Developer's Blog

Introducing the Defender, EGX Rezzed 2017, and Updated UI

Posted on March 09, 2017 by Shibusuke

First, we're  excited to announce that we're going to Rezzed 2017 at the Tobacco Docks in London from March 30 - April 1! Chris and I will be showing the latest demo of CotS (with some help from our friends), so be sure to swing by, say hello, and check it out!

The demo will have a bunch of updates:

  • New playable class - the Defender!

  • A preview of a boss battle (in a new environment!) from the main campaign!

  • Updated visual and sound effects!

  • Enhanced visuals and an updated UI!

Of course, if you’re not able to go to Rezzed, never fear - we’ll be sending the Rezzed demo out to our backers and pre-orders via Steam so that you can check it out first!

So, what does all this look like? Well, allow me to explain:

Introducing the Defender

This is from one of the new environments in the game. Can you guess the setting?

The Defender is big, intimidating, and tough. Wielding her twin shields, she fights up-close and in the thick of it using a combination of physical power and magic. She can heal her allies (yes, we added healing mechanics!), set up barriers to keep enemies away from her allies, and deal punishing damage with the help of a little Corruption. She is a formidable opponent, and a valuable component for any team!

Here are a couple of her moves (and see some of the visual effects we’re working on):

Wave of Corruption

Input: Up > Left > Down > Left

The Defender sends out a wave of magic 3 tiles wide that travels to the edge of the map, dealing low damage and adding 3 stacks of corruption to any character it touches (look out for allies!).

Purify

Input: Down > Left

Consumes all Corruption stacks on every character within 1 space of the Defender (including the Defender and her allies) to heal the lowest health ally within 3 spaces. The amount of health restored goes up with each Corruption stack the Defender consumes.

Shield Bash

Input: Right > Down

The Defender smashes the target in the face, dealing damage and stunning them. The ability deals bonus damage and stuns the target for each Block, Dodge, and Disrupt effect they have active.

The Defender has plenty more tricks up her sleeve, but hopefully this gives you a taste of how to utilize her talents in combat.

Updated UI

We’ve also updated the combat UI to its final iteration - we’re really happy with how it’s come together. Check it out:

I hope you’re excited to test out the Defender and all the other enhancements we’ve made to the game! Once we roll out the demo, we’d love to get your feedback.

And if you’re coming to Rezzed, be sure to come by our booth and say hi!

All The Best,
Keaton & The Abyssal Arts Team

Amigurumi, Pizza Party, and "Doing It Right"

Posted on January 27, 2017 by Shibusuke

Happy New Year! The CotS team had a productive pre-holiday season, and we’ve been hard at work since we got back. What have we been up to? Read on to find out!

First, over the holidays I hand-delivered the amigurumi backer rewards to our “Patron” backers - we’re all so, so thrilled with how these turned out. A huge shout-out to Liz at The Yarn Mouse for her awesome work making our characters. 

Liz also did a fantastic write-up over on her blog of how she made them, including all those hats, full of concept art we made for her and and in-progress photos. Click the link to read! 

I couldn’t resist, so here are a few photos of my own of the final result (Liz’s photos are much better): 

 

 

Also over the holidays, we held our Omega Backer Pizza Party! From around the globe we gathered and feasted on fancy pizza in honor of our glorious supporters. I showed off the latest updates to the game, including our in-progress visual updates and attack effects, and we chatted about what’s coming next in the production pipeline (between bites and everyone talking about their Final Fantasy XIV characters - turns out almost all of us play). 

I’m not a good photographer, but the pizza more or less looked like this: 

The motto we’re taking with this game is, “Anything we do, we’re gonna do it right,” and that holds true for pizza as well as development. 

As for game development, we ended the year on several high notes: 

  • We updated to Unity 5.5, netting a performance boost and the ability to use a shader that instantly upped our visual quality (feedback has been great, though there are some weird lighting issues to work out) 
  • We got about 20% of our visual effects into the game (and more since then) 
  • All the classes in the game are fully playable (we don’t have all the VFX/SFX in yet, though, so we're not quite ready to roll them out) 
  • We got our third environment set completed 
  • We got Steam Workshop support functioning for mods 

And so on. We were pretty pumped! 

Of course, that’s exactly the moment when everything is likely to shift under your feet, and shift it did! Coming into January, I suddenly had to scramble to figure out a new source for a big chunk of our environments, as well as contend with a few elements going over budget. Welcome to 2017! 

Thankfully, some very talented friends of ours who had already done work on the game were available and willing to help, so after a brief tense period, environments are more or less back on track. The budget stuff is also doable, so while it may have been stressful, it’s nothing we can’t handle. (It’s almost like our Risks and Challenges section predicted what was coming!) 

When I was working in AAA, I learned how having access to large coffers lets you buy an element of stability, or how possible it is to use industry clout to “make” things happen (usually resulting in overtime for many people). Obviously, that’s not possible as a small, independent developer, and I’m not willing to push overtime on someone due to our schedule issues. Instead, we’re dashing from task to task, trying to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. 

