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[Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction (Updated 10/20)

Posted: Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:36 pm
by lou
I wanted to do an informal write up about the demo. I hope to have it out by the end of this month, and as I get closer I feel some things need to be laid out so you guys understand what this will consist of and what will be included.

Dusk Tactics Closed Alpha Testing Info (Updated 10/6/20)

Some basic info about what to expect from the demo as well as what platforms it will initially be available for and how distribution may work, it's not finalized yet, but I'll give as much info as I can.

First off, something completely unimportant is versioning. For years I've had my own system of version control and since I was only releasing for 1 person I never had to really clarify much. I have, however, kept copious notes and will continue to keep extensive notes on new features, updates, and bug fixes for each release. Down the road we'll start working with a bug tracker so it'll be a bit easier, but for now we're going to start small.

I use a MAJOR.MINOR.REVISION system in the format #.#.#. For reference I am currently on Version 0.7.0 and plan to start the early Closed Alpha testing with version 0.8.0, this will be the first version of the game in a released state.

Initial Platform

To make this as easy as possible for everyone, the initial round of testing will be limited to Windows. Specifically targeted at Windows 10 64 bit, but most versions of Windows will be fine, I'll have both 32 bit and 64 bit releases available.

Upon the success of this I will continue with Linux and then Max OS X, in that order. All three platforms will have 32 and 64 bit releases available.

Until a much later date, the Windows version will be my priority. I am looking to specifically test and debug for Windows early on and focus on the Linux and Mac after we reach a more stable build. That being said, I have no problems issuing a release for Linux and Mac within a reasonable time frame, I just wont be able to focus on bug fixes and technical requests for three platforms at once. Well I'll probably answer any questions if you have them, haha.
Release Info

Regardless of the operating system, I am going to wrap everything into an executable file. You won't need to worry about having Java installed or running .jar files as the installer will create a minimized JRE for the game.

As you may or may not know this project is being developed in Java 8 with the libgdx library. This doesn't really matter as again everything will be bundled into an installer with an executable file (.EXE for windows).

Expected file size is around 400MB and this is mostly due to a temporary measure of special effect storage. I will most likely trim it down A LOT and try to keep it under 300MB. 

I don't have specific system specs as of now, they're not high, but the higher you go, the better your experience as is with all things. I'll post more info when I start working on the release.

What To Expect

This is probably the most important piece of information I am writing right now and it's something I would greatly appreciate you reading and of course asking questions if you have any!

First, this will be a closed alpha test. I will start with a very small group and expand as I see fit until I get a good idea of the workflow.

I want to emphasize again that this is not a beta test where you're testing out the gameplay, we'll get there! This is the first alpha demo and it's really closer to a tech demo or a prototype release than a demo.

It's hard for me to tell after all this time, but I still feel like I haven't gotten down the core "hook" or "feel" I want from the combat system. Numbers aside it still doesn't feel right to me which isn't too surprising given the actual game development portion only began in earnest mid 2019. The problem is I can't trust my judgment completely as this may be my burnout from coding and testing the game nonstop for months and months, some of it certainly is.
So something I really need is to get to a better place in terms of making it "fun". Future development will add a lot, but the core system will be unit management and combat and these need to flow naturally.

Performing an action in the game needs to feel like a second nature and the result of that action has to (generally) give a somewhat pleasant response. I'm going a bit specific here, but this is the area that I will be focusing on heavily early on, along with larger bugs, systemic errors and large scale problems. 

So when I say this is closer to a tech demo or prototype I am preparing you for how early on in the development process I am. Those of you with experience testing games don't need to hear this, but for some it may be your first time and I don't want it to sour you on what is going to be an amazing game!

I'll talk more about both short term and long term goals as well as the overall alpha test in the upcoming weeks. The next section got a bit more sloppy than I had wanted, but it's not easy listing so many different features off the top of my head.

Dusk Tactics Closed Alpha Features

This sort of turned into a list somehow, but I wanted to try and touch base with everything included in the demo. It's a lot of mechanics and systems, a very small amount of content of course, but a ton of things to be tested and thousands of ways to do it all.

