Is there a way that I could make a donation for this game that isn't though Kickstarter? I've really enjoyed this game as it is and would love to pay it forward.
Shadows Behind The Throne
A downloadable game for Windows and Linux
Shadows Behind the Throne is a strategy game inspired by Crusader Kings, Pandemic and That Which Sleeps. You play as the omnipresent yet weak force of darkness, seeking to bring an end to the current age of light. Your tools are political intrigue and large-scale yet imprecise world-manipulation.
Take low-ranking barons under your control, and through political negotiations make them great emperors, secretly spreading your shadow across their entire kingdoms. Take a small county and, though natural rituals, bring a global ice age except for your own small patch of land, and bring the people of the world to you as desperate refugees seeking the last warmth. Or simply take a baron, start a plague, a couple of civil wars and take the world by force as your enemies are divided.
State of the game:
As it stands, the game is intended to be a framework for more features and further development. This version is hoped (if all goes well) to serve as a demo for a kickstarter. That said, it is entirely playable, from beginning to end, features a range of playstyles and strategies.
Note on v11:
This version adds in a new gameplay-style, the aspect of undeath. It's in testing, so feedback would be welcomed.
The essential gameplay idea here was to have no enthralled at all, but spend all the player's power on causing as much political discord as possible. Nations against nations (increase militarism), nations into civil war (increase dislike for top-level leader), populations against leaders (new powers have been added to allow this).
This creates dead bodies, which can be collected through corpseroot and corpsehearts, and unleashed when the time is right. You can see how many dead you've gathered (hotkey 3 for map view), which tells you how strong your undead army will be. Deploy it when no-one is nearby to quickly take cities, make these intro necropolises, then assemble a noble dead army, lead by the reanimated lord of that fallen city.
It's unbalanced and chaotic, but possibly in a good and fun way.
Mouse + Keyboard.
Mouse handles camera panning, selecting (left to move/inspect, right to select), menu button clicking.
Keyboard camera panning through WASD or arrow keys, map-view lenses bound to 1,2,3,4 and 0.
Mouse wheel or z/x keys for map zoom
Left shift for quick change between world and societal views
Right click on a city to jump to city view, or use the "inspect hex" command with a hex selected to view all armies and cities in that hex.
2D graphics and turn based nature require little in the way of CPU or GPU power. Prefer screen resolutions of 1366x768 or above, but tested and functional on lower. Memory footprint around 200meg.
Plan for features which will be added if the kickstarter succeeds are described in the roadmap in this google document:
Existing features would be expanded somewhat, alongside the addition of these new ones. This would roughly double the content of the game, moreso if the stretch goals get added.
Log in with your itch.io account to leave a comment.
Is there a way that I could make a donation for this game that isn't though Kickstarter? I've really enjoyed this game as it is and would love to pay it forward.
Wow, thanks for the offer. As of yet, though, I'm not current taking money from any non-kickstarter sources, because I was fiddling around with some legal stuff (maybe setting up a company to process kickstarter funds to avoid income taxes). At some point I'll change the Itch.io game to accept donations.
Thanks for your detailed responses - I backed your KS and best of luck with it! Here are a few more thoughts after some further gameplay:
Maybe you're right about enthralled action restrictions getting micromanage-y. But I agree it would add a lot to gameplay if NPCs can take independent actions and form committees etc. I wasn't aware there were some "hidden" character stats controlling rate of Shadow spread and Suspicion growth, etc. That's actually a cool feature, and it is good to add more variability between NPCs (with some being weak-willed and easy to enshadow, and others less so, etc).
Adding more Traits to NPCs will help a lot, and I hope you'll also consider giving them a few stats/skills similar to games like CK2 (Warfare, Stewardship, Diplomacy, Perception, Magic, etc). These could influence the results they gain from taking various actions and their susceptibility to certain dark powers, as well as influencing how they're respected by NPCs with various traits. This could also make entourage members a lot more interesting, if their stats can sometimes contribute to employer's stats and actions (a skilled Captain of the Guard protecting from assassination attempts, a devout Priest making hostile dark actions more difficult, etc etc).
