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Game Changing update - Hero's Hour v 1.7
Hello everyone. Long time, no see.
It's been an absolutely absurd amount of time since last we talked. I've had previews for v 1.7 up on the discord for so long now - and so many previews - I feel like I'm losing touch with you all. If you also feel like you're losing touch with me, you can find me in the Hero's Hour discord. The community is so large at this point that I can't keep up.
Instead we'll have to go into that vague state of family gatherings a couple of times a year. Only, probably, monthly instead of that rarely.
Don't worry. I'll remember to forget what it was you were studying and ask you each year though you graduated years ago.
So! Today I bring with me a new update. Kind of like the uncle that brings a new girlfriend and you just know it won't last. But I bellow: "This is a Game Changer!" Because this is the game changing update. Zero bugs, no jank, and no more imbalanced strategies. "I've changed," I say with pride - the v 1.7 update looks at me with enchanted eyes, and the rest of the family nods with overbearingness.
Now. How should we proceed? Let me share a sweet screenshot, do a short feature overview and then I'll give you the behind the curtains overhead perspective.
WHAT's COMING TO v 1.7?
- 8 new heroes
- modding capability for neutral heroes
- +2 heroes as sample mods
- New hand crafted skill trees for faction heroes
- designed by the community
- 5 new skills
- Dizzy Tune
- Blight Ritual
- 7 new units
- 4 more blighted units so that there's now 6 in total
- Arachnian, Spooder and Pond Champion (related to new heroes)
- NEW ART FOR v 1.4 skills
- NEW ART FOR ALL HEROES
- 4 new spells
- Salt Shower, Salt Blast, Salt Spray and Salt Armor
- all offer counter strategies to spell-based strategies
- and also Dizzy Tune and Devour active abilities
- Salt Shower, Salt Blast, Salt Spray and Salt Armor
- New town structure, Champion Statue
- New music
- Tide town theme
- Earthen town theme
- New campaign music track
- Reworked campaign music track
- New sound effects
- 6 new overworld dwellings
- More in-depth description of all skills, including numbers where they're relevant
- Game no longer eats RAM
- Stability improvements
- Bug fixes
- Bad/boring unit names have been updated
Thank you for reading my list. Now I want you to listen to a story.
Last we talked, I described how a certain youtube video by a Splattercat had catapulted Hero's Hour from being a niche title hidden in a dusty corner to being a winged indie success. Now, I can tell you that that a certain youtube video by a Spiffing Brit has catapulted Hero's Hour from being... well, more successful than expected to being now absurdly successful.
Hero's Hour has basically been top 1 best seller on itch io for 1½ months at this point.
And as development chugs along, at the end of the marathon towards the vaunted holy halls of "Hero's Hour v 2.0 Steam Release", at the gold-encrusted finishing mark stands some 80 000+ people who all have wishlisted the game on steam. "I'm gonna have to really muck things up for this to become anything but a glorious success" says the turtle as it crawls along the road towards the goalpost out at the horizon.
And I do not intend to muck things up.
OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! Hero's Hour now has GoblinZ studios as publishing partner. What does this mean? I'm not sure. But they'll help manage the marketplace and financial side of things in exchange for some of the profits from non-itch marketplaces. Fewer worries for me and Lau, more time for us to deliver the best possible product.
I'm also pushing out the steam release date. We're starting to talk about the end of Winter 2022 instead of the earlier planned Winter 2021. Some months difference that I'll use on making the game better and eeeeeven more bloated with content.
There's a lot of numbers, and it's difficult to really know what to compare them to. But with our 82k wishlists atm, Hero's Hour is currently the 134th most wish-listed game on steam. We crossed by our good friends over at Songs of Conquest. That's utter nonsense for a game that started as a small procgen prototype 9 months ago.
So. Please excuse me for slowing down. I am starting to get a reverence for this project I did not always have, and in honour of its momentum, I need to chant: "Let's not muck this thing up."
Apart from the absolutely crazy amount of changes detailed above, another reason this update has taken so long is because the main focus has actually been on the campaign.
When the game launches, it'll come with at minimum a campaign of 6 maps, which go between very story focused and more open-ended maps. It'll tell the story of Field Artisan Evonia, who's trying to gather reinforcements for a war against Decay and finding the rest of the federation equally war-torn.
We've got colourful characters, beautiful vistas (nah actually just the normal art), worldbuilding delivered via dialogue sequences, special challenges.
You won't get to see most of this stuff for a while yet. The plan is to get a beta (open or closed?) up in a month's time.
But at least you will be able to access *a lot more functionality* within the Custom Map maker. There's so many triggers and effects for the map event system now. This is what we use to build the campaign; this is what you can use to build cool stuff too.
