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Default Battle Brothers - a turn based strategy RPG mix for PC, Mac and Linux.

March 24th, 2014, 14:19
This week we got something different in our blog. We made a Battle Brothers "After Action Report" in a Lets Play fashion. We took a part from the game that could actually play out like this and then fleshed it all out with a lot of roleplay-flavor.
Hope you like it!

A Battle Brothers After Action Report

This is an imaginary After Action Report (AAR) of a couple of ingame days in the full version of Battle Brothers. It describes in a prosaic way the events that will and can actually happen in the full game. We want the players to live through their own stories and not experience something we made up - a whole world that is different for everyone and each story is unique to your particular playthrough and playstyle.

So enjoy the read and let us know what you think!


The Aftermath

Is that a light in the distance? Magnus rubbed the rain out of his eyes and tried to identify the source of the yellow light he thought he saw a couple of seconds ago but it had already disappeared behind the slow moving rain curtains that have had been falling all day. Right next to him, his companions Torstein and Bjarn staggered along the muddy road followed by Carl and the oxwagon that held all their equipment and what was left of their supplies. The lack of fresh food, shelter and a decent night’s sleep took a huge toll on the men’s morale. No one had talked in hours except for the occasional cursing about the weather, their situation and the indifference of the gods in general.

After what seemed an endless time trudging along the road, Magnus smelled fire. When raising his head he had to blink twice before realising that they finally arrived at Wiesendorf, the small settlement they planned on reaching 2 days ago.

Everything was going its way until Bjarn, who was scouting ahead at the time, told them about a strange set of ruins that looked like a burial site he discovered in the hills nearby. To reach the ruins they had to delay their trip and lose another two days, but they hadn’t made a silver piece in a while and the dwellers of the hills were known for burrying their dead with all sorts of riches for the afterlife. In the end, greed won over reason and from that point everything went downhill. There were seven of them when they made that decision.

A world ripe with opportunity

With most of the soldiers and young men being sent away to conquer a land Magnus never even heard of, the time was high for men who where ready to take fate into their own hands. Most settlements still maintained small militia forces, but the land beyond the town gates often had no protection, noone to keep the order of things. Hunger after a bad harvest can turn a good man into a thief, and a thief into a murderer, and there were few good harvests to be had these days with so many men sent beyond the great sea. Thiefs, cutthroats, highwaymen and worse set up camp all over the countryside. But there was also a decent coin to be made with safeguarding villages, caravans and merchants that travelled the land. This was the new order of things. At heart, Magnus always felt the urge to protect the innocent and helpless. A knightly notion, and a naive one some would say, but this was him. If a filled coin purse comes with a clear conscience he would be the last to say no.

Magnus assembled a diverse band of sellswords over the past months. Most of them not trained soldiers, but all of them decent men who knew which end of the sword goes where. All of them wanting to take fate into their own hands. Although they never officially made Magnus their leader, they all seemed to listen to his suggestions and so far they fared well this way.

The weeks leading up to those dreadful events at the ancient burial site had been a dry spot regarding silver pieces. The band encountered neither caravans in need of protection nor anyone else that would hire them. Not even pillagers or bandits to hunt on their own and exact a toll on. When Bjarn came back with the news about the ruins, the men’s eyes started to shine with the prospect of riches guarded only by piles of dust and the shattered bones of men that ended their watch long ago. Only Carl, an older and well-traveled scribe, tried to warn them about things much worse than outlaws. Things that were said to only come out at night, to rise from the graves with a hunger for the flesh and warm blood of the living, things from beyond this world. Laughing at the old man’s tales, the men broke camp and made their way towards the hills.

Fortune Favors the Bold

When they arrived at the ruins at dusk they set up a small camp nearby with Carl staying back and guarding their supplies. Bjarn, having his short bow at the ready, moved some paced ahead of them and scouted the area for any immediate threats like resident hill dwellers, or others also looking to loot the ruins. He had the best eyesight of them all and during his years as a hunter learned to move quietly through the brushes without being detected. The other six approached the burial site carefully in a spread out line.

At the center of the line was Magnus, armed with a short sword and a small wooden shield. He put on the worn metal helmet he found in a bandit’s camp some time ago. Little did he know that it would save his life later that night. To his left and right walked Torstein and Hjalmar, the youngest of their band, both not having seen even their 20th summer. They held their hatchets so tightly that their knuckles turned white and nervously looked at the sun that slowly faded away behind a mountain ridge in the distance, immersing the whole scenery in an orange tint.Magnus and his Battle Brothers approach the forest

To the far right Erik strided along, resting his massive two-handed axe on his mighty shoulder. As a woodcutter he knew how to use that axe. When it came down to it, there was little difference between a tree trunk and a man - or at least so Erik never got tired of claiming. The left end of the line was held by Heinrich. Although the years finally caught up with him, he was the only real soldier in this little company. The years had seen him do little else than fighting for coin, whether paid by noble lords or scraped together by villagers that feared for what little they had, and so joining up with Magnus and the others had come naturally. He needed the coin and this was the way he had always earned it. His face showed no emotion as he slowly walked towards the ruins in a rustling chainmail, the only one with armor that wasn't made out of some poor deer's hide.

