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Archmage Rises - All News

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Tuesday - June 04, 2024
Tuesday - May 07, 2024
Saturday - May 04, 2024
Tuesday - April 23, 2024
Thursday - April 04, 2024
Monday - March 25, 2024
Wednesday - March 06, 2024
Wednesday - February 28, 2024
Saturday - January 20, 2024
Monday - January 15, 2024
Wednesday - January 10, 2024
Sunday - January 07, 2024
Saturday - December 09, 2023
Monday - October 23, 2023
Friday - July 07, 2023
Saturday - June 17, 2023
Tuesday - May 09, 2023
Monday - April 24, 2023
Friday - February 17, 2023
Monday - February 13, 2023
Tuesday - August 14, 2018
Tuesday - February 20, 2018
Wednesday - November 29, 2017
Sunday - October 15, 2017
Thursday - April 27, 2017
Sunday - January 29, 2017
Monday - January 16, 2017
Wednesday - January 04, 2017
Tuesday - July 12, 2016
Sunday - May 01, 2016
Wednesday - February 03, 2016
Box Art

Tuesday - June 04, 2024

Archmage Rises - Development Update

by Hiddenx, 15:41

Couchpotato spotted a new development update for Archmage Rises:

Weekly Dev Update: June 3, 2024

Hey everyone!

Phil here. Just wanted to provide a quick update on what we've been working on since our last weekly update. We've been really heads down on development of our next update, so I'll keep this brief (for now) but I (or Thomas) will be back soon with a more in-depth update with a lot more details on what's happening.

For now, here's the high level view:

  • Created a basic working version of the Dynamic Quest system
  • Progress made on an internal design tool we are using for the Event system and designing events
  • Began work on implementing a new UI (the new primary HUD is now working in the game and in combat, we're now working on adding in the ability to cast spells in combat)
  • Continued to refactor the stat system
  • More conversation event examples written for testing
  • Added 2 new members to the team (Lucas, our new artist, and Sammi, a new additional game designer)
  • Honed in on our implementation of Scrum in order to iterate on our processes and improve rapidly
  • A new stained glass shader working in game for... UI reasons...
  • Started work on a new dice rolling interface

As someone leading the new UI development, I must say that the new HUD gives so much more breathing room for the art to shine, and while it's still a while yet until it is released, I'm really excited for it!

That's it for now!

Tuesday - May 07, 2024

Archmage Rises - Rivals Combat Beta released

by Hiddenx, 15:33

A new version of Archmage Rises is available:

Rivals Beta Released!


It’s finally here! You can now find and fight your rivals. They won’t go down easy though and will put up a good fight, with mages from each school of magic bringing it’s own unique challenges and strategies to the battlefield. We released the beta on Friday of last week, and so far early feedback from the weekend has been positive.

Here are a few of the new things that come with this update:

  • New enemy types to fight: Fire Mage, Ice Mage, Earth Mage, Storm Mage. Each mage type has it's own unique challenges to face
  • New option to attack your rival when you meet them
  • Rivals are now more difficult to locate. NPCs will not easily divulge their locations.
  • Bribe or schmooze Conclave Chapterheads to discover the location of your rivals
  • New NPC greetings - now NPCs comment on you based on a variety of factors (your appearance, their relationship with you, how long ago they last saw you, etc)
  • Gain additional legacy bonuses for eliminating a rival
  • You can now hunt down and kill your primary rival in the Mabren's Tower quest after you've completed the quest
  • New combat arena - Town Street
  • New death animation over rival portrait after killing that rival
  • Plus other improvements and bug fixes

You can now try out the new Rivals update by switching to the Beta branch in Steam. We’ll be Beta testing it for at least the next week or two for some extra polishing and optimizing before we release it to the main Steam branch.

Emily and Alex, our new hires from last week (with some support from Phil), will be taking on the Rivals beta through to it's official public release. If you try it out, let us know what you think, we’d love to get your feedback on it!


Mark and the rest of the team are continuing to plow forward on the next big Exploration update. For those of you who ready our last weekly dev update, this list hasn’t changed much, but we’re continuing to make progress on all of these areas:

Michal, James, Nolan, Mark - Exploration Events/Encounters.
Tyler - Revised Skill/Stat System
Zach - Dynamic Quests
Jessi, Phil, Jonathan, Andrey - Continuing on UI/UX Overhaul + Controller Support


By request of some in our Steam and Discord communities, we’re working on putting together a “Known Issues” list that will be publicly available on both the Discord server and the Wiki (which we can hopefully now put a little more attention too now that we’ve got some additional help).

Just a reminder, if you do try out the new Rivals beta, let us know what you think!

Thanks Couchpotato!

Saturday - May 04, 2024

Archmage Rises - Build 0.2.200 released

by Hiddenx, 14:45

Build 0.2.200 of Archmages Rises has been released - here are the the patchnotes.

Tuesday - April 23, 2024

Archmage Rises - Player Experience

by Hiddenx, 16:00

Choices with consequences will be important in Archmages Rises:

Player Experience Driven Development for Archmage Rises

Last week veteran game designer Mark (GoW:Ragnarök, God of War 2018, Guitar Hero, Skylanders) laid out for the team how and why we are tackling development in a new play experience way. 

Thursday - April 04, 2024

Archmage Rises - Future of the Game

by Hiddenx, 18:05

The development team for Archmage Rises gets bigger:


Last week I alluded to Something Really Big happening this week. It’s here!

1. We’re Being Acquired*
There is a new game studio starting up which really likes who we are (character & culture), what we’re doing (the game Archmage Rises), and how we are doing it (process & culture). 

I know! I’m as shocked as you are!

Rather than starting from scratch, they would rather build from the Team & Tech here at Defiance and take it to the next level.

They are impressed with and believe there is “gaming gold” in Archmage Rises. So much so, that they are willing to expand the team and pay what it costs to finish it well (within reason). 

