07-11-2016, 07:43 AM
Hello everyone, and welcome to Update 016!
We are currently in the process of finalizing development for the next major Closed Alpha Patch, which will be Epic Manager v.0.2.0.
It’s still going to take us a few more days until we’re ready to roll v.0.2.0 out, and it’s been awhile since we made a general Development Update, so we wanted to post this one today so that everyone can get hyped about the major changes coming to the game.
Steam Keys for all remaining Kickstarter Backers are also on the way! This update contains a section aptly named “The Road Ahead”, which contains all the juicy details on the upcoming release phases and also addresses ETAs on some other elements, such as Community-Created Characters, MacOS build and more!
Excited yet? Well, let’s get to it then!
We first want to thank all of the players who have been testing the game since the first Closed Alpha build - your input, support and feedback have helped us IMMENSELY in so many ways, and we couldn’t be happier with the way things have been going.
With hundreds of players sending us bug reports, feature ideas, game design tweaks and balancing notes, we’ve been able to RAPIDLY add a lot of polish to the game and fix (almost!) all of the major bugs, as well as drastically optimize code to improve in-game speed and performance.
We couldn’t be as far as we are if it weren’t for you all, so THANK YOU! As many of you must know, we’re a very small (but dedicated) team working on a tiny budget to bring the game to life, and to see such positive feedback and response from our backers is truly the best feeling in the world.
On that note, it’s important to point out that the six patches we’ve rolled out since the initial Closed Alpha Release were considered “Minor”, in the sense that none of them were specifically aimed at introducing new game mechanics or significantly re-hauling existing ones.
This is now about to change!
The next patch should hit somewhere around the middle of next week! Along with further bug fixes, balance changes and Quality-of-Life improvements, this one will feature a major re-haul of the Agency Progression system and its associated Tech Tree. We’re also introducing a completely new “Intrigue Actions” system!
The design of these re-hauled / new systems are based on YOUR feedback! Player impressions we’ve received have allowed us to get a clearer picture of where the game’s weakest links were, but the answers weren’t easy to find.
For example, getting feedback like : “The salary cap system doesn’t work well, it’s frustrating to have to lose adventurers at higher levels”, doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is with the Salary Cap mechanic per say. It could mean that we are giving too much XP in Quests/Ambushes, making the level rise too high and cost too much in the early stages. It could also mean that the Salary Cap is too low or that the salaries/lvl are too high or that we the next licence is too expensive, or that… I’ll stop here.
The point is that with all of the feedback taken into account, we feel like the Agency’s progression in the game is where most of the game’s frustrations were derived from. So we decided to rehaul it entirely to allow the player to have a better control of his/her agency and have the possibility to deploy diverse strategies in order to overcome their respective leagues!
This, on top of many other balancing values, bug fixes, features and content will make Epic Manager v.0.2.0 better than ever! We hope to have you all try it out and see if the new changes feel good!
As always, your feedback will be crucial in the early stages of these new features!
Before getting into all the gritty details, let’s compare the old and new Tech Trees! One thing you might immediately notice is the fact that the new one takes up the whole screen, instead of the usual “DoubleWindow” layout commonly found in other interface panels.
The Old Tech Tree :
The New Tech Tree :
The first major change had to be the purchasable Agency Licences. These are now more numerous and “Critical” research items (like extra portals, extra parties, extra scout actions, roster size, salary cap, etc.) will now be passive bonuses that players AUTOMATICALLY receive when upgrading their licence level.
The current system held 7 licences which were hard to make coincide with the rest of the game’s progression, like the five leagues and the adventurers 25 levels. We were trying to pace a game using different units of measurement and it wasn’t doing us any good.
Furthermore, having seven licences meant that each step in the licence tree was pretty big. We previously had to pace Salary Cap of an average party for about four adventurer levels per licence, but a level 1 party might cost you 70 gold in salary, where a level 4 party would cost you close to 300-400, making the gap pretty significant and hard for the player to see coming.
The new agency research tree will feature 10 licences, smoothing out the curve in cost and increasing the advantages automatically gained with each licence. For example, Instead of the 2nd licence costing 10k gold and making the salary cap jump from 300 to 900, it will cost 5k gold and make the salary cap jump to 600. This will help the flow of the agency’s progression and it will also help us keep a better pace with the game’s 10 Quest Threat Levels and 25 adventurer levels.
