Shadows of Forbidden Gods (Demo)
A downloadable game for Windows
Bring about a new ice age, destroy a small continent with a volcano, end the world in plague, swarm the lands with orcs or bring them under your unholy shadow.
Shadows of Forbidden Gods is a strategy game where you play the role of a Lovecraftian God come to destroy the human world, through a variety of devastating approaches to full human extinction (or worse). Play as both the God and its agents, infiltrating the human kingdoms and turning them against each other, fighting against the heroes who will take up arms to defend their lands.
In this demo you play as "She Who Will Feast" an as-of-yet unborn God-Worm who is fated to consume the entire world. She casts her shadow from her tomb-nest, as she waits to be reborn from her previous life. At her command are five types of agents, specialised for different roles against humans. If you can corrupt them, the heroes themselves can be brought under your control, letting you subvert your enemies' best weapons against you.
This is a demo for the real game, which is hoped to launch late 2021, and will expand on this demo in all directions, with more agents, more Gods, more magics, more neutral creatures to bring to your side, more wonders to find and events to experience and new ways to end the world.
Semi-Official discord and mods (I post, but am not the primary mod/admin, they were set up by the community, thanks supercat) here:
A demo for the sequel to Shadows Behind the Throne 2. This game takes into account the community's feedback and changes the focus of the game towards the parts which the players enjoyed the most. These are expanded, polished and refined to bring what we hope will be the apocalypse simulator we all were waiting for.
Reducing the focus on politics allows the agents and gods to be developed in greater depth, with these now being expanded into complex RPG-like characters who can level up, recruit minions and carry out your dark plans in a complex fantasy world. The heroes, of course, also share in this complexity, and will specialise as they level up to try to combat the strategies employed by the agents.
The NPCs are powered by preference-based AIs, which determine which actions they take (rulers taking national actions to respond to crises, heroes choosing which quests to engage in). Manipulate these to make a ruler too cowardly to fight your orcs, or too violent and ambitious to co-operate against a threat.
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How I've been missing this? Great!
Hey, long time no see.
I posted a few things on itch and youtube, but my marketing skills aren't as good as they should be, sadly. Still, you're here now, good to have you back.
Oh... I have just checked Megan Wong's artstation. That's inspiring !
I saw she used the Shadows image as her banner. Makes sense, we discussed it as an image which could be turned into a banner, as that'll work best on Steam.
Hopefully I can re-commission her for the various Gods, when the cash situation is better worked out, as she was great to work with and I think could do some really good stuff for them.
Good move from "Behind the throne" to "Forbidden gods" !
Well, at least for me...
I have tried a few times to play "Behind the thrones" 1 and 2, whatched some youtube videos. I do understand while the concept is great, and how nice it is to have those intricates politic things. But I haven't managed yet to get into it...
Forbidden gods is much more straight forward, and lets us focus on what we like : wreaking havoc in the world. And it looks like more fun is coming !
That comes really close to how I envisioned "That which sleeps". I am super excited for how the full version of this game will look like and already had a blast playing the demo version! Will give it another playthrough soon.
One bug (maybe) I found. I was not able to start a Horde with the Ork agent, although i went on an empty Hex with Habitability lower than 5%. I had several orc camps infiltrated. Tried it several times on different hex fields which were all empty with the appropriate habitability < 5%.
I scrolled through the different gods and one of them seemed to focus on religion.
Do you already have a plan on how deep the religion system will be (e.g. Different religions on the word, religions influencing relationships between nations and heros, your god can found a religion and spread it)? That would be very interesting to know :-)
Hello ! If i am, right, to start a horde, you need an habitability > than 5% !
Oh yes, you are right! It seems I cannot read. Thanks for clearing that up!
Edit: Did another playthrough (ran wild with 2 Warlords and massacred ALOT of heros) and still have problems with creating the orc fortress on locations with a habitability > 5%. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. I suspect it only works in neutral territory.
A core roadmap chapter is the 'Guilds and Holy Orders' section. These would be human forces who have specialised goals. The human cities currently `reserve' a slot for expansion, and guilds and holy orders are intended to use that reserved slot.
