2018 came and went so quickly, and before we knew it, it’s 2019! I know that we’ve been so very quiet this year, and the fact is we just had to dig down and power through everything that we needed to do to get Forged of Blood where we’d like to be. We just had to take it one bug, one feature, one quest, one day at a time.
A lot of the work we’ve been doing over the last year has been on the back end of the production – hooking up features, testing, refactoring, optimizing, writing and rewriting – and for the most part there just isn’t a lot to share as part of these blog posts. With so many things to do, it was admittedly easier to just get into the rhythm and keep going.
Our biggest focus at the moment is in getting all the disparate features on the strategic layer working cohesively into the game we wanted to craft. In the first few days of the new year, we sat down and took inventory of everything we had finished, everything we have yet to do, and how all of it came together into the game that is Forged of Blood. We decided to make changes to the strategic layer that created a more seamless and intuitive gameplay experience, that we really liked. With the path ahead planned, we immediately set into motion a very rigid schedule of implementation, testing, and iteration to get all the features across that finish line, and so far we are progressing rather nicely.
Among the many critical tasks that still lay before us, is the question of optimization. As we continue to refine our tactical maps we’re always looking to squeeze out an extra FPS or two wherever we can, even if it means shaving off 0.01 by cleaning up a decal or reducing the number of polys on pot.
The above side-by-side picture shows a simple fort map in the editor view and how the same map looks in the shader complexity view – it’s a bit of a mess. So, we’re going map by map, item by item, and optimizing assets wherever we can while maintaining the visual fidelity we had set. Fortunately, much of the work involves cleaning up the interactable objects that are reused multiple times, creating a depreciating timetable as more objects are optimized and each map has fewer and fewer issues.
On the narrative front, we’ve implemented two of the three main story arcs and have begun the process of refining the over 70 additional side quests that will make up the rest of the game. The biggest obstacles on this end has been the number of realignments and fixes we had to apply to the dialogue as certain features and data sets are changed. With a number of complex dialogue trees tied to our main story experiences, the cascading effects of a “small” shift in the structural format of the dialogue is pretty damaging.
You can see a sample dialogue tree (pictured left) here to get a rough idea of the choices we’re going for on the narrative front, and we’re really excited to test out the full length of the arcs in tandem with all the strategic gameplay features we’ve implemented.
All in all, I believe that we have things well in hand with our new schedule. 2018 saw us through some extremely long days, and I have no doubt that we have many more ahead of us this year – but the light the end of the tunnel gets brighter every day. In the recent weeks we’re able to see many of the untested features being connected into the game as a whole and we’re quickly working up to being able to properly test the full game loop.
I’ll end this update with a few screenshots from our latest build showing the updated (but unrefined) UI. This fully revamped tactical interface is one that we’re pretty happy with so far, as it addresses many of the specific issues we’ve found over the last couple years of play tests. We’re still refining the on-tile overlays, markers, and positioning at the moment, but the functionality is working as intended and we have clear objectives to target as we approach the final polishing phase.
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to the fans that have continually pushed us on. Though there is still a lot of work to do, we’ve come a long way as a studio and Forged of Blood is really coming together. All the hard work and frustration that we’ve faced is often alleviated by a few kind words here and there from our fans around the world, and we appreciate all of it. 2019 will be our year, and we can’t wait to share more of our game in the coming months.
For the moment, we’ve begun setting up our community infrastructure on Discord, and we plan on unveiling our beta plans some time in the next month, so please do not hesitate to join us and engage with us directly! https://discord.gg/pU843Jv