Saturday, 13 August 2016

Folk Tale Dev Blog 40




Boss Battles

Welcome to Folk Tale Alpha 28. The team have been busy over the summer implementing mechanics, visual effects, animations and sound effects to really beef up battles. The behemoths from the campaign are first to receive a booster, with Mossclaw and Bonefinger proving more formidable opponents.

We're introducing a wide variety of special abilities to give each battle a unique flavour. In the battle with Bonefinger, his wing slams cause a series of stalactites to fall from the cavern ceiling. Stalactites damage and stun both heroes and Bonefinger, potentially changing the course of a battle. Mindful players can evade them by keeping an eye out for the warning signs and moving their heroes in time.

Boss Battles


Managing multiple heroes can be a handful for less experienced players, and this is where the new hero AI takes over. By selecting and playing just one hero, the other heroes in the party think for themselves, using their special abilities at opportune moments. For advanced players wanting full control, auto AI can be toggled off in the character portrait and heroes swapped between quickly using the F-keys.

Hero Ability Targeting And A.I.

Besides units now being more responsive to player commands, hero ability targeting has been improved with AOE and arc indicators, injecting a further skill element into combat.

Hero Ability Targeting


Monster Auto-Balancing

We recognise that players of all abilities enjoy the game, and in Alpha 28 we've addressed that with auto-balancing, and an overall difficulty setting. With auto-balancing, each encounter has it's challenge rating adjusted to match what's happening in the game. As the player party expands, levels up, and equips more loot, the game automatically starts to ramp up the challenge level. It's designed to lag somewhat, so players feel the immediate benefit of a new epic sword, or a new armor set, but without giving them a long term edge over opponents. This keeps battles challenging and interesting throughout for all players.

For players finding the game a little too tough or not challenging enough, the new difficulty setting  adjusts gameplay accordingly. XP penalties for death are ramped, monster encounter challenges made easier or harder, and even spider queens stop attacking your village on easy. With these tools players can now find a challenge level that's right for them.

Linked maps via portals + World Travel

When it comes to adventuring, world map travel is now available from any portal. Players can either choose to travel directly to where a portal leads, or open the world map to choose an alternative destination, including specific portals that they have discovered. Sandbox maps are now interconnected, with players able to travel between locations and start multiple villages.

World Travel


Key Bindings

Key bindings are now configurable via settings, so if you are left-handed or have a non-English layout keyboard the game should now support your needs better.

Campaign

Work is wrapping up on Act I, with just the faction leader boss battles left to implement. Work is progressing well on Act II where we meet the unscrupulous Grublins and glorious Toadkin empire in the Bountiful Bog region. Much of the level design is already complete, all the characters and props are ready, and work has begun in implementing the campaign script. We're expecting to have Act II wrapped up by the end of this year.

Campaign Act II


Editor

Over in the editor, workbench receives 11 more node types for level designers to experiment with, while the ability to preview the navmesh is extremely helpful in ironing out pathfinding issues.

New kits include the Glacian Ice Palace, and the Fishing Docks kit, both of which are being used in the rollout of the campaign. The ice palace kit can be seen in action by visiting Spirefrost in the sandbox snow zone.

Ice Palace Kit


These are just some of the high level changes the team have been working on. Countless bug fixes and minor improvements are included too, and overall the game takes another step towards feeling polished.

Have a great summer. Until next time, bye for now.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Folk Tale Dev Blog 39

It's been a good while since our last dev blog. After increasing the frequency of patches last summer to at least fortnightly, achieving that has meant making time cuts elsewhere. If you don't follow the experimental releases much, in this post we cover what's new since the last blog.

These are a selection of the highlights. For a more comprehensive list of changes, please read the patch notes in the Steam Community Forum.

Marketplace

Being able to trade goods is a life saver if your economy is stuttering. It could be surplus production you're looking to sell for coin, the need to stave off starvation by buying in much needed food supplies, or picking up magic essence for crafting magic items. The Marketplace is a new advanced building with a dedicated UI.

Marketplace Exterior And UI

Well

Villagers can man the well and pump Buckets Of Water. Water is used in potion making (crafting at the Herbalist's Den), will soon be added as an input into brewing, and is a precursor to being able to extinguish building fires.

Pumping Water At The Town Well


The first visitor to the well pumps five buckets of water which appear around the foot of the well. Once finished, they pick up a bucket and head off back to what they were doing. The next visitor simply collects one of the pre-pumped buckets. If no buckets remain, they take their turn to pump five more buckets.

