Hot Summer 2018 Dev Update

Hi! How are you, folks? Here’s a quick dev update before we head off to summer holidays!

The last update is already from February and quite a lot has happened since, as you’d expect. For instance, the guys have been cranking out new enemies at stellar speed and the enemy gallery is now up to whopping 37 enemy types, not counting variations. That’s a lot considering our art team consist only of our dynamic duo, Juho and Jyri who are modeling and animating all the monsters!

On the gameplay side we’ve been concentrating on building the length of the game in the form of new levels. Our current goal is to hit alpha, which is perhaps the second most important milestone for us (the most important, of course, is shipping the game). Alpha in our terminology means getting the game to a state where it can be played from start to finish without nothing major missing. The sooner we can hit alpha the better, because then we have more time to polish everything and make the game really great. We are not quite in alpha yet, as we need more playable levels to get there. That said, the first half of the game is pretty much in playable condition and the very last segment of the game is also done. Now we just have to fill in the gaps and then we can start adding new playable characters, side missions, secrets, new abilities and items, etc.

On the coding side we have progressed on multiple fronts as well. For example, the game now has a proper main menu and savegame system. We have also added a world map mode, where the party travels between adventuring sites. All in all, with these additions it’s starting to feel like a real game!

Ability System

Among many other things the ability system has been worked on. We haven’t really explained how the ability system of Druidstone works, so here’s a quick intro. Characters can have two kind of abilities: passive and active. Every character starts with a basic selection of abilities and you buy new abilities and upgrade existing ones with XP. Instead of a more traditional mana/energy point system, every active ability can be used a certain number of times per battle. For instance, one of Leonhard’s starting abilities is Whirlwind and his level in that ability is initially 2, so he can use Whirlwind to attack all adjacent creatures up to 2 times per battle. Using XP he can upgrade the ability to next level to add 1 more use of the ability, or he could spend the XP to purchase an entirely different new ability. The characters themselves have no concept of level; the power level of heroes is entirely determined by the abilities and equipment they possess.

We like this system a lot because it’s very explicit and simple yet very flexible and powerful. You can see at a glance which abilities you can use and how many times. Choosing when to use abilities is pretty tricky and key to winning battles!

Parting Shot

Every now and then we receive questions about whether we have any crowd funding options or if there’s any other way to support the development of this game. It’s super, super awesome to hear that people are willing to support us in this way! Crowd funding is unfortunately rather tricky in Finland due to legislation and would anyway probably take too much time away from finishing the game. However, we have been talking internally about the possibility of having some sort of paid beta / early access for those who want to support us. We have never done one before, but we have had very successful closed betas for Grimrock. Naturally if we would have a beta program, the game would need to be near shipping quality (we being very allergic to showing unfinished stuff!). If successful, it would allow us to spend a bit more time polishing the game and perhaps have a bigger budget for outsourcing stuff like music and sound effects. It could potentially also help in increasing the awareness of this project before it ships. On the other hand the whole “paid beta” thing seem to have a negative connotation caused by some projects taking ages to get from beta to shipping.

Anyway, we haven’t decided anything yet, other than we are open to this option and we’d like to hear your opinion on this. So what do you think? If you are open to the idea and would be willing to pay for beta access, what would be a proper price range for a closed beta? Naturally those participating would get the shipping version at no extra cost. And if this sounds like a terrible idea, we’d like to know as well.

So there you have it. In parting I’ll just drop these two sneak peeks, one of a new playable character and another one from the ruins of Arken Temple deep in the Menhir Forest. Enjoy and have a great summer…or winter for those on the other side! See ya!

Petri Häkkinen

Developer

27 Comments:

  1. If you guys release an early access/beta version I would totally buy it to support your incredible work! But I would still wait for the game to be out before playing. I hate playing an incomplete/bugged game.
    This being said, the screenshots look magnificent! Can’t wait to play!

    And on a side note, I remember in LoG, when my all my party died I had to go back to the main menu to load a savefile and the whole process was just a little too long for my liking. When I fail, I like being able to retry quickly. Just saying…. 😉

    • Thank you Etienne for the support and comments! I totally understand why you would not want to play an unfinished game. As a player I would do the same.

      Indeed I’m not totally happy with the loop from dying to restarting in LOG. Especially in LOG2 it takes unnecessarily long to load a saved game. So yeah, coindicentally we have added a menu option just this week to restart from the latest save from the game over screen 🙂

      Also loading a saved game takes less than a second in Druidstone. We expect many total party kills when you are still learning the game, so we made loading the game pretty fast!

  2. How did you texture character?

  3. Do you use global illumination for baking lights ?

    • Actually we don’t bake lights, all lighting is dynamic and we emulate global illumination by placing lights manually. Old school but it works pretty well for the art style of Druidstone.

  4. I would be willing to try a closed beta. Sort of like a free “add-in” for customers who pre-order the game. Typically I shy away from preorders, but I make exceptions for proven developers.

