Author Topic: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing  (Read 5367 times)

Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #45 on: May 30, 2020, 05:30:00 PM »
OK, crossing the sea has changed! Now instead of searching for a ship, you just try walking onto the water and it asks you if you want to search for a ship and tells you roughly how long it will take to look for one. I don't like the feel of this as much (I quite like the feeling of having impassable areas on the map that the map actually tells you that you can't cross, it makes the map feel more physical to me), but I do have to admit that it's overall a better system as you no longer have to do a billion searches when stuck on a small island before finding a ship.
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Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #46 on: June 07, 2020, 11:20:25 PM »
I've now got the first rudimentary version of a new quest running. This is the potion making quest, which sets you three randomly selected flowers and asks you to go and get them. Once you have all of them, you make the potion and can choose whether to use it as instructed or not.

There's a lot still to do on it, both adding additional complications for finding the flowers and adding a lot more outcomes at the end of the quest (currently there's only one potion type and it always makes sense to drink it, but I'm thinking some may have more mixed effects and some of the complication moments might allow you to get some hints about what those might be).
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Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #47 on: July 04, 2020, 11:16:31 PM »
Today's work has been fleshing out the companion ability roster. Tomorrow's will likely be the same.

New skills implemented are:
  • Combat stances. An attack and defence skill that allows someone to shift between their standard attack, a mode with +1 attack -1 defence, and a -1 attack +1 defence mode. Given the game's system where you basically have one "defender" and one "attacker" in play at any given time, this is pretty powerful as it means you can shift the unit to specialise in whichever of those 2 roles it's needed in. I might cut this in two and make the "shift to attack stance and back" and "shift to defence stance and back" skills separate, but I quite like how they work together. Currently these stance switches don't cost any resilience points and the skill is available for the minstrel, sergeant, and squire, though I might change that?
  • Trample. This is a squire only skill that gives a damage bonus based on the number of enemies. Good for stomping big blocks of lower grade enemies.
  • Engineer. Your siege times are reduced by a week (min of 1) for each siege engineer you have. Sergeant skill, will also be available for scholar companions if I get round to implementing those.
  • Calm beasts. A defence skill that only works on attacking beasts, for the minstrel and ranger. Reduces your resilience by 1 and the enemy unit's resilience by 2.

I'm struggling with three aspects of implementation for this stuff.

Aspect 1 is simply making up the skills in ways that aren't just "sacrifice a resilience point for a better attack/defence round" - it's easy for me to create skills that are technically different but which the player will just realise are the same trade-off: delivering an automatic critical hit and getting an attack score bonus, for example, technically do have different effects but as far as the player is concerned both just equate to "they hit harder". So I'm going to be experimenting with other things the player can sacrifice to get those sorts of bonuses - their level of control over their troops, and other stats than resilience, for example.

Aspect 2 is the skill lists - do I make them overlap more to make them broader? Overlapping lists mean more possibilities for each individual character, but also make each class of character less unique and make it more likely that there will be redundancy and overlap in some skills. Currently I'm treading a bit of a via media with this, but we'll see where I end up.

Finally, testing, especially in how the AI tries to use a lot of these skills - it's going to be very rare that AI units have these skills so maybe it's not a problem, but the AI process that decides when to trigger skills feels a bit random to me at the moment and I don't have a way of just booting up arbitrary longer battles that would allow better tests. I can generally test that something doesn't crash the game, but whether it works right is harder to say. Testing is easier for the player of course as I then get to trigger the skills myself as needed.

Also every skill makes the code a touch more unwieldy - I'm trying to make them concise, but because each skill has its own separate effects on the combat calculation, they pretty much all need some tweaks made to the "fight a combat round" function, plus the trigger code, etc.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 11:28:41 PM by Jubal »
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Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #48 on: July 18, 2020, 04:33:16 PM »
More skills!

