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Story, Tactics, and Art. A modern re-imagining of the classic 16-bit RPG.
2,918 backers pledged $81,458 to help bring this project to life.

Update - 12/31/15

Posted by John Rhee (Creator)
38 likes

Happy Holidays everyone!

It's been another bumpy stretch, with lots of progress along the way. Sorry for the wall of text; I'll be getting pretty deep into the details of the design challenges I've been wrestling with since that's where my head's been. 

A Tough Choice

First some bad news: In the last update, I showed the changes I was making to have enemy turns happen along with the player's. After a lot of deliberation I've decided not to keep these changes and return to keeping player and enemy turns separate. 

Actions are still executed simultaneously, but are separated by faction. The problem came up as I started working on larger encounters, where too much was happening at once and players weren't able to keep track of it all. I eventually decided that I was fixating on getting convincing real-time execution at the expense of clarity. Clearly this is a big issue for a tactical RPG, and it's especially problematic for us given how easily units can die in the game.

I spent a lot of time trying different ideas to make it work: an on-screen combat log, more overlay UI in general, bullet time, zooming and panning the camera dynamically to focus on important events, etc. but simply separating turns again seemed like the best solution.

The choice came down to keeping two way real-time turns or having larger encounters and more complex interactions. It was a hard choice to make, especially given how good the changes felt at smaller scales (not to mention the amount of work that went into them!), but hopefully you'll all agree it was the right one. In the end, the decision came up because the mechanics and the scenarios are getting deeper and more interesting, which brings me to the next topic:

Progress

My main focus is still on completing the class system and building out a series of main encounters around their progression. As I showed last update, there's almost 100 abilities in the game now, and I've been plugging away at implementing, testing, and balancing them. There was a ton to do here since many abilities require different animations for both the user and target, and some require additional variations depending on the user's equipped weapon, target's reactive ability, direction of attack, damage dealt, etc. 

At a higher level, I wanted to mention three big changes that came up during this process: 

1. Line of sight 

Most attacks now require line of sight to an enemy, and cover now plays an important role in the game. In most cases, attacks can no longer go through other units. This was trickier than I expected to get working, since the game world doesn't exist in true 3D space. Players can aim attacks manually, which opens up some interesting gameplay possibilities: 

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2. Joint Attacks and Damage Multipliers 

Until recently I was committed to keeping the core combat system as simple as possible by separating the more complex mechanics into special abilities. I've loosened up a bit on this approach, so certain mechanics now apply across the board. The big two I want to mention are attack direction (flanking and back attack) and joint attack bonuses. Note the target info panel on the top right in the video: 

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In this simple example, Aidan's attack is parried but forces the enemy to face him. This exposes the enemy to Matthias' follow-up, which can't be blocked and is boosted by back and joint attack bonuses. 

Executing joint attacks, controlling enemies' reactions and field of view, and optimizing attack multipliers have really become the core of the combat system. These mechanics become much more interesting later in the class progression, and luckily it plays well into the simultaneous execution we've invested so much time in. 

3. UI

With all the new mechanics, there's a lot more information that needs to be tracked by the player now, which has meant even more UI changes. I'm still trying to keep things as clean as possible, but as you can see I've had to allow for more UI elements than in previous videos I've shared.

Since things have been getting more complex, where possible I've been trying to reduce the number of "selectable" abilities by implementing them as passives or upgrades to base abilities. Quick example: 

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Here, instead of having a separate basic attack and "Lunge" ability, Lunge now works as an upgrade that's applied automatically depending on the target's range. Overall these types of changes have done a lot to streamline the game's flow. 

2015 and Next Steps

2015 was an interesting year. Simultaneous execution was really tricky to get right from both a technical and game design perspective. While clearly it's set our schedule back quite a bit, I think it's become one of the game's most compelling aspects. Over the course of the year, the game's combat and unit management overall has grown from the original design into something better than I could've imagined. 

The combat system was by far the most complex aspect of the game's development. Now that it's almost complete, we can finally start tying together the various standalone encounters I've been designing around the class progression into a continuous main quest. After over a year of grinding away almost exclusively on combat stuff, I'm really looking forward to switching my focus back to story, art, and world building. 

I'm racing to get the next build out for our alpha testers and to open up the beta soon afterwards. More on this and some new footage to follow in January; just wanted to give you all an update on what's been going on before the year was up. 