An often requested feature has been for Rare Heroes or Neutral Heroes. 1½ weeks ago, I went on the discord and asked people to help come up with custom hero ideas - we ended up with 39 submissions within an hour or so. Then we ranked them through online votes. It all went quite amazingly and now we have 8 new heroes in the game:
|Rachnida, the spider lord|
|Zalgor, the devourer|
|Toadington, the scholar|
|Oob, the prophet|
|Etheral, the master of magic|
|Cethelon, the accurssed|
|Pierro, the furious|
|Tegan, the bard|
Each of them gets their own starting units from among the non-faction units, and several get specially designed skills (also accessible for others, but made for them)
You can pick up these rare heroes by upgrading the Tavern in town with the new Champion Statue upgrade.
Anyway, since there were so many suggested heroes and I could only include so many, I also added modding capability for neutral heroes. This is a sort of test as to how people will use modding. For now, I've found out that people want to put stuff in the game to play with it - and that's not really how the game is designed with so many layers of randomness, especially since rare heroes are gated for balance reasons. So consider this a prototype. You can find some sample mods within the downloaded file within the Mods folder. You can also ask for guides in the Mods-and-maps channel in the discord - or even find mod packs there.
5 new skills!
Blight Ritual: Transforms all units in the hero's army into Blighted Ones. Higher ranks increase the speed, attack and health of Blighted creatures by 5% per rank
Mercurial: Spends 1 mercury each day (if possible) and creates Mercurial creatures for the hero's army. Creates 4 mercurials +2 for each additional rank from the same 1 mercury
Bodyguards: Additional <UPGRUNITNAME> spawn around your hero when they enter battle. If they die, fewer join the next battle, but they also replenish over time (15% recovery per day). Each rank gives up to <BGNUMBER> <UPGRUNITNAME>
Devour: Teaches your hero a special Devour ability that can be used once a day. Devour friendly creatures to give the hero a permanent boost to attack and defence. Higher ranks give more stats per unit
Dizzy Tune: Teaches your hero a special Dizzy Tune ability that be used once every two days. Confuses a large group of enemy creatures. Higher ranks increases the number of affected creatures
Now there' 57 hero skills in total, not counting the 20 class-specific hero skills. That's in total what one might call "a lot"
Since I added new skills, it also became necessary to upgrade the previous skill trees for heroes that already existed. I made a tool for the community to design hand-crafted skill trees, and oh my, was that ever a joy to see what people did with that. Such a lot of care and attention went into it, it was honestly amazing.
This, together with the new skill icons for old skills and new hero portraits, and leveling your hero is a completely improved experience.
Watching the Hero's Hour 1st PvP tournament, it was becoming clear that spell-focused strategies were by far the strongest. For that reason, I nerfed some of the most powerful spells, buffed several skills that were army-improvement oriented, and added these four spells seen above, all of which have unique effects, but all pertaining to countering spells.
Salt Shower: Select an area of the battlefield. A rain of salt will fall, dispelling magical effects and dealing damage to summoned units in that area
Salt Spray: Deals damage to all enemies in a line cast from your hero. This spell deals 3x damage to summoned units and dispells magic
Salt Blast: Deals damage to ALL units. Deals 3x damage to summoned units and dispells magic
Salt Armor: Affects friendly units. Increases their health by 10% and gives them warding (protection against spells)
This will make fighting-oriented and more hybrid-oriented builds more viable.
Several of the new units were created by new artist of the project, KraftKraken! Together with IKnowKingRabbit, we currently will be able to improve the art of the game tremendously with the time left until release.
For instance, it now seems quite possible to do at least one extra faction as well as giving all factions a beautiful town screen landscape. Let's see!
There's some great new music in the game this time around. Lau has done town themes for Earthen and Tide which sound amazing, including some pretty epic orchestral sounds and singing of all things. Also another overworld music track as well as a completely reworked overworld music track - and new resource pickup sounds.
Lau has this to say:
I'm surprised I haven't heard mentions of the inconsistencies in the sounds of HH yet. At the moment the game has parts of about 3 generations of sounds from the first music and sfx added, some along the way and then what I have added in the last months. And it will be like this until i'm finished replacing it all.
For this update I made 2 faction theme songs, the first ones I've contributed with. The lucky ones this time were the Earthen and Tide factions who didn't have their own songs yet. You can hear them in their cities. You will also note that they sound quite different from the other factions. Maybe you will hear it as they sound more modern. This will be the end result for all factions.
There is also a new campaign song. It's #6 called Divine Worldliness. Song #4 has also changed a lot from previously just being a sketch and is more or less a new song. It now has a name as well, Sawtooth Mountains. Since it will be played in the campaign map I'm a bit worried it might be too hectic so feedback is greatly appreciated!
Lastly, I've started replacing the sound effects on the world map. First up is the pickup sounds. Now you have more distinct sounds for every type of resource you can pick up."
