NovaMundi v0.37 – Destiny of the Muisca

NovaMundi is still available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

Development has resumed in full! The biggest addition for this version is the Perks system; you can now customize your runs by selecting different bonuses, penalties, or just variations of the universe.

The perks window, including some of the future planned perks

This version ships with the following 4 perks

  • Combat Blessing: +2 Bonus to attack for all units
  • Vagabond Defect: -10 HP for all units
  • Destiny traits
    • Peaceful Lands: You’ll be attacked much less often by raiding parties
    • Militia Only: Only “Guardian” units will be available (no Guecha Warriors or Archers)
    • Known Lands: The location of the main towns will be known in advance.
Even knowing the location of the Muisca towns, traversing the rugged Andes geography will be challenging!

Talking about combat, another important thing that is changing is a chance of its pace, taking some steps towards more “active” gameplay. For now, that means the battles start unpaused, in the future, we are going to add more visual feedback on the battle as we extend the combat rules to give it a little more depth (but not a lot! exploration will remain the focus of the game)

In more combat-related things, we fixed some issues with unit selection to allow combat between large parties

That’s it for today’s version! for next week we are planning to release important changes in the “cave exploration” system, providing some procedural Muisca dungeon crawling for your pleasure. It’s going to be big so don’t miss it!

NovaMundi 0.36.2 – Picking back pace

NovaMundi is still available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

This version contains two critical fixes:

  • Cannot load games at all (root cause issues with the MuiscaNameGenerator state)
  • Exploit: Raiding parties not saved
    • This was just missing from the implementation of save/load.
    • Quite a bit of work, however put some things in place that will be helpful when we extend the overworld population.

We renewed our commitment to take the game out of Early Access, this includes a person from Slashware working full time on playtesting the game and coming out with ideas for improvement within the constraints of its development. This version includes some cheat options to ease that work too (You can’t touch them tho).

I’m also in the middle of developing some important improvements in the setup of the runs, being able to customize them and set up the initial party, I hope this will be available next week!

In other news: New coverage! I was interviewed (in Spanish) for ColombiaVisible.com. This one was pretty in-depth containing some details of the story of NovaMundi that are not commonly shared. Also took the chance to highlight the work done by some other members of the team.

NovaMundi 0.36 – Achiote

NovaMundi is still available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

The last development update was from January! It’s not that there was zero development in these months, but I certainly took some time to work on other projects to take a bit of fresh air. Now we are back to your schedule!

A new version is out, 0.36 – Achiote, here are the major changes but as always there were smaller bugs fixed along the way.

Let’s start with exploration: based on player’s feedback I doubled the movement speed in the overworld since players didn’t seem to really like to take their time to look at the scenery 🙂 this of course makes moving between locations much quicker (but the time scale was adjusted accordingly so it all takes the same amount of game time.). Additionally, the time doesn’t completely freeze when you are not moving, but instead slows down to 10% of the normal speed, since it felt a bit glitchy with the full stop.

The random dialogs that expedition members used to say while traveling were removed since they were not really adding a lot to the experience and actually were confusing players who thought they might be real hints to the game mission or things to do.

However, the main reason I decided to push this version to the public was the addition of the hints in the minimap; players will no longer need to refer to the journal and textual directions for the nearby towns; instead, they are added as blotches of paint in the map, put in an approximate location.

As the first step on a sequence of improvements for the towns; the game now zooms into them when you “enter” them. This is just the beginning of an arc of development for the towns, and I am going to incorporate recent research on the Muisca towns as well as usability improvements and tweaks to make them feel bigger and more alive.

The Mac version was finally updated from v0.32.4 (August 16, 2021), so if you are on Mac make sure to update and get a LOT of improvements 🙂

We continue working on a list of improvements for the game; it’s not clear how much longer it will be on Early Access, but I want to make sure of its quality, accessibility, and variety of content while keeping the current base scope. So make sure to keep an eye out for future releases!

