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Independent, story-driven games

Alpha Preview

July 10th, 2014

John

Hi everyone!

Since we’re moving further into development, I’ll be switching from our usual art/sound/dev breakdown and starting instead with:

Gameplay Video

For this update I wanted to give you all an extended look at the game running so you’ll have a better sense of how it’s all coming together. Those of you who prefer to wait to experience the game first-hand may want to stop here!

Though individually they’re not very interesting to watch, the sequence of battles in the video are carefully designed as a progression to teach the players the game’s basic combat mechanics. Designing a tutorial for a tactics RPG without any text is tricky business, but I think we’ll get there as we continue to tweak based on your feedback during testing (more on this below).

Apart from the tutorial stuff, one point I didn’t discuss much in the video is the concept of bannermen, which are playable units not in the main cast. In the video, Alec and Marcus are bannermen who can either be saved or killed (in my play-through, due to my actions, Alec made it while Marcus didn’t). If a bannerman survives in battle, he’ll continue to appear in future battles as an ally you can develop. Additionally, he’ll persist in the world as an NPC while you explore, so you might witness events like his reunion with his kin when your party arrives at his home town.

Since we’re not placing heavy emphasis on equipment and loot, this concept is shaping up to add a lot more depth and replayability to the game. It’s also turning into an interesting way to scale the game’s challenge level, since novice players can focus on keeping the main cast alive to progress through the story, while advanced players can aim to save as many bannermen as possible.

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Alpha & Beyond

A playable build for our alpha backers with the first few chapters of the game will be ready by the next update. Over the next few months I’ll be sharing updated builds with additional content on a regular basis (save data will persist across updates). To help keep things manageable on our end, initially the test builds will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux. As we get further into testing, I’ll be making additional announcements regarding testing on our other platforms.

With the engine port, art overhaul, and scope of the game growing in the last few months, we’ve had to move the game’s release date to sometime near the end of the year. The added time should give us a chance to really take the game as far as we can. For those of you who can’t wait to start playing, hopefully having access to the latest build will be enough to keep you occupied :)

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Livestream

As we continue with production, Kalen will be hosting Livestreams where he’ll be working on art for Liege. Here’s a recent one he did where he worked on some of what you see below:

livestream

We’ll be making announcements on our devblog, Facebook and Twitter regarding times and dates for future sessions, so subscribe/like/follow if you haven’t already!

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To close out, I’ll leave you with one of Aakaash’s recent works- a peaceful ambient forest theme.

Enjoy!

May Update

May 17th, 2014

John

Hi! It’s been a while, and a lot’s happened since our last update.

To start, here’s a quick video of the latest:

Here’s the full run-down:

Art

Environments

The world is continuing to come together, piece by piece. Below you can see concepts straight from Kalen’s sketchbook, some raw in-game assets, and a sneak peak at our latest environment:

And here’s a quick sample of the fleshed out backdrop for the palace we showed in the last update:

Characters & Animation

In addition to the environments, we’ve been busy working on updating our character models, textures, and animations to cover all of our different unit classes and abilities. I’ll talk more about classes below, but for now, here are a couple samples of our new WIP character models:

Here’s how they look behind the scenes:

Stay tuned for the reveal of our updated main cast!

Sound

Aakaash has been doing some really great work to set the game’s tone, and the soundtrack as a whole is really starting to come together. For this update we wanted to share three tracks which showcase the wide range between our epic, orchestral sets and our more intimate, atmospheric pieces:

Dev

Since the last update, my focus has been on implementing unit classes and abilities. With most of that work finally wrapping up, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the guts of how the game’s battle mechanics will work.

As mentioned earlier, the game is not about grinding for experience or loot. Originally, I had only planned for 10 classes in total, with minimal, linear progression. After a lot of experimentation as we got further into the development, I decided to expand that to 23 total classes arranged in a branching structure.

Here’s what the game’s basic rules and class hierarchy currently look like (click for hi-res; note: all of this is still being balanced and subject to change, and the banners, icons, etc. are not final, etc. etc.):

As you can see, the game’s basic rules and mechanics are actually quite simple; this is by design. The interesting parts of the gameplay emerge from the various unit classes and special abilities. Here’s what they currently look like (again, everything still WIP!):

Some takeaways and comments:

1. Classes and corresponding are designed to balance each other out and interact in interesting ways.

2. Stat progression is directly linked with class progression. This generally means high level swordsmen deal lots of damage, rogues are fast moving, etc. That said, players can choose to experiment with developing hybrids and customize their balance.

3. Defensive abilities are central to the game. In most tactics games, units can charge in without much planning and expect to be healed, revived, or replaced. Since none of these are easy options in Liege, players will need to ration their available actions and preemptively utilize defensive abilities to gain an advantage over the enemy.

4. The type of weapon a unit has equipped determines which special abilities units can access in battle, and the ability to switch weapons during combat opens up some interesting tactical opportunities. For example, if a swordsman is engaged with a fast moving enemy, he can switch to his bow and pick him off if he tries to escape. Enabling and animating switching weapons in battle was a tough technical challenge, but I think it’ll add a lot to the seamlessness of the game’s flow:

Hopefully that gives you all a better sense of the direction the game’s combat is headed in. I know some things may not make complete sense on paper just yet, but feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments!

Coming Up

After tying up some more loose ends on the core stuff, my next major milestone is to get a playable, early build of the game’s opening and tutorial sequences to our Alpha backers. It’s still a bit too early to confirm the date for that, but I’ll provide details in an update as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep the updates coming more regularly. Thanks as always for your patience, and until next time!

Whoa It’s March

March 16th, 2014

John

Whew, it’s almost been two months…

But we’ve been grinding away in our cave, and a lot’s been getting done! Here’s the recap (TLDR video at the bottom):

Art

Environments are continuing to come together. Here’s some recent stuff:

palace

field

assets

Kalen will be hosting a Livestream around the end of the month or early April. Come hang out with us and watch him paint up some in-game assets like the ones above. He’ll be walking us through a bit of his process, and may even take a few requests from the audience! Details to come, stay tuned.

Sound

Aakaash’s latest piece, which you’ll hear in some of the game’s smaller battles:

Development

Code-wise, my focus has been on combat UI and AI.

The UI still needs some tweaks, but the functionality’s coming together pretty nicely.

The AI’s been trickier to get right. Since one or a few bad moves in the game can be fatal, the AI can’t get away with attacking blindly on sight. At this point, it manages to do a pretty good job of predicting future outcomes and avoiding very poor to suicidal moves, and instead of charging blindly, it tries to wait for openings to strike. That said, teaching it to play well while leaving opportunities for players to gain an advantage will take some time to get right.

Anyhow, here’s a video!

Things are still rough overall, and there’s a ton of placeholder assets everywhere. I’ll be focusing on characters and animation once we’ve finished nailing down more of the core gameplay elements. Things should start looking much more interesting once that’s done and I can start implementing class abilities.

Lastly, Kalen and I will be at GDC next week. If any of you will be there as well, let me know. I’d love to hear from you!