It's been three weeks since I last did a devlog. It's been three very busy weeks.
Well, sort of. I actually took almost a full week away from working on the project after releasing v1.5 a couple days after v1.4. And then, while I was out sailing in a kayak, the game blew up. It has now been the best-selling game on itch.io for more than two weeks straight. Wow. Amazing.
So this development log will cover quite a few different bases. Two full updates, some ThingOnItsOwn story-telling and some announcements as to the future of the Hero's Hour game.
First, though: Hero's Hour now has a trailer!
We actually commissioned this trailer from an artist named Catkorp a couple of days before the game blew up. It took quite a while to get everything settled, and then, suddenly, like a spring being released, Catkorp went into a frenzy and produced this amazing thing. Lau started off by creating a custom audio track for the trailer, so thanks be to him, too. We also had Mesmer manning the cannons in capturing raw footage - try to see if you can spot the two times in the trailer that he magically teleports with debug functions.
All I did was the thumbnail, relatively speaking.
Second, though: Splattercat did an amazing video about the game!
I mean, part of why I'm holding this one out it's the most popular video on Hero's Hour, having 350.000 views atm, and seeming to continue to grow. There's also a lot of Splatterfans that have been hounding me in the discord since then - hounding the way puppies do, with a lot of love and suggestions for you to take them on this and that walk etc. etc.
The other part is the pride I felt when I watched this video. Around 10:00, he's taking a look at the newly added skill tree and he reads the tooltips for a couple of the newly added skills. And they sound, to be honest, absolutely amazing. As he says, "it's very very rare that an RPG has it where I like everything on a certain level and I can't choose between them." And that was the point of pride. The 17 newly added skills in v 1.4 are all a bit strange and gimmicky; but they're fun and stand up to the scrutiny even as the weeks pass.
So anyway, with this single video, a whole flood of video content about the game has followed; the game project's financial state is feeling a bit swole and the daily steam wishlists are off the charts.
My plan to quietly release the game on steam with little fanfare have fallen short.
But we iterate, we try things, see what works, and then we adapt.
Hero skill trees
Instead of skills being offered randomly, each hero has their own unique skill tree (3 per class)
Higher rank skills require higher levels
Skills deeper within the tree require a skill above of high enough rank
Faction poster updated to look nicer and have lore for all factions
World map in-game with lore descriptions for all cities, giving background on the different races in the world
2 new rare units
5 new buildings
Visiting the Dark Carnival allows you to fight a non-lethal battle against clowns. Entering costs 1000 gold. Winning earns you 2 artifacts.
Visiting the Tower of Mages allows your hero to exchange part of their army for boosts to their spellcasting abilities
Visiting the Forlorn Cloister allows your hero to give up their life and become an undead hero
Visiting the Volcanic Cult allows your hero to transform part of their army into demons
Visiting the Cloud Palace allows your hero to wish either for war or for peace. War brings all enemy heroes to the Cloud Temple. Peace sends them all back home to their towns.
These buildings are actually quite central to the Lorekeeper theme. They're all startlingly impactful and terrifyingly magical. And any of them spawning on your map will offer quite a different gameplay experience.
After Splattercat's video rolled around, suddenly there were a lot of people playing and experiencing all the wonderful bugs Hero's Hour has to offer. I've managed to squash a lot of them, introduce a few new ones, and kill those, too. It's honestly a wonder that I managed to add any new features at all.
Hero skill trees updated
Graphical and UX improvements
+3 skills per tree
20 new artifacts
2 new artifact sets
Echoes set is a quirky might-focused set that makes any of your dying units create a horrifying wraith that fights for 10 extra seconds
Widle's set is a quirky magic-focused set that makes your Earth spells turn enemies into golden statues, and that regenerates mana whenever you pick up gold (such as the gold gained from golden statues)
Reworked reserve system
Now works off "unit power", rebalancing how strong different sizes of units are in reserves
Wild faction skills rework
Vengeance > Wild Communion
Gives the hero a special Wild Call spell costing 0 mana with a three day cooldown. The spell summons animals onto the battlefield. If they survive after combat, you keep them as Anima. Strength increases with skill level
Retribution > Lifespark
Whenever the hero casts a spell, the hero additionally heals nearby units and summons animals onto the battlefield. If the animals survive after combat, you keep them as Anima. Strength increases with skill level
Scouting nerf (diminishing effects when used a lot)
Conflux nerf (temporary elementals more temporary, permanent elementals fewer)
Rune of Death nerf
Lich nerf (each skeleton summoned decreases chance of future skeletons by a small amount)
Rune of Air nerf (chance now depends on unit power)
With these nerfs, the goal has been to keep the skills strong, just less absurdly so. The Wild faction skill rework has actually been planned for many months, but I did it just now because I was being told that Retribution would give too many animas, macro-wise. Its power has now been shifted to be larger within the single battle instead of between battles.
More v 1.6 features:
Taverns now offer two heroes, one of its own faction, one foreign faction hero
Revamped tutorial map
Still the same "mission"
New system for saves, now ordered into folders and with better
3 new rare units
two of which were drawn by KraftKraken - more to come??
and a cat, because we can't have dogs in the game but no cats
Hero-specific starting units
More units on your starting hero, fewer on tavern-purchased heroes
Hard and Hardcore game difficulties are now much harder
New difficulty: Hardcore+
And I think that about wraps it up when it comes to features. BUT! I promise you there's at least as many new bug fixes as there are features. It's been much easier to fix bugs recently with all the new players who experience and report them. It's a lot easier to fix a bug that you understand than one you don't.