Mechanics: Faction Standing System

Faction standing is an essential system for implementing the campaign storyline. Helping one faction causes your standing with the opposing faction to decline. We added several new nodes to Workbench (the visual scripting environment built into the Editor) that allow us to tweak values as players complete quests.

Faction standing determines how monsters react to the player when they come into range. Enemies naturally attack, while neutral and friendly factions will go about their business, allowing the player to walk around faction villages and interact with NPCs.

Mechanics: Potion Making, Wild Herbs and Potion Consumption

There are two ways to keep heroes alive. One is to recruit Willow the healer. The other is to craft health and power potions. We've added wild herb patches around the environments which can be harvested by selecting a villager and right clicking on the herbs. Wild herb patches regenerate over time and build up to a capped amount so you don't have to constantly collect them.

Gathering Wild Herbs


At the Herbalist's Den, potions can be mixed under the building dialog crafting tab. First however, players need to complete Elixirs research to unlock the crafting recipes. Crafting potions requires wild herbs and water from the well, and are placed in player's main inventory.

On the character portrait wheel in the bottom left of the screen, icon buttons can be used to consume power and health potions. The game selects the most appropriate potion size to avoid wastage. Players don't want to drink a Greater Health Potion when a Lesser Health Potion will do the job.

Mechanics: Revival

We've added party revival, and Willow's (the healer hero) revive ability so there's no more perma-death. When health is reduced to zero, heroes are knocked unconscious and their portrait in the top left of the screen turns deep red. At the end of the battle heroes regain consciousness and a little health, enabling players to continue their adventure without having to reload. In village maps there is a 5 minute cool down to prevent cheating.

Willow's targeted revive ability can be used during combat to get a hero back into the fight. Ability target in general has been overhauled, and targets filtered so that only the relevant character types get highlighted.

Willow's Revive Ability


Mechanics: Shared Access To Inventory

Villagers now have access to the main inventory from any Supply Wagon or Storehouse. Placing a storehouse close to production buildings reduces travel time and increases economic productivity. It also reduces the amount of walking hungry villagers need to do, meaning more time spent working.

Mechanics: Dynamic Loot And Magic Items

The loot system has been overhauled to support scaling as player heroes move up in level. Loot is now dynamically generated, and items can finally receive meaningful magical properties. Names comprise a prefix, the weapon type, and a suffix.

For example, players might come across a Stalwart Sword Of Freezing. The stalwart prefix represents a Tier 2 strength buff to the heroes attributes (+3 str), while the freezing suffix is a Tier 4 frost damage buff that adds a significant amount of additional magical damage.

Magic Item Visual Effects


Each prefix and suffix has four tiers. Here are the strength and freezing tiers:

Strength Prefix Tiers: Staunch (+1), Stalwart (+3), Mighty (+5), Valiant (+7)
Frost Suffix Tiers: Chilling (+1), Shivering (+3), Winter (+5), Freezing (+7)

Weapons receive a visual effect reflecting the suffix bonus including flames, poison, frost, shock and shadow.

Mechanics: Destructibles

Standard fare for an RPG game, we've added smashable crates, urns and sacks that can contain loot. There's not much more I need to say about that as we all know how they work.

UI: Civics Building List

A widely requested feature was a centralized view of all buildings within a village. The new building list under the civics options show players active production, ongoing research, and provides quick access to further inspect each building.

Inspecting a building from the list and then closing the building dialog will return players back to the civics list. We've done this so you can quickly jump in and out of buildings to set research.

Campaign Map: The Glade

Home to the Gladefolk, the Glade is one of the first faction maps players will explore as part of the campaign. It uses a dedicated editor kit that level designers can use to make their own leafy woodlands.

The Glade is playable, but is currently work in progress.

The Glade


Campaign Map: Bla'tu's Palace

Bla'tu is the Toadkin King. His Palace will eventually be accessed via an entirely new swamp map created for the campaign. For now, we've linked the ruins in the Sandbox Swamp map with portal doors so players can go and explore. Blatu's Palace is also work in progress, testing the extended Swamp Ruins editor kit and new pieces including pressure plates that can be scripted in Workbench to create small puzzles or trigger traps.

Bla'tu's Palace


VFX

Having implemented Ser Gregory and Willow's special abilities last year, we paused and moved on to other higher priority tasks. Now that we're rolling out campaign, we have since returned and all of the hero ability visual effects are now ready to implement. We've actually gone beyond that, and have been creating effects for bosses, behemoths and NPCs. Expect more heroes to be added in the first half of this year.

Workbench

The Editor continues to become more powerful and flexible, supporting us in rolling out the scripting for campaign gameplay. One of the key changes has been the addition of cross-map questing. It is now possible to start a quest in one map, and have it's state continue over into another map. The number of visual nodes has grown tremendously over the last six months, and we can achieve some really cool things that will add interest.

