Generals always fight the last battle, right? I’ve noticed this is often true of people’s creative work. We sketch out territory in one project and map it further in the next. Or perhaps we fence round the territory we’ve seen and colour in the negative space—the gaps left by the last project’s outline. This is how our individual games connect into bodies of work, dots into lines, and how our central themes begin to emerge.
Cardinal Quest 2 was my reaction to the 15-minute playtime games I’d done before. I wanted to make something players could zone into for hours; something big enough to feel like a real commercial game worth money. That is, a commercial indie game in 2010/2011: the era of Amnesia and Recettear and Desktop Dungeons and the Minecraft alpha. That seemed like a high bar but what the heck, right?
It’s been a while! Since the last patch, y’all have sent me a number of bug reports and balance notes to sift through. Most of my time right now is going on the Secret Project, but I’d like to keep CQ2 nice and shiny—so here we go!
Here’s an mini-update based on those notes, fixing the main bugs and updating some of the weaker spots on classes that I felt needed the help.
The Wizard’s “Enslave” skill is one of these. I’ve changed it to recharge over time when you don’t have an Enslaved minion instead of using XP. This is a big change and makes Enslave way more consistent, but I think this is OK; the Wizard was perhaps a little weak, and the strength of the Ice Blast talent means this will largely add options for alternate builds.
Pugilist “Chi Mastery” is another. The Pugilist’s talents are tough to balance, since they also have to cover the stat and damage boosts that Weapons provide in other classes. I’ve upgraded most of the Pugilist’s talents to compensate for this, but the healing path was lagging behind. Now, Chi Mastery is an active boost to Uppercut/Headbutt that you can control to get extra health when you need it. It’s a major boost and I’m hoping it’ll get ridiculously out of control in the Tower!
I’ve also thrown in a Legendary weapon that I think you’ll enjoy. 😉
The update’s live on Kongregate and Steam now. itch.io, iOS and Android will follow in the next few days. Watch the version number on the menu or check back soon, I’ll update when they’re live!
Full patch notes below.
Working on secret things is hard! I don’t get to ramble about them.
A lot of game development is, basically, spoilers. We spend thousands of hours making games that are just a few hours long. This is a crazy time ratio, but it’s part of what makes games (and books, and films, and so on) so powerful.
Much of the joy of playing these games comes from exploring the physical and mechanical spaces to see what you can find. Something like a cool five minute sequence at the end? That might have taken weeks to get right. It would have felt much less awesome to see an unpolished version in a dev journal, gradually being refined over weeks or months into something that worked.
Late in CQ2’s development, I was putting lots of time into boss battles and late-game environments. That wasn’t stuff I could write about. Sometimes we spend ages setting up these fun surprises, and sharing details would kind of ruin it—like texting someone updates on preparations for their surprise birthday party.
Similarly, the new project is taking shape—I’m getting excited!—but it’s just too soon to share everything, which is frustrating. I think you’ll enjoy the reveal when we get there!
Over in CQ2 land, I’ve collected enough bug reports to put together a little update. I’m going to spend the next few days on that and aim to push out version 1.19 around the weekend. I’ll see what balance fixes and new features I can squeeze in and keep you posted. 💙
Ever since The Tower was introduced in 1.1, it’s been crazy popular. In many ways it’s Cardinal Quest 2’s endgame, something to tackle beyond clearing the Acts and racing up the ranks of the achievement system. I’m super proud of how well the Tower’s worked out—but I feel there’s lots of room to do better, especially in level variety.
This patch is the first step on that path. As you reach boss levels, you’ll find there are a few new layouts to tackle. A few bosses even have their own special levels. I hope you’ll find them appropriately terrifying!
By way of compensation for making the Tower boss levels less predictable (and often harder), Tower bosses will now always drop high-quality equipment as well as their key. I’m hoping this’ll give an extra boost to killing each boss and maybe even propel you further in your Tower runs. Have fun, and good hunting…
Patch 1.18 is now live on Steam and Kongregate. iOS and Android will likely take a few weeks, but I’ll get them to you as quickly as I can. ❤
Full patch notes below.
I’ve fixed lots of bugs! I’ve fixed allies starting in treasure closets on 1-7. I’ve fixed a thing where poision could get past Antivenom for half a turn before it caught up. I’ve fixed Wisps crashing the game if two if them kill the same enemy at the same time. I’ve fixed items sometimes spawning invisibly a while after an invisible enemy dies, which was a weird one. I’ve fixed a bug on iOS and Android that could permanently destroy the item you were looking at if you switched app while the “Found Item” screen was up.
What a mess!
Now the bugs are fixed, I have time to do fun things! Like this:
I’m going to take a few more days for fun things. Patch 1.18 will be up on Steam and Kongregate before the weekend, then iOS and Android soon after.
As I write this I’m mainlining liquid paracetamol to keep this cold in check. I’ve been ill three times this year so far? That’s what I get for going outside and collaborating with humans but it’s totally worth it and I’m optimistic my immune system will catch up to 2016 eventually.