Then the plan is to take that base (tech/design) and bring the “live a life” simulator to other genres, titles, and platforms.

I will be co-Studio Head along with Mark of the new studio. I’ve been self employed for 20 years so this new position opens a new chapter of my life, one I am excited to embark on. If Sid is right that games are about “interesting choices” then I think I can say life is about “interesting challenges”. I think being co-head with Mark will work well and is worth figuring out. It worked for Naughty Dog to have co-presidents!

(*for tax & legal reasons it’s not 100% accurate to say we are being acquired but it gets the correct idea across.)


Thanks Couchpotato!

Monday - March 25, 2024

Archmage Rises - Development Update

by Hiddenx, 18:55

Couchpotato spotted a new dev update for Archmage Rises:

Weekly Dev Update: Mar 18, 2024

This week’s update is a little sparse as I just returned from a week’s vacation where I took the kids not once, but twice!, to Legoland. I believe the whole theme park is built around the singular fact it is hard to leave Legoland without new lego!

Update #3: Exploration

Exploration is our next major update to the game. It will greatly enhance the overworld experience, map exploration, UI experience, dynamically generated quests based on NPC motives, and player progression.

Zach has a rudimentary dynamically generated quest working in game. There is still lots to do, but this is a significant milestone!

  • Michel is working on tooling for the new Exploration gameplay
  • Tyler is working on the Conclave and player progression
  • Jessi continues on the new UI
  • Mark and I are working on something that has always been a problem with the game: the pacing of a life.
  • For those that remember Nic, he always questioned “Thomas! How are you going to fill the time? 70 years, by hours, is a lot of time!!!”
  • I put off dealing with it until now. One idea is instead of playing out every hour of every year, instead play through more abstract stages of life: young adult, adult, middle years, eldership

Mini-Update Rival Combat

Rivals is a small update adding the ability to fight specific named mages in the game. These mages specialize in one of the schools and present a unique challenge to the player.

Rivals has been updated and ready for another internal playtest, which I will perform this week. If the experience is good we will package it up and ship it out.

Other Studio News

New Hire! We just hired a Associate Project Manager to help with the production side of the studio. As we work towards 1.0 there will be increasing production responsibilities and complexity. Phil and I have been doing it, but having someone dedicated and focused on it will really help run things better and free us up to focus on our core responsibilities. Emily starts May 1st.
Related to the above, Phil is off this week dealing with a serious family member illness. It is sudden so we don’t have a plan. There won’t be a patch this week, nor will he be on the discord server. We expect him back Mar 28th.

Wednesday - March 06, 2024

Archmage Rises - Development Update

by Hiddenx, 17:19

Couchpotato spotted a new dev update for Archmage Rises:

Weekly Dev Update: Mar 3, 2024


Rivals is a small update adding the ability to fight specific named mages in the game. These mages specialize in one of the schools and present a unique challenge to the player.

We’re trying to learn from our mistakes and give features time to “bake”. Rivals is ready for me to playtest, which I will do tomorrow. If everything is good, we’ll announce a launch date to Beta. If it needs more lovin’ in the oven, then we’ll do that.


Exploration is our next major update to the game. It will greatly enhance the overworld experience, map exploration, UI experience, dynamically generated quests based on NPC motives, and player progression.

  • This is one of those moments where I’m challenged by how much to share I share now because some some things aren’t 100% nailed down but swirling around…
  • We’re going to make this update a big update. We will close the game loop(s) and make the game a game. Adding in player progression is important.
  • We’re actively working on how we handle the player’s lifetime.
  • We’re adding in a major world altering problem which significantly affects play and provides a win condition. We’re working through how we can add the first one, now. It’s going to be a dragon like Smaug, who shows up and pursues his own goals over time
  • We’re looking into our map generation and how we can support “regions”, clusters of towns which all know each other and interact with each other
  • We’ve started the programming work for our first dynamic quest in the game. Once we get it working we can build from there


Wednesday - February 28, 2024

Archmage Rises - Development Update

by Hiddenx, 16:13

Couchpotato spotted a new dev update for Archmage Rises:

Weekly Dev Update: Feb 26, 2024

Rivals is a small update adding the ability to fight specific named mages in the game. These mages specialize in one of the schools and present a unique challenge to the player.

We play tested the game and found some problems. This led to a revised design session and programming changes. All good things to find before it comes out!
We’re continuing play test this week and will see how it feels. Then we will announce it and initially release it on the Beta branch.


Exploration is our next major update to the game, greatly enhancing the overworld and out of combat experience.

  • We’ve been discussing “purpose” in our design sessions and feel we may need to increase the scope of this update to include closing the game loop and providing the player with real clear purpose. Exploring the map in a better way may be great, but without a “why” it will eventually fall flat.
  • Programming just finished on Elite named monsters and the quest type to go after them.
  • Dynamic Quests is the game world (and NPCs) creating their own quests. Programming kicks off tomorrow to take the prototype made late last year and put it into the game.
  • UI work continues, here is a mock up of how the store/vendor interaction could be:


Saturday - January 20, 2024

Archmage Rises - New Combat System

by Hiddenx, 09:04

Archmage Rises got a new combat system:

Archmage Rises is Reborn with NEW Combat System!

Today we are very proud to release our BIGGEST UPDATE EVER with a NEW Combat system. It changes almost every aspect of the game.

Major Highlights:

  • All new combat with FIVE unique, full featured, spell schools, totaling 52 new spells!
  • All new weapons, equipment, and protection system. Even magically charge your weapons!
  • All new spell progression and learning system. Get learning bonuses and affinities.
  • All monsters completely revamped, with all new abilities and AI
  • New monster race: Crocodons

Things to know:

Previous worlds and save files are not compatible. We tried really hard but couldn't do it. Sorry! Read more on how to switch to the Legacy branch to maintain your progress and update when you choose to here.
Combat is intentionally challenging. Don't expect you can take on some monsters with the one spell you learn in school! Go to a chapter house and do some research. More info in this post.
Skeletons are temporarily disabled until next week. It's complicated. 
We're still working on Combat. Testing, tuning, playing, reading your feedback. We feel this is a good first step.