Guilds and holy orders would be able to set up outposts in cities, and would have a headquarters location. Their heroes would travel around, accomplishing the task their guild/order is set up for, and might even get into fights with each other if their goals don't align, without you needing to do anything. You could then take over the headquarters and change their goals towards your own.
Will the Holy Orders be affiliated to a religion or are they independent and do holy order "stuff" like fighting enshadowment?
I read the roadmap and there is alot. Hope that most of it will be implemented!
I'm not sure yet, will need to check how the game's looking when time comes to implementing them, but it would be nice to have religions exist which cover multiple nations, and have holy orders which 'prefer' to work with those. It could allow you to start holy wars between human nations, as various 'good' religions all turn on each other rather than fight the real threat. Human rulers would then all have a religion they subscribe to, and would hate having rulers of opposing religions.
That would be really sweet to have that although this is really really far down the road. If memory serves right, one of "That which sleeps" concepts was a pantheon of gods. Every god would belong to one existing religion and could grant wonders to their followers if the religions faith was strong. If a religion gets marginalized or dies out, the god dies or becomes dormant. I think there was also an Old One mentioned which could permanently sacrifice half of their maximum orbs (equals maximum power in SOFG) to found its own religion and become a god in that pantheon.
Its really great that you are so active as a developer and communicate that much. Makes the game feel alive.
Hmm. That's tough : I really love the idea, that political network, and spreading of the shadow.
And with that new version I have finally managed to wrap my head around the game (I felt totally overwelmed by previous versions).
The issue is that playing is that I do not have fun playing... I don't know what exactly, but something is missing to create the excitment.
I have tried the streamlined version, but shadow spreading just feels tedious, with little reward. When I have finally given 100% enshadowment to a king, I would love to be rewarded with something. But no. He is just at 100%, and I don't have any feedback on what it changes to me...
Actually, I think that I would feel really excited if enshadowment opened new abilities. Even more if they were random. I have in mind Conquest of Elysium 4, where some commanders get random powers when levelling up. As some are really crazy.
Yeah, maybe the missing stuff is creating expectation to the player, and rewarding him with fun new interactions when he achieves to do something.
The game is looks very rich and deep in terms of mecanism. Which makes me want to dig deeper. But I fell that now the main challenge is improve the way they are staged, to bring excitment, challenge and fun to the player.
But now that I have finally understood some of the game, I wan't to try Shadow Behind the Throne 2, with that political level.
Edit : Well, I have played again Shadow Behind the Throne 2. Its complexity It still is daunting for enew player...
You have really done a good job with forbidden gods to make it more accessible. Thumbs Up !
After some more time, I realise what I am missing to enjoy the game : more feedback.
First, it is a really good move from you to have created the streamlined version. As it lets us understand and focus on the core of the game.
The general issue : I don't have fun with the streamlined version. And I don't think that adding new mecanism would improve it. (I use the "I" as it is only my feedback. Others might think very differently...)
Instead, my gut feeling is that it would be much better to the game to stop for a while before implementing new mecanism, and focus and "the shadow spreading", to create a simple, yet engaging, experience.
And once this is done, elaborating around that gameplay experience.
However, I believe that just a limited number of changes could greatly improve the experience. And most of them involve the feedback which is given to the player:
I did not realise how shadow spreading brought me closer to victory.
And spreading shadow does not feel rewarding.
I did not realise that reaching 100% enshadowment or infiltration somewhere (through "enshadow" or shadow propagation) was an important achievment. And made that small "Conquest victory %" progress. And it was not perfectly clear that raising that tiny figure was the goal.
In a word, spreading shadow did not bring any feeling of progression
Wherever a location makes the "Conquest Victory" progress (through enshadowment or anything else), find a way to display it. The simpliest way I know and which works pretty well is the one used in Terra Nil : plenty of particules leaving the place from the map to go to the score.
The reason while it is useful :
- We know that something important just happened in this location
- The fact of enshadowing a place becomes rewarding (we love juicy particles !)
