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.

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 🙂

 

New Sovereign GUI and other details

It’s been a while since my last update but things are moving along steadily. The post I announced about character creation is underway but there is still a bit of tweaking to be done (skill descriptions, cross-requirements…). That post will be up soon, but for now I thought I’d give a peak of a GUI I’ve been working on:

 

A new take at the Sovereign GUI (Click to enlarge)

 

This reveals a couple new things:

– Sovereign will be much more intuitive and mouse-friendly than Underworld was. Even if the GUI continues to evolve, this will be a priority.
– Portraits are in! Right now only the human portraits are finished but it is just a matter of weeks before the others roll in.
– A new town environment.

 

Naturally, all comments and suggestions are welcomed 😉

 

EDIT – In case you missed it, there was a post revealing the world map a few weeks back!

 

 

Sovereign World Map

 

Sovereign World Map
Sovereign World Map (low resolution, click to enlarge)

 

Progress is being made on several fronts for the next installment of the Swords and Sorcery series: Sovereign. Namely the world building. And one way to make great progress on that front is to map said world.

 

This is now done! Click on the map for a better view. It is low resolution but still readable and a high resolution image is set aside for the game.

 

There are 17 towns, some of which will span over several maps, 48 surface maps, underwater maps, caverns and even a few uncharted territories… Environments are, as the map suggests, very varied (mountains, forests, glaciers, desert, ocean, marshes, caverns, dungeons). Great progress has also been made on the backstory, expanding on lore elements hinted at or developed in Swords and Sorcery – Underworld (and the much older Peregrine’s Song). So far about 30 pages of backstory have been written. The character creation system is also almost functional and sets the bases for very deep, active character development (many skills and crafts!)

 

Expect more development news very soon, as well as one or two surprises! If you’ve missed them click here to see previous posts.

Feedback roundup for Swords and Sorcery Underworld

I was fortunate enough to have customers not only post constructive feedback for updates and fixes, but also encouragements that I find very useful today. With work on Sovereign (mostly pre-production at this stage) progressing daily, I find myself facing a pretty daunting task. Especially considering that I am aiming for a 2013 release. Some might argue it is total madness, while I like to think it is a fun and worthwhile challenge.

 

Compiling these here gives me a place to come back to when I overly focus on the madness part 🙂

 

White Dragon
White Dragon

 

From the Olderbytes forums

Great party-based combat. I liked how enemies can neutralize certain characters, making a diverse and balanced group most efficient. It has been a team effort to get this far! I’m also impressed with the depth of your dungeons, how the catacombs open up to the underworld and expanding maps. Exploration has been very satisfying.

Just wanted to let you know, I completed the game and you have a very satisfied customer.

Thanks Charles ! .. now you have made me want to track down MM1 and 2 and give them a shot again.

I liked the artwork very much, but how many (non-demonic) pretty girls did my party kill? Several thousand? My heroes will never get a date — they depopulated the kingdom!

Thanks for a great game!

If youre a fan of the Might and Magic series (or any similair game) you´ll feel right at home with S&S: Underworld.

I think you have done a very good job of making puzzles that are challenging, but actually doable without spoilers, and that isn’t easy to do.

I’ve just taken the demo as far as it will go… and what a fantastic demo it was. I haven’t experieced fun and addictive gameplay like this in a long time. I’m kind of new to these old school RPGs, but it’s plain to see that this is a quality game with excellent gameplay mechanics. Can’t wait to continue the adventure. After purchase, will I be able to continue from my save point in the demo, or will I need to start a new game?

Thanks, and congratulations on your thoroughly enjoyable game! (I’m sure glad you posted an announcement for your new sequal on RPGCodex, or I’d have never known of these titles)

“I would just like to say that I am having great fun playing this game. Might and Magic 2 is one of my all time favorites and this brings back great memories. Can’t wait for the 2nd game and keep up the great work. :D”

Well done Charles The Latest Update really Puts The Finishing Touch To The Game

Started my new party now. These changes are just fantastic! And the added spellpoint bar is just awesome!

