Shadow Empire Design Snippet #30

Snippet #30: The Tech Tree

Time for a new Snippet. Shadow Empire will have a Tech Tree. But it is not completely your regular kind of tree…

Part of the Tech Tree

The essence of Shadow Empire research is that it is a two-step process. First you have to discover a Tech and then you can chose to research that Tech.

Discovery is easier than researching, thus often you’ll have to make a choice which of your discoveries you’ll actually want to focus your research on.

Due to the random discoveries you’ll never have exactly the same Techs between which to chose to focus your Research on.

However having said that… the system is only partly random. This is because Techs always belong to a Tech Group. Once you have researched 3 Techs in a Group all the Techs in the connected Groups will become open to Discovery. So for example in the above screeny the Player will only be able to make discoveries in the Basic Tech Group. Once the Player has researched 3 Techs of this Group he’ll be able to also discover Techs in the Chemistry and Engineering Tech Groups.

In case anybody wonders what the small letter codes “Mi”,”Ec” and “Ap” signify… They signify the Council you’ll need to Discover and Research them: The Military Research Council, The Economy Council or The Applied Sciences Council.

That’s it for this Snippet!

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Early Beta for Shadow Empire

Yes there is an opportunity to help me test and evaluate Shadow Empire!

Full Beta will still be several months off, but we are starting with early beta testing.

We just sent out a “welcome back” email to the initial group of SE testers from over 1.5 year ago. But considering the holiday season and the huge amount of idle time experienced by this group we’ll need some fresh players as well.

If you were not part of the initial test group you can now sign-up for joining the early beta by clicking on the following link: http://www.matrixgames.com/beta/cnda.asp?gid=719

Existing testers received an email and should be able to start testing right away, while new sign-ups will be added monday 8th of July.

See you soon on the beta forums!

Best wishes,
Vic

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Shadow Empire Playtest Snippet #2

And I finally found some time to post a new Snippet. Here a playthrough of the first 12 turns of one of my test game.

turn 1: Playing Steelland. Spreading out
turn 2: Still expanding outwards. Encountered minor regime Phoenixkeep in the south.
turn 2: Managed to infiltrate a spy in their Zone.
turn 3: The enemy in the south has like 8000 militia force. I think I can take them and will start concentrating my forces before launching my offensive.
turn 3: My other neighbour are some raiders over in Deneba. I decided to keep them calm while I annex those farmers in the south first.
turn 3: Furthermore I decided to spend most of my Metal and Industrial Point production on buying a unit of buggies to give me some more offensive punch.
turn 4: Still building up towards the attack into Phoenixkeep. In preperation I changed the CO of 1st MG Infantry Brigade with mr Wulfram, a guy that has at least some military skill…
turn 4: Also my food surplus is down to +70 so I have ordered an Ice Mining Facility to be constructed so I’ll have the water to build a farm after. Rain ain’t spectacular on this Planet.
turn 5: Increased soldiers’ salaries to get morale a bit higher. And heck I gave my Leaders a raise as well :)
turn 5: Slow build up, attack still some turns away. Note the blue bars indicating low readiness due to marching all the way south.
turn 6: Discovered Automated Rifles
turn 2: Managed to infiltrate a spy in their Zone.
turn 6: And had to pay off those pesky raiders is in the north to avoid an incursion while all my troops are focussing on Phoenixkeep.
turn 7: Upgrading all my Riflemen to Riflemen II, they have a Carbine instead of a Slugthrower rifle.
turn 7: It seemed Phoenixkeep already knew what was going to happen next and they declared war on us first.
turn 8: Phoenixkeeps farmer militias are afraid and trying to entrench themselves in their City. I fully encircled it and then attacked with maximum forces and concentric bonus.
turn 8: Almost managed to destroy them in a single blow… but not quite.
turn 10: After giving my troops one turn to recuperate I attacked again and forced them to surrender.
turn 11: Gained a Zone and a complementary Fate Pack (4 Fate Cards)
turn11: My two Zones… Halkan in the north and Psimchron (conquered from Phoenixkeep) in the south.
turn 12: Raised a second Brigade… it feels like those Raiders are stirring for war and I do not trust the Major Regime far west of me either.
turn 12: Didn’t calm down those Phoenixkeepuch enough. Had to send in the troops to stop them from protesting.

