January 2, 2015

Happy New Year + Telepath Tactics December 2014 Update!

We’ve now left 2014 behind and are marching headlong into 2015. I set myself a goal of having the main campaign for Telepath Tactics finished in rough form by the end of the day on December 31, 2014. Did I meet this goal, you might wonder? The answer: yes! Let’s get into details about what we’ve accomplished this past month:

Telepath Tactics - Battle for the Mine Entrance
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–first and foremost, Telepath Tactics is now playable from beginning to end! This meant writing a ton of cut scenes and new battles. There are presently 24 battles in the main campaign, including a highly challenging, very large final battle for you to beat. I’d like to add in one more battle before release to get the game’s number of battles to 25, but I’m reasonably happy with what’s in there now. Even without it, I estimate that the game should take an average player (that is, one who restarts battles after losing characters) at least 20 hours to beat.

I could post a bunch of new battle screenshots here, but I don’t want to spoil too much, so I’ll just post this one for now!

new tiles and enemies! In the service of putting together all of these new battles, I ended up creating a variety of new tiles (snow and lava especially) as well as more than a dozen new enemy types.

new attack effects! Tyvon Thomas did a great job on the grapple chain’s pulling animation, as well as on the debuff attack effect:

 

the game now contains 25 playable characters that you can recruit, develop, and field in battle! I’ve managed to give all of these characters backgrounds and some measure of development in-game, which ultimately took a lot of time and effort, but I think it was absolutely worthwhile. Telepath Tactics has a lot of fun character interactions sprinkled throughout the campaign which depend on who you have on the battlefield and who you’ve spoken to in camp.

–speaking of characters, we have new character portraits!

new promoted unit animations! We finished up the Drake early on in December, then went on to knock out the Marauder and the Greater Spriggats–all of them in both male and female gender variants. (Many thanks to Conrad Seto for the help!) A small taste of what this entailed:

Have I mentioned that this game has a lot of animations in it? Because yeah, it really does.

Ship
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new cut scene background! I realized rather belatedly that the plot of Telepath Tactics requires the player to sail on a ship, and that this meant that I needed a cut scene background set on board a wooden galleon. (Given that the game’s setting is a massive archipelago, I probably should have figured out the need for such a background sooner.) David Hammond gets all the credit for this lovely pixel rendering of a ship at sea.

–added the ability to see an item’s race, class, and level requirements at any time. This will help the player figure out who can use what equipment even when not in a store.

New Campaign Refurbished
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user interface polish! In particular, I’ve been working on overhauling some of the game’s remaining placeholder UI. The New Campaign, Local Match, and Settings menus all have proper backgrounds now, and campaigns now each display their own unique header images when you select them from the list.

implemented balance tweaks. I spent a fair bit of time this past month correcting imbalances between characters to ensure that all of them can be useful in one way or another. This meant changing the costs and properties of certain attacks, as well as going through each character and ensuring that they’re learning all of the advanced skills they should be learning at the right levels.

new attacks! Awareness, Longbow, Inspire. Awareness renders the user immune to backstab and sidestab for a turn; Longbow is a slightly longer range, more accurate Arced Shot; and Inspire grants a new turn to every adjacent character. (Needless to say, Inspire is a late-game hero ability.)

attacks can now be taught to characters during cut scenes! This makes it much easier to confer plot-related combat abilities upon particular characters.

–fixed a bunch of bugs, as per usual.

 

Despite all that we accomplished this past month, there is still significant work to be done. In particular:

  • There are about half a dozen cut scenes that I still have to write and add in to the game. For the most part, these will elaborate on what happens in between each of the battles near the end of the game, plus tie up some loose plot threads.
  • I have to add in two more Kickstarter backer NPCs to the game’s battles.
  • The game needs an ending.
  • The game needs end credits.
  • Six promoted classes still need their attack animations finished: the Megalith, the Titan, the Whisper, the Caduceus, and the Machinist. David Hammond has agreed to help out with this.
  • The spriggat breath animations remain to be finished. Tyvon Thomas is hard at work on this one.
  • Final mastering of the game’s soundtrack. (This is well along, and Ryan Richko estimates this should be finished this month.)
  • Polishing, balancing, and bug fixing.
  • Steam integration.

As of right now, I plan to release the game in mid-March 2015 (i.e. before winter ends). This means that I have about a month-and-a-half to accomplish most of what’s on this list before I send out review copies to Youtubers and the gaming press. I’ll then have another month or so to intensively focus on fixing any final bugs that snuck through into the review build prior to release. This should be eminently doable–especially if all the game’s early access backers help out by posting bug reports! (There’s more info on how to do that here.)

Thanks for reading, tactics fans, and thanks especially for believing in the game. Your support is what’s made all of this possible! And for those of you who haven’t had a chance to get early access, there’s info on doing so here. Until next month!