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

September 4th, 2014, 12:00
Get some more insights into the game with this new dev blog article:



Dev Blog #25: Battle Brothers FAQ continued

As we were not able to cover all questions in our last FAQ posting we decided to do another one. You will definitely learn something new about the game when reading through them. If you have any questions not covered, have a look at the full FAQ here or just ask here in the forums!

Also, you might want to try our tactical combat demo to see how the game plays! Get it from here: Download.

General

Q: What is the general setting of the world?

The setting is an unnamed middle european medieval low fantasy world wherein magic exists, but is rare. The classic fantasy races of Elves, Dwarfs and Halflings don’t exist in this world, but a few other intelligent humanoid races do. We’ll flesh out the setting more once we’re further along with development of the strategic worldmap. Variations of the setting, such as a middle eastern themed expansion, might also be added at a later date.

Q: How does the game deal with the passing of time? Do characters age and get physically weaker over time and age?

The whole game takes places over a period of several months, not years. Aging isn’t a part of the game and most of the Battle Brothers will die before having the chance to grow old anyway.

Q: Will the game have flavor content or extra content like background stories for characters, areas, special weapons, statistics and so on?

Yes! We’re big fans of all those little details that come together to give a game that extra bit of atmosphere, sense of wonder and exploration. It’s one of the reasons we liked both the original X-Com and Jagged Alliance 2 that much. There will be short, proceduraly generated backstories for all Battle Brothers that also influence a Brother’s combat stats and traits.

We will also have unique named weapons that come with a paragraph or so of backstory (similar to how it is in Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate), and we’ll keep a healthy amount of statistics (like the number of kills, battles, injuries, special foes killed, and such) for every Battle Brother in the history tab. Every Battle Brother also has some character traits with a gameplay effect (like being craven or ambitious) of his own and may earn additional ones based on what he experiences.



Strategic Worldmap

Q: Are there multiple groups of Battle Brothers on the worldmap?

There will only be one group of Battle Brothers.

Q: Will a campaign feature parts of all the factions?

Yes, all factions will be featured on the worldmap in every campaign. Even if the invading force isn’t orcs, there will be an orc encampment here and there and orc raiding parties travelling the lands. The invading faction, though, will act more centralized, will be much more prevalent as time goes on and may have a few powerful units that don’t normally show up.

Q: Will there be multiple nations in the game each with their own diplomatic ties to each other?

Different towns, cities and strongholds have their own pool of resources. They also have their own banner, which is carried by all their units so that they’re clearly identifiable as being from a stretch of land all the way across the map. They’ll be somewhat selfish on occasion, offering the player coin to protect them over other lands, but they won’t fight each other. There won’t be multiple nations that conduct in diplomacy and intrigue for now, and the player won’t be able to resort to banditry and the like. It’s something we’d like to explore, but something that, if done, should also be really fleshed out. We just had to draw the line here as the game already is quite ambitious as is. For now, we try to keep a tight focus on the player leading a band of mercenaries and have clear fronts on who is on the players side and who isn’t.

Q: Will there be “events” on the worldmap that the player can run into?

Indeed we plan on having events. Events are a great tool to bring some variety for gameplay and support the atmosphere. On the other hand, we have to make sure that they’re no hindrance to our open world gameplay and replayability; randomizing them to some extent seems a good option. At this point we’re still pretty much at the “it would be cool to have events” stage and just bouncing ideas, so we can’t tell how our events will work exactly yet. They probably won’t be very dialogue-heavy heavy, though.

Q: Will the player be able to take prisoners?

Good question. Unfortunately we don’t have a good answer yet. We’re still in the process of designing the strategy/worldmap part of the game as we implement it, and we’ll see where it takes us. We like the idea of being able to rescue captured Battle Brothers, though, assuming the enemy you’re fighting is taking any prisoners at all. It’s something we may want to consider once we’re further along with the strategy part and see if it would fit well with everything else.



Tactical Combat

Q: Are there other enemies than zombies and skeletons in the game?


Definately! Those opponents were a good starting point because zombies didn’t require a sophisticated AI to feel convincing. We’ve since added other undead opponents to the game, such as vampires, ghosts and ghouls, and we’ll soon expand to other factions. You’ll be able to fight a variety of human and humanoid opponents in the final game, from different types of bandits to orcs and goblins that all come with unique skills, equipment and AI behavior. In addition, there will be some unique beasts and monsters that haven’t been in other games.

Q: Regarding morale, will there be an active ability to rally Battle Brothers or is morale all about passive skills and traits? Will the player be able to specialize one Brother as a leader or captain?

We’ll have a few accessory items that offer morale-related skills. For example, a battle horn that, when blast, triggers a positive morale check for all allies in the vicinity. It’s not guaranteed that blasting the horn will rally fleeing men, but there’s a chance it does, as well as a chance to lift the morale of all the others.