Novamundi 0.35 – Trailblazer

NovaMundi is available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

The last development update was from October 2021! It’s not that there was zero development in these months, but I certainly took some time to work on other projects to take a bit of fresh air. Now we are back to your schedule!

Let’s talk about the new version, 0.35 – Trailblazer, here are the major changes but as always there were smaller bugs fixed along the way.

A new combat unit, the Spanish Trailblazer, has replaced all other Spanish units (at least momentarily) to fit with the new visual style of the units and our latest research. These lightly armored European warriors are armed with steel spears and appear along with Panche raider groups in the mid to late days of the invasion.

The Muisca units were also improved with knives added to the Explorer unit, and new animations for the Guardian’s staff attack.

Deer hunting was also improved with them now having proper run animations, and with some tweaks on their behavior.

The text of the intro was completely remade to reflect on our latest developments of the theme of the game, mainly adjusting the portrayal of the European force as much less of a deadly invasion force while still a dangerous threat.

The texts for the dialogs of the wayfarers where they describe surrounding animals have been localized, as well as the names of the animals and their description when you find one.

In the media front, the interview with “Congreso and Sociedad” for the TV channel of the Colombian Congress was finally released on YouTube; some interesting points were discussed.

Finally, just for fun, I mocked up how would Encanto town (from the Disney movie) look inside the Expedition engine, using some assets from the previous incarnation of the project which I don’t rule out reviving this year in some way (as a separate game).

Tales of NovaMundi – Week 136

NovaMundi is available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

There was not a lot of work these two weeks due to personal issues and work in Roguenet and OpenArthurianX6, however, we continue improving the visuals and variety of the units.

Variations on hair styles and clothing were added for the Muisca units, and a first version of the updated European units was also integrated into the game, they continue evolving both visually, and in their role in the story. More to be revealed soon.

On the audio front, we added effects for the animals including solitary eagles, king vultures, pumas, deers, bears, and parrots. We also incorporated some fixes in the volume sliders to use a logarithmic scale and added a Master volume slider.

Tales of NovaMundi – Week 134

NovaMundi is available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

We have been working hard on adding the definitive content. A new version, v0.34.0, was published.

Fauna

King vultures (Gallinazo Rey) now fly on the lowland forests and wetlands. Large and predominantly white, the king vulture has gray to black ruff, flight, and tail feathers. The head and neck are bald, with the skin color varying, including yellow, orange, blue, purple, and red. The king vulture has a very noticeable orange fleshy caruncle on its beak. This vulture is a scavenger and it often makes the initial cut into a fresh carcass.

Characters and Quests

We added a complete set of 16 new characters including their dialogs for both Spanish and English. These include the leaders of 6 Muisca territories, and several characters sharing the trades and traditions of the Muisca.

This also included the implementation of a more defined set of quests to unite the Muisca territories, designed based on our research on potential sources of conflict between the Muisca territories, as well as their beliefs and needs. The Quest controller used internally had to be updated to support the new conditions to complete the tasks, as well as to improve its support for chained quests.

New trade and quest items were added, and the caverns system was also reenabled so that these quests could be completed. The Dialog Controller was also improved to support dialog fragment variations based on flags so that the conversations can be a little bit more dynamic and contextual.

Visuals

We took the first step to display the Muisca population center including more huts and a palisade since these are essential elements for their architecture. We still need to work on the definitive unique elements for each town.

Streaming

On October 12, most of the devteam assembled to chat (in Spanish) about the state of the project and our approach to the topic of the European Invasion of these territories which started in October 12, 1492, including how the topic has evolved in the game to its current shape where we focus on the player combating the divisions between the Muisca first and foremost, portraying a scenario where it would be harder for small bands of explorers to gain political advantage in the territory.

We also talked about our plans to transition out of Early Access, and some things we wish we could have time and resources to add into the game. Click here to see the VOD.

I also participated in IndieCade’s IndieXchange 2021, in their panel “Finding Business & Funding Success Around the World” sharing a bit of the story of NovaMundi’s funding and some ideas for fellow game developers.

