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BobbyTwoHands

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A member registered Apr 03, 2017 · View creator page →

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Thanks, hope you enjoy it

A fair bunch, actually. It's out on steam at the moment (Itch may prove more difficult, due to mod integration and patching, so has been delayed). Steam has a new demo (with playable tutorial) and has been out since November the 1st.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1741640

Hey, long time no see.

I posted a few things on itch and youtube, but my marketing skills aren't as good as they should be, sadly. Still, you're here now, good to have you back.

I'm not sure yet, will need to check how the game's looking when time comes to implementing them, but it would be nice to have religions exist which cover multiple nations, and have holy orders which 'prefer' to work with those. It could allow you to start holy wars between human nations, as various 'good' religions all turn on each other rather than fight the real threat. Human rulers would then all have a religion they subscribe to, and would hate having rulers of opposing religions.

I saw she used the Shadows image as her banner. Makes sense, we discussed it as an image which could be turned into a banner, as that'll work best on Steam.

Hopefully I can re-commission her for the various Gods, when the cash situation is better worked out, as she was great to work with and I think could do some really good stuff for them.

Shadow has been given a new agent, to give enshadowment a reason for being, and will be given a set of event popups which will hopefully convey a sense of progress. That, along with maybe a challenge or two, a few changes to how the AI works so an enshadowed hero can be considered 'safe', and the fact that enshadowed nobles can now donate gold to their city's dark agents, should make the enshadowment gameplay a far more satisfying affair.


No donations just yet, gotta set up a company to process the funds, so no cash can change hands as of yet, but the offer is appreciated none the less.

It only got implemented yesterday, so not in any releaseed version.

I hope to commission more art, but it depends on budget. Gods need art most critically, then unique stuff (such as huge creatures), then maybe the holy orders/guilds would get unique character artwork, then other stuff (including corrupted terrain). That's my rough priority for how art budget might be best spent.

A core roadmap chapter is the 'Guilds and Holy Orders' section. These would be human forces who have specialised goals. The human cities currently `reserve' a slot for expansion, and guilds and holy orders are intended to use that reserved slot.

Guilds and holy orders would be able to set up outposts in cities, and would have a headquarters location. Their heroes would travel around, accomplishing the task their guild/order is set up for, and might even get into fights with each other if their goals don't align, without you needing to do anything. You could then take over the headquarters and change their goals towards your own.

Steamlined version will have a bit of polish and expansion before the early-access release, which will hopefully also have an updated demo containing both the main game and the streamline game's first 200 turns.

Anyway, I am off on holiday soon, so can't guarantee I can answer any more questions for the next couple of weeks, but the people on the discord should know more if you have any questions about my rough plans (if you're not already on there).

You're right on both counts. Getting important information to the player is a thing which needs to be focused on throughout development, to ensure a smooth gameplay experience.

Regarding the story events, I certainly stopped reading them in Stellaris after I'd seen them a couple of times, but hopefully at that point the player will be familiar enough with the game mechanics that the story begins to emerge from there. All kinds of cool stuff should hopefully be possible, with heroes having personal connections to your agents and each other (friends, family and hated enemies), and complex outcomes from your actions (steal a Duke's gold causes them to raise taxes, causing the peasants to revolt, so the army has to be deployed to save the city, which means the orcs can now invade the north...).

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Also, I agree that there needs to be more response from the game when you do stuff, and the aim is to allow the narrative events to fill that role. They'd pop up all manner of messages, sometimes just for flavour to let you know that the world is growing darker as you spread shadow, sometimes with some options to choose from as rewards. They'd be keyed to a various checkpoints you pass (getting a captial city enshadowed, reaching 25% of the world...) or directly follow actions (when you first spread shadow with an action, when your 2nd seal breaks, when an agent dies...), giving a bit of randomness and a bit of narrative feedback.

Events are aimed to be added soon, after items and gold are working nicely. I hope they'd provide much of what you're looking for in terms of feedback and random rewards for your hard work spreading the shadow around the world.