Suddenly something moved in the woods to their left, less than a stone throw away. They immediately stopped and turned towards the dark woods where it seemed that a man was standing between the trees just looking at them. Bjarn shouted at the man to come out and show himself but there was no reaction except a moaning sound. They all looked at Magnus waiting for him to tell them what to do next when a tree to the right of the strange man started moving, and then another one.



The fading light tricked their eyes, it was not the tree moving but more human figures that had been standing completely still. As the figures shuffled forward and out of the woods into the last bit of light, Magnus saw their horribly disfigured faces that were covered in rotten flesh. Bjarn was the first to react while the others stood there in shock and disbelief. He pulled the string of his bow as far back as he could and let loose an arrow at the nearest of those things. The arrow hit it right in the chest but the creature just moaned and continued on towards Hjalmar who was closest to the woods. Only when the creature nearly reached him did Hjalmar come to his senses and stumbled backwards. Before any of the others could intervene, the undead managed to grab Hjalmar’s arm, pulling him close as he struggled, and buried its rotten teeth deep in his neck. His scream broke the numbness of the others and they charged at the walking dead that kept stumbling out of the woods.



They made quick work of the first line of undead that made it out of the woods and then rallied around Magnus to catch their breath. Hjalmar lay still on the ground with his face slowly turning white. There was nothing they could do for him, he was dead. The break was way too short, more undead came stumbling from the depths of the woods and headed right at them. They quickly aligned in a battle line and braced themselves for the incoming attack. As the face of the first zombie made contact with Heinrichs shield buckle they heard a loud scream from Erik’s end of the line. Erik struggled to get rid of one of the monsters that was clinging to his leg and biting him repeatedly. With one jump Magnus was at his side and smashed the thing’s head with a blow of his sword. Only then did he realize that it was not one of the zombies from the woods, but poor Hjalmar who had come back from the dead to attack Erik from behind. Magnus and Erik looked at each other and both knew that things looked grim for Erik. “Run” said the brawny man while tightening the grip on his axe “I will hold them back as long as I can! Run!”

“No way” replied Magnus and threw himself at the closing undead.

The next thing Magnus remembers is being shaken roughly by Bjarn whose face was covered in dried blood and mud. He slowly regained consciousness and tried to get his bearings. Blurry shapes around him turned into lifeless bodies, arrows, discarded weapons and smashed shields. Except for Bjarn he only saw Torstein who was leaning over something that was lying on the ground. Magnus tried to get up and groaned while scrambling to his feet. “We need to get out of here fast” said Bjarn. “Erik, Heinrich…?” asked Magnus, but Bjarn just shook his head. With Bjarn and Torstein supporting Magnus, who must have received a blow to the head, they stumbled away from the battlefield that was soon swarming with even more of the walking dead.



The Battle Brothers

The battle by the old ruins was neither their first, nor their last, but it was the first they fought together. They started out as strangers, united only by the prospect of easy riches. The things they saw, the things they did and the things they went through together turned them into brothers. Battle Brothers.

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April 1st, 2014, 16:21
Keeping you updated on the progress of our game: This time we have some info on the inventory, the UI, soundeffects and more for you. Have a look:
Dev Blog #10 Progress Report - An Update on Battle Brothers

UI Improvements

We’ve reworked parts of our tactical battle UI to show you more helpful information in your upcoming engagements. The combat event log can be expanded now to show all previous entries, and we show a count of the number of Battle Brothers and opponents left on the field to keep you updated on how the battle as a whole is going. If the player hovers over a target to attack, we now detail all things, positive and negative, that factor into the hitchance - so there’s no guessing anymore, and you’ll know why you miss those shots and what you can do to improve your hit chances.



We experienced first-hand in one of our early closed tests that players don’t read manuals anymore. That’s why we chose to have every function also as a clearly visible button embedded into the UI - rotating the map and raising and lowering the camera level, for example. Once players are familiar with the game, we’re pretty sure they’ll use hotkeys to quickly access those functions - but until then, buttons should make everyone aware that these functions exist in the first place, and tooltips will explain their use and what key they’re bound to.

Inventory and Character Screen

The inventory and character screen is going to be a central hub for equipping and developing your Battle Brothers. The equipping part will also be featured in our upcoming combat demo, and that’s what we’re working on still. Beyond the demo, every time one of your Battle Brothers levels up, you’ll be able to pick a passive skill (also known as a perk or feat, if you prefer) out of several skill trees here in order to shape them the way you want.

Our basic design of the inventory screen looks like this - though, as you can see, it shows placeholder data currently and we now have to fill it with real one from the game.



On the left you can see our paperdoll-to-be. We have slots for body armor, helmet, main-hand, off-hand, ammo and accessory. Below, there are also 4 backpack slots for additional gear you want your Battle Brothers to carry around, like a spare shield.

On the top right you can spot where all the character stats will be listed. Already we show the most important ones on the tactical battle view, but the more intricate ones (like view range and defensive stats) can be found and read about here. Below the character stats is a list of all active skills (depending on equipment), passive skills (depending on how the character has been leveled up) and status effects (like being stunned) that the character has.

Paul [take a look at his art thread], our artist, is working on finishing up the weapon and armor icons for the inventory system. Each individual item in the inventory will be depicted the same way also on the battlefield, and we have loads of varied color patterns for all helmets and shields available so that you can run wild customizing your men and giving a unique look to your personal gang of Battle Brothers. The screenshot below should give you an impression on how the armor icons evolve from sketches in the top row to the final quality we’ll have in the game at the bottom row.

