The RogueWare Project

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FreeHolder Early Access on Patreon

Posted by Matt Crooks on August 21, 2015 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

 This has been a long time coming.

 

We've reached a point as a company where we need to start turning to the community for support. The partial funding we privately raised has just about run dry and we've pushed FreeHolder about as far as we can get it on our own. So we're going to bring shareware back like it's the 90's! A free demo will be launched to help drive an Early Access campaign. We've chosen Patreon as a platform for this campaign.

 

After numerous engagements with various publishers we decided the best course of action as a new game developer would be to self-publish. Riskier, no-doubt, but we're confident enough at this point that we have a fun and engaging game to offer our fellow gamers, and that every dollar given to the project should be funding the production and completion of FreeHolder, not lining the pockets of a financier. We know it'll be slower going on our own without the marketing support a publisher could offer, but we think the game is compelling enough to float on its own - we just need to get it out there!

 

To that effect we had examined numerous crowdfunding websites, and discussed what made the most sense for an Early Access campagin, and without a doubt the Patreon model makes the most sense. As opposed to Kickstarter where the funding model is all or nothing, we prefer to scale the games final 1.0 form to the level of interest and support it can draw from the community. Patreon allows us to start small and work our way up gaining subscribers who can pay smaller donations over time.  For $3 per month* you will get the latest Alpha update.  (*if an update takes longer than a month you will NOT be charged until we launch an update). Anyone who pays a total of $15 over the course of their patronage will be entitled to all versions of FreeHolder through 1.0. We will be offering all sorts of cool perks as well for higher tiers of support.

 

Most importantly, this is our chance to really get to know you. We want to know what draws you to the game, where it needs the most improvement, and what would you like to see added or changed in it. We intend to have the production of this game driven by its patrons and it is our hope that this will help us forge a great roguelike game together.

 

T-9 Days until Launch.


Alpha Testing for FreeHolder has begun!

Posted by Matt Crooks on December 30, 2014 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Hello, one and all!


We have some exciting news for those that have been patiently awaiting the day when we might let some of you have a look at the nice new alpha of FreeHolder we’ve been working on. That day has arrived! We are beginning a very small open alpha today, and will be incorporating more people in over time. This will be a continuous process and we will be looking to add more people as quickly as possible, based on progress and initial feedback.

 

We are thrilled to be able to finally start getting the community involved in the development of this unique game, and look forward to giving more of you a chance to play and tell us what you think. This will truly be a community-driven project, and hope you will help us make FreeHolder everything it can be.

 

 

RogueSpeak #3 - Artist Interview

Posted by Matt Crooks on December 4, 2014 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

For our third edition of RogueSpeak we have a Skype interview with our talented artist Haley Friedmann!


It's in mp3 format and runs about 30 minutes. You can acccess it here: http://tinyurl.com/lsyqved 


You can follow Haley's twitter @HaleyFriedmann and checkout some of her concept work at www.haleyfriedmann.com


Enjoy! 

FreeHolder OST Preview Tracks

Posted by Chris Crooks on November 4, 2014 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Until and unless it turns out that Blue Mage is actually Blue Mage(TM), a trademark of Squaresoft, I (Chris Crooks) have long wanted to use Blue Mage as my composer name because it represents what I attempt to do, or can't help but do, or pretend to do as a music composer.

 

In many Final Fantasy games, a character with the class or abilities of a Blue Mage could learn skills from different monsters by getting attacked by them. Thereafter, you could use the ability of the monster whenever you wanted, although quite often in a form much less mighty than the original.

 

This is a perfect analogy for me. I have listened to hundreds of game soundtracks sometimes dozens of times, and have all sorts of different things I like about the many many composers that I have heard over the years, and have attempted to imitate what I like about them in an attempt to make music that makes me feel similarly. Unsurprisingly, this wide exposure has had a large impact on the way that I write music and I have learned to hear the influence of many different composers when I analyze something that I have written. It hasn't been a conscious procedure...yet. I'm hoping that I might be able to actually formally create these lovely melanges of style that represent what I consider to be the premier art format of post-post-modernism: the pastiche, or collage.

