Episode 14: Commanding Design
Robot fans! It's our first official post-campaign update! Woo!
So as you saw last time, we have a list of things that we're doing to finish up the game, aiming for hitting an October/November final print proof. Here's the chart:
So let's break it down:
New Commanders: We've successfully wrangled all the high-tier backers and have concept art done for each of the 10 new Commanders (seen below). You can see that progress and hear the lore on our Stream replays on YouTube. This was quite a process, as it was important for each Commander to be visually distinct from each other, and for them to fit into the world of Sigaea and the overall story. I handled all this initial art, and now the designs have been handed off to Dan, who will be creating the final illustrations.
Board art: In terms of the boards, it's been some fiddling with various board sizes regarding the the number of hexes, but now those templates are done and are about to be pushed to Maung, who did the original board art.
Robot art: Along with the new Commanders, there are some new accompanying robots. We have a few of those nailed down, design-wise and once the gameplay mechanics are finalized they'll have final art put on them. Other new robots, such as the two new level 4s, are also in the pipeline to be concepted and finished once their mechanics are finalized.
Graphic Design Progress
Geometrypalooza: This month was mostly focusing on the punchboards on this front. As hex sizes change slightly so too does the size of the terrain, and therefor the layout had to get pushed around a few times, but now that's done and we're looking to get assets into our manufacturer for a whitebox prototype by the end of this month.
The punchboards are being organized in such a way that each of the five sealed decks will have their own section for their robot pieces, so no hunting and pecking around the first time you open the box.
Game Design Progress
New Commanders and tweaking robot stats!
The first relevant thing is that we are putting five new Commanders with Commander Robots in the box, as opposed to four. We had the extra robot slot in the design file, and another very kind high-tier backer, so we decided to go with an even five, with each one being A/E/G/I/S. It made the set make-up cleaner and ya'll lost a single straggler Basic Robot in favor of a 13th Commander. These five are the Kickstart Dawn Commanders.
Designing five new Commander robots is pretty tough, and we're aiming to have these requirements fulfilled:
- Their abilities have to make sense in context with the set, so we're designing around having synergy with existing mechanics and team compositions
- The five new Commanders should also make sense in context with each other, since they will be packaged together in the box
- They have to have low comprehension complexity, we don't want some really wacky abilities you have to read 5 times to grok
- These new Commanders should ideally not completely outshine the 'main characters' and lend to more niche strategies, whereas Ainer and company lend to broader strategies and are more splashable
- The characters will be part of their own separate plotline that occurs concurrently or after the main cast's Stellar Ascent plotline.
So far, so good. We have 3 of the new Commanders in a good spot philosophically, with the fourth and fifth teetering on the edge of being good enough to show off.
That's the first five. The second set of backer Commanders at $300 are the Machineless Commanders. These five are just human characters with no accompanying robot, who have abilities that can be equipped onto specific existing robots or subsets of robots in the game.
This is a new feature in the game, but is much easier to design overall. Our goals with these are:
- Their abilities must be very simple and low-power to compensate for the fact they can go on a number of different robots.
- Their characters must all have a reason why they don't have robots canonically, and will feel more like 'side characters' to the greater main storylines
- These Commanders will be used to foreshadow future expansions and events in the world of Sigaea
We have four of five of these abilities drafted and will be putting them into testing soon.
We'll have full introductions to all these characters as they become finalized.
The game has quite a few robots in it now, so we're also making sure all of them are where we want them to be before we put a bow on the game and ship it, so we've done a round of minor number tweaks to certain robots.
The major things we're experimenting with during this period of testing are:
- Costs and accuracy on buffs. The most experimental thing we're doing is looking at robots with damage and accuracy buffs, and seeing if they can be made to be 100% accurate. It's a feel-bad to use a buff and then miss with your actual attack, so we're looking at mitigating that in places.
- New Commander abilities for Ixa, Stell and Ryos. Along with the new Commanders, we're looking at revising some of our existing ones that have underwhelming performance. Ixa and Ryos are powerful units on their own, but their abilities were lacking in utility and excitement. Stell has seldom been used on stream due to her working, but being a very non-versatile, linear strategy. So as we hash out abilities for the above characters, we're looking at which ones could possibly be fitted to these characters.
- Parting Shot - We've replaced an existing, slightly cumbersome mechanic with a new one called Parting Shot, which deals 1 damage to a target when your robot dies. This mechanic will be found on various E and S Class robots. It seems to be working well, but testing is going to continue.
- Removing mechanics - The mechanic Shock Absorb is being removed the set, and Laser Shield is also looking at being adjusted or removed entirely to streamline the set.
- Stat adjustments - The rest of the edits are mostly adjustments to attack ranges, movement values or energy costs for attacks for robots that were under/over-performing.
And we've also been doing work on the Campaign, which coincides with the final board and terrain content, as well as the new Commanders.
With all these design and production happenings, we realized we missed our June deadline for the very important Zephyr Workshop Top 25 Robot Media that Inspired AEGIS list, so expect that as a backer-only update shortly. Big or small, it's important for us to get things out on time, so sorry about that!
We're also still on track for the Tabletop Sim and Print & Play Demos to be done by the end of the month. It should include all the robots, including the new Commanders, though some robots, like the new Commanders, will not have final art. And then we will update these files as things get finished. More talk on these demos when we release them.
Story: Stellar Ascent, Part 3
When we last left off, Ainer and Diane were being flanked by Etwal and Ixa in the snowfields of the Allied Provinces. Our heroes were on the ropes as Etwal seeks vengeance for his tarnished win record, and Ixa seeks Ainer himself!
Let's see how the other battlefield is going...
A strong desert wind blows, and Gamound is unphased. He sinks his teeth into a now-sandy hoagie. It's been two weeks of random strikes on the border from troublesome enemies, and the Great States border squad is tired. At least when Etwal attacked it was predictable enough for them to catch some sleep.
It's also been two weeks since a girl arrived from space, on the hunt for a rogue Commander. She's been pacing, talking, and on an eternal state of high alert, giving content-devoid updates to her far-off superiors above the clouds. Her communicator sounded off for the fifth time that day, and Gamound was now phased. He bit his tongue instead of the sandwich.
She claimed her name was Stell, who did some kind of job for some kind of nation of some kind of cops. Gamound could focus on details with laser precision, but only relevant ones. He knew she was here to hogtie some jerk who was messing with his border, and then after that's done he could stop being distracted from all the Iris platoons sneaking in and out of his country. Until that happens though, she's here. While there's power in numbers, and two Commanders is a mighty force, Gamound wasn't used to fighting in pairs.
The sun sets, and lightning flashes followed by an explosion several miles away from the border. They are at it again. Poppet and Ryos. Dealing with one was enough, but now they're working in tandem, tearing up the landscape and clearing out what was left of the borderland villas. Why? Who knows, but they appear to love doing it. And every time, they end up making their way right into Gamound's line of sight only to entice a battle, destroy a battalion and then disappear. Not this time though, the Sunset General has a plan.
The space girl's communicator goes off again, and a moment later a golden beam shoots right over Gamound's head from behind, the heat searing his hat. Not part of the plan. The young officer is too eager.
A strong desert wind blows, and Gamound is unphased. He shouts back to his would-be combat partner and to all his men. Their final showdown is tonight.
Stay tuned for more!
The AEGIS Discord now has around 50 people! If you want to interact with us and see updates on the day-by-day, that's the spot! Also make sure to check out our Twitch Channel for streams every Wednesday and most Sundays where we have open Q&A and development stories.
Fight and Unite