Saturday, 20 September 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 27

by Simon Dean, Project Lead


Welcome to Folk Tale Dev Blog 27. Today’s blog coincides with the release of Patch 0.2.9, so let’s take a look at what’s new, as well as taking a sneak peak at content from the next patch.

Patch 0.2.9 introduces Tier 1 City Walls. At the start of a game, your buildings and walls are all Tier 1. As you expand and your culture grows, in a future patch you’ll be able to upgrade to stone buildings and defenses and the appearance of your village will change from an impoverished hovel into a thriving market town. For the next patch we’re working on the Crossbowmen unit to join your City Watch in patrolling the walls.



In the economy, we’ve added the Fisherman profession. Best situated near rivers and shoreline, these early stage economic units live in Fishing Huts, easily identifiable by it’s boat shape and nets. Fisherman travel to nearby fishing spots where they cast their lines into schools of fish, before returning to fillet their catch and sell on to hungry Villagers.



We’ve continued to improve the editor, adding plenty of new props, many of which have been added in response to community feedback. Patch 0.2.9 introduces the Loot Inspector for both chests and monsters. Adding loot is as simple as searching for a keyword in the loot item name, clicking the item in the results, and then setting the probability and quantity.





We’ve also added loot profiles for assigning predefined loot tables, with blue items randomized during gameplay so that each game is slightly different. For a full list of all the loot we’ve added so far, please visit the Game Guide on our website at www.gamesfoundry.com.

In the next four weeks, we’re focusing on adding several new professions and buildings. The Weaver profession cultivate cotton buds that are then woven into Bolts of Cotton ready for use by the Tailor profession. Weaver’s live in Weavers Huts, waterwheel powered mini-factories that spin the strands of cotton before being woven on looms.



Once the weaver’s have delivered Bolts Of Cotton to the Storehouse, the Tailor profession cuts the fabric into Clothes that your villagers will then buy. Tailors live in the Tailor's Emporium, designed to look like a pin-cushion for easy recognition. Tailors can equip tools to be more productive, including needles and thread, and thimbles, and can craft cloth armor for equipping your heroes and villagers.



The Herbalist cultivates herbs and brews medicines and potions. Medicinal Herbs are grown in Farmer’s Fields, while rarer herbs can be found in the world for use as ingredients in making potions and poisons. Medicine helps cure sick villagers, who would otherwise infect others, revolt from unhappiness, and ultimately die. Herbalists live in Greenhouses, easily identified by the large potion vials on the roof and the outdoor greenhouse.



Merchants work at the Marketplace and act as middlemen enabling you to buy and sell resources on the open market. The Art Team are still working on the marketplace and the Jeweller profession, and we’ll take a look at those once they are ready in the Sunday Dev Hangouts and a future dev blog.



If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest developments, as well as sharing your ideas with other friendly community members, the Sunday Dev Hangouts are well worth dropping in to. For more information, please visit twitch.tv/gamesfoundry and subscribe to the channel. The broadcast times can be found towards the bottom of the channel. Hopefully I’ll get to chat with you soon.

As always, our sincere thanks for supporting Folk Tale during development and continuing to provide great feedback. Until next time, bye for now.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 26

by Simon Dean, Project Lead


Welcome to Folk Tale Dev Blog 26. Patch 0.2.8 is out and once again we've got a wealth of improvements to share starting with work-in-progress character and global inventory. Besides equipping villagers with armor and tools, weapons can be swapped out and shown on characters. For this patch only we've included one of every item into the global inventory, which can be accessed by clicking on the inventory bag on the top bar. To open a character's inventory, first select an individual which will cause the portrait circle to appear in the bottom left of the screen. Next, click the inventory bag on the portrait wheel. You can now drag and drop items onto your character.

We've still got much work to do on inventory, including proper tooltips, right click to auto-equip, and shift+left click to split stacks, which we'll be working on for the next patch. Inventory is a stepping stone to looting both corpses and chests, so you can expect that soon too.