 

So many musical trails have been so thoroughly blazed in so many directions that I stand not as an explorer on the edge of an unknown frontier, but rather as a bookish librarian overwhelmed by volumes of excellent work coming in from all sides, and my task is not to create something "original" in some grand sense, but pick out the bits and pieces that resonate with me and put them together into something that I enjoy, or at least fits in with some scene or mood in a game that I'm making. I almost feel that my role is part historical, and part critical, even though I should probably be primarily concerned with simply writing some music.

 

In other words, I'm spoiled for choice: either the Muse sings so loudly through the ten of thousands of hours of fantastic game music that the inspiration of local Muses is patently unnecessary, or perhaps I have found something that has replaced her, for better or worse, in

case my inner ear has been inured somewhat to her quiet voice.

 

I suppose the only difficulty I run into when presenting myself in this style is the risk of unintentional plagiarism. After all, I can't always remember whether

some riff I came up with was used by somebody before - the chances are fairly good it has been even if I "came up with it off the top of my head." And of course, I'm not here to present anyone's work as my own - I respect everyone who has influenced me too much to do something

so unworthy. Furthermore, the community is highly sensitive to such things and public censure would outpace any sort of legal action by an order of magnitude.

 

Rather, as I said before, I want to present to you a nostalgic patchwork, old nuances and motives woven together in novel ways, in a deliberate attempt to connect to what made the original music so great while presenting new material. I want to be a musical Blue Mage - wielding the styles of many but using them in fun combinations and adding a few innovative tweaks whenever I can manage.

 

If it wasn't for all of the amazing video game composers that I've heard over the decades, I sincerely doubt I would be a music composer and I may not even have had the patience to stick it out as a pianist if I hadn't spent all that time arranging my favorite SquareSoft songs on piano. Who can say? As far as these composers are concerned, they did all the work for this

soundtrack. Ultimately, they should get the credit. AllI did was bliss out on wonderful music for most of my life.

 

Here’s my first pass at the top 3 composers who inspired for each of the two preview tracks I posted. Some of them are more obvious than others. This is probably useless for most people but thankfully having an online community such as ours means there are other fanatics like me who are intensely interested in such things.

 

Destinygrasp 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=waMLMIycOVY


Elements of:

Yuzo Koshiro (Legacy of the Wizard)

Hitoshi Sakamoto (Final Fantasy Tactics)

Motonaki Takenouchi (Shining Force 2)

 

Fateslicer

www.youtube.com/watch?v=faVP_489ahQ


Elements of:

Hideaki Kobayashi (Phantasy Star Online)

Hideki Naganuma (Sonic Rush)

Motoi Sakuraba (Valkyrie Profile)

 

My hope is this list is not pointless vanity (truthfully, I wish I could be a third as good as any of these composers) nor some sort of brash challenge for someone to scour the material ruthlessly for these elements, though I would be delighted if anyone with a similar familiarity with these composers cared to support or refute my delusions. In some cases a composer influenced my instrumentation, in others the melody, in others rhythmic or harmonic elements. Keep in mind that these are unfinished works in progress and I may tweak them greatly, slightly, or not at all depending on a variety of factors including your feedback.

 

Thank you, and please enjoy. Comments, criticisms, outright accusations, you know how to reach me. And if you don't - crack the case, Sherlock!

 

Later.

 

Chris

 

RogueSpeak #2

Posted by Matt Crooks on September 16, 2014 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

After a year and 5 months, we finally got around to doing another RogueSpeak podcast.  Chris even added a professional polish with some of his piano playing at the start.


In this RogueSpeak we talk about...

-Our plans to launch a dual Greenlight and Kickstart campaign ~January.  Early Access is a strong possibility.

-Our new twitter presence, growing community, need for community driven quality assurance.  (We want you for game testing!)

-Possibility of a multiplayer mode for FreeHolder - we talk about some of the ways it could be approached.