More info on the thinking behind the Spell Schools:

With changes this massive there are bound to be issues. We think we solved the major ones today with a short Beta. We appreciate your help and support!

Thanks Couchpotato!

Monday - January 15, 2024

Archmage Rises - Combat Teaser

by Hiddenx, 11:19

Couchpotato spotted a short combat teaser for Archmage Rises:

The New Combat Teaser

Only one week left until the new combat releases! Take a sneak peek at it here.

Wednesday - January 10, 2024

Archmage Rises - Earth Magic

by Hiddenx, 16:30

Learn more about the Earth Magic of Archmage Rises:

Introducing - Earth Magic

What is a Earth Mage like in the new Archmage Rises Combat?

Controlling, Dehabilitating.

Position, proximity, and angles matter in Archmage’s new combat, and this is especially true for a skilled Earth Mage.

As the ultimate battlefield tactician, Earth Mages use their control of earth and stone to keep their enemies off balance and knocking them around.

The more unbalance enemies become the more damage they take as they are moved.

Additional acid-themed spells such as acid blast and acid wash, corrode an enemy’s defenses reducing their resistance to both earth and physical damage.

This corrosion also makes earth magic highly prized among our battle style mages, looking to provide their blades with more susceptible targets.

  • Here are a few of the spells you'll be able to learn as an Earth Mage:
  • Tremor: Jolt your foes with a sharp shudder of the ground beneath their feet.
  • Stone Spike: Call up a spire of stone to break your foes and send them reeling in pain.
  • Acid Blast: Scorch the field of battle with a cataract of caustic acid.
  • Acid Wash: Shower your foes with the searing exhalations of the heavens.
  • Seismic Shift: Fling your foes toward the field’s center with a swift upheaval of the earth.
  • Exposure: Erode your foes' footing and expose them to the perils of storm and earth.
  • Earth’s Grasp: Shatter your enemy’s concentration and drag them one step closer.
  • We'll have even more details diving deeper into the magic of an Earth Mage as we get closer to release.

What do you most want to see in the new school of earth magic? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks Couchpotato!

Sunday - January 07, 2024

Archmage Rises - The Fire Mage

by Hiddenx, 04:51

Learn more about the Fire Mage class of Archmage Rises:

What is a Fire Mage like in the new Archmage Combat?

Powerful and Furious.

Fire Mage gameplay is a fury of escalating risk that can pay off with the rewards of near-limitless fire power (pun intended).

As a Fire Mage, you become more deadly through a stacking buff system called Embers which you gain after casting certain fire spells. Each Embers buff increases the strength of your fire magic, making each attack much stronger.

Embers, while very powerful, also come with a cost: the heat from those embers deals minor fire damage yourself between combat rounds. While trivial to start, the escalating heat damage from the stacking layers of Embers can quickly out of hand, leading to some interesting gameplay choices.

Luckily, Fire Mages can also mitigate this growing risk by casting certain powerful spells, such as Pyre and Emberstorm, which consume embers to deal a large chunk of damage all at once.

Choosing when to increase your growing power further or cashing out in a blaze of glory separates aspiring fire mages from true flame masters. But be careful, because those who play with fire also tend to get burned.

Here are a few of the upcoming fire spells you will be able to learn as a fire mage:

Singe - Loose a swift gout of flame upon your adversary.
Inferno - Blaze a path of smoldering ruin through the foe.
Fireball - Call up a raging mass of flame and hurl it upon your enemy.
Pyre - Immolate your enemy beneath a heap of burning coals.
Emberstorm - Scatter the flaming remnants of your wrath across the battlefield.
Flame Shield - Wreath yourself in flames that lash out at your attackers of their own accord.
Fire Charge - Stoke your battle-fury until your very touch engulfs your weapons in fire.
Scorch - Blast the battlefield with the searing heat of your anger.

We'll have even more details diving deeper into the magic of an Fire Mage as we get closer to release.

What do you most want to see in the new school of fire magic? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks Couchpotato!

Saturday - December 09, 2023

Archmage Rises - New Combat for a New Year

by Hiddenx, 14:16

Archmage Rises gets a combat update next year:

New Combat for a New Year

New Combat is coming Jan 19 2024

It has to be Good
There is an adage in video games “Games are late once, but bad forever.” We started on NEW Combat in March. Recently, we were pushing hard to get it done before Christmas. For you! For us! Especially the guys who have been on it for 9 months. But we just can’t build, test, tune, and release it in that time. After all this time and waiting I sense it has to be good! So we’re giving ourselves enough time to hopefully get it right and not kill ourselves over Christmas.

With that out of the way, let's jump into a quick overview of some of the things that is coming with the new Combat Update!

Interesting, Thoughtful, Strategic Combat

We’ve rebuilt every spell from the ground up with a new paradigm, system and UX. Combat now asks a multitude of interesting questions for which there are many possible choices.

Five Full Schools of magic for a total of 30 New Spells – Each school has been rebuilt from the ground up to have it's own identity and flavor. Preexisting spells have been remade new. When and which spell to cast matters! Each school of roughly 6 spells is equally valid and valuable. Play your mage fantasy however you want.

Magic Research & Progression System – This whole new system uses XP gained from combat, research, and experimentation to unlock new spells.

We will be sharing more details of each spell school over the coming weeks leading up to launch.