See you all in 2016! 

Aakaash Rao, Sheryll Pang, and 36 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Cameron Youngs
      Superbacker
      on

      You can always make turns separate in the second game ;) Keep pushing thru! I Can't wait.

    2. Missing avatar

      Muhammad Sabeeh Ali on

      Thanks for the update, looking forward to it being completed.

    3. Matt Lohkamp on

      re: the tough choice - not gonna lie I was excited about the possibilities of the simultaneous movement, but I trust your judgement on picking the more traditional approach.

      also wrapping abilities like lunge into passive bonuses is a good idea to start - but implementing it so it's obvious when they're being utilized is what really makes it work.

      this game is going to be so well-finessed. I always love reading about the design process.

    4. John Rhee Creator on

      Thanks Federico!

    5. Federico on

      I appreciate the care you put into crafting a great game. Take your time, i'm ok knowing you' re really working on it. Good luck!

    6. John Rhee Creator on

      Thanks Chris!

    7. Christopher Moyeno on

      Loving it as always. It's obvious how passionate you are about your work, and i'm content with waiting for as long as it takes for you to get the game where you feel it should be.

      Liege is a shining example of how to do a kickstarter IMHO, so kudos to you!

    8. meganothing dread bard of torment BOSB on

      Thanks for the answer. Exellent solutions to both my "problems"

    9. Mark Dorney on

      I am sure we all appreciate how hard you worked on trying to implement simultaneous turns, but I have every confidence that turn-based will work just fine. Thanks for the update, things are looking great.

    10. John Rhee Creator on

      Thanks all, and happy new year!

      @meganothing - Good questions! There are lots of possible timing issues like the one you describe. The game processes all the queued commands at the start of execution to detect and prevent these types of conflicts. Units will execute the actions in the order they were entered anytime the order actually affects the outcome.

      The interface was set up this way for a couple reasons. The first was to help make clear when line of sight is obstructed. In the video I panned the archer's aim around a bit to demonstrate this, but you can generally just select the target directly. The second was to make it consistent with how aiming works for "cone" or area of effect abilities which could target multiple units at once.

    11. meganothing dread bard of torment BOSB on

      The tough choice was the right choice IMHO.

      In the first video you show the archer and the fighter act simultaneously. What happens if the fighter obstructs the flight of the arrow *after* he has moved? In the planning stage this might not be observable as the archers actions could be done before the fighters moves. But in the fight both moves would happen at the same time and then the fighter might be in the way.

      I can see that ranged attack into empty space makes sense when the enemy moves simultaneous with your combatants. Without that it makes no sense anymore to have such a fine-grained angular interface for it. I assume you will reduce it to a selection similar to melee combat, right?

    12. Wouter Cox on

      I was wondering when we would get an update.

      The game looks fantastic and I'm glad to see you are developing the game with such focus and telling us about the problems and decision process.

      The game is looking better every time, I can't wait to play it (but I will ;-) ).

    13. Helena on

      Sorry to hear you couldn't get simultaneous turns to work, but to be honest I prefer the 'traditional' turn-based system anyway. Happy New Year, and hope all goes well in 2016!

    14. Chad Mercer
      Superbacker
      on

      I agree with the others--these changes are for the best, and I'm definitely willing to wait for a great product.

      Keep up the good work!

    15. Stephen "Stoibs" D
      Superbacker
      on

      Huh, guess I must have the last update about wanting to have this all simultaneously. This is good news to me since standard turnbased is all I ever wanted and what I prefer anyway, and after going back and re-looking at the previous update I wasn't really liking what I was seeing there to be honest.

      Looking good, some very nice animations and visuals here. Nice update to ring in the new year :D

    16. Gorchnik von Uberstein on

      This battle system is looking great. Almost wish I pledged enough to try out an early build as it becomes available. I really like what you're doing with your system. Take your time.

    17. Duncan Bell on

      Game is still looking great. I think you made the right choice with splitting up the actions of the player and AI controlled enemies - can totally see that getting confusing and hard to follow in larger battles.

      Keep up the good work! Speaking for myself, and I would wager many others, at the end of the day I want the highest quality game possible, even if I have to wait a while to play it.

      Happy new year and best of luck in 2016.