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A mature, story-driven, turn-based strategy game steeped in viking culture, by three game industry veterans.
A mature, story-driven, turn-based strategy game steeped in viking culture, by three game industry veterans.
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20,042 backers pledged $723,886 to help bring this project to life.

The Huge Beta Update

Posted by Stoic (Creator)

Hello again, esteemed backers! Settle in, this update is gonna be a big one.

We’ve wrapped up Fantastic Arcade with a really solid build of the combat. Now we’re back to work, but first we wanted to give you the rundown on all the progress we’ve made in the last month.

We've got a video covering prizes, interviews, animations, cinematics, music by Austin Wintory, toolsets and a sample of combat gameplay below.

Things have been very busy but honestly couldn’t be coming along better.

Beta is looming and you’re invited - Alpha is officially coming to a close and for Beta we’re going to need plenty of testers, so we’re officially opening the Beta to all of our backers. If you donated at any level you’re in! We’ve got 20k people on the list and we won’t be able to just dump everybody in at once, so we’ll send out staggered invites and keep an eye on the servers, working to get everybody on board. We’re not sure if we’ll take it public or not.

What exactly is in Beta?
As we’ve talked about before, we’ve been working on the single player game since our Kickstarter campaign. Specifically, we’ve been building the combat system first. We’ve taken this combat system and broken it out into it’s own standalone release, which we’re calling The Banner Saga: Factions.

In our first beta release we’ll have a small sample of characters available in pre-made teams and you’ll jump right into a fight with a random opponent. We’ll be constantly updating the beta with new content as it gets built.

Why are you making Factions in addition to the single player Saga?
As we mentioned in Kickstarter pitch, we’ve always intended to release the combat standalone early (we originally predicted “summer”). This helps us achieve several goals - players can get practice combat before the full game comes out, and get good at it. We hope it generates some interest from people who missed the Kickstarter campaign! And it also gives us a ton of dedicated feedback to help us fine-tune the combat for the single player game. It doesn’t hurt that the multiplayer combat is honestly a lot of fun! We hope you’ll give it a try.

What exactly is Factions?
In Factions you’ll match up against other players in 1v1 matches and try to be the last one standing. After each match you’ll gain Renown, which is our currency you can use to buy new units, upgrade your characters and create your banners. You’ll form your party based on creating a strategy that takes advantage of their unique stats and abilities, similar to building a deck in Magic: The Gathering. You’ll see all these characters again in the single player game.

As you win matches, you move up the ranks. We’ll always match you with opponents based on the relative power of your team to try and keep fights are fair and fun. And, we’ll try to work out any problems that come up along the way. That’s what beta is for!

Who can play Factions?
When Factions launches in November it will be free for everyone to play. A niche game relies on lots of players and if only people who bought the full game could play multiplayer the servers would quickly turn into a wasteland. That said, we’ve seriously gone out of our way to make sure that the game doesn’t feel like you have to grind or pay. We designed the combat without a pay model in mind and you’ll never have to pay a cent to enjoy the multiplayer the way we intended. Hopefully that doesn’t bite us in the ass.

We've got a couple ideas on special things we can give to backers that won't affect the balance of the game.

What if I’m only interested in the single player game?
It’s ok, we know competitive multiplayer isn’t for everyone. Give it a try, because we think it’s really fun! You won’t miss anything in the Saga if you never touch Factions. As we create content for the single player game we’ll be rolling it into Factions. We plan to support Factions for as long as people are playing it. While the single player game has been our primary focus, Factions helps us develop that while keeping players involved.

When does the single player Saga come out?
Our initial pitch had an estimated delivery date of November, and as we mentioned in a couple places, when we got nearly 7x that much it definitely affected the scope of the game. Combat has gotten bigger, single player has gotten bigger, the story is expanded and the game simply has a ton of features that we thought we’d have to cut. I am sad to say that we won’t be able to have a finished product by our original $100k estimate.