Tales of NovaMundi – Week 132

NovaMundi is available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

It has been five weeks since the last update. A new version, v0.33.0, was published.

Audio

Gecko continues working on improving the audio of the game; the UI effects are almost completely covered, and we began experimenting with spot ambiences with the towns.

New Unit models

We decided to take the leap and remake the appearance of all the units; we are looking forward to abandon the previous “bulky” anatomies replacing them with more anatomically correct bodies with more details and higher texture quality.

We still need to add more variety to them, and we are still working in the Spanish units as well as the integration of these new units into the game (as well as improving the workflow to integrate new fragments and variations more easily)

The DevTeam at DevCom 2021

We participated in DevCom 2021 (pitching a separate game we are planning for 2022). However, we also did a devteam stream, talking about the (updated) history of NovaMundi.

Some of the topics we discussed included:

  • The many shifts on theme for the project and their effect on the ongoing development.
  • The current work in many facets of the game, as we approach the end of Early Access.
  • The feedback we have received from the Early Access phase from streamers such as Nookrium and their communities, and how we have integrated it into the game. (including the work we have done to make the game feel more alive)
  • Classifying NovaMundi as part of a genre. RTS? Survival? Strategy RPG? Roguelike?
  • WarTales – we noticed it.
  • Playing the current version of the game, some tips from the experts!
  • New roles for upcoming non-combat units.
  • Recent changes in exploration and navigation such as time compression.

Tales of NovaMundi – Week 130

NovaMundi is available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

For the past two weeks, we produced version v0.32.4 and there’s a lot of ongoing visual, audio, and content work.

Wandering expeditions

We are now spawning packs of Puma in the overworld (instead of a single one). This involved creating a sort of “hivemind” coordinated AI for the individual actors.

We went ahead and decouple this from the “wildlife” controller to make it useable in other parts of the game, including the long-awaited enemy expeditions replacing the random combat on the map. This is available on the public version, and we are looking forward to seeing how the experiment works (so far it seems good).

New Visuals for units (WIP)

We are working on revamping the visuals for the characters and unit models. This will take some time as we generate enough content to replace the current one, but I believe we are on the right track to make our units fit more with the visual style of the rest of the game.

Conversations (WIP)

We are also working on expanding the content of the towns in the game with more and higher-quality characters. We are populating these towns with at least an authority with which you have to negotiate to join the alliance, some of them based on historical accounts of Muisca leaders from around the time of the Spanish incursion. These will be added to the game soon.

New Audio (WIP)

We are working in the environment audio for the páramo (Andes high-mountain tundra) and wetlands, as well as the sound effects for the cavalry units and improvements in the UI feedback.

Interviews

I was interviewed for “Congreso y Sociedad”, a TV show for “Canal del Congreso” (the official TV station of the Congress of the Republic of Colombia), where I talked about NovaMundi’s history, its dynamics with the academy, and non-traditional media as a way to preserve the indigenous cultures, Gamification, VideoGame development in Colombia and Latin America and the role of the state in the growth of the VideoGames sector. It’s still not available but I’ll put a link here when it’s up.

Tales of NovaMundi – Week 128

NovaMundi is available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

For the past two weeks, we produced two versions, v0.32.1 and v0.32.2

Characters and Dialogs

The characters on the towns have been renamed to more accurate Muisca names, and the Spanish dialogs for four of them have been improved greatly including embedded Muisca language words. One of them has been translated to English too. I still need to integrate and translate the remaining redesigned dialogs.

Fauna

The “Spectacled Bear” now dwells in the cold Andes highlands.

Also added the “Solitary Eagle”, although it’s not a very common sight in this area of the Andes, and tweaked the logic to spawn all existing fauna (reduced chances and spawn ranges, prevent spawning while expedition resting).

Combat / Misc

  • 3X attack bonus on the first attack to “Charging” units (puma, spectacled bear and Spanish cavalry)
  • Tweak grass appearance
  • New visuals for clubs for Guardians

Community

I was interviewed by Diego Celis for Divulgark, a group dedicated to research, conservation and diffusion of the archeological patrimony of Colombia. It was a pretty good interview and we got to show the game to a lot of people. You can see it here in Spanish: LINK.