It's also kind of neat that all these NPC stats aren't all visible from the start on everyone. Maybe visibility into stats/traits of local NPCs could gradually get unlocked with time as you gain more infiltration or visibility in the local area (e.g. from local Shadow spread and enthralled NPCs, Fish Man spies, or controlling nearby Eye-of-Sauron like buildings etc :)
I also like that you're planning to add more customization to the player "Shadow" character itself. Rather than having a few fixed archetypes like Undead or Trickster (which would be totally different from others but play the same each time you choose them), it could make sense to let the player have adjustable stats for various powers (like Solium Infernum let players buy or earn points in Wrath, Prophecy, Deceit, Diabolism and Destruction), and allocate points to these and other special powers (Trickster, Deathlord, etc) during game setup, similar to character customization in games like Master of Magic. I'm hoping a system like this could be easier to balance than making a few dramatically different archetypes with unexpected dramatic effects like in your Undeath post :D
It could be cool if controlling certain Buildings and special map tiles (representing mana nodes, dark towers, ancient tombs etc) and performing certain rituals (e.g. sacrificing population in controlled cities) could let you upgrade stats and unlock more powers and increase Dark Power generation, at the cost of attracting Suspicion. This would let your character start out weak and expand its range of dark powers as the world falls into shadow, while having to strike a balance between growing your power and not becoming too obvious >:D
Anyway, hope these suggestions are useful and that your KS goes well. If you hadn't heard of SI, the manual could be worth a read for inspiration:
I like the idea of entourage acting as defenses for particular lords, preventing certain actions or increasing their costs. I'll have to see what works and what doesn't, and add in the inverse, some lords being particularly weak due to have ineffective entourages. Some of these bonuses would probably then pass over to the player, for example if a captain of the guard were effective they would slow the rate of population uprisings, provided they were still loyal to the lord.
Adding buildings which increase power regen at the cost of world evidence would probably also be a good idea. Those certainly shouldn't be too hard to implement. Might make one which is ritual based, so you can choose when you're okay with gaining some suspicion/evidence/world-evidence and when you feel the heat's on and you gotta lie low for a while.
In regards to some of the other stuff:
Back in the day, in the very first concepts I did in late January over the course of a week or so, the game was very different. All lords could plot at all times, not just the player. Every action available to the player was available to everyone else. To add to this you could only interact with people you had a direct connection to, but could persuade others to become loyal to you, so use them as gateways to others. For example you could try to gain access to the king by first convincing the queen's chambermaid to support you, then use the chambermaid to convince the queen, then the queen to convince the king. The reason the game is so radically different from this idea is due to the insane amount of chaos it produced. It was almost impossible to keep track of anything, with many plots ending every single turn, which would mean that your own plot was now completely useless or impossible, and the giant network of people was a nightmare to get on the screen.
As a result, I'm unsure I want to try making all other NPCs have their own plots, or have a "discovery" mechanic for information. I've no doubt it would make for a good game if it were implemented, but I'm personally not sure I know how to do so successfully. I've actually got a document for "ideas for a sequel" which are ideas which I don't think I can risk spending the time on, in case they completely don't work and just harm the project as a whole. I'll add the infiltration and discovery mechanics to the list, and maybe someday they'll see the light.
I think the best way to handle the "too many plots, is too complex" problem is to add stuff back in a tiny bit at a time, and see where the line lies. I think the world feels a LITTLE sterile with only you having plots, but I can DEFINITELY see that if everyone had plots, there'd be no game left underneath all the madness. However... what if you added a random personality type, a "schemer", who does have plots just like you do. They'd be rare, and they could be noticeable-- a special border on their portrait, for instance. Furthermore, they could have more than one kind of scheme... so some might want the highest throne in the empire, but others might want to push a particular policy, or spread a belief. You could hitch a ride with some plots that way, but have to fight against others. Their plots should be visible in their information screen, and if you "watch" them, you can see what efforts they are taking to further that plot. And if you really wanted, you could always just enthrall the schemer, removing any REALLY inconvenient plots from the game!
Regarding entourages... I like the idea of bonuses and penalties based on who you have in your staff. (Of course, you should be allowed to fire staff... but there's a risk of doing so if they have any of your secrets) There may also be a reason yo enthrall a staff member... if you do, you could get some extra "world actions", like subdue populace (or the reverse, cause peasant uprising) for captains, or aid in stone rituals for priests/priestesses, or aid in contagious disease for physicians. Bolster your area, or weaken an opponent's. The effects can be strong, because enthralling is so darn expensive in power expended.
First : Congrats for your recently launched kickstarter, wish you all the best.
I suggest to read "the wheel of time" by Robert Jordan / Brandon Sanderson for how to characterize an anti hero (lews therin, 13 forsaken, dark one).
The point is people always interest to play as an interesting "anti hero" rather than generic one.
I've got a friend who has assured me that "Wheel of Time" is the greatest literary achievement of mankind. I'll have to give it a look.
Some general thoughts...
It's way too hard to eliminate members of an entourage who have come to dislike or suspect you; and this is a problem, because currently the only way to permanently get rid of evidence (and the easiest way to calm your population) is to dump it onto a member of your entourage who likes you and then make them a scapegoat. Once you have an entourage member who knows you're dark, there doesn't seem to be any non-supernatural way to get rid of them.
Currently the only way to get rid of an entourage member who dislikes you is to kill them with dark powers, which is too expensive to contemplate most of the time and unrealistic.