At this time, Factions is coming out in November. We really want people to have something they can play, and the full Saga is now slated for the first half of 2013. As always, you’ll see every step of our progress along the way and we sincerely hope it’s obvious that we’re working our asses off to make this the best game we can.

How does combat in The Banner Saga actually work?
You may have already seen some descriptions in some game site previews, but In the next two weeks we’ll be putting together a video showcasing exactly how combat functions and what makes it different from other turn-based strategy games. The feedback we’ve gotten so far has been extremely positive and we can’t wait to show you!

Will there be Guild Crests in Factions?
Yes! This was one of the announcements we were really pleased to finally make. When you’re invited to beta we’ll have an in-game interface that allows you to upload your guild crest, sort through all the submissions and actually see it in the game. One of the reasons it has taken so long is because we thought it would be better if you could see them in the context of the actual game instead of an impersonal web page. When you match up against an opponent you’ll see each others crests throughout combat.

Once the system is in place you’ll be able to submit your crest at any time, even if you never log into Factions. In essence, we never want it to be “too late” to submit your crest. In the interface, players will be able to up and down-vote crests and search through the roughly 2000 that will be available based on tags like “axe” or “wolf”. We’re almost there, thank you for your patience!

So how do I get into beta?
Kickstarter is not a system that lets us manage account information. You’ll need to make an account on our website if you haven’t already; this will be your login information for the game itself and allows us to verify that you’re a backer. Luckily, making an account just means signing up for the forums HERE. If you’ve already done this, you’re good to go!

IMPORTANT: Please make sure to create a login with same email address as your Kickstarter account! Capitalization is important! If you've had problems getting backer access through the forums, please contact us.

What’s next?
We’ll be rolling out videos on how combat works in The Banner Saga in the near future. After that we’ll be doing updates detailing individual classes, going into depth about their roles in combat and talking more about the other systems that we’ll continue to develop including travel and conversation.

Lots of work to do but we, quite honestly, can’t wait to get to it!

See you next time!
Alex, Arnie and John


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    1. Chris Opperman on

      Sweet. Just made my account. Looking forward to this!

    2. Broklynite on

      So, I totally missed the bit at the end where it finally detailed that we had to be registered in the forums to get access to the Beta- I was assuming that I'd get an invite as a kickstarter backer without doing that. Can I still get in the Beta?

    3. Adam 'Anouilh' Davies on

      Hi Stoic, any idea when the backers of the $800 tier will get a chance to submit their heirlooms? Also, how will this be done? :)

    4. Missing avatar

      Doymarn on

      Thanks Stoic... it's really taken shape... looking and sounding very good!

    5. David G. Paul on

      btw there's a bug in your site - if you click login without entering any details you get a PHP error... the PHP error is also indicating a potential vulnerability in your site as it's using an eval statement...

    6. Missing avatar

      EOPE42 on

      "We’ll be rolling out videos on how combat works in The Banner Saga in the near future." - I'm so interested in your vision for the multiplayer and combat. :) Really happy you have this coming out soon.

    7. Missing avatar

      Christiaan on

      Thanks for the update, Stoic! I'm really looking foreward to both the multiplayer and the single player game.

    8. FaeTalan on

      I thought it would be a breakthrough fun and fair F2P game, made possible only because it was crowdfunded and not relying on money from greedy suits that would otherwise be forcing you to make the game as exploitative as possible. I thought the only kind of item the player would be able to purchase would be cosmetic items or single-player content.

      “Like we were saying, every time you get a kill, you get one Renown. You can buy Renown if you want to speed up your progress, and that’s it.” – How wrong was I?

    9. FaeTalan on

      For F2P, nowadays, everyone would agree that we have 2 main routes: the Valve route (TF2) and the Zynga route (cough, boosters, cough, oops that was my lung cancer I've just coughed out).

      I've read the RPS article, got in touch with the Renown currency that can be cheated by using real money, and now I know I've pledged for a game that is taking the Zynga route for capitalization.

      Why? Will you introduce that to the single-player game, giving us the "choice" to buy a "Kill'em all weapon" DLC as well?