We're down to very few bugs at this point, most of which are the messageless crash type. If someone ever gets a reproducible messageless crash, please let me know, because it's super important for the continued development of the game.
A couple weeks ago, I announced that Lau the Sound Goblin (aka Lautaro Ariño) was redoing the music and sounds in the game. Well, he's now also come on to work full time on the game. Supposedly, he's as skilled with code as he is with music, which sounds absolutely amazing. It'll take some time until he's up to date with the Hero's Hour codebase, but once we're there, development will really take off.
Everyone, say welcome Lau!
Hero's Hour is really going places now, and I hope I'll be able to bring all of you with me those places - wherever they end up being.
It's been a couple of weeks of focusing on improving the base game, with more gameplay features, better balancing and higher stability. And now, we return to focus on the LAST GOAL ON THE ROADMAP:
SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN
And then, once that's done, with more sound effects, better polish and higher stability, Hero's Hour will release on steam, and then the next chapter in the Hero's Hour development will start.
I really want an 11th faction to join the HH roster - and for this faction to not be designed by me, but rather by ALL of the community. But that's a post launch thing, and I'll update you on that once we get closer.
Anyway. It's been a mad couple of weeks; I'm a bit tired, but also super excited for the future. In Danish we say, "blod på tanden".
I've been toying with the demo, it's fun and addictive. I didn't know where to post this but you really need to fix these few bugs and I offer few suggestions on the side:
1. Neutral hero mobs tend to sail or spawn into map edges and get stuck there forever. 2. Mob Turn phase creates horrible audio reverb of footstep sound, please at least implement turn off sound of neutral mobs and caravans. 3. Neutral hero mobs are too trivial once a single game advance beyond player heroes level 10 which is quite quickly with some . Please consider widening the levels which neutral heroes spawn in. 4. Attempting to convert 3 cities in a single turn or more hard crashes the game (I was testing if you could level up and buff characters continually converting to Pyre and back to others) 5. City conversion seems to have a hidden # limit not explained anywhere, or I missed the prompt 6. Please add explanations of Hero stats in Lexicon example to indicate how much does one 1+attack give 7. Theo with Aetherforge and trading post is OP as hell in late game, you can basically get lucky roll continuous stat increases and he becomes an unstoppable god at any level.
Multiple town conversion error code shrunked for convenience:
ERROR in action number 1 of Draw Event for object obj_con: Variable Index  out of range  at gml_Script_dobuild ############ gml_Script_convert_town gml_Script_castlescreen gml_Object_obj_con_Draw_64
I hope to see more factions and mob types and will buy it asap.
I bought this game some time ago, when it was not even complete and every little bit I look to see what new wonder they have implemented. This game does not disappoint in the least and you can see that the creator puts love and effort into it.
Although I have yet to solve at least one obelisk, I don't know if they are too difficult or they just overwhelm me.
The skill trees are a good idea, and I like to see to what my hero is growing to.
Been messing around with the Free versions of Hero's Hour since Splats video on it dropped and the Hero Skill Tree changes so far is really the only thing I'm kind of torn on.
On one hand it's nice to have another bit of consistency but on the other hand I love randomness to death and when I noticed the hero skill tree's were relatively random I audibly cheered about it. That being said I personally would love to see an Option to choose between Random Skill Tree's and Deliberate Skill Trees for Heros when you start up a new game. Just an idea, either way I'm still going to play the heck out of Hero's Hour ^_^
I've been a fan of Heroes of Might and Magic since I was like 7, I'm 30 this October and with how garbage I consider the Ubisoft Heroes games are after Heroes V and it's expansions, Hero's Hour has scratched a massive itch I've had for years so thank you for this game which I will be buying (finally) next month. Literally created an Itchio account just for Hero's Hour haha.
Best wishes to ya'll going forward with Hero's Hours and to a long life for this fantastic game!
It's been a crazy ride seeing how much the skill trees have changed the game. It was necessary bc I had too many skills and everything felt too random otherwise. And seeing how people are now meta-gaming the best heroes - well, actually, that's just so much fun. Tal Anak representing <3
It's all good, static skill trees won't affect my enjoyment of the game and it'll help my Father enjoy it more, dude is 70+ and still gaming. Mainly Heroes of Might and Magic games so Hero's Hour was pretty awesome to him when I showed him one of the older versions (like 1.5 or 1.51 I think)
Random Skill Trees just made me think back to HoMaM 3 with it's pseudo-random skill sets but i do understand your point.
I think it's great folks are really getting in to the Static Skill Trees, if it's been the better choice for the game I'm certainly even more in favor of it! I'm looking forward to seeing the Skill Trees for the locked in the free version factions tbh. :D
I'm one of the people the video got recommended to by Youtube (even though I wasn't following the channel it was on). I had been following the project on Twitter for a long time, but never got around to actually giving it a go. It always looked amazing to me but seeing it in action like this finally pushed it to the front of my backlog.
Amazing progress! What I've seen so far has been awesome, it's well on its way to become one of my games of the year next to Noita and Monster Hunter Rise.
Keep it up and know that the YouTube algorithm seems to be on your side!
Man, thats really inpressing what you did here, you "small"game is incredibly satisfying) pixelart is cute and nice, music is amazing and atmospheric too, only Order city theme bugs me off, it's too typical)) There is a lot of things to explore and try in your game, and I see that you definetly going to sucsess!
I can't wait the Steam release)
Also as a designer I really hope that you will eventually find good game UI/UX designer, because in compare to epic sound design, pixelart and gameplay, game UI looks too raw)