We’re coming close to the finish line here, folks! Telepath Tactics is all but complete. Here’s what we got done this past month:
–I finished attack animation variants for the Caduceus and the Titan, and picked up the Bowmaster’s Split Shot animation (which I’d somehow neglected the first time around). David Hammond pitched in by animating the attack animation variants for the Megalith:
Character-wise, all that remains are the animations for the Whisper and the Machinist, already in progress!
–I went through and polished up the game’s final half-dozen or so battles, adding in dialog and scripted AI behavior, as well as doing some much-needed balancing work. Consequently, the end-game is now much better than it was when it existed in rough form at the end of December.
–I finished writing and implementing all of the game’s major remaining cut scenes, added a couple of new merchant scenes, and wrapped up all of the death monologues that remained to be written.
–I wrote the main campaign’s ending. It changes based upon which characters you’ve recruited and kept alive throughout the game!
–I created the end credits sequence.
–the game now retains and dynamically updates the player’s total score for a campaign; that score can be displayed in dialog using the new special character -SCORE-.
–item sorting is now supported in the reserve supplies screen!
–new items that appear in the main campaign: Shadow Cloak, Lockpicks, and Winged Helm. The Shadow Cloak is an assassin item that makes them less likely to be chosen as attack targets by the AI; lockpicks give assassins the Pilfer ability (see below); and Winged Helms are basically just better versions of Iron Helms.
–Lord Dakarai (or any golem, provided anyone ever mods in more of them to the main campaign) can now use Golem Parts to permanently increase its Strength by 1 and Energy by 4.
–made a bunch of small balance changes to the various character classes.
–new attacks added to the main campaign: Place Iron Jaw Trap, Pilfer, and Gravity Well. Place Iron Jaw Trap is an advanced Sabrina skill that creates an iron jaw; a trap that stuns, damages, and slows enemies who wander into it. Pilfer instantly opens locked chests; assassins equipped with lockpicks can use it. And finally, Gravity Well is an AOE Gravity Spike that high level mentalists can learn.
–what with all this content-adding, I still couldn’t resist adding in one big new feature to the game: customizable rule sets for multiplayer. A rule set encompasses everything from the types of units the players can choose from to the sorts of items that can drop during matches, down to the specific properties of characters’ attacks. It can even include custom scripts that run during multiplayer matches! It can be a variation on the default multiplayer rules (e.g. all attacks deal double the normal amount of backstab damage), or offer up something drastically different (e.g. all players must use bowmen who explode upon death).
As with user-created single player campaigns, multiplayer rule sets are self-contained modules that are easily created, shared, and downloaded, then selected from a list whenever you want to start playing. Basically, they make modding multiplayer a zillion times easier, and allow players to collect a bunch of multiplayer mods to select among whenever they sit down to play a local multiplayer match.
–to test out multiplayer rule sets, I created an alternate multiplayer rule set that will come with the game: Bases for Generals. This swaps out the default general (a unit that appears in the Generals game type) with a nearly immobile unit that can recruit weak units once per turn using the new abilities Recruit Bandit, Recruit Swordsman, Recruit Spearman, Recruit Bowman, Recruit Engineer and Recruit Psy Healer. This turns what is otherwise a pure tactics match into more of a turn-based strategy experience. I still need to balance the Bases for Generals rule set, but I’m already having quite a bit of fun with it.
–added the bandit class to multiplayer; the default rule set now represents all 23 of the default character classes in the game.
–changed the Shadowling class’s default attacks in multiplayer.
–renamed the “Lissit” or “Lizardman” class to “Barudit,” so that there is less confusion in the game about what one refers to when one uses the term “lissit.”
–implemented an optimization for enemy AI: the game no longer pans over to every enemy character before checking to see if it can go. Instead, if an enemy is in Passive mode and there are no targets within its max range, the game just skips it. This leads to drastically shorter enemy turns on maps with lots of passive enemies.
–I changed the game’s windowed mode resolution to 1280 x 720, a Youtube-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio that records nicely in HD.
–you can now toggle fullscreen mode in the Settings menu instead of having to use the Ctrl + F hotkey.
–The title screen now displays a message that I can customize, and will take the player to a website of my choosing when it’s clicked. (In short: I’ll be able to direct players to the forums to report bugs, notify them when expansions are available, and so on.)
–I created a few new status effects to make buffing abilities (e.g. Blinding Cloak, Stimulate, Fury) more effective in the short-term while preventing them from becoming overpowered exploits in the long term.
–new script action: NextScene; this just immediately makes the game go to whatever scene is specified in the current scene’s nextbattle attribute. Also, FadePortraits, which causes all portraits in a cut scene to simultaneously fade out or fade in.
–new victory condition: Defeat Army. This lets the player win by defeating only one particular army regardless of whether other, non-allied armies remain on the battlefield.
–new sound loop used in the game: howling wind.
–bridges in the game can now have elevation independent of the ground tiles beneath them. This means that the game now behaves properly with bridges stretching between elevated ground, across gorges and chasms.
–added in a little bit of early game tutorial text explaining damage fall-off on ranged attacks and encouraging the player to use Sprint to get to far-off locations.
–I added documentation for all of the game’s 23 base character classes to the manual, as well as a guide to the game’s most common consumable items, and an explanation of where to place (or create) new campaigns and multiplayer rule sets when modding the game.
–Bugs. I spent a lot of time fixing bugs (including a few bugs in the map editor). I’m not quite done yet with fixing bugs, but I’m getting close!
So that’s where we are. I’m heading into February with features and content complete, and am now in the midst of fixing bugs, tweaking things for balance, and adding polish where needed. I also have to do Steam integration, and add in a few last-minute assets from my artists (who are wonderful but can be rather slow at times).
I plan to send out review copies to the press in a couple of weeks; I’ll be tackling the Steam integration and any last-minute bug fixes after that, ideally in time for a mid-March release.
That’s all for now, folks. Until next time!