Tale of the Valkyrie was a free-to-play Action/RPG developed by Val'Kyr Studios. The project was led by Jerry Peet and a small team of 15 artists, writers and programmers. The game started development in March of 2009, and as of April of 2011 has been officially cancelled.
|Version||0.8.9 (Beta), 1.2.2 (Pre-release)|
|Platforms||Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable|
|Release Date||May 6th, 2009 (Beta), November 14th, 2010 (Pre-Release)|
|Engine||Unreal Development Kit|
|Genre||Third Person Action/RPG|
|Modes||Single Player, Co-Op|
|Media/Distribution||Digital Download, Mail Order, Peer to Peer Networks|
The story of the game centers around Heaven. Under the watchful eye of Odin's Valkyries, God (dubbed Athena by the main characters) is slowly slipping into madness. Desiring the Valkyrie's power, She attempts to create one of her own, someone she can control. Giving the powers to a recently killed young man, She is surprised when he rebels and returns to Earth to be with his best friend. The game then follows a number of conflicts over a 30 year span, with the climax being a duel between Athena's creation and herself.
Peet expressed interest in designing a video game, and decided to base it off a novel he was currently working on. Over the course of a few weeks, Peet finished the basic plotline, and started to look for aspiring developers to assist him. Eager for the chance to get some hands on experience in game design, 15 people volunteered for the project.
Development was handled on literally a $0 budget. The group used only designing programs they could get for free, or could borrow from other local developers. Over the course of it's two year development cycle, the game had neared completion.
Tale of the Valkyrie was run off an engine similar to Kingdom Hearts II. Gameplay was very similar in terms of execution and User Interface. The actual combat was similar to The Force Unleashed. Adding elements of flight simulators and stealth games was also considered a highlight.
While much of the game was designed around hack-and-slash fighting, it was only useful to one of the playable characters. Other playable characters had their own ways of dispatching dangers. Matthew Ryder was combat focused, Jaina Ryder was Magic focused, Megan Ryder had higher focus on Stealth and sneaking, while the fourth character, Ascentia, was a balance of all three.
Three of the playable character could fly. As this was required for some levels, it was impossible to complete the game using only Megan. As the flight capable characters were Angels, Peet wanted a flying mechanic that felt very fast and very high energy. While flying, characters had access to various stunts. While the were for little more than show, they also allowed the player to break certain game mechanics, such as flipping around and instantly changing direction.
Breaking the speed of light was an advertised aspect of the flight mechanic. Peet described the effect as a shockwave occuring at the point of origin, with the character's color pallet smeared in a trail behind them. However, the mechanic took to long to introduce, and a cartoon show used a similar effect for one of their characters. Fearing a lawsuit, Peet simply had a shockwave occur without the color trail.
Tale of the Valkyrie saw a beta release on Steam in early May of 2009, though it was only available to users who lived in Canada. The game was distributed for free, and saw sizeable traffic. As a beta-released single-player studio game, Tale of the Valkyrie was swiftly overshadowed by the beta-release of Minecraft in later that month.
During it's beta phase, Val'Kyr Studios submitted the beta to the ESRB for evaluation, though not being an official release, they were not legally obligated to. The ESRB awarded the game an Adult's Only rating. In response, Steam refused to continue to supply the game. Peet released a Pre-Release version available through his own Torrent Engine. As he fully intended to supply the game for free, he had no issue with P2P engines.
Peet released a digital version of the game for the Playstation 3 and the Playstation Portable. However, as they were not supported by Sony, and in .ISO format, they would only function on consoles running Custom Firmware. As reliable CFW is still rare for consoles, many console and handheld players didn't want to take the risk. Peet said the version would still be there if they changed their mind.
In the middle of 2010, Peet was contacted by someone who claimed to be from Activision. He expressed interest in the game and claimed that Activision wanted to provide publishing. Peet was very excited. However, during their conversations, the contact continued to provide innacurate information on how Activision handled publishing rights, and even tried to extract personal information such as Peet's Social Insurance Number. Suspecting something, Peet contacted the company directly. Activision had no clue who he was, and was surprised they were getting a call at all. They informed Peet that he was likely being scammed and that Activision had never epxressed interest in Tale of the Valkyrie.
