Feral Blue — Devblog #13 — Small annoyances

November 23, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  3 Comments

Hi everyone,

Today we’d like to tell you about the image placed below this paragraph. This is a screenshot of the current version of Feral Blue, and it shows a two-week work of our team.

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Let’s be honest — you’ll have to make a serious effort to even quietly mumble ‘wow, cool…’. Nothing here speaks of two-week worth of work. We’ve posted a lot of similar screenshots already, so where’s the difference? But there is one. There are a lot of problems in game development, and this is one of them: sometimes you have to put in hours in things hardly noticeable to players. For example, a poorly made aerial perspective, which on some configurations may look just fine, while on others — something can be off. Unnatural shadows, weird unpleasant glare, that are only visible at a certain camera angle. Dozens of such small annoyances that may or may not spoil the impression of the game.

We spend a lot of time fixing these little problems, because nothing annoys more than minor inconveniences, like an extra frame in the sword attack animation. Then a game’s released and it turns out that the main problem is constant crashes on PCs with S3 Savage4 GPUs, because of some driver issues that you can’t do anything about. Well, that’s life.

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By the way, what are the strangest GPUs you ever used in your computers? We have a special box in our studio, where Matrox Millenium and Voodoo5 5500 cards are stored. What a time that was: you needed a special separate ‘accelerator’ for 3D graphics, without which you couldn’t play something like Nocturne.

Eador. MotBW — ‘Fixers of the Broken World’ mod

November 22, 2018  |  Eador, Эадор  |  No Comments

Hi everyone,

Today we have a reason to remember our game from 2013 — Eador. Master of the Broken World. One incredibly hardworking person — by the name Jagulars — created his own mod for the game, which considerably changes the balance for heroes and some of the units. Our gamedesigner has been trying out the mod for five days straight and periodically shouting: ‘Hell no, this is too imba!’. Basically, the changes are quite substantial.

You can find the full list of them here.

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We believe that mods can be better than original games in some ways, because mod creators have the opportunity to create freely and with no release schedule. We may not agree fully with some of the balance choices made by Jagulars, but still we recommend everyone to play this mod.

Feral Blue — Status update #4

November 2, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  3 Comments

Hi everyone,

Today we want to talk about the progress on the alpha version of the game. And we want to specify what word ‘alpha’ means for us — alpha is an early state of the project, where we test basic gameplay mechanics. If beta grows into ‘early access’ version, then into full release, then alpha is more like a game from alternative universe. For example, we’re not yet finished with the full faction list. The main archetypes are clear though: there will be Very Religious people who seek salvation in faith, there will be Technofanatics who use science instead of faith, and there will be nostalgic folks who’ll pretend the world hadn’t changed and try to keep living as before.

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In addition to these behavior archetypes, there’s also a separate list of cultures. The most obvious candidates — Europeans of the Old Formation, who are faithful to the traditions and two-handed sword of their grandfathers. Europeans have a rowdy American cousin who gravitates towards liberty, piracy and wild entrepreneurship. Chinese civilization knows its era of great geographical discoveries, so without any doubt, the Empire’s fleet will become a prominent player in the water world. Islam is rarely present in games (a pity!), so Turkish, Algerian and Egyptian ships may well form quite an interesting faction. Who else could be there? Japanese wokou pirates? Maori rowing fleet? Stern Russian old believers from the North? And their equally stern neighbors from Norwegian fjords and islands of Scotland?

Of course, here we run into the need for a huge amount of art and models. Everything seems so appealing, that you can’t help but want to do all of these factions. For the alpha we’ll choose limited goals, within our budget — most likely, there will four factions. Each one get its own archetype, and, if possible, a unique appearance. We’ll see what can be done after that.

For now our goal is to launch the closed alpha by the end of the year. And we want to start collecting your e-mails in the near future as well, so that Santa could know who to gift a build of the game about sunken world.

Feral Blue — Devblog #12 — Fencing done right?

October 11, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  10 Comments

Hi everyone,

More and more people are asking us how the land battles and the melee system as a whole will look like in Feral Blue. It’s an important question indeed, because poor fencing can turn any boarding fight into a formal routine or just pure hell. Here’s what we think.

It would be easier to describe what kind of melee system we do not want. Back when we were high school students and played the pirated version of Mortal Kombat on Sega, the most ingenious tactic was considered to be cornering your opponent and then torturing him with sweeps (in our team, only our designer Alexander used to do this, and we despise him for that). This is an example of a pretty poor melee system, and we don’t want to let players blindly buttonmash their way to victory. Same thing with ‘kiting’ — when your character can indefinitely fall back and attack the enemy at the same time.

On the other hand, we’ve had experience working with the Mount & Blade engine. It does have a good fencing system, but it might be a bit too intricate for our project. After all, the fencing system is at the very base of M&B, while we’re focusing more on naval combat and ship management. We shouldn’t lose focus of our efforts trying to do everything at once and better than anyone. Doing a rhythm-based game with blinking warning icons above the enemies is not something we want to do either — quite possibly a simply system with a couple strike types and blocks will be enough.

