V13, and Discussion about Sequel


So, V13 is out. It's an attempt to work with the population politics system. Human populations have politics too, which spreads along trade routes or via militaries passing through cities. Its main effect is to change how much they like or dislike their lords and ladies, so this version introduces a theme of buildings for brewing rebellions, then manipulating them to your own ends.


Other than this, I was thinking about starting a sequel. This version is good, but certain decisions limit the game, as well as improve it. Mostly, the hex-based navigation system. This makes AI decisions considerably harder, as they can't plan strategically very well. It'd just be too much work for me to get a hex based strategic system to work. Instead, a topological setup, where the units move along pathways linking cities, would be superior in this respect. That would allow them to easily see how they can fortify certain points and cut off the large roads, preventing large armies coming their way (giving use to that "vote for defensive target" option). Hex based grid was chosen because it allows stuff like the fog, which spreads out without respecting roads. Both are valid approaches, with their own strengths, so exploring both in two separate projects could work.

Secondly, the focus. This version attempts to cover population species, city building, climate change, a whole host of gameplay mechanics. They seem to work together reasonably well, but it means that none of them are as detailed as I would like. This new project would revolve around plotting and intrigue, and be far more about deception, interpersonal relations and backroom politics. It would vastly increase the number of people involved in any city, with nobles having advisors, spymasters, spouses and courtiers, and require you to investigate these, to decide where to dedicate your limited intelligence gathering activities, as you attempt to find weaknesses in your target's circle of friends.

Alongside this it would also expand on the NPC's intelligence. Plots would leave evidence, which would then be investigated by NPCs. Each NPC would have a large body of knowledge, representing its suspicions and beliefs. They would have trust in others, which could well be misplaced, and beliefs about who commit certain plots, which might be incorrect. Rumour, gossip and baseless accusations could be therefore introduced, as they would need to decide who was trustworthy and who was not.

It could also introduce the concept of NPCs performing their own plots, which you yourself could then attempt to investigate. If you could piece together enough circumstantial evidence you might be able to guess who assassinated the king. You could then perform your own plot to break into their residence and search for physical evidence. Once obtained, this evidence could be used either to blackmail, to reveal to the general public, to reveal to only a select and trusted few, or possibly to be hidden, so you can falsely accuse others, safe in the knowledge that the real culprit will never be found, so you will never be shown to be a liar.


In principle, this second project would mostly take over my development time, but not necessarily all of it. Shadows 1 would occasionally receive updates, as it still has room to grow, and features to add. At the very least, I intend to continue to the end of the current design document, so a few more versions are upcoming. I'd also be open to discussing open-sourcing the project, if anyone else feels like forking it.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts, feel free to voice them.

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shadowsV13.zip 17 MB
135 days ago

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I recently discovered this game, and saw it compared to a Clausewitz game which peaked my interest. I've been playing it all day, and I love how after awhile the players will shows directly on the game map through effects. 

Foremost I would love a topographical, more intrigue focused second game. I agree in that handling land as "provinces" is more suited for the AI to adapt and for the spirit of the game. Cities would be able to sprawl out, regional population could be tracked, and path-finding would be simplified. Then you can do things like have fishmen corsairs populating a region. 

Now onto the game we got. I can suggest building after building, but I find it so strange that cities fill up so quickly. I understand it's for balance reasons, but there may be a better way to handle it. For instance instead of having a static number of slots, every population thresh-hold grants and additional slot. When a population dies off, the building becomes "Abandoned" and stops working until the population booms enough to "Reclaim" it. I also would like it if the "normal people" buildings had long and extensive upgrade chains to keep the local peasants busy.

Species suggestions. I would love it if Vampire Enthralled slowly created Vampire Courtiers, which take up all of the mental intensive work in the local governments and banks; reducing the effects of evidence to the population. I'm also floating the idea of corpses being animated by the Shadow as "Puppets", they do tireless grunt work but are quite blatantly zombie slaves. 

Finally, Normal Lord Suggestions. I'm not sure what extent nobles launch projects or have their own timers, but right now the player see's the reflexes and policy of the Lords, but we don't hear much of their non-evil related exploits. Militarist nobles launching on hunts or embarking on heroism, Xenophilic lords establishing trade networks, etc. 

