Please note that all screen shots displayed in this blog are works in progress and in no way represent the appearance of the final game. Check out the main site here.

Be sure to follow us everywhere with these links!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Indie Game of the Year Awards!

Hi all, just a quick note to humbly ask that you give us a vote in the Indie Game of the Year awards! Voting is really easy. You just visit our IndieDB page, and click the link at the top that says "Vote for this game!"

This is our first time in the running for it and we're up against some incredible games, but the more votes we get the more of a chance we have! So tell everyone you know and get them to send in a vote!

We'll have more updates for you soon, too. Sorry for being so quiet lately, but we're been hunched over the alpha code trying to sort out all of the bugs that are present before moving on to the countryside portion of the game. No point moving on until the dungeons are working perfectly! So because it's all bug fixes, we haven't got too much to show for ourselves lately!

But thanks again for stopping by!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Character Stats

So we've been talking about this for quite a while, and we've had many people emailing us asking questions on how it's going to work, and so we're finally ready to show it off!

As you probably know by now, Malevolence is infinite, and since the game is infinite, it needs a pretty unique stat system. Normally in RPGs, stats are based on numbers, but in an infinite game, you could theoretically get to level one million and have 500,000 skill points to use. That isn't good for a game as it just gets ridiculous.

What we have in Malevolence is a simplified front-end to a very complex back-end. On the front end, the player has six core stats. Everything in the game, every ability or skill, makes use of one or more of those stats. If you're swinging a sword at an ork, you're using Strength and Dexterity. If you're casting a spell, you're using Wisdom. If you're disarming a trap, you're using Intellect and Dexterity. If you're haggling with a merchant you're using Charisma and Intellect. The list goes on, but you get the idea. Some skills use one stat, others use 2, 3 or even 4.

Here's where Malevolence differs. These six core stats are represented as percentages, rather than numbers. Instead of having a strength of 50, you'll have a strength of, say, 30%. As you keep performing feats of strength, that percentage will (very) slowly rise up and up. But the higher your Strength rises, the more other skills will fall. First things like Wisdom and Intelligence will start to suffer, then Dexterity and Charisma and so on. The reason that this happens is that all six stats, when added together, must always equal 100%.

Instead of individual statistic numbers, what the player has is what is called a 'stat pool'. This number is based on what level you are. When you first start a new game, each of your stats is sitting at 16.67% (adding up to a total of 100%) and your stat pool is 100. That means, rounding up, that each statistic is worth 17. However, if you buff your strength up to 30% by using your muscles a lot in the game, your Strength value will be closer to 30, but your Wisdom and Intelligence will now be sitting at 10 each. You spent too much time practicing with a sword and your magic studies suffered for it.

When you go up a level, your stat pool number increases, but your individual stat percentages stay exactly the same. This way, your stats DO go up, but the actual balance across them all stays put.

So what does this mean for you as a player? Well, it means that everything you do in the game has consequences, however, the game is actually monitoring everything you do, and letting you be better at the things you do most, while atrophying the areas that you use least. For a player who wants to be a straight fighter, or a straight mage, this is no problem, as they just have to play the way they play and things will just work out. But for someone who wants to multi-class, then they will have to actually train - just as in real life - to maintain the balance of their statistics.

To speed up the process, however, or to correct deviations, you will be able to pay money at various guilds to train certain statistics up and get the most out of your character.

An example is the Fighter's Guild. A warrior can pay to train his Strength and Constitution, or a ranger can pay to train their Dexterity, but other stats will suffer from it. It'll just mean you don't have to grind it out to get your stats where you want them ;-)

But now you know! That's how the game works! You'll never see your stats' exact numbers, just their effect on the game itself!

I hope this confirms a few things!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Let's Play! - Part 1

One of our test team, hyfrydle32, has produced the first in a series of 'Let's Play' videos for Malevolence! If you're interested to see how the game plays, then give it a watch!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Decision Has Been Made

So we've finally made a call on it. We're pushing back the demo. Here's why!

