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Shadow 10-27-2016 03:25 PM

Next after Zombasite
For the first time ever, I think we are going to work on 2 projects at once. It's not like we are going to have 2 teams or anything. I just think these 2 projects will overlap enough that we can do both at the same time fairly efficiently.

While Zombasite isn't doing as well as I would like (hopefully launching on GOG will change that some), I think it deserves an expansion. So that's one of the 2 projects we will be working on. I'm not positive what the focus of this expansion will be, but some possibilities are more classes, lots more quests, more monsters, etc. The nice side benefit of working on an expansion is that it allows me to actively work on Zombasite, so that will mean fixes, balancing, and probably even some new features here and there will sneak into the base game. If you all have things you would like to see in an expansion, please speak up!

The other project is going to be a separate game that is focused around the ideas of hardcore characters with random skills and traits, the next generation of character is evolved from his/her parents, and each world has a random setup and win conditions. The general idea is each individual character life will be fairly quick, but some amount of the character's power growth will pass on to the next generation. Also which characters you evolve from will greatly control what mix of skills the new character has. Ever want a character that could stealth, use healing spells, and shoot arrows? You should be able to do that, but it will take some time improving and evolving from the right characters. I know this is relatively vague still, but if you have any ideas or games that you would like me to look at, again please speak up! UPDATE: I've removed the hardcore and generational parts, because everything else works much better without it.

None of this is set in stone and it is possible that I drop one or both of the projects or go in a different direction, but this is what I'm planning at the moment.

So what are your thoughts?

Fairgamer 10-27-2016 03:44 PM

As much as I like zombasite and want it to be expanded upon, you have to do what makes sense for you business-wise. So if leaving the game as it is helps, with maybe a few optimizations and fixes thrown in when needed, I don't see anything wrong with moving on from it to something else. I guess it depends on how much work is involved in these expansions.

Anyway, if a new game gets here quicker because you decided not to expand Zombasite, I don't think anyone here that likes your games would fault you for it. I think the idea for your new game sounds awesome, btw. Looking forward to it, whenever it getrs here.

Professor Paul1290 10-27-2016 10:47 PM

Have you ever considered trying some alternative to the usual ARPG leveling for a game?

I kind of felt like Zombasite, Drox Operative, and even Din's Curse could almost manage without the traditional ARPG leveling system and have it substituted with something else.

I guess the new game you mention would already sort of do that in a way by changing how characters are built.

Castruccio 10-27-2016 11:20 PM

I, for one, am excited for more content or an expansion for Zombasite. I will think more about what I want from an expansion and post again in a few days. The most common critique I see is that the Zombie part of Zombasite feels tacked on, or feels like a sort of novelty. As far as I can tell from the Steam forums, most players who regularly play the game tend to turn the Zombie stuff off after the novelty has worn off. Long term play tends to make the Zombie stuff more of an annoyance than a fun feature or game play mechanic. By turning the Zombie stuff off, players are basically turning the game into Depths of Peril 2.

It is hard to say whether people turning the Zombie stuff off means that you should use the expansion to integrate the Zombie stuff deeper into the game so that it matters more, or whether you should use the expansion to focus on the non-Zombie parts of the game (i.e. the meat and potatoes ARPG mechanics) that keeps the core audience coming back. I would be surprised if an expansion focused purely on additional Zombie mechanics was met with enthusiasm. Fleshing out town management or the ARPG side of the game might be a more solid bet. One thing I have noticed is that the dungeons in Zombasite are really fun, but the player doesn't spend a ton of time in them. Maybe you could add some sort of dungeon mode that would let the player play the game as though it were sort of a Din's Curse 2 (the way turning off Zombies makes the game a sort of Depths of Peril 2).

I am sorry to hear it hasn't sold as well as you would like, but maybe the GOG launch will help that. Also, it seems like most (if not all) mid to small size indies are struggling. Given the poor condition of the mid to small size indie market, I suspect Zombasite is faring better than games from studios of a similar size to Soldak's.