*

New Bloodsplatter Effects

Medieval battles are brutal affairs, and we want our game to reflect this visually. We want our battlefields to be littered with discarded shields and arrows, and our combatants to really look the part if they’ve just barely survived a deadly encounter. As you guys know, we already show damaged armor and injuries on the characters. Since last week, we also display blood on weapons that have spilled blood. When characters have spilled lots of it, they’ll now even be sprayed with it themselves. It’s not over the top and looks reasonably subdued unless the character wears white - but skeletons especially look extra fierce now after they’ve slaughtered a few men.



We hope that these effects will do their part for the feeling of achievement after a won battle when you look at your battle-worn and blood-covered men that prevailed against all odds!

New Sound Effects

Having a rich soundscape is really important to us, especially since we can’t convey visually all the intensity of a pseudo-medieval battle we’d like to without fully animated combatants. Previously we only had placeholder sounds in the game, so it is a big step forward for us to now have our very own sound effects for most weapons and skills in the game!

We’ll continue to add new sound effects and replace placeholder ones along the road, so you can expect steady improvements as we go. Of course, the upcoming combat demo should now also sound quite a bit more engaging!

If you have any questions regarding Battle Brothers let us know in this thread or just drop us an e-mail at contact@overhypestudios.com!

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April 7th, 2014, 10:00
We made a new gameplay commentary because there has been a lot of progress over the past weeks. The video shows the latest developments during the first minutes and then jumps into a full lets-play-style commentary of a fight against a necromancer and his skeleton horde!

Always happy to hear what you think!


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April 18th, 2014, 12:04
Its finally here! We just released the Battle Brothers Combat Demo!

You can directly download it from our website here: Download

For all the info head over to the first post in this thread here.

We are looking forward to you opinions and feedback!

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April 25th, 2014, 13:10
Quick Update before the weekend: We updated the downloadable demo and added an an important feature, here is the changelog-blog post:

Combat Demo Updated - Changelog
Has it been a week already? We’ve updated the Pre-Alpha Combat Demo of Battle Brothers to fix the bugs you guys reported and add a bunch of features you requested. Chief among them are the new optional armor and hitpoint bars shown above all characters. You can find a full list of changes down below. If you haven’t tried the demo yet or want to give it another go, don’t wait any longer and download it here: DEMO DOWNLOAD!

As always, we depend on your feedback. Talk to us and let us know of any problems you encounter and anything you’d like to see changed or added to the game!



Changelog

Fixed bug that could leave the game hanging indefinately during the AI turn when the necromancer moves outside of view towards corpses to resurrect

Fixed bug that could leave the game hanging when using the wait turn action with only a few characters left

Fixed bug that had the inventory tooltip sometimes claim a character doesn't have enough AP to switch items when in fact he does

Fixed bug that had tooltips for hidden opponents show "Click left to focus" when it wasn't in fact possible

Fixed bug that characters wouldn't immediately show the hidden status effect icon if spawned inside brush

Fixed bug that had skeletons sometimes use the Shieldwall skill when no opponent was actually in range

Fixed shader incompatibility with some low end video cards

The last few scattered opponents on a map should be a bit easier to find now

The combat log now also gives exact numbers for armor damage taken

Added optional edge of screen scrolling mode (disabled by default)

Added a slight movement threshold to drag-style scrolling in order to avoid accidentally scrolling the map when trying to click something

Added optional camera mode that always keeps the current AI character in focus (disabled by default)

Added an option to disable the hardware cursor and use a software cursor instead (use this for a visible cursor when making videos of the game!)

Added support for scrolling with ZQSD keyboard layouts

Added optional overlay to show armor and hitpoint bars at all times (toggleable with Alt key and in the options menu)

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May 9th, 2014, 10:41
We are constantly adding new features to the game. This time we present you gory decapitations and fatalities, new weapons and a new way that armor works in the game! Check all the details below:

Progress Update - Fatalities, new weapons and more…

While we said before that our focus is now on the strategy part of the game, we’re constantly tempted to add little things to the tactical part as well. Seeing you play the demo and provide feedback gives us a lot of inspiration, and this is why this week we went back and added some new features and reworked others.

If you haven’t played our combat demo yet, get it here DOWNLOAD and tell us what you think and what you would like to see in the game! Mind you that the changes below are not part of the demo yet!

Reworked Damage System

We want our weapons to feel different not just with with unique skills, but also in how they perform against armored and unarmored opponents. Previously, a select number of weapons gave a small damage bonus when hitting armor. That made some weapons slightly better suited against armor, but it didn’t have that much of an impact damage-wise, since basically every weapon did a good chunk of damage to armor anyway. In fact, it didn’t seem to influence player strategy much at all.

We’ve now reworked that system so that different weapons perform significantly better or worse against armor in a way that has a definite impact on gameplay and equipment selection, while at the same time presenting this in a way that should be more clear and easy to understand. This is how it works:

Each weapon has a base damage range with a minimum and maximum damage value. If a target with no armor is hit, that damage is applied in full to the target’s hitpoints.



