Author Topic: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics  (Read 2696 times)

SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2017, 06:32:32 PM »
Since my last post, we reworked the economic gameplay mechanics in the game, by swapping the roles of Cities and Settlements (now called Towns) a bit and by adding farming. Farms can instantly turn all surrounding tiles into Soil tiles, which become Crops that are consumed at night for profits. This can give a huge boost in income, but farmlands are not worth any points at the end of the game and Crops require the right humidity and temperature to grow; you usually do not get any income in winter because it is too cold.



We also made some changes to structure tiles: capturing them with Rifleman units is easier, producing a unit now costs all of its power, and when destroyed they leave Rubble behind that cannot be built upon. This makes games a lot faster, and hopefully allows for more tactical play rather than just massing units.

And based on feedback from Jubal about a lack of information in-game, we've made the thermometer and hygrometer larger, added tooltips to explain the markings and added little icons that light up when a weather effect such as Firestorm or Gas is active on a tile; these icons have tooltips as well. Hopefully that helps a bit?



All this in version 0.9.1, which can be downloaded here or from within the game by clicking the connection icon at the top right of the main menu.
We're having an online beta test session on Saturday between 21:00 (GMT+1) and 01:00 so hopefully we will get some more feedback from players then.

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2017, 02:43:08 PM »
I'll try and update & get to the test session, not sure if I'll have time though. Best of luck!
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2018, 02:20:23 PM »
Hi all! Development slowed down a bit during the holidays, but we're now two weeks into January so time for some progress!
We've just released version 0.13.0, which should have been 0.12.0; there was a bug in the patcher, so we had to create two new versions just to get everything working again. ::)



I've changed the look of the game with simpler textures and smooth transitions. Hopefully it's an improvement!
Daan worked on adding sound effects to the game so that the action phase feels more exciting.
It also helps with conveying information, I think: gaining income is accompanied with a coin and a little chirp, and not having enough money has a sad version of the chirp that helps it stand out.



Also, the in-game tutorial now has prompts to guide the player step-by-step, and plays on a new map against a new AI.
Gameplay wise, we've made building up and economy more important and made the Rifleman unit less oppressive by reducing its maximum size to 3. Industry and Tanks are also cheaper, but Industry lowers the humidity of surrounding tiles four times as fast as before.
The full list changes can be found in the release notes.

We're having another test session tonight (from 21:00 GMT+1 onwards).
I'm thinking about streaming it on Twitch, but I haven't set it up properly so that might have to wait until next week.

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2018, 08:02:26 PM »
Nice! I really like the smoother tile transitions, especially on grass, though I wonder if cities should retain a straight-edged transition to delinate the move to non-natural space better?

I need to get the new version, but I'm snowed under with work lately :(
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2018, 06:16:25 PM »
We've been busy getting Epicinium on other platforms such as itch.io and GameJolt. This got us a lot more downloads but as a result also a lot more bugs to fix. :P



Besides bugfixes, version 0.16.0 has a completely reworked the weather system. In the old system the temperature ranged from -50 to 100 and the humidity from 0% to 100%. Temperatures would change with the seasons and humidity would drop over time by increments of 5%. Humidity now ranges from 0 to 4 and temperatures has been removed completely; the weather now depend on a combination of the humidity, the current season and the total amount of chaos on the map. For example in Winter all tiles have snow on them, unless they dry out. Firestorm only occurs in Summer and only if 40% of the map has been covered by chaos. The new system is intended to be a bit easier to keep track of and feel less arbitrary.




We've added some more UI elements, such as a player list that shows who the other players are. For observers, it also shows how much money they have, which was something I noticed was really lacking since I've started streaming the playtest session every Saturday on my twitch channel,
I've also started doing some very short featurette videos to explain gameplay mechanics; the first two are about basic combat and Rifleman units respectively. I have a ton more planned but they were a lot harder to produce than I thought, since the one minute recording that you see is preceded by script writing, setting up the levels in the editor and throwing away the recordings that are botched because (a) I misspeak or (b) those damn random damage events keep killing off the wrong riflemen. >:(


Also, we're thinking about adding peacemaking to the game. The idea is that once one of your City tiles is captured, you will have the opportunity to send a peace offer to the other player. During the next planning phase, that player will see the offer you made and can either accept or reject it. Whereas normally the winner gets a number of points and defeated player gets nothing, this would allow the points to be divided amongst both players. If you receive an offer that gets you 75% of the 80 points that you think the map is currently worth, you can choose either to take the 60 points right away or to keep fighting. If you keep fighting for all the points, the destruction of the map might leave you with much less than the 60 points you would have gotten, or your opponent might even make a comeback and you go home empty handed.

I'm curious to know what you think.

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2018, 11:26:10 PM »
The videos are well put together, good job! Sorry I've not been around much, degree is getting hectic.

