NovaMundi: Spiritual Experiences [0.40]

NovaMundi is a procedural exploration game with tactical combat in which you lead a group of indigenous warriors and explorers to traverse the vast and dangerous territories of the Andean mountains seeking to unite the Muisca populations against the first wave of Spanish invaders in the XVI century.

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

v0.40 continues with the focus on sidequests which at the same time triggered some engine work. Additionally, out of nowhere, there was work in the zoomed exploration which may be significantly exploited in the future when more caverns are added.

Caverns Exploration

Out of nowhere, I decided to add a minimap to caverns exploration including markers for the units, an indicator for the camera location, clicking on the minimap to warp to that location, and uncovering the minimap as units explore it; it was a lot of work that probably won’t be fully exploited in the current version.

Additionally, made it so that the battle music overlay only activates while in combat

Procedural Generated Discoveries

Some of the sidequests we had designed required visiting a “kind” of place in the world, located nearby another place; to support that I included placing the markers in the world (for paramos and spots in the rivers), and then wiring together these places with the quests after procedural generation was done so that when you talked with the quest-giver he could give you details on the direction and distance of the place.

Sidequests

We worked on a bunch of sidequests (TI-5, TI-7, MQ-5, MQ-8, MQ-23), as mentioned, some of them were of a new kind, requiring you to visit places

As a new sidequest required a day counter, I added support to allow multiple of such type of quests. Some QA rounds revealed bugs in MQ-0 and MQ-4 that were also fixed.

Economy

Modified the merchant restock routines to include a limited amount of “rare” goods they can have every day; they also refer to them in their greeting.

Assorted fixes

  • Add missing journal fragments for the main quest
  • Prevent exploration music cooldown from resuming music while town music is being played.
  • Make the mission briefing text area scrollable
  • Add a visible Tunjo slot for party members.
  • Fix issues selecting units in combat (conflict with minimap)
  • Fix raiders encampment prefab restoring issue.
  • Land places on terrain when restoring the game

NovaMundi: Take your time again [0.39]

NovaMundi is a procedural exploration game with tactical combat in which you lead a group of native warriors and explorers who traverse the vast and dangerous territories of the Andean mountains seeking to unite the Muisca populations against the first wave of Spanish invaders in the XVI century.

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

v0.39.0 doesn’t pack a lot of new features, but comes with some sweet balance changes, stability fixes, and three sidequests.

Balancing

  • Units now have 50% HP (both party and enemies); besides the impact in balancing, we hope this will also make the combat feel less dull.
  • Archers have 50% Attack
  • Spanish Trailblazers have 2/3 Attack
  • Spanish Trailblazers are now only spawned on Day 5+ (was 3+)
  • Spanish Trailblazers Danger Level is now 5 (Fewer units per battle) (was 3)

Pause is back

After experimenting with combat leaning more into real-time; the pause button is back. The experiment showed a lack of control over the combat that didn’t make it enjoyable and greatly reduced its tactical aspects.

Even so, some efforts were made to make it easier to select units in combat, but there remain some issues to be fixed.

Side-quests

Three new side-quests have been implemented (MQ4, MQ6, and TI6). We also added journal entries for progress over the existing side-quests.

Smaller Caves

Cave systems have been reduced in sight to prevent them from being dull and the player from losing their way. A minimap is on the way to strengthen the cavern’s exploration facet.


NovaMundi – Envoy of trade [0.38]

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

It’s been six months since the last Early Access version release. There are still lots of things to Polish but I figured a release was in order for players to know we are still alive. We will continue working to complete the game and improve the players’ experience.

During these months, I have been discussing the possibility of partnering with a company to help complete the game and market its full release; there were some good developments but ultimately nothing has been decided.

Following are some highlights of the changes of the newly available version: 0.38.2

Audio – Wwise and Environmental sounds

We are pretty advanced in the process of migrating the audio implementation to Wwise; QuietGecko had been campaigning for this for months, and I gotta trust him it’s going to be worth it for the project.

After an initial setup and some smoke tests to make sure it wouldn’t cause issues with the game (version 0.38.1 was distributed internally for testing). Gecko then set forth to migrate all the sound effects, ambiance, and music.