- We understand the link between enshadowing and the score
Maybe there are other ways to display that something happenend. But the idea is to emphase that something just happened on the map, and link it to the score.
Enshadowing rulers is disappointing (and other heros)
I was expecting something fun to happend when fully enshadowing a ruler. But I did not notice any change. Even a hero 100% enshadowed still had 93% motivation to attack me.
It would be extremelly rewarding if we had something fun to do. For exemple, I'd love to be asked to add a random "positive regards" or a "repelled by" among a list. Then, I would get the felling that Enshadowing has an effect on the world and allows me to manipulate people.
Turn based seal breaking is not engaging
Doing nothing and having the seal breaking feels very boring. I would love to get the feeling that my actions count to bring my lord on earth... (Okay, granted : different gods might have different ways to be brought to earth. But this one the is first once. It should be the most engaging for a beginner)
It would be much more rewarding if the seal breaking was tied to the conquest victory level (or with the number of enshadowed settlements).
Now, I would have a great incentive to keep enshadowing the world ! I want those rewards. I want my god to join us !
With these 3 changes, I feel that the game would suddenly become way more rewarding and engaging : enshadowing (and general game progession) would actually become a mecanism that we feel is important, and we would feel how our actions bring us closer to victory.
EDIT : Hmm, playing more I realise that we do got some feedback when a city is destroyed by an army. But it is not where we are watching, we can't see it.
Before that I was wondering how I had gained victory points. I did not realize that those ruins where not there at the beginning of the game, that they were caused by the orcs, and that it was helping my progression... It is the same issue I explained with enshadowing.
Also, I agree that there needs to be more response from the game when you do stuff, and the aim is to allow the narrative events to fill that role. They'd pop up all manner of messages, sometimes just for flavour to let you know that the world is growing darker as you spread shadow, sometimes with some options to choose from as rewards. They'd be keyed to a various checkpoints you pass (getting a captial city enshadowed, reaching 25% of the world...) or directly follow actions (when you first spread shadow with an action, when your 2nd seal breaks, when an agent dies...), giving a bit of randomness and a bit of narrative feedback.
Events are aimed to be added soon, after items and gold are working nicely. I hope they'd provide much of what you're looking for in terms of feedback and random rewards for your hard work spreading the shadow around the world.
Also, thanks for the feedback. It really helps to know what the community feels about the game's direction and design decisions. It can be hard as a developer to get an objective perspective on how stuff is working, so it's great to hear detailed feedback from the community, so stuff can be adjusted and improved.
Popup messages are story rich. Which is great
The issue though, with them, is that they might quickly become repetitive and we stop reading them. Unless we know for sure that they bring new and important information. So, to be used with great care and skill !
Hence the use of visual and sound clues for common, yet important informations.
You're right on both counts. Getting important information to the player is a thing which needs to be focused on throughout development, to ensure a smooth gameplay experience.
Regarding the story events, I certainly stopped reading them in Stellaris after I'd seen them a couple of times, but hopefully at that point the player will be familiar enough with the game mechanics that the story begins to emerge from there. All kinds of cool stuff should hopefully be possible, with heroes having personal connections to your agents and each other (friends, family and hated enemies), and complex outcomes from your actions (steal a Duke's gold causes them to raise taxes, causing the peasants to revolt, so the army has to be deployed to save the city, which means the orcs can now invade the north...).
By the way, if you were in need to write random text, such as a short description for each city, which evolve with context (war,...), or flavor rich description for these event, I have written a pretty powerfull and flexible text generator : https://vfabien21.itch.io/textstew
I'd love to work with you if you thought it would add something to your game.
The demo is very much incomplete, don't worry, the full game will develop all the systems you see there, including shadow. In the demo, shadow is basically just a 'progress' meter, showing how much of the way towards victory you are. Since it was released I've been working on items and gold, and already the first use of shadowed nobles is there, that they're willing to fund your agents. Heroes receive payments from the noble of the city they belong to, and your agents can do the same, so shadow nobles become a good source of income.