There should probably be options to use conventional assassination (at no Power cost, but at the risk of creating evidence), plus the option to dismiss entourage members (at the risk of them sending messages to everyone with warnings and all the information they gathered, plus potentially raising the suspicion of other members of your entourage and even your peers depending on the situation.) Having a Baron replace their Captain of the Guard shouldn't require some complicated frame-up or an invocation of dark powers.
Hmm, you may be right.
The current situation is due to a different set of desires and aims. I wanted you to repeatedly have to try to stop messages from getting out, so you have to pay attention and invest in messenger-assassination techniques. For some situations it works great. The fog I think is roughly balanced how I wanted it, but this means that the fishmen now have no solution to messengers on land.
Dark enthralled can transmit shadow at improved rates, so they're the best way to cheaply get rid of entourage, since they'll become broken within a certain number of turns.
I'll have to look into it a bit more, see if I can't balance things a bit better, maybe introduce a few new options. At the very least, I could make assassinations cheaper for entourage members, although that's not an ideal solution.
Maybe an expel option? The entourage member is expelled and travels towards a lord with the most common traits. Upon arrival the entourage member can influence the new lord to take action against his former lord. This would make messenger-assassination even more viable, as the travelling entourage member can be killed in that way.
also: good luck with the kickstarter!
Thanks for updating! FWIW I figured out my loading problem was due to Comodo antivirus tagging it as unrecognized and running it virtually.
Really liking the game so far and looking forward to your KS. Here are a few thoughts and comments:
1) Characters and actions
As others have mentioned, the current game often leads to spamming certain actions repetitively over a short period (eg "share ideas" to set someone up for promotion) often followed by long periods of doing nothing.
I'm thinking it might work best to move to a system where each character on the map can take one action per turn. Most of these actions would be standard administrative or diplomatic tasks that non-enthralled characters will regularly do based on their own agendas, like Train Troops, Build Fortifications, Cultivate Farms, Send Scout, Send Messenger, Suppress Revolt, Eradicate Worms, etc.
For non-enthralled characters, the action they choose to do each turn will be based on their beliefs, personality and skills plus a random component (e.g. a Militarist character could often choose to Recruit or Train Troops, a Xenophilic character could choose Organize Trade Caravan, a Pacifist character would more often do Diplomatic actions, etc).
For enthralled characters you can command them to take any action (including special Dark Actions and rituals etc) but doing something far out of the ordinary for them will build Evidence against them. Alternately you could let them Lay Low and continue normal actions to decrease Evidence slightly. For non-enthralled characers, you can choose to spend dark power to change what a character would do (e.g. one potential strategy would be to interfere with beneficial NPCs at a crucial time, like preventing a skilled General from raising troops effectively through a sudden bout of lethargy or madness :)
Anyway, that's a thought for how to make actions a little more natural and interesting, and avoid repeated spamming of actions within a single turn. As the game develops you could also add lots more interesting actions for characters to do and for the player to interfere with (e.g. crafting magical artifacts, adventuring to explore hidden dungeons, etc etc)
2) Characters, stats and traits
The fact that most actions and attitudes are based on the Militarism/Xenophilia/Monarchy sliders seems to make the characters a little 1-dimensional. (ok, 3-dimensional.. ;) As a result, it can get repetitive if your basic goal is just to manuever M/X/M sliders into the right combo.
It's always a treat when someone with one or more of the personality traits shows up, even if they are currently pretty standard like "Charismatic". As development continues, I hope you'll continue to add lots more interesting traits similar to games like Crusader Kings 2 to make characters more nuanced (could be things like Pious, Dogmatic, Chaste, Ascetic, Lustful, Wrathful, Temperate, Drunkard, Decadent, Sadistic, etc etc). Characters personal likes/dislikes and their actions can be modified by their traits, making manipulation less of a "cookie cutter" approach and leading to lots of interesting potential..
Also, it could make sense to give each character some stat or skill sliders in addition to their 3 attitudes (e.g. Martial, Diplomatic, Administrative, and Arcane skills could influence what type of actions characters tend to focus on and give them an appropriate bonus to the result.)
Your dark powers could bless or curse important stats, and voluntarily or involuntarily cause enthralled to gain certain warped traits or mutations, opening up all kinds of evil possibilities.. >:D
3) Tooltips and UI
Though I'd assume everything's currently based on their MXM sliders, I often can't tell why lords vote or like/dislike things the way they do (e.g. in voting for offensive focus, wasn't sure what to do to convince more lords to target a certain country). It would be great to have a tooltip textbox appear when hovering over their portrait (like in Crusader Kings 2), which lists the factors contributing to their attitude/vote. Even better, you could display voter portraits along a line from "Strongly Opposed" to "Strongly Favor" and let players use tooltips to find out more.
