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Jaysen
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« Reply #140 on: February 11, 2015, 12:46:25 AM »

Better late than never! Here is the link to episode 2:

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« Reply #141 on: February 13, 2015, 06:52:56 AM »

And here is episode 3 of our Let's Play.

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« Reply #142 on: February 16, 2015, 08:23:44 PM »

It sure is looking good! I can't wait for EA.
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« Reply #143 on: February 24, 2015, 12:33:54 AM »

Sorry for the late update but here is our newest dev blog including the fourth and final episod of the lets play series!

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Dev Blog #39: Progress Update - Background and Trait Icons, Escorting Caravans, Final Let’s Play Episode

Over the last week we’ve been focusing on filling up missing content, playtesting and balancing the game. Most changes and additions are rather small by themselves but the game as a whole is making big progress as a whole. Furthermore we have the fourth and final Let’s Play episode of our little series for you!

Background and Trait Icons

Backgrounds and traits have been in the game for quite a while using placeholder icons. We just now started replacing all those placeholders with actual icons.



On the image above you can see the first batch of icons for the character backgrounds. Among them you can find ‘the farmhand’, ‘the fisherman’, ‘the lumberjack’, ‘the disowned noble’ and many more. As a quick reminder, character backgrounds are sort of ‘professions’ of the characters that you can hire and tell you what they have been doing in their life before becoming a mercenary. These backgrounds can have positive and negative effects on the character stats and are therefore important when deciding who to hire. Adding these is not really essential for gameplay but it does add a lot of atmosphere and also makes deciding which recruit to hire a bit easier.



Here are some trait icons to give you an idea on how they’ll look like. You can find the icons for ‘eagle-eyed’, ‘bright’, ‘bleeder’ and many more. Traits are randomly assigned to characters depending on their backgrounds and give small changes to character stats, and add a lot of flavor and personality to the characters you are hiring. They make them just that more individual and special.

Bridges and Fords

No more crossing rivers on magical roads! From now on we have decent wooden bridges to cross rivers on dry feet as long as you stick to a road. Out in the wild you will find a ford across a river from time to time where you can cross it.



Just like the icons these are not essential for gameplay but they do add a bit to the look and feel of the game and are another step towards our Early Access launch. As the layout of roads and rivers is procedurally generated, there are countless assets required for them. Completing all the possible directions and combinations for these elements was a straining task.

Caravans in Tactical Combat

Trading caravans now show up on tactical combat maps. Thus if a caravan gets ambushed, you can now actually rush to its aid (and save that poor donkey from getting slain!). These assets also allow us to implement a new ‘escort caravan’ contract where you have to ensure the save arrival of a caravan, which adds a new tactical dimension to battles as you’re defending an objective.



Caravans aren’t entirely helpless on their own. In combat, they are protected by Caravan Hands and, if they’re large enough, Caravan Guards, that will take defensive position around the carts and do their best to defend them. They’re not that great at fighting, and their morale can be broken, but they can hold their own against easier opponents and may buy you some time. Also, their survival isn’t essential - making sure the carts arrive is the important thing. In order to not make you go mad, we’ve also improved the defensive AI, so that Caravan Guards can position themselves in a way that intercepts arrows and bolts from hitting the donkey. They’ll also use their shields to knock attackers away from them. Other opponents can make use of that improvement as well, of course - Necromancers, too, are now a bit better protected by their undead minions.

Let’s Play Episode 4

Here is the final episode of our short Let’s Play series. Although there is still a lot left to discover and more adventures to seek out, we have to make this the last episode for now. There have been a lot of changes on the game since we started the series, and many can not be shown in the videos as they would require the start of a new campaign. Also, it’s getting difficult to keep the savegame compatible with our current build. However, there is a good chance we’ll start a new series not long from now which will show you more and different things about the game!

Don’t forget to comment on the video and subscribe to our Youtube channel.



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« Reply #144 on: February 24, 2015, 02:21:17 PM »

Showing good progress guys, looking forward to this.
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« Reply #145 on: March 09, 2015, 03:15:48 AM »

We have been constantly working to put new stuff into the game and get it ready to be fun at the early access launch. Check out whats new below:

Quote
Dev Blog #40: Progress Update - Campaign Customization, Retreating and Desertion, Men-at-Arms, Zombie Overhaul

As always we’ve added a bouqet of new features and content over the past two weeks. This time we have a new start campaign screen with difficulty and banner selection, more in-game mechanics with the ability to order retreat from combat, and mercenaries deserting you if you run out of money and/or food. And that’s not all. Let’s go into the details.

