Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Daily Challenge Challenge 2014 Death Specials

On the flight to Australia I had the bright idea to create a death compilation from my daily challenge series, ideally to be put out on New Years Eve.

I ran into a couple of problems doing this:

  1. I don't have a local video editor
  2. I don't have the footage on my tablet
Fortunately YouTube has its own editing tools I can vaguely work, but I knew my net connection for most of the trip pre-New Years would be pretty limited. So my time was limited and the tools I used were relatively crude but I did in fact get it done. Here are my two new years specials:



Because in games like these if you can't take some pleasure in your repeated deaths, then they really would quickly become difficult to enjoy at all. I have died literally hundreds of times in Spelunky and only seen the final boss once, there is a reason I keep coming back despite the repeated mistakes and frustration.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Massive Chalice - The Hiatusing

I am going to take a break from this Let's Play until probably mid January. The primary reason for this is that I am travelling back to Australia for Christmas and New Year and I won't have my desktop or headset in order to record, nor will I reliably have sufficient bandwidth or time to edit episodes together.

It was this or try to record the rest of the game and get the bulk of the editing done before travelling which definitely seems possible, but the other reason for not pushing ahead is the Hybrid Class patch that is coming early next year. It looks like it will have some pretty significant changes coming with it, not just the new classes and I really would like to have the full remaining 95ish years to play around with the new classes and balance changes that are coming down.

Not planning to put up a different let's play series in the meantime, because of the same time and editing commitments that would require, but if you want something a bit different, a friend of mine has been doing a text based Civilization Beyond Earth let's play over at Ninja Blues.

Hopefully I can write up a couple of posts over the break, but no guarantees, have a great holiday season and see you again next year.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Massive Chalice EP18 - The Best Timeline?

So I am just past year 200, I have only ever had 3 or 4 heroes die in battle, the rest all lived long and hopefully happy lives and these days my training program means that practically every child that makes it out of training is a warrior out of myth and legend. Right now I think things are going pretty well, but then I still have 94 years left for things to go wrong.

In fact, given that most of what I talk about in this video I mentioned in my previous blog post, instead why don't I talk about how this could go all wrong, here are the major threats I see on the horizon:

  • Random events: I have plenty of heroes, so I am not actually worried about these injuring or damaging heroes, but they can add corruption to regions. Tech and hero level doesn't appear to factor into these events either so they can and have imperilled regions.
  • 3 region attacks: Even when I win these, the net effect is that corruption goes up and regions end up closer to destruction.
  • 2 region attacks on my most corrupted regions: This forces me to pick which region I want to keep, both this and the previous point ultimately stem from the same larger threat
  • 4 of the 5 exposed regions are keeps: The loss of a keep is not only the loss of the heroes and trainees, but effectively eliminates a hero household from the future usage.
If I start losing regions and thus start also most of my keeps too early I may see my heroes dying of old age without any replacements arriving before year 300. Thanks to random events and 3 region attacks this can happen without ever actually losing a battle save the last one.

I should also note that as of version 0.86 all cadence attacks in years 250-300 are 3 region attacks. This is why I am still a bit nervous even with how well everything has gone. Those last 50 years promise to be pretty brutal.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Massive Chalice EP17 - AI Problems

I really love the newton's cradle thing at the start of the episode I suspect it would have been significantly more effective if I had just used a regular attack given the ramcap caber's built in knockback ability. I really don't know what could possibly get me to stop using that caber without it having a fairly significant damage nerf.

That same fight also shows that the AI really cannot handle the increased range of a Dead Eye hunter. It feels really goofy because they seem to react to being shot at from from outside their sight range. Instead it follows the standard no target in sight procedure, which is apparently move randomly and occasionally hit the scenery.

They would feel a lot less silly if they retreated, looked for cover or at least tried to head towards the source of the attack. But stand there being shot at is just very daft, I am sure there are many different ways to fix it, but I wonder if just in-engine giving enemies free sight of the character that attacked them would fix it. My expectation would be that melee enemies would head towards the attack/find what cover they can on the way, and ranged enemies would attempt to move to within range and then attack. It would make cradles significantly more dangerous since I assume they have the same kind of indirect fire alchemists do, but I can't help but feel that that also would be better.

I really have to keep in mind that I am definitely over levelled for this stage of the game, I think the expected year to start having level 10 heroes is probably more around the 250 to 275 mark, rather than the early 200s. High level heroes also means high level researchers so I am also ahead on the tech curve. This basically all stems from the timeline starting before the patch that increased building costs, I was built out and up much earlier than the game expects. If I were to start new game now, things would be pretty different.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Massive Chalice EP16 - Defend the Keep!

New fight type, Keep Defence, while the game did wait until the back half of the game to throw this at me, these can actually happen at any time to a keep on the outer ring, they can also attack Sagewrights and Standards.

