Runemaster - Developer diary 17 - Upgradeable Units & Abilities

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Hi everyone!

As you know, a war is coming and no one knows what the outcome will be. Every soul will have to choose side before the end and when the Gods are going to war, you don't want to be the ones caught in the middle – rather be a strong force on the side you choose to support. So how do you make yourself an invincible force? You make sure the men and women in your army are the best that can be found. If they are scrawny and weak when you recruit them, then you need to make sure they become experienced and skilled before Ragnarök.

Therefore, this week I'll talk some about how unit upgrades work in Runemaster. Some of the details of what I tell you may change before the release, since this is still very much a work in progress, but I can at least give you the gist of the basic design :)

All of the units in your army have a level, from one to eight. Most units are recruited at level one and will then gain experience from taking actions in combat. When enough experience has been accumulated, it gains a level and will be ready for upgrading. The unit can then be taken to a "training ground" location where you pay gold to upgrade the unit to the next level. For each level gained, the unit will gain some basic stats depending on the unit and you get to choose between two different bonuses. These bonuses can either be an additional stat increase, a new ability, an upgrade to an existing ability or an increase of sub-unit count.

This gives you the opportunity to tailor your units to match your play style, while still keeping the micromanagement under control. If you never replace units and get 15 units up to level eight you'll have made 105 upgrade choices which is a lot, but still manageable over the course of a long game.

Pay the Cost to be the Boss
Since you have to pay gold to upgrade your units and you also pay gold to recruit new units, a lot of your early game economy will revolve around deciding if you want fewer elite units or more, less effective troops. High level units also cost more to get back in the field if they're wounded or decimated, so it's important to plan ahead and think about how you will use your gold to get the most out of your army. Getting the extra bonuses from higher level units is supposed to make a real difference, and experienced units can do wonders in some situations. But you also don’t want to be so outnumbered on a battlefield that your best warriors go down before they can do any real damage.

If you pay attention to how the battles are shaping up and changing as you move through the game, your army will go through a range of compositions. A fair sized army of scrubs may work in some situations, a crack troop of elite soldiers in another and later you may find that you need some cannon fodder to give you time to put your hero and best soldiers into position.

Abilities
All units in the game start with either an active or passive ability. Active abilities include stuff like calling down a fireball upon your foes or making a cavalry charge to target the enemy’s ranged units. Examples of passive abilities are inflicting bonus damage from flanking attacks, defensive bonuses to neighboring friendly units and damage each turn to neighboring enemy units.

Most units can also gain one or two abilities from upgrades which will further specialize that unit to serve a special purpose. Perhaps your archers gain the ability to fire flaming arrows or your armored units can form a shield wall. Other upgrades will improve a unit’s base ability or reduce the focus cost for using it, so that you can use it more often.

Sub-unit count
Units start with a set number of sub-units - a Shieldmaiden unit may be composed of three Shieldmaidens, for example. Each sub-unit is displayed on the battlefield with a 3D-model. Some of the stats of a unit are multiplied by the number of sub-units; losses will make a unit weaker, in other words. Sub-units that fall in battle need to be "revived" or replaced at a cost if you want to get the unit back to full strength.

Units of different races start out with a different number of sub-units. It takes fewer Giants to make a battle worthy unit than it does Dwarfs, for example. Choosing between adding sub-units to a unit or buying something else as an upgrade is another important spending decision - a small elite unit with a special ability or a stronger basic unit. Some stat upgrades will add an extra sub-unit to a unit.

So there's another combat focused developer diary. Let us know what you think and feel free to ask about anything that’s unclear!

PS. Don´t miss the "Let's talk about Runemaster" - livestream this Thursday at 15:15cest
http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum...ut-Runemaster-live-this-Thursday-at-15-15cest

Here's a screenshot of a group of Raiders and their "training ground":
Runemaster_52.jpg
 
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Talar

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Will there be a power-curve effect? That if you make a strong start in the game you can stay a step ahead of the enemies and even increase your lead as you spend less on recruiting back lost soldiers etc? Many games have this kind of too easy endgame where you have all stats maxed out and just stomp all opposition. I guess some units could be good at low levels but not as useful towards the endgame.. or the other way around depending on their upgrades.

Will it be easy to put together exactly the army you want? Or will you depend more on the RNG and have to play what it deals you?

Having plenty of upgrades sounds nice. But I was hoping for more details on the actual combat, like tactics, different army compositions, strengths and weaknesses etc. Another DD maybe..