Concerning the new game, it sounds like a promising idea. Have you played Rogue Legacy? Also (and this is further afield) Crusader Kings. These might provide some inspiration.

Shadow 10-28-2016 10:18 AM


Originally Posted by Professor Paul1290 (Post 81995)
Have you ever considered trying some alternative to the usual ARPG leveling for a game?

Not really. As a general rule, I'm not a fan of skill use leveling (whatever it's called).


Originally Posted by Castruccio (Post 81996)
Concerning the new game, it sounds like a promising idea. Have you played Rogue Legacy? Also (and this is further afield) Crusader Kings. These might provide some inspiration.

I have played Rogue Legacy. I'll have to put Crusader Kings on my list of games to look at.

Castruccio 10-28-2016 10:27 AM

Crusader Kings has a highish learning curve, but it does have a tutorial. The reason I suggest it is that it has a system of heirs who inherit random traits of the ruler, and the world is dynamic. Might provide some inspiration for the mechanics of the

Shadow 10-28-2016 05:38 PM

Just checked my Steam account, I actually have Crusader Kings 2. I don't think I've really played it yet though.

Faceless 10-29-2016 01:32 AM

I agree with Castruccio that town management might benefit from more refinement.

Personally, I'd like to see:
- more unused monsters from prior Soldak games.
- the possibility of encountering named legendary enemies from the lore like Ciglio, as an event or even as a special themed arch-nemesis with bonus modifiers.
- Lumen added into the mix for clans.
- A larger cap on how deep dungeons can go.

While a new class set would be lovely, the existing classes cover such a variety that I am unsure what themes are left to explore that are appropriate. Steampunk/Alchemypunk engineer, Psionics, Thrown Weapons, Firearms?

ScrObot 10-29-2016 04:47 AM

I'll join the fray with another request for Drox Operative 2: Even Droxier. :)

One of my biggest problems with Zombasite is how clunky the character movement and combat feel, especially compared to something like Diablo 3 (yeah yeah I know AAA, millions of dollars blah blah blah) or even Torchlight 2. I have no problem with the graphics and engine, though I see where others are coming from.

Another thing that Zombasite had against it out of the gate was that it appeared to just be a mashup of Din's Curse and Depths of Peril without breaking much new ground. Yes, the engine updates and such were nice additions, but at a glance it APPEARS the same as before; same grid of maze-like square maps, same static towns, same classes and skills, etc. And those are legitimate complaints. But you're already starting from a disadvantage being small and "niche", and I think that this perception further chipped away at the potential market.

For New Game, I'd suggest to really focus on making movement and combat feel smooth and fast, and look the part. If you're continuing with your existing engine (and art assets), that may be a challenge, but the "feel" is so important. We know your systems behind the scenes are great, the Soldak Living World(tm) is great, and the complex interactions and choices that have far-reaching affects in the game world are great... but movement and combat feel, and streamlining and prettying up UIs would be my suggestions for top priorities. It sounds like New Game will be a little more straightforward than the majority of your catalog, so polishing up UIs shouldn't be too difficult (says the guy who doesn't have to implement it).

The last thing you want is for screenshots and trailers to come out and have everyone say "Hey it's just Zombasite with a Rogue Legacy mechanic tacked on, meh". It has to be different enough that people don't think you're just making a tweak to your existing games and throwing it out there with a new price tag.

(Personally, I think one of the reasons Drox is so loved has to do with the smoother movement, especially when you throw on the thrust. I never get that same feeling in the other games.)

ScrObot 10-29-2016 05:24 AM

As for the Zombasite Expansion, I'll throw some thoughts down here.

