Oktober 2015 blog archive

This page contains all the blog posts from oktober 2015. To read the most recent blog posts, click here.

25/10 - Trader

The most recent HD3 alpha update added the trader screen. The trader's purpose is to help players complete their card collections and to allow players to turn a surplus of one type of item into another type.

The trader currently comes with 4 sections : there are 3 that allow to trade for a certain type of item (cards, boost tokens, merc tokens) and the 4th section shows special offers.

The card trade section grants random cards of a rarity of player's choice, in return for boost or merc tokens. Even though the cards gained this way are random, the trader will only offer players cards that they don't already have 4 copies of. As such, this feature is more interesting for players who are close to completing their collection.

Both token sections allow to turn surplus cards into tokens, or one type of token into the other. Surplus cards are those that players have more than 4 copies of, so this section can never accidentially break a deck.

The 'offers' section is a bit different. Every so often, determined by the number of duels that players win, a new, randomly generated offer becomes available, which remains valid for a limited amount of time (again measured in wins). In order, there will be a card, combat boost, mercenary offer, and they'll all cost a mix of boost and merc tokens. These offers are relatively expensive, but the trader as a whole is not aimed at new players (as such, the trader is not available until players have reached a certain level).

18/10 - Unlocking contents

New players will start off with a small collection of cards, and some boost and mercenary tokens, but they won't have access to all content right away.
As players gain levels, more and more things will become available. This has been set up such that it won't take too much time to unlock everything, and also makes sure the more complex elements of the game are hidden away for a while for new players, while they learn how the game is played.
At level 3, flagships become available. At level 6, combat boosts can be used. Once players reach level 9, they'll be able to select the unpredictable game mode in the battle setup screen. At level 12, the events screen is unlocked. At level 15, mercenary cards can be used, and the mercenaries game mode can be selected. The last unlock for now is at level 18, and gives access to the trader screen.

The flagship editor itself doesn't immediately make all the upgrade slots available once players can use flagships, nor are all ships available right away.
Only the ships player has collected can be chosen. By default, the boost upgrade slot is available, but the 6 others need to be unlocked, which happens through the 6 racial achievements of each race.

The mercenaries game mode offers one opponent for each ship card in the game, but players will only start out with one ship per race. Additional opponents are made available based on the highest level at which players have defeated those opponents they have access to, seperated per race.

11/10 - Achievements

In my previous blogpost, I explained that stats are collected and stored in a player's savegame. Many of these are intended for the achievement system. Since i had to implement stat collection, processing and saving so that this part of the savegame could be tested, i decided to also add in the entire achievement system itself.

There will be a total of 87 achievements in HD3, split over 13 categories or sets. These achievements have been kept fairly generic, for two reasons. Firstly, i'm not a fan of achievements that force players to play the game in a strange or unnatural way just for a few achievements. Second, the primary purpose of the achievements is actually not the achieving of things, but rather the rewarding of players that actually play the game. After all, the achievements have been set up in such a way that they will simply unlock as players progress through or explore the game. Achievements will be easy to get started with, but there will still be things to do for those that play the game a lot.

There are 13 achievement sets : 9 sets with 7 achievements and 4 sets with 6. Within each set, one of the achievements is actually a 'set achievement', which can only be unlocked by unlocking other achievements. Unlocking happens in 4 tiers, and every achievement has these 4 tiers, including the set achievement. Reaching a tier always comes with a reward : in most cases this is a regular, but there are a couple combat boost and mercenary rewards. For regular cards and mercenaries, the first tier is a common card, the 2nd a uncommon, and the 3rd and 4th tiers will reward elite cards. The set achieves reward a copy of a certain legend with each tier. With currently 13 legends in the game, all of them can be gotten through achievements.
As mentioned above, it will be relatively easy for players to get started with achievements. The first tier for most achievements unlocks at about 1/8th of the final tier's requirements, something that should be easily attainable for casual players. The second tier requires 1/4th and the third tier half of the final tier's numbers to become unlocked. The final tier itself is aimed at players who don't mind to grind a bit. I've looked at the stats of HD:S and HD:X to get an idea of what numbers would be suitable to casual, average and power players.

With 87 achievements, each coming with 4 tiers, there's a lot of stuff for players to keep track off. The 'profile' screen will make this simple, by listing a player's progress in detail.
Below is a screenshot of the top panel of this profile screen. It contains 15 buttons, of which the first is a global stats overview and the last is the mercenary boss unlock progress (which is still a work in progress at this point, so i'll talk about that in more detail in a future blog post). The 13 center buttons each allow to view the achieves of a single set. The percentages under the achievement icons show the completion progress of the entire set. For testing purposes, i've manually added some stats for the Human set.


The bottom panel of the profile screen will show the set achievements of the set that has been selected in the top panel. Here's a screenshot of the Human set :


I've selected the Human ships achievement in this screenshot. (The 9 racial sets all have similar achievements). The 4 tiers of this achievement become unlocked as a result of launching Human ships. The achievement info text shows what needs to be done to unlock tiers, as well as player's their progress. This particular achievement will reward Human ship cards at each tier. The structures and actions achievements will reward structures and actions, while the other 3 achievements can reward any type of card. The set achievement will reward a copy of the Human legend for each tier. The non-legendary card rewards aren't fully random, however. The game will look at a player's collection and will first attempt to hand out a card of which that player doesn't have 4 copies yet.
The achievement info text also mentions that the passive ability upgrade slot in the flagship editor is unlocked, but this is still a work in progress. Once completed, i'll detail this in a future blog post.

04/10 - Savegames

I'm currently working on what's probably the most complex of all the remaining elements of the HD3 alpha : savegames. It's not just a matter of making sure that data can be saved to file and then recovered later on. Savegame data is located all over the game, since there are many screens that allow players to change the various kinds of data that are saved. The decklist allows to change the order of decks or delete them, the deck editor can change the contents of decks. In the battle setup screen, presets can be saved. The flagship screen allows to edit and store flagship configurations, etc.
In case of a player's card collection, i don't actually save the individual cards with all their data to the savegame, since that information is part of the game. Instead, the savegame will have a list of numbers, each pointing to a card (every hardcoded card in the game has a unique number). For flagships, this doesn't work, since players can change the abilities and stats on their flagship. To be able save and recover a flagship setup, the savegame must thus have information about the stats and all abilities of a flagship setup. Mercenaries have both a fixed element (the card itself) and a variable element (the upgrade). Similar to regular cards, mercenary cards will have a unique number that gets stored, alongside each mercenary its upgrade.

It's not just a player's collection of various items that need to be stored, but also various stats - some simply for display purposes, others for achievements. Progress related to achievements needs to be stored as well, thus i also have to create the achievement system at this point. Player experience had to be added as well, since this is another stat that needs to be stored. The final setups for mercenary boss and flagship edit slot unlocking have to be completed as well, since the way these systems work will determine what kind of data the savegame needs to store, but both of these still need to be implemented.

Since all of these changes need to be completed before the savegame update is truly finished, it's unlikely i'll be able to split this up over multiple updates.