Friday, 21 March 2014

Folk Tale Dev Blog 21

Hey everyone. In this episode we take a look at how the Sandbox Player is shaping up, run through the Sandbox UI overhaul filling in some of the details of gameplay mechanics, before wrapping up with a review of new assets.

Sandbox Player

The fixed build plots of the Tutorial are gone as promised, and free placement is in, providing precise control over the design of our village. We can freely move the building around; a green transparent cube means we're over a valid place for construction, while a red cube means we're too close to an obstruction. As you might expect we can also rotate buildings. We've also added a radius of influence, shown by the dotted circle surrounding the building ( see video ). Resources need to be located within this radius to be accessible by the building. Capturing multiple mines can result in a greater maximum output for the building.

Art Assets - UI

For Sandbox, we're overhauling the UI and adding new elements. As a multi-genre village builder RPG RTS, there's a lot of information to condense and optimize to reduce screen clutter, especially at lower screen resolutions. In fantasy 4X games you might be used to seeing resources on the top bar, for example wood, stone, and iron. We forecast how much time players would be spending in each genre, and the information they'd need immediately to hand. In village building for example, resource stock levels are important, but when you are out in the wilds with your Hero Party, they aren't. Taking into account the complex nature of the economy and number of resources, it wasn't feasible to pack them all into a static top bar ( we tried! ). So we're adding an expand/contract toggle to show a separate resources dialogue that if you choose you can leave open permanently should you wish.

We've taken the Special Abilities / Portrait UI from the bottom left of the Tutorial and condensed it further, adding in new features at the same time. Under Misc Controls & Info we've added an Aggressive/Defensive Toggle to exert greater control over your villagers, preventing them from charging into combat, and the Auto-AI Toggle to place special abilities under AI control. Hardcore players will want to turn this off and have full control of heroes, but for your first few sessions it's a helpful feature to reduce micro-management during battle.

We're also adding short cuts for Health and Power Potions providing direct access to your global inventory stocks during combat, making it faster to save your villagers from death.

The Character Sheet has been condensed by removing personal storage ( not required when you have global inventory ) and adding Resistances. There are also tabs for professions ( workers ) and special abilities ( heroes ).

As your Heroes level up, you can spend Ability Points on powering up their abilities in the order that you prefer. By level 20 you will have a fully powered hero.

With more economy buildings and resources added each month, the new Building Dialog provides control over each building and it's role in the economy. We're adding a second way of training Peasants in professions through the Worker Tab. You can now review a list of candidates and hire them into available vacancies. For players not wanting to micro-manage, Auto-Recruit can be set and will automatically hire from the pool of Peasants as they become available. Character Traits make Peasants more or less suitable for each profession.

The Production Tab crunches a number of stats and presents them in an easy to understand format. Worker Productivity is the average of how effective all the workers are, taking into account Profession Experience, Tool Bonuses ( Loot and Crafted Gear ), Traits, and overall Happiness.

Maximum Output is determined by how many sources of resource exist in the building's Influence Radius, and the current tier of the building.

Workbench Bonuses act as a multiplier to the Maximum Output, and can be obtained by installing Workbenches to the inside of each production building.

Actual Output is calculated by combining the three previous stats, and can be split between production ( producing more finished goods ) and research ( adds points to the research pool to be later spent on new technology ).

One of the recurring pieces of feedback we've received from the Tutorial is that finding your villagers can sometimes be tricky. To improve discoverability, we're implementing the Civics Dialog, a central view of all the activity going on in your village. From here you can view everything that's going on with your villagers, buildings and resources, allowing you to quickly identify any problem areas.

Art Assets - Characters

The Art Team have entered a period of polishing up leading up to Patch 0.3 ( a few more 0.2.x releases to come yet ), so a lot of production work is the boring stuff like adding physics colliders, navmeshes, and level of detail ( LOD ) models. That's not at all interesting for a blog, so instead we have the male and female Sandbox versions of the City Watch ( formerly Militia ), Monks and Stonecutters.

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