Today marks the start of PAX West 2017 in Seattle, WA! If you’re heading over there this weekend, be sure to check out the Wargroove demo on the Nintendo Switch at the Nindie Arcade — it’s on the third floor of the convention center in room 3B. Also say hello to our community manager, Tom!
Jay Baylis posted on
August 29th, 2017 in
Hi, everyone! For those who have seen some of our recent gameplay streams, you may have noticed we’ve been showing off some new, exciting units. I thought it would be nice to have a closer look at some of those units, and what roles they take in the strategy of Wargroove!
This is the Ballista. Like the Trebuchet, it is a big vehicle that cannot move and fire in the same turn, but boasts a huge range to make up for it. Air units can be extremely deadly in the right situation, but every air unit is extremely vulnerable to the Ballista’s bolts. Strategic placement of Ballistae can create entire zones of the map that are too risky for air units to enter alone. Keep in mind, however, that they can’t counter attack!
This is a Giant – in particular, the Cherrystone Kingdom’s Golem. This mighty construct towers over footsoldiers, and deals one of the most powerful attacks a unit can deliver. For obvious reasons, it is the most expensive land unit to purchase. That said, it does lack the superior mobility that the Knight possesses – so if covering distance is a priority for you then maybe bigger isn’t always better.
Give a warm welcome to the Balloon! This unit acts like a Wagon for the air, picking up units and transporting them without having to worry about that pesky terrain getting in the way. Just, uh, look out for those Ballistae, though!
Lately we have spent a considerable effort in balancing the game, and figuring out exactly how all the game mechanics need to work for a fun, interesting experience, while preventing the game from becoming too overwhelming. Today I’d like to talk about some of those.
First, we needed an early game ranged unit, to provide tactical coverage for your front line melee units. Units like trebuchets add a lot of tactical options to the game, but are quite expensive. To solve this, we introduced archers, which are infantry units that can shoot at range 3. One thing that makes them behave differently from trebuchets is that archers can move and attack on the same turn, whereas trebuchets can only do one of the two actions on each turn.
While this fills the need for an early, mobile, ranged unit, it does remove the tactical decision of moving vs attacking, and makes them more effective on attack than on defence. To account for that, we need to discuss another mechanic that was added to the game: passive abilities.
Every unit in the game has one ability – either active or passive. Active abilities manifest themselves as verbs on the action menu, such as the wagon’s ability to load and unload units, or the commander’s unique powers (more on that a future post!). Passive abilities typically increase the damage that a unit does in combat when certain conditions are met. For the archers, their damage is increased by 35% (relative) when they attack without moving.
Other examples include knights, which double their damage after a full charge (5 tiles moved), dogs, which get a bonus if their target is being flanked by another dog, spearmen, which get a bonus if they’re adjacent to another spearman, and mages, which get a bonus if it’s raining (they do call down lightning, after all!).
Finally, we’ve introduced reinforcements. If you’ve watched our previous gameplay Twitch stream, you’ll have seen that commanders were responsible for healing the army. We have now changed this, so units can be healed by moving adjacent to a friendly city and choosing “reinforce”. This will drain health from the city to heal the unit, and it will also cost you a proportional fraction of the gold cost of the unit. For example, healing a unit with half health will cost you half that unit’s total cost.
In the bitterly cold mountains to the south there lies a nation of shambling corpses and assorted undead fiends. Travellers hope only to avoid meeting them on the open road, whilst would-be heroes and naive soldiers are eager to meet them in battle. They are the Felheim Legion, and they are governed by the necromancer Valder.
Control over the vast masses of the undead falls to whoever wields the Fell Gauntlet, and Valder secured it at a young age. A master in the necromantic arts, Valder even created the commander Ragna from the remains of countless skilled warriors, so that he can designate military matters to her. To him, the bloodthirsty hordes of skeleton soldiers are like his children, even if they tend to lack proper etiquette (and some brains).
If called to battle, Valder strikes using the powerful magic within the Fell Gauntlet to wipe out his opponents with a single hand.