What's can you do in the demo (as of 10/06/20):
  • Unit Management
    • Set Unit Order
      • Units can be ordered any way you want. You can sort by various stats or choose custom order. This order will change their order on the Unit Management UI as well as the order units are selected when placing them for combat.
    • Release Units
      • Involves removing units from your army. This feature may not be available for the demo.
    • Manage Unit Equipment
      • Equipment
        • Units can be fully equipped with weapons, shields, two different armor types, and accessories. Accessories will not be available for the demo.
      • Inventory Bag
        • The Inventory Bag is a newer feature and the idea is to balance Items. Units will be able to hold a set number of items depending on their current Job and any passive abilities.
    • Unit Statistic Section
      • This section was recently added. It will feature background info for units, generated info for generic units and story related info for main characters. This UI will also allow you to track combat stats such as kills, damage, heals, and even accolades which will be similar to awards for achieving special goals with a unit. There will also be a section regarding reputation where the unit can improve their position in their current Order or with the Military. This will not be functional for the demo.
    • Manage Orders/Jobs
      • Learn New Jobs
      • View Obtainable Jobs
      • Switch current Job
    • Manage Abilities/Passives
      • Learn New Spells/Abilities by selecting known Jobs
      • Manage Current Loadout by equipping up to four Abilities and four Passives
  • Inventory Management
    • Basic Inventory UI
    • Lists with full Sort functionality
    • Categorized Items
      • Consumables
      • Equipment
      • Material
  • World Map
    • Access several Locations (Explore a little bit of Acedia)
      • Each Location has a unique Battlefield, with a test mission and a free-play training mode (repeatable)
      • Locations provide unique (and varying) shops (All are added and functional)
        • Item Shop
        • Equipment Shop
        • Guild Hall (Recruit Units)
  • Experience a very early version of the game loop
    • Manage Units -> World Map -> Battle -> Get XP/JP/SP & Loot -> Manage Units
    • I hope to include a small mini campaign that will show off some scenarios, with dialogue as that system needs to be run through testing.
  • Meet the first of many unique adventurers with Alton Alstair and Emma Slate!!
    • Alton is one of the central protagonists and his unique Job is Ranger
      • Ranger is a strong melee unit with some magick talent, similar to a Paladin but instead of Light Element, more "Earth Element"
    • Emma is another one of the central protagonists with the unique Job of Sniper
      • Sniper is a specialized ranged Job that will see you picking off enemies from afar with realistic physics-style projectiles!
    • Belavosi Grandoff is our third main character. He has a distrust of nobility and able to make quick decisions. The current unique Job for him is the Duelist, a one on one specialist Job.
    • Seryn Umbral will be the fourth and final main character revealed for the demo. Seryn comes from a long line of merchants who often travel with the military so she is well versed in combat and trade. Her unique Job is currently the Merchant.
    • And of course those lovely Named Generic units that you always start with, that have slightly better stats than normal generics but are easily replaced by unique characters~
  • Combat! The biggest feature and I promise you, the one in need of the testing the most.
    • Be prepared to jump headfirst into a world where the stats are probably ridiculous. I caution you, the early alpha testing will be pretty grueling. I've only scratched the surface of the combat system and while 90% of the core system is in place, we all know it's that final 10% that makes or breaks it. Namely balancing, balancing, balancing.
    • Abilities!
      • While the ability system is still open ended, for now I hope to have about 20-30 abilities that run the gamut from single target melee to multi-target ranged and beyond.
      • Status Effects are in! We have about 70 Debuffs and 40 or so Buffs, and while I wont have an ability that uses all them at the start, we'll eventually get there.
      • Maps will contain objects such as bushes, trees, barrels, crates, etc that will initially block your way. You can now smash through them however you want. Attack them directly or fire an AoE at an enemy and happen to target some bushes!
      • Passives, while mostly...passive...will have some interesting effects! My focus for now is on Auras. These are passives that are visual on the battlefield as they extend outward from the unit. The Muru Aura, used by Defenders is an important one that can halt enemy movement through nearby tiles effectively creating small Zones of Control. Perfect for setting up a defensive line!
      • Monsters! We've got maybe 3 monster types, more if you count sprite swaps! Each monster type has racial stats, elemental resistances, and special abilities. The newest, Minotaur, swings a huge hammer that has a 50% chance of knocking your unit back a tile. You'll encounter him on a bridge...don't let him knock you off...
      • While tons of items have been added, only the Consumables and some basic Equipment are properly balanced. The first few weeks of the alpha demo will be working out what feels right for stats so I can assess stat distributions for equipment. But in the meantime I'll make sure to stock shops with a few of each! We have around 20+ Weapon Types, 3 Tiers of Shields, 2 Armor Slots for you to choose from 4 different Armor Categories: Head, Body, Arms, Legs!
      • Accessories have still not been added, I may be able to get them in, but we'll see.
      • Use Items in battle! For now we have Consumables, items that are consumed when used. These include potions for healing and remedies for restoring status effects. These must be equipped prior to battle.
      • Materials are added and are basically various sundries that drop from enemies. In the future these will be used for crafting. For now you can sell them? There is a "Trash" item type that consists of high value vendorables though, so in the actual game you'll probably just be selling those.
    • Freedom on the Battlefield! If it's on the battlefield and has HP, you can attack it! Allies, enemies, objects, go nuts.
      • I did want to allow projectiles to be fired wherever you want with a system where choosing a tile out of range gives you an extremely low chance of hitting <5%, but that's not implemented yet. It will be because who doesn't like those crazy hail mary trick shots?!
      • Speaking of, we have two different types of projectiles: straight and parabolic. Straight projectiles are fired in a line, Crossbows will do this as will Wands and Fusils when they are added. Parabolic (Bow, Great Bow) will fire in an arc, choosing an angle that will get you the best chance of hitting the target.
      • I mentioned Projectiles earlier, but something I am looking forward to is seeing how the collision detection will work. Firing an arrow from a weird angle may result in that arrow simply hitting a wall, with neat little fx!
    • Level Up/Rank Up as much as you want. It's not much, but I need these units run through the ringer to find every bug!

