Alpha early access?
Wednesday, 17 January 2018

I'm seriously thinking of starting Early Access for the hardcore game sooner than usual, basically at an alpha level instead of the normal, for us, beta level. At least for my purposes here, alpha means very playable but lots of features and assets are not done yet. Beta means a few features left to do, but all assets are done.

The reason why I'm thinking this, is that it's going to be a while before we have all of the assets to get into beta, but the game is already pretty playable. So I could get gameplay feedback much sooner. Also, I really enjoy betas/Early Access which is why we have been doing them before Early Access was a thing. :) Getting immediate feedback on things as they progress is much more enjoyable and easier than working in a vacuum for a long period of time and then getting overwhelming feedback all at once. I also like you all getting a real chance to impact the direction of the game.

If I go this route, we would probably start Early Access in the next month or two. It is likely to only be on Steam during Early Access. We might still sell directly through us, but at the beginning it might just be a Steam key, with an actual build available when we hit beta or gold. The reasoning for this is that the Steam build system actually simplifies things quite a bit, but our patch system wouldn't work very well if we release publicly before all of the assets are finished. Our patches have always been cumulative which makes things simple since you only need to apply the latest one, but that means every change since going public has to be in the latest patch. If we keep adding art, this would make each patch fairly large and get bigger and bigger each time. Plus this means only 1 set of patches I have to deal with when things are changing often.

We do still have a few things that we have to do before we could start Early Access though. We need to settle on a name, do some of the marketing stuff (blurb, marketing graphics for Steam, and a few screenshots), create a logo, finish some art style stuff, add the new game to our website & Steam, and fix some game specific multiplayer stuff.

UPDATE: This took longer than expected (mostly because of our move), but it looks like this will happen in September.

Comments are welcome as usual

 
Hardcore game name
Wednesday, 10 January 2018

So I'm thinking about the name for the next game. I really don't like naming things; it's a pain and I don't think I'm that good at it. I'm actually more and more tempted to name it Din's Curse 2 and be done with it since there are plenty of similarities with Din's Curse. There are also some differences though.

A quick rundown of the next game: you play as one of the Mutated, characters are hardcore (permadeath) and mutate over time, the next generation of character is evolved from his/her parents and most of your total power carries over, you do have a lot of control of guiding your character's development (picking parents, picking skills, getting rid of unwanted mutations, etc), each world has a random setup and win conditions, and your goal in each area is to prove to the world that the Mutated is a "good" and powerful race.

Similarities to Din's Curse:

  • Overall goal is to move to an area, more often than not to help the local people, and move on to the next area
  • Both have same kind of resurrection mechanism thanks to the gods (Din in this case)
  • Tighter focus than most of our other games (not controlling a clan)
  • They are both cursed (DC your character is directly cursed by Din, in the new game basically the entire race is cursed because they are split off from Orcs)
  • Random, dynamic world (this is also true of all of our games except Kivi)

Differences with Din's Curse:

  • You're not playing a human, but a mutated (race introduced in Zombasite: Orc Schism)
  • You're not forced into redemption, but simply trying to prove your new race is good and powerful
  • It's not a true resurrection, but mutated and carry on from "parents"
  • There are no direct hybrids, but guided mutations/evolution
  • Not just a town and a dungeon (although many scenarios do this)

I didn't start this game as a sequel, but it fits pretty well; mostly just a change from Humans to Mutated as the focus. So what do you all think? Do you think I should go the Din's Curse 2 route or make this a separate game? Is it too different to be a Din's Curse game? Or do you not care what I call it as long as I hurry up? :)

UPDATE: I decided to go with Din's Legacy.

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Videos
Friday, 13 October 2017

I really need to start making more videos for marketing purposes, but the following story demonstrates why that has been difficult for me. The following story happened to me earlier this week while testing Orc Schism. These types of things happen often in our games since they have very dynamic worlds. I think this is one of the most compelling parts of our games, but I have no idea how I would every capture such a thing in a video.

So I'm doing fairly well in this particular game. My clan, Heart of Gold, and Order of the Moon are all allied together, which is good because Order of the Moon is much bigger and a higher level than me. I'm slowly getting the world under control. My biggest problem is that I'm a little low on food.

I'm allied with 2 clans and War Blades had already been destroyed so I figure there is probably only 1 or 2 undiscovered clans left. I decide to seek out the rest of the clans in the area so I can figure out the best path to victory for this world. After a little exploring, I discovered the last clan, The Mutants. They were less powerful than my clan and wanted to be friends. They were easy to ally with and once allied with me, I introduced them to my other allies, started a few rumors so that they would all be headed towards allying with one another, and then I went back to fixing the problems with my own clan.

