April 1, 2014

Telepath Tactics March 2014 Update

Hello, tactics fans! Wouldn’t you know it? Another month has gone by, and we’ve made still more progress on Telepath Tactics!

Greenlit!Before we get to The Big List, something funny happened last month: the very day after I posted the last monthly update, I started getting tweets of congratulations. Curious, I checked my email, and lo and behold: Telepath Tactics was Greenlit! (Yes, I know that it’s April Fool’s Day today, but you can click that link to see that I’m not lying.)

So yeah: Telepath Tactics is coming to Steam! This means a much larger potential audience for the game, more mod content and custom campaigns likely to come out, and a brighter future for Sinister Design in general. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty darn excited about it. Also: relieved. I had to promote that page for more than a year, which was (a) not fun and (b) a huge distraction from getting work done on the game. It’s really, really nice not to have to worry about it anymore.

Speaking of getting work done on the game, let’s get into the run-down of what we accomplished over this past month!

  • New portraits!

New Portraits

  • The Axe attack is now fully animated for both the male and female Bandit!
  • The villager NPCs now all have walk animations; which is to say, they’re all complete!
  • We have a talented new animator by the name of Hunter Russell doing some of the larger effect animations for us. So far, he’s adapted the Mind Shield animation for Big Shield, created a Feedback animation, and produced a suitably epic Dark Vortex effect animation. (Click the images below to see the animations in motion.)
  • Related to the new, big effects animations, I’ve added a couple of new spawn settings for big AOE attack visual effects: OnCenter and TowardCenter.
  • The game now supports gender randomization in single player, so you can have characters randomly spawn as either male or female in battle.
  • I’ve created a few new attacks to make the Shadowling, Bandit and Photokineticist classes more interesting and give them more room for growth in single player. Shadowlings can learn to create hallucinatory decoys that attract enemy attacks; Bandits can learn to use throwing axes and rend armor; and Photokineticists can boost allies’ dodge percentage by blanketing them in blinding light. Pretty cool stuff, eh?
  • I’ve made more progress on polishing the interface! I’ve replaced the default OS mouse cursor with some nice custom cursors that change based on what you’re mousing over (making it easy to see what can be grabbed and what should be clicked); I’ve added little “Equipped” symbols to the inventory screen to easily show which items are equipped at a glance; we’ve completed revisions on attack button icons and created new icons for the new attacks mentioned above; attack buttons now have hotkey visual indicators showing which attack hotkey selects each; pop-up indicators now handle unusual attack effects better; and best of all, we’ve finally replaced those ugly beige “tooltip” boxes with some properly scaling bitmap pop-up boxes that look far more pleasing to the eye.
  • You can now assign tags and lighting to individual characters on a per-battle basis in the same way you’d assign triggers. This includes the new AI tag Passive, which tells a particular character to stand around until an enemy wanders into aggro range, Fire Emblem-style. This can provide some variety in enemy behavior and help pace different battles differently so they aren’t all just the entire enemy army bum rushing you every time.
  • The deployment screen now has a button that opens the common inventory, letting you manage your army’s inventory and equipment before battle starts.
  • New dialog scripts: PlayLoop plays an ambient sound loop seamlessly in the background; KillCharAt slays a character at designated coordinates (to be used for finishing off characters without unique names that have triggered an OnDeath conversation / death monologue).
  • New battle condition Go First lets you designate an army to move first in single player. (For those special occasions where the enemy or an allied army should get to move before the player!)
  • We’ve finished mastering and mixing a bunch of the game’s music; these tracks are sounding really nice now! I’ve also made it so the game plays the horribly sad track “Frozen Hearts” when you lose a battle in single player (you know, in case you didn’t already feel bad enough about losing). Only four tracks remain to be composed.
  • I’ve updated the map editor so it formats map files to be more easily human-readable when it saves them.
  • I’ve updated scripting and features documentation in the manual.
  • Story and character work is progressing well. I now have sketched out 16 unique playable characters you can recruit and field in battle, as well as 12 unique villains / bosses. The official campaign now has 8 working scenes and three battles, with many more to come. I don’t think I quite hit my goal of getting the first hour of the game done, but I ended up needing to add more features to the game to get everything working how I wanted it to than anticipated. All in all, I think I used my time well.

In other news, I’m quarantining the remainder of the game’s Kickstarter funds until I’ve got my tax situation figured out. A few thousand technically remains, but I had a bit of a scare yesterday when I went to do my taxes online and the TaxACT wizard basically said that I was liable for taxes on the entire amount I’d raised despite spending most of it before the end of last year on business expenses. (I may be pretty good at strategy games, but I know better than to get into a turn-based battle against the IRS; I think we know who would win that fight.)

Anyway, I’m getting an accountant for the first time in my life, and hopefully I’ll have some good news to report next month! Worst case scenario, the IRS comes and takes away everything I own and I try to finish the game from a public library computer while living on the streets and eating my own clothes for sustenance. Nooooooooo biggie.

See you all next month! ๐Ÿ˜‰