September 14th, 2014
Character Management & Customization
The game’s character management system has been evolving into something very different and much deeper than originally planned. Though this means it’s taking longer than expected to implement, this is a good thing! Here’s a preview of how it’s looking:
When you load the in-game menu, you’ll start with a summary of your party’s status. There are eight primary characters, and significantly more (final number still TBD) secondary characters you’ll control in the game. From here, you can select any of your units to quickly drill down into the:
The Character Overview provides a high level view of everything you need to know about a unit. On the left you can see an expanded view of the coat-of-arms inspired summary widget seen on the Party Overview screen, which displays character type, faction, and equipped weapon. On the right you can see a breakdown of the unit’s unlocked classes and corresponding abilities and stat boosts. This is important, since as you’ll see below, unlocked classes form the basis for everything relating to character progression.
The profile view allows you to view a character’s basic information, including whether they’re primary (must survive every battle) or secondary (game goes on if killed) characters. On the right, you can see how the character’s unlocked classes sum up to his total base stats before taking faction and equipment into account. Each character’s profile is different, meaning the boosts they get from each class will vary.
TLDR: Unlocked Classes x Character Profile = Base Stats
Every character is aligned to a faction, which grant different boosts per class. Certain factions will produce strong swordsmen, while others produce good archers, and so on. You’ll be controlling characters from different (sometimes competing) factions at different points in the game, and you’ll need to adjust how you develop your units accordingly.
TLDR: Unlocked Classes x Faction = Alignment Bonus
Units can carry up to three weapons which can be changed mid-combat. As shown on the left, weapons have their own stats as in any other RPG. More importantly though, a unit’s effectiveness with a type of weapon depends on which classes he’s unlocked. This is shown above as his proficiency bonus. For example, a unit who has only developed Archer skills won’t be very effective if equipped with a sword. As mentioned earlier, equipped weapons also determines a unit’s available abilities.
TLDR: Unlocked Classes x Weapon = Proficiency Bonus & Available Abilities
As your units develop, new advancements will become available. Any unit can advance into any part of the class tree, but you’ll want to keep some of the ideas from above in mind to maximize your units’ effectiveness. In most cases, you’ll want to specialize your characters to align with their respective strengths to build an effective party.
Nuts & Bolts
Apart from finalizing the RPG UI and progression elements, I’ve also been focusing on getting the technical architecture as stable as possible before we move into testing. This means testing the game at different resolutions, aspect ratios, and platforms, building out the system UI for customizing display, controls, etc. Here’s a peek at how the system menus are shaping up:
Take a look below to see all of this in action:
Apologies to those of you who were looking forward to the alpha release with this update- I decided it’d be better to take some more time to polish things up a bit rather than disappointing with a rushed build. Things are taking longer than planned, but we’re getting a lot done and hopefully you like what you see so far!
To close out, here’s a lighter piece from our docks area. Enjoy the rest of your weekends!
July 10th, 2014
Since we’re moving further into development, I’ll be switching from our usual art/sound/dev breakdown and starting instead with:
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.
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
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:
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!
To close out, I’ll leave you with one of Aakaash’s recent works- a peaceful ambient forest theme.
May 17th, 2014
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:
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!
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:
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!
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!