I found a handful of bugs in v13. Singular cities you enthralled become unresponsive, and cities seem to never recover from being sacked. A few UI elements are bulky for my taste, I wish there was a way to have all your enthralled vote the same way. 


Great work, looking forward to the next build. 

This city bug again. Irritating. I've been unable to replicate it. Are you on Linux? Did you save/load?

I agree the buildings in cities are a bit poorly handled. For the next version I was thinking of removing them completely and just having an option to turn your city into a fishman city. It would then be able to be levelled up by you spending gold on it, each level gaining a new power it can deploy. A simpler mechanic, but the individual building slots never really worked out how I wanted, and it would let me tailor the powers unlocked a bit better, if they've got a proper progression to them.

Exploits of non-enthralled lords: Honestly your suggestion sounds pretty decent, and not too hard to implement. If they had a series of "events" they could trigger, based on their personalities. Maybe giving you a few options to exploit this, but mostly there for flavour. I'll have to look into it.

UI is being overhauled in the new version, so maybe the bits you dislike will be fixed. Scrolling menus are completely redone, because they were very bad, and most of the rest got a bit of fixing.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback and support.

Negatory to both.  I never save/load, and I am PC. If it's related to powers, it might be the parahuman causing structures. But I have been facing this bug quite regularly, to the point where I face it every game. 

Something that comes to mind about buildings is possibly to handle them as districts. Every city starts with say a Castle, Market, Slums; Lords will upgrade the districts that they think uphold their values. Peasant hate Crowded Slums, but Parahumans can live in them with a lesser chance of discovery. Likewise, the more Chapels, Constabularies, and "Light" focused builds there are, the less Parahumans can get around safely. Perhaps a city ride Crime rating, where Crime distracts from Parahuman activity? Kind of a ramble there. 

I like the idea of buildings being leveled on a pathway, but not so much the entire city. Because as a player, it feels like it can be too easy to just wait until you max out a level counter to strike. Where if all buildings had a 1,2,3 upgrade path; that's a far more uniform pathing, perhaps with a split at step 2 or 3. Like say the Mists, The basic site creates the fog and has the spread if broken ability. The second gives Teeth, and the third gives a choice of two or more different max upgrades. This way, I have have it built in every city yet still use them for different things. 

I guess my thinking there is Say a city just has 3-4 districts to begin with, and through a major project can build another. But for the most part just try to fill up the districts they have. The more overpopulation, the cheaper a new district is. Perhaps if you have a large parahuman population you can build their special districts? Perhaps if the lord is enshadowed, you can build really evil versions of buildings and vice versa? 

And thank you. I admit it's sort of a CK2 thing, but I like it because it gives me as a player more of an idea of what people do; and what I could potentially do to really strike at them. Hope that idea serves you well. 


All in all, good luck with the bug-squashing and I happily await the next build. 

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This game is awesome. I registered to tell you this. I've sunk probably around 10-15h on this. I can only imagine how great your sequel will be when it's polished.

Thanks, nice to hear it's appreciated.

I'll post a bit about the sequel some time soon, once I've got some idea of exactly what it'll be like and how its gameplay with handle.

i foudn a bug that made it that if a city in the peoples society rebels the rebels jsut act liek a regular army under the command of the peoples society

Ah yes, of course. The people's republic is default allied with rebels and the game has no "rebelled against the rebels themselves" faction. Thanks for spotting it, I'll look into fixing this for the next version.

As someone who also knows unity and c# as well I would love to be able to poke around so to speak and see how you've codded some stuff since I've also been working on a strategy game side project. So +1 from me on the open source idea

I've realised there's an issue, in that I'm using the Unity package Graph Maker, and it's not open source, so you wouldn't be able to compile and run the code.

If you want, I can send the code (without Graph Maker) in an E-mail, or I'll just include it in the next released version. That said, bear in mind that this is literally my first Unity project, so it may not be the industry-recommended way of doing stuff.

I like the ideas that you have mentioned in the sequel, and I'll be looking forward to it.