If, however, the target is protected by armor, a second property of every weapon comes into play, called the “effectiveness against armor”. This value is a percentage number that governs how much of the weapon’s damage is applied to damage any armor on a hit instead of hitpoints, for as long as there is armor left. For example, a dagger has an effectiveness against armor of 60%, so only 60% of its damage applies to damage and reduce a target’s armor. Clearly, then, a dagger performs better against unarmored targets. On the other hand, a warhammer has an effectiveness against armor of 200%, meaning that it does double its normal damage to any armor. Other weapons, like swords, might have a higher base damage and thereby be better at killing off unarmored and lightly armored opponents, but against heavily armored opponents, a warhammer is king.

Double Grip

If you’ve played the demo, you might have noticed that shields are seriously important. In fact, other than not having a shield to spare in the first place, there wasn’t ever a good reason not to wear a shield and just have one hand free.

That’s somewhat authentic, of course, since shields apparently were essential on medieval battlefields. On the other hand, we want to give you, the player, choices. We don’t want every single Battle Brother to be equipped the same. Not wearing a shield doesn’t need to be equally as viable as wearing a shield all the time, but there definitely should be situations where it makes sense and where you have to make a choice that isn’t a no-brainer.

We’ve now introduced the concept of “Double Grip”. When equipped with a one-handed weapon and having the off-hand free, Battle Brothers (and for that matter, many enemies) will use both hands to swing their weapon and enjoy a significant damage increase. From now on, in situations where you favor increased damage over increased defense, whether in your spearwall or when fighting a single powerful enemy, you can just order your men to put their shields on their backs and swing away with full force. As it happens, this is also a small piece of additional historical accuracy added, as a lot of weapons were actually long enough to be used both with one or with two hands. We’ll see how it works out in the game as time goes on, but already we’re quite satisfied with the added gameplay options and authenticity.

New Weapons

In the wake of the new damage system we also implemented two new weapons into the game. Of course, like all weapons, they come with their unique skills that should give them a tactical niche of their own.

The Warhammer

This weapon is designed to be as effective as possible against armor and thus will be more important in the later stages of the game when armor will be more common. The base damage is moderate but it does a lot of damage against armor. The warhammer’s skills support this design even further.



The first skill, “Hammer Strike”, is an attack with the sharp side of the hammer. On top of any armor damage done, it always also inflicts a small amount of damage to hitpoints, no matter the armor protecting the target, by the mere force of impact.

The second skill, “Crush Armor”, does exactly what it sounds like. The hammer is used to batter, deform, rip and otherwise render the target's armor unusable. It does no damage to hitpoints other than a small amount with every hit by the force of impact, just like “Batter” does. However, it inflicts double the warhammer’s damage to armor. This skill excels against heavily armored targets and is best employed to destroy armor before engaging with other weapons.

The Military Cleaver

The military cleaver is a version of a regular cleaver used by a butcher but designed for warfare. It is not well suited against armored opponents but it can rip terrifying wounds on unarmored targets.

The first skill, “Cleave”, causes bleeding wounds that inflict additional bleeding damage over the next two turns if the attack does any hitpoint damage at all (i.e. isn’t completely absorbed by armor).

The second skill is called “Decapitate”, an attack aimed right at a target’s neck. It does more damage to hitpoints the more the target is already injured, and therefore is an excellent finisher for already wounded opponents, especially those that have a lot of hitpoints. If the attack kills the target, it is decapitated and you can see it’s head flying through the air! Yeah, we just added that feature, but see the next point for details.



Fatalities

Dealing the killing blow to an enemy now has a chance of causing a so-called fatality effect. Fatalities differ for each weapon type. For example, bladed weapons can decapitate and gut a target, and blunt weapons can crush the head. Different skills also have a different likelihood of causing these; the “Decapitate” skill will always decapitate, and the “Swing” skill of Greatswords has a higher chance to do so than the “Slash” skill of one-handed swords.

Fatalities serve two purposes. First, they portray the fatalism of our pseudo-medieval engagements, especially in light of our perma-death mechanic. If your favorite veteran Battle Brother dies now by getting his head chopped off, it should hurt even more. A medieval battlefield really is no picknick. Second, there are actual gameplay effects, at least when fighting the undead. Necromancers are unable to raise the bodies of characters that have been decapitated or their head smashed in. Grabbing those cleavers could be a good option when fighting an army of zombies!


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Last edited by Jaysen; May 9th, 2014 at 11:19.
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May 9th, 2014, 11:34
Thanks for the continued updates. It keeps looking better with every update.

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May 13th, 2014, 17:01
If any of you have an account at IndieDB or ModDB it would be awesome if you could rate our Battle Brothers Combat Demo in anticipation of the full game:

http://www.indiedb.com/games/battle-brothers


Thanks a bunch for rating us! As a token of our appreciation here is a sneak peak at some authentic hair styles that will give your Battle Brothers that extra swag!

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May 26th, 2014, 09:47
To keep you updated in the project here is the latest development blog entry. We hope to present to you the promotional trailer as soon as possible, it is going to be pretty awesome ; )
As always: If you have any ideas, comments or questions dont hesitate to shoot them my way!

Dev Blog #16: Progress Update – Game Trailer, Perk System and Character Screen Redesign

We have a bunch of new things to show you this week. As work continues on the strategic part of the game, we give you a preview on the perk system for Battle Brothers. We also have a new weapon, the Flail, and decided that the character and equipment screen should have a layout redesign based on player feedback. But first, the trailer.

