Just a brief announcement today: Cardinal Quest 2’s coming out on Steam on the 23rd of November for Windows, Mac and Linux! If you’d like to support us and get CQ2 in your Steam library, this is a good way to do it. 🙂
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:
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. 🙂
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 levels! This 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! 🙂
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.
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.
All the classes in CQ2 are getting new perks in 1.16—and most are having a few rough edges filed off. I’ve got a good number of those perks and tweaks in now and they’re starting to feel good!
The Fighter’schanges are aimed at the concept of the Fighter as a sturdy veteran. I don’t want to overcomplicate the Fighter class, so these changes are fairly straightforward! The Fighter’s new perk, “Clinical”, gives +2 defense and the starting skill Vital Strike instead of Berserk. I’m hoping this will be viable everywhere and enable a tankier style of Fighter.
I’ve been a bit quiet lately, and here’s why: In preparation for launching the game to Steam, I’ve been teaching CQ2 to talk to Steam and getting it to run properly across Windows, Linux and Mac.
My desk got busy!
Technical stuff: I’ve got to hand it to HaXe, OpenFL and Steamwrap here. Getting the game running on Mac and Linux only took a few days each and it’s working consistently everywhere, save for some glitches on an elderly Mac Mini. I’ve even got Steam cloud saves working across all three platforms, which feels a bit like magic.
Linux is still something of a mystery to me though. How do you even test stuff when there are so many distros? I’ve got the game running on clean installs of Ubuntu 14, which 27% of Steam’s Linux users are running. I’m banking on that as a good start…
Anyway! I’m going to take a short break from the Steam launch now to put together patch 1.16. I’d like to go over and improve some of the weaker perks, talents and classes: things like the Fighter’s “Intimidate” skill, the Pugilist’s gear besides Fightin’ Shoes and the Thief in general. I’m also planning to finally add the new perk for each class I’ve been talking about for a while! Yell at me now if you think something needs fixing in this patch—it might make the list 🙂
A lot of the systems design stuff I do in building and balancing Cardinal Quest 2 is rooted in a certain way of looking at games. It’s based in making the game as a series of interesting decisions; something where you repeatedly get a few options to choose from, each with their merits and downsides, and you have to pick one definite path from the handful of possibilities.
The Civilization series exemplifies this approach. The entire way the game presents itself is to give you a list of options, you pick one, then the game shows you another list. Those countless decisions and the stories players weave around them support hundreds of hours of play. There are no doubt players who’ve made over a million of these choices in Civilization V and are still playing.
If you’re going to sustain a game through this many decisions and keep things interesting, you’ll need to show players entire systems full of different things they want—then tell them they can’t have everything. Reaching for certain things will seal other things away, possibly forever. You need to create these impossible, intractable tensions between all the things players want. When they click, these networks of tensions have the scent of solid design. Efficiently designed systems can ask you to navigate these tensions in countless ways, over and over.
These tensions are also fragile. Give players everything at once, even for a moment, and that part of the system collapses.
One game I’ve played recently that often veers towards doing exactly this is 2008’s Valkyria Chronicles.
With 1.15, the iOS and Android versions are getting several patches at once… so there’s a whole load of new stuff to find!
The biggest change by far is the rise in skill tree limits in The Tower. In short: Every time you clear a block of 20 floors in The Tower, you’ll get a free skill point and many of your skill tree’s limits will rise—allowing you to spend more points on them. Cool!
Besides that there are now five new Legendary items to find, better equipment scattered throughout the Tower, and a whole bunch of other tweaks and fixes! Here are the full patch notes for 1.15: