Jan 22 2016

2015 IN REVIEW

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?

HEALTH

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.

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Nov 26 2015

CATCHUP

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 :)

Nov 22 2015

STEAM V.

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…

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Nov 21 2015

STABILITY

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.

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Jul 30 2015

CARDINAL QUEST 2 PATCH 1.16: SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

Patch 1.16 is now live on Kongregate! The Android and iOS patches are heading into submission tomorrow and will go live within a few weeks. :)

If there’s a unifying theme to this patch, it’s that every class and just about every play-style is getting a few new toys, a few new options. There’s a new perk for each class! Loads of weak talents and builds have been improved! Even if you play a build that hasn’t been updated, the equipment you find will be more varied—and enemies a little bit smarter…

In addition to the changes I’ve gone over here lately, I’ve done a few last-minute fixes to The Tower. I’ve tweaked it to make later floors more interesting, give melee classes a helping hand and (reluctantly) nerf a few things that could make the game a bit one-dimensional. This means a slight extra buff to the Wizard’s talent tree for the Acts, amongst other things!

Of course, with all these little tweaks everywhere, these patch notes are going to be pretty long! Here goes:

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Jul 28 2015

TESTING, ADJUSTING

There’s a lot of new stuff in the patch! We’re currently running through and making sure it all works. Some of the new things didn’t feel as nice in practice as they should, so I’m doing some last-minute fixes:

  • The Paladin’s “Mania” spell (from the new perk) didn’t feel good enough to warrant losing a core spell and taking Magic Burn every time you cast it. It’ll now force the target to critically damage itself as well as its allies, so you get to inflict lots of damage.
  • I’m adjusting the way loot drops so that equipment won’t repeat as often. (Cheers Anon for the suggestion!)
  • I’m overhauling ally AI. Now that allies follow you from level to level, ally play is much more viable—and that means it needs to be fun! Allies weren’t acting in a very pleasant way; they tended to go off and do their own thing. I’ve made them follow you more closely, so now you can really lead your army and keep them safe.
  • Having allies means you get to see a lot of NPC-on-NPC combat. However, they weren’t necessarily equipped to deal with it. I’ve updated NPC AI so that characters with a high Intelligence rating will pick better targets—prioritising fragile ranged enemies. This works both ways! If you recruit a mage, they’ll snipe archers for you. However, smarter enemies will go straight for your mage. You’ll have to protect the squishier recruits a little.

Everything’s finally settling into place. I’m planning to release the update to Flash on Thursday evening, then get it into the update queue for iOS and Android before the weekend. :)

Jul 25 2015

UPDATES: RULES, ITEMS

Alongside the class changes I’ve been doing a lot of tweaks, big and small, to polish the game up a little. I’ll list them all in the patch notes, but I figured now would be a good time to go over  some of these gameplay changes in depth.

First off: permanent allies will now follow you to new levelsThis is mostly a boost to Form Wisp and Enslave, but it’s also a good thing for the new Alchemist skill “Recruit”—and possibly more new things I plan on adding pretty soon. I’m hoping this will open up these builds for Tower runs especially, since those have extra level breaks. Will this make Form Wisp overpowered? Who knows! :)

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Jul 22 2015

UPDATES: ALCHEMIST/THIEF

I’ve covered forthcoming changes for five of the classes in the past few updates (1, 2), so here’s the last two!

Design wise the Alchemist is the class I’m most proud of right now, just pipping out the Paladin. I don’t want to mess with the balance too much, so I’m focusing on adding a cool new playstyle. The new perk, “Now Hiring”, replaces Craft with a “Recruit” skill… that lets you hire enemies for money!

Yep… if something’s about to kill you, now you can pay it off.

Assuming it’s smart enough, of course, and not too loyal. The perk’s a little complicated! You’ll have to understand the enemies in the game to get good value, because enemies that are able and willing to negotiate won’t always give you a fair price. Smart, dedicated foes will demand more to take up your banner.

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Jul 20 2015

UPDATES: RANGER/PUGILIST/PALADIN

Three classes to cover today, including one with lots of changes beyond the new perk.

The Ranger’s new perk “Hellhound” is a completely daft one. Your dog polymorphs whenever it gets excited! This can be pretty useful:

…or it can turn into a chicken.

Since a self-polymorphing Dog could end up way too fragile far too often, I’m trying out a change to Polymorph alongside this. Polymorphed creatures will now keep a fraction of their original health instead of just getting the bar appropriate to their new form. This reduces the impact of Polymorph slightly. I’m still playing with this change; if it sucks, I’ll put it back and look at ways to make Hellhound more durable when shapeshifted.

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