Distant Lands release - 50% sale to celebrate 6 months of development
Well, nothing is ever truly done. But now v 1.1 is in a more stable spot than 1.04, which was known as remarkably stable. There's also been a lot more stuff added since the beta release 1½ week ago, like small islands, water creatures, hostile pirates, UI improvements, and a new type of battle when you're in a boat, but your opponent is attacking from underwater.
Exciting stuff all in all!
v 1.1 has grown a lot since its inception, as well as since the update I wrote last week. For instance, now there's a French translation!
I should do a more thorough rundown of the new features! Gonna do it in the chronological order of when the features were implemented.
The core of the new update is to make maps more interesting and varied. I wanted both to add features that allowed the option to take the role of explorer, but also to add features that forced more variety in gameplay. The new mines accomplish this. Mines now come in four types:
- Normal mines (most common)
- Potential mines
- Mines that require the visiting hero to pay a lump sum of resources to build the mine
- Decrepit mines
- Mines that are protected by one of a small handful of unit groups. Battles take place on a unique battlefield.
- Overgrown mines (super rare)
- Mines that are protected by guardians of nature
The most common type is still normal mines, and this is especially true for the standard five mines close to your starting spot. However, these new varieties have also allowed me to make mines spawning on the map more common overall.
The potential mines give players a dilemma - pay now for gain later? Is this resource truly important enough for me? As with all other map features, these behave with symmetry, so if one player has their Alchemy Lab replaced with a Potential Alchemy Lab, other players will, too.
Decrepit mines use the first of three new battlefield types coming in v 1.1
This battlefield not only looks different, but also plays differently. There's much less space, and you can only deploy half as many units as normally.
While in general, Overgrown mines are quite rare, this is not the case if you're playing as (or against) Wild. Their Druid and Warden hero classes are able to overgrow mines, turning them into an alternative type of mine that gives more lumber.
This change goes hand in hand with an overhaul to the Wild faction Elemental Gate. Instead of requiring you to spend gold every week, it will now passively spawn elementals of the chosen type - and the more mines you overgrow, the more elementals it will give. This means that rare resource mines aren't just a luxury for Wild, but an integral part of their ploy to overgrow the whole map.
Not just Wild get a faction overhaul related to mines - the faction of fire, Pyre, does too. Masters of gates, whenever they claim a mine within the same realm as one of their towns, a portal opens that allows free travel to any other mine.
Of course, all players will be able to enjoy the magic of portals, as long as those portals are placed on the adventure map. Getting portals into the game was easy. Making them useful was where the true challenges were. I finally settled on a couple of functions that portals can have:
- Between secondary areas in Ring and Concentric type maps - allowing you to not just attack the player to your right or left, but also the one across from you.
- Leading to optional islands with more resources just for you!
- Leading to optional islands with more resources, and another portal that another player can take to compete with you.
- A small, random chance to replace a normal land-connection between regions with portals instead. Leading to more interesting maps requiring exploration and curiosity, but basically the same gameplay.
Three more notes about portals. Moving close to one allows you to see what's on the other side. Additionally, there will be portal guardians on both side of the portal, but defeating the guardians on one side will make the ones on the other side flee. Thirdly, the path-finding algorithm should be able to automatically figure out what types of shortcuts portals will allow you to make.
Then I went and made maps 4x as big. This was important for adding islands.
Just look at how strange this map layout is. You could never get something like this with the old map generator. And it only gets better from here on out.
Sailing was introduced. Docks are quite essential in this, of course, as they're what allows you access to boats. However, once you have that boat, you can land on any shore that you desire. This allows a freedom never before seen.
It also gave me a huge canvas of new map space that I have since tried to slowly fill in.
Before adding in new adventure map buildings, I first needed a new UI that made it more clear what exactly was going on. I also went and updated a lot of the buildings to give
- More interesting units
- One instead of three different
At this point, I had realised a big problem with v 1.0 was that armies usually became cluttered with a thousand small groups of units picked up from here and there. Some of the redesigns aimed to solve that problem. Some of the newly added buildings also had the same aim.
