September 2, 2014

Telepath Tactics August 2014 Update

Another month, another update on Telepath Tactics!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what’s new in the game, I thought I’d share something neat with you all. While visiting my dad earlier this summer, it came up during conversation that he had actually tried being an independent game developer. I had no memory of this (I was a baby at the time), but the fact that my dad had once tried to do something very similar to what I am now attempting came as a happy surprise. I guess it’s true what they say about the relative distance of apples and the trees they fall from!

Anyway, enough about me and my family–you’re here to find out more about what’s new with Telepath Tactics! Without further ado:

new portraits!


new sprite variant graphics! The rest sprite variations I showed you back in June now all have walk animations, and attack animations for them are in-progress.

–the single biggest feature this month has got to be the inclusion of a choice of game modes: Normal mode and Causal mode. In casual mode, your dead characters return in the next battle with a -1 penalty to their maximum health; in normal mode, however, dead characters are permanently gone.

–the second biggest feature this month: character promotions are now working! I’ve written up a preliminary list of all of the main campaign’s base classes, and what classes they turn into upon promotion:

Hero > Champion – A strong, durable fighter that becomes even more resilient and capable, able to inspire allies to great feats. Can use Swords, Main Gauches and Rapiers. Gains +6 Health, +6 Energy, +2 Strength. Learns Inspire.

Assassin > Whisper – Difficult to hit, incredibly mobile assassins. Can use Daggers and Throwing Knives. Gains +2 Energy, +1 Strength, +25% Dodge, and Stealth (tag: TargetValue,0.3).

Swordsman > Fencer – Fast, good at going toe-to-toe with powerful physical enemies. Can use Swords, Main Gauches and Rapiers. Gains +2 Health, +2 Energy, +10% Dodge, +1 Counterattack, +20% Accuracy.  Learns Feint, Disarm.

Bandit > Marauder – Strong damage dealer with expanded access to armor and shields. Can use Axes, Halberds, small shields and Leather Armor or Chain Mail. Gains +4 Strength and +5 Health.

Spearman > Pikeman – Specializes in drawing (and weathering) enemy attacks. Can wear heavy armor and use large shields, Spears, Halberds. Gains +7 Health, +20% Slash Resistance, +10% Pierce Resistance, and Prominence (tag: TargetValue,1.5).

Cavalier > Mantis Knight – Tougher, with expanded options for close-range combat on the front lines. Can wear heavy armor and use large shields, Lances, Halberds. Gains +4 Health, +2 Strength, +5% Slash Resistance, +5% Pierce Resistance, and +1 Counterattack. Learns Charge.

Lizardman > Drake – Stronger, faster, greater endurance, with access to basic armor. Can use Maces and Flails, small shields and Leather Armor. Gains +2 Health, +4 Energy, +2 Strength and +5% Dodge.

Bowman > Bowmaster – Faster, more accurate; better at long-range harrassment, both with Bow and Arced Shot. Can use Bows and Longbows. Gains +20% Accuracy and +2 Speed.

Crossbowman > Arbalist – Trained to modify and shoot different types of crossbow bolts. Can use Crossbows. Gains +3 Health, +2 Strength, Range Bonus of 1. Learns Poison Bolt and Piercing Shot.

Engineer > Machinist – A more efficient builder with Golem-specific support skills and access to Leather Armor. Learns Engine Boost, Build Wood Barricade 2, Build Wood Bridge 2. Gains +1 Health, +8 Energy.

Psy Healer > Caduceus – The caduceus is a master of shields. Learns Static Shield, Solid State Shield. Gains +2 Psy Defense and +6 Energy, +1 Mind Shield range.

Mentalist > Puppetmaster – a powerful manipulator. Learns Kinetic Gale, Kinetic Wave, Levitate. Gains +2 Psy Power, +5 Energy, +1 Mind Control range, 50% cost for Kinetic Gust and Kinetic Pull.

