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MASSIVE CHALICE Update #59 - Difficulty Settings and IRON Mode!

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Hey MASSIVE CHALICE backers!

It’s 2015 and we’re coming down the home stretch! Thanks so much for all of the feedback that you guys have been giving us on the forums. It’s been really helpful and the game is in much better shape because of it. :D!

State of the Game

We’re fixing bugs, optimizing the game, and adding new features on our way to 1.0 in just a couple months! We’re still looking on track to complete the game in the spring - just a few months away. Here’s a look at some of the new things that are coming in the next patch! :D!

Difficulty Modes

Right now we consider the current difficulty to be “Normal.” Ok it’s actually pretty difficult, but we want the game to serve up a challenge even on the standard difficulty and be known as a generally difficult game. We think the game is a lot better when you have to earn your victories over the Cadence and you’re not just cake-walking through it!

That being said we totally recognize that the game can be pretty brutal for new players. So the new Easy mode will really help this out. Here are the stats that we’re modifying:

*Enemy Health - easier to take down!

*Enemy Evasion - easier to hit!

*Enemy Damage - less punishing for getting your heroes smacked in the face!

*Hero XP Level Requirements - easier to level up!

*Research Times - easier to unlock tech!

We’ve also introduced a Hard mode for our seasoned players. That’s probably you if you’re reading this? :D We modify the same variables in the list above but we just tweak them in the other direction to make the game even more brutal.

Hard mode also features one additional savage twist. Your strategy map will start with 5 randomized corruption strikes already applied to your outside regions. We’re hoping that this challenge really forces people to come up with some new, optimal strategies! :D!

Difficulty.PNG

IRON Mode

Plenty of gamers “scum save” their way through strategy games. For those unfamiliar, this process involves reloading an old save game every time you make a mistake in order to ensure your success. This is fine as long as you’re still having fun, but some players just can't help themselves from reloading every time. They never end up trying to live with their mistakes and this can drain significant fun out of the game!

In order to battle this we’re introducing an IRON Mode into the game. If you start a new game with this setting you’ll only have ONE save file for that entire run. After every one of your decisions, whether that’s a Regent appointment, a marriage, or a move on the tactical battlefield, your old save game will be overwritten with the results of that decision. There’s no going back! You’ll have to live with every mistake, miss, and especially those errant Alchemist flasks! :D

We’re not the first strategy game to include this feature, but it feels especially at-home in MASSIVE CHALICE. The game’s all about long-term consequences and with the IRON Mode you’ll really be locked in. Give it a shot in the next patch and give us some feedback!

IRON.PNG

Tactical Tutorial

MASSIVE CHALICE can be pretty daunting for new players. If you’ve been following Teamstreams then you’ve probably figured out how to play, but if you’re a brand new player that didn’t even know about the Kickstarter it can be pretty tough! We’ve been working on a simple Tutorial during the first tactical battle that will help you learn the controls and the basics of the game. It’s not quite finished but we thought we’d get it out to you guys to get some feedback on it before we polish it off.

Tutorial.PNG

We’re also including a new “Enable Tutorial” checkbox on the New Game screen that you can use to turn off this amazingly helpful walkthrough at the beginning of the game if you’re an experienced player!

Timeline Improvements

Programmer Silvio Terra has made some stunning improvements to the Timeline. Multiple events now stack up on the timeline into what we call a “multi-event.” You can click on a multi-event to expand it and investigate all of the individual events that happened around the same time. We have a lot of things that tend to happen on the same day (for example at the very beginning of the game you’ll usually have a tactical victory, a Regent appointment, and a marriage all on the first day!). This new system allows you to see all of the details of your history.

MultiEvents.gif

We’ve also put in the ability to pan the timeline left and right by using a left click drag. This is incredibly useful for referencing things that happened a long time ago. You can also zoom the timeline in and out using the mousewheel to get a better look at things. It’s pretty useful when you’re trying to find a specific event, and it’s also just really awesome to zoom all the way out and see your entire 300 year run on the screen at the same time! :D!

Controller Support Preview

We’re going through every screen in the game and tweaking them out so that they can support a controller. This is key for the forthcoming Xbox One port, but it will also transfer right over to the PC build so that you can enjoy MASSIVE CHALICE in Big Picture Mode! :D

Brad’s not exactly an artist, but you can see what his quick mockups look like here:

Tactical_charge.png

MASSIVE CHALICE has a TON of UI so it’s going to take us a while to grind through it, but we’ll get there! :D!

Teamstream #31 Friday February 6th!