Promotional Trailer

Having people grasp at a glance what Battle Brothers is about can be hard when all we have in terms of video are several 20+ minute long commented gameplay clips. Clearly we need a short and snappy trailer to showcase the game to a larger audience and get the idea across in just a minute or so - especially now that the game is getting some more media attention. It’s been overdue for a while, really, but we wanted to complete the combat demo first in order to let you experience the game yourselves instead of merely putting bold claims out there.

The trailer we’re working on will consist of a mixture of both gameplay footage and partially animated drawings to build up atmosphere. To give you a first impression, here is the non-animated version of one of the scenes that will be shown in the trailer. If you’re interested, you can follow the progress more closely in Paul’s art thread on our forums.



Perk System

A key component of the strategic gameplay will be the character development of Battle Brothers by gaining experience and leveling them up, rpg style. With each levelup, a Battle Brother will have the opportunity to select an additional “perk”, a passive skill that confers some advantage and allows for specializing in some way. These perks can have a variety of effects and we’re still working out the design of all the final perks. When designing them, we have several concepts in mind.

Firstly, we don’t want a perk to simply increase a basic character stat like hitpoints or stamina that can otherwise already be increased on levelup. That’s just boring. Instead, we want them to offer a unique effect that isn’t otherwise accessible.

Secondly, we want them to have a meaningful impact on the game. Perks should change the way you play with any particular Battle Brother, and the way to achieve this is by having perks be strong enough to open up new tactical avenues instead of merely relying on single digit percentage modifiers. There should be a feeling of accomplishment when gaining a level and anticipation when selecting a new perk. Players should then rush to the next battle to try out the newly aqcuired perks in action. It would be terribly frustrating to reach the next level and then get the feeling that the perk does absolutely nothing for you.

Thirdly, all perks have to be viable choices. Not for every individual Battle Brother, of course, since we want to encourage some specialization, but in general. There must be no instant-picks and no-brainers. This might be the hardest to achieve and will take a lot of balancing, tweaking and time; many a game fails at this this with skills out of balance so much that players would have to be willing to put themselves intentionally at a disadvantage by not picking some of them up every time. Still, we really want people to choose perks according to their individual playstyle and tactics and not because they read in some internet forum which perk is the indisputably strongest.

Perks will likely be organized into several thematic trees (e.g. mobility, offense) and individual perks may require certain other perks to be picked first. How exactly the perks will be organized is yet to be determined, though. To give you an idea of what a perk might look like, here are a few examples that may or may not end up in the game like this:

“Berserk” - Recover 4 AP when killing an enemy. Can only occur once per turn.

“Pathfinder” - Reduces movement AP costs on all tiles by 1 down to a minimum of 2.

“Coup de Grace” - Inflict additional damage against targets that have been stunned.

“Artful Dodger” - Ignore the Zone of Control.

Character Screen Redesign

One of the more frequent points of feedback from the combat demo was the character screen layout, and how players needed to constantly switch tabs between seeing all Battle Brothers and the Stash when equipping their party, never able to see both at the same time. We agree that this is less than ideal, and we’re about to change it.

We took the layout of the character screen back to the drawing board and tried to come up with a solution. The minimum resolution we want to support is 1024x768 - and that really doesn’t leave a lot of space. On the other hand, doing more than one layout (and later on, skinning it) for multiple resolutions isn’t a great use of our time, either. Our solution is the mockup below; it may look a bit congested at first, but it does allow for showing the list of Battle Brothers and all the other tabs at the same time. Even better, it can now scale to the right with increased screen resolution, making use of additional screen space without us having to do an extra layout. Do mind that this is still work in progress, though, and may yet change further.



The Flail

Another week, another new weapon added to the game. This time it is the Flail, a separate striking head attached to a handle by a chain. In the game, the Flail’s damage varies greatly with each strike, making it perhaps the least predictable weapon currently. It has a reasonable effectiveness against armor and, like all weapons, comes with a unique tactical quirk.



The Flail’s chain and striking head can easily bend above and around shields, rendering their normal defensive bonus ineffective. Using the second skill of the Flail, even a Shieldwall offers little protection against it, making it a great weapon against heavily shielded opponents in tight formations. The flipside is, of course, that the Flail comes with no defensive skills and is outperformed by some other weapons when against an opponent without a shield.

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June 19th, 2014, 10:26
Sorry for the long silence, heavily working on that trailer and worldmap!
Until then take a look at our latest gameplay video "Hunting Werewolves" featuring a night fight and involuntary amputations!


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June 30th, 2014, 17:25
Here is the latest progress update with a lot of new worldmap features:


Dev Blog #17: Progress Update - Villages, Day/Night Cycle, Banners and more

While work on the tactical combat has been reduced to a minimum we are making great progress on the worldmap. As we are setting up all the basic features and functionalities we already have some stuff to show and a packed list of things to come next. Read more below!

New worldmap features in the game:

Villages

We now have a procedurally generated worldmap with a handful of villages placed on it and connected via a system of dirt roads. These villages manage two basic resources, health and wealth.

Health: This is a measure of a villages population and their condition. Health will be reduced by fighting or getting raided by enemy forces but also by recruiting milita to defend itself. Once the health is reduced to zero the village is destroyed and goes up in flames. From now on the player wont be able to rest here or perform any other actions like hiring and trading. Health regenerates slowly over time so villages will recover eventually if getting some “peace time”.

