Archive for November, 2007

Birth of Shadows - Release Date

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Birth of Shadows will be released on December 21st, 2007.  I pushed it back 3 weeks to make sure there is enough time to polish the campaign content.  I have almost all of the coding done now, so it’s just a matter of finishing the content and polishing everything.  I’ll be updating the screenshots in the near future to reflect the GUI improvements.  I’m still planning to create a movie clip for the game.  Obviously, my focus right now is on getting the game completed.

Birth of Shadows - Beta 2 Milestone

Monday, November 12th, 2007

I sent out the (internal) release for the Beta 2 milestone last night.  It was the last closed release for Birth of Shadows.  In about 1 week, I will have a Beta version of the demo available for testing.  The main goal of the demo testing will be to gain feedback on bugs, difficulty, content, and Vista compatibility.

I will be working on proper Vista support this coming week.  It is the last major task before final release, not including the remaining content.  I don’t have Vista, so I am just going to try and make the necessary changes, which mostly involve saving user content in the recommended folders.  I use a few REG keys that need to be changed too.  That should eliminate the legacy mode that is currently required for my game.

The other items are mostly minor… stuff like adding more autosave slots.  I think I am going to just add the extra editor features during an update.  I want to get the game out on time and people will be busy playing the game before wanting to create new content.  I should be able to get the update out before it is an issue.

The game itself is working very well.  There are no known bugs at this time.  I just got done playing a network game with a friend.  We were playing non-stop for the past 5 hours.  Multiplayer games are such a blast.  Now that I have portals in place, it’s not a big deal if you keep dying.  We just kill stuff up to the destination portal, activate it, then go try strongholds and bosses in the area.  If (when) we die, we can just take the source portal that will be typically near the spawn point.  This lets players try out different strategies without becoming frustrated, while preventing “zerging”.  Good fun :)
I will try to get the final task list posted in the public forum soon.  I also want to get that movie created.  I need to figure out how the recording application works.  Otherwise, I could have taken some cool movie clips tonight.  In addition, I want to comment on another game feature in depth some time this week.  I haven’t decided what it will be yet.  Check back later if you want to find out ;)

Birth of Shadows - Enemy bosses

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I haven’t really explained how enemy bosses work in Birth of Shadows.  I did mention that they are similar to strongholds.  I call them both enemy sources since they spawn waves of creatures.  In fact, they both inherit the same C++ base class, using multiple inheritance since one is an enemy mob and the other is an immobile entity.

The main difference between the two enemy source types is that the enemy boss is able to move and therefore attack players the entire fight.  You can avoid the strongholds by keeping out of range.  Although, some creatures have a large range and use the strongholds as a defensive position.  This means your summoned pet may get hit while attacking the creature.

Also, the enemy bosses are all immune to fear and snare, regardless of “creature race” type.  This adds another dimension to the fight.  For instance, minotaurs aren’t normally immune to fear, so you can mez them, which makes the fight much more manageable.  The minotaur boss is able to use its rage ability during the entire fight, which forces players to change tactics.  For example, players would need to make sure that the minotaur boss isn’t near any mezzed enemies, so positioning is crucial.

In addition, enemy bosses are immune to damage until all of its guards are slain.  Players will need to be careful that they don’t add too much rage to the boss during the fight.  They also need to make extensive use of their summoned pet to absorb the large amount of damage.  This makes the fight pretty chaotic since you must defeat the waves as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, each boss has a special item that greatly helps mitigate its damage (about 50 percent).  This provides an opportunity to quest for the item.  Custom boards could be mean and just force players to defeat the boss without it.  Players don’t actually level up against the bosses.  You basically fight them at full strength every time.  Instead, you must become stronger versus their guardians.  This design makes the fights flexible so the level of the event can be changed as desired while the boss remains relatively constant.

Finally, enemy bosses are present both in the campaign and skirmish games.  However, the final boss is only available for the campaign.  The bosses are very challenging and a lot of fun to fight in multiplayer games.  I got to try the slime boss a few nights ago with a friend.  We found ourselves constantly retreating as we faught each new wave.  Eventually, we defeated all the waves and finished the boss.  It was definitely a different experience than the strongholds, which was my goal.

So, that’s my enemy boss design.  I left out some details, but you can see them in action when I release the game ;)

Birth of Shadows - IGF Update

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

I uploaded the IGF update around 8am this morning.  I stayed up all night to get it ready.  I ran into a few bugs that I wasn’t expecting.  I also made the second campaign board way too hard, which forced me to modify it about 10 times.  It’s still probably too hard, but at least they won’t be bored :P
I’ll get the gameplay balanced in about a week when I start the final phase of Beta.  I pretty much know exactly what to ask the testers now.  Most of the feedback will involve the difficulty of the game.  I also want to know if anything is confusing.  I think I did a good job of introducing new things at a reasonable pace.  Up until now, most of the testers have been “gamers” that play RPGs.  I will make sure to get some casual game testers to play it next.

Over the remaining weeks, I will try to post on my blog more frequently to update the progress.  I would also like to reveal various game features in more depth.  If I have time, I’ll try to post about something new every week.  For now, I am going to go get some rest before my eyeballs fall out :)