We can’t wait to put the alpha version out in the wild — to understand how viable our ideas are. And what about you — what’s your opinion on fencing in games? Can you name some good examples — where was this implemented extremely well?

Feral Blue — Status update #3

October 1, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  1 Comment

Hi everyone,

News this week — we’ve finished designing main weaponry (check out the gif with crossbows shooting below), and now we’re switching to the initial balancing for ships that will see their way into the alpha.

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In addition, we are almost finished with starting biomes: temperate climate, arctic climate, deserts. And since we’re talking about landscapes, we could also try making a scientific and educational statement. Global warming and polar ice melting won’t cause a worldwide flood by itself. But when things come to the permafrozen areas (which is the bigger part of countries like Canada and Russia), there can be different predictions.

For example, this can cause wild mudflows that will slowly wash off the continents into the sea, turning the world into giant system of lagoons and swamps. In general, of course, we’re making the water levels a bit too extreme for the interest’s sake, but remember — climate change is no joke.

Feral Blue — Devblog #11 — Alpha plans

September 21, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  1 Comment

Hi everyone,

Today we’ll talk about out plans for the alpha version. As we said earlier, we’d like to start sending out keys before winter — to grant access for the very, very early version of the game. Right now we’re discussing how we should go about sending those keys exactly, to avoid any problems.

So what will there be in the alpha? It’s tough to say for sure, but here’s what we’re aiming for.

1) Working strategic map

You can see the world, there are some settlements, with ships sailing in between. Settlements (for now) can be used for trading and getting quests. Ships, though, give you a bit more options: you can sink them, board and sink them, capture enemy vessels and sink your old one and so on. On the same screen you can assign your crewmates to different ship areas — who should be resting in the infirmary, and who should be throwing coal into the furnace.

2) Working naval combat

Here’s what kind of system we’re working on — you can shoot manually from the board, adjusting the angle how you want. You can also shoot with the whole board at once (if your ship has many cannons) or shoot with one aimed cannon first and then — with the whole board. In addition, you’re able to shoot without aiming, when you think the situation allows it.

At the moment, all basic things are almost in place, but we need to set the battle distance and touch up the ship models.

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3) Mechanics for morale, riots and challenging contenders

If you feed your crew badly, sell prisoners to cannibals too often or otherwise worsen the fighting spirit of your mates — you can expect a riot. In that case, a loyal part of the team may come to help you beat the rebels, or the conspirators will nominate their candidate for the captain title, that you’ll need to fight in a duel.

By the way, if your character dies in that duel or in some other way — you’ll continue playing as his successor.

4) Towns as a game mechanic

This means that there will not be any visual marvels present for now — just a place, where you sell captives and captured, upgrade your ship and buy food. However, you’ll probably be able to walk in the draft version of the town.

5) A couple of quest lines

We want the players to focus on their own stories, that they could write with their actions. However, we do plan for a few quests to be in the game, with a couple of them to be in the alpha. If possible — with heavy moral choices.

What’s important for us is at the moment you are able to play Feral Blue and see the basic mechanics. So this plan above should be (hopefully) achievable. Besides, we’ve finished modelling the new and wonderful organ gun, and we wish you’d know how cool it shoots.

Feral Blue — Devblog #10 — Battle distance

September 14, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  1 Comment

Hi everyone,

Today we want to talk about the battle distance on our game. In games with naval themes this is a very important thing, which makes a direct influence on whether the whole process is fun for you or not. In Blood & Gold we had it wrong, but we had no other choice for many technical reasons. So this time, with Feral Blue, we want to get it right.

So why is the battle distance so important? Because it can make the game challenging. If it’s too close — then it becomes too easy. It’s like going to the shooting gallery and shoot at a point blank range. It may work for stress relief, but is it fun? And if it does becomes interesting for you, we recommend contacting the psychiatric support as soon as possible (just in case).

With Blood & Gold, we forced Mount & Blade engine do things it was not really designed for. And if we had the possibility to make the distance longer, then we’d have a more meaningful aiming, we could introduce the concept of ‘aiming shot’ — when the gunner looks where the shell went, in order to make further adjustments.

However, the distance also relies on the speed of the ships. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, we’re looking at you. Seriously though, Black Flag has pretty fun naval combat — but only for the first few hours. The jet ships change everything: no tactics to speak of, we’re just shooting and dodging, like in a platformer game Cuphead, only without the ability to jump.

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So our goal here is to make you think while in naval combat, but without overdoing it and making it tedious. After all, spending three minutes of real time just to get close to an enemy ship is not the most fun thing to do.

That’s why on the gif above you can see how ‘point blank’ shot looks like in the game — when speaking of the visual side, this way the battle looks more dynamic. And yes, you’re right — the catapult has no textures for now, it’s just a temporary ‘representation’ of the catapult.

Feral Blue — Status update #2

September 6, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  4 Comments

Hi everyone,

We wanted to avoid filling your timeline with gibberish about textures, refactoring and things like that, so for the last month we took a break with news updates — but that doesn’t mean there were any breaks while working on Feral Blue! Let us tell you what we’ve worked on recently.

