Spotlight #2 - Solo, Co-op, Survival and a word on 3-4 players
First looks at Cloudspire in the wild
Well, one full day into Essen and we are amazed at the support coming from this place. Our team came into today still quite exhausted from the trip, from late night KS videos, and everything that goes into prepping a booth and product for a major convention. We were also feeling the adrenaline shot that comes with meeting our backers and supporters face to face, with selling our products for the first time here, and from sharing Cloudspire components and gameplay with those stopping by.
Overall, it's been an incredible first two days. Besides nearly selling out of almost all our existing titles by the end of the day, the feedback from people getting to see Cloudspire was very encouraging. In fact, just the look on people's faces when they'd do a double take seeing the neoprene hexes made the trip worthwhile. The game simply has an immediate and powerful table presence that even in its prototype state, had a magnetic effect on those who stopped by our booth. We couldn't be happier.
Jumping into Solo
So many of you who are on the fence about this game are waiting to hear about how exactly solo play works. We're excited to show it off in the video below. To be clear, we know that no single video is going to answer all your questions about Cloudspire, but hopefully this peek at one of the solo scenarios that we're developing helps prove the depth of play, and how seriously we're taking the solo campaign in this game. Obviously this scenario is still in development and may change a little (or a lot) as the factions continue to be balanced. But you can see where we're going with the story-based scenarios that will provide a variety of interesting challenges, risks, and rewards, along with multiple objectives depending on the difficulty level you're playing on.
Like TMB solo play, playing Cloudspire solo means playing with a single faction. There will be three main scenarios for each that can be played through. As mentioned in the campaign, these are progressive in nature starting with the Brawnen, then the Heirs, then Narora, and finally the Grovetenders. *The Griege add-on comes with its very own solo and co-op scenarios included. Our scenario and lore book will combine all of these 5 factions scenarios into one place (no new gameplay content, simply all existing content + art and lore combined). While each of the twelve (base game) scenarios can be played individually at any time, going through them in order will tell a better story of Cloudspire in its entirety.
Starting from the beginning, you will be playing the Brawnen. One of your heroes (Kram) has been spotted wounded and behind enemy lines. Hedged in by a series of Heirs spires, your main objective is to bring him home in one piece. Not so easily done. You have 5 waves to complete this task before he is captured. There are other objectives as well, but only for the most skilled players. These further objectives will require the Brawnen to not only save Kram, but also to scout and clear 4 POI locations as they search for Kram's son who has gone missing. Once located, Mik must be escorted home or brought to a safehouse and defended until the end of Wave 5. Based on what has been decided and managed, new objectives will appear and disappear from this ever unfolding storyline.
There would be time to reflect on alternative battle plans – on the wisdom of Awsh sending him on this whole endeavor – later. The fact of the matter was that Kram's army had failed to take Trust, and now the heirs were marshaling their forces from the outpost to attack the brawnen warriors still in the battlefield.
If I don't find a way to regroup soon, they'll be at Leviatown's door in no time, Kram thought.
Nursing a deep talon gouge to his thigh, Kram limped behind an outcropping, his mind already spinning through options for regrouping his fighting force. The brawnen may have been repelled, but Kram was confident his soldiers would remember their training: If pushed back, stay with your units. Fight defensively while attempting to locate a larger force or commanding officer for new orders.
He was mulling over a plan for a quick reformation – perhaps he should use his battle horn to call his troops back to his position and hope that there were more brawnen close to him than there were heirs? – when he saw Drang barreling toward him. Using her sling as a mace instead of for its intended purpose, she swatted a few harriers away like it was nothing in the face of her single-minded goal. Upon arriving at the outcropping, she crouched behind it instead of getting under it with Kram. He knew she had other battles to be fighting, and besides, at the rate Drang was growing, Kram wasn't sure she'd even have been able to fit in there with him.
Kram opened his mouth to ask Drang about the latest reports from around the field – he'd no doubts that she'd been smashing her way around the area for the last couple of hours – but before the words could come, she began speaking quickly, almost short of breath. “Sir! I just got word from the city gates! Mik said he wanted to watch the battle from the edge of town, but she must have sneaked away while her caretaker wasn't looking! They can't find her, sir. They think he might have left Leviatown.”
A chill passed between them; it seemed as if the distant sounds of battle momentarily gave way to silence. Kram the Mighty had never been afraid to die, but this moment – years of thinking about this moment – had always scared him.
When going up against the Heirs, you will be presented with a predefined map with Heir spires in specific locations. One of the fun things we can do with these pre-set maps is put spires and other things where they typically wouldn't be. You'll notice on this map there are two spires that are not located on top of Source Supplies. Heirs upgrades, waves, and minion deployments are also set within the scenario. However, based on conditions defined within the scenario, the Heirs will continue to grow their Fortress (building spire upgrades, or making unit changes).