Also, thanks for the feedback. It really helps to know what the community feels about the game's direction and design decisions. It can be hard as a developer to get an objective perspective on how stuff is working, so it's great to hear detailed feedback from the community, so stuff can be adjusted and improved.

The demo is very much incomplete, don't worry, the full game will develop all the systems you see there, including shadow. In the demo, shadow is basically just a 'progress' meter, showing how much of the way towards victory you are. Since it was released I've been working on items and gold, and already the first use of shadowed nobles is there, that they're willing to fund your agents. Heroes receive payments from the noble of the city they belong to, and your agents can do the same, so shadow nobles become a good source of income.

The next step will be to allow 'dark empires' which were the end-game shadow strategy in the previous two games. It would allow you to make a kingdom you've got almost entirely enshadowed to turn hostile to normal human civilisations, and begin invading them by themselves without needing your help, to keep spreading the shadow automatically.

Okay, I've joined both the subreddit and discord. If you give me mod/admin access I can probably set up some of the artwork, including making new ones if a new resolution/text location is required. I'll let you remain in charge, and try to drop in every now and then to answer questions, discuss bug reports, drop development screenshots...


Thanks for making these, by the way, it goes a long way towards showing there's support in the community for ongoing development.

Oh, and if you need any of the promo images for the subreddit, just shout. I've got a set of different resolution copies of the main image and title

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I'm 100% okay with you making a sureddit/discord/other. Thanks for the long term support and believing in this new version's potential. If you link here I can post when people have comments.

I'll be going on Holiday soon, so can't guarantee I can chat during that, but until then and afterwards I can drop by and see what people are saying.

Naturally I hope to make it as broadly playable as possible. The problem with the previous one was that when trying to get save/loading to work we installed a very old version of Unity, which for some reason constantly introduced graphical glitches into the Linux version, so we had to stop support. I've now upgraded to a newer version, for the new project, so hopefully it will be possible, but I can't promise anything yet. My plan is to get the game closer to release version before considering which platforms/pricing/distribution-model to go for.

I disabled downloading of these versions because I felt the quality had dropped substantially. Too many features were added which didn't work together, so I basically just downgraded the project to the last good state, so the project can remain preserved in its most polished and playable form.

Thanks for the offer, but currently I am not able to legally. One thing that was pointed out to me by professional devs is that I need to actually set up an legal corporation to handle the finances involved, so for now I can't accept any money coming into the project.

I'm considering (and discussing with my advisors) a kickstarter or something equivalent, to raise money for art for the gods and unique agents, and fund more focused dev time.

But thanks for the offer, regardless, the guesture is appreciated

I'd love to, but for now the art budget isn't huge, so I can't guarantee being able to get enough assets for all the stuff, since there's plannted to be a lot of different points of interest to discover

Ah yes, that shouldn't happen. Fixed now, thanks for pointing it out.


70% done by turn 200 is hella fast, congrats. Guess I'll need to put in higher difficulties for Early Access or you'll be done in under an hour

The screen resolution is now aiming to preserve a 16:9 ratio, but with pixel values scaling based on your display. I am actually developing on an ultra-wide now (the previous game was a normal monitor) so I've ensured there's no blurring or anything on high pixel count monitors. I'll try to allow wider aspects, but that requires UI changes, so that will take longer.


Regarding frame limiting that's an annoying re-occurring bug. I've enabled Unity's default one (set to 60 FPS) but it doesn't seem to work. We then had a secondary one, which should step in if Unity's default one doesn't work, but apparently that one also has failed? I'll look into it.

That's definitely something I've considered and am discussing with my advisors about. I feel Shadows 2 reached a logical end to its development cycle, with all the features we wanted to put in being in, but it was a hard decision to stop adding to it.


A lot of stuff needs to be decided financially, regading pricing and discount packages, and I'm having meetings and discussions with actually professional game-devs and marketing people (since I've got no real experience in these things myself).

Thanks, it really means a lot. If it wasn't for people supporting the first versions there wouldn't be a Version 3. It's really been a community focused development, with major design decisions being made based on what we see people enjoying and what people find confusing.

