All posts by lastregiment

Dev Blog #12 – Road to ESGS 2017

Starting this week’s dev blog with some fun news: we’re bringing Last Regiment to the game conventions!

Upcoming Conventions

  • E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) – The first showing of Last Regiment will be on October 27 to 29 in Manila, which is the spiritual home of Boomzap (with most of our staff composed of Filipinos). This is the biggest gaming event in the Philippines, and would serve as a great testing ground in knowing what players like and don’t like
  • PAX South – Happening on January 2018 at San Antonio, Texas, this would be our great reveal of the game to the worldwide press after all the improvements based on the feedback we would be receiving during ESGS.

Convention Preparations

Most people don’t see how much work goes on behind conventions. Here’s what we’re planning for our booth in ESGS.

We had one of our artists come up with the design for the panel walls and fascia boards, and we had to keep in mind where we wanted to place our tables and equipment.

Usually we bring our own banners and have to worry about where to place them in the booth that’s not blocking anyone, but luckily the organizers at ESGS allowed us to have our design on the wall itself. It’s also more convenient for us that we don’t have to make the materials ourselves and haul it over from wherever we had it made. It can also be very costly.

The other thing you have to think about is: what do you want to achieve at the show? Since we’re not selling the game yet, what do we want the players to do? For now, it’s all about the mailing list. The goal is to have them sign up, so we can let them know when the game is ready. Since most people are not willing to give out their personal info, we have to find creative ways to make them interested.

There are also some dangers in showing your game at a convention, especially when you still have a very rough build. The media is not that great in knowing how deep a game is in development, and may not be as forgiving on what they see so far. There is a minimum bar of quality that you have to hit, but you have to balance it out against showing it too late that you don’t have enough chances to make changes. If you wait until it’s finished before letting people know about it, then you miss out on the ramping up time where you can get them involved in the development. You have to ask yourself: is this game good enough to be shown but still early enough to allow me make meaningful reactions based on feedback from show?

However, if you want to be at a convention like PAX, you have to reserve a booth around three months in advance. We don’t know what shape the game is going to be by then, so it’s almost like a bet if we’re ready to go by then or not. Developers would like to think that they know, but they don’t know. So there’s a chance you’ll be at a show with something that’s not yet ready for public consumption. That’s the struggle not just for us, but for many developers. You also have to hope that you are surrounded by other great games in the area where you are in, since this increases the chances of press and convention-goers going to that area and seeing your booth.

Game Changes

So in preparation for ESGS, here’s what we’ve been doing in the past two weeks:

1. The Choose a Regiment screen has a revised UI, but still uses some placeholder art. The faction icons are now located in one row on the right, and you’re now able to rearrange the units you’ve selected. The first one on the list would be the first one to be automatically summoned at the beginning of the game.

2. New borders have been added, so maps now have a solid edge.  This means some of the hexes are cut in half, making them not reachable. You can only go to spots next to them.

3. On the regiment bar, units which you can’t afford yet are now crossed out.

4. We’ve added in the concept of heavy vegetation killing the line of sight. We still need to test out if this is fun or not.

5. Before building a structure on ruins, you can choose to explore it first for a chance to earn resources… or experience other bad things.

6. Area-of-effect powers can now be placed on a hex, instead of restricting them to enemy units, which means you can anticipate where your opponents will move next and attack them on that spot.

7. Several character portraits are being revised. This includes our main character, Olivia. Here’s what she looks like now on our main menu. By next week she’ll be wearing something new!

We’ll share her new portrait on the next dev blog, and keep you posted on the progress we’ll be making.


Dev Blog #11 – Challenges in Game Development

This week we’ll talk about some of the challenges we face as developers. How do we make our fantasy game different from others? How do we make all of the game elements consistent and coherent? What features and platforms should we focus on?

Before we talk about what we’ve been working on, we’d like to take a step back to discuss the lore of the game again. Some have been wondering why there are a variety of units and how they all go together, so we’ll start by going over the history of Kothia, where the game takes place.

Behind the Lore

When we made Legends of Callasia, we were focused on creating a solid one to two hour multiplayer experience with simultanous turns and missed out on building the story. It was predominantly based on multiplayer, and won’t do well when you don’t have enough players, thus shortening the game’s lifespan. There is a cycle of a) needing a certain number of players to make the game fun, and b) if the game is fun, you’ll get  more  players. We eventually had many dedicated users, but it was not enough to power the game.

For Last Regiment we knew we had to do something different in order to generate the audience. We realized that in LOC, there’s a silent minority who didn’t play multiplayer but instead played the single-player campaigns. This is where we should start: to build a world, set its foundation, and write the story.

So the questions were: Where do we draw from? How do we get started? We needed to find a year, and usually, the characters, technology and culture in normal fantasy is based on the middle ages. But we did want to follow  the typical stereotypes that every other game already has. We’re still sticking to the genre, because the team is good at beautiful fantasy art.  So what if we changed where we pinned the history instead of moving away from fantasy?

We decided to choose a much later period and a quite advanced year in history: 1772. There was more scientific development; there were trading companies, colonization, and nationalization. What if we had that history in a world where magic did exist? How would elves, orcs, and goblins deal with all these new technology, culture, and social structures? What do armies look like? What weapons would they use?

In Last Regiment, we call this period The Reconquest. The world is composed of a number of continent, the biggeest one being Kothia, which is similar to the Roman Empire. There were massive wars that involved magic, summoned spirits, infected creatures, constructs , and more. There is a massive apocalypse and civilization is largely destroyed.

Humans fled to the old world until centuries later when they decide to reconquer the continent with better technology and tools to fight back. This is the setting of the game. You as a player will have to go back and explore this new world.