New Mechanics

  • Ara - Adjustments to the Ara pool system, including managing your Ara (Mana) resource across turns. Unused Ara now carries over across turns.
  • Action Points - increase by 1 per round (like Hearthstone) up to 8, opening up more options latter in battle
  • Armor - We removed the two kinds of armor (physical and magical) from monsters, now enemies just have HP and resistances


We’ve completely revised our four existing races: Spiders, Wolves, Skeletons, and Goblins. Now we are happy to introduce a new race: Crocodons. Burrowed deep beneath the earth, the crocodons have hibernated some 2,000 years. As temperatures approach those of the years before the Frost, the crocodons stir from their long slumber…

Save Files
Maintaining your hero's progress is super important to us. Yet, we completely redid equipment. What to do? Our solution is to refund the gold value of any existing equipment you have, teleport you to the starter town, and allow you to buy new equipment from the shops. The old equipment doesn't easily translate to the new unfortunately.

Also, because of how world generation works, crocodons will only appear in new games, not existing save games.

We will maintain the latest build before Combat releases as a new Legacy branch for those of you who might not be ready to make the switch yet.

That's what we're sharing for now, but we'll release more details as we get closer to release.

What Questions Do You Have?

Phil (Community Manager) and Mark (Combat Lead Designer) will be recording a Q&A / AMA about combat. Post your questions here and we’ll answer them in the video!

Thanks Couchpotato!


Monday - October 23, 2023

Archmage Rises - Weekly Dev Update

by Hiddenx, 15:05

Couchpotato spotted a new dev update for Archmage Rises:

Weekly Dev Update: Oct 17

Update #2b: Combat

It’s not quite ready to ship yet.. 

What you are seeing above is a NEW combat scene with all new GameObjects recreating basically what we have already: showing an enemy, casting a spell, etc.

There is entirely new damage calculations happening under the hood. Something Michel thought would take about a day and now has invested three. Why? Because it matters how and the order it is done. If you cast a spell doing 100 damage, and it crits for +50% damage, but the target has 75% resistance, is the +50% = +50 damage or +12.5 damage?

The combatrons that make this all work are separate little pieces of data to make this all clear to you through onscreen UI and the combat log.

I’m expecting we have our first data-driven spell working tomorrow or at least this week. Once that happens things will go faster.

This new data driven (as opposed to code driven) makes it possible to do mod support for spells. Am I saying we’re going to support mods? No. I’m saying we are not doing anything that precludes mods, if we want to go that way in the future.

Combat is James, Mark, Tyler, Michel, Josh, Jonathan, and Rubi. Rubi is back from her honeymoon and ready to start making VFX for your spells.

Update #3: Exploration
Had a great internal meeting with Design Lead Mark and Narrative Lead Nolan about the new way players will go about exploring and interacting with the map. The new fatigue system is way better than the current stamina system. Based on Kaylo7 and other’s feedback about big resource harvesting we are looking to have the player find an abandoned (and monster filled) mine, clear it out, and setup a foreman and workers to harvest the goods for you. No more living the fantasy of being a solitary mage running around with a pickaxe.*

It’s gonna be amazing, I’m super excited about it and think we are solving core problems that need solvin’.

(* Apparently no one actually has this fantasy)


Friday - July 07, 2023

Archmage Rises - Update #1

by Hiddenx, 16:32

Archmage Rises got the first update:

Update #1: Townsfolk Part 1 Now Released!

Hello fellow adventurers!

Our first major content update is now available. We worked hard to bring the people of Vaelun to life for your enjoyment! Please see note below about previous game worlds and save files.


  • Relationship Perks - Building relationships with NPCs offers new relationship perks as you increase your friendship level with them, giving you perks such as discounts on goods and services, etc. This is a significant system we can expand on going forward.
  • NPC Job Skills - Now several of the vendors have a new job skill stat that indicates how good they are at their craft. As their job skill increases, the quality of their goods and services will increase as well. This is a big system and lays a foundation we can build further from. For now it is implemented for Innkeeper, Outfitter, Weaponsmith, and Armorer. This is why we call this "Part 1".
  • Job Skill Quests - New job skill quests are now available that will significantly boost an NPC's job skill, allowing them to level up.
  • Ask NPCs Questions - NPCs know a lot more about their world. You can ask questions about specific subjects such as people, places, resources, services, etc. They give more in depth responses such as what they know about the subject, how they feel about people, where to find things, how long to reach certain destinations, how safe it is, etc.
    Known vs Unknown NPCs - When encountering NPCs in buildings, known NPCs will have fully visible portraits, while unknown NPCs will show up as silhouettes.
  • Gifts - NPCs who have become your friends may now possibly send you gifts via letter
  • New NPC Portraits, with Emotions - We updated all of our NPC portraits with high quality art, adding the range of emotions for reaction to what you say and do
    NPC Schedules - NPCs are now no longer static in their workplaces. They can move around throughout the day off hours, grabbing something to eat or hang out at the inn, study at the conclave, run errands around town, etc.
  • New NPC Trait System - NPCs have traits and opinions of those traits in others. This creates consistent reactions between NPCs. This is just the tip of the iceberg, we can do much more with this.
  • Improved quest system - we had a technical constraint where a quest chain could only track killing something OR collecting something. Now we can do both, allowing for more interesting quests.
  • 15+ New Quests - enhanced with emotional responses and additional trackers
  • Revised Relationship Screen - Hey, it actually works! It is cleaner and shows more valuable data: people's jobs, hometown. It also provides filtering options - current town, friends, enemies - and sorting alphabetical or by relationship score high/low
  • New World Creation Screen - updated to the new UI look and feel. You will see several new tabs and settings (disabled for now) allowing us to add more options later
  • Revised Relationship Tiers - It is easier than ever to make friends in Vaelun. The new values are:
    Casual Friend 75
    Good Friend 225
    Close Friend 450
    Best Friend 900
  • Time Stands Still In Conversation - Time no longer passes during conversation. You're welcome. 
  • Town Economic Themes - Towns and their economies are now categorized into themes based on their geographic locations and the available surrounding resources, which also affects trade with nearby towns.
  • New Items - like enchanted pickaxes, armor padding, weapon wraps, and fluffy towels.
  • Custom NPC portraits - customize a person's portrait by right clicking the portrait and selecting a local image from the "%appdata%\LocalLow\Defiance Game Studio\ArchmageRises\CustomPortraits" folder.

