Hello everyone,

this month has been a pleasant surprise. As we dug into the current combat implementation and all the feedback from our play-testers, we realized the changes we need to make are not difficult to implement. The checks and risk chains based structure suits the game well. All that is needed for a great experience was:

  • a cleaner flow of the risk chains and tactic choices (achieved through tighter writing, removing risk chain start and end lines, etc.)
  • UI elements that inform you about the NPCs state, victory conditions and bonuses gained
There is a 20% chance the opponent will try to flee, surrender, offer truce or even an alliance in the next turn

As if to confirm our decision to not move towards a more standardized turn-based implementation, Disco Elysium, a pretty successful RPG that is heavily text-based came-out. And many of the 94% positive Steam reviews praised exactly the fact that there is no traditional RPG combat and everything happens through text choices and checks.

By the way, if you never heard about Disco Elysium, it’s worth checking out, as it shares many similarities with Sacred Fire – it’s choice-driven, text-based, it’s inspired by the real-world (you are a detective solving a crime), the focus is on freedom of choices and the psychology of your character. Despite all the similarities in the underlying design principles, it’s a different experience, both in terms of gameplay, themes, and tone, which just shows how much room there is to create new flavors of role-playing games.

Become a hero or an absolute disaster of a human being

UI VICTORY +1

As the combat required only light tweaks, we could focus on polishing the UI screens and unlocking mechanics introduced last month. This is how we stumbled upon a solution on how to bring all the character attributes and stats into one tab. This is a huge win and something we already unsuccessfully tried a while back, so the victory is so much sweeter. This time we had the accumulated knowledge from writing many different story scenes and reading through a lot of feedback, what attributes were essential.

It required a bit of re-balancing and reworking the role-playing ruleset, but the result is well worth it. Now we have one character sheet we can gaze on adoringly. Brings back the fond memories of creating character sheets all day long for the next Pen & Paper role-playing session when the world was young and the stars shined brightly.

The new one tab character sheet to adoringly gaze at

This makes for a prettier and cleaner character creation screen as well, which is good for first impressions, so we get a “UI victory +1”.

MINDSET TAB

The unlocking of ideas from your subconsciousness now uses a visualization where you do not know exactly what you’ll find and some ideas are even hidden and appear only if you rationalize and verbalize the ideas around them. The plan is to replace the background with an up-close take of your character.

Deeper than the sea you heart hides all the monsters

INFLUENCE TAB

The influence tab shows you a hierarchy of characters based on influence. The detailed information about a relationship – how much the character respects or envies you etc. is hidden from you and must be unlocked. You start only with the basic sentiment visible: are you more likely to help (the green up arrow) or hurt the characters (the grey down arrow).

Once you invest time and understand the subconscious blocks on your side of the relationship you can counter them with the accumulated goodwill. The idea is, if you experienced respect or kindness in other relationships, it gives you the strength to look at people that irritated or frighten you differently and resist the natural impulses.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

CHAPTER PROGRESS

One of the last additions that improve your choice-based navigating through the story is the green screen-wide progress bar at the top, indicating your progress through a chapter. It has a tooltip that informs you have well you are doing in terms of meeting the chapter’s goals in collecting experience, influence, and goodwill.

The new game score lets you keep track of how well you play

With all of the three big areas we wanted to upgrade addressed, next month will be about tidying up all the loose ends, balancing and testing.

Cheers,

Andrej

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