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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 #5 – Choose Your Regiment + Multiplayer

Two weeks after our previous update, we went live for the first time with a multiplayer game of Last Regiment! It’s still far from done, with a bunch of placeholder art and broken things that we already know about.

We also realized that we haven’t done an intro about the team yet. Some of us also worked on Legends of Callasia. We have:

  • Chris, designer and Creative Director from Japan
  • Adrian, also known as “Tentaklor”, our coder in Malaysia
  • Ben, animator and artist from Malaysia
  • Artists Edwin, Erwin, and Jun from the Philippines (plus Karen who occasionally helps out with the UI)

That’s the core team, but we also have back-end support from Allan (Technical Director), JD (coder), and Monika (Marketing).

We also share a brand new screen – “Choose Your Regiment”.  One of the big parts of the game is all about building some sort of deck or regiment. This is still a first cut of this screen which still used black squares with text for their internal names, which we’ll replace with pretty art sooner of later.

When you build a regiment, you can choose units from up to three factions (Note: The limit is not yet working in the game, so you’ll see us choose factions from multiple factions in the video.) There are various factions to choose from:

  • Redkeep – A massive fortress city set on the edge of Kothia where the local Highborne (elves) and Portellian colonial powers (humans) work together to begin their reclamation of the ancient land.
  • Ivoria – A wizarding city deep in the jungle where mages and beasts (such as the monkey warriors), are led by dark, powerful sorcerers
  • Silverwood – An overgrown wilderness which was once the home of the ancient Highborne kingdom, now filled with Woodspawn spirits summoned by the vengeful Moonpriests
  • Darktalon – A deep, dark forest inhabited by ferocious, magic-hating Goblins.
  • Polliva – A large and powerful fleet coming from a great capital across the sea
  • Ruma – A rough port of sailors, traders, swashbucklers, and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of the Portellian Empire

These are the first six factions, and we’ll add more later on as we build the game and get it working.  Each faction comes with heroes, which are super powerful, heavy-duty units. Each faction is limited to one hero (for now – maybe later we’ll add a special faction with more than one hero?)

Once you’ve created your regiment, you can just save and exit. When you go to the Multiplayer screen, you can choose which regiment you want to use then host/join a multiplayer game.

Watch the video below for our multiplayer playtest with Ben, and also do a bit of Q&A with our viewers. (Warning: Lots of placeholder art and bugs.)


Dev Blog #3 – Making tiles, designing UI, and more game info

How do we make a game from nothing to something? We use a bunch of editors we build ourselves, and other tools that are generally available.

Our Hex-Editing Tools

Believe it or not, one of the biggest tools we use is Microsoft Excel. It’s a great management tool to put a bunch of data in one place and do automatic computations. We also use SVN, a repository system that allows us to control file revisions and easily revert to previous versions if needed. We use it is to keep the most up-to-date files without worrying about getting overwritten.

In this week’s stream, we shared how we made the individual hex tiles used in creating the maps in the game. The artists make different base terrain tiles and decals using Photoshop, then they have to be tagged properly on Excel. Each tile has to look different to make sure there is no ugly tiling. It takes a lot of work to make different kinds of tiles and decals, but this also makes it easier for the player to make their own maps, and also faster for us to rebalance levels and release more content. (Watch in dev blog video #3.1.)

As mentioned in the video, we also follow strict naming conventions to make it easier to localize into different languages later on.

In-Game User Interface

This week, we also made a mock-up of the in-game screen, which we’ll start to implement soon. (Discussed in dev blog video #3.2)

On the top left: regimental colors, player info, chat menu, scoreboard, hex grid toggle, settings menu

On the top right: number of units without assigned moves, resources, turn counter, end turn button (which turns green after all moves are assigned)

On the bottom left: active unit, HP and ATT stats, number of moves, powers and costs, buffs and debuffs

On the bottom right: the regiment bar – select 10 units that you can summon on the map at the start of the game from up to 3 factions, which you can save as a regiment and assign its regimental colors

How to Win

There are different game objectives depending on the mode and game settings. (Starts at 4:08 in dev blog video #3.2)

Campaign mode: Has specific victory conditions depending on story or lore such as to take over a particular building, survive in X number of turns, defeat a certain unit, build X units, collect X amount of gold, etc.

Multiplayer mode: Let players set up victory conditions at the start of the game ad create different gameplay modes. By default, you have to defeat all your enemies and take all their structures so that they can’t summon any more units.

Structures

So far we have built prototypes for different kinds of structures and the powers that they have, then one of our next tasks is to put it in the game and test to see if it’s fun or not.  (Starts at 5:38 in dev blog video #3.2)

Units can take over structures and take on the structure’s properties. We also use these structures to give the maps a sense of place and have them tied to the lore and the culture of the different races in the game. Similar to the weaponry, fashion, and technology we’re using in this game, we have slightly modern structures based on the 1700s.

Lore: The Infection

The Orcs are responsible for the Infection, which is a deep part of the lore. (Starts at 11:34 in dev blog video #3.2) They were losing in the great war many years ago, and they prayed to the God of Death to help them destroy their enemies – and so they were given the power to infect the dead with fungus and spores, which eventually took over the lands, driving away the other races.

A different faction of Orcs went to the Sun God and banded with other races to form a community that is simple and peaceful. This is an example of how not all creatures from the same race are the same – so we made factions that aren’t racially based.

Factions

We’ve divided factions from races, to make sure that players have different options instead of strictly playing a certain race. (Starts at 15:20 in dev blog video #3.2) Each faction, such as Redkeep, has its own lore and may have a mix of elves, humans, constructs, and other summonable units. Meanwhile, Ivoria is a huge jungle area with wizards of different races who have powers over animals and beasts. Tirezia also has its own beast units, but in a farmland area. Adding these different faction choices gives the feeling of being involved into the lore and history of the game, and also allows players to mix and max different units.

Monetization

How are we going to monetize this game? (Starts at 17:56 in dev blog video #3.2) It will NOT be free-to-play – everyone should have reasonable chance to play this game without putting in a lot of money to buy packs for a chance to get better units. We haven’t set a price point yet, but we are discussing whether to price it differently on the various platforms.

What we can tell you is there will be an initial purchase where you get the full game, and unlock the factions through the campaign. We received various feedback from people who want everything immediately available, but we felt that it cheapens the experience. We want players to have a sense of success and completion in unlocking new units, so when they player multiplayer, you know which people have played the game. And again, they also become more involved in the lore and story.