The next step will be to allow 'dark empires' which were the end-game shadow strategy in the previous two games. It would allow you to make a kingdom you've got almost entirely enshadowed to turn hostile to normal human civilisations, and begin invading them by themselves without needing your help, to keep spreading the shadow automatically.
Ahah, I don't worry ;-)
I even though I have suggested things, you have understood that the idea is really to give feedback on what works or not with one of your players.
But I still thing that the streamlined version is an excellent tool to test and improve the general gamefeel.
Steamlined version will have a bit of polish and expansion before the early-access release, which will hopefully also have an updated demo containing both the main game and the streamline game's first 200 turns.
Anyway, I am off on holiday soon, so can't guarantee I can answer any more questions for the next couple of weeks, but the people on the discord should know more if you have any questions about my rough plans (if you're not already on there).
Would you be okay with me making a subreddit for this game and the Shadows series in general? I know that at this point it'll probably be pretty barren, but I'm a massive fan of these games and I'd like a place to talk about them even if I'm the only person posting there, and it might help more people discover them.
I'll be going on Holiday soon, so can't guarantee I can chat during that, but until then and afterwards I can drop by and see what people are saying.
Oh, and if you need any of the promo images for the subreddit, just shout. I've got a set of different resolution copies of the main image and title
Cool, I've made the subreddit here https://www.reddit.com/r/SoFG/ and just made it public.
The promo images would probably be really helpful, I was just spending some time with the snipping tool trying to get some good related images to use. Also if you want I can make you a moderator
If you make a discord for it too, definitely leave a link to it too
Okay, I've joined both the subreddit and discord. If you give me mod/admin access I can probably set up some of the artwork, including making new ones if a new resolution/text location is required. I'll let you remain in charge, and try to drop in every now and then to answer questions, discuss bug reports, drop development screenshots...
Thanks for making these, by the way, it goes a long way towards showing there's support in the community for ongoing development.
Obviously I love everything about this! Keep up the great work Bobby! :D
Sounds great, any plan on doing a Linux PC native version ? Previous games run via WINE but...
Naturally I hope to make it as broadly playable as possible. The problem with the previous one was that when trying to get save/loading to work we installed a very old version of Unity, which for some reason constantly introduced graphical glitches into the Linux version, so we had to stop support. I've now upgraded to a newer version, for the new project, so hopefully it will be possible, but I can't promise anything yet. My plan is to get the game closer to release version before considering which platforms/pricing/distribution-model to go for.
Do you accept any donations?
Thanks for the offer, but currently I am not able to legally. One thing that was pointed out to me by professional devs is that I need to actually set up an legal corporation to handle the finances involved, so for now I can't accept any money coming into the project.
I'm considering (and discussing with my advisors) a kickstarter or something equivalent, to raise money for art for the gods and unique agents, and fund more focused dev time.
But thanks for the offer, regardless, the guesture is appreciated
Are there any plans on the terrain surrounding tiles representing information about the location?
ie: A logging camp being seen on the world map due to a city with a "lumber mill" building in it.
Or a tile which is an empty forest, having a 'Cave'. The Cave being able to be seen on the world map as well next to the tile
I'd love to, but for now the art budget isn't huge, so I can't guarantee being able to get enough assets for all the stuff, since there's plannted to be a lot of different points of interest to discover
well one way might be prepare contract and rely on volunters, basically contract that states that volunteer gives free licence for use of his assets for commercial project without compensation etc. im sure plenty of people would love to help indie game.
Would like to report bug
Corrupted hero can hate Baroness by being near to observe atrocities so its trigger bug.
also got at around 70 towards victory before game ended
Ah yes, that shouldn't happen. Fixed now, thanks for pointing it out.
70% done by turn 200 is hella fast, congrats. Guess I'll need to put in higher difficulties for Early Access or you'll be done in under an hour
Each version is getting better and better. Can't wait to see where you take this, and glad you are sticking with it!
Bobby your yanking my chain here
Will we be able to create a custom divine/apocalyptic profile for our cosmic menace instead of having to use a predefined portfolio?
Currently there's no plans for a custom God (although it's not impossible). However, the aim is to eventually include highly flexible modding (using the same system as Rimworld and Kerbal Space Program), which should allow modders to include anything they want (including a build-a-god screen).