Thanks Couchpotato!

Saturday - June 17, 2023

Archmage Rises - NPC Schedules

by Hiddenx, 08:29

In the next update Archmage Rises will introduce NPC schedules:

Coming Soon in Update #1: Townsfolk

Hey everyone!

We are close to the release of our first major update since we launched to Early Access at the end of April. We're excited to share details on what to expect in the update!

Before we dive into features, lets talk a little about our goals.

NPCs in games are too unrealistic...

NPCs in a lot of games, including Archmage Rises, feel flat and it breaks immersion. Real people have goals, responsibilities, habits, emotions, reactions, likes, dislikes, opinions, etc, all of which are contextually aware of their surroundings.

Our goal in this first major update is to lay a foundation in creating NPCs that are each unique, individual, and special in their own ways. You can connect and interact with the NPCs in a way that builds a unique emotional attachment to each NPC that matters as you share in their successes, joys, failures, and losses, driving your own behaviour as you impact each of their lives.

New in Update 1: Townsfolk

NPC Schedules

The first major change coming to Update 1: Townsfolk is that NPCs are no longer static. In games we often see NPCs in the same places doing the same things.

After the update, NPCs in Archmage Rises will have their own schedules. They have places to go and things to do based on their own personal goals and responsibilities! They might have a job to get to, maybe run out to the market to do a little shopping during their lunch break, stop by the armorer to say a quick hi to their friend, return to work. After work, you might find them hanging out and having a bite at the inn.


Thanks Couchpotato!

Tuesday - May 09, 2023

Archmage Rises - Mark Webster joins Team

by Hiddenx, 14:53

Couchpotato spotted that veteran designer Mark Webster joined the Archmage Rises team:

Former God of War Designer Joins Archmage Rises Team

Design veteran Mark Webster has joined the Defiance team to help improve Archmage Rises game design.

Mark comes by way of Sony's Santa Monica Studio where he worked on Game of the Year titles God of War (2018) and God of War Ragnarok (2022). Before that, he also assisted Activision Blizzard with their Skylanders, Guitar Hero, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance franchises.

Mark has been following Archmage Rises since he and Thomas met at a game conference in 2019. Mark is excited to dive in to coaching us on game design. He already started digging into Combat today!

We're grateful for the chance timing and opportunity which made this possible for our little indie title. We're serious about making this game great!

Monday - April 24, 2023

Archmage Rises - Early Access Release

by Hiddenx, 15:36

The RPG/Sim Archmage Rises will be released into Early Access today:

Archmage Rises

Prepare to immerse yourself in the freedom that you can normally only get out of a tabletop RPG. Empowered with magic, you will create your own story, and experience real consequences from the decisions you make. Will you be the world’s savior . . . or its destroyer? The choice is yours.

Key features:

  • Every life is intimate, unique, and memorable. Feel each playthrough deeply.
  • Explore a true open world teeming with life, choice, and consequence
  • Immerse yourself in a player-driven story that evolves based on your decisions
  • Unleash dangerous spells that can have game-changing consequences
  • Cast magic to overcome obstacles and explore challenging dungeons
  • Procedural world generation featuring in-depth political, economic, and military simulations
  • Experience a never-before-seen religion/spirituality/worship system
  • It’s Your Story – Born with great potential, what will you do with it? Adventure, politic, research, grow in power, but one day you will die by natural causes, ending your story. See your impact on the world at your funeral.
  • Gain in Power – Explore dungeons, discover artifacts of ancient power, visit arcane libraries all to gain skill in 5 distinct schools of magic. Customize you own spells through research.
  • Total Freedom – Make good, evil, or choices in between. Use your gold to fund an orphanage, or keep prisoners in your mage tower and let them rot. Use your power and influence to bring peace between warring nobles or to instigate a feud. Just like pen & paper, it's all up to you.
  • Actually Be in a Medieval Fantasy World – Swear an oath of loyalty to nobles, invest in town shops, move homes, court a love interest (or several). An unprecedented level of presence in the world.
  • Hire Minions – Gather your entourage who can assist you in battle and increase your power, as long as you keep them well paid and taken care of.
  • Build a Mage Tower – Use your power and wealth to build an intellectual respite of research or an impenetrable tower of power, and anything in between
  • Unparalleled NPC Interaction – Every NPC is a distinct person of depth. Learn their personality and motivation, conduct business, turn things romantic, or kill them. NPCs remember every interaction and even spread news (sometimes inaccurately) about you.
  • Craft and Enchant – Create your own equipment and specialize how you please: battle, politics, research, and more. Craft potions in your mage tower workshop to assist you with your goals, or sell them at a profit.
  • Inspired by Raistlin Majere of Dragonlance – The core concept is to go from humble beginnings to becoming the most influential and powerful mage in the world? Dragonlance fans will find much to enjoy.
  • Procedural World Generation – Every game generates a new world with dozens of towns, thousands of NPCs, a unique history, treasures, items, historical characters, and monster lairs.
  • The World Progresses and Ages – With or without your involvement. Kingdoms rise and fall, towns grow or shrink, monster threats grow and expand. Watch young NPCs grow, marry, bear children, and eventually die, all in one player lifetime.
  • Choice, Consequence, Emergent Story – As the world simulates along, your every NPC interaction is factored into it. Killed the inn keeper? The inn will close and his family will hate you. Indiscriminately divorce an NPC? Maybe they’ll send thugs after you out of scorn.
  • Realistic Supply-Demand Economy – Towns have primary businesses which consume goods and produce others. Goods travel along road systems through AI traders. Bandits interrupt supply runs and can lead to your favorite brew no longer available in the local tavern. Get involved in trading and starting new businesses, or ignore it entirely.
  • Revolutionary Blight System Creates Realistic Quests – A population of giant spiders can establish a nest near a town. Townsfolk will go missing. Over time, it escalates even to the point where the town falls under attack. This affects NPCs, trade, and population unrest. NPCs will be aware of the problem and request your help with it for varying rewards. Don’t act quickly enough? Watch out for AI heroes and rival mages accepting and completing quests too!

