Tag Archives: lore

Dev Blog #14 – What we learned from ESGS (and how to join our beta)

Two weeks ago, we went to two conferences in Manila! First was Gamefest, a game development summit with speakers from both the local and international gaming industry, and E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS), one of the biggest consumer conventions in the Philippines.

LINK: More ESGS  photos up on Facebook

What We Learned From  ESGS

We usually don’t bring our games in the state Last Regiment is currently in: it’s an early build without a tutorial and lot of placeholder stuff. But since we’re blogging and streaming it, people have already seen it anyway. At the same time, whenever we want to do something big, we want to always do it first in the Philippines, the studio’s spiritual home.

On a practical note, not showing the game before we attend PAX South next year would have been bad idea. ESGS provided an opportunity for us to watch people play and see what we need to do to bring our A game to PAX.

One of the problems we had during Legends of Callasia was that nobody knew we existed. Although people in the industry knew Boomzap, the vast majority of gamers in the Philippines play AAA games and e-sports titles. As an indie strategy game in a world of huge production value games, how do we survive?

We were surrounded by huge companies at ESGS, and some people just took a quick look at out booth and walked on by. But it’s fine, they probably weren’t our audience. However, there must be a niche strategy gaming audience somewhere. Where do we find them? How do we get them to know we exist? We do all sorts of marketing efforts such as streaming, but how do we get people to know about the stream? How do we do marketing for the marketing?

At the convention, most of the major exhibitors had “booth babes”, but it’s something we’ve sworn not to do (aside from the fact that we can’t afford them). Last year, we had Callasia fans volunteer to man our booth at PAX – people who are able to share their love for the game.  During ESGS, it’s the actual development team who was there to explain how the game works. We know this is more effective in attracting people who are actually into the game, rather than those only interested in getting pictures with pretty girls at a booth.

We also had a second booth at the ESGS Indie Arena, where all the other indies are. When people went to this area, they are actually there to play and talk to the developers about their games. This is our goal for the next conventions we’re attending. By next week we’re submitting to Indie Prize USA and Indie Megabooth at PAX East – hopefully we get chosen! The important thing we need to do now is get the game ready.

What We Changed In the Game

1. We revamped  our UI art assets! During ESGS, the game trailer showed endlessly on the big screen, and we realized that the UI is old and dated. Thus we looked at the time setting of the game and asked ourselves what the visual design was of that time. The answer: rococo and filigree!

2. We’re adding two kinds of structures: Destructible and Permanent. While we were working on the map editor, we started to talk about what single player would look like and got to thinking about buildings. Does it make sense that you can build a village and have a large building tree within the lore of the game and still present a tactical feel? What if we separated it out: things that can be built and things that can only be placed via the editor. Thus, these permanent structures would become an object in the story.

3. In-game notifications have some improvements. Now you get more info as to what is actually happening on the game in the next few turns, including player resource upkeep. During ESGS, the most common question we had was which happens first? The game needed a clear language to explain the order of actions, and for now we added indicators on top of the screen during the resolution phases.

4. We’ve updated the movement arrows and the way they behave. We observed that players often made errors when dragging and moving heroes, and end up selecting additional hexes, so this hopefully fixes that issue.

5. As requested by the people on stream, we’ve added player emblems from Legends of Callasia!

6. We’ve added a new goblin faction called Darktalon led by Captain Hollythorn. They are masters of the environment who are against magic.

7. We noticed that there are too many heroes in the game. They are so powerful, and you basically end up with a screen full of heroes, which made them a bit unspecial. We decided that we wanted to have fewer heroes available to players available during the game. We want to make faction choice more critical, and now we’re experimenting limiting them to up to two factions per regiment.

8. Other things we’re working on are updates and reorganization to the minion powers framework, addition of cool new powers, and VFX improvements. We’re also still working on optimizing the game since as people noticed the low framerate it plays on.

LINK: Last Regiment Dev Stream #14 (FULL) on Youtube

“Earlier Access”

So now people are asking: all these people at the convention got to try out Last Regiment, when do we get to play it? We’re planning  to launch as an Early Access title on Steam in 2018, but before that, we’ll do a closed beta with some special people.

