Time for another Last Regiment update as we are just a few weeks away until Early Access on Steam. It’s literally crunch time for us here.
On last week’s stream, Chris is still in Singapore at Boomzap’s VR Studio and shared that everyone is working double time getting ready for the Early Access release. The primary highlight this week is the introductory part of the game: the tutorial.
There have been some rework and a couple of discussions in regards to the tutorial. To make it not only something for first time players to get to know about the game’s lore, but also showing how everything works while keeping the fun going. The rest of the stream continues with him discussing about the “emotional side of being a game developer” and making the game’s pace faster especially on multiplayer games. Halfway through the stream, he is joined in with the Last Regiment game design team going through the campaigns.
Beta Steam Build – July 15, 2019
The Steam build has been recently updated. Here are the things we’ve added and changed.
1.) Updated Defend and Fortify indicators.
2.) Player Position and Color can now be chosen separately.
3.) Added zoom function for Map Preview via Scroll Wheel.
4.) Added mouse over info preview for Buildings.
1.) Fixed issue for the missing Port on Olivia’s 1st mission.
2.) Reworked Olivia’s 2nd and 3rd missions.
Note: Other missions are still WIP.
1.) All Aerial units have had their movement changed to 3 from 4.
2.) Added new unit Tree of Life.
3.) Added new Draw Card power for Merchants.
Note: Placeholder art are still being used for new units.
1.) Replaced Awaken the Forest card with Life Tree.
2.) Added new Scavenger, Dying Wish, and Transform Mana, and Promote cards.
3.) Updated New Plans effect to only draw 3 cards.
4.) Updated Abundant Stock to be only playable on Towns.
5.) Updated Cargo to be only playable on Ports.
6.) Updated High Ground trait to include +1 Sight Range.
7.) Updated Welcomed Rest to include Snare effect on Unit.
8.) Added new Nature’s Touch healing power to Druids.
9.) Updated dice roll ranges for Raze and Repair with linear ranges.
Note: Placeholder art are still being used for new cards/powers.
1.) Structures now start from 1-star and can be upgraded to 3-stars.
1.) All Terrains do not block line of sight anymore.
1.) Fixed issue where certain units can be summoned anywhere on the map.
Chris will be doing weekly streams again every Wednesday 10pm EST / Thursday 10am GMT+8 on the Boomzap Twitch channel (Schedules may change, but we’ll announce ahead of time). We also have multiplayer sessions with the Boomzap team every Tuesday and Thursday 10am GMT+8. Join us on those dates!
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
As we write Olivia’s story, we realize that the characters that she meets also have their own stories. Since the game is designed to be played using one hero at a time, how do we tell the stories of these other characters? We can’t have an entire campaign mode where you can only use Olivia, so we’re looking at having a bigger story told from multiple viewpoints and switching heroes per campaign level. This storytelling framework is something we have not worked with before, and it’s taking some time to put together.
Meanwhile after some testing and feedback during last week’s stream, we have shortened the tutorial map by making the playable area smaller, reducing the number of side quests, and having less minions to fight. Completing the tutorial now takes roughly 30 minutes.
We’re looking at the map-building editor and asking some serious questions: Is this all we need to make levels the way we want to make them? Is this what we’re gonna use to go build all the campaign levels?” Because the next step is building a bunch of levels. And we’d prefer not to redo them all.
Other changes we’ve made is prototypes for AI behavior. We can now set them as aggressive, defensive, or “turtle”, but it’s still buggy at this point. We’ll see by next week how things turn out.
We’ve been getting some questions from Discord about Last Regiment and game development in general, so we’ll take the time to answer those today.
A Quick Overview on Game Licensing Are we interested in having people write about our games and publish novels related to our content?
This is not the first time we got asked if books can be made within the license material of our game, or if we could hire someone to write a story for us. We wanted to quickly walk through the business of that. There are basically two frameworks by which that happens.
An author says, “I bet I can sell more books if I attach game content from license X to the story.” He/she then pays a license fee, and the license holder gets rights to look at the book before it gets published.
A license holder says, “We want to have books about our game, profit from them, and have complete creative control, but we don’t have an in-house writer who can do it.” They would then hire a writer (full time or by contract), pay a fixed fee, and work with him/her them directly.
Having said that, the Last Regiment license is not yet worth enough to charge a license fee for, and we don’t have the resources to do it ourselves or pay anyone else to write for us. So unfortunately, no Last Regiment books to look forward to in the near future. Speaking of stories…
Creating the Story and Lore What is Last Regiment all about?
