Author Topic: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics  (Read 2246 times)

SLiV

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Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« on: October 21, 2017, 05:32:44 PM »


Hi everyone! I'm Sander, one half of the development team that is creating Epicinium.

Epicinium is a strategy wargame where your impact on the environment matters; at the end of a match, the winner is scored for how much of the map is still covered with grass. Machinegunners trying to hit the enemy soldiers might just miss and mow down some trees. Do you capture your enemy's cities so you can control them, or do you just bombard them to kingdom come? Do you let your citizens enjoy the forests that surround your city, or do you cut them down to dig trenches? It is possible to take a less destructive approach, but can you afford to? Building industry gives you more money to work with and access to powerful tanks, but it also increases global warming to ludicrous levels. If you win by having your enemy's half of the map ravaged by firestorm, did you really win at all?

Our initial inspiration was "Advance Wars with environmental mechanics", but the gameplay is quite different because of the simultaneous turns: during the planning phase each player assigns up to five orders to their units, and during the action phase the players' units alternatingly execute these orders. This adds a surprising amount of depth where you have to anticipate your enemy's moves and attacks, because your bombardments might miss or your units might get shot halfway before getting to their destination. And beyond that are the environmental mechanics like collateral damage, seasonal temperature changes, ground pollution and global warming.

Daan and I started working on this game somewhere around May this year, and we're developing for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux with cross-platform multiplayer.
We're currently looking for betatesters during our open beta. Because our main focus is multiplayer, we've set up a Discord server for players to find opponents. The latest binaries can be downloaded here.
If you're interested, we've written a short tutorial page because we don't have an in-game tutorial yet. More extensive information on the mechanics can be found on the wiki.



I'm really curious what you think!

GitHub | Discord | Facebook | Twitter
« Last Edit: November 23, 2017, 05:50:47 PM by SLiV »

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2017, 10:56:58 PM »
Ooh, this looks really nice, and it's a good concept :) I'd be very happy to do a few bits of testing for windows-version, though I can't do super much at the moment due to lack of time.
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2017, 10:43:56 PM »
We've just released version 0.7.0, which features an overhaul of the lobby screen to make it more usable, as well as the addition of online AI opponents, observer mode and the ability to watch replays of old matches. The full release notes can be found here. We're approaching a more open beta so we're continuously looking for more playtesters. Let me know what you think!



Ooh, this looks really nice, and it's a good concept :) I'd be very happy to do a few bits of testing for windows-version, though I can't do super much at the moment due to lack of time.
Thanks! Daan just played a match against someone from Exilian, was that you? If so, thanks a lot for the feedback you gave!

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2017, 11:25:18 PM »
No, it wasn't me, I've been head down working on my own projects mostly lately... I'm now wondering who it was, glad we're sending folk your way! :)

I gave this thread a plug in our October newsletter, btw, so hopefully that's a small help :)
https://exilian.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=5397.0
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2017, 04:00:52 PM »
Thanks for the mention! Some interesting stuff in this month's issue.

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 04:39:15 PM »
Yeah, it's a fun thing to put together and track projects as they go :) (I basically put whatever projects have updated themselves in each month, with the caveat that I avoid putting any project in two months consecutively). Then we do separate frontpage announcements for kickstarters and major releases etc.
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bigosaur

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2017, 08:43:56 PM »
Hey, I've seen the logo you posted on Reddit.

https://i.imgur.com/pCW6LLS.gifv

Looks pretty good. I assume the top represents fire and bottom the ice?

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2017, 11:38:45 PM »
^ Ditto what bigosaur said, it looks good! :)
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2017, 03:28:02 PM »
Thanks!

I assume the top represents fire and bottom the ice?
Yeah, since global warming in our game causes extremely hot summers alternated by extremely cold winters. Perhaps a bit literal but I think it gets the idea across. I want to increase the pixel density and animate the flames, because I just upscaled the logo I made the week before, but I haven't had time for that yet.

SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2017, 08:52:50 PM »
We've just released version 0.8.0, the first public beta version. We have a playtest event coming up on monday, and I'm really anxious to get more eyes on our game. :P



In this version, the game keeps track of players' rating points to give the end of game score more impact, and any future versions can be downloaded by the game itself. Also, Tank units destroy grass and trees as they move. Yay destruction!