Training Grounds has always been my favourite adventure map building. However, its functioning was quite arcane - but now, with the new new UI, you quickly are able to gain a feeling for how it works.
It became clear I needed to find a solution for combat on the seas. This wasn't it.
One of the newly added buildings. I'm really looking forward to what consensus comes up, what people think the best way to use this building is. It doubles the amount of gold put in - but it takes X+2 days, where X is one thousandth of the gold put in.
The seas were becoming an eye sore, so I changed the graphics and added a colour gradient as you moved further from the coast (this is not how the final product looks btw)
First screenshot of naval battles - though, for the true experience, you'll have to try it yourself in-game.
Map generation can now anchor islands to become peninsulas of some continent outside of the map.
A lot of new island-based map templates have been added. This one is Seven Armadas, a new Sprawling size map.
However, this actually created a new problem. The larger maps and their higher variability made the old Map selection UI where it shows a sample minimap pretty much useless.
New map selection screen. Everything makes better visual sense.
The newly introduced resource nodes out at sea don't have as intuitive effects as the old resource nodes do (gold gives gold, etc). This forced me to finally do a feature required since v01 - tooltips for resources - both new and old.
Still the seas felt empty. They needed someone to inhabit them.
Most of the art in the game is made by IKnowKingRabbit, but I actually really enjoy doing pixel art myself. I find it quite relaxing. I'm also really proud of this new faction roster of units, named Tide, all of which I have drawn myself (though the Deckmate and the Siren are based on sprites by IKnowKingRabbit)
Also some neutral units. And then some new abilities were added to fit the units. And then I went on a large expedition, creating a totally new format for unit descriptions.
The old descriptions were a strange mix of too wordy and too nonspecific. Thus I present, new descriptions:
More combat ability icons, and tooltips explaining what they do, both with a small title for the quick overview, and a more in-depth description for when you're in doubt of how it works.
This was actually a huge undertaking, both writing descriptions and generating fitting UI elements for them. I also went and made sure you're better able to see what the units do when you're about to build a dwelling in town.
A screenshot of Tide units trying to assault a town.
A final tally of features out at sea:
- Large islands and coastlines of your enemies' territories
- Small islands with a single building / resource cluster
- Seaside resources
- Pirates (hostile)
- Sea monsters (neutral)
That's it. That's v 1.1.
Usually, I'd have gone through patch notes at this point already. I think instead I'll wait a couple days, collect more bug reports and fixes, then do another update. I guess this devlog is going to hold more of a bird's eye view.
Tide as a faction is too close to done for me to not add as a full faction. Still, there's a lot missing. A faction takes a lot of small puzzle pieces put together just right. And I'll get there.
v 1.2 will not have Tide, the new 9th faction, as its main feature, though it is likely to include Tide as one of its features. v 1.2 will have map editor as its focus.
Allow me to be clear. I hope to do a map editor that's good enough for common consumption. But it's not a promise. The map editor might be finicky and a bit unintuitive, and we'll just have to live with it. The goal is for it to be functional, and for this map editor to allow me and anyone giving a hand to do CHALLENGE, TUTORIAL and CAMPAIGN maps for the game.
If we're very lucky, v 1.2 will release with a small bundle of challenge maps, and those will be its main feature.
v 1.1 is the first of a set of updates paving the road between Hero's Hour v.1 itch release and Hero's Hour v.1 steam release. I think it'll be around v 1.3 that it'll be ready for release over there, but it depends on a lot of stuff. Still, do know that Hero's Hour can already be wishlisted over there.
Also, since I get this question often, I plan to make sure all that buy Hero's Hour on itch before the steam release will get steam keys.
That's it for now. Hero's Hour development will trudge on. I hope to keep you updated on the going ons of v 1.2. And until then, please help me make sure Hero's Hour is stable by telling me about any bugs you find! You can contact me on twitter, discord, or on email at email@example.com.
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