NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early Access very soon! remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see.
I did quite a bit of work in the rivers procedural generation. Previously, our rivers were too “straight”, with only 45 degrees turns which looked extremely unnatural… the reason for this is the way I was planning to implement them first via flood-filling the geometry and advancing one tile at a time towards the sea.
That’s no longer the case (see previous posts about rivers procgen) so I changed the way they are built to instead place them segment by segment and pick an angle change within a sensible range for each new segment. This in turn allowed us to fix a bug on their geometry that was haunting me since the Steam Game Festival version (random gaps appearing, caused by the points of the polyline used to create the river surface being too close), as well as make it so we have much more control over the total river length we want in the map, and prevent them from overlapping. Of course we still need to work on their positioning and add branching so they are not that many isolated segments.
While we were at it, we decided to address a bit some visual aspects of the rivers; besides fixing how the “riverbed” was painted to take advantage of the new procgen in which the rivers are flat, we did some experiments on the color of the river texture and concluded (again) we need to modify the river shader for it to interact with the lighting conditions of the scene. I did some tests using the plugin we are using for the oceans’ water, just to evaluate how important it would be to implement some of its features in our shader (like simulating “foam” on contact with other surfaces, and having reflections with an animated normal map).
The forest are now a bit more spread out, with a dense section at their center and more sparse vegetation on its boundaries.
One big thing I missed during the initial work was properly saving and restoring the Terrain objects which are an important part of the game state; while of course there is always the option of storing the seed to regenerate the terrain every time, I opted to save the terrain data instead, to allow future scenarios where it can be modified in-game, as well as allow pre-generated terrains to work through evolving versions of the generator. I am also lazy and didn’t want to go through the generator ensuring all the dice rolls where made with a single pre-seeded generator.
Beside this, there were some tweaks on save/load as expected during playtests, including saving the weather and the player encampments.
We are doing good progress in the revamped UI for the “transfer” popup (Used for trading, transferring items and units to camps, and battle loot), as well as the “inventory” popup (for which we still need to do some design work, to integrate with the “use item” flow)
Art keeps working at a quicker pace than we are able to integrate, so there’s a bunch of things we are going to be adding in the upcoming weeks including special NPC portraits, a complete new environment for the paramo (Andean Tundra), Potato and Maize farms, rocks and cave entrances, new panche raider model and some more redesigned UI.
Finally, we are experimenting with a better way to display grass in the terrain, since using geometry or billboards continues not being good options based in latest tests.
NovaMundi is coming to Steam in Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see.
Saving and Loading games! After the events of the Early Access launch of Ultimate ADOM, which had some negative impact by the lack of being able to save your game (the dev team had some trouble with it due mainly to the complexity of the data model and the lack of proper tools for serialization in C#), I decided to jump into it and finish it. Stoneshard, for all the good reception it has had, could have even better ratings if it weren’t for similar problems.
We had worked a bit on it in the past but were always pushing its completion until the model was more defined, and now that we have a clear idea of what the game is going to be about, it was about time to finally do it. I charged into it and we now have a fully working save/load flow! it will require a lot of testing to make sure the model is preserved correctly, but the core of it is working and any changes will hopefully be small.
It was not simple, since we didn’t have the persistence model in mind since the beginning, so it required moving a lot of stuff around to make sure the logical world model was separated from the visual game objects and other static references.
Continued working with polish on the visuals, I decided to create a separate “playground” scene, mimicking and using the same lighting setup as the main one, so that the visual artist could play around there, placing objects and seeing them as they are seen in the main game including the post-processing profile settings and the scene lights. This included adding some controls to the scene to change the time of the day, emulate the exploration distance, as well as the changes in camera temperature caused by rain. We are still working on tuning the lighting and colors.
Finally, we made some changes in the units, with the Guardians now wearing a club instead of a spear, and the explorer now attacking with a knife. We also added new icons for the “blessings”, replacing the orb placeholders with some Muisca “runes”, and started the transition to the new inventory UI.
NovaMundi is coming to Steam in Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see.
Here comes a very condensed yet huge update of the many things we did during and in the aftermath of the Steam Game Festival (Development weeks 101 to 103, leading to v0.19.1). I didn’t include fixing stuff in general, just interesting cool stuff. I will make a separate post about the Festival itself and the upcoming plans for early access.
Overall, I decided to stick to the “Spear of Chaquén” campaign/game mode. So far, I think it’s the best decision I could have taken, and it has allowed us to focus and make progress in the game as an actual game like we never had before.
Following that, we are working towards a long-overdue overhaul of the user interface. We already started with the HUD elements, not just making them more fit to the new theme but also streamlining them and removing useless clutter and redundant information.