For voting, it's cool to get the option to interfere with votes, but once you have several enthralled this often leads to repeated messages nearly every turn about votes that don't matter much (e.g. an "open gates" vote which repeatedly fails due to lack of support); these messages can be hard to dismiss and can get annoying. IDK what the best solution is, but maybe let certain votes happen less frequently or make the notifications less obtrusive?
Anyway, sorry for the long message but I'm excited about the game; good luck with continued development and keep on truckin!
Okay, I'll try to answer as much of this as I can, but you'll have to forgive me if I miss something.
1) Characters, actions and politics
It used to be, back before the first released version, that enthralled could only take one action per day. I removed it because I personally found it very irritating to play. I had to constantly click "next turn" which was annoying, and if there were two enthralled you'd have to keep switching between the two. This meant that if you were doing a lot of political work you had to keep two plans in mind, and switch between them constantly, rather than just accumulate a bunch of power then do all your political actions in one go. I guess it's personal taste, but that was my experience.
Having ordinary characters do stuff would be interesting. I like the idea, especially about interfering with individual plans. My feature roadmap includes something at least somewhat like this, with "political subcomittees", which handle various things. They'd be tiny political battlegrounds, where you trade reputation, favours and liking and in return the society gets bonuses or disadvantages. It would let you sabotage societies from within a bit more easily, and have a bit more stuff to muck around with. Was planning on making it a game option, in case some people don't want to deal with it, or don't feel it's important for the gameplan they wanted to try out.
You're right. You make a good point about needing more traits, and I've added it to my roadmap. Bunch of different traits could be added, and would make the game much better, and definitely add some flavour to the characters.
As an aside, they actually have five values, actually, but two of them are hidden. There's "suspiciousness" which affects how quickly they gain suspicion, and "dark vulnerability" which affects how quickly the shadow spreads to them. They were introduced in v10, because I disliked how easily shadow would spread down an entire society if you because king. Now at least some will resist. I'll make those values visible to the player, probably.
3) UI work
There's a bunch of UI stuff which needs fixing. I'll add "make the voting a bit more transparent" to the list. My plan was to have alerts have a "Dismiss and don't show messages like this again for the duration of this game" button. So if one of your enthralled doesn't care about votes about Open Gates it'll never display those as alerts for that character, or if you're bored of "world evidence spotted" messages you can tell those to shut up. Should help message spam a bit, making important messages easier to spot.
Hope this clears things up, thanks for taking the time to comment. It's nice to know what needs a bit of fixing, so I can plan for that before starting the next phase of design work.
It's cool that you're listening to suggestions this early in the game's development :D
Here's some ideas to take into consideration, possibly for that Jester player character you mentioned.
Shift ideology: A ritual (or card) that relies on randomisation. The ritual targets an entire society and (to a certain degree) randomizes the ideologies of its pawns. The cost would increase for larger societies, either leading to a destabilized kingdom ripe for the civil war treatment, or you could leave the society's bonds stronger than when you started.
Peace bonds: More on the political side, if the darkness takes interest in stopping a kingdom from assimilating another, it can orchestrate a peace agreement between the two societies. It would simply be decided by voting, if both societies are made to have a majority vote in favour, neither society can attack the other for a number of turns. Pacifists support, militarists oppose.
Plague warding: Occasionally a seemingly well placed plague of discord can unintentionally spread towards cities that the darkness would prefer to go uninfected. The plague totem would be given a world power that protects a selected city from plague for a number of turns. Of course, there's a chance others in the society will notice the city's uncanny immunity, and possibly begin investigation.
Cleansing light: Armies from cities that are part of a kingdom of light are taught a small amount in the lightbringer's ways, giving them a noticeable advantage against human armies that are enshadowed.
Crushing darkness: Similarly, if a kingdom of darkness has been established, armies under enthralled lords take a piece of the shadow's will into battle, evening the playing field against lightbringer armies, and giving them an advantage against regular humans.
Both of these buffs can be improved by buildings exclusive to lightbringer/enthralled towns, an increase in power for either side is declared in an event.
Poison Soul: Essentially a slower version of assassinate, the darkness slowly nibbles at its target, instead of outright devouring them. This can be made to look like a death by regular human espionage and costs slightly less power. This means that less evidence will be created and less courtiers will become suspicious, but removing the pawn takes an unpredictable amount of time, and is by no means swift.
Influence stars: The shadow can only operate for such a short time due to the position of the stars (If I remember that right), but creating an astrology based building can change its time, in both directions. It would have access to two rituals, one which would increase how many turns the game lasts, and another to reduce the amount. The ritual that adds turns would debuff the shadow in some way, while the one that shortens its precious time would give it some kind of advantage.