That’s it for this Playtest Snippet. Thanks for following the development of Shadow Empire.

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Shadow Empire Playtest Snippet #1

I am a bit fed up with explaining mechanics in a rather dry fashion. So in this first Playtest Snippet I am sharing some screenies of one of my personal playtests. Of which I am trying to do a lot right now.

Looking for greener pastures

I started on a planet that actually supports Terran agriculture. However I started my game in Liberty… a city in the bloody desert. So I expanded to the west. Towards the closest greener pastures. Picked a hex with 124mm rainfall a turn and started constructing my new farm.

Triggered the ‘green coloured’ foe south of me.

I might have made a mistake focussing on precipitation levels for choosing the location of my farm. For some reason the Klingstein Hansa (that declared war on me really early) suddenly got aggressive and moved in. I moved most of my Militia to the same area to counter them.

272 Food Produced at my new Farm!

In the subsequent turns the Klingstein Hansa got chased of by some rogue AI leftovers from the Dissolution War. Which subsequently started battering my Militia sadly. But I did finish my Farm which is now happily churning out Food. Also note with discovering the Tellina Sea I fixed all my water shortage issues completely.

Well. That’s it for this Snippet! Will do some more soon.

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Shadow Empire Design Snippet #29

Snippet #29: Finished up the graphics and UI phase

Finally I wrapped up work on all the icons, sprites, windows and even a few explosions for Shadow Empire. The next months i’ll embark on the last phase before starting a beta test. This phase will touch on two major aspects of the game. The first aspect is the AI. The game needs to become more challenging and a more aggressive AI that is putting more demands on you and is harder to beat on the battlefield will help a lot here.

The second aspect I am scheduling is an improvement of the current Decisions and Events system. Development goals here are to make the systems less complex and have more decisions that are really important.

Choosing option B and denying president Hubeiber will result in a relation loss with Zandstein. It might be more prudent to forget about your support for democracy in order to avoid a war… no?

The above example is actually a Decision that is quite good. But there need to be more of these, with even higher stakes.

Also I am going to simplify the Profile model I did. At the moment it has 22 fields, including the “democracy” and “special interest” ones mentioned in the screeny. I am going to cut them down to 9 spread over 3 groups. The political group: democracy-meritocracy-autocracy group will preserved, but the others will be melted into 2 groups, one society group and one psychology group.

The main goals for this last phase before beta is to improve the comprehensibility and challenge factors of the game.

I’ll present the new Profile model in a next post. Thanks for following the development!

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Shadow Empire Design Snippet #28

Snippet #28: Combat

I am trying to make the Combat Windows in SE a bit more exciting than the ones we have in ATG/DC. And at the same time I would like these windows to become a bit more insightful (in an easy way) for players who want to know the nitty-gritty of the rather complex combat resolution calculations.

Here is a quick screeny of a small scale battle:

Not completely happy yet here. The lavendel colors are not helping either to be honest :) but this part of the UI is still work-in-progress.

What I am trying to do is use the screen real estate better. If there are not that many troops involved then I can show big pictures of all the subformations involved. If the battles get more massive the perspective will zoom-out and/or propose pagination.

I am also adding the option to let the players chose if they want to use ‘auto-combat’ or manually give the order for each next combat round.

Combat is based on a very many variables. Even more than in my previous games.

Factors that play a major role in combat outcome is the Equipment concerned, the quality of the Troops, the Skills of the Commanders leading the troops (Operational HQ and Strategic HQ) and the Posture they have ordered for their Troops. And of course the Landscape and environmental factors.

Other factors include the type of armour versus the type of weaponry used. Low caliber guns will for example perform dismally against really heavily armoured targets.

There are also more exotic weapons to be obtained like Lasers and Atomics. Armour research can provide you with Polymer Armour and furthermore it will be possible to research and construct Shield Generators.

There are many more factors which influence things like Unit Feats, Field Testing and upgrading of your Models as well as your Regime Profile.

I am happy that everything is already in the game and that I am now finalizing the interface and doing a lot of tuning and testing. It is a big game and I need time to polish the rough corners. Hopefully in summer we can move forward to an early beta.

In any case Shadow Empire is shaping up as high complexity sandbox turn-based 4X wargame with plenty of immersion.

Thanks for reading up on this latest snippet and i’ll keep you posted as I progress.

Best wishes,
Vic

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