Snippet #26: Moving to the Interface Phase after holidays
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The screeny shows a small empire that just started expansion. For a change we find an empire that is on a planet that actually supports open farming and has some rainfall! That’s good because it makes growing crops a lot easier. No need to build domes or do ice mining for supplying your plants with water.
The small empire shown above is starting to deal with some Marauders at its borders but has not yet ran into any real opposition. Only issue it seems to have right now is a Crime Syndicate which is causing some loss of private Credits and increasing the Danger level a little bit.
The Crime Syndicate is an example of a Story Module that is the first of a template approach for later on. It will be relatively easy to add more Modules like that to further flesh out the game universe. I am using a modular approach with further story content and the aim is threefold: allow the player to switch on/off a Module before starting a game, allow VR Designs to add DLC-like content after release and allow modders a way to create extra content for the game.
But for now it has been enough work on content. There is now a quite rich tapestry of immersive details in place. Lots of events to occur and decisions to make, including diplomatic ones, almost 200 Stratagems, detailed Leader stats, dozens of Hex Perks and Unit Feats, politics, elections, internal factions, archeology, rebellions and what not more. There is enough there right now to make the world feel sort of like a real place. It needs some more work for mid and late game in the final content design phase, but I consider the basic content design phase finished.
It’s time to move to the Interface & Graphics Phase start of August and after that do some AI work. Then it will be on to the Final Content Phase. And then we’ll be getting awfully close to full beta.
Thanks for following my progress. It is always a motivating for me to have feedback.
Snippet #25: Diplomatics
Shadow Empire diplomatics are relatively simple, but I think they’ll be engaging. Basically either you or an AI regime can take the initiative. You can do so by playing diplomatic Stratagems. For example requesting to make contact, opening an embassy or proposing a scientific exchange. The AI can do the same, but on top of that the AI controlled Major Regimes will be involved in stories that are driven partly by their political and ideological attitudes and partly by their strategic analysis of their position versus that of the player.
In this particular snippet we see the Kaiser of Freikopf Reich being willing to move his attitude from COLD to FRIENDS. Well if you make the right choice and don’t roll particularly bad dice that is.
Note that your 1st Strategic HQ commander has a rather unpleasant attitude to diplomacy :)
p.s: Also note a scripting error in the message. The compliment is of course not for running his ‘reich’ but for running your empire.
Snippet #24: Regime Feats
I am adding Regime Feats to Shadow Empire. Their purpose is to give a bit more punch to the Profile system and to give your Empire a bit more character.
At start of game your ‘little’ Empire will start with just a few Regime Feats. You can gain more of them if you get a Profile (21 available) to a very high score. You can also lose a Regime Feat if its corresponding Profile drops to low. The Regime Feat gives you bonuses every turn like Skill roll modifiers, extra items, Leaders or for example happiness. But more importantly they allow your Military Units to gain Unit Feats. These are small specialized teams. For example Firing Squads, Technomages or Bunker Buster Teams.
You can get a Profile up by making Decisions that increase the Profile. But the quickest way is to accept a Demand of one of your Factions that is linked to the Profile in question. However these Demands might not always be easy to execute. Demands always come with a deadline and can ask you to build X number of Assets, raise your Tech level, but also to go to War with a specific neighbour or conquer a specific City.
Up to a point you can steer these Demands. This is because you can influence the Elections. It is the winning Factions (majority) of elections that decides which Demands will be made. By gerrymandering, governor appointments and changes to your electoral system (Parliament, Senate, Politburo) you can influence things. If you feel like it. Personally I prefer to run with the givens.
Hope this small snippet of info shows a bit how I am adding chrome and content to the world. The goal is it feels like you are in charge of an Empire… well or if your more democratic minded… a Republic. ;)
Snippet #23: Formations
In this snippet you are seeing me choosing which new Formation to build. Once I select one I’ll pay the costs in Industrial Points, Metal, etc.. and I’ll get a fully manned HQ and subordinate Units placed on the map.
There are two kind of Units in Shadow Empire. Those which belong to a Formation (a Formation is several units + an commanding operational HQ) and those which are Independent Units. Formations should be preferable to build since they come with their own HQ and can thus have their own Commander, who can give significant combat and other bonuses. As well a Formation gives you the option to play Posture Stratagems on it like: Defense, Hold-at-all-Costs, Shock, Blitz, Reconnaissance-in-Force, etc…
The other kind of Unit is the Independent Unit. The Independent Unit allows you to build specialist Units like for example extra Artillery or AT Support. And each operational HQ can next to its own Units still take a limited number of Independent Units under its command.
The system is more flexible than DC, but less flexible than Advanced Tactics. Instead of designing your own ‘TOE’s you’ll need to develop them (like research) to be able to raise a certain type of Formation.
It is quite an intricate system that also deals with quality levels of equipment, if a player desires so, but at the same time it is a system that can be easy to use for the player who don’t want to micro-manage.
Snippet #22: Minors and Unaligned Forces
In this snippet you are seeing the 1st Assault Infantry Brigade advancing on a group of Free Folk Marauders.
You core enemies in Shadow Empire are the other Major nations. These function much like your own nation. However there are also Minor nations and Unaligned Forces. These Minor nations are somewhat organized, but they don’t have the culture, intelligence, tech or will to become a real (major) nation. They are quite diverse and include Roamers, Farmers, Slavers, Religious Fanatics and Mutants. Gameplay-wise they mostly function as speed bumps to your growth, but you can also engage in limited diplomacy with them. It is for example possible to offer your protection to a Minor or make it a client state. Eventually they can even merge into your Major nation.
Next to the minors there are also Unaligned Forces and they represent those entities that are completely without organisation. They include Free Folk forces and also Alien lifeforms native to the Planet. Note the non-terrestrial plant colours in the screenshot. That is because this particular Planet (Lazonar Lumus) has alien plant life. If it has sizeable Alien animals is not sure yet. It is relatively rare to find yourself on a Planet that had much alien evolution. (well… unless you don’t go fully random and select the ‘Medusa’ planet class for your game)
More news soon. I hope to recommence the First Impressions test in about 2 weeks. I am finishing up on some last features.
Snippet #21: Stratagems
In this snippet we are seeing some new Fate Stratagems the player has received. I am really expanding on these Stratagems and using them for lots of different stuff. These Fate Stratagems are rare and can only be acquired by conquest and levelling your empire up. Other Stratagems will include Artifact Stratagems that you’ll acquire through scavenging and archeology. Faction Stratagems that you’ll acquire by having a good relation with a faction within your empire. And then there is a big bunch of Organisation Stratagems that are produced by your different councils.
Quick update. The First Impressions team is taking a few weeks off as I am doing some mechanic revisions to Shadow Empire. Initial test results where very helpful and so was the feedback from Matrix-Slitherine HQs. The revisions are focussing on giving the player more sense of freedom and sandbox by among others making the zones more flexible. Also I am adding empire customization upon starting your game.
More news soon.