I’ve already downloaded the game and currently playing and having a blast.

This is a wonderful classic cRPG romp. Been years since we could do this in a fresh new setting and engine.

And why is it I can’t seem to stop playing this game … vodoo maybe? It seems that when I stop playing I’m still thinking about playing … gotta be vodoo of some type 😉

btw, this game is seriously eating into my Skyrim time. 😉

btw, I’ve posted a link and embedded your video on a few forums I regularly visit.

REALLY REALLY looking forward to a sequel!

Thanks for a great game!

 

Other forums

I am having a great time with it so far. Only a few hours in, but I really like it. Great Wizardry and M&M feel to it.

I must say that I liked the option to inspect an item and it would show you which class could use the item and damage stats, etc. Also, when I tried to equip a shield while already wielding a 2h weapon, it popped a yellow message up explaining to me that I already had a 2h weapon equipped. I wasn’t expecting that level of feedback.

I already had the game on my mind all evening while watching a movie with my wife and trying to figure out how to get out of it to play a few more turns!

Just finished the demo – totally awesome. Will be buying this!

Very happy with this game. Made me go back and play Might and Magic 2. Then I played M&M6 :). Great work on a fun game and looking forward to your next game.

Pre-Gold

I had great plans for today to work on my garden, then I read your review. I got hooked and bought the game. Four addictive hours later the garden continues to look as though it is the “before” picture in a fertilizer ad.

The least you can do is fly over and finish the garden while I play 🙂

I still have not finished this game, myself. I know that the next time I sit down to play, hours will go by, and nothing else will get done that day. I’m glad that others are enjoying it as well.

Agreeing on all points, started playing shortly after you, finished just the other day, very enjoyable. Am trying it again with a different party load, dropping 2 classes that were least useful at the back half of game, makes the front half almost impossible, very fun.

I am really quite excited that a one man indie was able to put this game together. This game is just a tad short of Might and Magic 6 quality. And when the indie shops start putting out games like that, I will be refocusing my whole gaming time.

– Just when you think you have the combat figured out, the enemy will crit one of your PCs and knock him out of the fight. You can’t take combat for granted.
– The little side quests are pretty cool. I figured out the jewel one, can’t get to the pirate one, and am trying to solve the one with the woman who lost her kin.
– Graphics are gorgeous. The stills are fantastic and so are the character and monster portraits. The terrain is also above average.
– Inventory, party creation, combat, setting, and interface all remind me of Might and Magic 1 and 2. This is a good thing. In fact, I can’t help but think of it as a fan-made Might and Magic.
– Monsters are diverse so far and monster parties make sense. None of this annoying habit of monsters that have nothing to do with one another joining against the heroes like in M&M 1 and 2.

 

I’ll add a review roundup soon. Some good things there as well!

Sovereign GUI progress and more

Following up on the not so popular poll (it isn’t too late though ;)) inviting players to weigh in on GUI design decisions, as well as a lengthier discussion on this subject on RPGCodex, here is the current state of affairs concerning the traditional version of the GUI.

And a big revelation on just how open the world will be 😉

 

Swords and Sorcery - Sovereign GUI
Swords and Sorcery – Sovereign GUI / Click for full size

 

 

S&S Underworld on Sale… For the Sake of Science!

The debate has raged on for days… Weeks even.

Should niche games be priced higher to compensate low, but presumably motivated demand? Or should they be priced lower to entice a less familiar audience to give them a try? This question I explicitly asked in an RPGCodex poll thread. Seven pages of debate later, the poll numbers were the following (as I am writing this):

Indie “niche” RPGs should be priced

High. There’s little demand but the demand is motivated.                                                                                                        >$20                       15 vote(s) 14.3%
Above average. Don’t be too elitist, you’ll miss out on reasonably interested folks.                                                     $15-20                   43 vote(s) 41.0%
Just below average. Compete with price, but not too hard.                                                                                                     $10-15                   45 vote(s) 42.9%
Low. Indie RPGs aren’t worth more than $10.                                                                                                                               <$10                        10 vote(s) 9.5%
Aggressive. Go for the impulse buy. People will buy anything for                                                                                        <$5                           7 vote(s)  7.6%

(Multiple votes are allowed.)