You can download or listen to the mp3 here: http://tinyurl.com/nvoswb5

Agricola and Abstraction of Resources

Posted by Chris Crooks on September 1, 2014 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (1)

To those not in the know, Agricola is widely considered to be one of the most challenging and fun board games for hardcore game connoisseurs. It sounds innocent enough: you are a peasant at the end of the dark ages, competing with your neighbors to build the most prosperous farm over the course of the game. However, to build such a farm you will all be competing for a common pool of resources and actions, each of which can only be taken once per round, most of the time. This adds such an incredible bevy of tactical and strategic considerations I won’t even go into them this moment. It takes a game or two merely to become comfortable with the process of playing the game and how the scoring works. The fact that every player is dealt a large hand of randomized Occupations and Improvements from a massive card pool, and that all these cards can and often do interact with each other in helpful and surprising ways, you never, ever play the same game of Agricola twice, something very hard to achieve in physical space with a board game. But Uwe Rosenberg has done this very thing.

 

Agricola is the inspiration, or less generously, source, for our fundamental gameplay mechanic in FreeHolder. You have a character that can perform a limited number of actions each month, and each action is taken on a specific space with some defined properties. This is known as “worker placement” mechanic, and its a favorite of Eurogamers everywhere. Unlike game boards or printed tiles, though, we have the luxury of virtual magic hexes that dynamically present multiple actions based on the character or situation. A Forest hex, for example can be hunted in, or timber or firewood can be gathered, or herbs can be searched for. Rather than limiting these hexes to one placement per turn, as in conventional worker placement mechanics, you can take as many actions on a hex as you want, but in most cases there are diminishing returns on natural resources. You can overfish, overlog, or overhunt a Forest and it may take several months to recover and produce reliably again. This encourages the player to spread out their collection, and is a bit more organic (although random) than minutely calculated resource takes.

 

A slightly more obscure but no less relevant lesson that I’ve taken from Agricola is the way that Uwe Rosenberg carefully planned the variety and availability of resources in the game. He succeeded in such a fundamental way that he reveals some core truths about trying to use resources as a gameplay mechanic.

 

In Agricola, there are four building resources, wood, clay, reed, and stone. Upon some examination I think it can be stated that for most purposes three resources are a minimum, because you are undoubtedly going to want one common building material, one uncommon building material, and one rare material. This makes it easy to influence the difficulty of building something by changing the rarity of the resources needed to build it. The simplest buildings can be made purely out of the common material, while the most difficult would require quantities of rare and uncommon materials.

 

Uwe spices this up a bit: wood is common and clay uncommon, but for the two rares he makes a tactical distinction. Reed is available from the very beginning of the game, but is in short supply and absolutely critical to staying competitive, as you cannot add more family members and take more actions per turn without building more rooms, and new rooms require (most of the time) reed. Stone is available a bit later and is slightly more common (there are two different stone spaces), and slightly less necessary for winning the game, but of course that is always circumstantial.

 

Agricola has helped me figure out how to actually create a resource system with the view of implementing building mechanics. There’s little reason to avoid those same materials, seeing as how Uwe simply identified the things people actually build with. I have Timber and Clay as common materials (Clay less so), Stone and Reed being uncommon (reed less so), and Willow and Marble as rare. Marble and Stone are gathered out of finite deposits. Willow forests are ephemeral and may appear and disappear suddenly. With this rubric, it has given me much help in determining what the hell each building should actually cost to build.

 

One key difference is that in Agricola you are competing against other players for resources, whereas in FreeHolder you’re fighting the clock, and Lady Luck. Therefore I never have to worry about the consequences of some other player being denied building resources, and some of the close tactical considerations needed for a game like Agricola are loosened substantially in FreeHolder. FreeHolder is not a zero-sum game.

 

At a certain point, I have to understand that playtesting will arbitrate where my feeble reasoning skills cannot. It is certainly easier to play a game out and see that a building is too cheap or expensive than reason endlessly about it. But when one is trying to borrow substantially from such a near-perfect game as Agricola, one has to make sure that one does so with extreme skill and subtlety.

