Hello everyone,

this month, we continued with our philosophy of not leaving any weak links behind. And so, before fully moving towards character and location art production, we polished all the UI text formatting, placement, and visibility. We also smoothed out all the text reveal and camera animations, including optimizing the scene loading code. The game is now highly responsive, which is great if you want to rewind back and forth to re-read the text leading up to a choice. Too bad most of the stuff is hard to see in a picture :/

The new polished UI

Besides compiling the necessary pose library, characters and outfits models, we also successfully updated our character art production pipeline. All in all, we were pleasantly surprised at how much easier the character art production got (especially hair generation and simulation). Also, the available hardware runs simulations and renders out pictures much faster. Furthermore, the base models we can buy and start from got better in quality as well. I hope to show you some examples of that next month.

COMBAT AI EXPOSED

While positioning doesn’t play a role in Sacred Fire’s combat, many other aspects do. Each turn your opponents run several probability checks influencing their actions. But more importantly, they use motivation points to boost their attacks and defenses. And now you can see under the hood of all the factors and dice rolls influencing their decisions. And use this understanding to gain an edge.

Your opponents use willpower to boost their attacks and defense

We exposed not only the attack and defense boosting checks, but also the perceived threat level, which is based on your character’s intimidation skill (menace, damage, renown) and state (wounds, fatigue, bleeding, fear and anger). More importantly, you can influence the AI, not only by direct intimidation and provocation actions but also by not showing fear, or on the contrary, letting your anger burn.

Your opponents react to the emotions you feel

Another reason why the AI’s attack and defense boosting are very important is: damage, bleeding wounds, and stunned limbs penalties are calculated not simply by a hit and miss, but by the exact dice roll surplus. This all opens up a new level of tactical depth for those who prefer to use the pointy end of the blade instead of talking their way out of a situation.

While the result is determined by a dice roll, you can do a lot to increase the odds of landing a critical hit

ROLE-PLAYING +1

We are quite proud of one small but influential change to our Emotions & Motivations rule-set: two of the attributes describing your mindset are ‘Ideals’ and ‘Favor’. Now they influence your Guilt Resistance. That’s it. That’s the change.

Now, let me explain why that matters.

We always wanted to support both the players who want to role-play a pragmatic character who takes the world for what it currently is and the poetic souls who want to project into the world what it could be.

Ideals represent the strength of your conviction that there is inherent goodness in people and thus acting out in good faith works. Favor represents the strength of your conviction that a higher being is looking after you favorably.

Acting out ideals and relying on convictions you can not verify with your sense, can backfire. And while the writing and scenes reflected this quite nicely, the rule-set didn’t have a sufficient cost to playing a high Ideals or high Favor character. It weakened your intimidation skills, but that was about it. And that’s where the current change comes in: Guilt resistance influences how sensitive you are to your failure and short-comings or how sensitive you are to other characters’ accusations. So now things feel more balanced out. And playing a character with low Ideals and Favor means Guilt doesn’t stick with you in most situations. And you can go quite dark:

We are quite happy with the interpretation and story nuance this little rule-set change enables. Especially since it took like 5 seconds to implement, but triggered a wealth of effects in the rule-set mechanics that can be picked up in story scenes.

Cheers,

Andrej

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