Mistlock Labs had a strange route to becoming a game studio If you can call it that at this point. It kind of all starts with Hearthstone while playing around its release in 2014 I had a blast but always dreamt of something else. As a massive fan of Guild Wars 1 and 2 I really wanted a card game like Hearthstone but with the world, lore and characters of the Guild Wars franchise. I thought about this over the next few years and it wasn’t until 2 years later I actually did something. I decided to just design the game, just to see what it would look like. Well just designing the game turned into making well over 150 cards, mechanics, rules and months of work in my spare time. When it was time to share my creation with the world I posted it on Reddit and sent emails to some Guild Wars related websites and the feedback was great. But there was one common piece of feedback and the biggest hurdle for the game, it was print only.
Bringing the card game to life
Reddit can also take some credit to Mistlock Labs coming into being as this is where I met Matthew. During some Reddit comments where the suggestions of making the game playable, the idea of a Table Top Simulator mod was suggested. As I replied to comments about making a mod and needing a developer a Redditor names Snowbird (Matthew) offered to help me make the mod. After hopping on Discord and talking about the project we had a great connection and passion for both Guild Wars and games in general and begun work on the mod. This was a huge learning curve for us both and we loved every minute of it.
Mod Release and game expansion
Months passed as we worked on the game, testing, playing and learning. Matthew worked on the mod learning as he worked we always found useful ways to make the process better and more efficient and scalable. Whether it was Python scripts to batch overwrite old files with new ones, or using design software Figma to manage over 300 cards each with unique data but a consistent design. We had to quickly test and release balance patches which is a fine art of nerf but don’t kill and we also released an expansion adding another 100 cards to the game. There were many hurdles and things to learn, the games functions where simple but it always threw up challenges. As the mod was released it got some great coverage from MMO news and Guild wars related websites, we had many games setup via discord, I made a mini website to show all the cards and rules. The game was even played by the biggest Youtuber in the Guild Wars 2 scene Wooden Potatoes. The main problem with with the card game being a mod for TTS was just that, its a mod, you need TTS to play it which is a barrier to entry. We asked ArenaNet for permission to build a stand-alone version of the card game but after many emails, they never gave a clear answer and the idea was dropped. This whole experience gave Matthew and I a taste of making games, so we decided to make a proper one, but we needed a name.
The Mistlock Name
As the two people who were starting out as a wannabe game studio, we needed a catchy name, something to stand out and sound cool but have some meaning. We are both Guild Wars 2 players and absolutely love the franchise, so have a loose connection to that universe meant a lot to us both. The word Mistlock comes from the Mistlock Observatory in the Mists in Guild Wars 2. (note: in fact the skybox in the mod is inside that observatory) This location in the game is a lab inside the fractals of the mists, an area of the game full of unique endgame dungeon content, where every dungeon takes place in a different time or place in the lore of the game. This felt so perfect and after only a few other names it just felt right.
Our First Game
Starling Ascent is a game I have wanted to make and play for well over 10 years. It’s loosely based on a game I don’t know the name of but I played when I was very young, it was a physics based game where you land a small rocket craft on a dock after picking up packages and delivering them. The game is loosely based on my memories of this but with much more modern take and better physics and design. There will be a ton more info on Starling Ascent all over this blog so I will leave any more information about our first game there.
The journey of Mistlock Labs has not been straight or planned, but as we get closer to our first game its starting to feel real.