Now my food supply has gotten low enough that we are rationing, so I sent out a hunting party of 5 NPCs (2 with foraging skills, 2 with trapping skills, and most of them had combat skills). I was going to go with them, but the town came under attack almost immediately by those pesky Dark Orcs. As I'm dealing with the Dark Orc attack, zombies (I forget which kind) also launch an attack. And then as if that wasn't enough, a 2 on 1 fight breaks out in the middle of town with some of my NPCs. All of a sudden my town is complete chaos!

While I'm frantically trying to get control again of my town, I don't notice that my hunting party is getting slaughtered by some powerful monster. By the time I notice, 4 of the 5 members are dead. I managed to recall them in time to save the last member. Apparently those 4 people were very well liked in my clan because just about everyone in my clan got really unhappy.

I managed to stop the town attacks and NPC fights, but now everyone is so unhappy (most of the clan was below -100 happiness and above 60 insanity) they are basically openly rebelling. They are selling town secrets, creating gates in town, poisoning people, starting fights, causing more town attacks, and more. I did all I could to try to contain the happiness: solved as many quests as possible, kicked out the members that I felt I could get away with, gave away all my gold and much of the remaining food, and even gifted all my gems to the various NPCs. I kind of held it together for a little while, but eventually all but my most loyal NPC fled the town or went insane, I have more problems than ever, and my town is under attack again.

Things look really bleak now. How can I recover from the disaster? Out of the blue, mostly because I was really distracted, my initial plan finally payed off. The rest of the clans had allied with one another and I got a Diplomatic victory!

So the conditions of my town when I finally won:

  • The town was on fire
  • I only had 1 clan member left (I originally had 17 I believe)
  • My last guy was infected and dying from the Zombasite
  • Two different groups were attacking my town
  • My last guy was pretty unhappy but amazingly enough no insanity problems (I'm going to attribute this to his brewing and painting skills)

So how do I get things like that across in a video? And who would even watch the resulting 2 hour video? I should just make simpler games. Our next game is going to be a Tetris clone. :)

As always comments are welcome!

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Bard class
Wednesday, 28 June 2017

So let's talk a little about the Bard class in the upcoming Zombasite expansion, Orc Schism. Bards have a very diverse set of skills, but they are masters of music, illusions, and knowledge. These masteries correspond to the three new specialties: Minstrel, Illusionist, and Sage. With the new additions, there are now 333 total class combinations!

Minstrels use music to manipulate the emotions of friends and enemies. They do this through the use of musical auras. These auras last as long as you want, but reduce your max mana while they are active. While you can only have one aura active at a time, the effects last for 10 seconds, so with smart use you can get overlapping effects. Some auras the Minstrel can wield are Invigorate to heal, Greatness to inspire friends, and Intimidation to hamper enemies.

Illusionists produce fantastic illusions to harm and control their enemies. Most illusions are used to control enemies like Snare prevents any nearby enemies from moving, Illusionary Monster distracts enemies with a new target, and Best Friend can even convince them to fight for you. Illusions can even do actual direct harm to your enemies with spells like Mind Blast or Asphyxiate (DOT).

Sages are the masters of knowledge. While sages do have a couple attack skills, 1 melee and 1 ranged, everything else are passive skills. These skills range from things like Archaeology to better find loot, Herbology which increases your resistances and health/mana regeneration rates, and Monster Anatomy which improves your combat abilities.

I'm aiming for the Bard to be an interesting mix of active control skills, constant aura or actively changing auras, and passive use of knowledge to create a wide range of unique characters.

Comments are welcome!

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House
Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I don't talk publicly about personal stuff very often, mostly because I think people would find it boring, but I thought I would in this case because it might make me less responsive for the next couple months.

Anyway, we are planning on selling our house in the near future. It has been our long term plan for a while now to sell the house, buy an RV, and slowly travel around America (spending several months at each location). We were planning on doing this after our middle child graduated from high school, but Soldak's sales have slowed down enough that we kind of need to do it early for financial reasons. So instead of fixing up the house over several years, I'm now doing it over a much shorter period of time. Working on an expansion and a full new game, getting the house ready for selling, and having 2 kids in the house (a teen and a toddler) is exhausting!

From a Soldak perspective, you shouldn't see too much of a difference though. In the short term, I might disappear for a few days here and there, but that isn't too much different than normal. In the long run, if I release a game or upload a patch, you guys won't necessarily care if I happen to be in Texas, Colorado, or Minnesota at the time. The nice part about my setup is that it doesn't really matter where I am physically. As long as I have an internet connection and electricity, I can work just fine.

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