Eador. Imperium — Update notes (August 2)

August 2, 2018  |  Eador, Эадор  |  4 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  |  No 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.’

Feral Blue — Devblog #8 — Status update

July 5, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  3 Comments

Hi everyone,

It’s the last day of Steam Summer sale, which means it’s also the last chance to complete that Wallace & Gromit bundle, that you’ll never ever launch.

Today we’d just like to tell you what our Feral Blue team is working on right now.

1) Our artist Natalia is making the interface for naval battles. Last week we asked her to rework an almost final version of the layout (as it seemed for a moment), because our coder and designer thought it was ‘a bit too much of everything’. The coder has been hit with a crushing weapon right in his head (it was a Wacom tablet), the designer managed to escape. Seriously though, it’s no easy task to fit in the control of four cannon boards, if one of those boards can have catapults on it, the second one — martyrs, other cannons are on the bow, and you also need to choose between an incendiary arrows or a pot with poisonous frogs. Soon you realize making interface is no easy feat. And yes, we’re testing it with the Cyrillic font, because all words become longer and more difficult to fit in in a pleasant way.

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2) Our visual coder Sergey is hard at work with a system of sunsets and dawns, and he also needs to finish his task on fires. Sergey, if you are reading this — you don’t need to pour oil everywhere and set it all on fire, this is not Mad Max, please stop this pyromania.

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3) Level designer Stas is putting together the ship for an American faction. By the way, don’t you think you overdid with the number of siege weapons here? Someone needs to relax with all the ‘Warhammer’ gluing.

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4) Our coder Anton is resting from the wounds received in battles with the artist, and is also finishing his work on the modular system for ship damage in naval battles.

5) Designers Alexander and Dmitry are reworking the table of resources for the fifth time and arguing if such a product as drugs should be in game. On the one hand, we already have alcohol, on the other — we have an apocalypse on our hands, which means harder stuff should be present. But what if the kids play this game? Then we’ll be able to show them that hard drugs are very, very bad.

Feral Blue — Devblog #7 — Religion

June 28, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  1 Comment

Hi everyone,

Today we’d like to bring up the topic of religion in Feral Blue. We can’t say that the faith is barely seen in videogames, but it seems we can all agree that usually it’s presented in a very simplified way. Kratos, who’s conducting genocide on Olympus — is an obvious example, that’s about the religion of ancient Greeks, just a bit repurposed to fit mainstream audiences. Let’s take another and better example, Civilization series, where religion is one of the main gameplay systems. What we can see there: that it’s just another line with numbers, ‘morale’ of some special sort. Taoists and Christians will act pretty much the same way. We all know that Gandhi will bombard us with nuclear bombs, regardless of his religious beliefs.

This is understandable. These days, touching religious topics is tricky and at times even dangerous. But it’s always possible to think about religion in general, how it can define a person — and from what we can remember, something along these lines can be found only in Planescape: Torment. In other cases, all game characters seem to adhere to the same Protestant ethic or plain atheism.

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In Feral Blue, what most religions promised has already happened — we’re talking about the end of the world. Though, usually, after that follows the salvation, but it didn’t. This will explode the religious consciousness. Most of the in-game factions will focus on dealing with religious goals, not capital. Because only people with a peculiar mindset would put an uneducated teenage girl in a position of the supreme commander-in-chief — for most modern people it would, of course, just look like a glorified talisman of the crew. Religious people would abandon their castles and farms, willing to go thousands of kilometers to alien and unpleasant desert, just to save the world — and historians will tell us that it was the Crusaders that had a cunning economic calculation.

Of course, civilizations won’t perish. We’ll have Europeans, Chinese, Aztecs and Russians in our game. But they won’t be just ships and soldiers painted in different colors. They will act accordingly for the greater purpose — saving the world as they see fit. Players will need to evaluate the faction not just aesthetically (cool katanas guys, I’m in!), but rather ethically (catching all the bad people and throwing them into the active Krakatoa volcano? I’m in!). Perhaps, you will even be able to influence your chosen religion: for example who can be considered bad people — all murderers, redheads or everyone who put mayonnaise in their salad? Maybe skip the volcano, and drown them in the name of the Great Dolphin Mother instead? In short, there is some scope for creativity here, but before we have the first version of interface, we better stop here.

Steam Summer Sale begins

June 21, 2018  |  Blood & Gold, Eador, Snowbird, Эадор  |  No Comments

Hi everyone,

And so it begins. Steam Summer Sale is about to start, and of course we’re taking part in it as well.