Two of the economy chains are now complete. The Butchery and Bakery both produce finished goods, and now hungry villagers will buy products ( parting with coin to fill your coffers ) to satiate their hunger. Different foods will fill empty stomachs by differing amounts, and the taste buds of your villagers will evolve as your settlement progresses from Tier 1 through to Tier 3. We've taken the first step by allowing the crop type to be set in the Farmer's Fields.



The worker cap for Tier 1 profession buildings has been increased from 2 to 4, which should make training a small company of City Watch a lot less painful. When enabled, Tier 2 will support 8 characters, and Tier 3 the maximum of 12.

On a final note about economy, we've moved away from the economy simulation first introduced in sandbox and gone back to an actual work performed basis similar to that of the Tutorial. What that means is that there is now a direct correlation between workers dropping off resources and quantities increasing in your inventory. That move opens up a number of options, including the ability to clear areas of land from the map, which we'll be adding in a future patch.

Combat has taken another step forward with the addition of the wave inspector in the Editor. Each wave can comprise of multiple groups, each group being a different monster class. For example, in wave 1 you can spawn a Beastman in Group 1 and a couple of War Pigs in Group 2. In wave 2, you can setup a completely different set of monsters to spawn. Each wave can have a different behaviour, including standing still, wandering within a radius, and seeking out player characters and buildings. You can also choose the wave starting formation, with Group 1 being the captain who's position is denoted by the colour dot in the formation options.



We've migrated the Goblins across into Sandbox and made some improvements, including the addition of the Goblin Warship prop. Goblins can now scale your City Walls, so Engineer's Turrets, Traps and Siege Machines will play an important role in defending your village in later patches. We've also made changes to the Trebuchet including the framework to support different ammo types, with each shot consuming items directly from your global inventory.





Several Editor Kits have received new content, including an expanded Kobold Camp Kit and new Grassland Kit pieces including flaming torches, sconce, braziers, mushrooms, and mine carts. The biggest addition is to the Cemetery Kit which now includes modular snap-together components to create an entire mausoleum complex for your necromancers, skeletons and spiders.



With the kind agreement of community member Matty101, we're including one of his Sandbox maps for you to play around with in Sandbox Player which we've called The Valley. It's completely different to the Human Village map and is well worth playing. It's also pretty stunning, and shows just have great a tile-based terrain system can be made to look.

And finally, if you weren't already aware, we've started the Sunday Dev Hangouts. The live streams on Twitch.tv have been running for several weeks now and provide a great opportunity for us to connect with our community. I always have the latest dev build of Folk Tale on show, and answer questions in chat about game features, what we've been working on, our plans for the future, and how to use the Editor. So if you'd like to hangout with a friendly bunch for a few hours every Sunday, head on over to our Twitch channel and follow us.



Saturday, 19 July 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 25

by Simon Dean, Project Lead


Welcome to Folk Tale Dev Blog 25. With Patch 0.2.7 recently released on Steam we've got lots of improvements to share with you today. In an experimental change to our regular format, the video is the most recent Dev Hangout live stream where I explore the patch in detail. It's much longer than usual clocking in at over 100 minutes, so feel free to skip bits.

Sandbox continues to progress in leaps and bounds, with city building and economy moving beyond that of the original Tutorial. The first change you'll notice is that resources are now important, and you won't be able to construct larger buildings until you've harvested enough resources.

The Woodcutter Hut now produces an additional product, Firewood. Firewood is required by buildings to keep the occupants warm. If you're producing too much or too little firewood, you can toggle production of Planks and Firewood in the Production Tab of the Buildings Dialog. Not producing Planks will double the output of Firewood, and vice versa. Allocating potential work output between production and research is also working, and you can now start accumulating research points which are shown on the top bar. We'll be adding research options to spend those points on in a future patch.