I also brought the onboarding from the old “Children of Bachué” campaign and adapted it to the new plot as well as the many new changes in gameplay. This is an ongoing work, as I’m ensuring any new subsystem, or any change in the gameplay mechanics gets included in the onboarding.
You can now also get lost in the jungles if you are not careful… I think I managed to strike a balance between my illusion of the player being diligent enough to keep track of where he is without an auto-map, and the expectations of the modern gamer. Now if you wander around the jungle for too long, you will “lose track”, and your automap and compass will cease working momentarily until you leave the jungle and wait around for a bit. Explorers are also now required to be in your party for the navigational aids to work, so you now have one more reason to keep them safe.
Jungle movement also has the additional complication of you veering off-course randomly, making it hard to keep a course in an expected cardinal direction. This, coupled with losing track and increased chance of ambushes, accidents, and animal attacks, should make the players think twice before deciding to cross the jungle (or be ready to face the consequences!)
On the other hand, I greatly reduced the chance of units getting sick since it was a boring chore keeping them healthy.
Now, let’s talk about the changes for the units. First off, we added a new items category: “Blessings”, which can be applied to a unit to improve their stats. They are valuable and you can find them as battle loot or buy them in towns. Units also now level up to a max level of 3, based on their actions in battle or hunting, improving their stats and adding a reason for you to take care of them instead of just letting them die to be replaced. You can also now hire additional units in towns all around.
The interface to use items has also been greatly improved and integrated with the “Expedition Status” screen, so from there you see what units need what, and apply it to them.
As you explore the land, in addition to the main cities you will also find smaller towns and huts which will give you “gifts” including units, as a contribution to the cause. These are akin to finding new weapons and armor in a roguelike, or at least that’s my intent.
To start filling the towns, I migrated all the characters from Ramiriqui from the Children of Bachué campaign, doing adjustments as needed. We also decided some important characters would have their special portraits, and started with Zupanaqué, the chieftain of Ramiriquí (for whom I also created a simple initial dialog tied to the quests). We also created a new portrait fragments pack for the random NPCs and units.
Camping also got some changes, the most important being you no longer HAVE TO camp at 2 am every day, instead, the expedition will collapse based on your fatigue counter (so it’s ok to do overnight journeys, at least for now until I implement stronger penalties for exploring in the dark (unless there is a full moon of course)). The visuals were improved bringing back the Muisca tents and improving their placement, and I also did some balancing around the tents weight and the effect of high burden in movement speed, which will be more noticeable soon when we implement roaming enemies and you will wish you could move faster to escape from them.
Another important change was adding an important effect to camping besides recovering fatigue: big HP recovery for some units (which adds a reason for you to want to have more than one tent).
New exploration events include:
Ranged Ambush: Causes damage to random members of the Expedition before jumping into battle.
Deer sighting: Spawns a Deer nearby, no matter if there are no deer habitats around.
Ambush: Allows the player to decide if will ignore or ambush the enemy.
Ambushes now only happen in forests, and there are some additional measures to prevent overwhelming the player with them (especially at the beginning), including having a safe area around cities where you cannot be ambushed when the danger level is low and limiting the number of ambushes in day one to two max.
For combat, I added loot after battle based on the “danger level”, and there are now bigger differences in the stats between unit types giving them a more clear tactical role. Ranged units also reload much quicker now, and random events can now be head-to-head, ambushes, or “ambushed”. The terrain combat also got a bit of a cleanup, but we still need to add some procgen and variety to it.
We also started doing some sweet art for the units to make people excited about them (including ourselves)
Medellín, Colombia — February 3, 2021 — As part of the Steam Game Festival: Winter Edition 2021, Colombian indie game developer Slashware Interactive announced the public release of a fully playable demo for NovaMundi – The Spear of Chaquen, their expedition simulation game with real-time tactical combat set in a land of mountains and jungle inspired by the geography of South America.
In the game, the player must explore the Andean highlands in a mission to unite the Muisca people to repel the Spanish invasion. They must lead a strong, healthy, motivated group of expeditionaries and avoid getting lost in the jungle, making sure to recruit new members but also keeping their veteran units alive, to discover the location of the tribes and convince them to join the fight.
The game boasts a factor of replayability as the game maps and quests are generated procedurally for each gameplay session.
The Demo allows the players to experience an adventure of 7 days of game time, and get a taste of the larger quest-line and additional locations that will be included in the full version.
The development of NovaMundi can be traced back to 2011 with the initial version of its parent project, Expedition, which was more of a traditional European colonization simulator. A more recent iteration of development started in 2018 and after a long process of thematic exploration, which included being selected as a winner for the CREA Digital program in 2019, it shifted towards a focus on the pre-Columbian cultures of South America and their struggle against the Spanish invasion.