Campaign Customization
When starting a new campaign you’re now able to name your mercenary company, select a banner and choose a difficulty level. We believe it is important to allow you to brand your very own mercenary company here as you want to. The name you enter will be referred to in a lot of texts in the game (such as in contract offers and events) and the banner will be shown all the time on the worldmap.



You may remember from a previous update that we want to provide the ability for creating custom banners by choosing shapes, colors and emblems. It’s not off the table but we decided to postpone this feature until later and concentrate instead on more significant things as we get the game ready for launch. For the time being you have 22 different premade banners to choose from.

One major point of feedback we took away from playtesting so far was how different testers rated the difficulty of the game and importantly also how different they felt about that challenge. Instead of streamlining the game into a one-size-fits-all, we’ve now added three difficulty levels. Those levels do not affect the AI and do not affect how strong enemy types are. Instead, they focus entirely on the economic aspect of things. Depending on difficulty, you’ll have different starting funds, availability and prices of equipment as well as recruits. The exact differences between the difficulty levels are shown via tooltips here in order to help you decide what level best fits your preference.

Retreating from Combat
With an open world map that doesn’t scale to the player’s strength it’s quite possible to end up in a battle that can’t be won. Not every battle should need to be fought to the death, however, and so we added the option of retreating from tactical combat. It’s better to flee and fight another day than to die pointlessly now, as the saying goes, and this should provide a good in-game alternative to just reloading an older savegame.

To retreat from battle, you’re best advised to first move all your Battle Brothers to the very edges of the map. If you give the order to retreat, anyone on the edges will make it out alive and join up with you again on the worldmap. However, anyone not on the edges is going to be left behind and is likely going to die. Of course, how you start battle - whether surrounded by enemies or in formation with all your opponents in front of you - can have a big impact on whether you can make it to the edges in one piece. Likewise, it’s not hard to escape from slowly shambling zombies, but it can be difficult to escape from more mobile opponents, such as vampires that can transform into a flock of bats to cut you off.

Sometimes it might be necessary even to sacrifice some of your men in order to save the others. Thanks to the simulated nature of the worldmap, killing even a few opponents and then retreating will still have a real impact on the world and means that your opponent’s faction is now missing some men for future engagements.

Desertion
Mercenaries in your ranks expect two things for risking their lives on a regular basis - daily payment in silver crowns and food. If you fail to pay or feed them, they will eventually desert you. On hard difficulty they also take their equipment with them, but they’re nice enough to dump it into the stash for now on easy and normal difficulty before leaving you. If you run out of men completely, you’ll lose the game.



Luckily, your men won’t desert you the instant that you’ve spend the last of your crowns. A check is performed daily based on their bravery and a multitude of other factors. If you have an active contract going, people are a bit less eager to leave you, since there’s payment on the horizon. If they have the ‘Loyal’ trait they’ll generally stick a bit longer with you, whereas if they have the ‘Disloyal’ trait they’ll be quick to leave you. If you run out of money, characters with the ‘Greedy’ trait will take this especially serious, whereas running out of food, while certainly not a good thing, isn’t that serious for characters with the ‘Spartan’ trait who consume less food to begin with. As a general rule you really shouldn’t run out of either money or food.

Men-at-Arms
We’ve finished the final faction allied to the player for our Early Access release: the Men-at-Arms. They’ve been active on the worldmap for a while now, chasing bandits back into the forests and duking it out with orc raiders, but now they’re also able to fight alongside the player in tactical combat. Those usually well-trained and well-equipped professional soldiers are garrisoned in watchtowers and strongholds across the land and send out patrols to guard roads, villages and cities from raids and marauding beasts. You’re not the only one out there getting work done!



The Footman is the standard infantry type and makes up the bulk of most units. They are relatively young men conscripted into service, decently trained and equipped but lacking in actual combat experience. They wear light weapons and armor, usually gambesons, and wooden round shields.

The Arbalester, like the Footman, is a young man conscripted into service but trained in the use of the crossbow as opposed to melee weaponry. A relatively new weapon that requires less training than bows to use effectively, the crossbow makes Arbalesters dangerous opponents to face at range, even though the time needed to reload their weapon can leave them vulnerable.
 
The Footman Veteran started out as a regular Footman but has since become a professional soldier with better equipment subsidized by his lordship. They wear basic chainmails, kettle hats, kite shields and decent weaponry, sometimes even heavy two-handed weapons.