  • Critical Strike if the opponent has higher defence than the attack unit's attack, the defence is treated as being basically the same as the attack unit's attack value. No help against low level troops but extremely useful against monsters and other high defence enemies.
  • Counterattack works similarly to the pikemen's schiltron skill in that it deals damage to the enemy attack unit when they attack, though unlike schiltron the damage is based on standard attack and defence (while schiltron "reflects" a percent of damage done back at the enemy).
  • Stand Alone is an interesting one - the unit gains a +2 defence bonus, which also affects its defence minimum, so no matter how tired it gets, it won't got below def 3. However, there's a catch: once activated, the unit won't move out of position, so you're stuck with it being your defence unit until you win or it dies/flees.
  • Camp espionage is a nice simple bard skill that just gives you a run-down of the enemy force's composition, useful in bigger late game battles when you want to plan how to use up your valuable skills.
  • Entertainer is a noncombat skill that allows a minstrel to occasionally give a +5 morale boost to your forces.
  • Panegyrist is a noncombat skill, also for minstrels, that gives them a percentage chance of giving you an extra +5 relations with a city upon quest completion as they sing a song or give an oration or whatever about your deeds.

I think that's rounded out the minstrel and squire's skill lists quite nicely. I need to add one or two more ways to actually find those character types, I think, and then I've got one more quest to write and then that's my release line :)
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Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #49 on: July 19, 2020, 10:32:16 PM »
Right, a start made on the "landmark" quest, which will be a very varied one as it basically comprises of "spawn a mysterious landmark, something will happen when you get there".

I've done some of the more complicated first half today which is spawning landmarks, though currently I have a system that will break badly if the game generates ten thousand or more of them - but I think that's pretty unlikely, I'd expect that to take about 5000 hours of playing time on a single world, in a game that is usually winnable in under five hours of playthrough time on a given run.
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Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #50 on: October 15, 2020, 05:22:44 PM »
Version 009 is out! Let me know if you'd like a copy :)
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Tusky

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #51 on: October 16, 2020, 08:48:19 AM »
Sure! I'll take it out for a spin
Check out Tourney: The medieval tournament simulator, a PC game I am working on!
Links: Devlog thread here on Exilian | Tusky Games Website

Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #52 on: October 16, 2020, 03:35:10 PM »
In your PMs now :)
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bigosaur

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #53 on: October 17, 2020, 05:30:49 PM »
Hey, I played the game now and made a short video with my first impressions. It's unlisted on YouTube, but I sent you a link in e-mail.

The main takeaways:

  • I feel like amount of money you have should be visible at all time (in top-left corner or whatever). This would also alert me when I need to stop moving around and explore
  • Is it possible for the map to scroll while you move? I often try to go outside of the map and hit a mountain
  • Allow access to information/quests while in a city
  • Consider changing the game to automatically "explore" every time you enter a new tile and pop up some "event" message, which would also include deltas (changes) in coins you have and troop morale. This would give more weight to moving around and make it easier to track the two most important things (money and morale).

Also, I have no idea how to progress east beyond the mountains, but I probably missed something.

Very nice concept, I can see this turning into a very good game.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 12:58:05 PM by bigosaur »

SLiV

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #54 on: October 18, 2020, 04:42:47 PM »
I'd love to try this out if you still need more testers!

Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #55 on: October 19, 2020, 11:38:39 PM »
SLiV: Thanks! Have PMed you a link :)

bigosaur: Thanks, just watched through your video, that was extremely helpful and I really appreciate the feedback!

The big thing you didn't get from not doing the tutorial, I think, was the keyboard hotkeys which are really important to how I envisaged the game being played. E.g. rather than going into the menus you can just hit "Q" for a quests log or "Z" for skills and money or "R" for a quick units log. I think what I need to do there is have the game remind you at game start that you can press "H" for the hotkeys list at any time. Readouts for money etc: I'll have a think about fitting those into the UI and how do-able it is, I do see the point that it'd be useful.

It's actually really important that search area isn't an automatic thing: my idea is that it should be done either a) occasionally when the game prompts you to or you feel like it, or b) if you have something to actively search for. But some things you can find by searching in some quests are quite dangerous to the player, so you need to have the option not to search so you don't run into those things when you're wounded and need to get to a city fast. I'm thinking maybe I should highlight "search area" when there are the "now is a good time to search" events.

