It’s time for a new update already. I get to nerd out hard in this one, so let’s goooooo!
We’re getting pretty close to sending out a round of builds to our testers to get some more eyes on the upcoming demo!
WHEN: Within the next week!
WHAT: The builds we’ll be sending out will be VERY short (about 5 mins of gameplay). It’s critical that we get a first round of testing in to see how the project works on different setups. More info on what to look for will follow as the test builds get sent out.
WHERE: We are moving testing to Steam (from itch.io). This means you’ll need a Steam account to continue as a tester at this point.
WHO: Steam beta keys will be sent out to crowdfunding backers who serve as our primary testers. We’ll start by sending out keys to a small subset of testers to begin with just to see if this is a good workflow (sending out keys takes time and I don’t want to send out 500 keys before realizing something is wrong).
As I mentioned in my previous post, we have quite a few fans who are subscribing to our Prologue Steam page instead of the main game page. Our intention is to move all of our Steam activity to the main game page and we’ll only be publishing updates there from now on. We’ll still nudge the Prologue followers when we post stuff but be sure to make the swap if you’re following the Prologue instead of the main game.
The same goes for wishlisting: Be sure to wishlist the main game – NOT the Prologue!
As I’ve talked about before, a big emphasis for this period of development has been to add interactivity to the game world. Allowing players to interact with objects encourages exploration.
I needed a UI feature for interacting with objects that was different from the dialogue UI that I’ve used as a catch all so far. The solution was a pop-up box.
They are super easy to work with and flexible enough to offer anything from an interface for interacting with objects to adding more fourth-wall breaking stuff such as giving prompts (“Are you sure you want to attack this friendly NPC?”
I’ve also used them to help make skill-tests more transparent and interesting:
I personally think the dynamically animated dice are a cool touch. It adds a bit of a tactile feeling and ties the game closer to its tabletop roots. Here we see an early draft of interacting with locked doors:
And don’t worry: I’ll be super careful to not make this take too much space. It’s reserved for when you actively use your characters skills to interact with the world and the reason I like this system is that it makes it more explicit what your skills actually do in the game.
Save or Suck?
In general, skill tests in RPGs can be tricky. I’ve written about the challenges before but in short the issue comes down to the fact that a lot of skill tests in RPGs are “save or suck” meaning the game penalizes the player so badly for failing tests that the player is incentivized to reload every time they fail a test. I’m very cognizant of this problem and I think the best way to solve it is to:
- Avoid having save or suck tests be random. If a test is save or suck, then the test should be static (not based on a random dice roll).
- When random rolls are used, failing should be as interesting as succeeding and the player should feel “going with the result” is as viable as save scumming.
Of course the problem cannot be fully avoided but I feel pretty confident that I can strike a balance the allows for the best from both worlds.
Warning: We’re about to go down a pretty nerdy RPG-rabbithole here.
Observant readers will have noticed that the game seems to use 2d6 as a basis for the tests above. This is correct! I may tune this before launch but I feel like emulating tabletop dice mechanics has a few advantages to the old (more abstract system):
- It is easier to explain the rules for the skill test mechanic: Roll over a difficulty number (typically around 10) with 2d6 + skill
- It is easier for both me and players to assess what is an easy vs a hard test: A roll of 2d6 + 3 vs 7 is easy. A roll of 2d6 + 3 vs 15 is pretty hard.
- It is self-explanatory how good you rolled on a test
- It ties the game more closely to it’s tabletop roots and makes a tabletop conversion MUCH easier.
- Dice-rolls can be visualized (as in the GIFs above).
2D6 is also an interesting base-dice (compared to, say, a D20) since it has a bell-shaped probability distribution. You are much more likely to get a result close to the average roll (7) versus very high or low rolls:
This makes play feel a bit more predictable. Superior skill will win the day more often and unexpected results are, well, more unexpected. This will make it easier to play around you character’s strengths and weaknesses whilst still retaining a potent element of chance and chaos.
We’ll see how it does. Nothing is written in stone.
Phew, that got real nerdy real fast. I hope it made sense! As always, I love interacting with the Skald community and please reach out to me on one of the sites below if you have questions or comments!
To stay posted, be sure to follow the Skald Twitter and Discord and wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!