Wealth: This is a measure of a villages riches, wares and item stock. Villages want to increase their wealth by trading with other villages. To accomplish this, they use an amount of their wealth to send a caravan off to antoher village. From the ensuing trade both villages will experience a growth in wealth.

Caravans

The caravans that villages send out are already in the game and working. They use the existing roads and due to their heavy load are rather slow. Of course the lands and forests are dangerous and might be swarming with bandits that will attack and plunder the caravans. This is a constant risk the villages are facing and they might even call out to the player to help them if their caravans are constantly raided. They also will buy some additional caravan guards for protection if they have the means to do that. But these guards only offer a limited amount of protection.

If a caravan is attacked and the gurads are overwhelmed (more on worldmap combat later as the combat is not yet in the game) the attackers take all the wealth from the caravan and take it back to their base of operations.

Day and Night Cycle

Time passes in real time on the worldmap, not in turns. We now have implemented a day/night cycle to add to the atmosphere of the world. Of course the day and nighttimes also have gameplay effects.

At night all parties movement will be significantly slowed as they have more difficulty finding their way in the dark. Additionally, the sight range is greatly reduced during the night, making it more difficult to spot enemy parties, locations or spawnpoints. So the player has to be careful when moving at night not run into any ambushes.

Depending on the type of party there are creatures in the game that do not suffer from sight or movement penalties during the night. This applies to werewolves and the undead, making these enemies especially dangerous in the dark.

Disclaimer to the following pic: The green circles on the pic below show the sight range of the party, they are only visible for debugging reasons. Also, the big sun and moon are only to give a better example. Finally, the caravan icon is still a placeholder.



Raiders

Similarly to villages there are other locations that spawn parties. So far we implemented haunted crypts that spawn a variety of undead raiders. These spawnpoints also have a health and wealth resource pool that they use to spawn (buy) raiding parties.

These raiders seek out villages to attack and plunder their wealth. After a successful raid on a village they return to their spawnpoint and add whatever they plundered to the spawnpoints resource pool. This way a successful spawnpoint keeps growing its resource base that it can then use to buy even more powerful raiding parties and plunder even more resources.

As you can see there is a dynamic at work that can lead to really powerful spawnpoints and raiding parties. So leaving a spawnpoint unchecked for too long can lead to “no-go areas” that are mainly controlled by evil forces and where all villages are destroyed (mind you that village destruction is not in the game yet).

Next up on the worldmap:

The following features are close to completion and will be implemented soon in the game.

Distinct Party Banners

Each party that is travelling the worldmap will have a unique banner showing from what village, or any other spawnpoint for that matter, a party is coming. The player will be able to choose a custom banner when starting a new game.

Paul already pumped out a first set of banner graphics so you can get an impression on what to expect.



Worldmap Combat

As we wanted the possibility of two parties fighting each other on the worldmap without a player being present (and a real tactical combat) we had to come up with a simplified world map combat system that estimates the strength of a party and calculates their chances of winning and their losses in combat.

As this system is not final, we cant go into too much detail here. The combat system will account for the strength of each individual solider of a party and also takes place in turns. However, there is a delay between each round of combat to make the combat last a while and give the player the opportunity to join the fight. Once the player joins the fighting, it will continue in the tactical view just like any other fight that the player is involved in. As of now we do not have an automated combat or auto-resolve feature planned for player combat.

Destructible Villages

As mentioned above villages (and other spawnpoints) should be destroyed when their health reaches zero or below. We will implement this feature shortly.

Become a Bro and download the tactical combat demo!

If you haven't done so already head over to our “Downloads” section, get the Battle Brothers tactical combat demo and give it a try! Also make sure to let us know what you think about it and how we could improve it in our Forums.

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July 10th, 2014, 09:21
We want to give your Battle Brothers an individual background that also plays into the tactical combat. We elaborate on that in our latest dev blog:

Dev Blog #18: Character Traits and Backgrounds


Battle Brothers is a game where attachment to the individual characters in your retinue is an essential part of the game. Today we explain how we use character backgrounds and traits to create characters that feel unique from the moment you hire them, and that you can relate and get attached to (only to see them getting horribly slaughtered by some axe-wielding skeleton).

Character Backgrounds

Each Battle Brother comes with a background trait that should give you an idea of the character’s former life, the childhood or profession before he was hired to join your warband.

A Battle Brother may have once been a noble from an established and wealthy family that ended up losing its fortune, or he may have been a simple farmer forced to take up arms and sell out his swordarm to get by after his farm was raided and burned to the ground. Perhaps he is a former soldier that fell in disgrace with his superiors and had to disappear, or a former thief that had a change of heart.

Whatever the case, these background traits come with a short procedurally generated story for flavor and an actual game play effect. Depending on the background, characters have different starting attributes and equipment. A farmer will be used to work the fields all day long and will not fatigue easily, whereas a noble may have benefitted from lessons in swordfighting at court. And whereas a farmer will have only the most basic of weaponry, a noble may bring his own sword or armor.

The characters that make up your group are a colorful, mixed bunch that will grow together into a band of brothers over the course of the game. We realize that not every one of you will care for character backstories - some are in just for the tactical battles. However, for those of you who like to have their creativity and imagination run wild when playing, we try to give you as much inspiration as possible.



