Character Creation and Levelling

Previous versions of Swords and Sorcery – Underworld had very basic character creation and levelling systems. They were in fact very close to Might and Magic – the Secret of the Inner Sanctum (Book I). Not entirely the same, but close. You had to roll for attributes. New levels earned you fixed and randomized extra points for each attribute (MMI attributes did not evolve with new levels).

Underworld Definitive Edition changes a bit in that respect. Each character starts with a fixed number of points for each attribute (how many depends on class). You have a pool of six points to distribute and with each new level you will have 3 more.

Skills are learned automatically at the corresponding level. In the following video you can see a party being created from scratch and in the second part all characters earning level 9 (4:50). Several characters earn skills at that level.

Sovereign will be very similar, but the number of points will differ and you can choose to invest in skill points as well. Those skill points can be used to learn from teachers accross the world.

In my previous entry I mentionned that weapons no longer added damage points to an existing score, but multiplied it. This works because base attributes are capped at 20. So multiplying that by 5, 10 or even 20 gives adequate results. Of course a x10 or x20 weapon will be rare and its requirements will make it unuseable by a low-level character. Weapons also have a minimum strength requirement.

The attributes work as follows:

  • Strength determines damage dealt in melee. It will be multiplied by the weapon’s coefficient to determine the melee score. If the character has two weapons (ambidextria) the first weapon’s coefficient is applied to base strength, then the same with the second weapon. The three values (base strength + weapon 1 bonus + weapon 2 bonus) determines the melee score.
  • Endurance determines how many hit points the character will earn at each level. During character creation HP=endurance. When levelling however Luck will also come into play (+random(luck)-4). Luck can turn out a negative score that will reduce HP earned but in case of a negative result it is changed to 1.
  • Accuracy determines the chance to hit with both melee and ranged attacks. With luck it is checked against the monster’s accuracy and luck. It also determines damage dealt with ranged attacks. Strength still plays a part in that in the sense that the ranged weapon has a minimum strength requirement that is correlated with the weapon’s efficiency (most of the time). Luck intervenes here as well, adding damage exactly the same way it adds HPs earned when levelling.
  • Speed determines combat order.
  • Spirit determines proficiency in Priest spells. It determines how many HP a healing spell recovers and how much damage an offensive spell inflicts. The same luck check is applied here as well.
  • Intelligence is to Sorcerers what Spirit is to Priests. Luck intervenes in the same way. A monster’s intelligence (and luck) will also determine whether they spot a Rogue after a stealth attack.
  • Luck is very important for beginning characters because random(luck)-4 can give negative results and starting attributes like strength have but a few points. It is also important because it plays a part in just about all checks. Accross the board, the number of times Luck will give an extra edge or penalty like extra damage, HP and SP during levelling, or causes a miss or hit really adds up. As the character progresses however the ratio luck to primary statistic lessens.

My next update will be about items, inventory and shops. Thanks for reading!

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Combat on the new engine – Definitive Edition

 

Swords and Sorcery – Underworld evolved quite a bit since it’s Gold version release… Almost three years ago. I scratched everything and built a new engine. Now I’m going to ease back into the habit I never had of making steady updates by showing a quick combat video. And commenting on the changes. The best stuff is at the bottom 😉

 


[Edit] – Following discussions with players of the previous version, I made various changes to the screen layout. Clutteredness is out. All enemies now appear on screen.

 

 

First of all, there are portraits. These are visible throughout the game but in combat there are a couple things to take note of.

  • They are layed out in their actual combat positions. There are three rows of two, which represents their actual position in combat. Therefore the first two are most exposed.
  • Characters (and monsters) are grayed out when out of melee range. (It does NOT mean they are inactive, nor does the highlighting indicate which character/monster is up). This allows for many things, including tactical positionning options. These include: join or leave melee, order everyone forward or to retreat, or move to the front. there is also the protect option (given the character carries a shield) which allows him or her to set themselves alongside or in front of a companion and physically “share their armor”. They effectively change position in the roster. Monsters can have similar behavior.

The combat log now appears in real time in the top left corner. This allows for much quicker combat since there is no longer a need for a pause to allow players to follow friendly and enemy actions.

Visual effect for spells.

All options appear in the bottom row and can be clicked or activated with their keyboard shortcuts (those appear on the left when hovered). Several actions are unlocked later with the earning of new levels. Naturally, spell casters are rewarded with new spells.