Workbench Visual Scripting Tool


Illustration

It's a little crazy just how many illustrations there are in Folk Tale. We now have 700+ loot icons, 45 hero ability icons, and 174 character portraits, hair and uniform illustrations all lovingly hand painted. Here are a selection of the latest additions:

Character and Loot Illustrations


Our character artist Allan has now modelled and painted all 32 faction characters including leaders, heroes, behemoths, and ambassadors. Each faction is now being fleshed out with creeps. Once they've been rigged and animated, imported into the game, and hooked up with the visual effects, we'll start sharing them on the blog.

Alpha 26 will be released this Friday.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Folk Tale Dev Blog 38


The start of a mechanics overhaul has begun, and the first taster is soon to be released.

Bye Bye Needs...Hello Happiness


Let's face it, the needs system in Folk Tale was a pain in the derrière. Constant notifications from moaning villagers, a lack of clarity on why things were happening, and a source of frustration. So we've binned it, and taken community feedback in hand.

Say hello to overall happiness, broken down into each of the positive and negative factors contributing to it. The new civics dialog tab includes an ability to set rationing on food, firewood, clothing, and mead. Players can also set the tax rate and see an immediate effect. For now, happiness is impacted by rationing, taxes, overcrowding and food variety. Overcrowding arises when a player's population reaches a maximum and more space is required, but it hasn't been popular so we'll be reworking it. Food variety introduces a new mechanic. Villagers are happier with a varied diet. Players won't receive a negative effect, since villagers can survive on berries should they need to. Add fish, bread, meat and vegetables to their diet and life looks peachier.

In happy times, player population will increase to it's maximum over time. When unhappy, players are on a short fuse and villagers will start to abandon (and in the future rebel).

Needs Replaced With Rationing And Overall Happiness


Rationing is another new mechanic. Remember the days when peasants would burn through firewood stocks like a bunch of pyromaniacs? Now players are in control. During lean times, rationing can be used to limit how much villagers consume. No-one is happy having to make do with less, but over the short term a little pain in the form of unhappiness can give players a chance to recover from supply shocks such as losing fields. During times of plenty, double and even quadruple rations can offset other negatives and provide a rapid boost to population growth.

Collectables and Harvesting


We didn't feel the game was tangible with enough interaction with the world. We'll soon be adding world collectables are part of the campaign storyline quests, and that system has already been expanded into resource harvesting.

Peasants continue to suck at resource collection. When visiting a tree, it will be felled after several swings, and produce 1 miserly log which is then picked up and carried back to the Supply Wagon. Train a Woodcutter, and the log yield instantly doubles. For each of the next 4 levels, Woodcutters get better at their jobs (earning experience), and the yield increases by 1 for each character level, up to a maximum of 5. So now players will care a little more about losing a Master Woodcutter. In times of urgency, peasants and workers can be selected and logs on the ground interacted with (they highlight on mouse over) to command them to assist with collection.




Fields work in a similar fashion. We've segmented fields into four quadrants, and each quadrant can be cleared independently. So if players have 4 farmers sat around being lazy, when a field is 100% grown, they can now all work the same field. The yield from each quadrant (shown as bushels of wheat, and baskets of carrots/cotton/herbs) will depend on each Farmer's level of expertise. The changes to field mechanics mean that Tier 2 and 3 Windmills and the larger workforce that they support can now be put to better use.

Research


For Alpha 25 we're overhauling research. Research will no longer be progressed through the delivery of resources. Instead, there will be a one off gold cost, after which a progress bar will increment. For buildings with workers, each worker will contribute a little towards speedier research.

By removing resource delivery as the driver of progress, the issues with Barracks, Storehouse and Workshop are removed and the process simplified for the 0.3.5 release.

Research will in future be tied to building tiers, so that advanced research such as Plate will be dependent on unlocking Tier 2 or 3 buildings. We may also lock higher level crafting tiers to building tiers. For example, while Plate research might be unlocked with a Tier 2 Blacksmith (enabling uncommon crafting items), players would require a Tier 3 Blacksmith to craft rare armor items.

Armor will become a prerequisite for unlocking certain military units. We're introducing Spearmen (and women), an early stage military unit with leather armor, spear and buckler. To unlock them, players will need a Tier 1 Blacksmith and to complete Leather Armor research. That in turn will unlock the Barracks construction option. Building a Tier 1 Barracks will then allow villagers to be trained as Spearmen.