NovaMundi is still in development. The Demo is available for free on Steam, (Look for the Download Demo for PC) from where interested players can also add the game to their wishlist to get notified about future releases of the complete game, which is planned to be released on Early Access in the upcoming months.
For week 100 (Ending Jan 24) I went full on preparing for Steam Game Festival. I will post a big update on weeks 100 and 101 as part of the details of our work for the Demo, but here are some of the things that were worked, for the sake of posterity.
Spear of Chaquen Quest
Town placement in a sparse grid
Town gifts and battle loot based on danger level
Stock people in towns to replenish, barter and trade.
Set enemies based on day.
Quests to visit towns
Stretch mountains over the valleys
New Muisca towns
New logo and title screen
New Muisca portraits and cleanup
Muisca camp and improvements on tent and firepit positioning
Improvement in Muisca Guardian and Explorer units.
NovaMundi is coming to Steam in Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want the news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news!
We are working hard to get our demo ready for the upcoming Steam Game Festival, as well as to show it to many eager playtesters and interested parties.
Two main things to talk about this week: first and foremost I finally have a clear mind about the theme we will be focusing on exclusively to polish into a fun experience. The last time I was exploring the issue of the theme of the game (week 94) I had a lot of options circling my head… after a lot of consideration, I have decided to focus on the Spear of Chaquén scenario, in which your goal will be to unite the Muisca people to repel the Spanish invasion.
Following that, I worked a lot on the infrastructure for the procedural questline, as well as some core narrative, this is the top priority so I continue working on this.
As you explore the highlands to unite the tribes, you will meet with the ever-increasing threat of both the hostile Panche tribe (until you manage to take them to your side) and the Spanish invasion force. You must lead a strong, healthy, motivated group of expeditionaries and avoid getting lost in the jungle, making sure to recruit new members but also keeping your veteran units alive. Discover the location of the tribes, and convince them to join the fight.
The other thing we are working on is completing the Muisca and Panche units. This week we managed to integrate the blowgunner (ranged unit with high stealth and long attack range, but weak attack and defense) as well as some fixes on the Muisca Spearman (for him to actually have a spear). On this front, we are also making it so that the heads of the unit models are exchangeable, to increase the visual variety.
In addition to working in the procedural quest system, this week’s plans include improving the models for the Muisca towns, as well as extending the Muisca portrait fragments pack.
NovaMundi is coming to Steam Early 2021, remember to Wishlist it if you like what you see. We also have a Mailing list now, so make sure to subscribe to it as well, if you want the news to reach your email directly. Now, let’s go to the news!
This weeks news go directly into two different topics. I continued working on improving the procedural generation around rivers building upon the work done for the valleys last week. First, I completed the map around the valleys creating “plateaus”, merging in a bit of the previous terrain generator. The trickiest part here was making it blend nicely.
The other thing I am working on is this new terrain generator work well with coastal maps. Most of the work with the heightmap is done, but still need some tweaks on the texturing of the riverbeds as well as making sure the ocean doesn’t conflict with the rivers.
We are also working in completing the models for the Muisca units, along with a way to customize their heads to add a bit of variety. First one was the Archer, and we are now working in the blowgunner .
Another year of awesome game-dev. Here is the story.
All in all, there was a lot of work in Expedition / NovaMundi, focusing mostly on improving the procedural generation but also doing a lot of further exploration in thematic and gameplay aspects. OpenArthurianX6 also saw some important progress with two more milestones completed tho it is still not finished. Emerald Woods and Roguenet were created and are likely to see future development.
I participated in 3 game jams (7DRL, AdventureJam and js13k), gave talks at Colombia 4.0 and two local universities (Unipanamericana and ITM), had a presence in 4 virtual events (Game Developers Carnival, Tokyo Game Show Online 2020, DevCom 2020, Colombia 4.0 2020). Learned a lot more of Unity and C#.
Slashware Interactive continued operations, supporting the development of NovaMundi and focusing in our main client (Zynga).
I started the year by wrapping up work in Expedition from CREA Digital, mostly working in visual tweaks and some procedural generation…. maybe? my records are not very clear but I know there was some groundwork done here for future months.
I completed milestone 4 of OpenArthurianX6, which involved being able to use items as well as having some foundations for the inventory system, the big work was yet to come.
For Expedition, we did some further work on rivers, now rendering them in a way that was more fitting with the new appearance of forests, and also worked on the visuals for the oceans.
I participated in the 2020 7DRL Challenge with Emerald Woods, a relaxed survival and crafting game where you live alone in a hut in the woods where you can roam around exploring caverns and abandoned buildings. I was pretty happy with the results and was my first cooperation with Mapedorr (as well as important contributions by friend QuietGecko). This was my XXth 7DRL entry, keeping my record of submitting an entry for every single one (with varying levels of half-bakedness). I continued working on it thru the month, producing 2 improved versions.