I see the point about making the map scroll, I'm not sure I can face rewriting that much of the code to allow that to happen, but I agree it'd be nicer and I wish I'd designed the engine to do that. Maybe someday when I'm feeling brave and want to wrestle with code a lot :)

Regarding the things you were stuck with: the east border is actually a border to the map, the dark mountains/darker sea are always the map edge tiles. I need to make that clearer when you walk into them, I guess. That's also linked to the map size decision you make at game start: a 2x2 map means 2 screens by 2 screens for 4 map areas, the size you had (and has a minimum of 2 cities in it: 3x3 has min 3 cities, 4x4 min 4 cities, etc). I need to do more work to make the 5x5 maps work, they're too big at the moment.

The things I think you needed to do next mainly were to progress with quests. I guess I should tell you what to do and then ask how that should be better flagged up (spoilered in case anyone doesn't want to know how to complete those):
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Anyway, thanks again, that was really really useful :)
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bigosaur

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #56 on: October 20, 2020, 01:55:43 PM »
bigosaur: keyboard hotkeys which are really important to how I envisaged the game being played. E.g. rather than going into the menus you can just hit "Q" for a quests log

Maybe underlining the Q letter in the Quests icon, etc. would be enough to figure it out for most players. Although, if the game can be played with mouse exclusively, I like to lay back and lift my left hand off the keyboard.  :)

I understand that search could be used for important stuff, so maybe give just a regular search popup on every step and keep the Search option as the deliberate one when you want to risk a more dangerous enemy or find something hidden there. As for highlighting, Civilization games have done it right IMHO. When you learn (hear a rumor, etc.) that there's something interesting on a map tile, it adds an icon to it (it's a small hut in Civ IIRC), so you know you can get there. Maybe a simple question mark symbol would be enough.

As for map scrolling, there's an alternative solution, make the map transition when the player enters any tile adjacent to the border tile. That way the player would never walk on border tiles and would always be able to see at least the adjacent ones.

As for 2x2, etc. map selection, maybe a better naming would be to use the actual number of tiles tiles, so 2x2 map would be 10x8 (or whatever it actually is, I'm on a different computer now, so I cannot launch the game to count), 3x3 would be 15x12, etc. This would make it clear that it's the world size.

Now that I realize how small the map is, I would actually give more attention to each particular tile. I was under impression that there was a whole huge world to discover, so I didn't give much weight to any single tile investigation.

Thanks for the tips.

Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #57 on: October 20, 2020, 02:26:30 PM »
Hm, I think search could then get annoying in the later game/when you want to be trying to do a lot of escort missions and have to sift through a load of random stuff. Plus the way search works which I guess I should also clarify is that the game doesn't pre-load the results of searches, and you can search a tile a bunch of times through the game (though you can't do it multiple times in a row) - searching is more "roll the dice on the random generator for this terrain type" rather than "discover this thing I've generated here as part of the map" if that makes sense? I'll have a think anyways.

There actually are some equivalents to the Civ series hut for some quests where the game spawns a special location for you to look for :)
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bigosaur

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #58 on: October 20, 2020, 02:39:11 PM »
Hm, I think search could then get annoying in the later game/when you want to be trying to do a lot of escort missions and have to sift through a load of random stuff. Plus the way search works which I guess I should also clarify is that the game doesn't pre-load the results of searches, and you can search a tile a bunch of times through the game (though you can't do it multiple times in a row) - searching is more "roll the dice on the random generator for this terrain type" rather than "discover this thing I've generated here as part of the map" if that makes sense? I'll have a think anyways.

Maybe I need to play the game more to get a feel of what would be the best way to do it.

Anyway, my comments were all based on initial impressions, and I wanted to get those out before I learn more about the game. Once you understand how the game works, it's impossible to look at it from new player's perspective.

If I knew those 4 screens where the entire world, I would definitely play the game differently. So, maybe it would be enough to communicate that in more clear way?

Jubal

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Re: Exile Princes Closed Beta Testing
« Reply #59 on: October 20, 2020, 03:17:13 PM »
Yeah, I think more notes on the map size screen or more clarity would definitely help there. I'll do some work on that for the next release.
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