Also, we currently have a few perks that support the idea of tailoring leader characters. One, called “Captain”, adds a percentage of the character’s bravery to all allies in the vicinity. Another, “Inspiring Presence”, improves the efficiency of nearby allied troops directly. Since both scale with bravery, having a specialized leader or support character that sacrifices combat skills for high bravery to some extent could be a valid option. Unlike with character traits, we want perks to give a clear benefit and no trade-off (other than not being able to pick another perk), so we won’t add an inbuilt downside to choosing these perks. However, both perks require some investment into the utility perk tree first and therefore a veteran character. A character like this isn’t easily replaced, and losing him could have serious consequences if the players tactics depend too much on having a leader character (e.g. because other Battle Brothers have little bravery themselves but depend entirely on being pushed by a leader).

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September 7th, 2014, 20:53
Battle Brothers is now on Steam Greenlight!

If we can gather enough votes the game will be available on Steam once it is finished, which would be a huge step forward. So please help us spread the word and head over to Greenlight to cast your vote!
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfile…/?id=311186565


In other news, Battle Brothers finally has a real trailer to showcase its features. Have a look!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTrAeqSsqKk


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September 9th, 2014, 12:54
Voted on Steam. The game is looking great. Good luck guys.
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September 13th, 2014, 10:03
Thanks for voting! We just hit 55% on the way to getting greenlit so things are going pretty well!

We still have quite a way to make so it would be awesome if you keep sharing and supporting the campaign!

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September 15th, 2014, 23:35
This week we want to share an update on our Greenlight campaign and some info on our "contracts" system that will replace the classical "quests" as you know them from other games. If you have any ideas on the contract sytem let us know!


Dev Blog #26: Contracts and Greenlight Update

It’s been one week now since we launched on Steam Greenlight, and what a ride it’s been! According to Steam, we’re now 63% on the way to the top 100. Not too shabby for one week, but still a long way to go before being greenlit. Thank you all for your support so far!

If you haven’t voted for us already, please do so here
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=311186565


Only with your help can we get the game on Steam, which would allow us to work on it full-time and make progress much faster. If you know others who might be interested in Battle Brothers, please do share the link!

So, that’s that. For now, let us take a look at contracts, which in Battle Brothers work much like quests do in other RPGs, and how they shape the game.

Mercenary Contracts
Contracts fulfill an important role in Battle Brothers. You'll lead a band of mercenaries, after all, and contracts are what you do for work most of the time. Since the game has an open world, contracts are also important to give the player a sense of direction. You'll be able to freely travel and explore the world at your pace, and you won't have to take up any contracts as long as you can afford to pay and feed your men with the spoils you find. However, you should also never feel lost, not knowing what to do next; in a world torn up by war, there should be plenty of work available for a mercenary company.

Just as the worldmap and all the tactical battle maps are procedurally generated and will never look the same, so are contracts procedurally generated and don't follow a scripted linear order. Importantly, though, contracts aren't just random missions thrown at you. They are the result of what really is going on in the world; if a caravan travels on a long journey through dangerous lands, it will offer an escort contract. If a village is constantly being raided by bandits, it will offer a contract for protection. The bandits won't be spawned just for the duration of the contract and to entertain the player - they'll really be raiding the village beforehand, and the contract being offered is a reaction to them. Defeating their raiding parties will really lower bandit activity for a while, and burning down their camp may end it completely.

It's important for us that all contracts are embedded into our dynamic open world and allow the player to really make a change, to have a real impact on the world, and not just grind random missions one after the other. At least for now, you’ll also only be able to accept one contract at a time - we want to avoid that feeling of having an endless list of quests which you just work through, not even remembering where you got it and why you’re doing it. If you haven't seen it already, this blog post explains in more detail our open world mechanics.



It can be hard for procedurally generated contracts to compete with a linear campaign in terms of pacing and atmosphere. Contracts need to offer enough variety and change to last a whole campaign, and not grow boring and repetitive after a while. Our contracts are generated from a variety of variables which hopefully will offer virtually endless combinations together with the different locations they take place at. Contracts can vary from short time assignments, like escorting a person or caravan, hunting down a group of beasts, scouting an area or destroying an encampment, to long time assignments, like protecting a whole region for two weeks. Even changing a little thing like the payment modality could change how individual missions play out; if you're promised 10 silver crowns for every orc head, you might want to take more risks to hunt down every last one as opposed to when you're promised a flat sum for destroying the orc raiding party, no matter if a few orcs can get away.

Furthermore, we will present each contract offer with a paragraph of story to set the mood. Contracts will never just be a few bare bulletpoints, a price and an accept button. Instead it will be villagers telling you of their ails, or a lord with a proposition.

If you have any questions or ideas for contracts we should include, let us know here in the forums!

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Default Dev Blog #27: AI in Battle Brothers, Part 1

September 25th, 2014, 01:48
By popular request, this week we dive into the world of Artificial Intelligence and find out how it works behind the scenes in our turn based tactical battles.


Dev Blog #27: AI in Battle Brothers, Part 1

This week things get more technical as we shine a light on the Artifical Intelligence, or AI, that controls opponents in the game.