It's been a crazy journey, from downloading the Unity editor for the first time and making the first playable build of Shadows 1 to now actually considering writing to games journalists and talking to actual game devs about legal considerations and financial decisions.

Gotta say, I'm a bit nervous, it feels like the pressure is higher than ever, but I like the direction we're going in. The current build is focused, has a solid roadmap and the codebase is nice and well-structured so future development should go smoothly.


Thanks for being a part of this, hope you're pleased with where the project goes in the next few months

Yes, politics (like real politics) was confusing, and the game will hopefully be a lot more streamlined and focused if the political side of stuff is left to NPCs, letting you focus on spreading plagues and exploding volcanoes on top of cities.

No, the gameplay has been changed in major ways to focus on the parts the community liked best and reduce the parts which were confusing/annoying. Politics is reduced in favour of agent-based gameplay, which now has RPG mechanics and more flexible agent vs hero interaction.

Thanks. Stopping work on S2 was a hard decision to make, but I think it's one which has allowed a more professional product to be made.

All those things are definitely planned for the first version of the Early Access release. The map gen is still procedural, but we'll be trying to focus players on certain key seeds as the 'classic' maps, so the community has a shared experience, but also the option for fully random world gen if they want.

Covens are sources of shadow. They can be enshadowed to begin to spread to the human nations they are adjacent to, and the Dark Worship ritual can 'pump' shadow into a nation, by expanding the dark region. It may be a bit underpowered, as it was nerfed just before release, but hopefully can be balanced in the coming months so it's in a good place.


Brother of Sleep is designed to be used only rarely, but to powerful effects. You can sacrifice a high-level agent to distribute their XP to all your other agents, which is useful if an agent is being chased by heroes they can't escape due to having too high profile/menace. They can be 'recycled' to power up your other agents who have a higher chance of survival. Alternatively, they can delay all heroes, to stop heroes from interfering with your plans. Again, might need balancing, will investigate in the future.

Yes, definitely Steam will be a main distribution platform

Yes. For now only the first 200 turns are playable. The late game needs some work on before it can be released to the public, so the demo cuts short.

Currently there's no plans for a custom God (although it's not impossible). However, the aim is to eventually include highly flexible modding (using the same system as Rimworld and Kerbal Space Program), which should allow modders to include anything they want (including a build-a-god screen).

It is just portraits and music. Think of it as DLC. I had promised to keep the game open source, so no gameplay-relevant stuff could be made paid-for, so a cosmetic DLC made the most sense. We're working on adding Events, like in Crusader Kings or Stellaris, and some of that content might be Enhanced Edition only, depending on how things look when we've done more work on it.

Glad to hear you're enjoying it

It's possible that the `requires lightbringer ritual' is the best way to do ultimate abilities for each Dark Name. Like you said, it's got a cool strategy element to it, where you force the enemy to give you the tools you need to destroy them. Maybe I'll change Winter's Scythe, then add a few other abilities to the other Names along the same lines.

Regarding new ways to ruin the world, my favourite part is definitely watching the map change in huge ways.  The obvious next way to introduce would be to have the opposite of Winter's Scythe, a Name which turns the world into a giant desert. I've not come up with any good abilities for a Name or for an Agent based around that, yet, though.

The plague doctor probably needs changing, a bit, so they also have a plague. Weaker than the Red Masque, but it would synergise with their undead armies. Might need to nerf the undead a bit, just to keep them from being the ultimate weapon all by themselves.

Hey,

Sorry, missed this message when it first arrived, only just spotted it. Must have not seen the Itch e-mail about a new comment or something.

I agree with many of these, the UI is constantly being changed to get it to behave a bit better. Slowly it's improving, but there are still issues to be addressed. I'll take a look at them and see what can be done. Some will be harder than others. Due to the use of hotkeys, for example, we're limited to only 9 map modes, so have to decide which are most useful. Maybe we could have buttons which don't have associated keys, for the less-used modes? We'll see what we can fit on screen.

Hey,

So, just pushed a beta-branch update on steam. If it doesn't break anything too horrifically, it'll be in version 18 full.

Buffed a few abilities, made it slower to warm up after freezing. Definitely easier to get stuff done following a successful civil war now.