Villagers collect Firewood direct from the Woodcutter's Hut, or a Storehouse if you have one, and carry it to their home building. In a future update delivering Firewood to a building will cause chimney smoke to rise as the wood burns. Once the fire goes out, villagers will need to collect more Firewood. Being cold for too long will have an adverse affect on the happiness of a building's occupants. For now though, they may stockpile Firewood in their homes.

We've capped the number of trainable professions per building to a very low 2. We had meant to increase this to 5, but unfortunately it didn't make it into this build. For now, if you want more of a profession, simply build more of that building type.

Economy chains are now in, including the Farmer growing Wheat, milling it into Flour in the Windmill, before carrying it to the Storehouse. The Baker will collect the Sacks of Flour and bake them into Bread at the Bakery.

The Hunting Lodge now supports roaming Hunters who will kill Deer and carry them back to the Lodge for skinning, before carrying the carcasses to the nearest Storehouse. The Butcher will collect the carcasses and carry them to the Butchery where he'll chop them into Raw Meat.



The Monastery now farms the Bee Yard for Honeycomb and brews Barrels Of Mead which the Monks carry to the Storehouse. The Innkeeper collects the barrels and carries them to the Tavern for selling on to villagers.

In the next patch we'll add the final economy part which is where villagers have needs and will visit each of the vendors to purchase finished goods in exchange for gold. For now though we've given you plenty of starting gold, and if you run out hold down G,O,D on the keyboard to replenish your coffers.

While I'm on the subject of the Monastery, we've added Prayers to the top bar in preparation for the next patch. Villagers will have a need to worship the Holy Toast, and will visit the Monastery to pray, generating Prayers. These Prayer points, simply referred to as Prayers, will eventually be spent on Miracles which will appear under the Monastery Building Dialog in place of the crafting tab.

As your village expands, you'll be needing a steady supply of Peasants to train in new professions. Population expansion has been added, and building five or more cottages will now lead to new peasants appearing in your village. In testing I've had over 200 villagers and lots of buildings, but currently the frame rate will drop. We'll continue to optimize throughout development and the frame rate will start to recover. For now though, you can try reducing your settings, which will help if your PC is limited by the graphics card.



There are a number of other changes in the village, including Wells which are now constructible but not functional. In time these will supply water for economy production and putting out fires. The other changes I'll leave for you to discover.

Combat is fleshing out nicely, although the monsters are currently over-powered so you need to be tactical with your pulling, and go mob-handed by building lots of Barracks. Tower-mounted Trebuchet now target enemy units and do area damage, and we've updated the Repeating Crossbow asset and made it functional, reining down bolts at approaching enemies.



Professions are now attacking with the proper weapons and animations. Farmers fight with Pitch Forks, Butchers with Cleavers, Bakers with Rolling Pins, Innkeepers with Broken Bottles, and so on.



New Monsters have been added or made spawnable in the Editor, including Wolves, Giant Snails, Swamp Beasts, Skeleton Warriors and Necromancers. We'll be adding Earth Mothers, Forest Imps and the Goblins in subsequent patches.

We've also added a number of new terrain tiles, including 1/4 and 1/2 height waterfalls, and full height stone stairs cut into cliffs. You can check them out by opening the Human Village map in the Editor. Bridges have also received a navmesh fix that was preventing villagers from crossing in certain positions.

I'd also like to announce the Sunday Dev Hangout stream on Twitch.tv. Every Sunday I'll be streaming live, playing the latest dev builds, designing levels in the Editor, and answering community questions. You can find our channel at www.twitch.tv/gamesfoundry where there is a schedule for different time zones, and a number of earlier streams including a play through of Patch 0.2.7. Creating a Twitch account and following the channel will send you an email notification when we're about to go live. You can also follow us on Twitter (@gamesfoundry) account, where we announce streams just before we go live.