Friday - February 17, 2023

Archmage Rises - Preview @ TBL

by Hiddenx, 18:03

The Turn Based Lovers checked out Archmage Rises:

Archmage Rises | CRPG Simulation Openworld


Monday - February 13, 2023

Archmage Rises - Preview

by Hiddenx, 11:22

Splattercatgaming checked out the upcoming RPG Archmage Rises:

Archmage Rises - Procedural Open World Medieval RPG

Tuesday - August 14, 2018

Archmage Rises - Monster Patrols

by Silver, 12:53

A new update for Archmage Rises focuses on the monster patrols you will face in game.


This week we answer some fan questions, first one on my health by Will Sama and then one about race by Marc Schwartz.  Then we dive into the work I've done on monster patrols and how encounters work when they collide with the player.

As usual the tasks are taking longer than expected because there are so many systems to consider.  A seemingly simple thing like the player and monster entering the same hex has a number of factors to consider: Race of the monster, terrain, time of day, automatic player skill checks that happen in the background.  It all, hopefully, results in pen & paper style decisions that plays quickly.

Progress since last update:

  1. Fixed fonts issue on map, town names and travel times disappeared due to outdated text control
  2. Added smarter location loading using caching, so if the player goes to a new hex it doesn't match the cached one and is displayed.  This solved bugs and improves performance
  3. Greatly improved Encounters: graphics, fonts, alignment, added room for 6 player options
  4. Patrols impact NPCs correctly now
  5. Monster patrols now interrupt player movement.  This was difficult as the player movement is on a separate thread coroutine that has to be interrupted
  6. Fixed combat callbacks being executed before combat even began, that really messed things up turns out it never worked these last 4 years...
  7. Added patrol recruitment algorithm that slowly increases the size of each patrol and number of patrols evenly
  8. Added ability to run away from monsters encounters.  If successful free to move elsewhere.  If fail, monsters gain surprise against player
  • Added ability to hide/sneak around monster encounters.  If successful free to move elsewhere or enter combat with enemies surprised.  If fail, monsters gain surprise against player
  • Tuesday - February 20, 2018

    Archmage Rises - Jokes and Performances

    by Silver, 13:04

    Archmage Rises integrates jokes and performances into its world.


    In this update I show what I was able to accomplish this week despite being out of town for 3 days.  The broader context of this piece is in having many realistic ways to interact with NPCs, and many ways to build or harm relationships.  All this is within the pursuit of making lasting friendships that mean something over time.

    If you are interested, here is the list of outstanding tasks for Build 11.  It is still at 27.

    This week's progress:

    1. Found and fixed a major fishing bug
    2. Put in fish images, one for each species of fish, and a special image for empty hook.  Fish image size can now reflect the weight.  It feels really good now.
    3. Spent a day refining the conversations code from last week.  There were about 20 edge case scenarios that I had to sort through, write for, deal with.  It's all feeling really good now.
    4. I've always intended to have "tell a joke" as a conversation option (its in the Sims).  So I created a joke engine that will create a joke based on several premise algorithms. 
    5. Jokes are generated at time of world generation and originate with certain people.  
    6. The player can learn any joke by hearing it.  If an NPC knows a joke they have a small chance of telling it to the player through a special prompt.  NPCs won't tell jokes the player has already heard.
    7. The player can tell any joke they know to someone.  Each NPC remembers which jokes they have heard before.  Telling a joke utilizes the performance skill, which improves with each successful joke told.
    8. NPCs react to jokes based on success/failure to tell, and just their own sense of what is funny (this will be connected with personalty in the future).  So a successful joke can still not be funny to the hearer.  Oh how i've experienced this too many times...
    9. In a future build: Players can use the Composition skill to craft new jokes.  For now you just have to collect the ones in the game.
    10. Added the ability to insult an NPC.  This will be utilized in the near future.
  • Something I've always intended was to allow the player to perform in an inn: music, poetry, singing, storytelling.  I decided to see if I could use the gambling/conversation system to make a Stand Up comedy act.  It didn't take me too long to do so.  I'm not going to spend time putting in the other kinds, but now they are possible.  All this is to fulfill the original design goal of being like Raistlin and friends supporting themselves by putting on shows at various inns along the shore of the sea of Istar.
  • Wednesday - November 29, 2017

    Archmage Rises - A Living, Breathing World

    by Silver, 12:39

    The latest update on Archmage Rises sees the realization of a living breathing world.


    In this special 50th double length episode we show the tech we've been promising for 3+ years.  It's real.  It works.  The simulated people, places, and monsters all intersect to create interesting choices and quests worth doing.  We've summited everest.  While there is still much work left to do, it's allllllll downhill from here.

    In this episode:

        1)We show the implementation of monsters and lairs in the game world
        2)The recent addition of bodies when someone dies
        3)Concerns about translation
        4)Introduce the Fan Hall of Fame
        5)Answer a fan question about lovers, spouses, and a harem

    A Dream Realized

    When we set out on this adventure I thought we could "fake" a lot of things behind the scenes and still give an authentic experience.  Unfortunately mid April that proved not to be the case.  It was too hard to generate a family history backwards.  We'd have to start at the beginning and go forwards.  Instead of abstractly saying 100 people eat 1 grains per week, we had to build a world simulator where each person wakes up on their own schedule and decides for themselves when to eat and why.

    NPCs work jobs because they want money to buy food, clothing, and shelter.  Monsters reproduce and spread, patrolling territory and taking resources they need for survival.  Nobles guide the evolution of a town based on their personality, while trying to keep the people happy and stay in power. 

    Enter the player able to do whatever they want in a fully realized world.  I've never seen anything like it.  I look forward to you experiencing it too.

    When is Build 11?