He might not fear death, but his enemies would do well to fear him…
Today we have done our first public demonstration of Wargroove’s Campaign Editor at the PC Gaming Show – if you missed it, make sure to check it out at Twitch!
In designing Wargroove, it was important to us to empower players to create their own content and stories, and the Campaign Editor is a key part of that. It’s the same tool that Chucklefish is using internally to create the campaigns that will ship with the game, and will therefore empower you to create content on par with ours, or even better! It will also be available across all platforms supported by the game, and the maps and campaigns you create can be shared online – either privately with friends, or publicly so that anyone can go check it out!
A lot of work has gone into making this tool simultaneously very powerful and easy to use, regardless of whether you’re using a mouse or gamepad. Scenario markers can be dropped on the world map, representing the different missions that players will encounter. They are then connected with paths (the dotted lines you see above), which represent the route you’ll take between missions. Branching campaigns are fully supported, and you’ll be able to specify the conditions necessary for certain paths to become available. For example, you might need to S-Rank a mission to reveal a secret encounter, or your choices inside the mission might lead you to different locations on the map!
After placing maps, you can open them in the Scenario Editor, which is a fully-fledged map editor.
In addition to drawing terrain and placing units and buildings, the Scenario Editor also allows you to write your own custom cutscenes, victory conditions, events (by specifying conditions and actions), and even feed back to the rest of the campaign. For example, you could set up a map with two exits, and when you move your commander inside one of the custom exit zones, you win the map and unlock a different path in the campaign screen.
That’s it for today. Hopefully this gives you a taste of the kinds of stories you’ll be able to tell with this tool. We’ll discuss the advanced features of the Scenario Editor more thoroughly in the future, so stay tuned!
Hi all, just a status update on what we’ve been up to.
Recently, we’ve been working on palette swapping for all the assets! This is necessary as, in multiplayer, more than one player can be playing with any given faction.
Palette swapping might be the oldest trick in the book, but in a modern game it actually involves a little bit of art workflow and pipeline changes. This is because the game is not limited to 256 colours, and because of how modern graphics hardware works.
The process is:
Every unit is drawn using the “red team” colour palette. This palette includes three ranges, a “faction colour” range (which is red), a “skintone” range, and a “fixed colours range”.
Every asset produced by an artist goes through a converter that looks up all the 32-bit RGBA colours in the palette, and outputs a greyscale image, where the intensity of each pixel represents the index of that pixel in the palette. This is done automatically as part of building the game. On the example below, the bright red tones are represented by the third entry in the palette (counting from zero, that means that it has index 2), so it gets stored in the image as a tone of grey with intensity of “2”, or #020202.
When drawing on the screen, for each greyscale pixel, the shader looks up the corresponding colour on the palette image, adjusting for the current palette swap parameters (unit faction colour and skin tone, for example). On the example below, #020202 (index 2) becomes one tone of blue, and #040404 (index 4) becomes a darker tone of blue.
This saves us a lot of video memory and bandwidth, and allows us to have units with different team palettes and skin colours at no extra work per unit.
Each faction in the game will have its default colour (for example, the Cherrystone Kingdom is red), but you’ll be able to override the colours in a multiplayer match. We’re also investigating providing “colour blind friendly” palettes, which would override how you see all colours, to make them more easily distinguishable.
Want to hear more about how things work behind-the-scenes? Let us know in the forum!
One thing I wanted to show off today was how structures work in Wargroove. Capturing a city from your opponent isn’t as simple as waltzing in to claim it – castles have defenses! You must break down the doors of enemy cities to capture them, but as you do so, the city and its populace will fight back with a barrage of arrows.
The longer a structure is captured, the more strength it will build up and the harder it will be to take. Certain units are strong and weak against them, so you’ll have to think carefully about how best to take down your opponent’s defenses!
Hey everyone! Here’s a gif of a new unit I’ve been animating – the Harpy!
The Harpy is versatile – it is one of the cheaper flying units and is effective against both airborne and ground units. With its strong mobility, unhindered by terrain, it makes for a strong counter against cavalry units. Watch out for those talons!