Thanks for watching - especially if you made it through the 100 minute video!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 24

by Simon Dean, Project Lead


Hey guys. Thanks for dropping in for Dev Blog 24. Today we’ll be looking at the recently released Patch 0.2.6, and the new website packed full of useful information.

Patch 0.2.6 is available now on Steam if you want to try it out for yourself. We’ve added a raft of new buildings and professions that are going to make the first playable sandbox content in Patch 0.3 a deeper and more enjoyable experience.

The Hunting Lodge is home to the Hunter profession, ranged bow units that hunt Deer and Boar for raw meat and hides. For the next patch we’re focusing on making the new professions work-enabled. That means the Hunter will go about his daily routine of hunting nearby animals, and take them back to the Lodge for skinning.





In an example of one of the economy chains we’re introducing, once the Hunter has processed the carcass, they’ll pass the meat over to the Butchery. The Butcher’s job is to process the raw meat and make Steaks, Sausages, and Meat Pies for selling on to your villagers at a healthy profit, swelling your coffers, filling their bellies to stave off starvation, and keeping them happy.




The Farmer, Windmill and Wheat Field have been in for a while now, and with the addition of the Bakery we’ll soon be able to complete another economy chain. The Baker mixes flour from the windmill with water from the well, and bakes it into tasty bread. The Baker will also be able to craft luxury items including cakes and toast ( both of which require butter as a crafting ingredient from the Dairy which we’ll be adding later ).







In a previous patch we added the Monastery, Monk and Bee Yard for brewing Barrels of Mead. With the addition of the Tavern and the Innkeeper, tankards will soon be clinking to the sound of merriment as the Mead flows into the gullets of thirsty villagers. The Tavern will also be where you’ll hire heroes for adventuring out into the wilds in the RPG side of Folk Tale, but for now we’re focusing on citybuilding, economy and RTS style combat.




In the latest patch we’ve also added in basic combat. To help testing, we’ve made monsters selectable and movable, so you can either send a group of City Watch and Hunters out to find them, or throw monsters against your City Walls. It’s very rough at this stage, and we’ll be improving combat with each subsequent patch.



The Hunters are the first ranged unit to be added to sandbox, and as you might expect, we’ve gone the extra step and made sure the elevation of their arms matches the arc of fire. If you looked closely at the goblin archers on the Barbican in the old Tutorial, you may have noticed that even though they shoot down, their arms remain straight, which looks terrible and breaks immersion. In Sandbox, we’ve sorted that, and ranged units now adjust the angle of their bow arm, so when they are shooting down from elevated positions such as city walls, they look the part.



The Character Designer has now been updated with all the latest profession uniforms, and we’ve added in a couple of new hair and beard styles. Longer term we intend to support loading and saving of characters so you can play sandbox games with your favourite bunch of villagers, as well as sharing and downloading characters with the community.

Lighting has a new high quality setting for high-end PC’s that adds proper lighting to the night windows. It’s purely aesthetic but does add to immersion at the cost of some performance.



There’s no more ALT F4’ing or command-Q’ing to quit out of sandbox player, with the escape key now bringing up a quit to desktop option.

And finally one of the biggest changes is that we’ve swapped the default public version of the Windows build over to 64-bit. Most players are already using a 64-bit edition of Windows, and for those it brings the benefit of fewer memory related issues including moonwalking villagers after loading a Tutorial save game.

Players who find Folk Tale no longer works after Patch 0.2.6 are most likely on Windows 32-bit. Don’t worry, we’re still supporting a 32-bit build, but you need to opt-in to a special build under the Steam beta’s system. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the Announcements tab of the community section on Steam.

And that leads me nicely on to the next announcement we have today; the overhauled website. As development of Sandbox continues, we needed somewhere to provide all the information that players will soon start asking us for. What buildings are available? What function does each building have? What character professions are available? What loot items are available and what are their stats? We’ve set the foundations early so that we can continue to add meaningful content to the website, including Tutorials on how to use the Editors.