Gave an ability which allows you to just trade power for cold directly. Once you've reached 12% world cooling you can keep casting it whenever it cools down, to slowly eradicate all human life on the map. Not sure if it's OP or not. Definitely can't be stopped if you disable Lightbringer Ritual. Might rework it slightly such that it REQUIRES the Lightbringer Ritual to function. Maybe it can only be cast while the Ritual is being cast? Would be an amusing way to turn their weapon against them.

Also added in your suggested ability to temporarily block travel between locations. It's called Blizzard, and you can cast it on a location, then another, and any link between them will be out of service while the blizzard lasts. Also not sure how OP this is. It seems somewhat useful, but maybe there's some incredible strategy which can be used that I've not thought of yet. It only works in the snowy areas of the map, making it more useful as you progress along with your grand plan to freeze the world.

Hopefully this makes the Dark Name a bit more playable now, and able to stand alone as its own strategy and thing, not just a way to slightly reduce the number of cities your Unholy Flesh has to eat.

Thanks for the feedback, it really helps

I don't think there's a forum for gameplay, yet, but we did make a few videos to show how we play:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1z3TXRMfvI&ab_channel=BobbyTwoHands

In general, you're not supposed to be 100% undetected. Your agents don't need to survive forever, just long enough to accomplish their objectives. Your enthralled noble might be valuable, but agents can be replaced when they get discovered and killed. You're playing as the evil side here, compassion isn't something you should be worrying about. If a vampire dies, just get another and continue the Great Plan.

I think you're completely right. I really like the concept of the Winter Name, but in practice it is underpowered and needs work. The original plan was that it would work alongside with the various monsters, such as flesh or Deep Ones. It would destroy the north, they would then attack from the south. The monsters are currently overpowered, however, so don't need more help, and the Name would be far more exciting if it could bring about an apocalypse of its own. It also suffers from the fact that it depends on politics, which is currently underpowered. Political stuff is my favourite, as it's the most complicated and unique part of the game, but it's often weaker than just sending a giant pile of flesh to eat a kingdom whole.

Initially the design was that the Name would be purely passive. Every battle would have an effect without player involvement, and the Name would have no abilities at all, but it was thought it was a bit boring, and that the player should be involved. I'll see how the 'ritual' approach looks. Gotta make sure the player doesn't forget to re-cast it when it times out.

With the introduction of an actual defeat condition, where the nobles can try to cast the Lightbringer Ritual to save themselves, it should be possible to have the freezing abilities be a bit less constrained. Previously, since the player couldn't lose, all cold-causing abilities had to have a difficult-to-achieve condition to make them work. If the player could spend power to cool the world they could never lose, they could win by hitting 'freeze world' whenever the power got high enough. This new ritual allows us to increase world panic or awareness as a consequence of the power, and so the player has to deal with the Lightbringers. They're also going to receive some buffs, which might well include some ways to reverse the global cooling, at least around a few cities.

I like the idea of having a few abilities which benefit from the cold. Maybe they can only be cast in frozen locations, and do good stuff. Both your suggestions, disruption and path-changing, sound good. Probably can't make it so a location gets fully cut off, but maybe a location could have a few connections cut temporarily, to make it harder for the enemy to reach your agents. We'll have to test some stuff and see what works. We'll also see how Ruins work. Currently I think there's an issue with the Unholy Flesh not being able to spawn on a ruined city, but that should be fixable.

Regarding population:

The previous game did have a lot more complex population mechanics, which was cool in a way, but also rather complex, and added a bunch of stuff without really integrating it into the main game. Ideally this game would be more streamlined, by cutting features back to just what it relevant to the gameplay. This ideally would allow the mechanics to overlap better. An example is how nobles' fear is used across the board. It is politically relevant, has a Name associated to it (merchant of nightmares) but also plays into the agents, as it is how the NPCs agents' specialities are chosen. If we expand the population side of the game, we'd want to do it in a way which lots of different Names and Agents can take advantage of the new mechanic, to allow synergies.