Pyrokineticist > Pyrokurios – A master of pyrokinesis.  Learns Fire Gate. Gains +1 Health, +4 Energy, +3 Psy Power, +1 Pyro Blast range and -1 Pyro Blast cost.

Cryokineticist > Cryokurios – A master of cryokinesis.  Learns Frost Armor and Cryo Cross. Gains +1 Health, +4 Energy, +3 Psy Power, +1 Cryo Blast range and -1 Cryo Blast cost.

Skiakineticist > Skiakurios – A master of manipulating negative emotion. Learns Fury and Dark Vortex. Gains +1 Health, +4 Energy, +3 Psy Power, +1 Shadow Blast range and -1 Shadow Blast cost.

Photokineticist > Photokurios – A master of photokinesis. Learns Light Bomb. Gains +1 Health, +4 Energy, +3 Psy Power, +1 Light Blast range and -1 Light Blast cost.

Shadowling > Shadowheart – A devious fighter, able to teleport around the battlefield and prey on the mental weaknesses of its enemies. Learns Terror, Decoy. Gains +3 Health and +5 Energy. +1 Shadowport range and -1 Shadowport cost.

Spriggat > Greater Spriggat – A mature spriggat in full command of its abilities is a deadly foe indeed. Gains +3 Health, +4 Energy, +1 Strength, +1 Psy Power and +1 Speed. -1 cost for its basic breath attack.

Spirit > Specter – A spirit that has gained greater control over itself, and thereby possesses greater psy manipulation powers. Gains +16 Energy. Learns Transfer 2, Drain, Stimulate.

Stone Golem > Megalith – A Stone Golem with combat experience is a terrifying opponent indeed. Learns Smash. Gains +3 Health, +3 Strength, +20% Slash Resistance, +20% Pierce Resistance.

Bronze Golem > Titan – Bronze Golems, already difficult to destroy at the best of times, can learn to become nigh indestructible with enough battle experience. Gains +12 Health, +2 Strength. Learns Spin Saw 2.

–another big new feature this month is support for multiple army rosters. Campaigns can now be split among multiple different player armies, each going through its own separate battles and scenarios, facing its own casualties and amassing its own recruits. For example, this means that Emma and Sabrina Strider, heroines of the main campaign, can each split up and tackle different challenges with different characters under their command! (Think Kefka’s Tower from Final Fantasy 6, but with small armies instead of parties of 4.) To make this work, there are a number of new special parameters for existing script actions, as well as a new condition, Roster Number.

new attack: Terror. This is a powerful mental attack for promoted shadowlings, meant to simulate their ability to get into one’s head. It induces paranoid visions, reducing the target’s mental resistance by 1.5 times the attacker’s psy power, and has a chance to do any or all of the following: Stun, Slow, Weaken, and Blind, as well as strip the target of up to 2 counterattacks.

new items! Battle primers and gold-tipped throwing axes. Battle primers are one-time-use items that give characters experience points; lower-level characters tend to gain more experience than higher-level characters, so optimally, you’ll want to use these to help lower-level characters catch up with your more experienced characters. Meanwhile, gold-tipped throwing axes are like throwing axes, but stronger and more accurate.

new afterAttack type: UseOnce. This is like Unlimited, except that the particular attack cannot be used again. (Other attacks can be used, however.) For instance: Sprint is now a UseOnce attack, meaning that you can attack after using it; you just can’t keep using Sprint over and over again in the same turn, as you could if it were Unlimited.

new Tags! There are three new tags that modify a particular attack’s cost, damage and range for a particular character, meaning that you can now make specific characters better (or worse) at using certain attacks than other characters using those same attacks. As you may have inferred from the promotions list, I use these to make certain promoted classes better at using certain key attacks than their non-promoted counterparts. There’s a new tag that treats a character as higher level than he or she actually is for purposes of experience gain; this, too, is primarily going to be used for promoted characters, specifically to account for the fact that promoted characters are reset to level 1. And finally, there are twenty new tags which directly alter a particular character stat at the moment the character spawns on the battlefield.