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2017, 07:49:18 PM »
Finally downloaded and played the game tutorial/demo level :)

It looks really good, and most of the controls are pretty easy to work out/intuitive - I felt I got the hang of it pretty quickly, though I could see that a lot of the possibilities it opened up were complex, which is definitely a good sign. I'd probably have liked an easier way to re-order new actions in the sidebox. I didn't test the sapper or gunner much - it felt like riflemen were usually the sensible option as they didn't seem to cause so much environmental damage generally.

I felt I was a little confused about what the environmental effects were doing exactly. I could see mountains going black, presumably with pollution, and fields going brown and messed up. I'd have liked an easier way to tell what this all meant and its gameplay or score effects though. Maybe an alternative cursor option where mousing over a tile would give a more detailed little note on what it meant/current effects?
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2017, 09:55:14 PM »
Thank you for the feedback! Glad to hear the controls were intuitive; the controls being confusing was the biggest complaint of an earlier version until I swallowed my pride and threw away "my system". Rearranging orders by dragging them is definitely on the todo list, but it keeps getting postponed in favor of other stuff.

Mountains are not turning black, they are just losing their snow due to a drop in humidity. The grass colors change with temperature and humidity, but they don't matter until it turns to dirt. Scorewise we tried to keep it simple: tiles with grass on them are worth 1 point, tiles without are worth nothing. But that is only explained outside the game (in release notes and in the wiki) so it is probably a good idea to show it in-game as well; Daan suggested adding a little overview at the end where a heart pops up out of each grassy tile one by one as the points are being tallied.

We tried to keep the amount of text and numbers on the screen to a minimum in favor of visual cues, but maybe that is not feasible because it is impossible to recognize the visual cues without already knowing the underlying mechanics. Conversely some visual differences (the different tree types or, like you said, grass changing colors) are just there to reflect temperature and don't affect the gameplay at all. Did you see/use the thermometer and hygrometer at all? I was already considering making them larger, but maybe I should also add for example a snow icon that lights up when your mouse is on a snowy tile and that has a tooltip explaining that snow slows down your units movement.

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2017, 10:03:13 PM »
I think for general gameplay the screen as is looks good: I feel like what I'd like is the option (perhaps whilst holding a key down, or with a separate "query cursor" selected) to mouse over a tile and see e.g. "Snow Field: Score 1, Slows Movement" or "Mud Field: Score 0" or whatever. I don't think I'd want the tooltips to be coming up just as I was mousing over things normally - it may get intrusive that way.

I did see the thermometer and hygrometer, I wasn't really sure how if at all I could use them though: like with the tile types, I could tell that they were telling me stuff, but wasn't sure how to incorporate that into how I was playing at all.

I'd strongly suggest making the snowless mountain tile a less dark shade of grey and/or making the base of the tile below the mountains a different colour to the slopes. I just assumed there was some kind of pollution thing going on because they looked so black.
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2017, 12:27:55 PM »
I feel like what I'd like is the option (perhaps whilst holding a key down, or with a separate "query cursor" selected) to mouse over a tile and see e.g. "Snow Field: Score 1, Slows Movement" or "Mud Field: Score 0" or whatever.
Oh I think I remember Age of Empires 1 having a help funtionality like that. But I fear our mechanics might be too complicated already for that to work; we'd have to upload half our wiki into the game. :P

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I don't think I'd want the tooltips to be coming up just as I was mousing over things normally - it may get intrusive that way.
I was thinking of a tooltip that only appears if you hover the icon specifically, like there is when you hover over the phase icons on the bottom of the screen.

Quote
I could tell that they were telling me stuff, but wasn't sure how to incorporate that into how I was playing at all.
That's a very good point. We're still working out how to get players to play with the environmental mechanics in mind, instead of the weather just being something that "happens", and getting the right kind of information across might be the biggest hurdle in that respect.

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I'd strongly suggest making the snowless mountain tile a less dark shade of grey and/or making the base of the tile below the mountains a different colour to the slopes. I just assumed there was some kind of pollution thing going on because they looked so black.
I'll definitely do that. I've been thinking about reducing the palette somewhat, maybe make the colors of the dirt and mountains more desaturated grays and browns so the green of the grass pops more. Because the green vs. non-green distinction is much more important than dirt vs. mountain.

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2017, 02:52:40 PM »
I don't think you need every mechanic explained that way, and you certainly don't need to attach the exact numbers to everything (which is what I'd look for in a wiki) but a general idea I don't think should be too hard to tooltip that way. And yeah, I guess a hover-tooltip might work - something to test anyway :)
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