Developer's Blog

City of the Shroud Comes to Steam August 9!

Posted on June 25, 2018 by Shibusuke

 

 

We’re launching the game on August 9 on Steam! Chapter 1 will be available for Windows and Mac for you to experience, and influence, the story of Iskendrun and its inhabitants.

Chapter 1 is big! It’s got five narrative branches, multiple boss fights, tons of quests, rebindable controls (you can play with one hand on a controller!), multiple difficulties, adjustable game speed, adjustable text speed, our Balance of Power story-influencing system - and that’s not even everything. There’s a lot going on!

We’ve been working extra hard to get the game to this point, and there’s still plenty of bug fixing and polish to do between now and release, but we’re really happy with how the game has come together.

In fact, last month we added a frequently requested feature we call “Wait Mode.”

What is Wait Mode?

When we took the game to shows, we’d often get asked if there was a way to pause the game so that it’d be possible to survey what was going on or to issue commands. After a lot of hard work and planning, we found a way!

You can now press the (rebindable!) Wait Mode button and the action will freeze - except you can still navigate the map and issue commands to your characters.

That means it’s possible to pull off simultaneous combos across characters, like this:

Staggering Shot + Combobreaker!
Staggering Shot + Combobreaker!
 

Now, if you want the game to play slower and give you unlimited time to deliberate your next move, the option is there!

Want the game to be faster but to let you pause to issue commands? Done!

Or, you can disable Wait Mode altogether and play the game in its “classic” setup. The choice is yours!

Visible Status Effects

We also made another quality-of-life improvement: the status effects on a given character are now visible in the UI, along with how much time is left on them and how many stacks there are.

Say one of your Brutes is Corrupted - you’ll see a Corruption icon next to their entry in the side UI along with how many stacks (if applicable!) of that status effect they have. The grey countdown circle shows you how much time is left on the effect, too!

That's a lot of Corruption at once!
That’s a lot of Corruption all at once!
 

Getting Ready for Launch

Before the rush and excitement of launching the game consumes me entirely, I want to take a moment to cover the Kickstarter rewards we'll be preparing ahead of the August 9 launch.

First, we’ll be preparing the wallpaper(s!) and soundtracks to send out ahead of release. These should arrive digitally before the game releases.

One thing to note about the soundtrack: we still have something up our sleeve, so the soundtracks will be “updated” at a later date… ;)

Once Chapter 1 is out (and I’m able to reclaim some semblance of sanity), we’ll start in on the remaining rewards that don't need to wait on anything anymore, like physical goods. The production journal is an ongoing process (we have to finish the story, after all!), so that's still a ways out, and the remaining design-related rewards will benefit from being able to play the game to inspire ideas

Thank you all for your support and patience over the years. It took longer than we thought it would, and we encountered all sorts of unexpected obstacles in the course of this journey, but we’re now ready to release Chapter 1 to you and get the story of City of the Shroud into your hands - both literally and figuratively!

We are so grateful for your support in getting here; we couldn’t have done it without you. We’ll be back with more announcements before the August 9 launch, so until then, thank you x 1,000,000!

All The Best,
Keaton & The Abyssal Arts Team

PAX Demo on Steam & PAX Report

Posted on May 15, 2018 by Shibusuke

I hope you’re excited for City of the Shroud’s impending release this summer! It’s been quite the journey, and there’ll be even more once the story gets underway, but in the meantime, I wanted to let you know what we’re up to!

You can probably guess, but we’re working hard to polish up the game to get it ready for launch! We’re currently hooking up the final bits of conversational logic, testing out all of the battles to find any remaining bugs, and making some final adjustments to improve the user experience (UI adjustments, etc.).

This means playing the heck out of the game, trying to break it as much as possible. To give you an idea of the kinds of things we’re working on, yesterday I found that one of our portal effects, which uses wind physics to swirl little glowy bits around and into itself, would suck other particles - like attack effects - into it if the characters using them were too close. Watching the smoke from Disintegrate a well as my healing spell get sucked into a portal was pretty cool, but not exactly what we’re going for in terms of gameplay (the moves worked fine!).

Also, to tide you over while you wait for Chapter 1, the PAX demo is now available on Steam for backers and folks who have pre-ordered. To access it, just follow the instructions in the image below:

 


Note that you have to enter the password and click Check Code BEFORE selecting “gameshow” from the drop-down list.

 

The new demo has the tutorial from the beginning of the game as well as a preview of one of our boss fights. It’s similar to the Rezzed demo’s boss fight, but we switched up the team to include the Machinist. Try to unleash his Ultimate ability, Skyfall - it’s a blast!

 

 

PAX itself was a blast - tons of people played the game (tons), and the response was great. The dialogue was a hit, players really enjoyed the combat, and we even got interviewed several times. A couple of those interviews went for over an hour! (My throat did not survive, but thanks to the memory foam in my shoes, my feet and back did.)