 

Speaking of extreme subtlety, our feeding mechanic was also lifted directly from Agricola. (cough). Somewhat. I’m fairly proud of what will be our nifty cooking system and you’ll be stuffing your face with a lot more than Grain and Vegetables, I can tell you that. Furthermore, you can customize rations to increase health or save food during lean times, apply medicine, and burn firewood for heat during the winter (I was unaware of the Farmers of the Moor expansion when I came up with that, not that its a stroke of brilliance to acknowledge people need heat to survive).

 

Still, the immediate need to feed your peeps every turn (or every few turns in Agricola) is such a lovely pressure mechanic we adopted it immediately, with some significant alteration. Your folks can get sick and die, for example. Closest thing to that in Agricola is the Rat Catcher.

 

I have some deranged fantasy about Uwe Rosenberg giving me a pat on the back about doing some of his mechanics a bit of justice in videogame form, but I don’t know if the man even owns a computer. I mean, I assume he does, but I prefer to think of him as some bearded, philosophical toymaker living in a manor in the Bavarian forest. Maybe I should look at a picture, but why kill the fantasy?

 

Don’t answer that.

Some Notes on the Concept of "Sur-thrival"

Posted by Chris Crooks on August 19, 2014 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The basic concept of a survival game is obviously to survive. If it is of sufficient (appropriate) difficulty, the mere ability to get a bit further, last a bit longer is proof positive that you have improved at the game. However, for it to remain a “survival” game the feeling that death is just around the corner has to remain throughout, no matter how powerful you get. You should rarely feel removed from danger, and treasure the breaths that you get.

 

On the other end of the spectrum is essentially the empire-building game - your goal is generally total domination, and you have the spare resources to get there. Of course, you can lose your whole empire through mismanagement, but you yourself as the player are not connected to the danger in any way - it is purely abstract management. Your generalissimo’s turn to turn survival is assured - some orderly probably brings their meals into the command center, so you can focus on management of the economy, war, etc.

 

Since these two genres represent two extremes: poverty of resources vs management of excess resources, it is a fair question to ask how one can go about blending the two. After all, the excitement of turn-to-turn survival is removed if, for example, a relatively stable and permanent food source is found or created. If such excitement is a driving force in the game, boredom and stagnation must soon ensue, unless a significant revision of gameplay occurs at the moment of transition. Then, ideally, one attempts to smooth the transition to so fine a point that it becomes seamless, and the player will control the transition with their own skill and strategy.

 

Before I delve into the technicalities of such a fusion, I think it could stand a bit of examination from a narrative standpoint. While the genre blend may be a bit awkward in some ways, narratively it fits perfectly with a rags-to-riches story. Furthermore, it contains within it the necessary widening of narrative scope and character power and influence to re-engage the player with not a material (in terms of the game) reward, but a reward of expanded possibilities, and yes, even a sense of security that they have earned by mastering basic gameplay mechanics to the extent that survival becomes more of a difficult math problem than an uncertainty.

 

Storywise, the player will come out of their semi-enslaved status from the first part of the game with a new sense of their ability to create change in their environment, and a feeling that they have been rewarded with access to an expanded world. Now that you are no longer under the thumb of a corrupt census-taker, the political, military, and intrigue aspects of the game open up to you and exciting new possibilities occur.

 

Furthermore, it is a delicious idea that a game continually challenge the player by opening up a whole new realm of subtle management and goals right as they believe they’ve mastered the game they’ve seen up to that point. You certainly don’t want to blindside the player utterly with unknown concepts, but some element of surprise is also nice from a narrative point of view. If they didn’t realize they could influence the political and military situation before, and suddenly find themselves managing a struggle between local tribes simply because their taskmaster is gone, you can imagine the extremely organic pleasure such an experience would bring to the player.