Here's Josh Carlson playing through the solo scenario above from our hotel lobby, again featuring awesome background house music, direct from Essen Germany. We want to put out one HUGE caveat on this video. Josh accidentally played with an older version of Onslaught Phase rules, where the turn order for units hitting each other was passed back and forth between players similar to the way it swaps at the end of each wave. We apologize for that error, we're jet lagged and dragging from the convention and should have caught it but our brains are fried. This update was half-written last night and I (Ghillie) legitimately passed out and fell asleep in my bed while writing on my laptop. It's been a long week.
The balance of the scenario wouldn't have changed much playing by normal Onslaught Phase rules, but it does make tracking attacks much more confusing (hence why we changed it). We think you'll see all the fun decisions and tactical choices you get to make playing solo, however. So we'd encourage you to focus on that rather than the handful of goofs we made while trying to get this video out ASAP :-)
We have every intention of getting some much more polished solo and PvP videos out once we're back home and able to get them filmed.
In the end, the randomness (and replayability) lies in the initial spawn points for specific characters in the story (such as Kram), the event cards (drawn and affecting individual waves), the market, the Point of Interest (POI) chips that need to be cleared to some degree for any hope of success within a campaign, the relics gained from those POI chips and finally the objectives you are asked to complete (which again can change and even at some points, be altered). We have some additional thoughts in terms of challenge, such as playing through each scenario without losing and things along those lines, but we'll have more to say on that at a later date :-)
Co-op play in Cloudspire is not nearly as simple as adding another faction. For the first time ever, we are writing a fully separate co-op campaign that will go right along side the solo portion of the game. Co-op maxes at two players, with each player controlling a unique faction. Alliances in Ankar are hastily made and broken. The co-op story will highlight the tension of working together with new factions you've only just met. Factions that may double cross you in the end.
These co-op scenarios will look very similar to the solo scenario you see above, but with two factions rather than one.
We're not 100% sure on the total Co-op scenarios just yet, but it will be in the same neighborhood as the total solo scenarios. We're aiming for 2-3 per faction, meaning with the Griege in play, you'll have at least 10 co-op scenarios to play through. Similar to the solo scenarios, these will have varying difficulties, allowing you to go back to them multiple times in an effort to win on the tough as nails top level.
Enjoy playing two handed? That's just fine as well. Playing Co-op will give you a chance to experiment with some fun and unique synergies that aren't seen when only playing as a single faction. We'll have more to share on this for you tomorrow!
So far, every CTG game's solo mode has been scenario-driven. We're excited to announce that for the first time ever we'll be offering something a little different within Cloudspire: Endless Survival Mode. The objective will be simple, see how many waves you can last against another faction (solo) while the difficulty scales up with each passing wave.
With the Griege added, this creates 20 unique varieties of Survival, as you can play any of these factions against one of the four others for endless replayability. We know not everybody is into "high score" types of games, but we're excited to offer both the story-driven campaign as well as this mode to hopefully appeal to every variety of solo gamer. We'll be testing out some co-op survival as well to see how well it works. At the moment, this is a solo only variety of play. You can rest assured we'll be working on all sorts of crazy modifiers to make sure that this mode can never be "solved" and will present you with a variety of headaches to deal with every time you open up the box. We think you'll have a blast with this mode. It's easy to setup and plays quickly...well...unless you survive for a long time. We aim to make sure you don't ;-)
Unrelated to solo/co-op mode, there have been many that have wondered how Cloudspire works in 3 and 4 player mode. Is it balanced? How can it be balanced? Won't two players just team up on the other?
For starters, know that in 3/4 player, there is no player elimination. Players who happen to have their fortress destroyed have a way to get back in the game. And, in the meantime, are immune from further attacks until their fortress is back up and running.
An important aspect of Cloudspire is the Source gained from defeating a unit. While it's not the only way to acquire this valuable currency, it is critical to success. This mechanic also acts as an almost automatic catchup mechanism. Team up against another single player at your own peril. You may be feeding them an endless supply of currency that will allow them to unlock some very expensive fortress upgrades and turn the tide of battle in a hurry during the next wave.
We hear those of you that are asking for a 3/4 player full play through, and we'll do what we can to oblige you when we return from Essen. Right now we only have the Brawnen and Heirs with us in a playable state, but have been putting lots of time into the Grovetenders and Narora. Once we are back in the office and able to get the unit stats and talents updated and onto stickers, we'll do what we can to show you some 3 and 4 player play.
That's it from Germany!
Alright, so with much of the last 48 hours being dedicated to making sure we got out some solid gameplay for you all, we're going to take a breather from the Kickstarter for a day or two and attempt to enjoy Spiel. We hope the effort to get these updates out has been appreciated, because we're pretty sure trying to do another while we're here would kill us :-)
There's still so much more to talk about, including how heroes level up (literally haven't touched on this at all, and it's a big deal), all the unique unit talents, and two factions we've showed you almost nothing about thus far (narora and grovetenders). As soon as we're back in the office we'll be right back at it showing you how unique many of these things you haven't yet seen are. Thanks for all your enthusiasm about this project. Keep telling your fellow gamers about it! Let's unlock a few stretch goals! We're *so* excited about this game and the success of the campaign thus far!
Josh, Adam, and Josh (Ghillie)