Those helpful fellows dotted around the Mercia demo aren’t just statues you know? They are important characters in the Mercia universe! If you don’t know what we’re talking about, get to the 2012 SCEA E3® Booth while you can and pick up your FREE warrior starter pack!
The statues are actually the ‘Guardians’ of Mercia. As stated above, they are the single most important element featured in the game – they allow the many Realms of Mercia to exist by holding them together and acting as Gatekeepers from the ‘old world’ to the ‘new world’.
You can expect to encounter many different types of Guardian throughout the Realms of Mercia, and they serve many varied purposes and functions, though their main roles are to assign you with quests, provide you with important information as you progress through the game, and also; on occasion, to act simply as a directional signpost.
They appear in the game as magical Totem statues. Their Totem forms are merely the physical manifestations that the Guardians use to interact with you – they also exist on a grander spiritual level, performing a much more significant role in the greater scheme of things. This task uses up a majority of their power and as a result leaves them largely immobile, though to compensate for this a Guardian can manifest itself in one form or another in more than one place around the world.
The main Guardians you will meet include an Inca-like Turtle Warrior called ‘Akek’, he will teach you about the different types of Warriors, their Weapons and also the enemies of Mercia.
There is the solemn and grim Gatekeeper, who has little time for new Warriors, but has many rewards for those that can prove themselves; and the spirit of a many headed Oriental-like Dragon named ‘Anaga’, who has looked over The Sanctuary for thousands of generations.
As you prove yourself by completing quests that the Guardians bestow upon you, they will gradually start to trust you and as a result unveil the history of Mercia and their part within it. By defeating the various invading Monsters, collecting items and bringing them back to the Guardians, you will also be paying tribute to them, helping to defend Mercia from its enemies and earning their favour – which will lead to more perilous quests with increasingly greater rewards.
For the design of the Guardians we looked at various drawn and sculpted examples of spirits and Gods from a lot of different cultures around the world. We didn’t want them to look like humans, so we moved away from more anthropomorphic designs early on. We wanted you to feel like you were dealing with beings of greater power, though despite this God-like aspect, their motivations will always reflect and support those of the Mercian people.
When we were creating the ‘Oracle’, we wanted her to look more feminine and to have the characteristics of strong, rather than attractive, woman; such as the Amazons from Greek mythology, which is where we drew our main inspiration for her appearance. With this in mind, one of our artists, Tom – who was primarily responsible for her design – sketched out some concepts. He went back and forth with other members of the team, refining her until we were all happy with how she looked.
Choosing the material that she would be made of changed a lot during this process. Originally she was going to be made of a white jade stone or marble, with a mixture of white for the skin and green for the clothing and hair, but we decided that this over complicated her design and settled on something simpler in the end.
The Oracle acts as the balancer of all things within Mercia – in one of her hands is a pot pouring water, which represents her influence flowing out into the Realms, and in the other is a green orb, symbolizing the entire world of Mercia.
The concept of the Guardians was present in one form or another from early on in the project’s development, and though we didn’t have a name for them then, we knew what we wanted them to mean to the player and what they would do for the world.
A lot of issues we were having went away by making them the core feature of the game, as they provided a solid framework that we could build pretty much any narrative and design concept around. Ultimately, their presence in-game serves to focus your attention and is a more interesting way to incorporate tutorials, help menus and quest logs.
Due to the fact that the Guardians’ role within the world of Mercia has caused them to become largely inanimate statues, there were a few things we had to do to convey and imbue them with life and personality – such as having distinct sound and particle effects to indicate to the player what mood they are in, or that something significant has happened during the course of their interaction with them.
As always we don’t want to give too much away at this stage, but we can confirm that there are going to be more Guardians in future updates, as there is still plenty yet to be unveiled!
Also, visit (and Like) our newly established Mercian Facebook page and let us know what you think of the game so far.
Thanks to Phil (Lead Technical Artist), Kev (Designer) and Tom L (Artist) for contributing to this diary.