Instead of the usual signups, we’re choosing our betatesters from our most active Twitch viewers and Discord chatters.

  • Watch our dev streams on Twitch and earn 2000 boombux. (Click here for the leaderboard.)
  • Be an active member of our Discord and reach Level 15 by chatting. (Click here for the leaderboard.)

We’ll also invite press, content creators, and our betatesters from Legends of Callasia into the closed beta.

For now there is no estimated date on when beta would be available. We’re currently focused on making a solid demo build for PAX South in January. So in the meantime, stay tuned to earn those points for beta and watch out for our updates.


Dev Blog #8 – New Factions and other changes

It’s been a while since our last update (more than a month actually!) but while Chris is away, the rest of the team has been happily working and making changes to Last Regiment.

However, one thing we should point out about game development is that what it looks like from the inside is different from what it looks from the outside. There are several things we’ve added and changed to the game that won’t be obvious when you look at it from a player’s point of view. A lot of what we’ve been doing a lot lately is implementing a lot in the back-end which you can’t see, but it’s critical before we add anything else – such as setting up rules before we can program the AI.  So aside from that, here are the more obvious stuff that we’ve done in the past month.


New Factions and Units

We’ve added two new factions, making it a total of 8 factions so far (and we’ll add more later on!):

  1. The Tirezia faction is large agricultural community in a sheltered valley near the colonial settlement of Redkeep. With Guildmaster Silvio Longfinger as its main hero, Tirezia includes units such as Clockwork Footmen, Harvest Spirites, and Enraged Peasants.
  2. Mugroot is a massive forest of gigantic diseased fungus, overrun by the Infected. This infection was brought about by a particular Orcs who prayed to the God of Death to unleash such power. They have units such as the Mindless Thing, Deathly Legion, Halberdiers, Lancers, Sporebeasts, Rotwyrm, and more.

Updated Abilities

Some new abilities were added such as Embarking, which allows units to move across water tiles from the docks. Structures also have abilities of their own: Windmills boost the amount of gold you earn; Cathedrals allow you to heal; Inns provide buffs to your Attack; and so on.

Art and UI Updates

We’ve also updated some of the UI such as when forming your regiment (which now requires you to select a hero in order to get heroes from that faction), the multiplayer lobby, selecting a map, and a working chat window. There are also some little changes that improves the game visually such as making the tiles and map art two times bigger, and intuitive highlighting for hexes during movement.

Gameplay

We still do daily multiplayer playthroughs of the game to test out the new units and abilities we are adding. During the resolution mode, all abilities take place first such as ranged attacks and spells. Visually they appear sequentially, but they are all happening simultaneously. After this phase, unit movement and melee combat follow. You can replay the multiplayer game from our livestream through the VOD.

Our Current To Do List

Based on the live playthrough, here’s what we need to do next:

  • Continue making improvements based on feedback from Legends of Callasia and address issues such as how to simplify game mechanics and communicate them clearly to the players
  • Fix weird graphics bugs and visual effects
  • Rebalance units and adjust powers for the new factions
  • Build more maps for playtesting
  • Look at different win conditions to add
  • Research on how we can integrate tournaments and other external social features within the game
  • Get the build ready for the upcoming conventions this September
  • Put a schedule together on when we can have Early Access (hopefully by January 2018)

Overall, our main goal is how to make this game FUN – and all the feedback we can get is very much appreciated. We plan to show more of our progress next week, and hopefully we can get back to our original weekly schedule.


Dev Blog # 6 – Addressing Game Ideas That Suck

To begin this week’s dev blog, we’ll share something that not only applies to Last Regiment, but to game development in general: how does the theory of all our ideas actually play out?

This is a really hard part of game development. Game ideas start out as really cool on paper. But when you start to implement it, you begin to realize that there are things you forgot or didn’t think about, and it ends up not being like what you thought it would be. This is the point where some new developers fail: they say to themselves, “This sucks, I give up.” But that is something you cannot avoid in game development. The real task is getting from that point to another.

To quote from Adventure Time: Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something.