Now I'll copy-paste an imcomplete list of balance changes:
- summon spells are stronger across the line
- army of giants is weaker (from +100 hp, +15 damage to +75 hp, +10 damage)
- logistics applies its buff even as a starting skill
- Undead units are slightly weaker (-5% dmg, -7.5% hp)
- all units have been rebalanced
- spell cooldowns are 25% longer and Sorcery changes cooldowns slightly less
- spellpower now decreases spell cooldowns by 4%. At 6 spellpower, spell cooldowns are as fast as before
- arcane spire spell now also suffers cooldown when another spell is cast
- aether and ore gain for Arcane heroes is now more strongly related to the size of the enemy fought
- necromancy drain no longer gives mana, but gives a mana discount for future necromancy instead
- scouting is slightly stronger once more
- attack and defense stats now give +3% boost instead of 2.5% boost
- armorer now gives a larger health boost, but only gives projectile protection
- skills from the 4th rung of the skill tree now require 2 fewer levels
One last very serious topic: RAM buildup and the Messageless crash.
From v 1.3 to v 1.6.5 the game had a serious problem where it kept building up RAM until the game would eventually crash.
I did this on purpose.
From v 0.9 to v 1.3, the game was suffering from a mysterious type of crash where the game would crash without any error message. After a lot of failed attempts at debugging, it was finally confirmed that the problem laid with a system called "garbage collection", which many engines use to keep track of what memory should be kept and what can be reused. For some reason, Gamemaker Studio's built-in garbage collection would crash from time to time. This crash appeared outside of my own code, and was thus basically impossible to fix.
Apart from turning off the garbage collection.
After community feedback, it was decided that they'd rather have RAM buildup than unexpected crashes. Thus, from v 1.3 forward, the garbage collection was turned off. This helped many users - and it wasn't until later I found out how many it did the opposite of helping. From v 1.5.4 you could switch this on or off in the game settings.
With v 1.7.0 and forward, the garbage collection is once again turned off. This will probably cause messageless crashes, but I have done all I can to make it happen as rarely as possible. But if it does happen to you, you can reload and continue playing. And if it happens reliably whenever you reload and do the same things:
GET IN CONTACT! SEND YOUR SAVE FILES either in the discord or to firstname.lastname@example.org
The only way to fix this bug is to acquire save file where the bug can be reliably triggered. This will help development tremendously and make the game better for all who play it.
Again, if you have issues and feedback, I am way more liable to see it in the discord than on the itch page. Sorry! But there's just so many channels for information that I am unable to keep track with it all. Join the Hero's Hour discord, ask people there, and I'll probably answer because I see everything.
I think that's all for this week. I'll be getting back to y'all with a super exciting v 1.8 and more news about the campaign.
Thank you for your time and for helping this project flourish.
- ThingOnItsOwn out!
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I've discussed this with them and I wasn't sure if I wanted to go for it. I'll keep your opinion in mind
I hope you are being facetious. If you aren't you should know it's a buggy mess and never works. To this day, i have never gotten signed up for the newsletter on Legends of Keepers.
You shouldn't take or really care about my experience or single opinion. Check the Legends of Keepers Reviews and boards and there are a decent amount of complaints about it even in the positive reviews. In that game, the content is stuff fundamental to the gameplay, with no reskins or a minor variation. Entire new monsters into already small pools of monsters. Not only were they locked behind a newsletter they were timed and would expire meaning after a certain date if you were later to the show you would never get access to that content.
It's that last part that helps explain the strange deal about their newsletter. They leverage "Fear of missing out" to further manipulate players into joining. They obnoxiously have promos and adverts for it in-game menus
The whole thing is bizarre like in school they had some class that said newsletters are very important and they got fixated on it. 90% of emails will auto-spam it anyways so I doubt it is very effective. If you wanna sour steam users quickly have them pay XX.XX for your game, log in and see a giant annoying box telling them certain heroes or exclusive monthly heroes cant be accessed in the product they paid for until they sign up for the newsletter and receive a code to enter for it. It is not how one should treat customers who paid for your product. I like them other than that one bizarre fixation they have.
Sorry for the blog. I hope you just fucking with me. I rather them have a portion of the ingame main screen real estate dedicated to them with rating adds for new upcoming content that is hyperlinked or opens stuff in steam.
I'm not fucking with you - they did mention it, and I wasn't impressed with their idea. I'm happy you took the time to give me some good arguments for me next time they bring it up.
Especially the timed exclusive / FOMO manipulation thing. Shudder
I second what Mcwaffle mentioned, it's quite intrusive and makes me feel like I'm playing a freemium game
We'll always have the itch version so I suppose its not the end of the world
Great announcement and it's exciting to hear how the game has grown in popularity. Hope that continues and you reach Steam top seller for months at a time too once that release happens.