You’ll also find a development roadmap on the website. This is a high level overview of what features and content are coming in each patch.

In the next patch we’ll be introducing more of the economy, making resources more important, improving combat, and bringing more monsters to life.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the 875 play ers who completed the Player Satisfaction Survey. Your feedback has been important in helping us understand where we need to increase our efforts and make changes. Hopefully you’ll notice some of the changes resulting from your feedback, including the Production Status mini-blog where we look more closely at what’s in production, and a continuing drive to reduce patch times, down from once a month to around three weeks. Hopefully we can continue this and have the next patch out in the first half of July.

Your role as part of the community and your continued support during development is very important to us. We always try to listen to the voice of the community, and do our very best to respond to the feedback provided by taking actions that make a difference. Thanks for taking this journey with us.

Until next time, bye for now.



Thursday, 29 May 2014

Folk Tale Player Satisfaction Survey Spring 2014

by Simon Dean, Project Lead


To mark our Early Access anniversary, we wanted to ask as many of you as possible how we’d performed over the last twelve months. We launched the first ever Player Satisfaction Survey, and you sent us some very clear messages.




We received an impressive 500 survey submissions, with participation split evenly between active community members, and those who prefer to follow progress on a more casual basis. 9 out of 10 participants own Folk Tale.

UPDATE: The final count is 875 submissions, 375 of which were submitted after this summary was produced. The results have shown a slight overall improvement on an already positive set of results, but nothing that significantly changes the results presented in this blog. All these submissions will go towards forming the benchmark we'll use for the next survey.


Key Messages From Our Community
 
Here’s what you collectively told us through your answers and personal feedback.




1) Hurry up!;
2) You’re doing a great job in keeping us updated and being transparent;
3) Patch more often;
4) We want village building and RPG adventuring the most;
5) Most of us want sandbox, but there’s strong interest in a campaign-style storyline;
6) Half of us are interested in both playing and creating content;
7) Folk Tale has loads of potential, and we have confidence that you’ll deliver;
8) Blog more than once a month, but don’t compromise quality for quantity;
9) Overall we’re satisfied but there are clear areas for improvement.


Which of the following game modes would you most prefer?




Having marketed the game as sandbox, this question wasn’t so much about the sandbox answer, but how much interest exists for a more campaign-based experience similar to the Tutorial. With 35% expressing a preference for campaign, it’s worth us investing time into the Encounters system, our primary means of introducing storyline into sandbox.

Multiplayer continues to languish in third place, echoing the sentiment of the Steam Greenlight December 2012 Poll - that Folk Tale should be a single player game.


Which element of gameplay do you expect to find the most appealing?




Short term our focus is on village building and testing sieges ready for the Patch 0.3 milestone. That echoes the leading answer. When grouped with Economy Management and RTS, we should be meeting the needs of 64% of the audience with Patch 0.3. Our plan to then cross over to the RPG side of the game will ensure the needs of the remaining 35% are catered to. New environments, monsters, loot, heroes, levelling up, special abilities and quests will all be part of that.


How likely are you to use the Sandbox Editor to create your own worlds?




The community is fairly split on this. At least half have expressed an interest in creating and sharing worlds, and the easier we make it, the more community content is likely to be produced.

4 out of 10 are either unlikely or will never use the Editor. By meeting the needs of the half who have expressed an interest in creating worlds, and including a comprehensive world designed by ourselves, we should be able to meet the needs of those who prefer to spend their time playing content.


How important is it to have the ability to beautify your village with plants, benches, street lamps, and paths?




With only 22% of respondents declaring the feature as not important, we need to do something to address the preferences of the remaining 78%. So we’re going to introduce plans for beautification to improve villager happiness. While it won’t be a critical high priority feature, it will have a minor impact on gameplay, and hopefully make you more proud of your village.


How satisfied are you with the current dev blogs?