 

Some of the transition from survive to thrive can be eased by repurposing existing mechanics that the player is already comfortable and familiar with. For example, once the player has freed themselves from the control of the census-taker, they generally will find themselves either as a semi-voluntary supplier of goods to the Republic, or as a supplier of goods to one of the local tribes. No one is going to turn you in for not meeting your quotas.

 

In the old days, of course, failing to meet your wheat quota meant game over. It may therefore seem counterintuitive to abandon such a premise partway through the game, seeing as how it fuels so much of the difficulty, etc. It almost makes everything after breaking free like a bonus mode, which in some ways it is, looked at from what traditionally makes rounds “bonus.” In my mind, frenzied acquisition of points with little or no risk to the player is how I define it.

 

On the other hand, considering what should be the high difficulty of this achievement, I think some relief from the grinding wheat mechanic is a pretty fitting reward. It is also important to making the transition to the “thrive” part of the game, which as I said has much more similarity to empire-building games than survival games.

 

But taken at a wider perspective, although the significance of the wheat quota to the physical lives of the players themselves may have been more or less removed, in fact the overall significance of said quota has gone from merely assuring the survival of a ragtag group of escaped slaves to actually supporting the political and military efforts of a warring faction. While your personal fates may not hang in the balance immediately, the fate of empires does.

 

The “voluntary quotas” you supply at this point in the game are used as part of a calculation to determine the relative military strength and political influence of the local tribes and Romans. Because it involves more combat, risk, and facing the greatest military the ancient world ever knew, siding with the tribes is a de facto hard mode. For those who have a better sense of which way the wind is blowing, Rome is generous to its friends and when Caesar rolls through Upper Gaul you know it won’t be his mighty legions you’ll have to face.

 

It may take several years for the results of the player’s supply efforts to manifest in the local power balance. If the player performs poorly, it is not just their fate but the fate of the region that is decided. My favored interpretation is that they player has proven themselves so good at meeting quotas that they are offered the opportunity to voluntarily achieve them in order to achieve wider, more epic goals.

 

One of the greatest new strategic options are given to the player now that they are not necessarily chained to supplying their faction in order to ensure success, at least in the short term. There may be occasions where the player wishes to make the strategic decision to forego meeting the quota in order to focus on achieving some specific military or political objective, like removing a bandit blockade from a friendly town or sabotaging the efforts of other factions. The player is allowed to make these long-term calculations now, having proven to the game (me?) they can keep up with brutal demands if necessary.

 

In the early game, you cannot decide to forego the bribe or quota in order to speed some other plan along - you may want a host of crafted items this year, or really get that Quarry underway, but you won’t get to enjoy the fruits of that labor if the triarii haul you off next March.

 

I guess one question that can be pulled from all this is: is the subsequent substitution of the player’s objective of survival with the objective of the survival of their goals a natural one, or horribly forced?

 

As always, Dungeon Crawl can be looked to for a helpful answer. After all, your objective during most of your initial hours of gameplay in such a brutal dungeon crawler will be merely to not die, maybe get down one level further, and just maybe get to see a fancy new enemy before it kills you in the newest, most horrible way yet.

 

Because of its exceptional difficulty and randomness, Dungeon Crawl can easily be described as partly a survival game, not least because starvation is a constant factor. For a while, you are just learning, and dying, and learning, and dying. And dying.

 

At a certain point though, you become familiar enough with the mechanics, pitfalls, and denizens that under conventional circumstances you can generally survive. It is at that point, and only that point, that there is any feasibility of actually obtaining the Orb of Zot and winning the game. The chances are remote, but they seemed utterly nonexistent before.

 

Dungeon Crawl does show that there is an inherent tiered structure in games of a sufficient difficulty. Early, just learning the ins and outs of the game constitutes an accomplishment. Only when survival becomes commonplace does the larger goal come to focus. We are attempting to accomplish something similar, although more artificial.

 

After all, in Dungeon Crawl death is always possible, no matter how powerful you think you are and how many bases you have covered. It never stops being a survival game because of its extreme difficulty, so it only partially serves as a model because we are attempting to redefine difficulty in FreeHolder mid-game from keeping your players alive in the short-term to doing something remarkable in the long-term. I’m hoping that the narrative flow of this progression will make up for some of the hitches in trying to figure out how to connect two genres at the midpoint.