Hopefully we can get some of that back. Certainly it should be possible to get refugees to spawn when a city is attacked, or its food production drops below its population, but we'll need to spend some time looking at how it behaves mechanically, to avoid bloating the game's features without adding gameplay value. Currently it's rather simplistic. Each human location has a max population set by the temperature (with a bonus for coastal locations), and population will grow/fall to reach that value. Refugees should be able to detect which cities can accept more population, and navigate their way there, but right now that doesn't have any gameplay effects, so hasn't been implemented. In time it could be, though, as it could allow spread of disease, new political crises, or even advantages to the NPCs (if a noble successfully gets the refugees integrated as productive citizens their city would grow and be able to support larger armies).


I think the current plan for the next patch is roughly:

-New Agent

-Buff Winter Name

-Save/Load bugfixing, maybe some UI improvements

-Buff Lightbringers (give them crisis response stuff to vote on)

-Maybe add a new specialisation to the NPC agents (Inquisitor)

Casus Belli mechanics should probably be implemented sometime, along with occupied locations, so the territory only changes hands at the end of war between human forces. Probably doesn't need to be as complex as CKII/CKIII/Stellaris' approaches, but it doesn't seem too historically accurate for an entire empire to consume another in a giant war. And having cities only switch once might help a bit with nobles maintaining their positions despite their cities being invaded.

Not sure it can make it for the next version, as we're already going to try to add so much, but it would definitely make combat a bit better. Certainly there should be a "crusade" mechanic, because current if a nation is afraid of dark nobles they'll invade their country, but then give those very same dark nobles a vote in whether or not to pronounce them guilty. It means that invading a dark nation can suddenly just add a bunch of dark nobles to your population who then doom your nation, despite people being aware of them.

I also like the idea of reputation being 'at stake' from taking actions. We tried for a bit to have every vote be proposed by a person, whose prestige would change if the vote passed/failed, but it just made stuff more complex. Having the leader's prestige be affected by war outcomes could help.

I was also thinking of an agent who would benefit from deliberately losing wars against human nations. Will keep it as a surprise, but I think it could be fun, at least. Perhaps not very balanced, but an amusing way to play, and a game should probably try to be fun, not just hard.

I really like these ideas. The NPCs already try to form alliances towards the end-game, so it makes sense to give one of them the title of "Kingdom of light" or whatever, and then have them begin work on some anti-dark ritual. The idea of it having a set number of locations you need to target to stop the ritual is also good, should let you work against them politically by shuffling a few key broken nobles around, agent-wise by targeting those nobles for enshadowment, or militarily by wiping them out.

The concept of having a "retry in 500" years is also great. It should be possible, with the current setup. Might be a few technical difficulties (saved games need to avoid getting too huge if they record everything), and gameplay ones (NPCs need to die of old age, so you don't get the same people 500 years in the future). Other than those issues, it's already possible to make the game play hundreds of turns to generate a history, so we could just delete all monsters, reduce shadow over time, then play forwards the game. Maybe you'd even have a tiny dark kingdom which managed to survive this age of light. If we can get this to work, we should also put it into the victory screen. Might be possible to get this in the next version, let's see how things work out.

Specific defeat conditions are also cool, but that'll have to wait a version at least, to keep this version from growing too huge, and leaving too long a gap between v16 and v17's releases.

Thanks for the suggestions, hopefully we can get something together which looks like what you were imagining.

Hey,

Just pushed a version which might have fixed it. Still a bit unsure as to what's really happening, but it seems to work for now, for people who were reporting the issue.

Hey,

Just pushed a new version. We hope this fixes it. We're not actually sure WHY it fixes it, but over on Steam people are saying it works. We'll try to figure out what was going on based on what the bits of code we removed were doing.

Hey, we are being told that it doesn't work. Could you download the version 14 standard (now also available on Itch) and see if that works, if you have time? Many thanks, we just can't get to the bottom of this issue. We'll try some stuff but it would help to know if this version is new to V16 or if it's existed all along and we just didn't notice.

Thanks again


Oh, and are you using non-English OS settings (shouldn't affect anything, but I was told by another dev that it sometimes affects games). And maybe it's a anti-virus thing?