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All projects from Snowbird Games will be at 80% discount throughout the whole sale. Here are the games we have for you:

Eador. Genesis
Eador. Masters of the Broken World
Eador. Masters of the Broken World – Allied Forces DLC
Eador. Imperium
All Eador games in a bundle
Blood & Gold: Caribbean!

By the way, be sure to check out our new developer page on Steam — you can follow us there for all the upcoming news. Have a nice sale!

Feral Blue — Devblog #6 — Propulsion system

June 20, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  2 Comments

Hi everyone,

Today we’d like to tell you about propulsion systems of our ships. In Feral Blue there will be a combination of several types of ships: steam-based, rowing and sailing. Some of the ships will even combine different propulsors at once. We know many such examples from history, like steam frigates or galleasses. This is a pretty complicated topic, and we did our best to find similar games to see how smart developers went about this. But it seems that avoiding systems like this is part of being a smart person, as we found nothing. If you can remember a game where you’ve seen something similar, please let us know — we’d be really interested to check it out.

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So here’s what we’ve come up with:

– Sails will become the most reliable and safe ‘engine’, but they cannot be switched into the boost mode. In addition, sails depend heavily on wind — we didn’t dare to make a full-fledged simulator, so that we won’t punish players for missing the wind directions. Still, a bad wind won’t do you any good. In most cases, sails are the default propulsor.

– If the ship has a rowing deck, it will be possible to increase the movement speed — the speed of rowers will be added to the speed of sails. Rowers can also be forced to work faster — in that case they will go into the boost mode. The human spirit is stronger than weak body, and the speed can grow greatly, but as a result someone will dislocate their shoulder joint or get rupture of their aorta, and you’ll have to let them rest for a while. Rowers can get ‘overheated’ and will go out of order. In that case it’s a good thing to have a spare ‘engine’, or else you will be done.

– Steam engine is like rowers, but better — and it can’t get a heart attack. But it can explode, so there’s that. The ‘boost’ works pretty much the same, it’s not really the ‘nitro’ from racing games, but works similarly — you get an increase in speed for a short time, risking breaking your engine.

– Rowers and steam engine will let you reverse the ship, no such thing with good old sails.

– Rowers need to eat and drink, steam engine requires fuel (also stokers who will throw this fuel into the furnace). Sails are environment-friendly, low cost engine, that only requires wind and fabric for repair.

At the moment we’re passionately discussing how all of these tactical opportunities can be fit into one interface. We hope the initial version of it will be good enough to show in public in a week!

Feral Blue — Question Time

June 15, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  4 Comments

Hi everyone,

It’s a week of non-stop E3 news and coverage (also World Cup starting here in Russia), so all we can really do at the moment is try to ride that wave and make some use of it.

While we’re knee-deep in designing our own naval battle system, why don’t we take a look at the recent Skull & Bones trailer from Ubisoft? We’re just wondering — do you like what you see? What exactly did you like more that anything else shown in the video? Does the combat look interesting?

Just a bit of a ‘marketing research’ :)

Let us know!

Feral Blue — Devblog #5 — Decisions

June 7, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  No Comments

Hi everyone,

At the moment there are really no ‘pure’ genres of videogames, each game combines a number of them — platformer with management elements, shooter with RTS elements, visual novellas with skill trees. However, as a rule, there is always one genre that acts as a foundation for other additions. In our case, that foundation is roleplaying.

In the name of the genre itself, it seems, is missing the term ‘leveling up’, though it’s always expected. In Feral Blue you can level up all kinds of things, but the focus here is to decision making and playing your role.

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We won’t be giving your character a lot of rich background, like Geralt of Rivia has, for example. You’re just a Captain, the character is yourself, so the story is entirely up to you as well. And when your character dies — you’ll be writing the story of his successor (which can be assigned beforehand, if your deceased character was prudent).

What kind of decisions does a captain make? Well, the usual: let’s say you’ve captured a ship, and in its cargo hold there’s wood and slaves. The ship is overloaded, but you can place the prisoners on the deck and into the service cabins. Then, of course, there is a risk of getting epidemic on board — but you can always sail to the nearest port and sell those slaves profitably. Or you can take aboard only a part of prisoners, sink the rest with the enemy ship, and the rescued slaves can then be handed over to the cannibals. Or you can use them as food for yourself, if you expect a long voyage ahead with little supply. If it turns out there are more qualified specialists among those slaves than ones from your own crew — you can invite your soon to be former mates to the captured ship, sink it, and welcome your newer crew. If you want to play it kinda boring — you can save all the slaves, let them join your crew and die of cholera later.