Portals will no longer cost gold. The player will start with four available portals to deploy on the map, and then he/she will gain more with each new licence! There will also be some ‘Extra Portal’ unlockables that will be available for the cost of a research point in the Agency Research panel. This will help the player have some financial options earlier in the game for recruitment, merchants, trainers, etc. as well as help us keep a bit of control on how far the map is discovered in the earlier stages of the game.
Major changes were also made to the remaining research items (those not converted into Licence Passives). The current Research Tree had some items that were clearly better than others and some were even crucial to the game’s progression (scout points, party unlocked…). This made it difficult to gauge the state of a playthrough after 25,50,75 turns for each player, depending on early ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choices, the game became very difficult or too easy as the turns went on.
As mentioned above, crucial unlockables are now linked directly to the licence. Once a new one is bought, associated “Passive” items will unlock immediately, making it easier for us to track player progression and easier for the player to keep track of his/her short and long term agency goals.
We want the research tree to be where the player decides to specialize. Do you want better merchant wares and lower their prices early or do you want to have a trainer making your bench grow stronger with each turn? Do you want to add an extra adventurer to choose from with each recruitment campaign or would you like to add an extra quest to choose from during quest prospection? Etc.
Although these research items are important and will give the player clear advantages depending on the strategies he/she wishes to deploy, they will not be CRUCIAL to gameplay. As a matter of fact, there will probably be an achievement where the player finishes the campaign without spending a single research point!
That being said, some important mechanics (like merchants, trainers and Intrigue Actions) are still locked behind research items, so we believe very few player will actually be bold enough to try not spending a single point in the tree. (But it will be possible!)
The next big feature we will be implementing is what we’ve dubbed ‘The Intrigue System’!
Through player feedback and inhouse testing, we’ve realized that the world of Astraeus needed to react a bit more to the player’s actions. We also felt that the current league system was a bit stale and that the player was sometimes too far ahead of other agencies towards the end of the league’s season.
Now, every agency in the league will have a ‘Hatred’ meter towards your agency! The more another Agency competitor hates you, the more likely they will be to send spies, robbers or saboteurs to try and hinder your advancement!
How do you gain (and lose) hate, you might ask?
It’s easy! During the Action Phase and using Scout Actions, you’ll be able to use the “Intrigue” Panel and just send your representatives to accomplish Intrigue Actions against other agencies in your current league.
Intrigue actions come in various forms, but current ones can be separated into 3 major categories:
- Defamation Campaigns: Send your scouts to ruin an agency’s name! Reduces the fame of selected agencies.
- Robberies: Send your scouts to rob other agencies! Steals Gold or Equipment.
- Diplomacy: Send your scouts to mend broken bridges! Reduces Hate level of selected agencies.
Take a look at the Intrigue Panel! (This screenshot is still a WIP - missing icons will be added in the coming days, as the panel is coded and integrated into the game).
Here’s where it gets interesting : Other agencies can perform Intrigue Actions as well! Besides Defamation Campaigns and Robberies (which increase other agencies’ hate towards you as a negative side-effect), the higher your rank is in your current league, the more the other agencies will hate you. The more they hate you, the more likely they are to do intrigue actions on you! Of course, it works the other way around as well - should your rank start declining, other agencies will see you less as a threat and their “Hate” level towards you will lower over time.
This will create a back and forth between your agency and the others in the league, as you all fight for a favorable place at the top of the league rankings! This mechanic will create new strategies to use via your scout actions, will create a better sense of reaction from the world of Astraeus AND will give a better sense of permanence to the world.
Be wary though, Agencies who cross to the next league with you will keep their hatred level from the previous year!
We’re adding a new Game Launcher to Epic Manager in the next patch. This launcher will allow players to configure the game’s resolution as well as customise keyboard bindings for all the hotkeys (keyboard shortcuts) in the game!
New native support : Windowed Mode
You’ll now be able to launch the game in a window. This will allow players with higher resolutions (for example, 4K) to play the game in its native 1920 x 1080 without the problems caused by UI resizing errors.
Windowed Mode will be available for all natively supported resolutions.
