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 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!
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%
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.
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:
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.
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.
– 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.
– 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!
So here it is at last. After a ridiculous amount of Alpha releases, Swords and Sorcery – Underworld Gold is available… Here… Now. In short…
I’m a bit sad. Like Junior going off to college. But happy because I’ll get more sleep at night and… Oh stop it.
I’ll spare you the long, boring bullet list. It’s awsum and you’ve gotta try the demo! And possibly even buy the full game and help fund the sequel I’ll be officially announcing in a couple weeks, on this very Dev Blog 😉 But just in case you need to know a bit more, here’s the trailer again.
I can finally say with confidence what day Swords and Sorcery – Underworld Gold, my kickback to the late 80s 1st person party role-playing game, will not be postponed again.
Thursday September 20th.
It is ready. This final week is to allow me to focus on promoting it a bit and other related activities. I am still unsure how much interest remains for this kind of game other than my own and that of a few hundred motivated enough to disregard the previous version’s visuals. If you are one of those, many thanks for your support. If, on the other hand, you are one of those that would not put up with it and bashed and dared me into creating a real game, many thanks for your support. Both groups were paramount in finally achieving completion (for real this time). I needed both the carrot and the stick. Talk about high maintenance.
If you aren’t part of one of these groups, many thanks for your interest! I’ll try to bring you up to speed with the following list of features. Underworld Gold aims at being much more than a graphics update so some of these will be new to past players as well.
1 minute trailer
– An actual introduction. Five slides depicting the setting and context at the start of the game. I hope you like it.
– A pre-built party (you can still build your own).
– Mouse support.
– Enhanced combat: Distance and timing management in a set of tactical options. Enemies have and use them as well.
– 8 new maps (20 total). 5 previously existing maps were redrawn and 3 entirely new areas.
– Hundreds of new items, including new item types.
– New item attributes (charged, enchantments, some specifically scripted).
– Many new NPCs.
– Interactive and dynamic “World Map”.
– Puzzles. Some span entire maps and others are of lesser scope.
– 115 monsters, each illustrated. Some scantily but tastefully clad of the female gender (be forewarned).
– Monster specials: many have one to better pounce on your characters. Some have two.
– New environments.
– New skills (active and passive).
Thanks again to everyone and please do drop by again next Thursday 😉