Note that the wording I chose for this poll does direct answers a little bit. It is only as scientific as Inxile’s new recruits will allow Wasteland 2 to be. In short, it is also, and especially, for entertainment. To be taken with a grain of salt.

What this suggests is that a solid majority favors higher pricing, but not over the top. Also this implies that the niche game in question be worthy of appeal, which is quite a subjective requirement. Whether or not it applies to Swords and Sorcery Underworld Gold is for you to decide.

So pricing aggressively is not believed by most to benefit from any kind of curiosity that making the game accessible could bring to an actual purchase. The majority does not believe that demand for a specific product can be motivated enough to justify pricing far beyond the accepted market range. The idea that the target audience be in favor of contributing 20-30% more than the estimated market norm ($15) is largely favored. The idea that it should stay in the range, or a 20-30% below, is doing just as well.

In short, this poll is a bust.  Not only are the numbers not really high enough to be statistically viable, but nothing clear-cut really stands out.

To add further input to this debate and possibly close it forever, I decided to put S&S Underworld on sale for the weekend, at $9.95. For the sake of science, of course. It was previously priced at $19.99.

Swords and Sorcery: Sequel to Underworld Announcement

While I am still tweaking Underworld a tiny bit to address final requests and fix a couple minor glitches, I think it is time to seriously start talking about the sequel.

Swords and sorcery - Sovereign

The menace has past. Unbeknownst to the larger population, the cause of undead uprisings and vicious dragon attacks was sought out and vanquished by a band of six adventurers that vowed that they would not stay and await certain death as the world around them fell prey to rising pestilence and unchecked violence.

Citadels throughout the realm opened at last, to a world in ruin but transcended by the promise of life that was considered lost only moments before.

Families torn by loss and separation reunited as best as circumstances would allow. Toil started heartily after just days of mixed celebrations and mourning. Burnt villages and cities were rebuilt in weeks and trade routes reestablished with realms spared or less affected by the plague. Plague was the word adopted by many, to describe the inexplicable darkness that covered so much in ruin. Few attempted to understand it better, with more immediate priorities to attend to. But as these necessities subsided, questions arose.

The ancients spoke of a first coming. This had happened before and was likely to happen again. After years of peace disturbed by growing doubt and quiet rumors, subversity set in. The official response to the people’s demands for disclosure, as to the identity and whereabouts of the heroes that had once saved the realm, as to the nature of the evil they engaged and defeated, was continuously one of denial of any form of subsiding danger.

Then the dead started rising again. Albeit in small, easily manageable numbers, they were enough to turn subversity into rebellion. And rebellion was met with ruthless repression.

Baronies and Duchies seceded. While some renewed their oaths to the Crown, claims arose of the King’s madness and unfittedness to rule, followed by claims to the Crown itself. Others still crafted Royal Circlets of their own and war banners floated to the high winds. Winds that carried a renewed hint of the pestilence past, but few took notice.  The scent of blood spilt on fields of agony grew to such strengths as to make the subtle smell of ancient death next to unnoticeable.

Swords and Sorcery – Sovereign will be a continuation of its predecessor , while expanding on its foundation in many ways.

Sovereign will take place in a large, open world that includes cities, villages, citadels, forests, mountain chains, glaciers, swamps, desert, caverns and dungeons… Your party of adventurers will deal with friends and foes as they had previously, but also with factions, political forces and alliances they can weigh into, or try to break. But they can also ignore them and choose to focus on other, perhaps more urgent preoccupations.

Sovereign will introduce two new classes, druid and hunter.