This included the environmental bird songs, and the town spot ambiance (including adding variations depending on the size of the town), as some first points where Wwise would provide value. And also, the first real new development with the addition of environmental sound for each “biome” being explored by the player.

Exploring the high mountains (páramos) now feels a bit windier

Some UI elements, like the volume sliders in the settings, were also hooked into the new system.

The migration is still not 100% complete, so you may find some sounds off around (especially for the dynamic music). We are working on fixing that.

Caverns

After the release of 0.37.0, I set myself to add a first iteration of zoomed locations, “dungeons”, dangerous caverns you could explore optionally if you wanted to risk for some good loot. Initially populated with giant animals, the idea is to eventually fill them with mythic creatures from the Muisca culture.

A lot of work went into this so that caverns with random loot could be generated procedurally, with enemies and rewards placed on them. Beyond an initial, simple procedural generator, changes were needed in the commands system to make this “zoomed exploration” mode work well besides the normal Combat mode (with which it shares many components).

Tweaks were made in the Enemy AI to work inside sprawling close spaces like cavern networks, which work pretty differently compared to open spaces like the overworld combat areas.

Some issues with pathfinding, usability, and required additional content caused me to halt development on it and switch to other stuff; it proved to be too challenging and depleted my energy to work on the project for some weeks. I marked and internal version, 0.38.0, with my progress, but still didn’t make these caves readily accessible to the players, exception for a single cavern you need to visit to complete the main game quest, visit it at your own risk!

I am still deciding if this is going to be a priority for the next release, or if we should ditch the work and focus back on the overworld.

Miniquests and Dialogs

It had been almost one year since Stoltverd designed a bunch of side quests to spice up the player experience within the game, so I decided it was about time to implement them. Initially, we implemented four side quests in which you will help tradesmen around, making contacts or neutralizing menaces threatening their business.

Besides all the dialogs related to the mini-quest-related characters, implementing them demanded improvements in the quests and conversation systems, like being able to mark dialog options as hidden based on flags, create groups of mutually exclusive dialog options, or hide quests that are just sub-stages of a quest (or just should not be visible to the player initially).

One of the side quests required reviving infrastructure for “Eliminate Enemy” type of quests, which introduced a pretty hard-to-track bug since these used to work in the pre-Early Access times (when we didn’t have Save/Load game working).

Additionally, the dialog system was improved with the ability to have hidden “unlocks”, so that options can appear without being explicitly mentioned in the parent dialog fragment, and the layout was changed to support dynamic dialog options (it had been hardcoded to 6 due to a previous redesign); this also required rethinking the layout of the conversation overlay, so I took the chance to make portraits bigger.

New traders were also added to some towns which had too few inhabitants, instead of having the procedural wayfarer do everything

Procedural Terrain and Exploration

There are not a lot of new developments on this aspect, however, I addressed three issues that had been in the backlog for long enough, haunting me,

The first one was fixing the “meteor holes” that were happening randomly in the high mountains; I finally found this to be caused by accidents when an additional Perlin noise applied to the existing geography pushed too deep. The solution was simply reducing greatly the strength of that additional noise so that it still added variety to the terrain but didn’t alter it that much.

Another fix was preventing mountains from blocking rivers, which didn’t look very good.

And finally, something that was haunting the game since a long time ago and for which we already had a solution in place at some point in time but deactivated for design reasons: the map borders.

The way I have solved them is by increasing the margin at which the party will hit the invisible wall of exploration, so you will not be able to get that close to the edge of the terrain to see the underlying artifacts. I had hoped we could come across a better solution like adding a procedurally generated mesh that would follow the slopes of the terrain and be painted either in full black or with a cross-section. But due to time constraints with so many other things on the table, I doubt that will ever happen.

How I imagined the borders of the map

In any case, I don’t completely dislike the current solution since it still gives the impression the map continues instead of being cut short. It’s just you cannot go there because of plot reasons.

User Experience Tweaks

Finally, a couple of tweaks originating from Stolverd’s playtesting sessions: Allow deselecting units and items by clicking on them in the inventory, and allow adding and removing items freely from barter offer regardless of carry capacity, with a check at the moment of the deal.

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.