Having announced the Activision deal on a number of social media, Peet later submitted a retraction via the Pre-Release's update notes.
"Activision is not going to be publishing this game. We were being scammed."
Peet recieved critisism for not announcing the news on the same social media he announced the deal on (Youtube, Fanfiction.Net, Blogger). Peet has yet to respond to this critisism.
While never made an issue by the news, parents of teenagers and children who played the game frequently contacted Peet about the content in the game. Common complaints included:
- Portraying God as a woman, as well as the villian.
- High levels of violence and brutality.
- Nearly every villian or evil character being female.
- Characters based off real life people.
- Portraying a lesbian relationship between two of the playable characters.
- Frequent insults at many different religions.
- Turning religion into "Fantasy Violence".
Peet pointed out that as an AO rated game, it was not to be played by children. Later, Peet also stated that "the same people who complained about the haphazard portrayal of religion and the high levels of violence were gushing breathlessly about The Passion of the Christ which was essentially a glorified two hour snuff film. So their arguments are invalid to me anyway."
Despite being in the game since it's first Beta release in 2009, the character of Ascentia recieved particular attention because of her physical design in late 2010. Ascentia had rather long, pale pink hair, discolored yellow wings, and a rather timid and interverted personality. While prone to bursts of courage, she was mostly quiet and kept to herself.
In late 2010, players began to connect her appearance and personality with that of Fluttershy, a character from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. In response, Bhaal replied that "I developed her character since I began this project. If anything, Hasbro is ripping me off."
In later versions of the game, some characters take pot-shots at Ascentia for this comparison. In a cutscene added to the end of the final level, Ascentia blasts through a wall shouting "You're going to LOVE ME!" In a level added near the middle of the game, Matthew and Megan get dragged through the air by their feet, with Ascentia trying to catch them. Matt then says "Oh Ascentia, could you be a dear and FLY FASTER PLEASE!" It is at this point that Ascentia unlocks the ability to break light speed. Strangely, both these quotes appeared in the game months before their appearances in the show they were parodies of.
Ascentia was never in the original story written by Peet. Peet said that Ascentia was written solely for the game.
Ascentia returned in the written sequel, Tale of the Deity, where she was Matt's apprentice. She was far more outgoing, and even demented. She took her job very seriously, but was characterized as a girl who "liked to play with her food before she eats it."
Ascentia returned again in Doomsday Ascending as a wise Master, and her physical design gained an extensive overhaul, making this iteration an almost completely different character.
Post Game ContentEdit
After a player defeats the final boss, they unlock a special arena that contains numerous boss battles of characters from popular culture. The total remains at 54 optional boss fights.
Some people critisized the arena as taking time away from completing the actual game itself, and that these kind of things should have been added as Downloadable Content after the game's official release. Peet responded by saying that the optional boss fights were mostly designed to test out the levelling curve of the playable characters to make sure they don't become too powerful, or stay too weak.
Near March of 2011, many of the members of the development team started to get involved in other projects or part-time jobs. Peet had no issues, as they were all volunteers. Peet tried to complete the game on his own, but possessing limited programming knowledge and artisitc skill, he was unable to finish it on his own.
The final version that was released contains all the story elements and almost everything up to the final boss. The clear signs of being incomplete is that a few levels in the middle of the game are large empty spaces with a portal to the next level, and numerous minor glitches that were never ironed out.
Peet announced on the game's website that the game had been cancelled. This post remained for a few weeks before the site was taken down.
While the game has so far recieved 40,000 downloads, nobody from the original audience for the story on Fanfiction.Net has even seen the game. Most of the members of Peet's writing forum express hope that Peet would release the game in the United States, while others debate wether or not it even exists. Peet stated that he had no desire to cater to the Fanfiction.Net audience. He went out of his way to ensure they did not get the game.
This was further cemented in late 2011, when Peet removed Tale of the Valkyrie from his stories list. At time of deletion, the story had over 4,567,000 hits.