An extended set of spells and abilities.

Active character creation and development.

Crafting and factions…

Swords and Sorcery - Sovereign

Much more will be announced and discussed. Stay in touch for a first video introducing the GUI and some of the game’s future environments. You can join the monthly newsletter on the top right of the page.

Join the community forums to discuss development and take part in shaping the game. Note however that while many things will be open for discussion, some will not.

You can support development by purchasing Swords and Sorcery – Underworld and enjoy a solid 30 hours of dungeonning and adventuring!

Player Feedback Update

It’s been almost three weeks now since release and I’ve had tons of great conversations with many of you on how to improve the sequel. Once again I couldn’t resist the urge to implement some of these things to make Underworld better. While some things will indeed have to wait for the next Swords and Sorcery installment, a good deal of these are now in Underworld.

 

First and foremost, several of the game’s mechanics dwelled too hard on the old-school factor with little real benefit to the gameplay. These primarily include inventory and ressource management (trading, stores, food, water, gold). These are the most visible updates for v2.0.4:

 

 

Trade Upgrade
Trade Upgrade (Click to Enlarge)

 

Trading between characters:  Two characters are represented in trade. F1 swaps focus from one character to the other. F2 toggles the part of the focused character’s inventory that is represented from packed to equipped and vice-versa. Arrow keys switch characters on the focused side (Trade can be used to equip or unequip if the same character is on both sides). A-I and 1-9 instantly transfers the given item from one side to the next. The usual constraints for equipping items apply. F3 switches to description mode and any item selected while in that mode triggers a popup with a description, as it still does in each character’s individual status screens. Using the mouse makes focusing unnecessary

 

Gold, food and water are now party ressources. The figures are global. (G)athering and (S)haring have been removed from the game entirely.

 

 

Store Upgrade
Store Upgrade (Click to Enlarge)

 

Stores have been overhauled as well. Characters and store “aisles” can now be changed without stepping out. Buying weapons (now “Arms”), armor, imported and miscellaneous items can be accessed via function keys (F6-F10) while F11 switches to selling mode. F12 switches to description mode, no matter what part of the store you are in. Arrow keys and 1-6 switch characters while staying in the same mode.

 

Other improvements:

 

– SP (blue), Holy Water and Runes (purple) meters added to character list in world view and combat.

– Increased mouse and keyboard responsiveness.

– Popup info screens explaining when Ste(a)lth is disabled and why (Rogues need full HP) and other less than evident restrictions.

– Added clues for some of the game’s more cryptic situations.

– Options accessible from the intro screen.

– Skill descriptions accessible in character status screens while in combat.

– Attributes described in game (accessible in character creation and status screens).

– Offensive spells no longer require selecting that last enemy.

– Ammended AI for shooters.

– Fixed several incomplete item descriptions.

– Added entries to Quest Log.

 

Bug fixes:

 

– An important item drop not occuring in certain circumstances.

– Seeing rebels before seeing the king caused improper response.

– Fixed “entangled”.

– Fixed “Silenced” on Fire Spirits and enemy healers.

– Fixed “Stun”.

– Fixed items wrongly flagged useable that caused a freeze when used.

– Fixed damage and distance calculations.

– Fixed missing walls in River of Fire.

– Fixed “A”ttack Necromancer causing the Rogue to enter ste(a)lth if first up.

– Fixed World Map (Now hotkeyed ‘W’) that made the goblin realm selectable when it shouldn’t have been.

– Fixed menu hotzones for mouse (that were too low).

 

My initial plan was to release a bug fix update but the other changes caused a considerable delay in its release. My apologies and thanks to all of those who have been patiently waiting for it.

 

Big, big thanks to players that have reported bugs and suggestions in the forums! Please check your emails for the update link. If for some reason you didn’t get it, don’t hesitate to ask for it at charles at this-website-url (olderbytes) dot com.

 

Next up, the sequel announcement. Just a few days now!

Games for old geezers.