We’ve always said that we were going to take the lore building and story seriously. It’s an easy thing to say, but before we delve further on that, we’d like to share another fun fact.
Not many people know that 99% of game designers are frustrated authors, and sometimes it shows in the games they make. One of the real challenges in writing a video game is to take that author part of you, the one who wants to tell a story, and shove him down. You need to stop yourself from writing that story, because in games, the players want to make their own stories.
In books, the characters do precisely what the author tells them to do, think, and say. You can’t do that in games. There’s this other person who wants to do their own thing and make their decisions meaningful. The game writer must fight the urge to say “You’re not supposed to do that! You’re supposed to go here and do this!” For example, players would have a choice if they want to go here or there, so a designer has to make both of these places interesting.
This brings us to writing the lore of Last Regiment. Before you can write a specific story, you must first create the world where it takes place in. Months ago we started putting together a skeleton outline on the basic ideas about the universe, and gradually adding notes on how the world is, who the characters are, and what the history is. Since we were looking at it from a wider angle, there was some confusion on what would actually be happening in the game.
What is going on? Why do we have these characters?
As we build the art for the game, we started getting questions on why we have a variety of characters with very diverse themes. For some it didn’t make sense, and that was problematic. Then we continued to flesh out the ancient history of the world to show how all the factions and units came to be, and conveyed this to the team.
The next story dump included more details on the period called The Reconquest, when people from the old world started to go back to a continent that they had tried to colonize in the past. This is where the story takes place, after several years of apocalyptic wars between the races where they used both magic and machinery. This was inspired by the modern age of the Enlightenment Era, and we looked at the colonial histories in Europe instead of the usual medieval setting of fantasy games.
Should we share the lore with our community?
This is where we are a bit torn. We want to keep people involved, but we also don’t want to spoil the game. We want players to have a sense of discovery and exploration when they play it. At the same time, we’d still like to have the freedom to change it.
Where are our characters in this lore we are writing?
If you look at the heroes and units in the game, none of them appear in the history. When you’re putting together a world, the first step is the large history of that world. The second step is detailing the facets of that world such as the technology, magic, transportation, weaponry, money, language, races, and a bunch more data that needs to be compiled. After these two are done, the final step is the actual story of the characters in the game: where are they going, what do they need, how do they meet, etc.
Doing the first two steps is important before you start anything because you need something that could lend something before you get to the end. But even when you reach the final step, you should be aware that sometimes the world and some of its faces might change because of the new things you are adding to the game.
What is the scale of your story?
Again, we take a look at Legends of Callasia, which has an epic scope. You’re a general taking over chunks of kingdoms and saving the world. Last Regiment does not have an epic scope. By design, we want to keep everything much smaller. Yes, there is a huge thing happening, which is the Reconquest, but you are only a part of it. Your choices are probably not going to change the entire world history of the game, but it’s about the characters going through a journey within this environment. They are not captains or lieutenants. As the title implies, you are controlling a regiment, not a huge army. It’s a much personal story and we want our players to care about these characters.
What We’ve Changed So Far
Back to the game, we had a big conversation about the dialog system and scripting the single player missions. The work is underway, but it’s not going to be done in a few weeks. Developing scripting engines is an iterative process that would take several months.
Right now we are trying out a variety of mission types and determining different variations of environments, failure goals, and other things that can be considered fun.
We’ve also made some changes to the user interface! Now you can preview the units in each regiment without going to the Choose Your Regiment screen.
Starting a skirmish or multiplayer game also looks better now, although still WIP.
There’s another screen we’re currently updating, but we have to stop and think about it mathematically.
The Cost of Adding New Features Can we please change X to this? Why can’t you do this?
Every time we consider adding a new feature to the game, it has to be a cash-positive decision. Let’s take for instance the Choose Your Regiment screen.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the idea of having different background art per faction. Each background would take an artist at least 3 days to make. With 14 backgrounds in total, it would take 42 working days. Since the team gets paid a monthly salary, we need to look at the cost of making it and how many more copies we need to sell – and it’s a bigger number than what most people would expect.
If we look at new game features, you would have to consider the time it takes the coder to implement it, and for QA to test it. Everyone of those ideas needs to put into this math, and this is why sometimes the seemingly simple things don’t make it into the game. For the moment, we’re happy with keeping the Choose Your Regiment screen as it is with a black background and customized emblems per faction.
This doesn’t mean we don’t welcome any new suggestions. Keep your comments and questions coming, and we’ll see you in the next dev update.