Dev Blog #20 – Artificial Intelligence and Creating the Tutorial

This is our last dev update for the year. Most of the week was spent fixing bugs and addressing a bunch of corner cases, but we’re adding new things to make the gameplay more interesting plus more visual improvements. We’re also getting a build ready for PAX South, so there are several things we need to mark off our checklist.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

People have been discussing artificial intelligence on our Discord. One of the hardest things in making AI is making it seem human. In strategy games, the challenge is how does the AI make a grand strategy/plan and decide to do something in the game? For Last Regiment, we take a different way of doing it by setting decision-making metrics that the AI can look at. However, you can’t get to this point until you already have a game that’s well put together.

Creating the Tutorial

Another thing that had to wait until now is the tutorial, which we are unable to do until the game exists and the rulesets are defined. In the game’s current state, and with PAX South approaching, we are now starting to build it. It’s very challenging work, especially with strategy games being more complicated than normal games, and with our relatively new turn-based simultaneous mechanic. We have to make a fun and interesting tutorial to make our players think it’s easy and draw them into the game step by step.

What We’ve Changed So Far

1. Added gameplay significance to deep and shallow waters by introducing new naval units, such as the Tentaklor of the Deep and the Giant Diseased Crayfish.

2. Added themed bridges and fords that can be crossed by people and boats.

3. Improved the way structures look to make them more “hex-y”

4. Improved the Choose Your Regiment screen and added faction backgrounds for the cards

Watch the video for a more detailed breakdown.

We’ll continue working on these before the holidays and resume next year. We’ll definitely be busy with conventions in January, but you can always keep updated through our Discord.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

Dev Blog #19 – Visual Improvements and Gameplay Changes

We’ve got some new things this week!

First off, we’ve finally become a Twitch affiliate and the Subscribe button is now live on Boomzap’s official Twitch channel! Subscribers can now get  double the boombux (which gets you into the beta) and we’ve also got some sub-only emotes up.

Back to the game: we’ve made visual improvements and gameplay changes.

Because of the feedback from last time, we’ve changed the way fog of war displayed and replaced our old, blocky user interface. Passive traits, structure powers, and unit abilities are now clearly separated.

You’ll also notice that there is now only one hero per regiment, and we’ve added units from a mercenary faction that can be used in a regiment without hiring a second hero.

We are also playing around with Build and Raze abilities for all units.

We’ve also removed cooldown for powers and made it gold dependent instead.

Watch the video for the full breakdown.

Next week, we’ll be having our last dev stream for the year. We’ve also been doing some silent gameplay streams if you like to check out our multiplayer testing. See you on Twitch!

Dev Blog #18 – Changing our Decision Making and Refocusing our Marketing Efforts

After last week’s update, we looked at some feedback on what the community thinks of Last Regiment, and we began to wonder if the project is worth continuing. We ask some critical questions.

The Funnel of Decision Making

When you think about selling the game, imagine a great big funnel. It starts wide and gets narrow each step.

1. Audience. Are there enough people out there interested in games like this to make a game like this worth making?

2. Awareness. How do we let those people know we are here, and get them interested in our game, and have them come check us out?

3. Curb Appeal (to download). When they get to the Steam page – is this game obviously good enough, quality enough, pretty enough, and obviously what they want enough that they will actually make the download, and open the game and give us a chance?

4. Accessibility. They downloaded it. They started playing. Is it intuitive and easy enough to learn – and interesting enough to keep them amused long enough to play enough to understand, enjoy, and appreciate the core mechanics of the game? Are they going to stick around long enough to ACTUALLY play the game?

5. Conversion. Will they buy it after the demo? Is there enough clear, obvious value in buying the game that they will put the money down to buy? How much? What is that price point? How do we clearly convey the value to them of a full purchase?

6. Retention. They bought the game. Is it sticky/interesting enough to keep them playing? Is it good enough to keep them from the game’s competitors? Will they come back and play the whole campaign? Will they participate in multiplayer? Will they keep playing? Will they bring friends?

If we fail at any of these steps, all of the following steps are not even worth discussing. We take a look at two examples from the games we’ve made: a success story, which is the Awakening series, and where we failed, Legends of Callasia.

What Legends of Callasia looks like.

We apply this to Last Regiment, which is a niche game. So the main question we’re asking now is: who is our audience? We have to know what their interests are and where we can find them.

We realized that most strategy gamers are not on Twitch, so what is livestreaming for us? It is no longer a marketing vehicle, but a testing vehicle. It’s good for driving people to our Discord, get them interested in the development, and talk to them about what they like and don’t like. Getting feedback is extremely valuable and it’s a more realistic expectation of how Twitch can help us.

Rethinking PAX and Refocusing our Marketing

Next month we’re going to PAX South and instead of focusing on getting all of the media to check out our game when it’s not yet complete, we’re considering doing a bigger version of what we did at ESGS – to have people try out the game and get feedback. We learned this from a lecture during GCAP 2017. They also talked about how trailers are very critical in getting people to know the game, which makes us think how we should refocus our marketing efforts.

Big Changes in the Game

We’re also testing out a lot of new ideas in the game. For reference, this is how it currently looks like, and it’s going to have some major changes.

Some of the issues we’re addressing now:

  • Improving the fog of war – make them lighter or replace with tiles
  • Revising the  user interface (UI) so they don’t cover too much of the screen
  • Rethinking the way we show powers to the players
  • Improving the overall look and feel of how we show hexes, how we aim things, and combat animations
  • Redesigning  how factions are handled
  • Reorganizing  some of the powers to better theme the heroes
  • Looking at the way we are building and summoning things

With all these stuff that we’re doing, the game is deeply broken right now. We’re still checking which ones actually work. Some of them could be bad ideas, but we hope we’ll have something to show by next week.