The first big gameplay update for AtG is now up on Steam and Humble. In this article I’ll briefly cover what’s included and what’s coming up next.
What’s in v1.1
Food & Difficulty
To start with, the game is now much tougher. Coming up with the right numbers in a game filled with them is really tricky, but my approach with v1.1 is to err on the side of making things challenging.
From a very early stage in development I prioritized storing food ‘as turns’, which meant it was very easy to keep track of how much you had left, but this came at the cost of making the system basically impossible to balance. If you built up a good stockpile of food early on this could carry you all the way to the end of the game, even as your food consumption grew exponentially higher. In the end I decided to finally bite the bullet and switch over to a normal ‘stockpile’ system for food. This means how long you have left until starvation strikes is harder to predict but in every other way the game is now a lot more fun.
v1.0 was too easy in many ways and as a game with strong survival elements that doesn’t really work. So be prepared for the game to really challenge you now. The AI and diplomatic side of the game still need work, but in the meantime keeping your people fed will definitely offer a real challenge.
Improving the balance of the game required spending a lot of time rethinking how the caravan fit into the rest of the game. Being able to exchange one resource for any other can fundamentally make or break the entire game. The idea now is for the caravan to basically be the ancient-era equivalent of a stingy used car salesman, where you can probably find something that works well enough but you’re probably going to spend more than you’d like and not get exactly what you want. Occasionally you’ll come across a great deal, and it will be important to take advantage of those opportunities. The focus of the game is on your Clans and map resources, and ultimately I don’t want the Caravan to overshadow those more interesting elements.
In terms of specifics, what’s available with each caravan upgrade level is now much more predictable, and the number of specials available during each visit is more manageable. With the previous design there was often all sorts of stuff going on and so it was hard to wrap your head around the system initially, but if you knew the game will enough you would spot the imbalanced elements pretty quickly and exploit them mercilessly. Things are a lot tighter now and it’s no longer possible to drive your entire economy through the caravan. The numbers are still a bit rough, but I’ll be refining things in the months ahead.
Pacing & Bugs
I’ve also spent some time grinding down some of the game’s rough edges.
Clans were developing desires a bit too often, and the consequences for failing to satisfy them were too severe. I’ve toned things down in both regards, especially the latter. Clans are now either “interested” or “obsessed” in their desire, and when simply interested you can usually (but not always) ignore them. If they’re obsessed though you probably need to start planning out a plan for reassignment. Previously there was a range of possible “interest intensities” that were hard to understand that usually just ended up with your people being mad at you very quickly. Overall the changes in v1.1 make for quite a noticeable improvement, especially now that other aspects of the game are tougher and require more attention.
A number of bugs have also been fixed, though without a full-time QA team undoubtedly some remain in the game. If you spot anything that’s not working correctly please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or report it in the Conifer bug reporting forum.
Plans for v1.2
v1.2 is planned to go up in late June, and is when I suggest jumping back into the game if you haven’t played recently. This update will focus on making the Romans more interesting and adding a new clan management screen to help keep track of everyone.
Now that the early game survival elements are in-place most of my time will be spent improving the mid-game. The plan is for the Romans to become a pretty regular presence in every game, kind of a big brother who likes to boss you around and either looks out for you or beats you up for defying him. They’ll ask you to do things for them to show your obedience, and while you’re free to ignore these requests doing so might result in dire consequences based on their strength and proximity.
The Romans will visit once per year in January, and every other visit will oscillate between making a request of some kind and then following up on it. So for example the emperor might ask for a large sum of treasure as tribute, note you have 24-ish turns to scrape it together, and then be on his way. As the year passes you can actually be attempting to muster this gift for him, build an army to defend yourself, or simply ignore him and hope for the best. There will also be rewards for playing along, so the right approach will depend on the game situation. Some of the details will ultimately be worked out during playtesting, but the design is basically ready to go and I’m in the process of programming everything now.
I also have further plans for the Romans, including having them grow weaker over time, and incorporating them more fully into the diplomacy system, which will all be tackled later this year as I work on future updates.
v1.2 will also see the addition of a basic Clan Management Screen, which should help keep track of clans that aren’t in your settlement. This will initially be pretty simple, but I’ll be adding functionality over time.
(Speaking of screens, the Caravan Screen has also seen received done much-needed improvement with v1.1, although I still have plans to make it easier to buy and sell resources at some point in the future.)
Plans for v1.3+
I’ll be providing more details regarding future updates later this year but v1.3 and beyond will be mainly focused on improving the AI and diplomacy. As noted the behavior and mechanics of the Romans will also be fleshed out further, balance will be improved, and of course more bugs will be squashed. I’ll be working on AtG full-time through the end of the year at least, so there’s still a lot more good stuff to come. If you’re curious as to what’s going on with the game make sure to check out the unstable branch in Steam, as I typically update it every Friday except when I’m on vacation.