We posted a question about it in the last news post. We were concerned that the demo we had planned for you guys wasn't going to be representative enough of the final game, but we also didn't want to disappoint people by pushing it back. But after much discussion amongst the team, and must commentary from you guys (thanks, btw) we've finally decided to push the demo release back until the halfway point of next year. Here is our justification:

- Firstly, we don't want to give you guys a rushed demo. We want the demo to make you salivate for the full game! That means more content, more excitement and more quality.
- Secondly, the original demo release date of this Christmas was just too far away from the full version release. Even if you DID like the demo, a year is a long time to wait for a game when you have the demo in your hands.
- Thirdly, we really feel that the demo should include more of what will be in the final game, and we're determined to do that.

What all of this means is that yes, it will be another six months before the demo comes out, but when it does come out, there will be so much more for you to play and enjoy. We hope you understand.

We will, however, keep you thoroughly up to date as always with plenty of new screenshots, gameplay videos, and our testing team will be leaking out the occasional "let's play" video for you to watch! When they do, we'll try our best to link you to them from here.

We'll keep you posted on development as always, and please remember to check us out on the social networks!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gotta Get This Off My Chest...

We have had SO MANY PEOPLE contact us saying "omg dude what's with the goofy UI? It takes up so much of the screen!" or "why have you used grid-based movement? It's too limiting!" . Well here's the story.

The people who keep asking us this must be too young to remember this, but back in the late 80s and early 90s there were some incredible turn-based first person RPGs out there. Let me show you some screenshots:

First of all, there was the Might & Magic Series:

Back in the 80s they looked VERY basic, but they had this amazing core mechanic of turn-based, grid-based movement through vast an intricate worlds. The back-ends of the games were incredible, but due to the limitations of the day, the graphics were less than spectacular.

But then computer technology started improving and by the early 90's the Might and Magic series started looking more and more amazing. Character portraits started coming in, textured environments and animations were all happening, but still the games kept their turn-based, grid-based gameplay style, and still their worlds were massive and exquisitely detailed.

Other games were coming along too, and using similar gameplay styles, and they proved just as popular with their audiences. Titles such as Eye of the Beholder (above) and the Wizardry series (below)

All of these games had a lot in common in terms of graphical style, gameplay methodology, world size and progression. But they also all shared a similar UI. After all, these games had a lot of info to show, since they were a computer proxy for traditional role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. The player needed to know info about their characters, about what they had readied and what was going on. The game window was just a part of the HUD, not the main feature of it.

Yes, young ones, before people played with this:

They played with this:

And they LIKED it. So please, the next time you plan on commenting on our game and asking us "what's up with the UI?" or "Why do you use that dorky grid-based movement?" keep in mind that Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox is not trying to be the next Elder Scrolls game. It is not trying to be the next WoW. It is a homage, a re-imagining of a bygone era of role playing games. A re-birth of an old genre into a new world. And it is done like that DELIBERATELY.

To put this complaining of non-classic RPG fans to rest, please be assured that Malevolence DOES have a slimline UI option for those who are either too young or too close-minded to remember or appreciate the classics, or for those who simply prefer the sleek new look because you were never into that sort of game:

Much as I hate to rant, these ridiculous questions have been asked of me so many times, sometimes innocently, other times quite rudely (as in "The UI looks gay and the movement system is stupid" or "Are you making it grid-based because you're a bad programmer and that is easier?")

While I have said it multiple times before, you now have a visual representation of it, so hopefully it sticks better. There is a slimline UI option coming in the game. It is optional for those who aren't classic RPG fans.

Problem solved. Now I'm going back to fixing bugs in the alpha so the testers don't shoot me ;-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Impressions and Getting Your Opinion

The alpha has been with the testers for a couple of days now and we've started getting some feedback... There have been quite a few bugs and whatnot, all which is pretty normal and expected during testing (it's why the testing is there!) and we have a very dedicated test team working hard on getting it done.

But amongst the flurry of bug reports, there has been some feedback finding its way through as well, which is fair enough, since these poor souls are stuck playing the game over and over again! However, the feedback they've been giving has sort of left us doing a bit of a re-think of a few things, and we want to know what you all think of them as well, and how important they are to you.

