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Game News Fallen Gods Update #6: Mappa Mundi

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

    You might recall that there was supposed to be a combat-focused Fallen Gods development update last month. That update never came out, on account of the combat system not really existing yet. As a result, this month's update was kind of a surprise. It's all about the game's world map - its visual inspirations, design goals and the sorts of places we'll find in it. As the update explains, the world of Fallen Gods will be made up of four different location types - dwellings, dungeons, "locations" (basically the sites of special non-repeatable events) and encounters. I quote:

    Dwellings

    When the fallen god reaches a dwelling, the player is given a menu of options for how to interact with it, similar to Darklands. The god can rest, buy food, hire followers, gather lore, and, in some instances, resolve crises to his advantage. But each kind of dwelling has its own distinctive characteristics.

    Steadings—“villages,” if the word weren’t impermissibly French—are the lowest tier of civilization in Fallen Gods. They can be found on the plains (most commonly), in woods, or up in the hills. They are a fine place to recruit the lowest tier of follower, churls, who—overawed by the presence of a god and eager to escape a life of drudgery—will follow for free. In woodsteads, you can also find woodsmen (who are good guides and hunters, and whose archery can give you an edge in pre-combat skirmishing), and in hillsteads, where raiding is commonplace, you can find the occasional fighter. The lore steadings offer is mostly local gossip (i.e., information about nearby points of interest) and the quests tend to revolve around local issues such as feuds, food shortages, wolf problems, and the like. Since all steadings are centered around food gathering (farming, hunting, and grazing), food is usually inexpensive. And since the local headman is a petty leader, the obligatory guest-gift to rest in his hall is relatively light.

    Towns, always located on either coasts or riverbanks, are hubs of trade and commerce. Churls still make up most of the population, but there are also mercenary fighters to be hired. Food is more expensive than in steadings (given the greater demand and proportionally smaller supply), as is rest, befitting the greater stature of a town’s thane. The lore tends to be broader—reflecting the wide-roaming nature of the town’s long ships—and the quests are directed seaward, dealing with plagues or visitors from abroad, river monsters or beached whales. A unique aspect of towns is that you can hire a ship to take you to any other town on the map, a quick way to travel in a game where time is the one resource that can’t be regained.

    Strongholds are the seats of power for jarls, the highest-ranking leaders in a world where Orm has insisted on keeping his kingship even after becoming a god. Fighters are plentiful, and the god can also hire a skald here. The jarl’s own skald provides a rich source of lore, including not merely about what is going on in the land but about where legendary treasures and foes may be found. Stronghold quests reflect the intriguing that goes on around the powerful, particularly regarding matters of succession.

    Shrines are dedicated to the worship of Orm and the Ormfolk, and are thus a welcome haven for the fallen god. The priests who tend the shrine and its holy fire will, for a suitable offering to their principal god Orm, provide magnificent healing services to any who rest within their temple. And if the god has no priest following him, the shrine will gladly provide one, to advise him on the laws of gods and men and to provide healing on the road. As for information, shrines’ loremasters know more than anyone, and thus a god can learn much about lost relics and the like. Finally, quests in shrines tend to be about questions of doctrine, performance of rituals, resolution of schisms, and similar theological issues.

    Dungeons

    Unlike dwellings, which primarily offer comfort and support, dungeons are interesting as challenges. In essence, they are a stack of event “cards,” with the bottom-most card presenting a significant reward but also a significant challenge, and the upper cards presenting obstacles that wear down the god’s strength and resources. As with dwellings, however, there are distinctions among them.

    Barrows—the characteristic above-ground burial mounds of the Norse—are the smallest dungeons, and indeed they are almost always only one “card” deep. There are many barrows on the map. A few contain nothing, a few contain minimal threats and rewards, and a few contain more significant adversaries. In general, barrows naturally feature the dead (draugar in Fallen Gods’ parlance), though one may also meet cavewights, outlaws, wizards, and wurms.

