Swords and Sorcery – Sovereign expands on the formula by adding basic (gring-free, farming-free) crafting, factions, new skills and spells, and, of course, a very large open world that the world map hints at without quite revealing that it is only the known world. It does not display everything.
I “commited” to a release date, November 3rd, and the game isn’t ready yet. I would like to apologize for this, as well as taking so long to offer an explanation and a new date.
I took part in Paris Games Week which took place from Oct 28th to Nov 1st. My plan was to have the game all set before it starts, but the localization was a tougher nut to crack than I had hoped and it caused some bugs that made even an English only release… Well not impossible but not good either.
I hoped to be able to finish during evenings after the convention but those things are more exhausting than I remembered… Or I’m getting old? Nah, that’s not it.
On top of that player feedback from the event uncovered some features that really need to be added before release. A solid tutorial is one, and there are a few others. Quite simply, if I (or the volunteers, Jason and Dimitri, that were helping me out) weren’t there to explain the game to newcomers I would find the game screen changed and no one there playing. Ragequit.
Because it’s deep and complicated 😀
On the other hand with a quick introduction many people really got into it, and that even includes quite a few youngsters I wouldn’t have suspected could find an interest in this type of game. That’s all good news, but it requires some extra work. A few more weeks.
I hope to finish before November ends, but I’d rather not “commit” to it. I hate not meeting deadlines and they’re so hard to evaluate.
Paris Games Week
I captured some footage of SSUDE players at Paris Games Week. It took a bit of time to edit and blur the kids’ faces, as promised to the parents who gave me permission to film.
My apologies for the delay and thanks everyone for your support! Back to work 🙂
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!
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.
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…
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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:
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 😉
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.
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 🙂
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!
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.
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!