Looks like you are building a system that will be easy to add new units to in future expansions, or content in general since you just throw it into the randomizer to be placed out in the world and automatically increasing the variation the more stuff you put in there.
 

the cool guy

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Is there plans for DLC for Runemaster if it dosen't flop? (MotE)
 

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I hope Runemaster will be the success. Al least it looks very promising. I will get it on day one.
 

Jamey

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I like the upgrade system. It reminds me of XCom. I really like being able to see all possible upgrades from the start. Not being able to do that can be a bit frustrating (e.g. one of my pet peeves with Warlock until I found the info on a wiki...).
 

wolfing

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Sounds awesome, I like that it adds randomness to playthroughs. For example, in one playthrough you may find some unit types you like at the beginning of the game, so them being longer with you they are likely to reach high levels. But in a second playthrough they may not be easily accessible, and by the time you find them, you may already have other units that are higher level, so you need to make a decision if you want to replace them for fresh level 1 recruits, or keep the other ones since you have invested time & money on them. I love that, the more decisions and varying factors, the more replayability.
 

MrNibbles

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This question was asked before... And they said, they don't plan DLCs before the release if I remember correct.

Blatant lies! Of course we have dlc's planned! And to make it even better, all of them are day 1 dlc's as everyone loves them!

1. Wyrmlicious - Play as the great serpent Jörmungandr as it tries to charm the creatures of Midgard with it's culinary skills!
2. Näcken (Neck) - Play as the Neck in this musical dlc where you must play your instrument a la "Guitar Hero" style in order to trick the humans to their untimely death by drowning!
3. Ragnarök - Unlock the rest of the game!
4. Loki's Curse - Adds a new quicktime events every 60 seconds!

..and finaly.. the Assemble dlc - Where Thor and Loki are joined by their companions: The Green Monster, The Red Knight, Leather Lady, Hawk Bowman etc
 

darthfanta

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So how do you get money in this game? Do you conquer settlements and have the people fund your war-chest or do you build an army based solely upon loot and reward money?
 

ciek

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Blatant lies! Of course we have dlc's planned! And to make it even better, all of them are day 1 dlc's as everyone loves them!

1. Wyrmlicious - Play as the great serpent Jörmungandr as it tries to charm the creatures of Midgard with it's culinary skills!
2. Näcken (Neck) - Play as the Neck in this musical dlc where you must play your instrument a la "Guitar Hero" style in order to trick the humans to their untimely death by drowning!
3. Ragnarök - Unlock the rest of the game!
4. Loki's Curse - Adds a new quicktime event every 60 seconds!

..and finaly.. the Assemble dlc - Where Thor and Loki are joined by their companions: The Green Monster, The Red Knight, Leather Lady, Hawk Bowman etc

I can't believe you aren't selling day one Horse Armor DLC! Harumph
 
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MrNibbles

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I can't believe you aren't selling day one Horse Armor DLC! Harumph

Well, the reason for that is that here in Sweden/The North don't use horses, we ride mooses, and don't worry, there will be a "Moose Armor" dlc!
 

the cool guy

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This question was asked before... And they said, they don't plan DLCs before the release if I remember correct.

Blatant lies! Of course we have dlc's planned! And to make it even better, all of them are day 1 dlc's as everyone loves them!

1. Wyrmlicious - Play as the great serpent Jörmungandr as it tries to charm the creatures of Midgard with it's culinary skills!
2. Näcken (Neck) - Play as the Neck in this musical dlc where you must play your instrument a la "Guitar Hero" style in order to trick the humans to their untimely death by drowning!
3. Ragnarök - Unlock the rest of the game!
4. Loki's Curse - Adds a new quicktime events every 60 seconds!

..and finaly.. the Assemble dlc - Where Thor and Loki are joined by their companions: The Green Monster, The Red Knight, Leather Lady, Hawk Bowman etc

Thanks for legit answer and funny post.
 

Pyoro

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I've decided to put this into a spoiler since I feel some might take this the wrong way. By opening this spoiler, you agree to take this the right way ;)
Since you keep having fun with those DLC how about
5. Customization DLC - Allows you to change the look of your character - without editing your savegames!
6. Zombie-Nazis Invasion DLC - Cheap and just for fun(?). For no reason whatsoever Zombienazis will invade your game.
7. Songs of Whatever Part I to XIV - As useful as a horse armor, this add more songs to the soundtrack you'll turn off anyways.
8. Paradox cannot into Graphics Part I - X - Instead of all 50 different units using the same model, you can now buy somewhat different models for 20 of them. The other 30 still looking the same.
9. Portrait Packs - Adds more portraits for NPCs. Each is drawn by a different artist with a different color vision impairment in a different art style, so all look uniquely weird.