 

The obviously common link between the two genres, and one that makes it mechanically flow together pretty easily is resource management. You simply go from managing a paucity of simple resources to cartloads of sundry high-level goods. Thankfully, this transition is built right into the fundamental mechanics of FreeHolder. The transition is also reinforced significantly by the leveling system.

 

At the start of the game, your characters are fairly ineffective, but as they level and acquire more equipment, their effectiveness increases exponentially. Where before it took the unceasing labor of your entire group to make ends meet, as your characters specialize and level you can assign more and more spare tasks to other, long-term goals like building projects, goods crafting and processing, and building reputation in the various townships and cities scattered across the frontier.

 

It’s all terribly exciting to watch this game come more and into existence as billions of 1s and 0s are tacked onto it from some four or five levels of code above. Making games is crazy. :)

 

 

FreeHolder Combat System Revised

Posted by Chris Crooks on March 9, 2014 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Admittedly, probably not many people dove into the combat system available in the prototype, due to its glitchiness. I had become mildly obsessed with creating an elegant combat system that was mostly automated but still very tactical, but it was not particularly intuitive and the coding was a bit clumsy.

 

The Final-Fantasy-ness of my original conception of battles suggested a more traditional command-menu style but I thought I could innovate even in this dimension. However, it occurs to me now that even with the larger-scale battles achievable with mass hiring of mercenaries you probably won’t have to manage more than 16-20 units at a time, and if micro-management became tiresome one could still assign a tactic to the unit for the battle. Most people immediately get the concept of assigning commands to characters in battle - less so the indirect control of automated tactics. And I have to admit, direct commands ultimately do give the most precise tactical control, and as a strategy freak omitting this is painful on principle. Still, the Bushido Blade-like wound system and scaled D100 rolls keep it exciting, fast, and brutal. I wanted to keep as many of the worthwhile game innovations while scrapping the clumsy automation.

 

As such I’ve taken another whack at a standalone combat simulator that allows you to create pitched battles between a friendly group of mercenaries that you control and a group of some of the low-level enemies you encounter in FreeHolder. I’m nearly finished implementing all of the mercenary classes - everything else except morale is good to go and it’s much quicker, more elegant, and very nearly glitch-free. This seems a fairly good time to put down on record an overview of what is intended to be, after more trial and error, the actual system that will be implemented into the final version of FreeHolder.


 Rows

 

 Of utmost importance to learn first is that the characters in your battle squad can be assigned to the front or back row. This has immense implications. Characters in the front row are your first line of defense. As long as there are any standing characters in the front row, all melee attacks made by enemies must be directed at the front row characters. Obviously, this means that weaker characters like farmers, mages, and those without strong combat skills should be positioned in the back row to protect them from fighters and the like, and tough defenders should be put in the front.

 

Ranged attacks, on the other hand, can hit either row, so enemy archers and skirmishers are still a threat to your back row. Many fighters have a “Cover” ability, which allows them to absorb ranged attacks intended for characters in the back row. However, they must sacrifice the ability to attack in order to do this.

 

Characters in the back row cannot ordinarily perform melee attacks, unless they are armed with a reach weapon like a spear or have some sort of special ability. Characters with ranged weapons, mages, and stealthy types are a natural choice for the back row. Incidentally, a reach weapon allows a character in the front row to attack the enemy rear, and since it is not a ranged attack, Cover is ineffective at redirecting it. This is useful for getting at entrenched snipers behind covering defenders.

 

Phases

 

1. Ranged Phase

2. Melee Phase

3. Delayed Phase


Once your characters have assigned attacks, all combatants execute their orders one-by-one in initiative order, determined semi-randomly. However, certain attacks are given priority over others. All Ranged Attacks occur before any melee attacks occur, and occur simultaneously, meaning that even a character that is downed by a ranged attack will still take their own shot (it was taken before he was killed). After all ranged attacks are executed, the combatants will execute melee attacks in initiative order. If a combatant is killed or incapacitated before they act, they lose their attack. Finally, any delayed actions take place in initiative order in the delayed phase - this usually includes the Snipe ability, spells, and Stealth attacks.