Cultists: An enthralled character could be ordered to form a cult. This cult could then be sent to a city that is not under the control of the shadow. Depending on which type of cult was selected, the city would be debuffed in some way (weaker armies, poorer relations with other pawns etc). Cults would generate evidence in the city they occupy, and can be discovered by investigators sent by other lords. This suspicion could also be used to turn members of a society against a specific pawn by ensuring that the investigator does not return with news as normal. If the cult is uncovered and a lord receives knowledge of them, it is traced back to the enthralled lord that founded it and gives them a large amount of evidence, as well as making both the investigator and the lord of the cultist afflicted city aware of the darkness.
Torment: If orchestrating a society to disagree with a ruler's views is the scalpel, Torment would be the mallet. An expensive ability that can be used on a lord to confer the "tormented" trait, lowering his general likeability the same way "hideous" does. The Torment of mortal minds is a common tool of the darkness, causing worldwide evidence to increase at a steady rate for each turn the tormented pawn is alive as memory of its use is sparked.
I realize this is just a sea of half baked ideas and I don't know much about game balancing, but maybe there's something usable here.
Early in development is best for suggestions, since it's easier to adapt a plan than it is to adapt an already-implemented code base.
There are some good ideas here, and one of the next stages was adding a load of new buildings and rituals, so I'll throw all these ideas in the main "ideas.txt" file, so I can sort and group them together and see what can be implemented when the time comes.
Looks cool and promising. The core idea is pretty solid :) You should definitely try a Kickstarter! You got solid gameplay and a plan for expanding upon it.
A few minor things: I had a lot of rebelling people, and not a lot of ways to deal with it except for expending power to shush 'm. I'd like some more political actions to deal with unrest, e.g. vote on using military power to stop it or a vote of no confidence to oust a (higher ranking) noble to stop unrest.
There are a couple of other populace actions, which are a tiny bit stronger. I like them, in that they have major cost and requirements associated with them, but they might be a bit weak. I've also noticed that spending power is often the best choice, rather than use those other actions. I'll need to look into balancing it.
For the populace actions:
I think an expansion of ways to get evidence on someone is needed to make the 'blame entourage' action work. If for instance a lord is gaining evidence (because he is enthralled for instance), maybe this trickles down to his/her entourage simply by association? That would make it a lot more viable course of action. Maybe also dependent on the liking for the lord, where an entourage member gains faster evidence if he is positive about the lord.
The blame peer option might need some refinement, if you rename it to 'blame ally' that would make more sense given the positive liking requirement. You could then make it that only people who have a positive liking of you/the ally will be angered. Why would the opposition dislike you for destroying your own alliance?
I think forcing you to share evidence with your entourage is a good idea, because it means you have to first find someone you like in your entourage then betray them. Its problem is just that it's a bit weak. It might be good if it removed all evidence, or even forced everyone world-wide to stop suspecting you and start suspecting them. Similar for the other action, blame peer. Renaming it to "blame ally" sounds good, though, it makes it more obvious what it does.
Do we have an ETA on the Kickstarter? I understand if you don't wanna rush into things, but I had thought it was supposed to start by now.
It was supposed to be started by now, but I ran into delays. Maybe the 1st of June? Some time around then seems likely.
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but couldn't find exact details anywhere. Do the enthralled types currently change anything besides what it says on the tin? From where I see it, there's no reason to pick a dark one over a lord of the broken. Or anything over a lotb really, since they produce no evidence at all without player action.
Not a dumb question at all, just an inbalanced feature. I did notice that lords of the broken were a good choice, but hoped that the advantages of the others would at least somewhat compensate. The dark ones generate shadow passively, so save you a very small amount of power. Vampires are more likable and the cheap one is cheaper. I'll look into making the others a bit more competitive in the next version.
Cool, thanks for the quick response. While on the subject, got a suggestion for a new enthralled type:
It wouldn't be available for use at the start of the game, rather a regular enthralled would be converted into it by a ritual similar to the malign gateway ritual, almost immediately prompting lightbringers to start popping up. If the ritual succeeds, it would unify all enthralled and enshadowed lords into one empire under the buffed enthralled, give it a new "Minions of the shadow" type name, and immediately prompt any uncorrupted lords to declare war on the new empire and start the lightbringer process, if they haven't already.
The idea would be to spread the shadow from a smaller, less powerful kingdom, before gaining military strength through the ritual, instead of through the traditional way. The player would have to make use of trickery and misinformation in order to avoid their enthralled duchy being discovered before enough of the land was enshadowed for the ritual to be worth the risk. My idea of it might be OP as hell, but creating a dark-lord type figure would be an awesome way of prompting a dark vs light end game war, imo
These are good suggestions.
Version 10.1 is now downloadable. Has "dark empire" where you have to build the dark beacon, cast the ritual, then all enthralled can join their societies together. Dark one enthralled are now the default, their darkness doesn't increase naturally but they do spread it down to their entourage, so those become broken faster, to make them better able to manage their city.
I'll look into the whole "make your society gain military power through ritual rather than the normal way" in a bit, but I'll need to think about that.