What do people seem to clamor for? Deeper clan management aspects, and not the tacked-on variety. (The work/rest/etc. setting, for example, serves a purpose, but that feels kind of tacked-on to me, to address a need, rather than designing a new interesting mechanic or extending it beyond selecting from a dropdown and having some numbers change over time. The Clan Armory falls into that category for me too -- it's perfectly functional and solves an important problem, but part of me feels like it was reactionary and a more interesting or useful mechanic could have been added.) Try not to simply solve problems within the systems they are in; try to break out of the systems and implement new features rather than just extend the existing systems.

When you say "clan and town management," people automatically think about more customization than Zombasite offers -- building placement in town, buildings that actually DO something, buildings that can be upgraded (ideally in more than just a single linear fashion). Give people choices for specialization, and personalization they can be proud of. Make clan member jobs do more directly tangible things.

People complain about the lack of vendors, which I can understand but which isn't really a problem once you understand how the game functions, but perhaps some sort of mechanic where your clan members could be put in charge of a "shop" that was basically a poor and not well stocked vendor, where they would occasionally swap out their stock. They wouldn't have much gold, but it fills a void that people seem to be missing. Being able to specialize what they sold to be relevant to you would be even better. (Throw some bags in all of them, as those are too hard to come by in the base game, IMO.) This, to me, seems like something that should be in a game that talks about clan management and building up your own town. Maybe explore some VERY light resource management for these upgrades, as long as it doesn't ever approach being grindy. Maybe it's less about resources and more about getting allied clans that have certain characteristics to help you, etc.

Perhaps the ability for clan members to learn new jobs (probably not combat skills, but if there's a job prerequisite for them to open a shop, or to build or upgrade a particular type of building, etc, it doesn't make sense to rely on stumbling across random people while adventuring and praying they have the skill you need. Give us a way to swap out a job they have for a new one (which maybe takes time to get to 100% during which time they either cannot do whatever they need to do, or at reduced efficiency).

But really revamping how your town is set up, managed and customized feels like a good use of development time to me. Try thinking about how you would design it without the Depths of Peril constraints, and work backwards.

I'd like to see (more?) custom-designed areas -- sections, or even entire overworld squares that are hand designed and feature interesting landmarks, specific placement of items, hazards, dungeons, whatever. Imagine going into an area that has a huge lake with a bridge out to an island. Or a large structure in the desert sort of like a temple, with a dungeon entrance placed at the center. Or an area where you can see some treasure chests but there's a powerful enemy guarding them. "Set pieces" like this are always fun for me, as long as there is a big enough pool of them and they are rare enough that they don't show up constantly. Different flavors of NPC clan towns too -- from decor to layout to what buildings they may or may not have. This would do so much to give them more personality.

Traits never attracted me. While I appreciate there aren't any "no brainers" that are insta-gets for every character, I feel like the negatives largely outweigh the benefits, so I don't really dabble into them. I'm not a hugely conservative player, but I'd bet a large chunk of players fall into the same category (especially with it taking "so long" to unlock them -- not everyone is going to dedicate their time to leveling a character way up just to see how they play out). Perhaps shifting the tiers from every 50 to a lower starting number, so people can get in and mess with them sooner? And perhaps the lower tier ones could be a little more palatable without severe downsides (especially ones that dictate a particular playstyle). Perhaps add some traits that have a random positive element to them, so it's useful but still unpredictable.

Also, we all realize this isn't WoW or Starcraft or LoL -- everything doesn't have to be perfectly balanced. If someone wants to turtle and just mess with their town for an hour, that should be at least somewhat viable. If there are traits available that you can get certain combos that make you OP, that's okay. People are going to do it anyway (see people getting a barn full of clan members who have different support spells). You have all the systems in place to let the player give themselves a challenge when that happens.

Lastly, as noted over on the Steam forums, maybe take a look into the Steam Workshop. Don't worry too much about people installing incompatible mods, or not having a ton of mods available -- the ease of installing them from this UI, and in an expected and easily browseable way, would be a big win if it's not too difficult to implement. Us Soldak fans are pretty good about helping the newbies, so I wouldn't worry too much about how many ways they could screw up their game if they installed twelve incompatible mods -- the community will be there to help.

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