A quick question, when you get to the 'end of demo' screen, it is supposed to stop you from continuing the demo right?
Yes. For now only the first 200 turns are playable. The late game needs some work on before it can be released to the public, so the demo cuts short.
Signal boostin' the heck out of this. Really glad to see you still tinkering with this excellent concept BTH.
Finished the Demo, and wow it is a lot of fun.
Will it be coming to steam in the future? I can't wait to buy it when it's fully released
Yes, definitely Steam will be a main distribution platform
Also, please make sure the game has ultra-wide (32:9) support and the ability to enable v-sync. I couldn't play the previous one because it's not compatible with my monitor and runs at 5000 FPS which is insane.
Edit: Better than v-sync; built in frame limiter.
The screen resolution is now aiming to preserve a 16:9 ratio, but with pixel values scaling based on your display. I am actually developing on an ultra-wide now (the previous game was a normal monitor) so I've ensured there's no blurring or anything on high pixel count monitors. I'll try to allow wider aspects, but that requires UI changes, so that will take longer.
Regarding frame limiting that's an annoying re-occurring bug. I've enabled Unity's default one (set to 60 FPS) but it doesn't seem to work. We then had a secondary one, which should step in if Unity's default one doesn't work, but apparently that one also has failed? I'll look into it.
That sounds great! I'll be keeping an eye on the development for this one. Hopefully that'll be resolved by the time it comes to steam so I can grab it. I wouldn't want to blow out my video card from the insanely high FPS.
I just got to the end of the demo and wow, I'm really impressed by how much of an improvement this is over Shadows Behind the Throne 1 and 2. I love the way agents work now, and I like how they can actually recruit guards and fight back against meddling heroes. Really the game just feels overall more polished.
By the time the screen telling me the demo was over came up, I'd turned a minor orc tribe in the north into a mighty empire led by several of my strongest agents, I'd begun to try a similar thing with a separate orc tribe, and one of the largest human realms near my orcs was crippled by plague and a giant zombie army, and I'd just taken control of the Primal Font and corrupted all of the nearby Covens.
I am really excited to play any future versions of this, and will probably immediately buy the full version when it comes out. The only things I can really think of that I'd want added are a save system, some kind of world customization, and the other dark gods- all things I'm guessing you're probably going to eventually add, and just generally more flavor text for events, powers, and locations.
By the way, quick question: what exactly do the covens and brothers of sleep do?
Thanks. Stopping work on S2 was a hard decision to make, but I think it's one which has allowed a more professional product to be made.
All those things are definitely planned for the first version of the Early Access release. The map gen is still procedural, but we'll be trying to focus players on certain key seeds as the 'classic' maps, so the community has a shared experience, but also the option for fully random world gen if they want.
Covens are sources of shadow. They can be enshadowed to begin to spread to the human nations they are adjacent to, and the Dark Worship ritual can 'pump' shadow into a nation, by expanding the dark region. It may be a bit underpowered, as it was nerfed just before release, but hopefully can be balanced in the coming months so it's in a good place.
Brother of Sleep is designed to be used only rarely, but to powerful effects. You can sacrifice a high-level agent to distribute their XP to all your other agents, which is useful if an agent is being chased by heroes they can't escape due to having too high profile/menace. They can be 'recycled' to power up your other agents who have a higher chance of survival. Alternatively, they can delay all heroes, to stop heroes from interfering with your plans. Again, might need balancing, will investigate in the future.
Nice idea, these fixed seeds to help the community share their success
A looooong time ago (1984) that's what had been done for Elite (The grand father of Elite Dangerous), with 8 procedural galaxies only. And it worked very well !
Lots of lore and fanfiction have been written and could be shared around these galaxies
Is visuals going to be the only difference between shadows behind the throne 2 and this
No, the gameplay has been changed in major ways to focus on the parts the community liked best and reduce the parts which were confusing/annoying. Politics is reduced in favour of agent-based gameplay, which now has RPG mechanics and more flexible agent vs hero interaction.