The Sergeant is an older and well-experienced man in command of smaller units of Men-at-Arms. He’s skilled as much in the use of weapons as he is in small scale tactics. In true movie fashion, the Sergeant often foregos wearing a helmet, prefering instead to be able to shout orders all across the battlefield. In gameplay terms, his presence raises the bravery of other Men-at-Arms quite a bit, boosting their confidence and making them less likely to flee. Should he fall, however, this can easily result in a ripple effect of morale plummeting.

The Knight is the most powerful combatant among the Men-at-Arms and usually in command of large units. Knights belong to the nobility of the land and always have a unique name. They boast the most expensive equipment available and sport the banner of their house on their shield in combat. Lifelong training at a quality only available to nobility and the attendance of tourneys have helped him hone his combat skills a great deal. A knight can usually take on several lesser opponents at once and still come out victorious.

Zombie Overhaul
Zombies were the very first opponents that made it into the game back at the end of 2013 when we were still prototyping the tactical combat. A lot has happened since - for one thing, we overhauled how Battle Brothers look and added human opponents with a lot of visual variety. Those old zombies were beginning to look quite a bit out of place.



To address this, we’ve overhauled the zombie visuals to make use of the existing human assets with zombified colors and additional layers of skin missing, blood and zombie mouths. The result is a cool new look on par with everything else, a lot of variety and some gameplay improvements as well. See that zombie with the chainmail? It’s a real chainmail now, meaning that zombie can take a beating but you’ll also be able to loot that armor after combat, even though it’s damaged already and may need some repairs (and a good disinfection) before wearing it.
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« Reply #146 on: March 09, 2015, 05:14:17 AM »

Love the new zombies! Are you guys working on this full time? Looks very professional.
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« Reply #147 on: March 09, 2015, 06:03:44 AM »

Thanks! Only one of us is working full-time on the project, the other two work a regular 40h week plus the game in the free time. But this has stopped being a "hobby" project quite a while ago as we are putting every free minute into it. We hope that the early access will give us enough funds to all go full-time on this until the final release - that would accelerate development a lot!
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« Reply #148 on: March 09, 2015, 06:14:44 AM »

When do you plan on moving to early access?
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« Reply #149 on: March 10, 2015, 01:07:26 AM »

We are aiming at early April right now and we are really confident that we can make it. There are still some issues up in the air but we will let you know as soon as we are sure!
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« Reply #150 on: March 10, 2015, 05:20:13 AM »

Will be sure to grab a copy when this is out. At first glance the game didn't really catch my attention but I watched a couple of your playthroughs and have to say, I really liked what I saw. Keep up the good work, looking forward to the release.
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« Reply #151 on: March 10, 2015, 06:36:11 AM »

Thanks!
We know that the presentation is not our strong point so it is really hard for us to impress people with just the screenshots or even the videos. The games biggest strength lies in the gameplay and we are so looking forward to letting the people actually play it by themselves and see their reaction.
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« Reply #152 on: March 15, 2015, 09:04:16 AM »

Thanks!
We know that the presentation is not our strong point so it is really hard for us to impress people with just the screenshots or even the videos.

I'm not I'd go that far, to be honest. The sprites look great and are really clean. I think they'll hold up really well over time. And the busts are really growing on me. Watching the videoes, they give me a tactical and tactile vibe, as if you're moving around chess pieces. I get the urge to try to pick them up.

Can't wait for some form of release!
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« Reply #153 on: March 23, 2015, 07:41:01 AM »

Here is another update for you guys! I hope to be able to present a Early Access release date in the next update!

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Dev Blog #41: Progress Update - Weapon Durability, New Perks, Clouds

So much work! Our current focus is on getting the balance right for our upcoming Early Access release and hunting down all those pesky bugs. Over the last two weeks we had two major changes: We’ve added durability of weapons and did a rework of all 42 perks in the game. Also, we managed to squeeze in moving clouds on the worldmap.

Weapon Durability
When playtesting the game and focusing on progression, difficulty and overall balance, we realized that the game is in need of more challenges in the later stages. The player would reach a point where money is obtained too easily through looting lots of weapons and selling them, and there aren’t enough ways to spend the money once you have 12 mercenaries and decent equipment.

