Hey everyone, Stephanie here. Everyone on the team is squashing Alpha 12 bugs as fast as we can find/you can post them (so keep doing that!), but in the meantime, we’re starting to think about Alpha 13. For me that means finally getting to think a bit about the three kingdoms* we announced as a stretch goal during our Kickstarter.
Three Playable Kingdoms
Our original design idea for the three kingdoms was to give the player a slightly different gameplay experience based on which kingdom they chose at the beginning of the game. Each kingdom would have a strong tonal flavor, and different numerical statistics to encourage different styles of play. Here are each Kingdom’s Kickstarter-era descriptions, and what we think that will mean for each:
“Sheep? Check. Hoe? Check. Swords? Check. Embark!”
Earnest and hardworking, loyal and well-rounded. Citizens of the Ascendancy chop, build and farm, confident that the known world is theirs to inhabit.
In-Game Implications: The default Stonehearth experience. The player’s time is balanced between building, crafting and fighting.
The Northern Alliance
“My fathers have followed the stars for a thousand, thousand cycles.”
Brave and hardy, the men and women of the north live for the sight of a new dawn over unexplored territory. Armed with compass and hatchet, they form strings of small defensible settlements and pride themselves in their tenacious adaptability.
In-Game Implications: The people of the north are tougher and stronger than their inland kin, but their settlements are more surveyors’ camps than cities. Merchants, immigrants, and luxury goods are few and far between. They thrive in cold empty lands that others have forgotten. Focus on fighting and exploring!
“Meditation, mediation, medication: Order in self brings order to others brings health to all.”
The southern people of the mountains learned early that to survive, they needed each other, and preferably as many others as they could reach. Now, though the members of their trading cities and traveling caravans pride themselves on ascetic discipline, visitors find them generous hosts with access to goods from all over the world.
In-Game Implications: The people of the south are still most at home in the desolate canyons to the south and east. They are populous and clever; they have the best artisans in the world. They trade often, and to great advantage compared to the other kingdoms. Focus on trading and crafting!
Mods, Multiplayer, and Modesty
Though it’s very tempting to imagine heaps of features that will help distinguish each kingdom from the other, our starting goals are very modest:
- Do as much as possible with as few engine changes as possible. We have an engine now; let’s actually use it! Change game play by changing statistics, numbers, assets and json files.
- Give each of the three kingdoms a default biome, and a skill that helps them better survive in that biome. A kingdom’s settlers can start in a biome other than their default, but they may be at a disadvantage there, relative to their native location.
- Give each kingdom a signature class that enhances their gameplay and their tonal flavor. This class can also become available to other kingdoms, but not early or easily.
- Allow people to mod in new kingdoms.
- Allow people to eventually play different kingdoms in multiplayer.
- Roll kingdom changes out slowly, over multiple alphas, in tandem with other gameplay features.
Here are some screenshots from our first explorations into this feature:
As you can see, the characters’ names are being properly drawn from the rayyas_children_population.json file, and their alternate worker outfits are in place.
By default, they appear in the desert, where the cactus flowers match their worker suits, but they don’t look all that out of place in the temperate biome either:
As with so many of our features, we only discover their true complexity as we implement them. Originally, we were tempted to make each kingdom a total conversion mod. Each kingdom would override the worker outfits, names, etc of the default Ascendancy. After giving that a shot, we realized this would make it impossible for people to play as two different factions in multiplayer. Live, learn, and code another day!
Look for bits and pieces of the Three Kingdoms in updates to come, and no sooner than A13.
* No, not those three kingdoms, as much as I love them, though anyone who wants to do a total conversion mod where Northern Alliance -> Wei, Rayya’s Children -> Wu, Ascendancy -> Shu, and Lu Bu becomes a titan would surely earn whatever technical assistance I can provide you. 😉