Here's a breakdown of the proposed pre-requisites:

Unit         Research          Blacksmith Tier     Culture
Spearmen     Leather Armor            1               50
Arbalist     Chainmail                1              200
Cavalry      Scale                    2              300
City Watch   Plate                    2              400


Campaign


Work continues with implementing the Withering Dead and Gladefolk storylines, introduced to the player by Kenny and his band of brigands. With the recent addition of portals enabling us to link maps together, Shirebrook is now connected to the Bandit Caves and Mordrich's undead sandal factory. We're at the point of needing collectables, and that work has been completed as part of the resource harvesting overhaul. Once players can pickup objects (adding them to inventory) to progress quests, we'll continue with the Withering Dead script. Voice acting continues to be added as it becomes available. In the experimental build that means some conversations will have patchy VO coverage.

Mordrich's sandal factory is already well progressed, and the Art Team have been putting the finishing touches to a variety of mad scientist props that we need for Mordrich's office and Brom's engine room. Once those are complete, our attention will switch back to finishing the Glade, the next dungeon in the storyline sequence.

The entirety of the Swamp/Grublin/Toadkin storyline scripts are now complete, and work on the Snow/Order Of The Fang/Glacians is currently around 50% complete.

Heroes and NPCs


Character production is well ahead of the roadmap, following the faction structure of leader, hero, behemoth and supporting cast. House Hraun is a dwarven faction residing in the lava fields. Technologically advanced, House Hraun is at war with the Cult Of Pyros, a pyromancy-based faction that we'll look at in a future blog. Freya the paladin hero currently has a goatee; not all design choices are good ones and we're in the process of removing it. I also feel she needs a helmet to feel more like a heavily armored paladin, what do you think?

House Hraun (from left to right: House Guard, Barum Hraun, Gunner)



Freya Hraun, Paladin


Loot


Devin, the team's Texture Artist, continues pumping faction-branded weapons so that players can gear up villagers and heroes with loot. At launch we should have weapons available in most factional variants, other than where it makes absolutely no sense in lore. Some will receive particle effects to reflect their magical nature.



In the future we'll be adding a dynamic loot generator for chests and corpses so that appropriate loot is dropped depending on the composition of the player's adventuring party and their level. We can't anticipate how community level designers will order their worlds, so therefore we cannot have the fixed stat items that are currently shown on the website. If a level designer wants the lava zone to be their first map, we can't really have all dwarf gear being fixed level 18-20 gear. That would completely ruin the game.

The same is true for monster levels, so we'll introduce scaling around the same time. Obviously we're keen to prevent level 1 dragons from appearing in community worlds, so we'll most likely force minimum level caps on most bosses, and where possible swap out monsters.

Editor


The Editor grows in power and features with the addition of terrain sculpting and new workbench visual scripting nodes. Terrain sculpting is an impressive feature for raising and lowering land. That might not sound impressive until you consider we have a tile-based terrain system. All the tiles in the proximity need to be recalculated and matches found in a limited tile set.

The terrain sculptor tool comes with a constraints system for additional flexibility, enabling level designers to add fixed rules for what terrain must be used in surrounding tiles. For example, enforcing where rivers must flow.

Terrain Sculpting Tool


Terrain generation and sculpting tools now provide both us and community level designers with powerful time-saving tools for creating new worlds. When combined with the visual scripting environment known as Workbench, it's becoming faster and easier to create richer and more engaging worlds.

Illustrations


We're almost finished painting portraits for all the existing characters, monsters and animals. Community level designers will soon be able to have talking chickens, pigs and lord knows what else delivering quests should they so wish. In parallel, many of the hero ability icons have been illustrated, and will make their way onto the website in time.

A Selection Of NPC, Hero and Monster Portraits


Reviews


How are you feeling about the work we're doing on Folk Tale? Let us know by posting a review on the store page. Alas, with hindsight we did launch too soon into Early Access, and mistakes were made along the way. But we're still here, communicating and engaging with community and driving development forward. It's a big project for our small team, but we'd rather deliver a quality game than rush out something less than perfect. Reintroducing campaign is taking some time, but it's a lot easier now that we have a fab suite of editor tools. Many of the early negative reviews still talk about the pre-launch change from campaign to sandbox, so please do help us get the word out about the reintroduction of a campaign mode.