Not sure that the cadence actually gets a special goal, I suspect my understanding shown in the video is simply wrong and they just have to kill all of my heroes to win. Mostly because I don't really get any information about that from the Chalice itself.

They certainly are a welcome change by now though. They include more enemies but also really different stakes, instead of gambling on realm status, you effectively are wagering the entire building and line, I am pretty sure you lose the building and everything in it. A weaker version of losing the entire domain to corruption. Finally I am pretty sure that the keep defenses all take place on different maps than the standard map pool. Overall it is a nice change once in a while.

The other thing these missions do is show that while the game is built around 5 hero squads, it does a fairly good job of adapting to larger squad sizes. It only really struggles in the Results screen where the UI expectations are most visible.

5 Heroes
7 heroes

You can see that the extra heroes pushes over the end of the page, meaning we suddenly require scrolling. I do appreciate that they have put some thought into this situation. It can't be an accident that the sixth hero is partially visible which tells the user that hey, there is more information available, you just have to scroll down to see it. I think it works well as a solution to a relatively infrequent but expected event in this game.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Massive Chalice EP15 - Why Won't You Have Kids?!

Those Vaughns, heck not just them but everyone who has occupied that keep has been mysteriously infertile. Not sure what is causing it but kids are exceedingly rare in that keep, even when the game tells me that the regent and their partner are both bountiful and their chances for children are super high.

I guess this is what adoption is for though, to try to get past this point and to hopefully push through into a more reproductive regent and family later on. I really want to keep those caberjacks around, and given that they are on the outer ring of regions, they are relatively easily lost to cadence attacks. Fortunately the game even handed me a second child for them to raise through the first fight in this episode.

We finally get to see the Ramcap caber in action, it is so freaking awesome. I love being able to hit enemies into one another and now I can, repeatedly and easily. Takes the main hook of the caberjack and amps it up to 11. Really looking forward to getting to use it in future fights.

Also these are difficult weeks for me due to my intent to have the videos mostly match up with the current state of the game when they are released. It means I can't play too far ahead of the posts (currently sticking with up to a week). So the cliffhanger at the end of this episode affects me too, I won't get to play the next fight until probably the day this post goes up, i.e. a week since I actually hit this point in the game. I was so very tempted to go for just one more fight this time.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Massive Chalice EP14 - New Trees and New Choices

We get to see the new alchemist skill tree this episode and I really like the choices it offers because now they are far from easy to make. I mean Dart of the Falcon is great for making alchemists more effective at longer ranges, but maybe I want to make them a more effective team medic with thrown ultralixors? Similarly I love acid and have used it a lot in these combats, but I am pretty sure sometimes I would rather the flexibility of the second item over the 6 extra points of damage on the enemy turn, even from glancing blows.

What I am even more excited by is the implementation, the skill tree reshuffle was only for future heroes, it did not affect existing heroes at all, which implies that hero skill trees, both the current skills selected and the overall structure is stored with the hero information. This opens the way for a mod or new game plus option along the lines of Training Roulette from XCOM Enemy Within which was a mode I really enjoyed.

So just randomising the skill trees and allowing non-class skills that still make some sense to show up would be pretty interesting, but combining it with parents and standards could make it even more complicated but also even interesting. Imagine becoming really attached to an alchemist household specifically because that family all are able to learn charge, or a hunter household that know how to apply acid to their bolts.

I am really hoping that modding is supported by the final version of this game.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Massive Chalice EP13 - Midpatch Ramifications

We have officially hit the mid-point of the game and thus hopefully this series as a whole, given my plan is to play this only until I win or die. The game should start throwing some new things at us to help ensure that life stays interesting.

Given that this game is in early access, and I actually started playing before it even hit that point I expect patches to hit while recording this series. It is one of the reasons why I only record a week at a time, ideally I want to keep the videos as representative as possible of the current game, without restarting each patch.

The patch that hit last week is pretty significant, though I avoid the full ramifications of it by being halfway through the game already. The key strategy changes are increasing building costs and reducing the effectiveness of the building region buff, a slight reduction in Standard XP rates and some more minor changes to Sagewrights and the intuition stat.

The building aspects are made completely irrelevant for this play through because I already built out the map, I literally cannot build anything else in this game, so that change has just come in too late to affect me. Likewise with the change to Standards, I have already benefited from about a century of better standards, my heroes are approaching the higher levels and I think the brakes have been applied too late to stop me there. All that is left is a slight research reduction, I might get one or two fewer items by the end of the game.

The skill tree changes though, they are more interesting. This episode they haven't really taken too much of an effect, but logjam feels like a much more directly useful skill to me with these changes, the area stun just never seemed useful enough over the alternative but it was so great to pop both ruptures near me with a single attack during that fight.

I will talk a little more about the implementation of the skill changes and what I hope it means on Wednesday.