Ballistic system

We can’t say it’s become perfect, but at least we’ve already decided what weaponry players will be able to use against enemy ships. Incendiary and explosive arrows, different types of bolts, bombs, cannonballs, buckshot. We’ve left out dead bodies as an option for catapult ammo for now — maybe that is something we can add for Halloween.

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Ship control

When you can do lots of things in a game — that usually means cumbersome interface. Sailors on the ship can just do nothing, attend to the weaponry, clean the decks, lie in the infirmary, treat other crew members, keep the ship’s course, throw coal into the furnace. We’d like to avoid assigning activities one by one, as you do in Fallout Shelter: it’s micromanagement, which is kinda boring and impossible to do with a gamepad. So we’re trying to make this possible through menu, without turning interface into the simulator of controlling nuclear reactor.

Alpha version

We hope it’s going to be ready soon. Everyone interested should be able to participate in the alpha test. There will be months of work between this version and the complete game, but basic functional should be ready, which means we can start collecting your feedback.

Eador. Imperium — Update notes (August 2)

August 2, 2018  |  Eador, Эадор  |  6 Comments

Hi everyone,

Today we’re releasing a new update for Imperium, numbered 2.75.1! With this update we’re adding an ability to hire units in provinces — without any conditions like special buildings and other. But! It’s not available at all times and it’s very limited.

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What’s the game logic behind this? If you’re far from your base and have a small army, sometimes you have to come back for reinforcements. Or build a fort which isn’t cheap. That’s why you can now hire the ‘locals’ — they are residents of the province, who can be enlisted into your army for gold. Here are the restrictions: there’s few of them, they aren’t always available, and their quality depends on the population level of the province. Which is fair: if you have a cabin in the woods, then there will likely be nobody to hire (or just a lonely peasant who is tired of living in the forest). In a highly populated settlement there will be more people wishing to join you.

Besides adding this new mechanic, we’ve also fixed a few bugs thanks to your reports — mostly related to incorrect AI behavior).

Feral Blue — Devblog #9 — James Graham Ballard

July 27, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  2 Comments

Hi everyone,

Sometimes there are such weeks, or even months, with nothing really outstanding to talk about the ongoing game development. Made some improvements to the reloading interface, worked with deck materials — all of this sounds like a report to your boss.

This is why in times like these, instead of talking about the development process, we’ll share some things indirectly related to the game. For example, our sources of inspiration. Let’s hear our creative director Alexander — he has something to say about the writer James Ballard.

‘I really love Ballard’s books, although they always drive me into a state of discomfort. Ballard is British, he wrote pretty strange sci-fi, and it’s unclear if we even can call him a classic — classics have successors, but the only thing Ballard left after himself is the adjective ‘ballardian’. However, you could hear about him without reading his books — ‘High-Rise’ is a recent movie based on his book — there is quite relevant criticism of class society and cannibalism in there. There’s also an older movie about fans of car accidents, which they arranged on purpose to experience orgasm. These two novels I don’t like too much, but ‘The Drowned World’ and ‘Concrete Island’ is more to my taste.

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‘Concrete Island’ can be easily turned into survival video game: a person got into an accident and got stuck between trestles and junctions in the center of the metropolis. If you even had to run across a highway, then you know the horror of the crazy traffic. Now imagine this traffic everywhere around you, mobile phone is dead, no way to the road — there is only a dump between overpasses. There you go, another game in ‘survivalcraft’ genre. Maybe, this could be our next project? But for now, we’re taking ideas from ‘The Drowned World’. In short, here’s its story:

Something happened with the Sun and it had a massive power increase. Of course, polar ice melted. Crazy precipitation and heating of permafrost have led to siltation and erosion of a huge number of lands. A cool morning would be +35 Celsius, during the day the norm is +50. Cities tried to save themselves with the dams, but it didn’t help — great showers began in tropical regions, which slowly began to rise to the north and descend to the south. Increased radiation and hear strongly influenced plant and animals — Earth returned to the Triassic period: sticky heat, giant ferns and warm bogs, with alligators aplenty.

Not many people left, and they generally live at the poles. Radiation, heat and constant malaria attacks also affected world population: the birth of a child became a rarity. The main characters in the novel are: scientist who studies a lagoon formed by a sunken city (as it later turns out — it was London); a rich heiress who lives in that lagoon and refuses to evacuate; an army squad that tries to maintain the appearance of order and normal life. But normal life doesn’t come easy, because in the very morning everybody is drunk as hell (a way to deal with the heat) and giant mosquitoes constantly try to break through the protective grid of the boat. ‘The Drowned World’ is a typical psycho-pathological novel from Ballard, where a gang of Voodoo marauders is almost the most adequate set of people left (at the very least, they are productive).

I don’t want to do a verbatim ‘gamification’ of this book. But I certainly want to borrow that main feeling from there — the end of the world doesn’t need to be an exclusively fun adventure, like in Fallout 4 (or like in ‘The Day of the Triffids’, if we are talking about books). Nor does it have to be a tragic grey doom, like in ‘The Road’. It can be a very sunny, bright, hot and a bit mundane holiday at sea.’