To remedy this, we implemented ‘weapon durability’ for all weapons similar to how armor condition already works in the game. Every weapon has a certain amount of durability points which deteriorate on hitting armor as the weapon gets damaged. Hitting unarmored or lightly armored opponents will not deteriorate a weapon’s durability, so a sword won’t ever break from hitting cloth armor. If the durability reaches zero, the weapon will be permanently destroyed. Above that, weapons will be repaired over time on the worldmap just like armor, at a cost of some resources.



We were originally hesitant to add a mechanic like this as we wanted to avoid unnecessary micromanagement. As it turned out, however, equipping Battle Brothers was one of the most fun aspects for many people playing the game, and actually not done all that often between battles, so its something we could expand on.

Here is a rundown of further things to know:

  • Weapons don’t break randomly, their current and maximum durability can be seen in the game.
  • Different weapons have different durability, further reinforcing their specialties. While swords inflict more damage against unarmored targets, they’ll break much sooner against well-armored targets than a warhammer does.
  • Weapons don’t usually break in a single battle unless in really drawn-out engagements, against highly-armored opponents or if the weapon in question is seriously ill-suited for making forceful impact with armor (such as a simple knife).
  • There is now more incentive to equip your Battle Brothers with spare weapons and to pick up dropped weapons mid-battle, which was a rare occurence before.
  • Damaged weapons, just as damaged armor, will be sold for a reduced price. Looted equipment will now generally bring less money and no longer be the primary source of income. This makes fulfilling contracts more rewarding over just fighting and looting randomly. It’s a good thing because we don’t want to lose focus on the player being a mercenary.



In conclusion we keep the way of letting you loot what you can see your opponents using, including the odd high tier weapon early in the game. However, these weapons may be damaged now and thus require some investment of resources and time to get to a good condition unless you want to run the risk of them breaking permanently in combat. You’ll still be rewarded for taking on well-equipment opponents, just not as much that it completely turns over balance and progression in the long-run.

This new mechanic seems to work out nicely so far, but we’ll keep a close eye on it for potential further adjustments.

New Perks
We’ve gone through with a complete rework of all 42 perks in the game because the old ones weren’t really cutting it. We really want choosing a perk on levelup always be something to look forward to, a tough decision because there are just so many good looking options. The new perks should give the player more of a reason to really think about how they want to use a certain Battle Brother and what role to specialize in.

Perks are still divided into offense, defense and utility and each tree is divided into three tiers that are unlocked as more points are invested into them. In the third and final tier are two especially powerful perks of which only one can be unlocked. It’s up to you to decide whether to concentrate on one tree to unlock the powerful third tier as soon as possible or go with more of a generalist build with your Battle Brothers.

Previously, all perks were passive and this made for a clean separation between active skills from weapons and passive skills from perks. After some discussion we’ve changed our minds and now there are several active skills that can be unlocked within the perk trees. These skills provide different utility missing before and open up new tactical options - like the ‘Taunt’ skill described below. None of them are attacks, however. Those are still exclusive to the weapons you equip your Battle Brothers with.

So how do these new perks look like? Here’s three examples, one from each tree.


Berserk (Passive). RAAARGH! Upon killing an opponent, 4 Action Points are immediately regained. Characters can not gain more than their maximum action points, but this perk allows for a rampage especially against fragile opponents.


Nine Lives (Passive). Has this character survive with a few hitpoints left on taking a killing blow once every battle. A good insurance for your favorite Battle Brother.


Taunt (Active). How appropriate, you fight like a cow! Using this skill increases the chance for opponents to take offensive actions instead of defensive ones (such as covering behind their shields), and to attack this character over another, potentially more vulnerable one. The higher this character's bravery, the more effective the taunting is. This also means that characters with the ‘Cocky’ character trait are better at taunting their opponents.

Not all is good, however. Many enemies in the game make use of those very same perks available to you. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then to hear that an Orc Berserker has the ‘Berserker’ perk as well and can go on a true killing spree through your ranks if he ever gets started.

Clouds
While balancing and bug hunting is our focus, we also did a little cosmetic upgrade to the worldmap to have it look more alive and give it some more depth. That upgrade is clouds that gracefully pass over the lands. We’re still working on the exact look but here is a first impression for you.



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« Reply #154 on: March 30, 2015, 11:56:45 PM »

We are closing in on the Early Access so here is a final LP series featuring the latest build. Hope you guys like it:

Quote
Early Access preview Let's Play Part 1

We can not give you the Early Access yet but we have the second best thing: A new Let's Play series!