That’s it for now. If you have any questions about the game, what’s being worked on, or what’s coming up don’t hesitate to ask!
v1.1 Patch Notes
2019 May 31
– NOTE … Save compatibility has been broken with this update. Old save games will no longer load. You can use the ‘unstable_old’ beta branch to finish an ongoing game before upgrading to this version.
– Food is no longer stored as turns, but is a normal stockpiled resource like all others. Surplus food production no longer spoils. Players now start the game with only 5 turns of food, which will disappear quickly!
– Starvation now results in the Mood of all Clans dropping by 1 per turn. All other penalties associated with starvation have been removed. If more than half of a player’s Clans are Resentful when the turn ends the player will lose the game.
– Increased clan family food cost from 0.2 to 0.3. This makes keeping everyone fed a fair bit tougher. You also now start with 10 food instead of 5. Each subsequent Family now joins a Clan in 10% less time than the previous one. Families now provide a Clan with a Combat Power bonus, but no Resource Production bonus, as this ended up breaking the game’s economy and food balance.
– Significantly rebalanced the cost and output of most Structures and several resource refinement Professions.
– Rewrote logic for clan desires, which makes their start softer, makes ‘milder’ desires more likely, and adds a chance of desires fading away.
– Rebuilt the core logic for the caravan resource availability system. The distribution of resources and the rate at which ‘specials’ are available should now be much better paced and balanced.
– It’s no longer possible to level up clans by spending Parchment, as this being possible skewed the economic pacing of the game too much. It is still possible to switch a clan to a different discipline.
– Caravan now has its own stockpile of Treasure, and will only buy resources from the player up to that price.
– Increased cost of upgrading the caravan.
– Sell price for resources at the caravan is now fixed at 75% of the buy price. The sell values in XML are now ignored.
– Number of caravan specials is now based on a percent of the total resources for sale, rather than a fixed count.
– Reduced production of the Trading Depot (from 20 Treasure per turn to 15).
– Rebalanced several economic Professions and their upgrades. Added a few new ‘synergy’ professions, which are all generally less powerful now.
– Reduced Morale recovery to 10 per turn (previously 20).
– Increased vision range of all units.
– Increased Cloth cost of raising the popcap.
– Increased Structure cost to 50 Timber or Stone Blocks.
– Greatly increased the benefit provided by Warrior Profession Armor upgrades.
– Clans no longer automatically level up to their Profession’s level.
– Clans now show up a bit more often.
– Reduced chance of the ‘Find a Warm Place’ clan desire.
– Noble clans no longer produce Fame.
– Increased XP required to gain a Level in a Discipline. This means it will generally take longer to train Clans in the midgame.
– Increased rate at which new Clans arrive.
– Increased Cloth cost of increasing the Popcap.
– Skipping the Settlement’s turn now produces 1 Treasure and 1 Fame per resident Clan (previously always 5 Treasure).
– Stone Structure Apprentices now produce as much as the base version of the Structure. Adding an Apprentice slot now costs 20 Boards and 10 Parchment.
– Paths now increase movement speed by 3x.
– Caravan price balancing. More to come.
– All Plant and Mineral Resource Deposits now last for 24 turns (previously it was a mix between 24 and 18).
– ‘Resentful’ Clan Mood is no longer permanent.
– Free food goody hut result now provides 10 Food (previously 5).
– Increased cost of Tinkerer to 30 Tools (previously 20).
– Watchtower Apprentices now cost 20 Weapons (previously 5) and produce 20 Fame per turn (previously 5).
– Cooper now provides 4x food (previously 2.5x) and costs 3 Boards per turn (previously 2).
– Armor upgrades for Warrior Professions now provide a larger bonus.
– Farmer upgrades now apply to Apiaries as well.
– Increased production and cost of Woodcarver and Stonecarver.
– Increased cost of founding kingdom to 50 Parchment (was 25) and Fame per turn for doing so to 20 (was 15).
MINOR BUGS FIXED
– Fixed rare crash in Goal AI.
– Fixed crash where AI kill bandit camp operation would have a ‘null’ camp.
– Fix for borders not visually updating after capturing structures.
– Fix for crash when loading a save file when a ‘new faction unlocked’ notification was up.
– Digger now immediately exhausts Deposits after degrading, similar to other foragers.
– Minor text fixes.
– Resource stockpile now shows the current number of turns of food left, now that it’s no longer automatically stored AS turns.
– Brought back ‘STARVATION’ label in the resource stockpile panel.
– Caravan Screen: re-ordered price and quantity labels, and softened gold-colored buttons for specials.