April Update - No Foolin Around
I want to start by apologizing for last month. I had a couple updates planned after the 1st of March, but our Shards the Deckbuilder announcement went over so poorly that I felt it was best not to spam anyone for a bit.
For Kickstarter updates going forward, we'll stick to just things related to Unsung Story. Also these updates are going to be getting a little dense. I'm exploring ways to balance the information so that backers who want this information can get it, and backers who only want to play the game wont get flooded with too many messages.
April marks an important milestone for us - the end of Pre-Production (mostly).
I'm proud of the team and the hard work they've been putting in. With the exception of Art, we have everything else fairly well mapped out. Art is going a bit more slowly due to some minor changes in direction. We've tried a couple things that didn't work. My goal is to keep working on concepts till I'm happy.
We are going to be planning a Twitch stream of the current build later this month. We will be sending out more details over Facebook, Twitter, and email to the folks who registered on LittleOrbit.com.
We also have our first developer blog going up in mid April. So look for that in the Unsung Story forums on LittleOrbit.com.
This month I've included shots from our latest prototype all through out the update.
The usual caveats apply. This is all work in progress so you're seeing very very rough temp art with an unpolished grid system and temp UIs. To help clarify some of the screenshots, I'm also sharing lots of design elements. Some of this will shift and change as we get further down the road, but here is a quick rundown of where we are at.
Lots and lots of work here. We've been able to further refine the triangle grid mechanics, assess the best size of levels, work with verticality, and try different combinations of players vs. enemies.
This first shot is from our test level based on a map in Mission 7 near a small fortress where the player's objective is to capture an enemy unit. It illustrates that we have reduced the overall size of the level from previous screenshots. The red areas are placeholder "ladders" which allow you to travel up to higher areas. Elevation in the map gives specific advantages and disadvantages.
We're on the 2nd complete draft of the design. It's currently well over 100 pages. All 20 classes have been created, named, and assigned skills to give them a unique role in any party. We've tried to simplify what worked in Final Fantasy Tactics without sacrificing any depth. We also have in initial class tree and progression mapped. Remember these classes are split up across the 4 schools that we've announced: Technology, Mana, Divine, and Nature.
This feels a bit unceremonious, but you'll see plenty of references in the screenshots this month, so I figured it was fine to spoil them all now anyway. I'll let you guys try to figure out which ones go to each school.
Here is the complete list of classes:
- Sellsword: Mercenaries unbound by specialty, Sellswords are useful in several areas, but are masters of none. This is one of two beginning classes, along with the Physician. The Sellsword is used to teach players a few basic mechanics for melee combat, but also touches on some more metagame functionality such as boosts. They use Short Swords & Shields.
- Physician: The player begins the game with the Physician unlocked, but it serves to teach them more advanced mechanics, such as ranged attacks, the use of items and cross-class abilities. Even though they start off weak, Physicians are capable of combining their items to create new effects. This becomes especially important in the late-game, where advanced items can only be created by combining two lesser items. They use Slings.
- Guardian: Guardians stay at the front of combat, defending key choke points and fortifying their allies from harm. Stalwart warriors that protect those they deem worth protecting (which, incidentally, can include themselves). They use Long Swords and Shields .
- Archer: Archers are a simple but effective long-range attacker, capable of striking distant foes with ease. The backbone of any successful army. Archers are able to fire further from high ground, which allows them to out-range opposing Archers. This means the ideal situation for a Archer is to be on high ground, with friendly units fortifying them from melee enemies. They use Longbows.
- Plague Weaver: These guys represent a power that humans would sooner choose to forget—rot, disease and decay. They are all about debuffing the opponent’s entire team from anywhere on the map. These debuffs are typically less likely to hit than one that’s focus-cast on a single target, but the added benefit of affecting multiple enemies at once can alleviate the risk.
- Elementalist: Elementalists focus on magical power in its most pure and destructive form. They deal lots of damage to single-targets. They use Staves.
- Sharpshooter: The Sharpshooter sports a unique tool—known as the Infusion Rifle. They use nearby tiles to infuse their rifle and fire bullets with specific effects.
- Necromancer: Necromancers are masters of death, of others and of themselves. They utilize corpses and debuffs. Necromancers can regain Health and Focus from enemy corpses, make them explode and even raise them as minions. They use Scythes.
- Spellbreaker: Spellbreakers are powerful anti-magic tanks, capable of absorbing magical damage. They should be paired up to protect allies that are vulnerable to magic attacks, or used to hunt down enemy magic users to end them quickly. They use Two-Handed Maces.
- Cavalier: The Cavalier is a "civilized" tank class who focuses on avoiding damage. The rapiers they wield have naturally high weapon evasion stats, allowing them to easily parry incoming blows. They also have some options for moving other units around the battlefield. They use Rapiers.