    Caves can be of varying depth (from three to seven events down) and are full of subterranean foes: wolves making dens in the upper levels, trolls and trollshards seeking shelter from the sun, and cavewights and dwergs for whom these depths are home. Some dead from times long past may be interred in the depths, and wurms and other ancient evils can likewise be found at the bottom.

    There is a single marsh dungeon on the map, and it is the largest dungeon, befitting the wending swamp paths. The waters are full of the unhallowed dead left behind in the Overthrow, as well as bogwights and worse. At the heart of a marsh a god may find a rotting Firstborn god, an encampment of dead men still fighting the old wars, a wise witch, or a wurm who thinks himself a king. Thematically, if caves are about the dark unknown and the preservation of the past, swamps are about filth and the decay of the present.

    Locations

    Locations, as the generic name should suggest, are much more common and much more varied than the points of interest described above. Locations are events that spawn when the world is created and persist until the player triggers them (i.e., by entering the hex containing the location). In almost all instances, once the event is triggered it no longer persists—the location may still be a visible map feature, but there will no longer be anything to do there.

    While the player can see the entire map when the game begins, locations are shown in a way that makes their nature somewhat non-obvious. When the god draws near, the location resolves into a clearer state. For instance, what initially appeared to be large boulders may turn out to be dead trolls. A tall pole may turn out to be the binding place of an outlawed berserk or a scorn pole with a horse’s head atop it.

    The map will include many features like boulders or cairns or farm houses that are not location events; as the player draws near, they will not resolve into anything more interesting, and entering the hex will not cause an event to trigger. Thus, while the player may have some guesses about where he can go, he won’t know for sure that a map feature is a location event until he either investigates it, gathers lore about it in a dwelling, or uses the Foresight skill (at the cost of a soul) to scry it out from a distance. Bird fetches (ravens or eagles) have the benefit of expanding the god’s range of investigation, such that he can discern location events from a greater distance than a god with a wolf or fox fetch.

    Encounters

    Finally, encounters are transient events. They spawn as the god explores the world, appearing at the edge of his range of exploration. If he does not investigate quickly, the encounter disappears for good. An encounter might involve a churl bringing his harvest to market, a songspeaker hastening down the road on his unholy horse, or a pair of outlaws splitting the fruits of a murder. While other points of interest help make the world feel like more than empty space, encounters help bring it to life by suggesting that things happen on their own, and resolve on their own, rather than waiting in abeyance until the god deigns to intervene. Moreover, because they spawn near the god, encounters ensure that there is always something interesting to do, even when doubling back across ground you’ve already covered.
    Although we already had a good idea of what Fallen Gods' gameplay mechanics are like, this is probably the first update that nails down how it'll actually feel like to play. Along with the obligatory soundtrack sample, the full update includes a whole bunch of screenshots and concept art, so be sure to check it out.
     
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  2. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Thanks for posting!
     
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  3. frajaq Learned

    frajaq
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    I have read 0 about the game so far but I have to say this is looking pretty cute

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. cherry blossom Magister

    cherry blossom
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    Very interesting! I am a little bit dismayed about this game since I've learned that it will be a quick-run quick-resolution game based around cards, I would have loved to explore this lore in a little bit more traditional way but nonetheless, I am very interested.
     
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  5. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    “Cards” in this case means multi node text adventures. Not actual cards. Also, run length is not determined but I imagine it’s a couple hours.
     
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  6. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    (Though to be sure it’s all still thinner than a normal cRPG.)

    [EDIT]

    I should add that playing time is one of the great unknowns of the game. Because we don't yet have win-states in the game, or a plausible version of combat (the current version of combat is excruciatingly slow), and because we're still missing lots of events, and because anyone playing the game knows the route through the events and thus is either doing them slowly to look for glitches or quickly to zoom through -- for all these reasons, it's impossible to have even a rough ballpark whether it's a 90 minute game or a 5 hour game. I had set out for it to be quite short (Weird Worlds was one of the great inspirations), but I'm not sure now whether that's feasible or desirable. You need a certain quantity of combat in order to show player-power progression, and you need the player to do a fair amount of events, etc., etc. -- it all pushes playing time upwards. So who knows?
     