Ultimately, there are a few ways to go about developing a game like ours, but they really boil down to trying to get the game done as fast as possible while using as little money as possible, or taking the time and raising/spending the money needed to “do it well.” I’ve chosen to do it “well,” since, as Miyamoto once said, “"A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.” 

The other night, I met someone who’s been working in independent book publishing for several decades, and we started talking about this very topic. As soon as I mentioned having a choice between making the game “fast” or “doing it right,” he stopped me, pointed at my chest, and said, “You’re doing it right, right?” 

I take that as a good sign. 

Moving the Release, Progress Update, and Sneak-Peak at New Classes

Posted on December 07, 2016 by Shibusuke

We’ve got a bunch of ground to cover, so I’m going to go ahead and dive right in. 

First, after a lot of deliberation, we’ve decided to move the release date of the game to the summer. City of the Shroud is on track to be basically finished by February/March, but there are some potential challenges for the team if we push to release by that date. We want to make sure to deliver a rock solid game, so we’ve decided to play it safe and put it out a little later. 

There are a few reasons, but the biggest issue is that my S.O. and I will have to move internationally sometime between February and April - I had hoped to be able to avoid this timing, but we were not so lucky! With the destination and timing likely to remain a mystery until February at the earliest, it’s best for City of the Shroud if we are stably set up and I can focus everything on the game and its living story - moving the release is the best way to ensure that. 

Production is on track (for game development, at least!), but pushing for February or March would leave us with less time to polish and fix bugs than we’re comfortable with. Polishing the game is a major goal for us, and it’s key to back that up with enough time to follow through. It will also give the art team a bit more breathing room to perfect their work! 

We cherish the autonomy and flexibility that comes with self-publishing, but that means the difficult decisions are ours to make. We hope you you understand why we’ve decided to move the launch back and support us in doing so. 

We love hearing from you, so please let us know if you have any questions! 

All that said, we are really excited about the new things we’re getting into the game! Here’s are some of what we’ve got in the works right now: 

  • Every character class is implemented: All 6 classes in the game are fully playable with all of their abilities. The next step is creating their visual and sound effects, and once those are finished (they’re being worked on right now), we’ll be rolling them out to our Noble and higher backers.
  • New environments: We’ve completed the assets for a new section of the city, and are nearly finished with the assets for the next. Here’s a sneak-peak at one of them: 
     
  • Major graphical and performance improvements: We’ve upgraded our shaders to show more detail and in higher quality. Seeing the old and new next to each other is really something. We’re also updating the version of Unity we’re working in, which has given us a nice bump in performance. The game already ran at ~35 fps on a several-year old MacBook Pro, so we’re hoping this upgrade ensures the game runs well for everyone.

  • Character asset mod support: We’ve set up Steam Workshop functionality and are testing the ability to upload and download modified character model files. All signs are pointing to this feature being online very soon!

Finally, I want to share a couple of screenshots with you - one of each of the new classes. I’ll leave their fighting style and tactics to your imagination, but I hope they get you excited to check them out in-game!

Thank you for helping us to make this game a reality, and we can’t wait to get it into your hands!

EGX, and Introducing the Duelist!

Posted on September 19, 2016 by Shibusuke

This is a big update! First, we’re taking City of the Shroud to EGX - formerly the Eurogamer Expo - from September 22 - 25! Chris and I will be heading up to the NEC in Birmingham, UK, to show off the game. We’ll be in the Rezzed Zone, so come on down and say hi!

We’ll also be next to Matt Gambell, who has helped us with all of our trailers and is the developer of RPG Tycoon. He’ll be showing off his new game, Living the Deal, along with Tom Pickard, who did the environment assets and the UI update for CotS. It’ll be a regular Brighton Indies party! Or, more accurately, “enthusiasm encouragement group” (aka swapping out coffee runs). We have a wonderful group of indie developers in Brighton, and we’re constantly finding ways to help each other, from coffee runs to production support to trailer editing. This is another extension of that!

But in even more exciting news, we are finally ready to unveil something we’ve been dying to get into your hands for months: the newest addition to CotS’ class roster, the Duelist!

The Duelist is a martial-arts cowboy… assassin… Basically, she’s awesome:

“The Duelist is a hybrid strength/dexterity class, and also a hybrid melee/ranged class. Armed with pistols and martial arts, she has abilities to dash in and out of melee, as well as abilities that function differently if your target is in melee or at range. This makes the Duelist a very flexible class, capable of setting the terms of the fight. However, as the name suggests, the Duelist does best when fighting a single target, so you can defeat enemy Duelists by sticking together and ganging up on them.

When you manage to isolate your target, the Duelist is without question the deadliest class in the game. The core philosophy of the Duelist is that the best defense is a good offense, and if you can get an enemy in a one on one situation you will be able to use your mobility and disruptive offense to make short work of them.

When building a Duelist, you will have to choose between mobility, disruption, or pure offensive power. Whether you want to focus on staying safe and faking out your opponent while you whittle them down or simply diving in and going for the throat, the Duelist is going to be adept at picking off fragile enemies.”