Gameplay Changes

And so here’s what we have been working on in the past two weeks.

  1. We scrapped mana and decided to stick to only one type of resource for the game.
  2. We’ve been testing the concept of hard points, which does make the game more interesting and offers a lot more strategy, but we’re not yet happy with the actual types of structures you can build. We made so many art and animations for these buildings earlier and we’re not sure where to use it. We built the assets too fast and some of them don’t make sense anymore, so we’ll have to revisit them.
  3. We tweaked some of the data and rebalanced some of the units. Making them have higher HP made a positive difference in the game: they now last long enough, but are more expensive and take longer to build. You as a player would now spend more time trying to keep your units alive, instead of churning them out and letting them die endlessly. You have to learn to manage units better, and this accelerated the pace of the game.
  4. We changed how the fog of war works, revised the visual presentation of effects, and continued fixing some of the art and user interface.
  5. And some other bug fixes!

Artistic Coherence

One of the things that makes a polished game look really polished is artistic coherence. It’s the developers willingness to stop and make it something that it needs to be. For example, we have reasonably good art for the hero Tristan, but it looks visually different from the rest of the art in the game, such as the Chainsaw Shocktrooper (aka elf with the chainsaw).  We can’t have both art that are aesthetically different from each other, and this is an expensive decision to make. This is one of the realities of game development: there’s always going to be something that comes up that you didn’t expect that you have to come back to and have it redone. Even if it doesn’t affect the gameplay, the extra level of polish makes a difference.

Multiple Resolutions and Cross-Platform Support

Multiple screen support is something you don’t usually think about. When developing games, you must keep in mind that changing resolutions could cause the user interface to be misaligned. There are two things you have to look at: the scale (bigger or smaller) and the ratio (widescreen, etc.). You need to go through each of the different elements of the user interface and decide where you want them aligned – to the center or on the edges of the screen. What if some players want the elements in the same size? What about retina size?

Meanwhile, there’s the concept of supporting the game on multiple platforms. There are features that are desktop-specific and tablet-specific. There are things on the PC such as hotkeys and mouseover highlights which are not available on a tablet, which is touchscreen. You need to focus down on your audience in order to know which platform-specific features to address. For Last Regiment, we’ve decided to make it PC-centric.

Focus on Single Player

As mentioned earlier, another thing we’d like to focus on is the single player campaign. We had players in Legends of Callasia that were vocal about wanting everything immediately unlocked when they get the game, instead of having to play the campaigns to unlock more content. This created a created knock on effect. What’s the point of single player now? Suddenly it became meaningless, and this is a mistake we want to avoid in Last Regiment. There is pleasure in working hard to unlock something, and the sense of completion is compelling for most players.


Dev Blog #10 – On Data Management and What We’ve Changed So Far

Aside from our progress based on the discussion two weeks ago, today we shared some game development tips on how we manage our data using Microsoft Excel. As we said in a previous entry, we make use of spreadsheets as a repository for all the data that drives the game, so that it would be easy to manipulate and export into LUA files that the game actually uses.

Naming and Localization

An Excel file would have various tabs that relate to various things that are in the game, such as Minions. Each piece of data is related to one object in the game and follows a specific naming convention. For example, a creature called Tusked Apes in the game would be named “fact02_unit02”, since it’s the second unit in the second faction. We’d have records for “portrait_fact02_unit02”, “icon_fact02_unit02”, and so on. This allows us to quickly change things (like rename to Angry Apes?) without having to go through each of the records. It’s easier to cross-reference.  But in terms of powers, we went the other way and decided to be more straightforward. We follow “pow_mountedguns” or “pow_invisibility” as our naming convention, but it’s still a systematized and reasonable way of naming and understanding things. This also makes it easier for us to localize the text later on.

Unit Stats and Costs

In terms of assigning units stats, we rearranged the data sheets and implemented a new two-level data management system in the last few days. We have base stats for Attack, HP, and Movement which are scaled in reference to each of the units. This is the first step in balancing: how strong or how weak compared to everyone else do we want our units to be? The next step is to say: how strong do I want attacks to be in general compared to everything else in the game? Then we’d multiply it by a constant to get the actual stats that we see.

After some playtesting we get two kids of feedback: 1) If a unit is too strong or weak, we change that unit’s base stats. 2) If a player thinks that attacks take too long or are too weak, then we change the constant so that all units become stronger. This way we can very quickly make adjustments, especially when we add more units in the future.

We use the same system in deciding the unit costs. How much do we think control points should be worth relative to others, and in general? We first created a basic rule that we can later on adjust when we know which powers are stronger or weaker than others. The formula is based on all the stats for each unit, rounded up to the nearest multiple of 5, to make it easier for players to remember.

Gameplay Changes

We spent some time adding in a lot of building types in the game with various fun abilities. However, we realized that it was less fun to have more stuff. We want players to make great, important decisions, not a  thousand little tactical decisions. So we reduced the number of buildings with a substantial difference compared to the others.

The way buildings work now is that you can only build on a hard point if you have a unit with a build ability. All heroes can build, but there are some units such as Highborne engineers who also have the same ability. However, they can only build one kind out of the four racial building types (Human, Highborne, Goblin-Orc, and Kobold). These buildings can be upgraded along the racial type’s build chart.

We’re also adding in the concept or portals. Before, we had a rule about only being able to build on cities and ports which no one understood. These would now be removed from the game, and replaced with Portals.

We’ve also added a bunch of little changes, like additional animations, art changes, and updated UI.

Meanwhile, we’ve realized that most of factions that are too similar and have the same unit types. One of the things we should change is to create factions that have specific strengths and weaknesses.