way of looking at the world – programmers working with artists, game designers working with musicians. I like seeing these relationships in action. I’m a Graphic Designer, and I worked in ad agencies in the past, but after attending the Game Design School, I knew that games is what I want to do.

2nd turn) A unique style and a basic idea never seen in any videogames, but what exactly is Inkulinati? What is the best way to define it?

Wojtek: Inkulinati is a turn-based strategy game of illuminated marginalia battles that take place on the pages of medieval manuscripts. You take the role of a master-wanna-be illuminator, an Inkulinati, and you use Living Ink to draw armies that magically come to life. Your army is made up of bizarre animals which you take control over so that you can destroy the many opponents and their autoportraits that stand in your way to be the ultimate Inkulinati master!

Marcin: I guess it is a strategy game made for medieval illuminators – it’s battles taking place on the edges of manuscripts with bizarre creatures and eccentric humor. 

Michal: In short, I guess you can call it Worms meets Monty Python: The Holy Grail.

Inkulinati turn-based stategy

3rd turn) Where did the idea of setting the game in the Middle Ages come from? And above all, the choice to combine them with Illuminated Animals?

Wojtek: As a team, we had to create a game prototype for our last project at the Game Design School. To be honest, we couldn’t agree on what our game should be! Then one day, Dorota showed us art of medieval illuminations and marginalia. All of us thought that this was something really interesting, underestimated, and something that the world should get to know a bit better. Everyone in team instantly got excited – then we just had to figure out what genre we should pick!

Dorota: Our setting is the world of medieval illuminations – a world where everything is a bit flipped. We have a rabbit hunting a man, a knight fighting a snail. All of this was drawn on the margins of medieval European manuscripts! Thanks to digitization of all these scripts by libraries and museums, we can get a glimpse into the imagination of scribes and illuminators from the 12 to 14 century. We also work very closely with a medievalist to make sure we are as authentic as possible and recreate those strange creatures and moments that appear in this world, like trumpets in bottoms, or rabbits with swords. All of our units and our visual style is based on all of these ancient books. Our concept artists are over 700 years old and did a phenomenal job!

We also work very closely with a medievalist to make sure we are as authentic as possible and recreate those strange creatures and moments that appear in this world…

4th turn) Inkulinati is undoubtedly a unique project; in any case, was there any other game that inspired you in some way?

Wojtek. Steam World Heist, as it has a very similar perspective (2D strategy game with a platformer look/camera), and it’s also a turn-based strategy with arcade-skill elements. Worms, because it’s a strategy game with lots of humor and is packed full of surprises. And Yoshi series – with this arcade minigame in which you throw eggs – it’s very similar to our attack minigame.

5th turn) We still know a few details about Inkulinati gameplay, and so we will try to ask you questions to find out some more information. How does the main campaign evolve? Will there be a management phase?

Marcin: We’re still working on it, so nothing is 100% sure until we close our campaign design. One thing we are sure of is that you’ll get stronger as a character by getting more combat options, perks, and units after every meaningful encounter. We want you to feel that at the end of the game, not only did your skills got better, but also your character got valuable experience and new skills that will allow you to defeat the legendary Inkulinati.

6th turn) What are the mechanics of a duel, what needs to be done in order to come out victorious?

Wojtek: The aim is pretty simple – you have to kill your opponent’s autoportrait while making sure that you don’t lose your own. In order to do that you have to decrease the opposing autoportrait’s health to 0 or push it out of the manuscript. You can’t focus solely on attacking the opposing autoportrait though, as you have to protect your own. And you also should think about collecting the Living Ink that’s left on the manuscript to grow your army.

Basically, you do a couple of things:

  • use the living ink to draw animal units. 
  • move units and performs actions on them, like attack, push, pray or play a trumpet.
  • use your avatar’s hand to make a difference on the battlefield, such as healing actions, pushing units out of the way, or smashing them with your fist.
  • collect the living ink left after the dead bodies, which you can then use to draw new units.

Mariusz: In your army, you’ll have different units, all with unique skills. For example – rabbits can paralyze opponents by showing their bum to their opponents (just think of the movie Braveheart here)and Cat Bishops can bless friends to grant them better attacks.

rabbits can paralyze opponents by showing their bum to their opponents..