  • Ambidextria allows Knights and Rogues to use two 1H weapons.
  • Stun allows the rogue to immobilize a foe for some time (how many rounds depends on an accuracy and luck versus the monster’s endurance and luck check).
  • Burst allows the archer to shoot three arrows simultaneously (with damage per shot reduced by 25%).
  • Later, Barrage allows the archer to shoot all visible targets (up to 10) with a 50% damage score.
  • Berserk allows the Knight to hit all enemies in melee with a loss of 50% of his/her own life bar.
  • Bleed allows the Rogue to inflict cumulative damage over time, but you’ll need a high level for this one.
  • Powerhouse allows the Knight to replace 1H weapons with 2H weapons. Meaning potentially two 2H if he/she chooses to not carry a shield.

To make this work better, I redesigned both the monster and item database. Monsters now have the same attributes as characters. Some attributes like endurance, spirit, intelligence and luck are used in different checks, allowing for much more variety of resistances and weaknesses. This info can be collected with a spell called Read Mind that’ll help you figure out how to defeat the tougher enemies in later stages of the game.

Another example is the Rogue no longer systematically leaves stealth mode after an attack. An accuracy and luck versus intelligence and luck check determines whether he/she remains unseen or is spotted by the target. If the target is killed by an assassination, the Rogue will remain unseen no matter what.

Weapons now have a penetration and minimum strength score. I added this mainly to accomodate the Archer. The Archer’s damage now exclusively depends on his/her accuracy and luck (to a lesser extent of course), regardless of strength. But to use a more powerful weapon, the Archer will have to match the weapon’s minimum strength. Penetration is deducted from the target’s armor score before determining final damage. While this helps balance the Archer’s contribution to the group, it works the same for melee weapons (whose damage scores are determined by strength.) But bows tend to have higher penetration scores than swords or daggers.

To further accomodate this system, I changed the way weapons work as well. They no longer add to the character’s damage score but multiply it (+0.20*Base Melee, +5.5*Base Ranged…). The weakest ranged weapon (sling) adds 20% to base ranged damage (the accuracy score). The most powerful melee and ranged weapons exceed 10*. Scores of armor and special items have attribute bonuses and many can be enchanted later in the game.

I’ll explain in my next entry how the entirely new character creation and development system works in this context.

Thanks for reading!

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Arena combat

It is high time for a new update. It’s been almost a year!

I’ve been working on three things.

– The new engine for Sovereign.

– A rebuild of Underworld in the new engine.

– A smaller project called Iron Ruler. It is a turn based strategy board-game except there’s no board since it’s a computer game.

This update is about the new combat that will be featured in both Sovereign and the upcoming Underworld update.

Underworld Gold Plus… I’m running out of suffixes and it is getting a bit ridiculous…

Anyway…

Arena combat with Ice Bolt spell effect (Click for full size)

If you are familiar with previous versions of Underworld, you’ll notice it’s changed quite a bit. Full screen, no fixed GUI, combat log appears in real time, partyand mobs are represented by portraits, out-of-melee combattants are darkened, the arena pic is used as background (only in arena fights), all spells are illustrated with a fading effect (both combat and non-combat), all options are represented by an icon (but keyboard shortcuts remain functional and you’ll be able to display them).

The skull at the bottom right still triggers autofight for quick resolution of easy battles (or suicide).

Spell casting has changed as well:

Spell book with level two priest spells (Click to enlarge).

That’s it for today. There’s more to show, tons of images, new modules (like crafting), new character creation… Unfortunately I still can’t announce a reliable release date. Everything seems to take twice as long as initially expected. But I’ll try to post updates much more often.

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Wasteland 2 – Interrogations

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Wasteland 2 was recently delayed. This Kickstarter update explains this in detail.

 

While I have no issues with this as a backer and customer (games get delayed all the time, which is always better than a publisher forcing a project out the door unfinished), some of the details in the update got my attention for entirely different reasons.

 

This is primarily due to our disciplined spending, project planning and the benefit of our back catalog sales to cover any extra product features and content we loved.

 

It’s also important to note that we do not profit from the monies raised from crowd funding as we take 100% of that money (plus extra money in our case) and put it into the game

 

There is also Paypal, which has been a continued option for new backers to pledge or existing backers to increase their exisiting contribution. This too goes entirely into the game.

 

So here’s my concern. What room is there for profiting from this business model? Retail sales of course, once the game has shipped. But… How many people likely to buy the game haven’t done so already via the original Kickstarter campaign or Paypal throughout the development? Did the entire market already secure one or more copies? (Some tiers give access to gift copies for friends). Naturally it can’t be 100% but it seems to me with the coverage W2 has gotten there can’t be too many people still waiting to get the game post launch (this is just an impression of course and I could be wrong).