      "You can buy Renown if you want to speed up your progress" - That sounds very, vey bad.

      Have you already signed the contract offered to you by EA for "turning Banner Saga into a huge F2P franchise with hundreds of millions of fans around the world playing it daily on Facebook, cell phones, tablets, TVs and microwave ovens, spending an average amount of 1.83 dollars per player per year"?

    10. Stoic 2-time creator

      @FaeTalan: We've said from the start that we will be releasing a free multiplayer combat game before the single player game. We've been working hard to put the KS funding to the best use possible and that means a more robust multiplayer game than we were planning on at the cost of a little more time to develop it. Thanks for being patient everyone, but we think it's going to be worth it.
      That being said all of this is being developed for the single player game which is still, even in the midst of shipping Factions, our main concern and is profiting from the KS funding even more than the multiplayer is. We have not yet posted about the development of the Saga (other than the combat you've seen a taste of) but we are knee deep in development on that as well. Systems that do no cross over into Factions at all. People working full time, for months now, in distant lands purely on the Saga. When the time comes we will be talking more about it.
      For right now though we are really pushing hard to get the word out about Factions and we're extremely happy that the media seems to be lining up to talk about it. We hope Factions will be around for a long time to come and we can build on the initially basic game until all the pieces are in place for a turn based strategy game that we can all be proud of which will, in turn, enable us to make perhaps another trilogy after the first? Both feed into each other, the Factions game helps the Saga and vice verse.
      Rock, Paper Shotgun just ran another article on Factions and then soon (tomorrow?) will run one discussing what we told them about the Saga...look for it.

    11. FaeTalan on

      You do know that all your funders know that you've seriously architected some heavy capitalization on the SP game with this "Factions in november, SP campaign in 2013" plan, right?

      I really enjoy the idea of a great and full of heart F2P multiplayer turn-based strategy game, funded by gamers on Kickstarter. But please, do not screw up the SP game and this project as a whole (turning episode 1 into a mildly enjoyable 30 minutes spin-off of the MP game, sold for 5 dollars on Steam, is one of the ways you'd achieve that). You'll be screwing MUCH more than just this SP campaign if you go that way.

    12. Charles Stuard on

      Man, I was tricked! It was only Panel format for the very beginning!!

      That video was great, guys! I loved seeing the editor especially... and I look forward to future combat videos!

    13. Raphael on

      Oh boy, looking at those wonderful posters, I bite myself in the arse for not having backed enough to get one myself. Usually I'm not interested in physical goodies... But these look gorgeous :( Great work!

    14. Rich Murray on

      Lots of info in this update. Great to get the insight of how it's all coming together. Thanks.

    15. Michael Matzat on

      How many people have signed up for the forums anyway? Are there good chances of getting in the beta ASAP?

    16. Erich L. on

      This looks absolutely amazing guys! Far more impressive than I had dared to think. Great work! Thoroughly excited for Factions and for the Single Player later!

    17. Todd Pilkenton on

      The game looks to be coming together splendidly. Can't wait.

    18. Jamie Dutton on

      I have a question. I already have a forum account, but I'm going to have to change the e-mail address I used for Kickstarter in about a week. So is there gonna be a problem with me changing my e-mail on the forum?

    19. Joey D. on

      However long it takes to make it a great game. Progress looks good so far.

    20. Céline .S. Sauvé on

      Looking forward to the beta. I signed into the forums, so I just now wait for an email?

    21. Missing avatar

      AgentMunky on

      I can't create an account on the forums; it just says that I have left a required field blank (I haven't).

      And it appears that I have to create an account to be able to email the administrator about not being able to create an account...

    22. Greg "Scorpio" Myers

      Exciting update Stoic crew! The game is looking fantastic!

    23. Charles Stuard on

      @Stoic - Ah, thanks. I'll try to check out the video... admittedly I stopped watching it when I noticed it was in the panel recording format.

    24. Missing avatar

      JumpingMonkey on

      Hello Stoic!