Telepath Tactics - Proc Gen Forest Lvl
outdoor procedural level generation is now working! On the right, you can see a procedurally generated forest map.

–I’ve created a bunch of new characters, most of them recruitable! The total number of characters who are (or will eventually be) playable in the game currently sits at around 25.

tweaked attack properties to balance types of classes in single player. Crossbow now hits up to 4 spaces away, and the basic elemental blast attacks now cost 4 energy to use instead of 5.

–performed a bit of necessary balancing on certain characters, as well as on several battles to make them easier to win. (Note: they are still quite challenging.)

–updated existing battles with more tutorial hints for the benefit of players who aren’t already familiar with the game’s mechanics (e.g. telling you to talk to disaffected enemies to try recruiting them; telling you to keep weakened characters out of the move-and-attack range of boss characters; suggesting pushing strong enemies into water or lava to incapacitate them for a turn; and so on).

–worked on several new scenes, and completed 9 optional conversations with characters you’ve recruited.

–you can now drag-and-drop characters in the map editor to move their spawn positions around when in Edit Characters mode (and likewise for objects when in Edit Objects mode)!

–looooots of UI polish! Among the changes:

  • UI - New Font
    I’ve finally swapped out the Arial and Arial Black fonts with a much more setting-appropriate font wherever I could get away with it without sacrificing legibility. You can see how it looks in battle on the left; and here it is on the updated title screen.
  • The Actions Menu displays the name of whatever character is currently selected now (as you can see on the left).
  • The Actions Window now shows up in the bottom-right of the screen by default (unless you reposition it, in which case it’ll remember the new spot). The old top-middle position was decidedly not ideal; it’s working out much better down in its new position.
  • When you’re panning around the map and you accidentally drag the mouse over the Actions Menu, it now immediately ceases map panning (instead of bugging out as soon as you mouse back onto the map).
  • Fixed some annoying graphical artifacts that appeared in the Telepath Tactics logo when in fullscreen.
  • The loading screen looks nicer, and is now animated.
  • Detailed character screens now show up to 15 items that are in the character’s inventory. (Previously, it had maxed out at the first 4 items.)

optimized rain particles to address slowdown during scenes with rain. (They now run quite well!)

–you can now use scripts within static cut scenes (including scripts from PersistentDialog.xml)!

new script actions: RemoveReply, which removes a particular reply option from a given branch of the current conversation; AddObjective and RemoveObjective, which add / remove objectives from the current battle; MoveCharBy, which moves a character relative to its current position; IfTagGoTo and IfTagRun, which go to a dialog branch / run a script if a named character has a particular tag. (Since you can give characters any tag you want, this essentially lets you store string info on individual characters for later use with scripts.) There are now 93 different script actions supported in the game.

–you can now spawn characters or objects with tags already attached using SpawnChar.

–you can now use special characters within Conditions parameters! Specifically, you can now use -VAL:-, R[], and -STR:-.

–you can now use special characters in the Speaker Name portion of dialog trees (allowing you to reference -FNAME- or an -STR:- for the speaker’s name).

–script actions and the -STAT:- special character now support string stats (Name, Class, Portrait, Race, Sex, and so on).

–the next change actually had nothing to do with me: the publication certificate on the game ran out. I’ve replaced it with a new one, but the fact that it has changed means that any early access backers who have not done so already will likely need to uninstall the game entirely, then install it anew if they want to update the game. It’s annoying, but on the plus side, it only has to be done once! (This should only affect early access folks whose current copy of the game is older than version 0.455.467.) The same goes for the map editor.

–fixed some errata in the manual; updated the manual with documentation on how to create your own procedurally generated level types, as well as documentation on the portrait, sex and spritetype attributes for characters.

–I fixed a ton of bugs. ‘Natch.

Work continues! We remain on schedule for a winter release. Until next month…