    We address this a bit in the video: not sure yet.  We have a number of polishing up issues to tackle before we push out a build.  This is refinement not development so we are real close.  I think 2 weeks should do it, but we don't know.

    One of the biggest issues is the performance of passing time with the news system.  It's taking up 85% of the CPU time.  Why is it an issue all of a sudden?  Because Nic commented it out as he was doing his performance improvements many months ago.  We turned it back on, because we needed it for the quests, and wow.  Is that thing ever a pig.  So we'll see.

    Sunday - October 15, 2017

    Archmage Rises - Making Babies

    by Silver, 09:19

    The latest on Archmage Rises concerns making babies.


    Through the power of Pair Programming we've completed the first step of integrating in the new world simulator.  In this short(er) video we show how NPC settlers marry, move in together, and start making babies.  And how you can visit the happy newborn family.

    Thursday - April 27, 2017

    Archmage Rises - Business Woes

    by Hiddenx, 09:10

    Some financial troubles explained by the Archmage Rises devs:

    Video Update #19: Business Woes


    We said we'd give you honest updates, so this week's update is about some of the business and financial challenges behind the scenes. Short summary: despite the risk to the current funding of the game, we are continuing on and looking for alternate sources.  We want to get this game done, and done right.

    Sunday - January 29, 2017

    Archmage Rises - Plan and Release Date

    by Hiddenx, 09:28

    Here's the project plan for Archmage Rises:

    Video Update #6: When will Archmage be Done?!


    "Hey! When is Archmage Rises going to be done?!?" - Everyone I meet, everywhere

    Last Sunday I was at a potluck.  The person across from me asked the natural polite question I hate answering: "So when is the game going to be done?"

    Monday - January 16, 2017

    Archmage Rises - Inventory & Map Systems rewritten

    by Silver, 07:40

    Archmage Rises has reworked the inventory and map systems in the latest update.


    Sometimes to move forward you have to go back. This past week we have been rewriting two major systems: inventory and map. Then we respond to some Steam user feedback!

    Wednesday - January 04, 2017

    Archmage Rises - Video Update #3

    by Hiddenx, 12:20

    Thomas and Nic talk about 2016 and their Archmage Rises plans for 2017:

    Video Update #3: 2016, Release Date, Publisher, 2017 Builds

    Here is the last video update of 2016.  Nic and Thomas discuss 2016, what happened with the publisher talks, and rough plan for 2017.


    Build 9: Oops.

    1. I'm sorry we put out a bad build: there are problems with saving and loading.  We've hotfixed it twice and need to rewrite the inventory management system to be sure it saves correctly.  That hotfix is coming in days.
    2. We are now going to be more professional about the build testing, having a battery of test cases we run through testing specific functionality.  This will minimize the chance of making a bad build again.

    Release Date: Q1 2017?

    1. We know we won't hit that and have moved the release date to Q2.  But we don't know yet if that is realistic.  We're still planning out 2017.
    2. We lost about 3 months near the end of 2016.
    3. Lost time after GenCon due to burn out.
    4. Lost time negotiating with publisher.
    5. Took at least 1 month too long on Mage Tower feature.  It's a better feature now, but we can't get that time back.


    1. We've been negotiating with a major publisher from about May to Sep.  A great tier 1 publisher who would be the perfect one to work with.  There was great alignment between us with a similar vision for the game.
    2. In the end they offered to buy out Archmage Rises IP and everything.  We determined a number internally, gave it to them, and awaited their top executive meeting for a result.
    3. While they really like and believe in the game, they determined Archmage Rises won't sell millions of units.  Given the size of their business now they need to focus only on those kinds of titles.  But it was real close, one of the VP's contacted me separately afterwards to say how much he believes in the game and encouraging us to keep going!
    4. We won't be talking with any more publishers, that was the right one for us and this game.  We will continue on the more free, more lucrative, more risky path of self-publishing.
    5. We appreciate everyone who has pre-ordered, it makes a big difference!

    2017 Plan

    1. Nic likes to make small changes, play test and literate on them, and push out lots of real-world releases.
    2. Thomas likes to make big sweeping changes, test balance, and release only when they are all perfected.
    3. Needless to say there is a healthy tension on how to approach 2017.
    4. Currently it is costing about 2 person weeks to create, release, and support a build.  This cost is too high to do it frequently, like monthly.
    5. To address the two competing goals of making releases to support existing customers and to finish the game for all customers, we've decided to do builds every other month: Feb, Apr, Jun.
    6. Video Updates every week of what we're working on.  We think over time these will be a cool "behind the scenes" view of indie game dev.

    Next Build

    1. Economy - fleshed out with AI traders and geography based production
    2. Better map - better performance, better layout and roads, larger
    3. Better Dungeons - better generation, more history and character to each

    Something Special is Coming

    Vaelun, the continent the game takes place in, has a deep rich history behind it.  It partly comes from the D&D campaign Thomas has been running for years.  This drives many of the features, choices, and player goals within the game.  Knowing the lore of the world will result in a richer more rewarding game experience.

    Unlike other sandbox games, Archmage Rises is chock full of player goals.  

    Who is the Conclave and why are they in power over the mages?  What does it mean to be a renegade?  Should the player join the conclave and rise in ranks, or seek out the renegades?  All these are meaningful choices in this open world simulator based on the campaign setting.

    We'll be sharing the campaign setting and world history as a special thank you for being on the newsletter.  Not sure on the date right now, it's a lot of work, but we're close to the end.

    And Finally

    We read,discuss, and respond to all your feedback.  Thanks for those that comment on youtube, facebook, steam, and this website.  We appreciate it!

    That's it for now.  Happy New Year!

    Tuesday - July 12, 2016

    Archmage Rises - On Steam Greenlight

    by Silver, 09:49

    Archmage Rises has released a new trailer for its Steam greenlight push. The game is described as a fantasy rpg simulation with tabletop leanings.