We’ve been away from the stream for a bit but we’re coming back with a new one on Friday February 6th at 4pm Pacific. We’re going to start a brand new Hard IRON run on stream and play for a bit… probably until our first team wipe. That might be sooner than you think, so tune in at http://twitch.tv/doublefine if you can! :D!

Share Your Feedback! Report Bugs! Get Involved!

Make sure to check out the official bug forum here (http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewforum/76/). That’s the place to check if a bug you’re experiencing has already been reported or to report a bug of your own. And if there’s anything you want to talk about MASSIVE CHALICE in general, feel free to come to the MASSIVE CHALICE FORUMS and start a discussion! In case you can’t make our live broadcasts you can find all our Twitch streams on the Double Fine YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/doublefineprod).

Thanks for supporting MASSIVE CHALICE!

Sincerely,

Brad and the MASSIVE CHALICE team! :D!

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All of this sounds amazing... except maybe the part about research times being increased in hard?

That is, assuming that the research times in the game right now would be the baseline? If so, I really can't imagine playing through on hard just for this reason; I'm nearly to the end of my first full playthrough and all I've got is lvl2 armor for two classes and level 3 for one, two specialty weapons, two equippable items, one sagewright's guild and one crucible, four or five keeps and the upgrades to hired hero levels and global armor boost. As it is I feel like I haven't really gotten my hands on a large enough variety of the weapons, cadence armors, or equippables. :(

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As for the controller support - please, allow us to chose control overlays for Playstation or Nintendo controller masquerading as XBOX controllers.

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This is great news! I have stopped playing recently since I haven't beaten game yet. I have never played tactical combat game before, and this one is great, but I am not so great. So, I admit: I will play on easy now. :)

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Oh it's "Normal" now? Crap, I've been lying to people... Anyway, yay for hardmode!

A tutorial! Sweet! Hopefully that means we'll see less "Help!" threads.

...But there is a word that my Hawkeyes *slap* do not see on this update, and that word is "Balance(!!!)". Curious.

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Difficulty settings and Iron mode were the two things I told people the game *needed* before release (besides maybe a few balance tweaks) so this is a great patch! We really are in the homestretch!

I have to (as always when difficulty settings are mentioned) make my obligatory pitch for more than 3 difficulties. I think designers tend to underestimate the players. I know I'm not that great at tactics games and if I find the current normal difficulty (by and large) too easy, then there are people ready to crush Hard/Iron right now! If difficulties are just a matter of scaling, I can't see 5+ difficulties being an onerous task for the dev team and I can almost guarantee that on the high end it enhances replayability for the super hardcore, and on the low end eases tactics newbies into the game smoothly. If you want to attract the hardcore players and get those interesting lets plays and youtube video series, you've just gotta have a very hard/impossible mode :D

I've been missing teamstreams too so great to have one coming up!

off to start a hard/iron game

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I have to (as always when difficulty settings are mentioned) make my obligatory pitch for more than 3 difficulties. I think designers tend to underestimate the players. I know I'm not that great at tactics games and if I find the current normal difficulty (by and large) too easy, then there are people ready to crush Hard/Iron right now! If difficulties are just a matter of scaling, I can't see 5+ difficulties being an onerous task for the dev team and I can almost guarantee that on the high end it enhances replayability for the super hardcore, and on the low end eases tactics newbies into the game smoothly. If you want to attract the hardcore players and get those interesting lets plays and youtube video series, you've just gotta have a very hard/impossible mode :D

If it really is just scaling, I say do it!

MASSIVELY SIMPLE

Easy

Normal

Hard

Improbable

MASSIVELY IMPOSSIBLE

Also, are there still plans to add in more research? I know it was mentioned in the last teamstream.

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This is a question that needs to be asked...

Are you going to release the game with cut content to rush a 1.0?

Are you going to support the game after it's launch with bug fixes?

Due to the lack of Broken Age part 2 and the Spacebase DF-9 debacle it's understandable for people to have trust issues. As good as the game looks and much as I want to trust in DF but there needs to be more assurance that I won't be taking a $30 hit on this game.

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This is a question that needs to be asked...

Are you going to release the game with cut content to rush a 1.0?

Are you going to support the game after it's launch with bug fixes?

Due to the lack of Broken Age part 2 and the Spacebase DF-9 debacle it's understandable for people to have trust issues. As good as the game looks and much as I want to trust in DF but there needs to be more assurance that I won't be taking a $30 hit on this game.