Next Patch


By the time you read this, the next patch (0.3.5) should be in QA testing and gearing up for release into the experimental branch. It's undergone a lot of rebalancing, so please do give it a good test and let us know how you get on. We need to strike a balance of not easy, but not insanely difficult, and your feedback helps us judge how we're doing.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Folk Tale Dev Blog 37


RPG gameplay, a new camera system, cutscene creation tools, and a host of new monsters

Camera System: Orbit And Follow


It's been discussed for a while in the forums, and in Alpha 23 we've overhauled the camera system to orbit around a central point. This is especially important when adventuring with a hero party, where the new camera will follow a selected hero in the center of the screen when in adventuring in dungeons. Hopefully you'll find it more intuitive, and consistent with other games in both RPG and Citybuilding genres. Following community feedback, we've removed hero following when in village maps as the need for free movement is paramount.

Hero System


Our focus for now is firmly on RPG gameplay because it impacts a number of tasks in the coming months. The addition of the hero party UI in the top left of the screen will be instantly familiar to RPG players. Clicking a hero portrait will select that hero, causing the camera to pan to place them in the middle of the screen, and continue to follow them. Placeholder icons to the right of the portraits will soon be replaced with both positive and negative buffs.

Hero System


Below the portraits are toggle buttons for selection mode and follow. In single hero selection mode, you're commanding that hero alone. Other party members will use their AI to react to what your selected hero is doing. With party selection, you're commanding all four heroes at once. The follow toggle determines whether non-selected heroes will follow your lead hero, or stand still. This is important when working with a thief where you want to scout ahead.

Editor Enhancements


Cutscene Camera

In order to deliver an engaging RPG experience, we first need to enhance the content creation tools. Today, we're adding cutscene creation nodes to Workbench, our visual scripting engine, and camera path tools for creating camera motion. Level designers now have directoral control over how NPC interactions are presented, right from within the Editor.

The Final Cutscene
Editing The Camera Path, Segment Speed, And Orbit Point
Visual Scripting The Cutscene In Workbench


Quest Givers

Prior to triggering a cutscene, it's likely you'll want to mark an NPC as a quest giver so that a yellow exclamation mark appears over their heads. When used in conjunction with a trigger, the AddQuestGiver node will show the marker, while the RemoveQuestGiver node will, unsurprisingly, hide it.

In time we need to work out a system for interacting with moving NPCs, but for now the first pass implementation is very usable.

Somewhat related, we've modified the Conversation node so that level designers can now optionally specify the character who's portrait should be displayed, an animation to be played (more info on this will follow at a later date),  and any loot items to be displayed for example as quest rewards.

Level Designers Can Now Enable Quest Givers


Prefabs

Productivity in content creation is important, with many of the Editor enhancements focusing on improving the speed at which new levels can be created. A few months ago we added the terrain generation tool for exterior locations, and marquee selection for quickly selecting multiple objects. This month we're rolling out the prefabs system. A prefab is a combination of props, such as a statue on a mount with a camera collider, or a locked door with a trigger and Workbench script attached. To create one, select your pieces and hit H, naming your prefab. An entry will be created in the prefabs tab of the kit inspector. You can then use it like a normal kit piece, clicking it to insert into your map scene. Prefabs are saved to disk, and so survive across multiple editing sessions.

Prefabs Are Saved Between Level Design Sessions, Increasing Productivity


Workbench Scripts On Objects

If you've used Workbench, our visual scripting tool, historically you've had to work on a single worksheet, and performance would start to drop with lots of nodes and wires on screen. In Alpha 23, scripts can now be attached to any object in the map by clicked the 'Add Script' button in the object's inspector window. A cog icon will be added to the object, and a new worksheet created.

Visual Helpers Toggle

In complex maps, clutter in the form of colliders, triggers, and light icons can start to build up and hinder productivity. So we've added a new toggle button to the toolbar so you can show and hide them.

New Assets


Weapons

For a while now a small mountain of assets has been building up and marked as queued for implementation in the roadmap. Equipping weapons onto characters often resulted in the same placeholder weapon being displayed. We've now imported and configured all the outstanding weapons and stats.

Most Of The Missing Loot Models Have Now Been Added


Characters

A host of new monsters have been added, and all characters now have base stats. Some have become a lot tougher, so we've introduced Willow The Healer. While she's not yet fully configured, her heal is functional and will help your hero party survive.

In time we'll add in monster special abilities (requires animation, particle fx and sound fx) but for now they provide some additional flavour.

A lot of characters now have reaction animations, including hit and dazed. Shocked, feared, and knockdown will come into play as we add in new heroes and abilities.

Murp The Dentist, The Grublins' Behemoth


Experimental vs Public Build


In Alpha 22 we introduced the experimental build, an opt-in beta that active community members can join to help us test early release candidates. It's potentially less stable and more buggy than the public build, but it provides access to the very latest builds with the specific goal of routing out bugs before we publish an update to the main public build.