The build we are showing is pretty close to the version you will get in the EA and we will not add any more major features. We are mostly bug-hunting and improving the overall balance of the game by now. If you are wondering if you should buy the EA and support us or not, check out this video and then decide!

So here are the adventures, fortunes and(mostly) misfortunes of "The Red Hogs":

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« Reply #155 on: March 31, 2015, 11:38:08 AM »

I played your demo, and I must say this is quite the workload you've put there!
I greatly prefer your principles over The Banner Saga's, notably your armor system is pretty straightforward and satisfying.

I know you probably have thought about all this, and that your game is probably all set up, and now you've got to create content for it, but I'll give in the two cents of a new user, but fan of the genre.

Second game I played was quite confusing because I tried to explore toward the edge of the map, thinking I would discover more, but I just stumbled upon the void. Maybe just put noticeable bounds on the map, they may be visible or not in uncharted territory.

The constant appearance/disappearance of the window that describes what the cursor is pointing was annoying, what I'd do is have a static window like HoMM3's or for milder impact on the current implementation, leave more time before it shows and make the window translucent.

I think I'd like some damage points to pop or something, it may be more satisfying, and be a more intuitive tool to guess the armor/health of enemies. In fact this point was supposed to be about not (easily) knowing the health/armor of enemies because all the bars are the same size.

The disappearing layers, I thoroughly dislike them, maybe make them translucent?

I always liked the "right click to move" approach, I would be more comfortable with this feature in your game.

Maybe also map the left click on an enemy to automatically use the first attack move in the list? In my opinion, the game will have a more comfortable flow like this. I understand that there could be technical difficulties that make this feature hard to implement though.

And that was all on general usability!

Now I'd like to give a very personal opinion on gameplay / balancing:

I've felt that 60%-75% hit rate under normal circumstances on either sides was pretty low, in my really short experience, the game felt to be more about luck than actual strategy.


With all that said, your demo was a blast, and I think there is much potential to it, pretty solid stuff!
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« Reply #156 on: March 31, 2015, 11:40:48 AM »

Day one buyer here. Looking forward to Early Access.
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« Reply #157 on: March 31, 2015, 11:39:56 PM »

Thanks for the detailed feedback! Let me get to those points one by one:

- Borders of the combat map are planned. We are not decided on how to implement them exactly but we have them in mind.

- Description window: We have a "fixed" window for information planned that you can open with a right click on something and then hover over its contents for additional information via the tooltip (Homm style). However, when playing the game myself i need the tooltips and info quick and distinct to make the right choices during combat. Making the window appear with a delay would probably be more annoying than helpful. We will wait on more user feedback on this.

- hehe the floating damage number discussion - we had a really extensive discussion about this in another forum and ultimately decided against floating damage numbers. We have the armor and health bars that can be shown and by now also added a textual description as well. Also, we completely reworked the characters by now so you can see wounds and armor destruction way better. Floating damage numbers are very "gamey" and would destroy a lot of the atmosphere in the combat. Also, we do not want people to min/max that hard. This even leads to a central design decision: Is this a "puzzle" game where there is an "optimal" path that you can chose based on perfect information or is this a "simulation" that does not have an optimal path and is thus more about risk managing? To cut a very long story short we decided against floating damage numbers but of course we will closely look at the EA feedback and maybe come back to this topic!

- The layers are really, really tricky. We tried a lot of different variants, also a translucent variant, but it did not really work out so we will probably stick with this solution for now.

- We thought about making the left klick always use the first skill and it would work for most weapons. For some weapons though, it does not work and it could then confuse people. Also, players then maybe underuse the secondary skills of the weapons, but thats just a guess. When i play i use the number keys to quickly switch between skills and it works very well.

- The balancing has changed A LOT since the demo. In the demo, all your characters are level 1 and thus generally are pretty bad at hitting things. In the normal game you can level them up, increase their melee or ranged skill and also give them perks that add even more to their abilities. So the hit rates in the demo are a bit skewed.

Thanks again for the feedback and i hope i can present you an Early Access release date and price soon!
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« Reply #158 on: April 13, 2015, 02:15:54 AM »

Just keeping you updated, here are parts 2 and 3 of the recent let's play:

Episode 2:


Episode 3:

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« Reply #159 on: April 20, 2015, 12:40:47 AM »

We did some mockups to see where we want to go with the environments for tactical combat next. These things are not actually in the game yet and will need quite a bit more work before they make their way in, but it does give a good idea of what we're aiming for in the long run.





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