Character Traits

In a recent blog article [Dev Blog #16] we talked about the perk system and how the perks help specializing your Brothers and change the way you employ them in battle. Character traits work very similar. However, they generally don’t have as much impact as perks do and can not be chosen on levelup. Instead, each Battle Brother comes with a random 0 to 2 character traits from the beginning that can be positive, negative or something inbetween. Below are some examples of what traits you can expect - keep in mind, though, that those are still heavily subject to change at this time.

Tough - This character is tough as nails, shrugging off hits and blows, and gains additional hitpoints.

Eagle-Eyed - This character can see a fly on a zombie’s nose from across the battlefield and gains increased view range.

Fearless - There are a lot of old friends to meet in the afterlife. This character is not afraid of death and has a higher maximum morale.

Dumb - Umm, what? This character isn't the brightest, and new concepts take a while to really stick with him. Experience gain is reduced.

Tiny - Being rather short of build, this character is used to getting pushed around and does less melee damage.

Clumsy - This character is as dangerous to himself as he is to his opponents. The to-hit chance for melee attacks is reduced slightly.

These traits are not designed to be fair and produce balanced characters. On the contrary, the traits are designed to add flavor to characters and elevate them from being mere clone soldiers to individuals with strengths and weaknesses exactly by being imbalanced and distributed randomly. The impact of these traits will never be prohibitingly strong, and every single character will have something to contribute to your group. However, some characters may be naturally better suited for specific roles than others, and some may be less suited for the hard life of a mercenary in general.

Imagine a Battle Brother that is both “tiny” and “clumsy” - seemingly not a good point to start out. However, these traits do not affect his ability to use a ranged weapon and this character may still end up becoming one of your best archers. As the commander of a mercenary outfit, it is your responsibility to make the best out of the men you have available. And we really want to make sure that it feels like men, not just a bunch of anonymous units. Indeed, we feel that it is situations like the cowardly and overweight Brother surviving battle after battle against all odds and ultimately saving the day by slaying the lich-king when all hope seemed lost, that contribute to an enjoyable emerging narrative and make for fun anecdotes.

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July 20th, 2014, 16:38
Its time for another developers blog entry - this time we describe some of our worldmap assets in more detail:

Dev Blog #19: On Worldmap Locations



The strategic worldmap in Battle Brothers is filled with opportunities for adventure, battles and interaction. One of these opportunities are locations that you can explore, destroy and plunder or trade with. In this week’s developer’s blog we want to present you a couple of these locations.

On resources

Before getting into the midst of things a quick word on how locations work. Each location has its own resources that it uses to “buy” various parties with that each have their own agenda, AI, combat strength and troop composition. These parties will then venture out to perform various tasks. Most of these activities have the ultimate goal of increasing the location’s resources so that it can buy even stronger parties in the future.



Hideout

The hideout is an encampment hidden in rough terrain like dark woods or steep hills in a safe distance from the next stronghold or watchtower. The hideout usually harbors a flock of bandits or other scoundrels that use it as a base of operations to plunder trade routes or raid unprotected villages.

It will first send out several small groups of scouts that search the area for valuable targets like trade caravans or small villages that do not have a lot of defenses. Once they have observed and estimated a target they return to the hideout to inform their fellow bandits. The hideout then uses its resources to create a larger raiding party that travels out to attack the reported target. If the attack is successfull, the bandits plunder everything they can get their hands on and haul it back to the hideout, in turn increasing the hideout’s resources.

If the player, or any other faction for that matter, manages to intercept the scouts before they get back to deliver their information, the hideout won’t be able send out raiding parties as they don’t know where to send them.

If the hideout’s activities go unchecked for a while, their raiding parties will grow with their available resources and their parties become bigger and bigger until then can evenetually even threaten larger towns or watchtowers.



Watchtower

Watchtowers are used to guard the long and lonesome roads that trade caravans use to get their wares from one market to the next. As these trade caravans are easy prey for bandits and worse, the watchtowers aim to prevent any attacks on them.

These towers are usually placed along the road network and mostly close to road intersections. They use their resources to create patrols that move along the roads up to the next market and scout for bandits and their hideouts. The resources are not gathered by the tower itself, but the tower is usually supplied by the much bigger strongholds that are described below.

The patrols will of course hunt down any evil-doers that they come by but in case they are not strong enough to deal with the threat, the watchtower will be able to spawn a bigger assault party and even call in help from a stronghold that houses a lot more troops.



Stronghold (Picture still wip)

The stronghold is a big military fortress that accomodates a large amount of professional soldiers and provides security to a large region. The stronghold will create patrols of its own like a watchtower but it will also supply the much smaller watchtowers in the vicinity via supply trecks. Of course these supply trecks can be raided just like trade caravans.

What is more, the stronghold does have the means to fight bigger threats by sending out a dedicated assault party of trained footmen and knights. However, the soldiers of the stronghold are not numerous enough to guard any caravan or village at all times. So there will be many opportunities for the player to help out civilians in distress even when close to a stronghold.

As a stronghold usually has a smithy dedicated to forging and repairing all kinds of weapons and armor, the player will have the opportunity to stack up on military equipment. The amount and grade of equipment will be different for each stronghold depending on its location and resource stockpile.



Villages and Towns

We already talked a little about the human settlements in previous blog posts. These play a central role as in the strategy part of the game as you need them to hire new men, buy equipment and do much more.