      The new game footage in the video looks absolutely stunning! I really like the animation feel it has to it - it feels a lot like one of the good old animation movies there used to be. And even better, it is all in a viking-like setting! Very nice work indeed!

    25. Stoic 2-time creator

      @Dominik: We created the tools using a framework called Flex.

    26. Irfon-Kim Ahmad on

      Great update, btw. I'm really psyched about this game. I've backed several Kickstarters now, but I can easily say that this is one of the ones I'm the most excited about. :)

    27. Stoic 2-time creator

      @Irfon-Kim Ahmad: the same email address, which lets us verify it. You don't need to use your real name. I'll fix the update to reflect this.

    28. Irfon-Kim Ahmad on

      When you say, "IMPORTANT: Please make sure to create a login with same information as your Kickstarter account! Capitalization is important! If you've had problems getting backer access through the forums, please contact us.", could you be more specific about what "information" refers to here? The same e-mail address? Or we have to use our real name as our account name on the Stoic forums (and thus in the game)?

    29. Dominik Dalek on

      What UI library do you guys use for your tools?

    30. Stoic 2-time creator

      Sorry, *without* online access.

    31. Stoic 2-time creator

      @Daryl: you only need network access for uploading/receiving crests. You can play the standalone with online access.

    32. Daryl Putman on

      Something like a one-time-key web page for uploads emailed to all backers (downloading the KS backer list) like most projects have done. Also, news to me: an account/network access in single-player campaign?

    33. Stoic 2-time creator

      @Charles: the people featured in this video were our $5k backers. We haven't heard back from one so far.

    34. Charles Stuard on

      Any info on when the $5k prize is happening? I didn't pledge for it, but if they're willing, I'd LOVE to see a feature covering their experience and transformation!!

    35. Stoic 2-time creator

      @TheChosenOne: Thanks a lot, we really appreciate the support! :)

      @Daryl: you'll be able to upload the crest in-game whether you are just playing the single player campaign or Factions but you will need internet access. Otherwise, how would you upload it?

    36. Daryl Putman on

      What of those of us who still want to submit a crest but don't care at all to worry about an account or Factions?

    37. TheChosenOne on

      Just wanted to say you REALLY are for me one of the best and most likely the best example of how a Kickstarter is supposed to be done. Before (basicly the KS on day 1), during and after.

    38. Yousaf Khan on

      Loooooove the graphics!!!

    39. Missing avatar

      dztzcurfdo on

      Which platforms will be able to participate in the beta? If the answer is Windows only, for how long after the release will Linux and Mac users have to wait?

    40. TheChosenOne on

      I guess you would have to see the shadowbox in reallife to really see the beauty.

    41. TheChosenOne on

      Pretty sure just the e-mail but I'll let the official word come from Stoic.

    42. Justin Luk on

      I use Facebook to login to Kickstarter, what username should I be using to sign up to the forums?

    43. Paweł K. on

      I don't mind 3D graphics, but i LOVE 2D, especially if it is done right.
      Looking forward for beta. As for full game - i'm patient person :)

    44. Stoic 2-time creator

      Quick followup to the downvoting: if we see a crest with a lot of down-votes we'll be able to pick out inappropriate submissions more easily.

      With roughly 2000 submissions we're just trying to make things as streamlined as possible.

    45. Archon on

      "we know competitive multiplayer isn’t for everyone"
      Indeed. I hope at least mic and webcam won't be used so we could focus on the game.

    46. Stoic 2-time creator


      Up and down-voting only affects the order they would appear if you sort by "Most popular". Some players will want to see what is generally consider "the best". Otherwise it has no effect on anything.

    47. Anders Mellon Skov Hermansen on

      Starmaker/Celine: I think it is badly worded. Everyone gets to submit their crests, but people will be able to vote on which ones they like, to make searching "better" for people looking for a crest using the search tool.

      It's not like your crest has to get X votes to get in the game - only to make it a popular crest.

    48. Stuart Nicholson on

      Fantastic update. The backers that were rotoscoped into the game look fantastic in the opening sequence. The art style is just spot on. Roll on the beta!