I also worked hard in OpenArthurianX6, managing to complete milestone 5 after a LOT of work to make the inventory system work as I wanted, with drag and drop between containers and the world.
There was also some important work in Expedition’s procedural generation, in order to generate “Coastal” maps inspired by Colombian geography (replacing the “island” generator for the maps with sea).
It doesn’t look like I managed to invest a lot of time in Expedition in April, but I worked on making the beaches look a bit better, and probably continued improving the visuals.
I teamed up again with Mapedorr and QuietGecko (and two more friends) to participate in AdventureJam 2020 with our entry, No Salem D’ La House. The end result was incomplete but looked pretty nice.
I also participated in Game Developers Carnival, a virtual event conceived, I think, as a response to the physical GDC going down because of COVID. It was pretty fun (tho I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy it if not for my super powerful gaming PC)
For Expedition, I continued working in the beaches, added different “cultures” into the game and also completed the “bartering” system.
I also did some work in Emerald Woods to add fishing, but I don’t think I released it.
Further work in Expedition focusing on improving the UI as well as explorations to actually create a fun game with procedural generated dialogs and cultural discoveries.
Following advise from Rami Ismail, I created a board game version of Expedition (and then created a videogame version of the board game). It was useful to come up with a core gameplay cycle and balance it a little bit.
I then worked on integrating that design into the game, including adding random events and a full screen scrollable map.
I also decided to rename Expedition to NovaMundi, after a long process involving many considerations and feedback, and proceeded with the launch of our Steam page as well as the creation of a new trailer.
Following up on the initial reception of NovaMundi, I went on to consider some aspect of its theme and focus, which took a lot of energy. In parallel I continued developing some gameplay aspects such as expiration days for the food in order to make exploring more challenging.
We also participated in Devcom 2020 (virtual) with some interesting contacts, and I also “revived” the Temple of the Roguelike forums doing some work in the theme but also in the rules and finally deciding to kick out an old time troll.
Thematic exploration continued for NovaMundi, while at the same time subsystems for camping, hunting, and cavern exploration were further developed.
I participated in js13k with 404 Rhythm Not Found, again teaming up with QuietGecko, Mapedorr and agar3s (thus briefly assembling back the Black Mamba team). A good entry not without its failures (but still got a good place in the scores) and pretty fun to work in.
We also participated in Tokyo Game Show 2020 (virtual), which was pretty event-less besides some streaming sessions.
The Roguelike Celebration (virtual) took place. It was fun, informative and inspiring for future projects.
Continued exploring different theme possibilities for NovaMundi, including a fantasy world fighting against giant bugs. (Still on the cards!)
A new project was born fueled by roguelikecel (but also something I wanted to make since a long time ago), roguenet, a social space in roguelike format. I managed to create a fully functional version of it if a bit raw, as well as a rexpaint map loader.
I decided to halt the development and art efforts for NovaMundi until some things regarding the theme and gameplay directions where decided. Based on consultation with many experienced friends, I planned some changes in the theme including focusing on an authentic representation of the Muisca people, focusing on historical scenarios and reviving the Children of Bachué campaign.
I was also appointed as an advisor for Marketing for the winners of the CREA Digital 2020 initiative, sharing my experiences and learning thru the journey of many talented and energized teams.
I gave talks at both Colombia 4.0 and Congreso Economía Creativa ITM (link).
For NovaMundi, I completed the translation to English for the first scenario of the Children of Bachué campaign, in preparation of having a demo that includes it.
I also pushed hard in procedural generation for rivers, wrapping up work from past months and shacking the foundations of my current generation process.
Some more work was done in roguenet, polishing the user experience in preparation to some initial public tests. It’s currently up and running here, tho it’s mostly empty (there are plans to include more content in 2021)
Finally, I decided to revive the 1884 Golf Over Africa project, doing a BIG push on it and releasing a new version.
Medellín, Colombia — December 31, 2020 — Colombian indie game developer Slashware Interactive wrapped up 2020 announcing the release of 1884 – Golf Over Africa, a local multiplayer game where friends challenge each other to “conquer” Africa in a golf tournament, taking the seat of an European colonial power.
The game can be described as a mix of grand strategy games like Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, or even the board game Risk, with classic arcade golfing video games. Occupy or invade African territories by landing your golf shoots into them, the player who manages to hold 10 territories wins the game.
First conceived as part of 2018’s Ludum Dare #41 game jam, the game has been completely revamped with new art, sounds, and support for touch-screen and mouse input, to make it more accessible and visually appealing.
1884 – Golf Over Africa, is available for free on the itch.io game portal, through which the developers are accepting contributions to further develop the game to include A.I. opponents, multiplayer support, and more European powers.