 

As you can see, ranged attacks give you an uninterruptible attack at the very start of the round, making them crucial for pre-wounding enemies your melee fighters will then finish off, or downing hurt enemies at the start of a round before they can attack you. Conversely, delayed actions take place only after ranged and melee phases are complete, meaning the character has to survive the round to take the action.

 

After all three phases are complete, character status ailments are rolled for, inflicted or cured, and everything starts from a new round.

 

Wounds

 

Characters do not have hit points. Rather they simply are either fine, wounded, critical, or dead. It is easier to inflict wounded on a character than critical (technically, a major instead of a minor hit is required). When a character is reduced to critical status, they collapse and are of no further use in the battle unless healed. There is a chance they may yet live. Critical characters that bleed out or are finished off become dead. Living is no longer a possibility. Certain enemies like the Berserker or Gladiators with the Juggernaut ability can continue fighting even while Critical, and ignore the usual penalty to attack rolls for being Wounded.


 Combat Rolls

 

Attacking is done with a D100 roll that determines the severity of the hit, from miss -> glancing blow -> minor hit -> major hit -> critical hit. The glancing blow and critical hit inflict status ailments based on the type of weapon wielded. Minor hit will wound unwounded characters, but will not reduce wounded characters to critical.


 These rolls and your chance of a critical hit are modified by many different things, including the relative combat skills of you and your enemy, the armor worn by the enemy, and whether you are stealthed or not.

 

Flanking

 

Every time a combatant is attacked by more than one enemy each round, each successive enemy receives a “flanking bonus” to hit, and this bonus increases with each enemy. Gang up on tough enemies for better results!


 Stealth

 

Thieves, Assassins, and others can use Stealth Mode. When Stealthed, their attack is delayed but they cannot be targeted by enemies during the round. They may also target any enemy in any row. When attempting to attack, a stealth check must be rolled to beat a spotting number generated by the number and type of alert enemies in the battle. If they are spotted, they lose their attack. If they are not, the stealthy character strikes with a substantial bonus to hit and critical hit. They will still be spotted after this attack unless they either down the enemy or perform a critical hit, which is an instantaneous “silent kill.” If spotted, the character will be unable to stealth in the next round. After that round, they can use stealth mode again as normal.

 

Sharpshooters and other ranged units with stealth can make stealth ranged attacks. With ranged weapons, if the attacker is spotted, they still complete the attack, but lose the stealth hit and critical bonus.

   

There is a lot of other information about equipment, armor types, armor piercing and so forth but it’s not essential to play with and enjoy the combat system. Everything has descriptive text when moused over to help. The fact that your characters might be going down on the very next hit most of the time keeps everything exciting and unpredictable, and when you have a great round it is very satisfying to see the damage you’ve done in a short amount of time. Of course, things can also go awry as enemies get the rolls that were intended for you. :)

 

As a design note, the mercenaries in this sim are supposed to be more or less the actual variety of mercs you can hire in the full game, and I’ve tried to represent a spectrum of roles so the player can fill in gaps in his own squad with the appropriately helpful mercenary. However, if there seems to be a blatantly obvious type missing, or some other consideration that you think hasn’t occurred to me, please let me know. I do intend, given the time and art budget, to have a couple of very powerful Mercenary Lords who will join you if you build your guild reputation up very high and complete a very difficult quest.

 

I will post an update with this simulator soon. I think you’ll find it a satisfying blend of old-school conventions and tactical wargame mechanics. It was always my dream to have some kind of battle system that LOOKS like Final Fantasy but PLAYS like Baldur’s Gate. This ain’t that by a long shot, but still is a taste of what some sort of “ideal” combat system would be like, in my opinion.

 

Thanks all! More updates forthcoming.