Some have asked why bother? Well, even though we're in Early Access and bugs are to be expected, the reality is that releasing buggy updates to the entire community can actually cause harm. Having the buffer of an experimental build means better quality stable updates for casual and new players; engages active community members in more of a testing role; and provides level designers with a chance to update their maps ready for the next public release. Everyone benefits.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Folk Tale Dev Blog 36


Building equipment stores, a performance boost, and an editor overhaul.

Reducing Micromanagement With Building Equipment Stores


Community feedback is an important part of the Early Access process and a common theme is reducing any micromanagement burden. As your population grows, managing the gear on every unit can be tiresome. In the pre-release of Alpha 22 that is no longer the case.

Opening the new Equipment tab on a production or military building now enables players to drag and drop gear from the village inventory and assign it for use by the building's workers. Workers will automatically equip gear based on ordered priority. For now, equipment further to the top left is given higher priority. In time, we hope to implement an internal gear rating stat to help us compare items to determine which is better.

Building Equipment Stores: Reducing Micromanagement


Each item shown in a building's Equipment tab stacks and shows how many have been allocated. Darkened icons may show 0/2, indicating there are 2 of that item in stock, but workers aren't currently using that item. As one becomes equipped (1/2), the icon fills up until to half way with normal brightness, and when all are equipped (2/2), it becomes full.

Items can be dragged directly out of a building's equipment tab back into the village inventory, and will be removed from any worker who has it equipped. The worker will then try to equip another item into that slot should one exist in the building Equipment stores based on the priority rule.


Performance Boost / Engine Migration


June saw a challenging engine migration from Unity 4.6 to 5.1. Major code changes were required to the way we manage assets, shaders, and third party products. While that has limited the time we had available to work on other areas of the game, one of the key benefits is a performance boost of 25-37% depending on machine architecture. Players should now enjoy improved frame rates across the board, and may be able to increase their settings.

There is however a known issue preventing the game from running on Snow Leopard. We've filed a bug report with Unity (the engine developer) so hopefully we'll have a fix in the coming weeks.


Editor Overhaul


The Editor was running a legacy UI framework (NGUI) to drive the toolbar and a number of the dialog boxes. As part of the engine migration, it was time to purge NGUI from the project, and while re-implementing the dialog boxes, add some extra touches.

Editor Overhaul


The Kits and Kit Pieces dialogs are now merged into one. A kits popup organizes kits into categories for quicker selection, while the addition of search enables level designers to search for pieces across all kits.

The new favourites tab lists kit pieces added by toggling the star in the inspector dialog, and the recently used tab does as you would expect.

We've also fixed the horizontal scaling of the toolbar, which would have affected players running at high resolutions.

One of the headline features we are launching in Alpha 22 is the terrain generator tool. Since it's first reveal in Dev Blog 35, we've added more options including support for the new volcanic biome.

The final Editor improvement is marquee selection. Being able to select objects by dragging a selection rectangle (aka marquee) is a huge time saver. Previously, you had to hold down left shift and click each item. The addition saves time, and will become the primary method for selecting objects, before grouping them and eventually saving them off as a prefab. At least that's what Alan is moving on to now that the terrain generator is all but finished.


Volcanic Kit And Dwarf City Kit


Both have benefited from improvements, and are included in Alpha 22. We're working on an exterior location to test the pieces, and will be streaming level design sessions on Twitch.

Lava Fields (Work In Progress)

And Finally...


A little teaser of something we're working on...



Thursday, 11 June 2015

Folk Tale Dev Blog 35


Ser Gregory, the first hero built on a growing RPG code base, Dwarven culture, and the terrain randomization tool.

Well met Ser Gregory


While the last release cycle was all about village building and economy, the team are now focused on expanding the RPG side of Folk Tale. As you explore the world you'll meet heroes entwined in an evolving story. Help them with their goals, and they'll become available for selection in your adventuring party.

Ser Gregory battling the new zombies


Building on existing RPG mechanics including inventory and stats, our first foray into RPG adventuring begins with the addition of hero systems, and in Alpha 21 we're introducing Ser Gregory. As a heavily armoured tank, Ser Gregory's abilities place him at the heart of melee action. His abilities are designed around defence (Iron Skin), crowd control (Taunt and Shield Bash), area of effect damage (Power Slam) and being able to finish off opponents with low health (Decisive Victory). Each ability is detailed on the website (link above). Abilities can be queued to be executed one after another, have cool down timers, and power costs to prevent you from spamming special abilities which would be totally OP. We've added all the supporting systems for character states including stunned and knockdown, and will be rolling these out across new and existing characters in Alpha 21 and beyond.