  5. Is this a turn based game

  6. Mathieu Béliveau

    Reading about the ability system makes me dream of a somewhat tactical combat akin to Into the Breach intertwined with the potential of a rich story and deep exploration that can be done in RPGs. I hope you guys happen to make combat fully exploit the tight strategic possibilities of a tile based environment.

    Also, please don’t refrain to post tirades about coding insights, the last one on OOP was a nice read!

  7. I’d do anything to support you guys. However, I would never want to ruin my experience playing your game before it is ready.

  8. Ben Ramsey (Komag)

    I vote no for open beta, better to be traditional I think. Maybe pre-orders are fine.

    Nice update. Nice faithful creation of that guy from art to model, although I wish the gold fasteners on his bandolier and best stood out more

  9. I would vote no for an open beta, I am also of the mind that I would not want to spoil my initial experience of your game.

  10. I would pay for a beta i don’t play them to much as don’t like to spoil but like to give feedback on character gen etc as can spend hours in them, but you know what i would pay even more for a nice fancy collectors edition that you could include the beta in so more like a pre order service so you would know numbers. It was always a shame LOG didn’t have nice box editions as that also goes hand in hand with these type of rpg games which is also why people are asking for a crowd funding etc. The game looks amazing i prefer real time with pause but will get over that as Druids have always been my fav class so a whole game about them is my dream come true. NIce boxed edition please.

  11. Steingrímur Óskarsson (Skuggasveinn)

    I support games that are interesting to me through early access, kickstarter, fig etc, but I almost never play them until release. Sadly that means that I have untouched games in my library that are older than 5 years, and I know that some of them will never be released. This is the pitfall of early access, and like you said the source of the negativity around this practice, but on the upside it means that some great games got made.

    The fact that you as a developer understands this, and makes you question whether or not to follow suit, speaks volumes.

    In any case I would support you if you go the early access/paid beta route.
    But if you are looking for meaningful feedback / beta tester / public QA thing, then it would have to be a version of the game that you can play from start to finish with all major systems in place and be focused on polishing, glitch/bug finding, balancing etc. for me to actively take part.
    Placeholder soundtrack, sound effects, cutscenes, models, UI icons etc are fine, but the core gameplay with story and ending needs to be there.

    Have a nice summer 🙂

    • Hi Skuggas! Good to see you here! Yes, definitely the early access / beta version would have to be near shippable quality. In any case, we are too shy to show bugged, unfinished stuf.. .E.g. Grimrock 2 beta was a complete game, it would have to be something like that. But yeah, I’m beginning to feel that paid beta is not the right way for us…

  12. If you look for a way to support an expansion of the scope and want to tie in a beta, then you are better off to try something new.

    Like $10 for beta access which will be refunded if you buy the full game. You get publicity, earlier cashflow and a demo to boot.

    I hope you understand how important a proper ending is for the overall experience. I was devastated after the ending of LoG and my plans to replay the game evaporated with it.

    So, yes, I hope Druidstone does tell a good story.

    • Sorry to hear about your experience with the ending! Have you playd Grimrock 2 btw.? The ending(s) have a very different kind of flavor. Also thanks for your thoughts re the beta!

      • With my LoG playthrough not having ended on a high note, I found it difficult to get around to buying a copy from GOG, maybe a year from release. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a major factor impacting sales.

        Anyway, I decided to play LoG2 on hard, which I think was the right choice. But it required you to think ahead a lot more which is a good thing but made playing slower. I stopped possibly 1/3 through the game but I plan to continue my playthrough when my desire to play a good dungeon crawler is up again. LoG did a pretty good job to pull you through, LoG2 isn’t that strong in this respect.

        The game that excels in this respect is Soulbringer. It has aged but it’s an outstanding example how to keep the player’s motivation up. From it’s level design and carefully staged exploration over the living tarot cards and intelligent traps to the player stronghold and the hooks that link you to your antagonists, I can only recommend it to developers today for the lessons that could be learned from it. Sure there are other games like Deus Ex and Planescape Torment that exhibit the same qualities, but somehow Soulbringer distills these in their most pure form.

  13. I vote yes for closed beta early access. Perhaps 39.99 or a 29.99 slight discount depending on what price you’re thinking for the release version. Would love to support when you’re confident it’s in a more polished prerelease stage- and really like that this early funding can go towards ramping up the soundtrack/audio quality.

    Would a Kickstarter really be that difficult? I think that could help you achieve hype in a big way considering your past games and community affection for these tactical turn based game types.

    • Thanks for the feedback! Kickstarter unfortunately is not available for companies residing in Finland. However, there are other alternatives like indie gogo. One of the problems is that crowdfunding is not a win-win situation because setting up the campaign, marking push, videos etc. and sending out the rewards to backers take a lot of time, which is unfortunately time away from working on the game. Also there are the legistlation issues but I know some Finnish companies have worked around them.

  14. Has someone seen my jaw? It fell off when I loaded the page…

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