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  7. daveyd Savant

    daveyd
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    Has it been determined whether combat will be turn-based or real-time?
     
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  8. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    It’s one of the few parts of the game that can be iterated once it’s in place, so I can’t say for sure which it will be. Current plan is for real-time though, as there is not much to do other than “formation” (i.e., picking match-ups).
     
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  9. ERYFKRAD Arcane Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Makes it sound like ritual dueling more than straight up combat.
     
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  10. daveyd Savant

    daveyd
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    IIRC, "Barbarian Prince" has been cited as an inspiration for FG. I've never played it but found the rules here (Combat is under r220).

    Sounds like the only choice the player makes who each combatant is matched up with as everything else is determined by "combat skill" and dice rolls (RNG). It sounds like a slightly more complex version of Lone Wolf gamebook combat (another of Fallen God's inspirations).

    I could definitely see this type of combat being excruciatingly slow in a computer game. Adding in some tactical choices like ability to heal / buff might make it more interesting but then fights will take even longer.
     
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  11. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    That's pretty much a correct if grim assessment. The player arranges parallel duels. So if it's 3v3, he can (to some degree, though not if the other side has faster fighters) pick who fights Enemy A, Enemy B, Enemy C. If the sides are imbalanced, he can also to some degree pick team-ups. But once the fight starts, there's not that much that he does right now. We did have healing/buffing abilities but we've actually (for now) dropped them. We'll see how it goes. We want to get the most minimalist combat possible in place first, then think about how to enhance it.
     
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  12. daveyd Savant

    daveyd
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    Hmm, I wonder if perhaps introducing the option to "switch" match-ups or at least strike a different opponent for one round with some penalty could make this system more engaging.

    Ex: Hero A is getting his ass kicked by Enemy A. Hero B is faring much better against Enemy B so he moves to strike Enemy A to help out, but Enemy B gets some sort of bonus (whether some sort of "attack of opportunity", "disengagement attack", or or just a temporary bonus to combat skill).
     
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  13. ERYFKRAD Arcane Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Plus if Enemy B is dealt with, Hero B can go help A without penalties.
     
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  14. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    There are double teams to be sure. Maybe breaking engagement would be an interesting feature to add, will need to check, but first we need the most basic set-up in place, which requires that rarest of resources, Coder Effort. :)
     
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  15. daveyd Savant

    daveyd
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    Right, I assume that's what happens in Barbarian Prince if the remaining enemies don't flee (although the rules I linked don't explicitly state it).

    Anyway, I'm not really seeing a compelling reason why such a system needs to real-time rather than turn-based. I'm guessing MRY wants to avoid the tedium of selecting attack over and over again as in basic JRPG / blobber style combat. But IMO Legends of Eisenwald has a pretty good, simple TB system. While your tactical options are often limited to attack (or wait), I never felt it would be better to make it real-time / automated somehow.
     
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  16. <3sRichardSimmons Arcane

    <3sRichardSimmons
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    I’m not really very knowledgeable when it comes to combat systems design, but if there’s one thing I DO know it’s that engagement mechanics are totally uncontroversial and virtually guaranteed to please absolutely everyone.
     
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  17. lophiaspis Savant

    lophiaspis
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    All I can say is please rip off NEO Scavenger's combat system as much as possible. It's the best turnbased system ever and avoids all the typical pitfalls of such systems. Study it closely. Would be a shame if your game was flawed by a mediocre combat system.
     
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  18. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    It won’t be anything like NEO Scavenger’s and it probably will be mediocre. Sorry. :/
     
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