These settlements create trade caravans with local goods and send them to other towns markets to generate trade revenue for both locations. Because these caravans are usually not very well guarded, bandits will try hard to ambush and plunder them.

If the bandits, or any other attacking faction, attempt to attack a settlement itself, it will hastily gather a militia troop to fend of the aggressors. However, this needs some time and if the attackers are fast enough or are seen too late, for example by attacking at night, the settlement will be completely undefended. The strength of the militia depends on the resources available.

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July 28th, 2014, 11:43
We spent some time on tweaking the tactical combat a little more and while doing that did a complete overhaul of the morale system. We think its way better and more accessible now - read all about it in the dev blog entry below:


Dev Blog #20: Bravery and Morale

Morale was a major and often deciding factor in real medieval battles. Not every battle was fought to the death, and instead, tactics often revolved around crushing the morale and organization of the opposition and to scatter them as a means to win a battle. In Battle Brothers we aim to simulate morale as the important factor it is. Indeed, if you’ve played our tactical combat demo, you’ll know that we already have a morale system in place. However, it didn’t turn out all what we wanted it to be, so we decided to do a complete rework. Read all about how the new morale system works below.

Our Goals

So what do we want our morale system to be?

Most importantly, we want morale to be something that is easy to read and utilize for you, the player. Our new system therefore follows a clear pattern of there always being an action with an intuitive gravity to it, like an opponent being slain, and a following reaction in the way of morale changing. For morale to be easy to read, there should be a clear continuum of different descriptive states of morale, allowing the player to see at a glance how everyone is doing, to act in time, before any Battle Brother mentally breaks, and to understand why anyone would flee when they do.

Secondly, morale should be an important gameplay element that both the player and the AI could actively use as a means to achieve victory. To this end, some enemies will employ psychological attacks, like instilling fear and terror, to reduce a Battle Brother’s combat effectiveness and even have him flee, instead of merely attacking them physically. Likewise, the player should be able to press on the flank that has opponents with low morale in order to scatter them, and to reach and kill the opponent’s leader in order to send the opposition into disarray. Considering the morale of Battle Brothers should be equally important for the player, with veteran warriors more likely to hold the front line than recruits as losses begin to mount.

With our goals established, let’s see how it works in practice.

Bravery

The key character attribute for all morale related checks is called “bravery”, a measure for overall mental strength and how well a character can keep their confidence and calm when things turn sour. The amount of bravery can vary strongly between characters and opponents as some are more faint hearted while others won’t flinch even in the most desperate of situations - undead enemies even are immune to morale effects altogether. Many of our character backgrounds and traits also directly or indirectly affect a character’s bravery. Like most other attributes, bravery can be increased on level-up to make a character more resilient against all kinds of psychological effects, and some of the perks the player can choose will also open up new tactical options regarding morale.


(Battle Brothers in different morale states during a heavy fight.)

Morale States

No longer is morale a large abstract number changing every turn. Instead, every character is at one of just five distinct states of morale. Characters start out with their morale at “steady” and can change their state either on failing or passing a morale check. The five morale states are as follows:

Confident (+1)

The character is confident that their side will win the engagement and he or she will survive the day, receiving a bonus to hit chance and defense.

Steady (0)

The character is prepared for battle and in a steady state of mind. This state has no effect on combat performance.

Wavering (-1)

There is something unsettling about how the combat is developing. Things are looking a little grim and the character is insecure about which side will win. This state reduces combat efficiency slightly and also gives a malus to following morale checks.

Breaking (-2)

Things are going downhill fast, the character is almost sure that the fight is lost, whether personally or as a whole, but is still hanging on. This state reduces combat efficiency significantly and makes it more likely for the character to fail the next negative check and decide to flee from battle.

Fleeing (-3)

The character decided to turn tail and run from combat to save their life. He or she can’t take any actions and will attempt to move away from all visible enemies as fast as possible. Given some distance to the nearest enemy, there is a chance each turn of rallying again by passing a morale check. If the check is passed, the character will be returned to a “wavering” morale state and can then act normal again.


Morale Checks

On certain events, all characters - Battle Brothers and enemies alike - have to pass a morale check. There are two kinds of morale checks: Positive and negative checks.

Negative checks challenge the bravery of a character in light of a psychological straining event and if not passed will set their morale state one lower. For example, witnessing an ally being cut down will trigger a negative morale check. All checks are a dice roll against a character’s bravery attribute, the difficulty depending on the severeness of the event that caused the check. Generally, the more powerful a character is and the closer he is to his allies, the more impact his death has on everyone’s morale, and therefore the higher the morale check difficulty will be in case he is killed. Another common event triggering a negative morale check is receiving heavy wounds in combat. Less determined fighters, those with a low bravery attribute, may choose to turn tail and run away, while more determined fighters will choose to stay in line.

Vice versa there are positive morale checks that, if passed, will increase the morale state of a character. These may be caused, for example, by an opponent getting slain. Again, the difficulty of the morale check depends on how powerful and how close the opponent was - a Goblin Chieftain being slain is much more likely to improve everyone’s morale than a random goblin out of a dozen more. Positive morale checks can even lead to characters feeling confident about the battle, receiving slight combat boni that represent their belief in winning the engagement and surviving the day.

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