Indie MEGABOOTH was also a wonderful and humbling experience - it was an honor to be among so many great games and meet so many extraordinarily talented developers. I’d like to give special shout-outs to Hidden Achievement, developers of the Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game on Steam, ysbyrd games, LUNARSIGNALS and their game The Moon Fields, Tangled Mess Games, who are making Volantia, and Craig Barnes, composer on Streets of Rogue. From helping me lug all of the PCs and literal bags of sand to my car, to being amazing friends and booth-mates - thank you!

And to the backer who stopped by the booth while I was occupied - thank you!! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to talk with you more, and I hope you didn’t catch the con plague (I did…)!!

Overall, PAX was great - there were tons of interesting people, a stream of fun, fantastic players, homemade (life-saving) cough-drops, and plenty of adventures along the way. Even my car refusing to start for several hours in just-above-freezing weather in a parking garage only to turn on instantly once the tow truck arrived couldn’t dampen the experience (also, I got to eat good ramen).

With that, I hope you’re excited to enter the world of Iskendrun and fight to determine its fate - we’re almost there!

All The Best,
Keaton & The Abyssal Arts Team

City of the Shroud is coming this Summer! New Trailer! New Announcements, Including a Future Console Release!

Posted on March 01, 2018 by Shibusuke

 

 

It’s happening! We’re getting ready to launch City of the Shroud this summer! Ahhhh!

We’ve been working super hard to get the game ready for launch, and we’re almost there. It’s been a long road, but we’re nearly at the end of it - or the beginning, rather!

We are so excited to get the story underway and see what you all do with it. We have tons of ideas about where the story could go and how it could develop, but ultimately it will be up to you and everyone else who plays to determine how the story plays out.

We’re also really happy with how the gameplay has come together - several members of the team have spent thousands of hours playing the game, and we still have a blast. Hopefully you will too!

The footage in the trailer above is all up-to-date, though YouTube compressed it quite a bit. The game looks great at any setting level, but it looks particularly glorious in 4k. If you want to see some high-res screenshots, head over to the game’s updated webpage (actually, just go check it out - it looks awesome!):

www.abyssalarts.com/shroud

Also, today we were lucky enough to be featured on the PlayStation Blog! How cool is that!

PlayStation Blog: City of the Shroud Fuses Tactical RPGs with Fighting Games

In the post, we talk about the game’s combat system and adapting it for controller (we’ve added full controller support). If you read it, hopefully it will give you a bit of insight into what sort of things have gone into setting up the controls the way we have.

We also wanted to take a moment to cover some questions that might come up:

  • What’s the Definitive Edition?
     
    The Definitive Edition is our fancy name for the game once the story is complete. After we release Chapter 4 (the final chapter), we will proceed to tweak the game to fit a more standard single-player narrative structure, rather than the interconnected web of players driving a narrative that the game will be when it launches.
     
    Ultimately, it will be an update to the game, after the story is complete, to make it feel more like a traditional game to make it easy to replay and experience the story from other angles.
     
  • How do I get the Definitive Edition?
     
    All of our backers’ Steam copies of the game will get the update once it’s ready for free - it’s part of the package!
     
  • Will consoles get the player-driven story?
     
    Nope. The console versions are releasing after the story is complete, since managing City of the Shroud’s narrative structure is going to be a big undertaking for our tiny team, and trying to make that work across multiple platforms would be prohibitively difficult and time-consuming. We’re sticking with our original plan: release on Steam, then play with you to create the story. We’ll then port the results to consoles when we release the Definitive Edition on Steam.

Now that the game is getting ready to launch, we’re going to be kicking our announcements and promotional efforts into high gear. We’ve got some really exciting news coming in the very near future!
 

 
We can’t wait to get started!

Building and Lighting the Battlefields

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Shibusuke

Happy Halloween! We may not be a spooky game, but I wanted to pass out some treats regardless!  

First, now that asset building is complete (yay!), we’re currently building out and polishing all of the levels for Chapter 1, then putting together their lighting and post-processing effects - all the nice bloom lighting and fancy camera features that make a game “pop.” This means laying out the tiles, then filling the maps with the buildings and props that’ve been building over the last year or so based on the setting for the battle that takes place there. Once that’s finished, we go in with lights and effects to make everything look especially nice.  

You may recall that we upgraded to Unity 5.5 a while back, giving us access to some nice effects as well as 4k resolution support, which the game takes to very well. To get a sense of how much things have changed, check out the evolution of one of our Docks maps (Azura’s turf) from when we did the Rezzed build compared to now:

Then:  

 
Now (Click the images for the 4k version):  

The UI is turned off so you can see more of the surroundings

The UI is turned off so you can see more of the surroundings.

Bit of a difference, right?   