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 12:00 am
by Vegeta
Hello, sorry to bother, but I want to play the alpha game, help to test it.

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 3:27 am
by CloudySpace
Sounds like a really thought out game! Congratulations on designing and developing these awesome ideas! As a person qho would one day create a game, I really like seeing other people taking so much time to make a system that is entertaining to others. Thank you for creating this!

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Sun Apr 19, 2020 3:56 am
by doerayme
I am very excited to see more tactics-style games releasing on PC! I have spent hundreds of hours on the FFT series over the years, falling off recently. I have been looking to satisfy my FFT craving for a long time, and this definitely looks promising. I can't wait to see how this game unfolds. How do we get into the Alpha? I would love to participate in testing and fine tuning this game. Thank you for your hard work, we need more tactics RPGs!

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:16 pm
by spartans911
Thank you for all the hard work. I would love to beta test when this comes available but i am new to alpha testing. If you need more people i am open to helping out any way possible. 

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:54 am
by Doug
Please try to make this work on 1024x768 resolution screens? Because there's a lot of games that doesn't work very well in the mentioned resolution and it's my best resolution, unfortunately. :cry:

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Mon May 04, 2020 4:33 pm
by Woopie
Hey, i'd love to be a part of the alpha testers! :)

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 12:17 am
by Mithlayh
Any updates on the state of the demo?

I hope everyone is doing well and healthy.

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 6:44 pm
by lou
Doug wrote:
Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:54 am
Please try to make this work on 1024x768 resolution screens? Because there's a lot of games that doesn't work very well in the mentioned resolution and it's my best resolution, unfortunately. :cry:

Resolution is probably one of the biggest issues in developing a game for the PC, there's such a wide variety of resolutions nowadays!

This post really stood out so I wanted to get back to you. This resolution is a 4:3 resolution known as XVGA, which I remember being pretty advanced at the time I was still messing around with VGA resolutions. It's an interesting resolution since it's sort of an HD non-widescreen format pretty widely used for LCD screens.

One thing I can say is that it should "work" on this resolution. There's a caveat that involves the video card being used and that's sort of out of my hands.
I set a monitor to 1024x768 and it actually looks alright. You're going to be dealing with black bars across the bottom and top to maintain the ratio, but it works without too much distortion.


I did a lot of research on resolution and when the project began, 1280x720 was sort of the sweet spot in terms of most common resolution (pc). So I worked with half that, 640x360 as a template for a while, but eventually settled back to 1280x720 with the idea that it would scale nicely from 720 to 1440 (aka 4k) which should be a more common high end when this releases.

I hope this helps and I'd be interested in seeing how this looks on a native SVGA screen when I have a demo out!

Re: [Update] Closed Alpha Test Introduction

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 6:52 pm
by lou
Mithlayh wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 12:17 am
Any updates on the state of the demo?

I hope everyone is doing well and healthy.

Hey! Due to various things including some we're all facing right now, there's a bit of a delay. I am still working on it however and as much as I'd love to give a date it's hard.

I'm working to define the scope of the demo as well as confirm a secure method of distribution for it. It's definitely in the later stages, though. At the same time I am trying to keep the project development moving forward as well which so far is coming along pretty nicely.

I'll announce a clearer schedule soon as I want to keep you guys in the loop.