This led to a conversation with Jorge Gamboa, coordinator of the “History Group” of the ICANH (Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History). He brought some interesting points about the historical context of the game, which served to strengthen my ideas about the mission of the player inside the game: uniting the Muisca territory as a nation. The biggest threat the player faces is not the Spanish invaders, but rather the deep divisions between the Muisca.

Tales of NovaMundi – Week 126 of Development

NovaMundi is available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!

For the past two weeks, we produced two versions, v0.31 and v0.32.

Wandering mobs

At long last, I started tackling one big thing that is going to change the player experience greatly: groups of people (or animals) moving around on the map and interacting with the player. We are going to add this to make the world feel more alive as well as to add a factor of seeking / evading targets on the map replacing the current random encounters. See below for the first type of mob to be included.

Fauna

These cats employ a blend of stealth and power, stalking their prey until an opportunity arrives to pounce, then going for the back of the neck with a fatal bite. They will hide large carcasses and feed on them for several days.

National Geographic website (link)

The puma now roam the land! they will wander around until you get close to them, then they may flee or assault the expedition.

The puma is spawned around forests and will disappear after a while if you lose sight of it. The White-Tailed Deer were also added back, and will.

You can also now ask for directions to the habitats of animals in the towns.

Combat

I zoomed back in the camera into combat so that it’s easier to select the units, and also because we were not really making good use of the entire space for combat (which normally happens in 1 to 3 clusters, with short-range units, and under 30 units). We still need to implement the combat areas by biome, procedural, and with relevant obstacle and height bonuses.

Audio

We put some big effort into the audio, including continued tweaks on UI sounds and in general audio responsiveness to in-game events (for example combat start/end), as well as tweaks and fixes for some animal sounds (parrots and condors).

We made some initial work on balancing the volume of the effects, but are still pending completing a mix for all the audio in the project. One big change is we are now properly using an Audio Mixer object to control the volume for the different tracks (music/ambient/sound effects) instead of manually tracking the volume of the Audio Clips. This will facilitate the process in the future to continue building a high-quality audio experience; there’s also a slider bar for the ambient sounds (separate from music)

User Interface

I implemented another relayout in the HUD, moving the command buttons to the upper-right corner, making the compass bar smaller, and making the status area more compact including a background for readability.

Procedural Generation

I did a lot of tweaks, lowering the generation time by about two-thirds (!), some routines to place vegetation still relied on my slow Cellular Automata implementation and were replaced by the much quicker one based on queues. Some ultra-heavy things, like the routine to remove trees from the river paths, were no longer needed for our new water-bodies-based generator, and the process to create clearings in the forest for towns was also changed to prevent placing trees there in the first place.

I also disabled the caves, until we can invest a good deal of work on them to make them more interesting.

Dialogs

We are in the process of remaking and fixing the dialogs for the characters you find in the town, to make them feel more alive and integrated into the environment; in the process, we also included the means to display words in Muyscubun (Muisca language), along with their Spanish or English translation, visible when hovering the native word.

For now, we have a single character implementing the new dialogs and translations (and only in Spanish), but we’ll have a bigger coverage in the next weeks.

Media

Two big hits this week, the first one is a ~30 mins playthrough by Nookrium, always a great way for people to get to know about the game (as well as for us to find some spots to focus on). I’m happy to see the game is enjoyable already, and we’ll continue working for it to be more fun and interesting. (Click below to watch the gameplay)

I was also interviewed for Revista Semana (in Spanish), one of the biggest publications in Colombia. I talked about the history of the project, some of the challenges we have met, and our goals with it. (Click below to read the interview)

The NovaMundi Series

We participated in virtual GDC 2021, pitching the next game in the NovaMundi series of open-world exploration roguelikes. This one will not be set in a historical context like Spear of Chaquén. More info to come soon!