First of all, they have found that the loot situation isn't as grand as they'd hoped. In our defense, the loot situation isn't entirely linked to the procedural system in the demo as we didn't want to give away too much before the full version comes out, you know? But if people are disappointed with the demo then they aren't going to want to buy the full version... So it's a bit of a pickle... So what are your thoughts on that? How important is mountains of loot to you? And also, what types of loot are your favourite? Weapons? Armour? Treasures? Ingredients for alchemy? Magical kit? Let us know!

The other major concern is lack of direction for the player. The full game DOES have a storyline, but it's not very evident in the demo, so we're aiming to make it more evident and pressing. If you've been keeping up with things, we've just finished adding in an achievement system, which helps a bit, but isn't story based at all. The quest system (which is yet to be implemented) is going to help with that quite a lot though. But, yet another question, how important to you is direction and story? Or are you the type that plays open world games like Oblivion and just wanders while totally ignoring the main quest? Let us know!

We HAVE also gotten some rather good feedback. It's been pretty much unanimously said to us that the graphics are fantastic, and that the sound design and music are top notch. One of our testers had the crap scared out of them by our procedural ambient sound generator which played a ghostly voice DIRECTLY behind him as he was examining part of the dungeon. This feedback makes us feel good, but a beautiful game is not necessarily a content rich game.

So my final question is a biggie, and it's one that has been weighing on me all day. I've asked some other team members and gotten mixed responses, so I thought I'd ask you, our potential players, to see what you all think.
As you all know, we're launching the full version of the game on December 21st, 2012 (or aiming to, at least) which is just over a year away. Would you prefer that we push through and get you a limited demo to play by the end of this year, and then let you just wait it out a year for the full version to come? Or would you prefer to hang out for a few more months, and have us chunk a heap more content into the demo, making it much more packed, and then release it around April/May next year so there's only about 6 months to wait for the full version, but a more content-rich demo? To be honest, we're quite humble about this project, and we don't really have a clear indication of just how much you guys want to get your hands on the game!

So let us know how you feel about those issues. This is, after all, an indie project, and as such you can talk to us and tell us what is important to you to be in this game! We really would like to know!

Also, here's the usual plug for our social networking sites!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Alpha Release 0.00.162

The first alpha build is being shipped to the alpha test team tonight! A day ahead of schedule, too! Hopefully it all goes well, but we're really quite excited nonetheless!

Each time a new build gets put through to the test team, we're put a post here outlining what's new/different about it so that you can keep up to date!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Magic! (update)

I've whipped up a quick video showing off the new trio of spells! Check it out!

More Soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Magic!

So we've decided to be a bit more generous with the demo and have allowed access to a few new spells:

- Invisibility (temporarily makes the player invisible to all enemies, however, striking an enemy with your weapon will cause the invisibility to be dispelled)
- Invulnerability (temporarily makes the player immune to monster attacks. Traps and magic, however, will still harm you)
- Teleport (instantaneously transports the player to a random nearby square. Handy when you're cornered by an ogre!)

So yeah, they're pretty fun to play with. Currently they're only in scroll form, but this weekend we'll make the spell books for them and maybe even put a couple of them as random potion properties!

Until next time!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Blade of the Dokkalfar

So we mentioned a while back that we're sneaking a single magical weapon into the demo for you to play with (full version will have infinite) but it's finally done! Introducing the Blade of the Dokkalfar, designed by our very own Natalie Jane!

Looks pretty swish, hey? Here's a quick video showing it cutting down some evil foes!

So yes, that should be fun for you to try and find! We're doing some serious work on the leveling system which will play a big part in the demo, and we've changed our minds and decided to let you save/load games in the demo. Some of the dungeons it generates are just FAR too big to be cleaned out in a single game play session!

Also, some of the alpha testers have asked permission to "leak" out some game play run-throughs on YouTube for you to have a perv on before the demo comes out.