It doesn't need to be asked because it's already answered -

1) No - all the announced content except for the features mentioned in this post are already in the game, and they still have 3 months. This has been the projected release since Early Access opened.

2) Yes, like every single game they've ever released (including Spacebase DF9, actually. at least until the team was made redundant due to unrelated publisher issues) it'll get post release bug support.

3) What does Broken Age part 2 have to do with it? It's due for spring and looking great.

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It's actually very relevant.

So, the content isn't going to be cut. That's good to hear.

Regarding, Spacebase DF9 though, I'm not sure what you mean by unrelated publisher issues. Double Fine is the publisher. What about their company prevents them from continuing to support their game from a technical perspective?

Partitioning the team to other ventures is all fine and well, but if a game goes to market and then loses bug support what good is it? There isn't any excuse for it. There always needs to be someone in charge of managing and fixing bugs after a game is released unless the company goes under.

As far as Broken Age part 2, again, it's VERY relevant. The amount of time invested in the game for the amount of money obtained for it do not line up. Other publishers and developers do much more with less money and people in a similar, or shorter, amount of time. Double Fine is not without experience. So why has it taken this long to finish it? I feel that the game hasn't been focused on as much as it should be. Regardless of any future investment in Double Fine or it's products the people behind Broken Age are not without cause to be upset at the time taken for development.

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As far as Broken Age part 2, again, it's VERY relevant. The amount of time invested in the game for the amount of money obtained for it do not line up. Other publishers and developers do much more with less money and people in a similar, or shorter, amount of time. Double Fine is not without experience. So why has it taken this long to finish it? I feel that the game hasn't been focused on as much as it should be. Regardless of any future investment in Double Fine or it's products the people behind Broken Age are not without cause to be upset at the time taken for development.

There is a whole forum to discuss this. In fact, it's been discussed. Check it out! ;)

Look forward to the teamstream. Though only thing I am sort of bummed about:

FYI, just saw this on the steam forums:

Omichron [developer]

Here's a somewhat official source:

No, we currently do not have plans to put the bloodline editor into the game. It's something that we have considered, but there's the matter of development time as well as not being sure how fair it would be to backers that paid to get into the "create a house" tier. I wasn't aware the Prison Architect had a similar issue, but there you go.

But, while it's something that COULD happen, if the stars align right, in some unspecified future, the current plan for 1.0 is for that to NOT happen. Putting the editor in-game is not in any of our schedules or roadmap (except the wishlist one). I cannot stress this enough. Please do not be expecting it to show up as a surprise. We're not trying to surprise anyone.

I'm hoping that the rest of the team doesn't get mad at me for being so blunt in this post, but it's probably better than having you guys thinking that there's a feature on the way that we have not promised in any way.

The houses and house selection, as it stands how, are (is?) pretty much final (except for some shuffling of houses off the 'thematic' list into the 'non-thematic' as we finally get the puns hidden in them).

So please let us know if someone managed to sneak in a naughty banner in there.

[Edit: apparently body parts, even though they're not swears, get transformed into ♥♥♥♥♥ by Steam, so... naughty it is]

Smiles

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Regarding, Spacebase DF9 though, I'm not sure what you mean by unrelated publisher issues. Double Fine is the publisher. What about their company prevents them from continuing to support their game from a technical perspective?

What I mean by that is that the team were moved onto another project, which is usual when one project ends. It's an unannounced project.

That project was unexpectedly cancelled by its publisher, so the team were let go, sadly. So the team that worked on DF9 no longer work at Double Fine - this obviously makes it harder to patch the game as the experts in the game had to leave. They haven't said they'll never patch it again, it's just a resourcing problem.

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As far as Broken Age part 2, again, it's VERY relevant. The amount of time invested in the game for the amount of money obtained for it do not line up. Other publishers and developers do much more with less money and people in a similar, or shorter, amount of time. Double Fine is not without experience. So why has it taken this long to finish it? I feel that the game hasn't been focused on as much as it should be. Regardless of any future investment in Double Fine or it's products the people behind Broken Age are not without cause to be upset at the time taken for development.

Here, you are just misinformed. People who actually make games for a living, generally speaking, have been very impressed with what Double Fine have produced with the money. Generally speaking, with few exceptions, you don't hear developers badmouthing their efforts, and you hear plenty with nothing but praise for what they have achieved with the resources they had. People who DO criticize fail to take into account:

* Kickstarter Reward Costs

* Documentary costs

* The fact that the game was developed from scratch, rather than building on an existing idea (by design)

* The development of in-house tools (many of these so called cheaper projects are cheaper because they're built on existing technology). BA uses Moai, but has developed a lot of tools on top of that, which makes a lot of sense from a long-term business standpoint.

