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.
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