Blogging is certainly one area where you rate our performance, with 87% of respondents positive. More than half of the community are either satisfied or very satisfied with the content and format of the blogs. Almost half of the community regularly check the dev blog, with 94% having visited at some point during development.











While 7 out of 10 respondents rank quality over frequency, 6 out of 10 have expressed a desire for a new blog either fortnightly or weekly. Unfortunately due to budgetary constraints, it’s not practical to offer a high quality video blog more than once a month. However, in an effort to meet some of that additional demand, we’re going to pilot a text only mini-blog in between the monthly video blogs. We’ll iterate on the format with your feedback, and hopefully together can arrive at an acceptable compromise.


How satisfied are you our level of community engagement and communication?




Since launch we’ve endeavoured to include the community in the development process. The daily forum posts, one-to-one technical support, and high quality video blogs have reaped dividends, with 90% of respondents having a positive response. 65% are either satisfied or very satisfied with our level of engagement and communication, which is terrific.


How satisfied are you with the frequency of patch updates?




It’s been a challenging year since launch during which we’ve been focused almost exclusively on building the sandbox foundation which set us back an entire year. That means for a while we were unable to provide substantial updates, for which we suffered. While 66% are somewhat satisfied, satisfied, or very satisfied, 34% have been left dissatisfied. Your message that we must try harder has been received loud and clear.

Since the release of patch 0.2.0 in December, the patch situation has been gradually improving as promised, and as we approach patch 0.3 we’re achieving monthly patches. With a solid sandbox foundation now in place, we’re in a good position to push forward with meaningful content updates. Being one of our key performance indicators, I plan to invest greater effort into improving our lacklustre performance in this area, in the hope we can perform better when we repeat this question in future surveys.


How satisfied are you that Folk Tale will live up to the potential?




It would appear that the original creative vision remains firmly intact, and that development is progressing in the right direction. With 84% expressing a positive opinion, and 60% either satisfied or very satisfied that we’ll deliver on the game’s potential, it appears as a development team we have your confidence and backing.


Would you recommend Folk Tale to your friends?




I was pleasantly surprised by this result, re-confirming that while we need to do more to improve patches, we’re doing a respectable job. I’d expect more no’s as the survey extended to less engaged members of the audience, but even still this is a strong endorsement.


As an Early Access title, how do we fair when compared with other Early Access games?




This was perhaps one of the trickier questions to answer. It’s not uncommon in the forums for comparisons to be made with other developers in Early Access, so I was keen to understand how you felt we were measuring up. It’s prone to skewing, and isn’t one of the most robust of survey questions, so I’ll simply present the data as is, and leave you to draw your own conclusions.


Have you left a review on the Steam Store Page?




As much as I’m a fan of Steam, I’m no fan of the review system for Early Access games. With long development times, developers can end up with a handful of opinions based on very early builds that often bear no resemblance to the current state of a project. On Folk Tale, we’ve suffered at the hands of a few negative reviews posted before any sandbox tech was released. Those sometimes misleading reviews now hog the limelight, turning away potential backers who could help make the game you support even better by funding a larger team.

Based on the results of this survey, I’d really like to encourage you to read the reviews - both positive and negative - and if you agree with them, consider rating them up. As it stands, the reviews that are hogging the limelight don’t appear to be representative of the opinions that you have expressed in this survey.

Reviews can be found at the bottom of the Steam Store Page.


How satisfied are you with the overall development of Folk Tale?




With 78% of you expressing a positive opinion, we really feel supported by the community. We’ve got more work to do, especially when it comes to patching, but with your continued support, together we can push on and deliver a fantastic game.

Thank you.



I’d like to thank every one of you who took the time to complete the survey. You’ve provided us with a clear picture of where we need to direct our efforts, and where we’ve been doing a good job. Once we’ve had a chance to make some changes to our process, we’ll repeat the survey later in the year and hopefully we’ll have improved.