First off, sorry that updates haven’t been as frequent lately as they normally are. Rest assured, I am still working on the game. The main focus, as previously reported, is the new battle system. Apart from that it is general preparation for beta. That includes updating selected graphics and improving some of the user interface, to make sure the game is accessible and enjoyable, and that the Greenlight video is at least somewhat interesting.
It is a bit of a tough slog at the moment, but development is like that sometimes. I look forward to sharing more meaty updates again, but as some of you remember from when I worked on serialization (load/save games), it can take a little longer than expected to get through a major system.
Until then you are more than welcome to head to the forums and share ideas, encouragement, feature wishes, unreasonable demands or just say hi.
It’s been almost a fortnight since the last update, so definitely time for the latest news on how the game is coming along.
First off, I hope you have noticed that the game at long last has a proper logo! Designed by the talented Przemysław Gul, it is the first result of the commission work that I mentioned in earlier updates. It’s very exciting to see the visual identity of the game starting to come together, and I look forward to sharing more of this effort in future updates.
Development-wise, focus has been on the battle system and some of the early game mechanics, as well as some warlord specific mechanics. It’s still going to be at least a couple of weeks before I have something tangible to share on the battle system, but I plan to show an improved auto-resolve in the next video update. If all goes well it will be ready next weekend.
I am still aiming to do the first round of Early Access via Steam, and hopefully I’ll be able to initiate the greenlight process before the month is over. Until then I’ll be busy with the battle engine and the usual stream of content and mechanics work.
Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights from the last two weeks (I probably forgot something):
- Most of the time was spent on the battle engine.
- The location of the Relic sought by a Relic cult is now generated. This information is hidden until enough clues have been gathered.
- A clue system has been implemented for various quests and story-based mechanics. Clues can be gained from events, diplomacy, follower missions, dungeons, etc.
- Added toponym generation for Celtic inspired cultures.
- Some refactorings and optimizations to the language system so it is more robust, has better performance and uses less memory. A few bugs were uncovered and fixed while doing this.
- Outposts now have levels and can be upgraded to a maximum of level 5. This represents size, infrastructure, scouting capabilities, supplies, etc. At level 3 and above the outpost can be upgraded to a Fortress.
- Fortress type mechanics have been streamlined and there are now the following types of fortresses (in order of progression): Fort, Tower, Keep, Castle, Citadel.
- Some work done on the AI for “organization”-type factions (cults, knightly orders, secret societies, etc.) including special actions related to fulfilling their goals.
- Monster and Unit mechanics have been unified and improved as part of the battle engine work. Previously the logic governing and defining a single monster (as found in a dungeon or for an event) was separate from that used in battles (ie fielding a dragon or a monstrous host).
Here’s a progress report as summer ends and autumn begins. As you may have read, I had intended to launch Beta at the end of Summer. Didn’t quite hit that milestone, but it’s getting ever closer. I am continually adding new content, improving the world and story generators, fleshing out mechanics and improving the various AIs.
The main remaining milestone is the new battle system, which has proven to be somewhat more time-consuming than first anticipated. Note that I haven’t hit any blocking issues, terrible bugs or stuff like that. It’s “just” another small mountain of work to climb. But it’s good fun to work on and I think it’s a unique take on grand strategy battle resolution.
Another thing delaying the Beta is that I want a couple more art assets in place before launching a Steam Greenlight, which is part of the Beta plan, as it helps me get a distribution channel, a wider audience and some funding for continued and accelerated development. I have reached out to some really talented freelance artists and I am looking forward to seeing, and sharing the results, of those commissions. It should help give the game a stronger visual identity, and the plan is to continually add more high-quality art to the extent and pace that my budget allows it. I’d rather have a somewhat slower pace than compromise on the quality, so there will still be placeholder art for some time to come.
Apart from working on the battle system, I’ve done a couple of other things since last time. I chronicle these on the forums in the monthly development progress threads, but here’s the news since last time:
- New organization type: Guardians. The sub-type determines the nature of their guardianship. Examples are: preservation of nature, protecting ‘good’, protecting ‘order’, protecting a specific culture. They are similar to nemesis organizations, except they are defensive, rather than aggressive.
- New organization type: Magicidal. Their goal is the death of either all mages and wizards or those of a certain school (necromancers, demonologists, elementalists, nature magic users), depending on subtype.
- Improved syntax engine for cult name generation. Does a better job of determining when to use definite articles.
- New culture traits: Enigmatic, Stoic.
- Culture traits and attributes have a greater impact during regiment generation.
- Dungeon generation improved: Larger variety of bosses, size/layout also generated now.
- Improved regiment naming. More variety and more cultural/alignment influence on names. (Shieldbangers and Shieldbiters are no longer the most common unit names for any savage, primitive or barbarian culture).
- Wizard AI and Warlord AI now better at responding to threats.
- Specialized Cult/Organization and Knightly Order AI (in progress).
- Lesser and Greater Plague Demons added.
- A generic dragon added (probably shouldn’t call it generic to it’s face).