This is a fun game, lots of good ideas in it. So far, though, the core gameplay needs some help.
Sharing ideas a lot is spam of a single repeated power, and that's bad. This could be addressed by making it something with greater effect, but greater cost and/or time requirement; that'd remove some tedium. I also found myself with my Rise plummeting (and someone else's increasing) for reasons that weren't clear to me.
The heavy-handed ability to enthrall someone seems a bit too direct. I reckon that it would be better to have a kind of little mini-game to nab them, and it might be a good idea to make a persistent cost to keep someone directly enthralled.
This might be planned, but it seems like once the game is further along it would make sense to have a character creation bit at start, letting you pick which buildings and capabilities you get, somewhat altering the details of your goals, and giving you different numbers. In this way you might get a different power per turn (this could also be boosted by shadow, or other factors, as options purchased in character creation) which would allow you to give major things in the world (such as enthrallment) a power upkeep rate.
Buildings, I reckon, need a bit of reconceptualization. Rather than having lots of different buildings, each in only one form, it would make sense to have one or a couple buildings but to keep adding on upgrades, making (for example) a mist that is truly abominable in all ways.
I couldn't figure out how to use the military, so no feedback there other than maybe explain it better.
As of right now, you actually cannot control the military at all, it's automated. I'm pretty sure that Bobby has mentioned that overhauling this is high on his list of priorities, though. Now I don't want to put words in his mouth, so I stand ready to be corrected, but that's what I though was the case.
Okay. So. Many points to answer, I'll do my best. I'm assuming from you mentioning the mist you're on V10. It's unfinished but none of those issue are related to its unfinished-ness so they're all still valid.
Repeated clicking in politics: This is an issue, although it's possible it's an issue with me communicating the mechanics. It can often be faster to impassion a dude, making him a better spokesperson for his views, then use him to spread them, than to repeatedly have him spread them at low levels. That's why impassion is so cheap, at only 3 power, to make it realistic to use instead of just spread views repeatedly.
Enthralling in a single action: I'm not opposed to the idea of a system to replace "just spend power" but I can't think of anything which wouldn't just be an artificial tacked on bit, with no connection to the rest. Plus, you don't have much to do with your turns without an enthralled or two, so it would just be dead time.
Character creation/Pre-game planning: Definitely something I want. A variety of things are possible. My basic idea is you'd see the board to begin with, then get to pick which tools you want to deploy. It may be a kickstarter stretch goal, though, if I run out of time, since I'd want to do it properly and test it for balance a whole bunch.
Buildings: They're not perfect, but I'm okay with buildings as they stand. Having just a single building slot and upgrading would be pretty similar to how they are now, but would prevent you from mixing and matching. For instance you could decide to have a fog+fish person build, if you only want a couple of powers out of each. I think it'll make more sense with more buildings being introduced, but we'll have to see how it works out.
Military: You're explicitly not supposed to be able to command any unit. This is a design feature, not an oversight or a feature coming later. I simply don't have the time to design and build a tactical AI system able to respond to what the player could do with full unit control. The player would have an unbeatable advantage as a result. It's not that I don't want tactical combat, it's that I don't think I can implement tactical combat. Firaxis have been trying to get hex-tile turn-based combat working since Civ 5, and it's like eight years later and they still don't have it. I've no reason to believe I can do better, so I simply avoid the issue, despite the loss of gameplay that causes.
Hope this clears things up a bit. Thanks for the feedback, though, definitely useful to know what needs another look at.
To clarify on the military, it's not that I was trying to command units directly. I didn't figure out how to interface with the military system at all. The game documentation implies that you should be able to instigate conquest, but I wasn't able to.
Oh, okay, that's different then.
It's done in three steps, from the voting screen. You could just start up a tiny map and grab a country with a single city, so you control the full vote, just to quickly get to grips with it, all steps are "propose vote" to change the desired thing, then when the vote pops up, voting for the desired option.
Step 1: Get your nation's military posture to "offensive", this is required for declaring war.
Step 2: Set an offensive target. You can pick any of your neighbouring kingdoms. The popup should give you some rough idea of military strengths. I'll admit that bit needs a bit more UI work.
Step 3: You can now propose "declare war". Do so, and if it succeeds you'll start a war to conquer the target kingdom.
Thanks for updating :) When I start the latest build, a "Development Console" window at the bottom left says the following two times in red:
<RI> Failed to register devices:
The operation completed successfully.
Then none of the buttons will respond. Any idea what's wrong?
From what I can tell, this is an issue with Unity itself. An input device (RI stands for "Raw Input"), such as a gamepad or joystick, isn't being processed by Unity properly. I'm afraid I don't know of any way to fix it, it seems to be a common problem to Unity which occasionally turns up. If you had something new plugged in that might be causing it. Alternatively, it might be present all the time, but only development mode throws an error. If so, just wait for the next version and I'll release it as non-development, and that might fix things.
