Heat Signature #11: Artizens, Reimagining Customization

By Published January 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Today brings the return of our popular Heat Signature video series, which has brought games like Cube World and Castle Story to the forefront of our coverage; this series looks at up-and-coming games that we find particularly worthy of attention and would like to share with all of our readers.

For this episode—officially episode 11—we look at Artizens (Kickstarter here), a creative-driven, four-player co-op action/RPG that allows players to fully customize their characters -- all the way down to uploading drawings of weapons and armor. With no class restrictions or setting restrictions in place, the game hopes to really appeal to the stat-tweaking mentality of gamers with its modular design for weapon and armor upgrades; the devs even mention in their Kickstarter video that they draw inspiration from the likes of tabletop RPGs and Magic: The Gathering, which should tell you more about their goal of limitless customization than this entire post.

The video below offers an overview of the features in Artizens, some of our thoughts/first impressions, and a visual demonstration of the item customization.


Due to our limited time for the video, I didn't mention a few other pieces of information that you may find enticing: In addition to all of the custom pets/mobs/levels/items, the game will have housing blocks (labeled "Studios" on the map we reference) for players, which I suspect will also feature some level of furnishing customization if stretch goals are met. On that note of continued player-created features, the devs briefly showed their two-joint animation utility and level editor, and while they haven't explicitly stated that the tools will be available to the public, I sort of expect they will eventually see the light of day with enough backing and demand.

You'll find the full transcript from the video below, in the event you're unable to view videos at your workplace. We like to facilitate procrastination.

I have to mention that there's an inherent risk with crowdsourced backing for games -- there's always a chance for let-down or failure to meet a goal, so if you do plan to back the game, please research it thoroughly first. I'll save you a few seconds and point you in the right directions:

Official website: http://www.artizensonline.com/

Kickstarter Campaign: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artizens/artizens-0?ref=category

Goal: $30,000

Until next time!

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Heat Signature #11 Transcript - Artizens Preview/Gameplay 

Hey everyone, this is Steve from GamersNexus.net! And today we are here looking at the upcoming kickstarter project, Artizens, which aims to centralize character customization within the core gameplay mechanics. This four-player co-op action RPG grants players the unique ability to draw their own equipment and tweak each aspect of their character -- there are no class, skill tree, or setting restrictions, so if you wanted to be a shotgun-wielding pirate who particularly loves his steampunk-styled jumpboots, you could certainly do that.

This is sort of the central point to Artizens, and I think it's very intriguing game design, despite the fact that it seems somewhat obvious once you've heard it. The reason creative-driven games like Minecraft are successful is the show-and-tell factor; in Minecraft, you can show a non-gaming friend your creation and he can appreciate it by a simple Legos comparison. It's a very visual, customization-driven game that appeals to the creative mind, and doesn't particularly require a gaming skillset to enjoy deeply.

To the same tune, although entirely different gameplay, Artizens fills that creative desire by offering players the option to use their favorite art tools for asset generation, much the same way a game developer would add content to the game. Because there are no class or setting restrictions, you can be any character you want - made-up or pre-existing. If you want to recreate the cast of Firefly with your friends, you could certainly do that from a visual standpoint.

Each character has twelve total item or buff slots; there are six active slots for weaponry and gadgetry and then another six passive slots for buffs and armor. Each item in the game is not only customizable visually, but also statistically, where players can utilize bits-and-pieces dropped from enemies to mod their equipment. For instance, if a Scorpion drops its tail, you might be able to somehow work that into the stats of your sword - like adding a poison attribute. From what I understand, and keep in mind the game is not complete yet, it seems that players should have a fairly limitless number of mods that can be applied to each item, though these are balanced by tight pro/con modifiers.

The upgrades are gained through progression in the game's wilderness regions and by completing missions. Artizens seems a bit more promising than the standard kill X of monster Y quest, though -- at least, I hope it is; first of all, levels are broken up into horizontally-scrolling areas -- each level will have something like ten areas altogether, and monsters will intelligently move around within these ten areas. For instance, if a mob is outmatched, it may retreat to another area of the level to collect its spirits and prepare a new assault; enemies are also reactive to player actions and movements in combat, so they're not just Goomba-like patrollers. In the admitted style of Mega Man, Artizens' enemies will have weak points and reinforced points, so a Scorpion's tail - once again - might be the best target when trying to disable its ability to damage you and send it cowering to another area. The same goes for a giant's limbs.

Each of these mobs will drop upgrade items that can then be applied to your weapons, and with any luck, combat should be fun and dynamic enough in co-op mode that it augments the core customization component. Combat, as I see it now, seems like it will be more of a means to achieve the reward, rather than the direct reward itself.

Aside from apparel and weaponry, players can also customize pets -- so you could add your own cat or iron golem to the game -- turrets, and potentially animations and levels, though that's pure speculation on my part.

Mechanically-speaking, the customization tweaks made by imbuing weaponry with mods will sort of speak to the playstyle common in tabletop games due to their limitless nature. By mixing-and-matching any mods you'd like with any gadget or weapon you'd like, it's entirely possible you could stumble across a completely unique, never-before-tried combination of powers that happens to be very powerful -- or entirely powerless -- either way making for gameplay that no one has experienced before. MMOs have ability combinations that can be quite fun when discovered alone, but there's a technical limit to the depth available in games of such large scope as MMOs; with Artizens, the idea is to centralize around this concept, making it more mechanically deep and impressive than most other games we're used to. The devs made a few comparisons to tabletop RPGs and Magic the Gathering, which really speaks to the combo-type options they seek.

There's a lot more to know about the game, but that's unfortunately all the time I have for now! Check the description below for a link to the full article and the Kickstarter campaign! They've still got 25 days left, so you have time to make a decision.

I'll see you all next time! Peace.

Last modified on January 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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