Mechanics, updates, pit fights and news sightings
Progress at Whalenought continues smoothly as we’re rounding out the end content for the game. In the meantime we wanted to share an update with what we've been working these past few weeks.
We’ve updated the website a bit and our store page now has more information on what the digital boxes purchased through us will contain (what you all backed). The website will also house where, for those of you who want the game DRM-free, can download it at will upon release if you sign into your account. We'll be creating accounts with backer email addresses in this new system in the next month, with your reward listed, so expect an email notifying you about it at some point soon. We'll also be sending Steam Keys via email upon release.
We’ll be getting those options from you when we send out the Kickstarter questions — for the tiers we’ve already sent the 1-time questionnaire to we’ll be following up with an email to see what you’d like the game distributed with. For an update on GOG: they are interested, but nothing is set in stone as of yet. In our survey we'll allow you to pick GOG as a preference if we are able to sell through them, otherwise you'll still be able to get a DRM-free version through us.
Recent orders automatically get a neat wallpaper, and we happily extend it to your graces as well:
News Shout Outs!
We’ve also been on some news outlets the past few weeks, including PC GAMER's article highlighting 2015 games of interest and mentioned in another PC GAMER hosted article by Peter Thoman, “2014: the first year of the CRPG renaissance”. Pixel Dynamo’s James Pursaill also wrote a short article describing the game design decision for allowing players to use their brain instead of using a GPS-minimap: “Serpent in the Staglands won’t hold your hand”.
Very excited to start getting noticed and share it with our awesome backers. At least you can know you aren't the only ones who know about the game now! Being an independent studio with a marketing budget of pocket-lint can make that difficult, and not quite making it into the indie scene, but we are starting to get recognized now which is great! We’ll thank you for helping spread the word.
Fragments of Silicon Live Podcast
On January 21st we’ll be on the Fragment of Silicon podcast, you can listen to the live broadcast on Talkshoe at 9pm EST/6 PM PST. You can login and ask us any questions during the interview about Serpent in the Staglands, Kickstarter, and any development questions you might have. We'll host it up on our announcements section on the website afterwards if you'd like to catch it later. Hope to have some fun conversations about tabletop inspired RPGs!
Beta Patch 2.0
We’ve been focusing some of our time into increasing marketing efforts, mainly split between finishing up some remaining items for the beta 2.0 patch and continuing to complete the last of the maps. Beta 2.0 will include and be the culmination of a lot of updated mechanics, UI, items, and locations that are all coming together to really start to show the final product, and we’re thrilled to be getting it out to you beta testers soon. We were planning on getting it out earlier but wanted to polish up all the grade 2 skills and spells and finish some lingering bugs, so it will be a big update.
Neat fixes to note
Outside the massive amount of small fixes for locations and bugs in and outside the beta areas, you’ll be seeing some of these neat new mechanics and areas, including: (sort of spoilers?)
Orf’s Bridge Consil
Small compared Corem and Emerald Metalis (though you’ll be getting those before the end too), Orf’s Bridge Consil is central point of wealth in the district, having a few high-end merchants including a bespoke armorer for the region. You can chat with a few high-profile figures here including the Constable and Counselor. Killing the Counselor, while not necessarily encouraged, will make the Consil evacuate upon your leaving, which is fun.
Lebez fighting pit
The fighting pit at one of the Inns in Lebez is open for violence! Though quaint compared to the Corem fighting pits, it gives you the option of fighting a range of enemy difficulties to test as you will for the beta. This will be different in the game proper to fit the level of the area, but for now is a nice testing convenience for close quarters combat without easy prep or buffing.
The Lord and Lady Rheamus aren’t terribly friendly. Neither are the spiders.
Orf’s Bridge namesake: the bridge connecting the eastern side of the peninsula’s districts of Orf’s Bridge and Emerald Metalis. You’ll get stopped for questioning and pulled in here (along with some other areas in later areas of the game) when trying to pass through it on the overworld map for inspection. With the borders between districts closed, Arbiters will be making your purse a little lighter unless you have your Spicer documents in your inventory. Lots of interesting people at the Inn that could be looking for a merchant willing to smuggle things across the borders.