 

But will it be enough to keep Inxile in business with support costs to cover and paychecks that still need to be issued?

 

Of course there are future projects like Numenara but to me it seems like rinse and repeat, using the same profitless model until release…

 

As a fan and a backer I hope Inxile hasn’t set themselves up to at best break even on each project. That would mean they can only be around as long as they can hit a new home run like they did twice already… But how long can that last?

 

I think I’d rather hear they didn’t put everything they’ve got into each title. That could be a tricky policy to uphold PR-wise however.

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Some Works in Progress

I’ve been jumping back and forth from character creation, inventory, arranging combat, lore a small project on the side (to relax) and… Well all sorts of real life stuff that need be attended to. Updates are quite slow but I do have quite a bit I can show.

 

But do keep in mind nothing you’ll see here is in its entirely finished state. You’ll find some incoherences, misalignments and even some things missing entirely. Still, the following should give you a fair idea where things are going.

 

Swords and Sorcery – Sovereign Character Creation (click to enlarge)

 

The character creation screen above shows one of several steps involved in creating a character: choosing the character portrait. The first few steps involve choosing a class, a race and a gender. these three are listed at the top left. The chosen portrait will be there as well as the character’s name. With these choices made, you get to distribute five aptitude points. These can either go in attributes, resistances, skills or craft. The first decision you will be confronted to is whether to concentrate on attributes or whether to include skills or crafts for a better rounded character.

– Hovering over a choice makes a description appear, which includes (or will include) requirements.
– Some skills require other skills and cannot exceed their value. Swords, for example, require proficiency in pugilism. If your character has a score of 3 in pugilism, sword proficiency cannot exceed 3. Other skills require and cannot exceed one or several attributes. Pugilism cannot exceed strength, accuracy and dexterity divided by three and rounded down.
– The same goes for crafts (they can have either attribute or skill requirements, or both). Crafts are optional and choosing to learn or improve one instead of adding that point to an attribute or skill typically makes a less proficient combattant. But it is a big world awaiting you and not everything will be about winning battles.
– Skills marked with an @ are active skills. These add options in battle whereas passive skills unlock other things. Two Handed for example is a passive skill that allows the character to wield two handed weapons, given he/she has the skill to wield the one-handed variety. Even if the two-handed score is higher than the weapon skill that corresponds to the weapon the character has equipped, the score that will be taken into consideration will be the lowest of the two. @Stealth, on the other hand, is an active skill that gives the character the ability to “become unseen”, which in turn allows the use of other skills. While rogues start with good knowledge of Stealth and associated manoeuvers (without need to spend aptitude points), any character can learn to do the same if you choose to have them do so. There will, however be a limit to the number of skills and crafts a charactercan learn.

 

Swords and Sorcery – Sovereign Inventory (click to enlarge

 

Character inventory is divided into three important parts. The first column on the left is the list of equip slots. Each one corresponds to a specific part of the body. (I) and (J) are respectively the right and left hand.

– When you hover over an item, wherever it is, the corresponding slot in the equip list turns blue.  Likewise, the corresponding part of the paper doll on the right turns blue. There will also be a definition of the item at the bottom right part of the screen (not implemented yet) and a list of comparisons on the bottom left. The screenshot shows that when you have a short sword equipped and you hover over a walking stick, choosing to swap these items will result in a gain of -6 damage (shown in red when negative, white otherwise). There will be other comparisons but as of now damage is the only one implemented.

– The second list in the middle is the character’s backpack. All slots there can be used by any item.

– The third part is the character inventory. It is itself made up of a list of 8-26 slots (depending on the type of container) and 5 container slots. When one of the slots is used by an available container a small chest replaces the empty white square. In the screenshot above, the highlighted container slot is a simple cloth bag with only 8 slots. With five 26 item containers, the party can potentially store 130 items in addition to those characters have equipped or in their personal packs.

Note: right clicking on an equipped item removes it and adds it to the character pack. Left clicking on an item selects it. Once an item is selected, clicking on a destination slot causes the item to be moved there. You can also click on a portrait and the item will be stored in his/her backpack.

 

Swords and Sorcery – Sovereign Character stats (click to enlarge)

 

The above is the character’s statistic screen. It is read only and gives a quick overview of the character’s attributes and known skills or crafts.

 

The icons on the bottom left of the status screens allow navigation between these. They respectively give you access to inventory, stats, skills and crafts (where available attribute points can be alloted to learn new skills/crafts or improve known ones), factions (for consultation) and exit.

 

Spells, crafts and magic will be accessible for use via another option in the main GUI.

 

There’s still a lot of work to do, but it is getting there slowly but surely 🙂

 

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