Of course, if we’re going to talk about Azura the Merchant Queen’s area, a dinky wooden pier with a fishing boat won’t suffice. The docks where the merchants operate need to be something a little more serious:  

We also have areas that are set to different times of day, including the late afternoon, where twilight creates a soft glow as the lights begin to switch on across the city.  

Additionally, we’re wrapping up our sound effect creation, so everything in the game is popping, smacking, and exploding in a big, satisfying way. It’s hard to show how much of a difference it makes, so I hope you’ll give it a try once we’re able to get a new version of the game into your hands. We still have a few bugs to iron out, but the next update will sound more alive than ever!

We have more we could show in terms of levels, artwork, etc., but at this point, I’m hoping to hold back so that there’s plenty to surprise you when the game releases. It’s a difficult balance, but since we’re an RPG, I’d like to err on the side of not revealing too much! That said, there is something major that we’ve wanted to get out to you for quite some time, but that will have to wait for an upcoming update… muahaha...   

All The Best, 
Keaton & The Abyssal Arts Team

Finalizing Our Team Menu UI

Posted on September 26, 2017 by Shibusuke

We’ve been hard at work getting City of the Shroud’s UI hooked up and looking good. There is still some polishing to be done, but we’re really proud of the results!  

First, here is our new team menu UI in action:  

I’ll go into more detail below, but before that, I’d like to show you our new-and-improved City Map:  

What’s new here? First, the structure of the map means that it is far more screen ratio independent than it was before, so those of you with 16:10 screens (i.e., Mac laptops) will see improvements on that front.  

The more obvious difference is that big old chart on the right: the Balance of Power. As you play through each chapter of CotS, the balance of power between factions will change, and that chart will show you the state of affairs at any given moment.  

You’ll be able to see who you’re allied with as well as how powerful each faction is relative to the others for the current chapter (I put the Hat Merchant in the affiliated leader slot because I think he’s hilarious - not an option in the final game!).  

As people play through the live chapter, those bars will fluctuate based on players’ choices until we lock the chapter’s balance of power in order to start writing the next one. Once the balance of power for a chapter is locked, the bars will show the final balance of power for that chapter until the next chapter is released. Once you start the next chapter, they’ll be moving again until we lock that one to write the next one, and so on. If you get your influence in early, who knows - your impact may end up influencing other players :)  

We’ve also streamlined the experience by stripping out what we had originally called the “Main Menu” because we decided that the City Map could act as your hub - it’s how you interface with Iskendrun in the campaign, and by moving some functionality around, you can now go from the “Start” menu straight to the campaign screen with no features or accessibility lost. 

The other UI element we’ve been working on is the team management menu - the screen where you’ll set up your party, equip your Link Gems, configure your stats, and even equip different skins/mod items. 

You saw it in GIF form above, so let’s break it down here, screen-by-screen: 

The Overview panel shows your current team setup - the class, visual appearance, equipped Link Gems, name, and movement and attack ranges of each of your units.

Clicking on a character takes you to their Moves panel: 

Here, you can review and equip the Link Gems you’ve acquired, read their descriptions, and try out how the Link Gems you’ve chosen string together using the Try! Button. There are shortcuts for the other panels, as well as the option to switch the currently selected character (and even their class) too. 

Next up is the Stats screen: 

On this screen, you can see your full Stat Gem inventory, as well as the grid where you equip those gems for the selected unit’s current class. Descriptions of each stat are found below the grid, and the box in between the two explains either the selected gem or stat, depending on which you have highlighted. 

Stat Gems that are granting your unit a Perfect Fit Bonus glow with a thin, blue line around the edges - notice that the yellow Square is not glowing, as it’s sitting on a non-square-shaped slot (also, the thick, white glow shows which gem you have selected). 

If you put a Stat Gem into a slot it isn’t meant for, you gain the ordinary bonus but not the Perfect Fit Bonus. So if you want just have to have an extra HP bonus in exchange for losing a Perfect Fit Bonus, you can make it happen! Customize your unit to fit your playstyle - want a high-HP Mage that can take a few smacks from a Brute? The choice is yours! 

Finally, we have the Appearance menu: 

This menu lets you equip any skins or mods you’ve acquired. Simply cycle through, and you can view all the available options for a given slot. If you like what you see, you’re done! Just leave the settings as-is and you’re all set. The next time you use that unit in battle, they’ll appear just as they do here. 

It’s a pretty big upgrade from the old menus, so let us know what you think! 

So what’s next? We’ve got a bit more polishing to do on the menus before they’re totally final, but now that we’ve got this major UI update in, we’re turning our attention to the next big event: implementing Chapter 1.

The main content for Chapter 1 is written, all the environment assets are complete, and all of the components necessary to bring it to life are more or less ready and hooked up. So what goes into implementation? Mainly, that means getting the game text into our quest database and connecting them all together (clear Quest X >> unlock Quest Y). We’ll be putting together our battle maps for Chapter 1 as we go along too. 

Stay tuned!