Holy cow, just discovered this the other day via the 'That Which Sleeps' beta forums. This is incredibly impressive. You seem to have captured about 60% of the essence of the original vision of 'That Which Sleeps', pre-kickstarter anyway, and done so casually and in less than 60 days.
And its already fully playable and actually fun! My first V9 game has been pretty epic. (spread my little egg devils, SPREAD!, muahahaha)
anyway, just wanted to thank you for this and I'll be waiting for your kickstarter! Please PLEASE keep this up!
Could you record a video and explain this game a little bit?
I 100% recognise the game isn't the easiest to understand and that the documentation is old and/or missing. That's one of the major reasons this is marked as an unfinished release. I didn't want to do documentation before the suspicion/investigation thing was in because it would have rendered all previous "how-to-play" obsolete.
Now that the core mechanics of investigation are in I will be working on giving the players a proper introduction to the whole thing.
just my 2 cents: for me is better to have, one for week/month/whatever, a video where you explain the new mechanics, features and so on, so when you will launch kickstarter/greenlight, there is a lot of material and you can get more exposure even with some youtubers for a review, even if obsolete! I mean you can build your audience and followers in that way, the most "direct" let's say!
Also, I had one other question: one of the coolest purported features of That Which Sleeps was the ability to play as different kinds of cosmic evil - a planetary parasite that controls the minds of men, a trapped titan that can see the future, or an omnicidal deity whose shattered body forms the very planet. This kind of customization seemed cool, something akin to the different nations in Civ, with each giving a different way to play the game. I don't know how viable something like this would be to implement, but it'd seem cool. For instance, maybe one Ancient Evil has the power to create a unique kind of Thrall, with special abilities, or perhaps a certain other gets a new spell to call up a volcano or something. At the least, I reckon it's worth considering.
Q1: I wanted to include that as a stretch goal, and since there's demand I will. The technical side should be easy enough, and the existing code has been written in a way to make that feature easy to implement in the future. Not entirely sure how I'll describe it lore-wise, but that's a minor concern at this point. I'll get some stuff added to the google doc in time for the kickstarter, and put it in the kickstarter's list of stretch goals.
Q2: Honestly I'm terrible at marketing. My main avenues for telling people about it are the Something Awful forums, the That Which Sleeps subreddit, itch.io itself, and hoping someone posts about it on the That Which Sleeps kickstarter (I didn't actually back because I didn't hear about it until only about a year ago).
I'll do my bit in mentioning it to my friends. I've already introduced three people, here's hoping for the best. As for the lore, well, I don't see a reason why you couldn't just start the game with a "select your Ancient Evil" screen, which changes what particular nasty is imprisoned beneath the ground/exists only as a shadowy wraith/etc? If you need ideas, well, you could always look into the Cthulhu Mythos, or if you want to take the short route, you could take a quick look at Arkham Horror (which draws so heavily from Lovecraft that it actually uses lots of his characters directly). One thing you might leverage is the fact that fishmen have a long and storied history in cosmic horror, since in Lovecraft they were basically Cthulhu's parahuman cultist "children". Just a few ideas:
*A sea deity/spirit/giant cosmic squid that gets a bonus to spawning and using Fishmen.
*A necromantic being that draws strength from death - perhaps stronger plagues/undead?
*A sort of Primal Entity that has influence over natural forces, like volcanoes and earthquakes.
*A Planetary Parasite that spreads a unique type of terrain that is useful only to itself and its minions, while being hostile to all other life.
All of this is just spitballing, of course. No guarantee that any of these are suitable for the actual game.
Hey, thanks for sharing it around. Certainly makes my marketing job easier.
Lore-wise my only issue, and it wasn't much of an issue, was that I wasn't thinking of "the darkness" as a living thinking being, but as an essential part of nature, far beyond even the Gods of the world. It's not set in stone or anything, and I'll change it if I think it's necessary.
As to your ideas those do sound like the sorts of things I was going for. I actually already had a card-based God I wanted to try, based on how the game was originally set up, way back in January in its first week. You don't have set powers, but are given cards at semi-random (you can choose what deck to draw from) and so have to adapt your strategy to fit the cards you have available. I didn't like it as it was, but it would work well if combined with the existing mechanics, I think.
Marketing is arguably the most important part of the kickstarter, man. Read up on it and make some contacts before you actually launch.
Just commenting to ask where you plan on getting the word out for the Kickstarter. Will you make another post of r/ThatWhichSleeps? Or do you think word of mouth'll do the job?
Hey man, this is a really interesting project, especially after the disappointment that followed on hearing about That Which Sleeps, then learning that it might never come out. I'll be interested to follow a cool game all the way from its earliest days. Wishing you the best for the possible Kickstarter, or just, well, further development.
