Version 10: Streamlining


A new version! Spent a while not working on the game, as I had a paper to write, and my collegue has an actual PhD thesis to work on.

I got a friend to play the game, under close observation, with no instruction from us, to see how a new player would approach it, and came to the realisation that it is in fact a very complex and hard-to-approach game. Guess that should have been obvious, but if you work on the code on a regular basis, you get used to its complexity, and just imagine it's normal.

As a result, this version tries to put together a "streamlined" version of the game. This removes the politics side of things, for the player, by removing the noble enthralled, and focuses instead on agents. The aim is to remove a bunch of UI clutter, and a bunch of decisions which don't need to be made. The AI is also a bit changed, to remove their internal reshuffling of nobles which can make infiltration unpleasant to deal with. Honestly, the resultant game is much nicer to play, in some ways, if you just want to interact with the agent game.

Going forward, the game will probably work towards having three game-start options. "Streamlined" which removes as much as possible of the non-agent gameplay; "Agent-first" which starts the player with a lot of agent slots unlocked, but requires them to use agents to enthrall a noble; and "Noble-first" where they only have a single agent at the start but can enthrall a noble directly, so they can get involved in politics as early as possible.

This version also sees two new units: A new agent and a new enemy.

The agent is the Seeker. They have to go searching for ancient secrets, in the libraries and churches of the world, trying to piece together The Terrible Truth. They are a late-game heavy hitter, but require help from other agents to survive to that point. They suffer heavily if they get exiled but with proper infiltration they can be kept perfectly safe until it's time for them to do their empire-killing work.  Designed to pair well with the merchant or vampire, as a result, and their end-game can work well with the plague doctor. Had a good time writing a bunch of lore for this agent, and found my graphics tablet to give them a picture.

The enemy is the Paladin. They can seek out your agents, and follow them around the map. Probably needs to be integrated better with the NPC's societies and awareness, but seems to be currently functional. They need avoiding and disrupting, if you play with them (disabled by advanced option, or by playing on "easy" in streamlined mode), as they'll harass your agents constantly.

Both of these will need tweaking, but that's usual for game dev. Plague doctor has been nerfed a bit, in response to feedback from previous version. Should be less of an instant-win, while hopefully still being viable and relevant.


Next version I hope to focus on politics. Ideally give people factions/families, so you can have allies, and perhaps mechanics for trying to get them into important government positions, where they can act as useful allies, boosting your enthralled's political capabilities. Might also try to get some better political responses for the NPCs. They need to be better able to handle crises, by holding emergency votes. We'll see what is possible and what works.

Anyway, hope you enjoy

Files

shadows_v10_window.zip 44 MB
54 days ago
shadows_v10_Linux.zip 61 MB
54 days ago

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Comments

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Actually paid for this one, I hope the work keeps going Twohands, thank you for making this magnificent gem and it's prequel.

Thanks man. Hopefully I'll be able to find the time to tinker with it, off and on, for the months to come. Lots of features to add to the complicated version, lots of polishing possible for the streamlined version.

Feature request:
Auto-Close the 'auto save' message, would love if that could be a thing <3

Noticing a weird bug as well.... Enthralling nobles (even lesser ones in normal games, were ya choose things like the giant flesh one) is no longer an option at all?

Yep. That's a bug. I've compiled a pushed a new bugfix version, for both Windows and Linux, which covers that.

Also adds a few new features, of note for you: Firstly, you can now auto-dismiss the autosave messages, from the autosave dialog itself. Secondly, the in-game game options menu in the bottom right now shows your current map seed. Can't get the seed for an existing game (it wasn't saved), but all future games should have their seeds visible.

Hey BobbyTwoHands! I just wanted to ask, is there anyway to get the seed mid game? I showed a friend who'd like to try out the same map as I am doing, but I have no way to share the seed since I didn't save it on loading the map

The perspective of a new, virgin player is very interesting and useful I think.  Good move, that.  I'm sure when I first discovered SBTT2 I was a bit lost when first starting out.  An 'easier' (or at least more comprehensible) version for new players is welcome and I'll be testing that out for a while I think.

I must confess the politics, while deep and the meat of the game, often confused me in terms of what I was actually accomplishing.  The actions of an enthralled Noble are inherently more subtle (and less identifiable) than the actions of a player controlled agent.  Focusing on this aspect for new players is a good idea I reckon.

As always, great work!

Seeing as you seem to be better at this game than me. Could you tell me how I enthrall nobles?

Hey, sorry, my bad. Game was stuck in simplified mode.

New version (shadows_v10_bugfix1) should fix this. You should now be able to select any of the flashing purple nobles (in standard game mode) and hit "enthrall noble" from the power screen.

Or, if you want to start higher up, your agents can try to infiltrate a duke/king's location and then enthrall them using agents. Harder, but gets you a much higher rank noble.

Thanks for that. Very helpful. I might've almost accidently reported you because I didn't hit the right button. Thanks again

An idea that could be helpful with escaping paladins by going into hostile lands...

Being able to select a kingdom, press one of the 1-9 keys to see which nations are allys and which are at war (So if I know it's a "blue" paladin, to hide in lands of "red", which hate the "blue" kingdom)

(+1)

The agents should already show which lands are hostile, when selected. Any agent who is banned (paladins included) will cause all nations who have exiled them to have a red overlay, even in the normal view.

But yes, some kind of international diplomacy view could be useful. It would allow the player to see the international state of affairs at a glance, as there's currently no easy way to spot wars (red lines are very small, and only exist if the nations are neighbours).

(+1)

A suggestion popped into my mind as i read the Seeker's mechanics. Give them a sanity meter and have it go down (maybe % based) whenever they chance upon forbidden knowledge. If they got down to 0, either auto recruit them to the player, have them become madmen who try to kill anything and everything, have them die or have them turn into something like a Cultist who tries to actively help you, though you shouldnt be able to enthrall them because they aren't enshadowed and blind to the darkness but rather acknowledge it and try to help it spread, so they still keep their mind, they just want to help the other side.

The seeker is already a player-controlled agent, but the idea of having hostile agents turn insane due to what they learn is a good one. Maybe the seeker could choose to leave some of the clues they find behind, so any investigator who investigates the clue slowly goes insane. The agents already have a sanity value, because they have a full person, but currently that sanity value does nothing. With just a bit of changes (and the UI has space for it), this could be a different way to defeat your enemies, or sow confusion inside their ranks.

I'll see if it can fit into the next version.