The new project with Terry is going well, a wonderful mess of survival and learning to program, and I’m excited to to get to the point where we can show off more as it comes together. I’m not too familiar with survival games though, so I’m trying to play more and get to know them. 🙂 What are your favourites?
(Yes, we’re still looking for alpha testers – mail me if you’d like to be on the list!)
As soon as this cold clears up, I’ll be taking a few days to make Cardinal Quest 2 patch 1.18. This will mostly be a bugfix patch to clear up a half-dozen things that need attention, but I’ll see about putting some neat things in for fun as well! I’ll be uploading 1.18 to Steam and Kongregate next week, then iOS and Android a week or two later as they’re approved. I’m currently trawling comments, the Steam forums and Kongregate to make sure I’ve got a good list of what needs fixing. If there are any issues you’ve noticed that you haven’t seen mentioned yet, let me know over the weekend and I’ll see about fixing them in the patch. ♥
I can’t summarise 2015 easily. It’s a leaky thing, feeding on 2014 and trailing threads into 2016. It doesn’t separate cleanly.
CARDINAL QUEST 2
I started work on this game in 2012. That’s four years ago! I’ve been on it full-time since then. In 2014 I released the game on Kongregate, iOS and Android. Tens of thousands of people played it and liked it. The next step was to build the Steam version, in between cool updates for everyone playing it already.
Update-wise, the big thing last year was The Tower. I had major reservations about building an endless mode, I don’t usually like ’em, but I feel it’s come out well and lots of people seem to like it more than the main Acts.
As for Steam: I was determined to get this out before the end of the year and we just made it, releasing days before the start of Steam’s big end-of-year sales. So CQ2 is now done. It feels strange to say that after focusing on one thing for so long! I can make cool updates when I feel like it, and I will, but there are no more milestones to hit. I can do other things. That’s liberating and a little scary.
So in 2015, I finished a game. I feel like I should have been able to do more, though. Maybe everyone feels that?
Twelve months ago I was recovering from burnout. I still am. It’s an ongoing process, though I’m excited about working on new things again. I’ve got into regular exercise, three times a week. That’s helping with a lot of things, including sleep. Sleeping right, when it happens, helps with much more. I’ve discovered you can play games on an exercise bike, which deals with the boredom, but the game needs to have the right tempo or it all goes wrong. I’ve discovered that METAL GEAR SOLID V doesn’t have the right tempo.
Cardinal Quest 2’s out on Steam! And everyone’s being super nice. ♥
For the past few days I’ve been fielding bug reports and lots of emails and generally playing catchup. Now that’s out of the way I’ve got a little time to think about what I’m doing next.
The latest Kongregate and mobile patches were several months ago. Since then I’ve fixed quite a few bugs and performance issues in the process of making the Steam version, so my plan for early December is getting those fixes out to all versions. I don’t want to just push a bugfix update though, that’s really boring! Give me until next week and let’s see if I can fit a new item or two in there.
Any suggestions for spells or items? It’s gotta be do something new and be balanced for most classes, but I’m willing to try some ideas that are a bit weird 🙂
Cardinal Quest 2’s been out on Android, iOS and Kongregate for over a year. Each of those versions is Free-To-Play. The Steam version, on the other hand, is launching at $10 for the first week and $15 thereafter.
I expect some people will find the F2P version fits their needs best, others will prefer the version on Steam. So what’s different?
All versions have the same content, but the unlock system is completely changed. The Free-To-Play versions have Morale, a currency you slowly accumulate (or purchase, for $5, $10 or $20) and spend on continues and unlocks. It takes a lot of time to unlock everything, and honestly it’s built to encourage you to buy a little on the way.
In the Steam version, there’s no waiting around! You can straight up hit a button in the Options menu and unlock everything instantly if you want to. If you’d like to preview stuff and then go back to the progression, you can: the unlock cheat lasts until you close the game and end your run, so you still get to gradually unlock things. You can even use a perk to unlock itself…
Today: some fun bug-hunting stories.
In preparation for the launch on Monday I’ve been working through the bug backlog, making the game as stable and smooth as possible before lots of new people try it out. If something kills you, I want it to be on purpose!
The thing is, when you’ve been fixing the obvious bugs in a codebase for several years, any bugs that are still around have to be pretty weird. All the obvious stuff has been tested a million times and works fine, so problems only happen in massive co-incidences involving several rare things at once. That means the game-breaking bugs and crashes I’m fixing now are happening in situations like:
- Equipping a Thorns buff (e.g. Holy Armour), then using Restless Blade to charge at an enemy with very low health so that it attacks you first, killing itself, immediately before Restless Blade hits and kills it again
- Playing an Alchemist and shooting the final boss for its last few HP with a Pistol shot that knocks you backwards into a pit, killing you instantly while winning the game
- Playing the Pugilist on Act 1, buying the Knockback talent and then punching a Lieutenant through the right half of the only double door in the game. Yes, the left half worked fine.
The toughest bug I’ve had lately wasn’t gameplay-related at all, though.