Also, please, please, PLEASE, if you haven't already, check out our Facebook, Twitter and IndieDB sites and join up. We're a very small, out of the way indie dev team and the only way we can have any real chance of success is by getting the word out there! So tell everyone you know, post a link on your website or blog or social networks, and let people know we're out here! When it comes to indie games, it all starts with word of mouth! All of our idols such as the id Software guys, the kick-ass Mojang crew and Rovio Mobile all started out as just humble developers with a dream, and that's us right now, so let everyone know about us and in return we'll keep working to bring you all the GREATEST RPG EVER CONCEIVED!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A bit Testy...

So just to keep everyone in the loop, initial Alpha Testing has begun ready for the demo release.

There's a two-stage testing process for the game. The first build that the testers have received is a simple benchmarking app that lets them know how well the game will run on their computer. It loads up a demo dungeon level and runs some monsters through it while allowing the user to run some simple video stress tests on the system to see how well it performs.

The second stage will be the actual alpha itself, which will hopefully be ready for the team by next week! In order to do the alpha test, the game needs to have an asset lockout, meaning that all of the in-game assets are finalized (with a couple of exceptions). However, due to a change in plans, the test team will initially get an "incomplete build" which means they will only get the dungeon portion of the demo given to them, and while they test it, the countryside portion will be being completed. At the end of every week, they will receive a new build of the game that has fixed a heap of bugs that they have found, and they'll get to testing again!

Eventually they'll get a build with the countryside portion done, and they'll test that, then once all of the issues have been ironed out, the demo will be released for everyone to play! Yay!

We've been super worried that there might be compatibility problems between various people's computers, but 5 of the 11 test members have gotten back to us so far with confirmations that it works just fine :D

Hopefully we have as much success with the full alpha!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Achievements are Done!

So the achievement system is now done and works great! Here it is!

As mentioned in the previous post, the demo will have 14 different achievements to play with, but with an unlimited number of levels that you can reach on each one!

More soon!

Another Interview

Just a quick post!

We did an interview with Colony of Gamers! Check it out here!

Also we've been making great strides on the achievements system, so we'll hopefully have a video of that up and ready to go for you to watch very soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Achievements Sneak Peek

So Malevolence is going to have a dynamic achievement system in the game for the lovers of that sort of thing. Reaching achievements gives the player a decent XP boost to help them level up faster, so they're well worth aiming for, but at the same time not mandatory.

We've mentioned them in the past, but now thought we'd give you a look at which ones you will get to aim for in the demo!

- The "BRAAAIIINNNNSSS!!!" achievement is awarded for killing zombies
- The "Gimli" achievement is awarded for killing goblins
- The "Hide and Seek" achievement is awarded for finding secrets
- The "Horny Swordsman" achievement is awarded for killing minotaurs
- The "Imp-Aler" achievement is awarded for killing imps
- The "Majere" achievement is awarded for learning spells
- The "Money Box" achievement is awarded for finding chests
- The "Ooh Shiny!" achievement is awarded for finding rare items
- The "Orks Must Die!!!" achievement is awarded for killing orks
- The "Parfait" achievement is awarded for killing ogres
- The "Slayer" achievement is awarded for... Just... Killing...
- The "Steve Irwin" achievement is awarded for killing Lizardmen
- The "Tasslehoff" achievement is awarded for disarming traps manually
- The "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" achievement is awarded for drinking unidentified potions

Yeah, there are some pretty vague references in there, but hey, it's our game and we'll have fun if we want to! haha

The full version will of course have MANY more achievements, but you'll be able to find all of the above in the demo and each time you get the achievement, you'll have to work extra hard to get to the next level of that achievement!

More soon!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stacky, stacky, stacky.

Convention time is over, so work is back in full swing on getting the demo ready for y'all!

Inventories have been getting a little cluttered lately, and we've added in item stacking!

So now, identical items will stack up on top of each other in the inventory. This will conserve space and make inventory browsing much easier!

We've also nearly completed a special engine benchmarking app for our test team. Perfecting this on all of their systems is the first major step in the alpha testing! This means the demo should be ready soon!