Before you can be good, first you have to suck. It’s easy to get real disheartened that you’re not good at this.  Instead of giving up on idea and just changing it to something else, you have to be able to critically look at it and figure out: Why does it suck?

So you’ll notice in our updates that we’ll continue to try out ideas and keep switching them up. For example, as we talked about before, the concept of steamrolling or snowballing has been a common problem in strategy games. As you become more powerful and acquire more resources or units, you eventually reach a tipping point where you’ve guaranteed your victory and there’s nothing else anyone can do. Of course, most players would like that, but if it happens too early, people would feel disenfranchised for their game. If in the first five turns it becomes impossible for anyone to go any further, that’s when strategy games fall down. The challenge for us developers is to find that balance. In Legends of Callasia, we have the card mechanic that enables you to make turnarounds in battle. These are the types of solutions we want.

For Last Regiment , we’re currently looking at two ways to handle resources:

  1. Hoarding resources. This is the basic Civilization model. For every turn, I get more gold.  My pile gets bigger and bigger. I keep hoarding so I can go form armies, build structures, etc.
  2. Limited resources. In Hearthstone or Magic the Gathering, you get a certain number of resources which you can use for each turn. At the end of the turn, it replenishes.

If you remember, we moved to limit-based model precisely because we wanted to prevent steamrolling. We played it like that in the past weeks, but it wasn’t fun.

Why was it not fun? It reaches a point wherein I’m over at your castle, trying to finish the game and get you out. But because both of us have the same amount of resources every turn, you would just keep on spawning more units to fight me off. At the same time, if the game continually refills your resources (example: 10), we need to make sure that nothing costs 11 resources. Getting the same amount of resources creates a mechanic with fast turnaround, which works really well in Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering. But in a map-based strategy game where you want the units to move around, last longer, and do things, it’s not such a great mechanic.

So we switched back Gold and Mana into hoarding resources.

We still have the concept of control points, which is a limited resource. Like the population limit in LOC, you only have so much control but you can increase it by getting more buildings. Now the number of units I can make and control becomes limited by how much you can hoard. This is something we haven’t balanced yet. What happens when my hoard gets really big? We’re still figuring it out.

Meanwhile, we’ve also been working on a bunch of core technology to make sure multiplayer is functioning properly. We’ve also added stuff like new effects and new art. We are also playing with idea of having some neutral units and the concept of healing.

Another big change is the camera movement. When we were playing, things would happen on a different part of a map, but I would be looking at something else. That was hurting the game: people thought it was broken because you didn’t see or know what happened. So we changed the way you visualize the game. Theoretically,  the camera would be dragged around to show you things as they occur.

In terms of ideal game length, we’re still struggling with that. For Legends of Callasia it was about right: 30 minutes for 2-player games, while bigger games can be from one to two hours. It’s a nice spot for players to be drawn in and get involved. But some want it shorter, some longer; others want more options or less options. This is always an issue in game development: getting everyone to agree on something. Since different things such as more players or bigger maps can affect game length, we’ll continue to play around with that during the course of the development cycle.

But the bigger questions are always: What it is that we ought to be doing?  Who are the players we are targeting? You never really know if you’re building the right game, especially at this early stage.

For example, we’ve been getting some feedback on how we’re writing the fantasy or the lore of this game. People have certain expectations  about what things should or shouldn’t be, which is a challenge as we create a unique lore for this game.

We also did a multiplayer playtest during our stream (full, unedited video here) and these are the things that we learned today:

  1. Movement is a lot of fun. The camera movement is really good.
  2. The attack/damage values of the heroes are within the range we expect. They’re not perfect and would still need more balancing, but overall, they’re pretty good.
  3. The economy is still wonky. You’re consistently getting your Gold and Mana, but there aren’t many places you can spend them on. After a couple of turns, it gets to a point where the resources don’t matter because you already have everything you want. You keep hoarding and continue spawning, which makes the game basically endless.

In general, we are pleased with the progress we’ve been making and the feedback we’ve been receiving. We’ll be looking at various solutions to address the current issues. Hopefully by next week we have figured something out.