- Hydra added. The classic regenerating many-headed monsters. Kill it with fire (which it is vulnerable to).
- And my favorite new monster: The Gorgon. Mix a medusa, a giant, a monstrous snake and a bolt thrower and you get this lovely creature, that is currently the largest and meanest thing in the game with stealth.
- Editor now has option to randomly generate world to use as starting point.
- Rivers can now be edited.
- Working on adding in hex special and resource editing, next up is adding mana nodes/dungeons/ruins/etc, after that cultures/races, then factions.
- Non-player armies now show a trail indicating the movement during the previous turn when selected.Cheat Mode is back.
- Cheats: Reveal Map, Reveal All Hidden Sites, Progress Dungeon to End.
- Nomad raiders and minor faction garrisons no longer suffer the “upkeep unpaid” malus (upkeep is still paid if available). It was rather silly to see a horde of marauding barbarians get upset at themselves.
- Monster-related code that was spread between dungeons, battles and the character system has been unified. E.g. so the same base stats are used as the basis for a Ghoul character, a unit of Ghouls in an army and combat with Ghouls in a dungeon.
- New spell: Flash of Insight. Gives XP to low-level followers (has a cooldown to avoid micromanagement busy work/spam).
And some bug fixes, refactorings and other such boring drudgery. A bug fix worth mentioning: some exotic culture and race variations were previously almost never being generated due to an “off by 1000” error. So now there is a tiny chance to see stuff like dwarves ruled by fallen angels, ogres with partial insectoid exoskeletons and centaurs with burning blood. As with exotic races and totally randomized culture generation this can be turned off in the game settings.
Next time I will try to have a video update, and hopefully I will have some graphical updates to share soon as well.
Here’s the editor-focused video that I promised.
Currently the editor can create maps. Terrain, climate, and provinces (borders and names) can be edited. If province names are not entered by the user, the game will auto-generate names when starting the game. The same design will be used for cultures, sites, playable factions, etc. as these get added to the editor. E.g. you can create a world with a predefined map, cultures, races and deities, but have the world generator handle secret societies, dungeons and ancient evils.
In other news, I have begun the process of commissioning the work of professional artists, which is the beginning of a much more visually appealing and atmospheric game. I look forward to sharing the work of these talented individuals.
On the programming front, the work on the new battle engine is proceeding. It’s slightly slower going than anticipated, but I am very excited about the design, and as mentioned more than once, I look forward to sharing it in action.
I’ve added an FAQ and a bit of additional documentation to the forums, as part of the preparation for beta. Looking forward to sharing more of the game with you! Until next time.
Just a brief update for those who are not following my progress thread. This is progress since my last post:
It is now possible to create, load and save custom maps, choosing terrain and defining province borders+names. These can then be used when starting a game. All other aspects of the world will be randomly generated. Future additions to the editor will allow (the optional) specification of cultures, races, units, factions, deities, dungeons, ancient evils, etc. I will make a video showing the editor in action very soon ™.
- Tool tips for wizard selection (traits and starting research).
- Army window now shows status effects (incl. duration) on units.
- Army window unit list has larger font and a unit-specific icon, making the list much more readable and units faster to identify.
- Recruitment window unit list has larger font and a unit-specific icon, making the list much more readable and units faster to identify.
- Dark Sacrifice spell implemented. It gives mana and (sometimes) research progress, at the cost of unrest and tyranny.
- World spells can have a cooldown, where after being cast, a certain number of turns must pass until it can be recast. This cooldown can be shared among spells (ie casting one spell triggers the cooldown for all of them).
- Scouting attribute added for unit types. This is used by the new battle engine.
- When training new units, a trainer can be selected. A trainer with the Train Troops skill allows full-speed recruitment. A martial character can train troops without this skill but at half speed. Recruitment without a trainer is at quarter speed.
Misc. & Bug Fixes:
- Movement cost when using roads was 2 for minor roads (1 for major roads). This is now 1 for minor roads on base cost 2 terrain, 3 for minor roads on base cost 6+ terrain, and 2 for minor roads on 3-5 cost terrain.
- Unpaid upkeep for regiments now causes desertion and/or attrition. Summoned/bound regiments are always lost if upkeep is not paid.
- Tool tip flicker and alignment issues fixed.
- Stat bonuses are now included on the army window.
- “No Upkeep” regiment status effect now properly applied in all cases.
- Army General regiment buff now lasts until General is unassigned (previously only effective on turn of assignment).
- Further improvements to the unit naming engine
- New battle engine.
- Research mechanics rework to make research more interesting and less opaque (especially in the early game)
A living piece of gaming history, Dwarf Fortress is a monument of engineering and creativity. 10 years since the first release, and Toady is still working on this wondrous creation. Here’s a toast to a great source of inspiration and fun!
If you don’t know about Dwarf Fortress, go check it out at http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/. It’s a very special game and a true classic. It’s funded by donations, so if you enjoy it, I encourage you help fund the continued development.
Going into a bit more detail on some of the mechanics and user interface elements, using an Ogre Magi quick start game as a starting point.