- Scout: The Scout infiltrates enemy lines, sneaking up on a vulnerable backline enemy and finishing them off before the enemy team can react. They’re also capable of stealing equipment, which makes them essential versus powerful units, such as some bosses. Stealing isn’t easy, but results in not only disarming the opponent, but giving the stolen equipment to the player’s party. They use Daggers.
- Priest: Priests are zealous wielders of healing magic, able to appreciate the value of life and taking measures to ensure it is preserved. They are backline support casters, keeping their allies healed through combat. They use Rods.
- Berserker: Powerful—and possibly insane—the Berserker is a powerhouse in melee combat. They lose their wits as readily as they take lives, so must be guided with a cautious hand. They like to get up close and personal, taking heavy hits and dealing them in return. The Berserker focuses on buffing himself, then using special abilities that benefit from those buffs to deal damage, debilitate foes and keep himself alive. They use One-Handed Axes.
- Wildlord: Wildlords are capable of learning the abilities of monsters they encounter and wielding these strange powers to great effect. They focuse on using Monster Skills, which means they have a great variety of skills to use in combat. However, they lack a specific tactical focus, instead serving to fill in holes in the team. They use Glaives.
- Saboteur: These guys should rush ahead of their team, place as many traps as possible and then retreating to safety. Once behind allied lines, they can pelt the enemy team with bombs, dealing decent ranged damage in an area. They use Hand Bombs.
- Shadow: Shadows are the unspoken and unseen hand of fate. They operate by inflicting themselves with status effects, then passing them on to foes and finishing them off with Killing Blow. They use a Sickle and Chain.
- Disciple: A Disciple is able to fight at close range, keeping his allies alive while dealing respectable damage. They have unusual ranges for all of their abilities, and are able to attack two squares away. They use Bo Staves.
- Echo Knight: Echo Knights wield an unusual and incongruous power, warping the very fabric of space around themselves and their foes. They are able to move around the battlefield quickly and easily, ensuring they reach the best possible position to hold the enemy back. They use Two-Handed Swords.
- Sword Speaker: These guys unite the arts of swordplay and spellcraft. Sword Speakers practice with all swords and have the ability to summon a magic version of any blade they have previously mastered.
- Librarian: The Librarian focuses on speeding up the player team and slowing down the enemy team, allowing players to perform devastating attacks with much less risk of missing. If you've been following our forum updates, then you'll know Librarians are part of the lore and are part of the core storyline. They use Tomes.
Here are some shots of several skills we're playing with:
STATS & CALCULATIONS:
We've done more work on how stats are calculated behind the scenes and how raising a unit’s level increases these stats. While the numbers are prone to change throughout development, the equations should remain the same from here on. We are also starting to work through how to share this information with the player including the Stats/profile inspector, Turn queue, Character selection and other things like how items display info on the shop depending on what characters you currently have.
Here are the key character stats that we have decided on:
- Strength: determines physical damage with most weapons.
- Intelligence: determines the power of most abilities and some weapons.
- Speed: determines how frequently a unit acts.
- Agility: partially determines evasion rates and partially determines the damage of Agility Weapons.
- Health: determines how much damage a character can take before they’re killed.
- Focus: determines how many spells a character can cast before needing to restore their Focus (our version of magic power).
- Natural Strength: a character’s starting strength based on several factors.
- Natural Intelligence: a character’s starting intelligence based on several factors.
ITEMIZATION & EQUIPMENT:
We've got a solid Weapons List. It isn’t finalized, but its a good first-pass. There are a few major things we are still working out. The biggest are the special effects of some weapons and how to limit their power. There's a scythe on the list that I'm rather partial towards. It helps you regenerate Focus every time a unit on the battlefield dies. We've also spent some time working through the consumable items. This is useful for the engineering team to start on implementation of the Physician, who can make consumables.
SCREEN FLOW & WORLD MAP:
Lots of work nailing down each screen in the game and the flow between them. This flow helps us visualize where the player will be spending the majority of their time in game.
We'll be revealing a couple special things about the World Map in updates to come.
SHOPS & RECRUITING:
Again not quite final, but it’s getting close. We are working out where and when its okay to access the shops, some more information on armor/accessories and the cost of items. We've spent quite a bit of time working through recruiting new units. We are currently designing for permadeath with any non-Story character units. This means that when they die, you'll need to replace them.
Additionally each potential unit that you can recruit will look different. Their appearance is randomly generated to provide a lot of fun visual diversity - something that Final Fantasy Tactics couldn't do with their units due to the 2D sprite implementation.
STORY & LEVELS:
We have completed bubble maps for nearly all of the levels in all of the chapters. The designers have gone through each one and identified the location, story character requirements, and primary objectives. I'm starting to see "gray box" layouts for various maps which gives us an opportunity to get them up and running in the prototype as quickly as possible.
Gray box layouts are a bit more detailed than what you're seeing in our prototype shots. These are much less blocky and have actual level geometry.
That's it for now! Hope everyone enjoys their time off.
Thank you for your continued patience and support.
Sincerely, Matthew Scott