Here are some of the moves you’ll unlock for her in the game:

  • Dash: From range, move to the closest available space adjacent to the target. In melee, move to the opposite side of the target. In either case, deal damage to all enemies in your path (if the enemies are lined up, you can use this ability to dash through the entire line, dealing damage to all of them). (Cost: 2)

  • Flashbang: Toss a grenade at the target which explodes after 3 seconds, damagingall characters within 1 tile of the blast and reducing their damage by 50%. (Cost: 3)

  • Quick Shot: Deal bonus damage if you have moved within the past 5 seconds. (Cost: 1)

  • Roundhouse: Damage and knock back all adjacent characters. (Cost: 4)

Here’s an example of how those tie together:

  • Dash (Move in on target, dealing damage while you do) >
  • Quick Shot (you just moved, let’s use the opportunity!) >
  • Roundhouse (Damage the opponent and get knock them out of range if they’re melee) >
  • Flashbang (Deal damage and reduce their damage - let’s see them try to counterattack!)

All together, this advanced combo only costs 5 AP, and you’ve just closed the distance, hit them 4 times, knocked them out of melee range, and reduced their damage by 50%. The Duelist is fast and dangerous (and is my personal favorite of all the classes)! But don’t worry - the other classes have just as much up their sleeves.

We’ll be rolling out the Duelist to Noble backers and higher for initial playtesting after EGX. I’ll be setting up a Beta channel on Steam where you can access a build with the Duelist and the updated UI. Then, I’ll send the Beta password to Noble and up backers once the build is live, and then we can get started with some play sessions! Once the Duelist has been thoroughly tested, we will roll her out for everyone to enjoy.

So, O Noble (and up) Backers, keep an eye out for your Beta branch passwords, and hopefully you will love the Duelist as much as I do.

And if you’re in the UK and are going to EGX, be sure to drop by our booth to say hi!

New Gunner Abilities and Animations, Insomnia 58, and Games by the Sea!

Posted on July 25, 2016 by Shibusuke

How is your summer going? I recently acquired a wicked t-shirt shaped tan line by way of a nice, red sunburn. Who says developers never go outside? 

First, I want to give a big thank-you to Charlie Ewing, creator of Flow Point, and Liz Henwood of The Yarn Mouse (she’s doing our amigurumi!) and Sock Thuggery for showing City of the Shroud at Games by the Sea at Develop, where they were showing off local indie talent! Chris and I weren’t able to go to the event this year, but our friends stepped in to help us out. The game went over really well, and “lots of people played it for a really long time,” which of course is a good thing!  

On the game front, we’ve got a few things we’ll be adding to the Steam build for you to play around with soon - first, we’ve received all of the Gunner’s animations and have put them in the game!  

Attacks in CotS use a combination of animation and visual effects to show each ability. Last month, when I mentioned new abilities, we were still in process of getting animations and VFX set up, but now, they’re pretty much ready to go. Since we have the Gunner’s animations fresh off the… animation software, I’ll run you through some of the new ones (and some of the ones that make way more sense now) below!

Just a note: they’re not all tuned yet, meaning the timing on some of the movement and visual effects may be a bit off, but I figured: why wait?

Dynamite: throw a stick of dynamite that deals damage to adjacent tiles after a set amount of time. The danger indicator is new too (and placeholder)!  

Buckshot: The opposite of Snipe - deal more damage the closer you are to the target. Can be combined with Scramble and Parting Gift, which deals damage to adjacent tiles when you move away, for an in-your-face playstyle.   

Aim Down Sights/Scramble: when the Gunner has certain buffs active, like Aim Down Sights or Scramble, she will take on a unique idle animation until the effects wear off.  

Staggering Shot: deals damage and removes a dodge buff from the target, dealing bonus damage if it does (dodge buffs negate an opponent’s yellow gem attacks).

Vault: Jump backward one tile and deal damage while you do it! Great for getting out of melee range and making the opponent pay for it while you do. Works well with Magnetic Mine.  

And finally, Spray and Pray: shoot 21 times, spreading the damage across all tiles adjacent to the target.  

We’re really happy with how the animations turned out and can’t wait to let you guys play with them!  

Those of you with keen eyes may notice some slight graphical improvements to the game as well - hopefully you like them!  

We’re about ready to roll out the new character class abilities for testing to our Noble-tier and higher backers! We have a bit of tweaking to do before we do (we want you to be able to just get them instead of having to fight random battles until they drop, for example), so as soon as that’s all ready, we’ll be rolling out a new test branch on Steam. Keep an eye out!  

We’ve also got some very cool possibilities on the horizon, but we’re still feeling them out. If it happens though… oh man, it will be exciting.  

Last but not least, City of the Shroud will be going to Insomnia 58 from August 26 - 29 at NEC in Birmingham, UK.  

If you’re going, come by and say hi - we’ll have a (hopefully VERY) updated version of the game on display!