New list of Natively Supported Resolutions
- 1280×720 (16:9)
- 1366×768 (16:9)
- 1600×900 (16:9)
- 1920×1080 (16:9) (recommended)
Please note that all in-game Art visuals and layouts were made/exported with a 1920x1080 native size in mind. Using supported lower resolutions will scale the game appropriately, but at the cost of visual fidelity. On a more positive note, all TEXT elements are rendered using a vector plugin, so written content will stay evenly sharp on all supported resolutions!
Combat is a big part of the Epic Manager experience. The feedback we’ve received so far indicates that most players are enjoying this aspect of the game, although some people have mentioned that they are more interested by the managerial mechanics than battling it out in every quest and/or ambush.
We’ve had lengthy and interesting internal debates on how to proceed with this. The ability to Auto-resolve combat scenarios is something we’d like to look into in the future, although making a system that makes sense and doesn’t break the game’s balance will take time and lots of tweaking before we’re confident enough to roll it out in a future patch.
In the next patch, however, we’re introducing a new prompt that will allow players to skip a combat entirely (automatic win) when their party is SIGNIFICANTLY stronger than the enemy forces.
This temporary solution is aimed at improving the game flow by allowing you to skip combat instances where your party could’ve “one-shot” the entire enemy forces without ever risking even the slightest wound. Of course, this will be completely optional and you’ll always have the option to enter the battle regardless and slay your foes with a few mighty blows, should you so desire.
Now that we’ve explored some of the major changes awaiting players in v.0.2.0, let’s take a look at the road ahead concerning the development / release phases of the game!
All remaining Kickstarter Backers will receive their Steam Key on July 18th!
That’s right folks! If you’re not already part of the Closed Alpha, you’re about to be!
On Monday, July 18th, we’ll send out Steam Keys to all “Journeyman Adventurer” Kickstarter backers. We’ll post a new update when the day finally comes, but if the first release phase was of any indication, you should then get your unique key by e-mail in mere minutes after we press the “go” button on our Third-Party mailing platform.
Groundwork for Community-Created Characters is under way!
We’re still exploring different possible avenues in terms of the tools we’ll be setting up in preparation of the Player-Created Custom Characters.We want to make sure this process is as easy as possible, for both you guys/gals as well as our team, so that newly-created characters can enter the world of Astraeus as quickly as possible once a player sends out the form!
More news on that front will come shortly after the release of patch v.0.2.0.
Steam Early Access is coming soon!
Again, we’d like to thank everyone who participated in filling out the v.0.1 online survey. The positive feedback we received makes us confident that the game, although still in active alpha development, is now ready to reach a wider audience via Steam Early Access.
We’ll be continuing with a “Closed” build for a short period, while we take in feedback from the changes made in v.0.2.0 and as we send out the game keys for all remaining Kickstarter backers.
More news on the upcoming Steam Early Access will come shortly, but we’re pretty (very) excited about this and we wanted to let everyone know. It’s been a long road since the launch of the Kickstarter campaign in October 2014 and we’ve enjoyed every moment of it! Once again, all of this could not have been possible without the continued support of this amazing community.
Important Note : Epic Manager is DRM-Free once you download it!
In case you might have missed it, Epic Manager can be launched manually, offline and completely independant from Steam by locating the game’s installation folder on your computer.
(By default) C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Epic Manager
This folder contains both 32/64-bit DRM-Free versions of the game!
*You will still need to launch the game via Steam to make sure your copy remains up to date with the latest patches.
Some community members have recently inquired as to the status of a Mac OS version of the game. We’ve started doing some digging into this matter and we believe that it should be possible for our team to roll out a Mac version in time to coincide with the Steam Early Access release or not too long thereafter, unless unforeseen complications arise from the porting exercise.
We want to make sure we can reliably build / update a bug-free copy of the program on OSx every time our team rolls out a new patch before going ahead with this new supported platform. Since all our studio hardware is made up of PC’s, we’ll need to borrow some equipment to make a few tests in the upcoming weeks!
Thanks for taking the time to read this update, and for your continued support of Epic Manager and our small team. All the above-listed features and many, many more fixes and tweaks are coming soon in Patch v.0.2.0!
Thank you all again for your testing, feedback and impressions throughout the development process. The alpha so far is a great success for us and we are incredibly proud to develop games for such an awesome community. Stay tuned - lots of cool things are still on the way!
Best regards from Chris, Louis, Frank and Simon - the ManaVoid Dev Team
Simon 'OISIN' Girard