    Aug 4: Playable demo and pre-order
    Q1 2017: Release Date

    Its an RPG set in a World Simulation

    Prepare to immerse yourself in the freedom that you can normally only get out of a tabletop RPG. Empowered with magic, you will create your own story, and experience real consequences from the decisions you make. Will you be the world's savior . . . or its destroyer? The choice is yours.

    Key features:

    • Explore a true open world teeming with life, choice, and consequence
    • Immerse yourself in a player-driven story that evolves based on your decisions
    • Unleash dangerous spells that can have game-changing consequences
    • Cast magic to overcome obstacles and explore challenging dungeons
    • Procedural world generation featuring in-depth political, economic, and military simulations
    • Experience a never-before-seen religion/spirituality/worship system

    Sunday - May 01, 2016

    Archmage Rises - Early Prototype available

    by Hiddenx, 11:17

    You can check out Archmage Rises now - an early prototype with interesting game mechanics has been released:

    Prototype: A New Approach to RPG Adventure Mechanics


    Adventure Mechanics Prototype

    I will try to describe the Adventure mechanics concept as clearly as I can:

    You have a dungeon.  It is a container for interesting encounters.  How many encounters?  That depends on the size and difficulty of the dungeon. 

    Let’s think of an encounter as a card.  A card can be overcome (completed) by interesting choices.  Some cards are simple and require few choices, some are complex and have many choices. 

    If an encounter is a card then that means it could come from a source of many cards called a deck.  A deck is for cards that share a similar theme.  What kind of theme? Underground, ruined temple, under water, fire caves, spooky forest, whatever we desire. 

    This means that a dungeon can be created by picking a theme deck, shuffling it, then drawing the required number of encounter cards.  The more cards, the longer and more difficult the dungeon.  The less, the easier.

    This also means that no two dungeons are ever alike.  If you don’t know what to do in a particular dungeon you can’t call and wake me at home because I don’t know either.

    Now the makers of Skyrim tried this approach with Daggerfall.  Unfortunately, they were dealing with 3d geography from a set of templates and it all got very repetitive.  So the lesson here is that if you have to navigate a virtual space, the random shuffle of cards is difficult to pull off unless you have a ton of cards.  And this is precisely what Bethesda has been doing up to Skyrim: making smaller and smaller cards that fit better and better together to not look repetitive.  Because I’m using text instead of 3d modelling, I think I can have more cards than Bethesda.

    Now unlike a board game where you really are limited to physical cards, I’m using virtual ones.  Which means a card can have something randomly interesting.  Instead of being attacked by one orc, it can be 1-6 orcs.  Instead of a door of difficulty 5, it can be from 1-10.

    I can push this further by adding modifiers to the cards.  If I were to take just three decorators, like say, a bubbling magical fountain, a flower with noxious fumes, and a strangely colored potion, they can be added to any card.  So instead of it being a 10ftx10ft room, it’s now a 10ftx10ft room WITH a flower of noxious fumes.  Without the flower it’s a pretty obvious choice to search the room for loot.  But now, do you risk it?  Will the flower effect you in some adverse way?  You may now see that with 10 base cards and 4 modifiers suddenly we have 40 possible cards.  Granted, finding a noxious flower in 25% of the encounters is pretty boring, but I hope you can see the beauty and possibility of a properly stocked system.

    So this is what I need your help doing: testing this theory in practice.  It’s a big one, because if the adventures are boring and suck, then no one will play Archmage Rises beyond the character creation screens.  But if it is engaging and wonderful in the way ROGUE, ADOM, and NETHACK are, then people will play Archmage Rises for the rest of time.  Or at least until the next Blizzard, Bioware, Bethesda, or some other company name starting with B is released. :-)


    Wednesday - February 03, 2016

    Archmage Rises - A Series of interesting Choices

    by Hiddenx, 19:25

    Developer Thomas Henshell send us some info about his upcoming RPG Archmage Rises:


    Our vision is to bring the essence of the pen & paper role playing experience to the modern computer role playing game. Where player freedom, choice, and natural consequence is the core of the game.


    Of low birth, sixteen, away from home, and now kicked out of school just prior to Confirmation.  Legally, you are not allowed to practice magic.  What will you do?

    From this tumultuous beginning you are in control of how you make your way in the world of Vaelun.

    • Conform to society or rail against it?  
    • Forgive those who harmed you, or seek vengeance? 
    • Become a famous academic or fearsome battlemage? 


    You are born and will die of natural causes after a certain number of years (determined by genetics). How you spend your time is the most important decision you will make.  

    • Story driven character creation branches into over 144 beginnings.
    • Permadeath brings gravitas to every decision.   Just as in real life, there are no redos.
    • Dozens of skills allow for broad character diversification.  No two play throughs will be the same.
    • Most every action affects your soul.  The more selfless you are, the more good options become available to you.  The more selfish you are, the more evil options become available.


    The innovative turn-based combat is designed from the ground up to be flexible, strategic, and fast.  Combat is just one way of overcoming obstacles.

    • The battlefield is separated into three ranges (Far, Mid, Near).  Enemy weapons and abilities determine their optimal attack distance.  Use your retinue of spells to blast your foes, but also to control the battlefield.  It's like Chess with fireballs!
    • Decide how to best utilize your action points: quick light spells, or slow powerful ones.  (Like Bravely Default)
    • Choose how powerfully to cast a spell.  Like a boxer swinging, the more power you invest the higher chance of missing, and the more of an opening you allow to your opponent, but the more damage you do.  Like boxing, battle is not just a test of power but wits and stamina as well.
    • Craft your own weapons, equipment, and spells.  No class restrictions, specialize in your favorite spells.

    Information about

    Archmage Rises

    Developer: Defiance Game Studio

    SP/MP: Single-player
    Setting: Fantasy
    Genre: RPG
    Combat: Unknown
    Play-time: Unknown
    Voice-acting: Unknown

    Regions & platforms
    · Homepage
    · Platform: PC
    · To be announced
    · Publisher: Defiance Game Studio