In the northern region of Orf's Bridge is a higher difficulty area, with the first Vykin you can confront. A Vykin is similar to our world's historical knight, but solely for the political reasons. They culturally derive from the Varuchovs who's Vykins reported directly to the King, and swayed the opinion of the masses or their military through charisma and magical means. They also have neat helmets with their honored symbol embellished on them.
And some mechanics:
- Overworld Map travel - The new overworld map is much smoother than the first couple passes we put on it, and now includes chalk-drawn markers and a moon lord miniature to represent your party.
- Stackables now functioning - Not particularly interesting, but something that will make the beta folks easier going forward. Picking up an item you already have one of will automatically stack it, as well as now being able to split these items.
- MiniMaps - Maps in inventory now implemented. You aren't grinding for quests in the game and there aren't many people hoping for a savior of the day to pass by to fetch something for them, but the tasks you can hire on to do as a Spicer usually come with a map and a shady individual.
- Resting with camp rations - There are various puzzles and events in the game that trigger due to daytime or nightime. Though there are a couple choice ways you can affect that beyond overwrold map travel, we now have one more included by use of camp-rations, a stackable item. When outside of town, as a Spicer camping outside in a town would be quite frowned upon, you can use the item and select someone to watch over the camp. That person doesn’t regain any health, and if they have Woodwise, can hopefully get a good roll preventing being waylaid.
- Inventory pack addition - While playing, especially with the newest couple patches and the inventory database updated, we noticed that inventory space gets cramped fairly quickly. We determined how to alter this without overhauling any big system already in place, and have come up with a really easy addition to the inventory system that doesn’t wildly change the item pickup balance. There is now an equipped pack and miscellaneous pack that your party can distribute amongst each other.
- Potion procing - All consumables (those that return more than a few points of HP) now proc in intervals. Meaning if a potion gives you 15 HP back, it would proc a 3 HP recovery every second. Consumables are now only usable when unpaused.
- Soulbound portraits - There’s another companion available in a 2.0 map (new backer portrait!), and we finally implemented the soul-bound portraits for those who Necholai really really enjoys the company of.
- 100% Scaling - If you’re using a very small monitor you can now render the game at 1:1 scale with the art! This means if you're rocking something like 640x480 resolution, it will render perfectly and nothing will be cropped or squished to fit. Normally we auto-scale up 200% or 300% depending on the resolution, and get as many pixels as possible into that space without any distortion. A lovely addition to the resolution family.
- Runes - Various ancient machines in the game require a runic symbols to be drawn in blood to activate. You won’t get a lot of application of this in the beta areas, but we turned on the feature for three of such scrolls that you may have come across in the beta, and you can doodle as you will.
- Spells & Skills grade 2 - The website gameplay page will be updated with additional information on grade 2 skills and spells soon, so get excited for more combat procing variations and powerfully debilitating spells, including polymorphing into the powerful wolf, a spell worthy of creating a build around.
- Updated Pathfinding - Originally your characters moved in a formation that would attempt to be created even across obstacles. This has been updated so characters check to see if their target position is blocked, and funnel towards the originally clicked position if so. Nice and elegant, and no more crazed party member looking for routes across the landscape to get to a position around a ledge.
- Skill/Spell/Stat Point verification - Small UI change, but some beta folks have wanted a way to remove a point in something if they accidentally added to it. You can save points for future grades of skills and spells if want, so there isn't a formalized "level up" screen, but we think this is an effective, elegant solution.
Beta 2.0 will be out soon, and we’re excited to get more feedback as we ramp up releasing more areas into the wild after continued polish passes.
SHADOWRUN KICKSTARTER UP
Also, for those that haven’t seen, Harebrained Schemes have a new Kickstarter for Shadowrun: Hong Kong stretch goals. These folks are putting out some of the best RPGs we’ve seen in a long time, and they are some of the first on our list to play when we get the time after Staglands is complete. The new campaign setting looks awesome, and we assume it's relevant to your interests.
Joe & Hannah