And while I feel I've lately not exactly been making friends here I'll also basically repeat what I said in the combat DD - this is pretty much the most basic of the basic stuff for these kind of games. I still think the actual-gameplay-soup is lacking some salt. ^^
 

MrNibbles

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Ok, on a serious note... I tend to avoid games like HOMM as they simply aren't my cup of tea. But without sounding to biased towards Runemaster, once you play they game you'll notice that even if the combat takes inspiration from similar games, it is quite a different experience (can't go into details).
 

Wallain

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Ok, on a serious note... I tend to avoid games like HOMM as they simply aren't my cup of tea. But without sounding to biased towards Runemaster, once you play they game you'll notice that even if the combat takes inspiration from similar games, it is quite a different experience (can't go into details).
The resource conservation alone makes it less like HOMM and more like King's Bounty in style. At least from the info we have. But both HOMM and KB are different in how they handle units compared to Runemaster.
 

Dalwin

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I have never fully understood the mechanic to require visiting a trainer that is prevalent in so many RPGs. You are learning by doing in actual combat, hence the whole experience mechanic. Things like stat increases or boosts to skills you already know should simply happen when you level up.

It makes some sense to have to visit a trainer to learn something new, but not for improving things you already know. This is a form of busy work that takes away from the fun of actually playing.

Please reconsider the mechanic of requiring side trips to visit trainers. If another cash sink is needed, we could always pay our troops, with higher level ones requiring more pay.
 

keytium

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I have never fully understood the mechanic to require visiting a trainer that is prevalent in so many RPGs. You are learning by doing in actual combat, hence the whole experience mechanic. Things like stat increases or boosts to skills you already know should simply happen when you level up.

It makes some sense to have to visit a trainer to learn something new, but not for improving things you already know. This is a form of busy work that takes away from the fun of actually playing.

Please reconsider the mechanic of requiring side trips to visit trainers. If another cash sink is needed, we could always pay our troops, with higher level ones requiring more pay.

I very much agree. Often it's needlessly tedious. Also sometimes the story just isn't at town. If I'm hot on the trail of a group of elf bandits who stole an ancient relic of Odin, then a stop off at the town down the road doesn't make sense even if it only takes five minutes. Likewise if three of my units are destroyed by a rampaging frost giant and I'm forced to make a retreat through a troll infested mine I'm going to get really pissy that my berserker can't use that sweet new charge ability he unlocked just because I've been too busy fighting for my life to go see Jim 'The-twohanded-axe-expert' MacGee.
 

Hericage

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This is a form of busy work that takes away from the fun of actually playing.
I completely agree with this.

You shouldn't have to visit a town for every single unit upgrade. On the other hand I wouldn't mind going through something like 'speak to Reginald the Raging Rader' in order to unlock new Raider upgrades. I'm thinking that upgrade 1-3 are 'free', but 4-5 requires you to have unlocked 'Veteran Raiders', 6-7 'Elite Raiders'. Once you have 'Veteran Raiders' unlocked all raiders can reach level 6.
This way you can upgrade your whole army to level 4 for free ( or cheap ), but have to spend some gold to go past that for certain unit types. AND I think it would make perfect sense to travel to nearest town ( or a specific town for that matter ) in order to purchase an upgrade such as this, as it is something you won't do very often.

What do you guys think of something like that?

Keep in mind that this is just an idea from me, and has not been taken 'up the chain'. I just wanted to join the discussion :)
 

Talar

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If I'm hot on the trail of a group of elf bandits who stole an ancient relic of Odin, then a stop off at the town down the road doesn't make sense even if it only takes five minutes.

But in this situation it would be a tactical choice to stop and prepare yourself better for a coming fight or to rush right after them with what you have at the moment. If there are choices like this in the game I wouldn't mind training. But if its just a chore to go somewhere every now and then and the elves are still waiting in the exact same spot for you to continue your pursuit when you are done then it doesn't really add anything to the game.

There is also the feeling of going out on expeditions that can be given by having to return to a kind of base camp every now and then to restock, level up etc. But for this to work there must be some kind of cost to returning (like time passing, enemies also healing and restocking or whatever) so it doesn't just become a chore to do between every fight.
 
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