If you’ve played the later scenarios of the combat demo, you may have found the AI serviceable already. Once we have all the core mechanics of the game in place and things won’t change around all the time anymore, we’ll invest more work into the AI in order to have it actually stand out. Let’s find out how it works exactly.

Our goals

As we stated before, our goal is to have different enemies feel distinct to fight against. We don’t want enemies to differ merely in a few stats, such as having more or less hitpoints. There are two ways to achieve this, as we see it; the first one is having unique skills that give enemies tools to challenge the player in different ways, and that require the player to formulate different tactics to overcome. The second one is having enemies behave differently, as determined by their AI.

With the AI we take a simulationist approach, meaning that we try to tailor the behavior of enemies to simulate a behavior befitting what they are in the context of the game world.



Zombies, for example, have an intentionally gimped AI. They don’t care if they’re stuck in swamp, have a height disadvantage or are outnumbered. They’ll just charge into the nearest opponent and won’t even make use of the more specialized skills of their weapons. In other words, they’re stupid. By being this stupid, however, they also feel more unique an opponent and more like you would expect the typical zombie to behave. If you play your cards right, you can outsmart a group of zombies much larger than your group.



On the other hand there are skeletons, their undead relatives. We decided that skeletons should have more of a cold and efficient intelligence, governed by faded memories of long gone battles and military exercise. Skeletons do care about the terrain they are on and about height advantages. They also make full use of their equipment; they form a shieldwall if pelted with arrows from afar or if outnumbered, they use axes to split shields if they can not hit their opponents otherwise, they use their shields to knock down opponents from elevated positions to claim them for themselves, and they might even decide to hold a defensible position instead of charging into the fray.

What skeletons don’t do is lying in ambush or do long-winded flanking maneuvers. Such tactics, for us, don’t really fit the undead. Instead, it will be the living opponents who’ll employ them. Goblins, for example, will put great emphasis on setting up ambushes and doing hit-and-run tactics.


How it works

Battle Brothers has a utility-based AI with relative utility. I’ll explain what the hell that means below, but if you’re really interested in the technical details, I can recommend this great presentation from Kevin Dill and Dave Mark explaining the concept in detail.

Every type of enemy has a bunch of potential behaviors to choose from whenever it is his turn to act. As an example, let us consider this hypothetical scenario: We are a skeleton, armed with an axe and a shield, and face a Battle Brother who has his shield up.



For simplicity’s sake, we can choose between the following three behaviors:
  • Doing a Chop attack to injure or kill our opponent
  • Using Split Shield to get rid of our opponent’s shield
  • Using Shieldwall for protection

So what behavior do we choose? We’ll look at each possible behavior to determine how much sense it makes to use it in this very situation, how useful it is to us, or in other words, how high its utility is. All these considerations need to be quantified so that we can compare between numbers. For the sake of this example, let us rate any behavior in our situation on a scale of 1 to 10. This number is our relative utility.

Do we do the chop attack?
The higher the chance to hit and the more damage we can do, the more we want to just attack. On the other hand, if our chances to score a hit are low, then we aren’t that enthusiastic about doing an attack. We have a low chance to hit our opponent here because his shield is up, so the utility score of an attack would be relatively low, let’s say 3.

Do we split our opponent’s shield in two?
The harder our opponent is to hit, the more we want to get rid of his shield. If his shield is poor or battered already, that’s even more reason to get it out of the way. On the other hand, if we have but a small hatchet and our opponent has a knightly shield, attempting to split his shield may be a waste of time. Because here our opponent has his shield up and makes it difficult to hit his body, the utility of destroying his shield and thereby increasing our chance to hit with following attacks is high, let’s say a 9.

Do we use shieldwall?
If we are at any kind of disadvantage, whether because of terrain or because we are outnumbered, we want to give ourselves more protection. Using shieldwall is helpful in our little duel, but we could just as well do another attack instead – we’ll give it an average score of 5.

In reality, there are a lot more considerations going on, of course, but this is the basic idea. As you probably already figured out, there isn’t just one single behavior that viably applies to our situation. In fact, often there isn’t even one behavior that can be said to be the best for a given situation.

After all possible behaviors have been considered and given a utility score like above, they’re entered into a pool. Everything with a utility of 2 or lower is thrown out so that we don’t pick a behavior that really makes little to no sense in our situation. Then, we pick one by weighted random. Every behavior in the pool could be picked, but the higher the utility, the more likely it is to be picked. Think of throwing a dart on the pie chart below; it’s most likely to hit the Split Shield part, but you could hit any of the other two as well.



This way, we always have an element of unpredictability in how the AI behaves. The AI won’t always do the same in every situation, and it can on occasion surprise you. But it will attempt to do what are the most sensible things to do in the very specific situation it is in.


There is more?

Yes, quite a lot in fact. This part covered the basics and should give an idea on how the AI works on a basic level and why it doesn’t do the same thing all the time. In a possible later article we may look in more detail at specific parts of the AI and how they contribute to enemies that feel unique to fight against.

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