last year ended for Sacred Fire with the release of a brand new Early Access build just before the Holidays to our play-testers (Firestarter tier Kickstarter backers). It was packed with all the unlocking and upgrading goodness, UI improvements and bug fixes.
It was well received, but the feedback to the build turned our attention back to combat. It also aligns with our move towards art production as well. The combat character poses represent a big chunk of the ‘pose library’, so we need to have it locked down in the art preparation pass, before we move to the final art production.
These were the identified ways how to improve combat we ended up implementing:
Make the combat deadly
If you don’t play smart, you die in a few clicks. This also applies to the risk chains outside combat (when hunting, etc.). To achieve this we changed how you can use your motivation points to boost your chances of success.
- 1 motivation point boosts only 20% of success chance on ‘hard checks’ (displayed as icons). Boosting ‘soft checks’ (displayed as text) stays the same way as always, 1 motivation point ensures the choice success.
- this integrates the ‘wear out’ tactic, that used to be a separate tactics option, into the basic rules. Once you run out of motivation, that gives you the strength to make the extra effort despite the pain, things can turn ugly fast.
More control to the player
Instead of the game picking a random attack move for you, you now select a specific body part to target with your attack. There is a tactic element to it: each attack uses a different stat (precision, speed, and force) and results in different penalties to the opponent for damaging that body part.
- Head, can trigger a penalty prohibiting the use advanced tactics for ‘x’ turns
- Arms, penalty to attack hit probability for ‘x’ turns
- Legs, penalty to dodge probability for ‘x’ turns
- Torso, can cause bleeding wounds for ‘x’ turns
Ensure cinematic flow and clean UI feedback:
- the camera flips after each line
- a rhythm of one choice and one result line, creating also clean UI feedback, avoiding mixing the floating texts informing you about stat changes and choices displayed as icons
- cancel the use of technical headlines like ‘COMBAT TURN START’, ‘RISK CHAIN END’, etc. for a seamless integration of story and combat.
Ensure flow variability
We already had variability in:
- the text alone, repetitive lines having up to 3 variants
- your opponent running checks determining different reactions to your moves (he falls for a ruse or sees right through it, goes berserk or controls his rage, etc.)
- your opponent’s tactical options (flee, surrender (fake or real), intimidate, provoke)
- emotion extremes taking over (berserk, freeze), of course you can use willpower to resist this, or on the opposite embrace and channel your rage into devastating attacks
- new tactics unlocking (e.g. blind with sand, use obstacle, etc.)
- the basic choices a player has (flee, perform a renown feat, pretend fear)
We further added variability in results:
- each of yours and opponent’s attacks can result into a critical hit, regular hit, graze, a close call, regular miss, or a critical miss. This adds a lot of room for visual variability and brutality to the combat. The goal is not to glorify violence, but to not downplay the ugliness of causing pain to a human being.
- control you reaction to pain, your opponent’s intimidation and provocation reaction – use the opportunity to show how tough you are and gain your opponent’s respect. In case this is not a sworn enemy, he might propose a truce or even an alliance, and end the combat without one of you dying.
The upgraded combat now nicely complements the overall game experience as yet another thing to keep you engaged, clicking through the story, building up your character’s inner strength to outsmart your opponent in the next deadly duel. Or you can build the influence, relationships or insights that’ll help you avoid it in the first place. After all, this story is yours to tell.
This is an important moment in the development of our game. The vision of Sacred Fire, mesmerizing, but fleeting and unattainable for so many years, has materialized. We feel like there is no weak link in the design left to break the immersion now. And you, our backers, helped us achieve this. Thank you for your patience and continuous support.
Now let’s make this game shine with beautiful art.
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