We want to get away from too refined, too literary ‘moral dilemmas’, when players are forced to choose between two characters to kill (and what Clementine will remember). Such things are not really fair to the player, and often look silly. If players are presented with an unpleasant choice, we need to give the opportunity to avoid that unpleasant choice. If players do everything right, they should be able to free the slaves, improve their reputation and avoid the epidemic — only if their ship is ready for a situation like this. Or if they are lucky. If not — they can always try their best and die of cholera.

So this is what we wanted to say about the nature of the captain’s decisions. The missed ‘leveling up’ aspect in the post is present in Feral Blue, and we’ll talk about it soon!

Philosophical question

June 5, 2018  |  Eador, Эадор  |  13 Comments

Hi everyone,

Today we have a philosophical question for you. Before we start discussing it, let’s briefly talk about our current plans for Imperium. In the coming month we want to finish the work on the new medal system, and also add the functional for the new hiring in provinces.

Now to the question itself — for how long, in your opinion, should developers support their projects?

There could be a number of answers to this. The most obvious one — until the game is completely finished and completely free of bugs. A good answer, that one, but not very realistic: there will always be some bugs, because almost any game is a very complex system. And when developers and players want something new and improved in an already released game — more bugs inevitably appear. Sometimes those bugs can be experienced by 8% of the playerbase, who use a very specific combination of video drivers and keyboards.

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Let’s also consider this: sometimes developers aren’t even able to support the project, because they lack proper skill or knowledge. Or there is no access to the engine. What should be done in that case — will it be ethical to explain the situation and be honest about it with the players?

This can cause an immediate negative reaction, as in ‘if you can’t do something properly — get out of the profession’. But let’s see how this position could be unfair and irrational. There are such respected professions as doctor, lawyer, schoolteacher. If those people lack skills and knowledge to diagnose correctly, save from prison and teach somebody to be ready for Oxford — do they need to be exiled and become cashiers? Yes, not everything depends on them in the end, but it’s the same with game developers. How many mistakes can a doctor make in his career? These days for developers it’s enough to make one, as the story with Cliffy B shows.

We understand this may sound like an excuse, but for all the problems our games have, they also received (and keep getting) updates for the longest time after release, including some free content — we’re genuinely curious about this topic.

So what is your criteria what good or bad supporting of a game? Do you wait for new content or bugfixing first? What’s your opinion on ethic of game developers and what they should do in this case?

Feral Blue — Devblog #4 — Ship upgrades

May 31, 2018  |  Feral Blue  |  1 Comment

Hi everyone,

Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion on our in-game currency! We just wanted to clarify once more, that we’re indeed planning to use barter in the game! So it’s not just all about clean water :)

Now, on to today’s topic.

What wasn’t too great about Blood & Gold is naval warfare. It’s very tricky to do good in general, so often times it has to be hidden behind wild pace and beautiful visuals. Obvious example here are ‘pirate’ Assassin’s Creeds: both Rogue and Black Flag provide their ships with noticeably unrealistic speeds. In addition, the visual detail of the ships makes it difficult to properly upgrade them. You can, of course, repaint sails and stuff like that, but you can’t change the mast system or build one more cannon deck. You also can’t just buy a new and better ship — which was no problem for Sea Dogs, by the way.

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At the moment, we’re finished with the basic system of the world, how your ship’s crew is set up and controlled, and now the ship upgrades are in our focus. As Feral Blue’s world is not too rich in resources, any material — whether it be wood for the hull or fabric for sails — is very valuable.

All upgrades will be divided into those that affect the life of your crew — like desalination station, infirmary or steam engine. And those that determine the battle power of your ship — catapults, ballistas or cannon systems. Damage to the battle upgrades makes the ship weaker in combat, but still able to ram your enemy with subsequent boarding. But losing propulsion — sailing, oars or a steam engine — can lead to the death of your entire crew.

The main danger of this kind of gameplay is making it overly difficult, which can lead either to monstrous development times or to the player’s loss of game control. That’s why we’re doing our best to make something called ‘vertical slice’, and give it to players in the form of closed alpha version. Perhaps, people will want more simple naval battles and a full-fledged captain simulator. Could be vice versa — strong accent on battles and quite simple upgrade system like ‘take a bigger cannon, shoot further’.