Act 2 of Broken Age is slated to be over twice as long as the first act, and has taken nearly half as long to make by the time it is released in the spring.

Also, let's not forget that the vast, vast majority of backers are pleased with Broken Age so far, and the main people who seem to be complaining about it are people who didn't even back it in the first place. I think they should cut it out.

If you were a backer you will have seen from the documentaries over the past few months that the team is VERY focused on part 2, and much has been done in a relatively short space of time.

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Are you going to release the game with cut content to rush a 1.0?

Are you going to support the game after it's launch with bug fixes?

I'm not sure what content you're expecting to be cut - it's not a content heavy game and nobody has really been suggesting that more content than exists currently will be going in. From what DF have said the following items are still to be added:

Difficulty

IRON Mode

Controller Support

EFIGS

Which is mostly what's covered by this update, and it would be very surprising if any of this didn't go in (especially controller support, as the Xbox One playerbase might struggle without it!). Beyond that it's probably just going to be spit, polish and bugfixing. If you're not happy with what's there at the moment you probably won't be happy.

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Back on topic, I still hold out hope that once the main features are in (which seems to be the work of this next patch) I hope that there's still work done on the over-all difficulty curve on normal. I do still think that it's too restricting early on, then not restricting enough later on, which means you end up with bad starts followed by a slooow, inevitable death, or a good start followed by kinda routine fights for around a 100 year stretch. It just feels like it needs another look, perhaps. I get it should be hard - but I don't see why, in order to get through normal, I should have to employ all the tricks I've learned from 50 hours of play, right from the start. That's just going to turn a whole load of people off early on, which would be a shame because some of the biggest fun to be had in the game is in the later enemies and abilities and weapons that appear.

But I feel like things are looking pretty good. If they have almost all the features in by the next patch, that gives them a solid few months to polish this thing up to completion.

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When is this patch going to hit? I was going to do another run through this weekend but now I am willing to wait for ironman mode.

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When is this patch going to hit? I was going to do another run through this weekend but now I am willing to wait for ironman mode.
We will probably find out tonight during the teamstream.

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Woo, and indeed, hoo. You're changing the models for the advanced versions.

I remember asking this back at the start and Brad was saying maybe pallet swapping and that was disappointing. This however I'm happier with, and the level of polish on the GUI is nice too, looking forward to playing it through again at 1.0.

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I do still think that it's too restricting early on, then not restricting enough later on, which means you end up with bad starts followed by a slooow, inevitable death, or a good start followed by kinda routine fights for around a 100 year stretch.

That is so true, especially in hard mode where one or two losses early on mean the end of the game, no matter what you do.

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Loving the new difficulty settings. I won on Easy Iron and Normal Iron so far...I actually wasn't aware that people usually play with multiple saves. That must be why I thought the game was so hard. :)

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I was trying to hold off on playing it until the full release but the last team stream looked so fun I broke down and installed the beta.

I've been watching the teamstreams so I kinda knew how to play but I'm not doing very well. I started my game on normal, non-IRON mode. But I've been playing like I am in IRON mode. I only have one save file, I haven't reloaded and I'm getting my ass kicked. I've had three full team wipes and I'm not even to year 75. I can't believe I haven't lost yet. For one battle, I didn't even have enough heroes for a full squad. So I went in with 3. This game is pretty brutal.

I think the tutorials are great to show you the combat basics but now that I'm 70 years in, I'm wishing I had more guidance on how to manage my kingdom (some help on the strategy layer would be nice). I don't want the game to tell me what to do but it would be helpful if it offered a couple of good suggestions about what to research next. My poor decisions on the strategy layer will ultimately decide my fate. I'll be shocked if I make it to year 100.

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I won a $100 version of the game on one of the teamstreams (thank you!) so I created my own bloodline. (I backed the game at a lower level.) So I am playing the game with my own bloodline, which is pretty rad.

During the first battle, one of my Alchemists accidentally killed me. It was a bummer but I've kept on playing.

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Teamstream this week, or are we back to a more nebulous schedule? In any case, I look forward to the next!

Smiles

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On my latest run through (assorted alchemists only), my most powerful hero house turned out to have Heart Disease. I felt attached to them because it runs in my family, too, so I kept them in every battle and appointed regents with the trait. I made sure they were wearing their Wunderpants, and we won the war! :D It feels like a victory for me, too!

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