I really like the idea of the peace mechanic - I guess part of the question is going to end up being how effectively you can get players to care about their points (which presumably carry over between games) as opposed to just whether they win, which is a tricky one. I feel like it may need something to encourage players to get high points beyond just a readout...
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2018, 09:00:47 PM »
Yes, having players care about their score is a big concern for us, especially because the main theme of "At what cost?" relies on the player feeling the consequences even after the game has ended. What we've done so far is have the score affect the players rating points; after every match you lose 10% of your rating and gain 10% of your match score. So if your rating is 30 then you need to score at least 30 points or else your rating will drop. Once we reach more players that have played more than one or two games, we can make this rating system a bit more balanced and add a leader board or something similar.

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2018, 09:06:51 PM »
I think a good touch might be rating-relevant unlocks of some sort - these don't necessarily have to affect gameplay, and indeed probably shouldn't or you'll end up with a "stacking" system where good players just pile up higher and higher ratings, but it'd be good to attack some tangible reward to ratings. I think graphics might be a way to do this: for example, people with higher ratings might get the option of more custom city tilesets to use in games. That'd be a good way to very visibly "show off" a high rating within games such that other players might be more driven to do so, without it affecting gameplay. I don't know if it's possible with your engine particularly, but maybe give it some thought. I think you might need something like that to keep players caring about ratings, anyhow.
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2018, 09:33:14 PM »
Oh that's an interesting idea. Maybe players start with tathered dirty buildings, and the higher their rating the more clean and modern their buildings become. It should definitely be possible technically, although it would of course require investing more time in spriting. I guess if there's a monthly challenge of "get a rating of at least X to unlock the special seasonal city tiles" it would only require a couple of hours each month.

I do worry that it would negatively affect the readability of the game, though. But maybe that's just a problem to solve instead of a reason not to do it.

Jubal

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2018, 02:12:22 PM »
Hm, yeah. It might be challenging, but I think the payoff could be worth it, otherwise I feel like the buzz of "I won" for most players will usually outweigh the "but I could get more points doing X".
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Tusky

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #25 on: March 18, 2018, 08:49:34 AM »
Just had a playthrough on v0.17 - I liked it!


I actually just went straight into a mission without playing the tutorial, and managed to win that so it's very intuitive.


One thing I couldn't tell was how to determine what decided the "initiative" of units - in that sometimes I would send a unit in to attack an enemy unit, but they would occasionally move before me? So I went back and tried the tutorial but it didn't seem to mention it.


Other thoughts:
- Love the pixel art graphics
- Sound effects are cool
- No ambient music?
- Victory effect was very nice
- The tutorial AI seemed to have more units that the easy AI managed to build in my first mission


Very good fun though. I look forward to seeing how you progress  :)
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2018, 01:18:17 PM »
Glad you liked it! ;D

There's no real initiative, just turn order. Both players have a list of orders - you can see yours at the right side of the screen - and the game alternates between the two. So player 1 executes the first order on their list, then player 2 the first on theirs, then the second order of player 1, the second of player 2, etcetera. But because of fog of war, you don't always know whether they gave an order before you or if you were the first player.  We're still debating whether first player advantage should be hidden information or public information. What does matter is that new orders are always appended at the bottom of your list of orders, so it can be advantageous to regive old orders to put them at the back of the queue, so your important attack order goes off first.

Ambient music is something UnarmedLad is still working on (he also did the title screen music). We are planning on having tracks that can fade in and fade out seemlessly so that the music can reflect what is going on; more exciting music during the action phase, more bombastic music when you've built a lot of tanks.

Yeah it might be that the tutorial AI starts out with an extra Rifleman unit, because the easy AI's take a while before they make any units. It's also a bit random because the easy AI might randomly not make units. We haven't spent enough time on building AI's because it is hard to keep updating them every time we rework the gameplay. :P But the next update has a new AI type that I'm eager to show off. It's the first that can make Sapper units and use them to bombard your buildings.

Thanks for the feedback!

Tusky

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2018, 06:15:43 PM »
ohh of course, it's the turn order you assign! I'm a dope  ::)
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SLiV

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2018, 09:53:01 PM »
We've just released version 0.18.0 which adds password-protected accounts, some gameplay changes and a new RampantRhino AI that can upgrade barracks and build sappers.

Writing an account system took a decent chunk of time, but it should reduce the amount of people that had to create a new account every time they switched PCs. Now that the user database is online we can better intergrate it other web systems; next week we will be working on adding a leaderboard. We also have a website now, which links back to our itch.io page, shows how many people are online in the Discord and allows people to subscribe to our mailing list.



Gameplay wise, we made Industry and Barracks require a manual upgrade to increase their size. This should be more intuitive than requiring you to build more Cities nearby, and it allowed us to make Cities cheaper while keeping the cost of upgraded Industry and Barrack very high. We also reworked Frostbite to more interactive. Instead of lowering hitpoints, it now directly deals damage to ground units standing in open fields.



This forces players to have them seek shelter in nearby forests, cities or trenches. Or not, if you decide you have better things to spend your orders on. >:D

Tusky

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Re: Epicinium - strategy wargame with environmental mechanics
« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2018, 08:38:54 AM »
Look forward to checking out the amendments. I never noticed being afflicted by frost bite, does it require a certain number of exposed turns to proc?


New website is looking good. I'll try and join for for a playtest sometime. I'm often doing something then but next time I'm not  :D
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