For now we've enabled all Ser Gregory's abilities for community feedback, but in a future release you'll unlock abilities as Ser Gregory levels up, and then level up each ability to make it more powerful. For now, pick your battles carefully and save regularly as there's perma-death. We'll be adding revival to respawn dead heroes back in your village, but that's not in yet.

Combat feels a little smoother now we've reduced the interval between attacks from 3 seconds to 2 seconds. The anti-kiting code has been removed so there's no more insta-heal enemies, and characters no longer stand on top of each other, moving apart if it occurs. We've also made characters rotate before running in a direction. It's a subtle change, and it might feel a little different for a few minutes, but ultimately adds a little bit of extra quality.

And what to do with all that junk loot? Salvage it of course in exchange for a little gold! You can now drag unwanted inventory items onto the salvage icon.

Character Portraits


The days of looking at the bald male villager placeholder in the character wheel are over. We now have a new portrait system showing the actual appearance of villagers in a nice hand-painted portrait. While heroes, bosses and behemoths all have their own unique beautifully hand-painted portraits, villagers are a little more challenging. Due to the number of permutations of hair - including beards and moustaches on men - we layer up the features and use tinting. We start with the background and uniform, then add skin (ranging from light to dark), beard, moustache, head hair and finally any hats/helmets. For now, villagers will all have the peasant uniform. We expect to have the other profession uniforms including hats added for Alpha 22.

Dynamically generated hand-painted character portraits


Death By Deforestation


If you've played a long session, you'll be familiar with the impending doom that awaits due to deforestation. We previously added seed drops to spiders, bears and boars, but your feedback told us this didn't really solve the problem. So in Alpha 21 each felled tree now drops a seed (added to your inventory), and when a Woodcutter's Hut has 5 or fewer trees in it's boundary, Woodcutters will automatically plant a seed. This completely removes the micromanagement burden, however you can still use the Woodcutter ability to plant saplings where you please. In time we may link this ability to the Forestry research. We'll have to see how well this scales with a Tier 3 upgrade.

Woodcutters now auto-plant saplings when there are 5 or fewer trees in the boundary. Each felled tree drops a seed.


Village Building And Economy


Attaining Tier 2 building upgrades needed to happen a little sooner in gameplay, so we've reduced the culture cost from 350 to 275. We've still got to implement the reasons for upgrading, including tying research with better bonuses and effects to higher building tiers.

One community reported issue was that workers could end up walking a long way to reach a workpoint within a building's boundaries. For example, a Fisher may have to walk a ways to reach a bridge to cross a river to get to the other side. This could take them into enemy territory leading to their death. We now check journey distance to determine if a work point should be used or not.

Mead and Entertainment were bugged in Alpha 20. For the next release, we've made sure that villager need for entertainment begins when you first construct a Tavern, even if you haven't yet attained a culture score of 300. A barrel of mead also now converts to 4 tankards of mead at the tavern instead of 2, helping with supply shortages. To address the over-production at Bee Yards, 30 honeycomb are now required per barrel productions instead of 5, although the yield of honeycomb has been increased to be inline with other buildings. Further rebalancing may well be required, so please share your experiences in the community forum.

Dwarven Cultures


Development of the dwarven culture is progressing well, including the dwarven fortress of House Hraun (faction), under siege by the exiled Cult Of Pyros (faction) and it's leader, Archmagus Brimstone. There's a mountain of work goes into developing each culture, including modelling and painting weapons and shields that appear on characters, loot icon illustrations including armor and jewellery, environment props, textures and visual effects, script writing, voice acting, character modelling, painting and animation, sound effect design, and of course soundtrack composition.

Expect to see Dwarven content make it's way into the game in Alpha 22 or 23.

Evolution Of A Culture




Story Script And Voice Acting


Story will feature prominently in Folk Tale, delivering a campaign like feel similar to the original tutorial, but within a sandbox environment. The Grassland starting story script is now complete, which leads into the Withering Dead and Gladefolk faction storylines. We completed voice actor casting a few months back, and are now working our way through the recording sessions.

Voice acting script from the opening scene

Terrain Randomization Editor Tool Progress


Building large terrains in the Editor can be time consuming. To help increase productivity, we're working on a terrain randomization feature that automatically generates a terrain based on settings. It's able to generate mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, place trees, generate coast line, and apply splatters of paint. It utilises the full range of core tiles available, including full, half and quarter height tiles.