Speaking of Bishops – bishops deals very low damage at the start, but when someone attacks a bishop, the attacker becomes a heretic. And bishops deal great damage when they attack a heretic, so the player should be aware when he or she decides to attack the bishops. This is just one example of the depth that we try to implement so that there will be elements that make battles more complex.

Dorota: You can expect different shapes of levels too, with elements that would force a player to adapt their tactics – the winning tactic in the simplest level (the one you could see in the trailer) might not be so effective in a two-storied level with obstacles in your way.

Inkulinati turn-based stategy

7th turn) Can you tell us something more about the background story?

Wojtek: You start off as an Inkulinati that just started his illuminator “career”. But by fate – or pure chance, depending on how you look at it – you will fight with many master illuminators and perhaps even seek help from death herself.

8th turn) We have read that there are RPG elements, can you explain to us how these mechanics are handled?

Wojtek: In the beginning, you will create your character – you will choose your autoportrait, choose your army, and give it a name. You will be able to evolve the character after every fight, giving it perks and skills, or new units. That way, you’ll be able to customize the character to your play style – do you prefer quick, frontal attacks, or perhaps you want to create confusion in the enemy ranks and attack only when they are disoriented and weak, or maybe you’re the sort of player that wants to build a huge army first before you attack. Different strategies will fit different units and skills, and it will be up to you to choose what type of Inkulinat you will want to be.

9th turn) Besides the single-player campaign, how many game modes will be available?

Michal: We are looking at implementing local multiplayer hot-seat mode so that you can have illuminated battles against your friends or enemies. We will have more details on the other modes closer to release, so stay tuned to any news coming from us!

Wojtek: We are looking at implementing different “conditions of winning”, ie defending a castle, where the player has to defend their autoportrait for 5 turns. We are looking at these conditions to see if they add to the game, and not distract. We will also implement a quick match mode against the PC or local multiplayer. We would like to include more modes, but we just have to wait and see what we can add as the game evolves.

10th turn) One of the questions we usually address to independent studios is this, what is or what advice would you give to young developers who would like to launch into the world of videogames development?

Michal: When you look at the games that are similar to yours or games that you look for inspiration, don’t just look at what they did well, but also what they could’ve improved on. Opportunities are lurking in people’s mistakes 😉

Wojtek: Although I feel that I might not be the most qualified person to give advice – a lot of us are still learning this whole game dev thing 🙂 However, one thing I would say is to adjust your project’s scope to ability. If you are doing a game by yourself, make one who’s difficulty and scope is matched to your manpower. And if you have 3 people on your team, adjust accordingly. You will underestimate the amount of tasks that you’ll need to do, but you’ll only figure this out once you start working and gaining experience 😉 

Mariusz: If you want to make games, and you are still a teen in high school, start making games by following advice and tutorials that you can find online. There is a wealth of information and lessons on YouTube, so check it out, and forget about high school work (apart from math classes, as math will always come in handy. And I’m kidding of course… Just study enough so that you’ll pass ;)) 

Marcin: When you start your game dev adventure, make a game, maybe even two, in a small team – but make sure you finish it and upload it online. Don’t start with a mythical MMORPG 🙂 By making those first few games, you will learn a lot in one micro-level. Then get more people, ones that you can work with well, chose a boss, have regular meetings and working sessions. Be prepared for tough times that will come, and don’t lose motivation when those moments arrive and just keep working. Use the knowledge of the internet – it’s all there waiting for you. 

Dorota: look for artists, programmers, historians, engineers, etc – people that look at games differently than you do. You will pick up a lot of good advice that way…

Inkulinati gameplay

Bonus turn) Bonus question, what is the last turn-based game you played?

Michal: Maybe not a classic turn-based game, but I’m playing Football Manager 2019 right now. It is waaaaay too addictive. 

Wojtek: Mario x Rabbids

Mariusz: SteamWorld Heist

Marcin: Civ VI

Dorota: Frostpunk! (not a turn-based game per se, but I’m playing a lot of it right now 🙂 )

In thanking the Yaza Games team below you will find the links to learn more about Inkulinati.

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