Also, while patchnotes make it clear that you already know this, the A.I should probably have some way to counteract the Climate Change spells. Perhaps Lightbringers should be capable of casting climate restoration spells, at least in certain areas? I'm pretty sure that if I became aware that a dark power was constantly raising the global temperature, the first thing I'd do is find some kind of climate magic.
Hmm. Lightbringer cities being beautiful pools of light and perfection DOES sound like a good idea, and would mean that climate change would wipe out normal cities and leave just your dark empire vs the kingdom of light, for the final battle. Current plan is for lightbringer-only buildings to exist, so lightbringers get to expand their power over time to counter yours. Maybe they could have giant glowing trees, embracing the natural power of light, which radiate out a region of improve climate? I'll put it in the plan for phase 2.
Big hopes for this one, gonna sacrefice a bull in your name
Hi. Also joining the fray of account creators to register my interest in following up the development of the game.
As regards Kickstarter, I think that That Which Sleeps' sinister shadow may be something you might be wary of.
Hey, also created an account just to say really liked the initial demo and the potential it showed for a really interesting game. Occasionally I had a few problems with the UI and getting actions to work (not sure if it's my setup?) but got their eventually. Enjoyed the initial enthral, rebel and then generally cause chaos & upset and going to continue to play around with rituals.
What are your plans for the future with this? How do you see it developing?
Thanks for the response, again, flattered that I'm considered reason enough for account creation. UI actions are sometimes problematic. I thought I'd found the cause, but apparently not. Unity's interface stuff is still new to me, so there'll be a few issues till I really get to grips with it.
I've got plans for a kickstarter. Didn't initially, but it's gotten a much better response than expected, and I've found myself with more free time than expected, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Short term plan is to release approximately weekly updates here, till it looks "Kickstarter ready" then try to raise money for art/music/polish the UI/final features.
I'll post updates on twitter https://twitter.com/bobby2hands if you want to be notified when I release something.
Thanks again for your time
Created an account just to comment. Pretty fun game! I realize it's not exactly meant to rival EU4 in complexity, but I could see this game getting there with a few thousand hours of dev work XD It has the potential, however far you want to take it. Anyway feedback:
Stalemate wars suck. There doesn't seem to be much you can do to influence them or stop them so once they're going you're stuck. There should be some way to stop a war after X turns, with whichever cities were conquered switching sides. If that means white peace so be it.
Endgame becomes a little trivial if you just wait, With 400 power, you can almost instantly enslave mid sized countries of 4-5 cities. Because dark forces are so powerful after weakning the world via famine, this allowed me to win a game after my initial dark uprising got crushed (I did all that waiting because my initial little shadowed empire wasn't doing so hot). Either limiting how quickly you can thrall/shadow/enslave, or some kind of cap on power (50 maybe?) would take a step to making this less trivial.
Edit: I've actually thought of a potential solution: Thralled characters that are then part of an enslaved city count permanently towards your thrall limit. That way you can't just keep spamming new dark towers once your original ones fall without increasingly higher costs.
Thanks. Honored you'd take time out to register just for a comment.
I'm definitely taking it further, maybe quite a bit much further, if things go well. We'll have to see.
Wars are indeed a bit of an issue right now. I was planning on putting a Paradox-style war score (I'm a Crusader kings man, rather than an EU4 man, personall), which would handle wars a bit better, with an auto-time-out feature if the war drags on for too long. Current wars only end when someone takes the other's capital, which was quick to code but needs to be replaced soon-ish.
Dark power does need to be reigned in a bit. I'm planning on making the forces of light (the lords which have realised that the darkness is coming) a bit more agressive. They'd actually try to stop you, so you'd have to spend power to stop them. This said, I like the idea of you being weak at the start and slowly grow more powerful, giving you a sense of your reign of darkness being an unstoppable force of nature towards the end.
As an aside, dark towers and all that might be replaced soonish. Code I'm working on right now allows for non-human populations, and human populations to be slowly replaced with non-humans (fishmen, souless husks, insect-infested wretches...), so you won't need to replace the city with a dark tower, just transform it into a city of non-humans.
1) Can I scale global map? If not, that's pretty bad.
2) Esc may be pretty great for exiting Society view. And there are no reason for main menu button, preferably use Esc for that.
3) There are no charts about cities, armies etc. That would be pretty great.
And except for that 3 things - that pretty interesting game, I really enjoyed it. Thanks.
Thanks for the feedback. Appreciate it.
1) You can now. Added into the version 2. Mouse wheel and/or "z" and "x" key. You're definitely right, though, it was sorely lacking.
2) I've currently got it as "left shift" in version 2, but that may change to a different key. One day, I may even implement user key-bindings, it's on the very long todo list.
3) Charts are also planned. I was planning a cities chart, I'll also add an armies chart based on your feedback.