Terrain Randomization Tool


All being well, by the time you've read this Alpha 21 should be in final testing ready for launch.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Folk Tale Dev Blog 34


Folk Tale milestone Alpha 20 (Patch 0.3.0)

A New Release Cycle


This weekend we bid fair well to release cycle 0.2.x and welcomed in 0.3.x. Having massively expanded the scope of the 0.2.x cycle last year to make it by far the largest of all the cycles, we've had 17 monthly releases since. Many aspects of the game have matured including village building, economy, and the editor, which we use to design and deliver playable content. With the addition of Workbench - our visual modding tool - we're primed to deliver RPG content and gameplay in coming patches.

What can players expect in Alpha 20? As with any major milestone release, we have headline features to share, but also bug fixes which have an equally important role to play in improving gameplay.

Building Upgrade Tiers


Tier 1 buildings can now be upgraded to Tier 2 and Tier 3. Each tier delivers benefits, including support for more workers; 8 workers at Tier 2, and 12 at Tier 3. Each upgrade will expand a building's boundary bringing more resources into reach for workers. In later patches we'll introduce a pseudo tech tree with new research being unlocked at each tier; more complex production options that deliver additional benefit; and staggered crafting recipes bound to building tiers.

Tier 1 Buildings

Tier 2 Buildings

Tier 3 Buildings






Workbench


With a limited feature preview of Workbench included in the last patch, in Alpha 20 we've more than doubled the node count, introducing 35 new node types. We'll be updating the Workbench Guide on the website to demonstrate how the new nodes can be used to deliver engaging gameplay and storyline. We'll add more great features to Workbench throughout the 0.3.x release cycle targeting RPG gameplay including quest rewards and faction standing.

Workbench



Sandbox Tutorial


New players, and those returning to check progress can feel a little overwhelmed when experiencing sandbox for the first time. Using Workbench, we're adding a voice acted step-by-step tutorial to walk inexperienced players through early game mechanics. As the list of mechanics continues to grow, we'll continue to expand the new tutorial.



New Content For Level Designers


With each new patch we aim to add new kits and/or pieces so community level designers have something to play with. This release is no exception, with numerous additions. We have Mordrich's Factory kit, rusty pipework we'll be using to make his underground magic sandal factory; and the Grassland Caves kit for spider and dragon layers.

We've linked monster movement speed to their scale, so it's now possible to have giant skeletons and spiders that move naturally. Players can observe this in the spider lair added to the Crypts Level 1 map, which makes use of the Grassland Caves kit.

The Systems kit receives three new pieces:

  • A new Point piece for marking locations where you want the command NPC's to go using Workbench. You can grab the position and rotation for exact placement;
  • Sphere and box triggers for triggering scripts such as NPC interactions, monster ambushes, and in time traps;

Previously missing pieces make a return in the now separate Water FX, Bones and Spider kits.

Environment lights located in the Lighting kit are now scalable, adjusting the light range. A word of caution though - large lights can get expensive.

Grasslands Cave Kit



Bug Fixes


We strive to fix bugs and gameplay niggles in each patch release. Small changes such as eradicating the delay when commanding peasants to clear resources and making them run instead of walk instantly feels more responsive.

Building research is working once again, including the Tailor who wasn't progressing research at all. We've also modified the Building Dialog production tab to separate our worker happiness (and it's effect on production) from bonuses provided by research and epic items to give a clearer picture of what's going on.

The Monastery Of The Mangy Wolf has all of it's navigation and chest issues addressed, including being able to cross the bridge that connects the Tall Tower to the main Monastery. The map has been updated to add additional resources in key locations, so you don't always have to start in the same location.

Many loot items that were previously cluttering inventory now stack properly.

What's In Production?


During game development it's usual to have lots of parallel tasks each month. Some of those are highly visible and make their way into the Dev Hangouts, while some do not. For months our character artist Allan and animator Tom have been working diligently behind the scenes on bosses, heroes, behemoths, and creeps. They are now ready to debut in-game, and we'll be adding them during this release cycle. So far we have fleshed out the Gladefolk, Withering Dead, Goblin Traders, and Toadkin factions.

The script writing for the Gladefolk and Withering Dead faction storyline is progressing well, and we'll soon be sitting with the recently cast actors to record the voice acting. Devin, our texture artist, has the task of producing the 3d weapons that can be equipped, and there's a small mound waiting to be added. Jen, our Illustrator is alternating between loot icons and NPC portraits that will appear during quest conversations.


Rich and Hayden recently finished adding the 34 building upgrade tiers, and have moved on to the lava zone. While the snow zone is my current favourite, the lava zone is a contender to take that crown.

Aron continues to be omnipotent. We've been eyeballing an upgrade to Unity 5.x for a while, and now seems like a good time. Then it's on to implementing heroes and all the RPG goodness.

As for myself, well I'm just here to make the coffee.