In-Depth Magdelina Guide "Let this vessel be your sword."

In-Depth Magdelina Guide "Let this vessel be your sword."

Welcome to the Magdelina In-Depth Guide. In this guide, you'll learn all you need to learn about Indines' Battle Priestess! Note that this guide is NOT a substitute for experience. It's always better to go out there and play some games!

BattleCON Guide: Parallel Attacks

BattleCON Guide: Parallel Attacks

Hey, everyone! Welcome to our new piece of Daily Content! Every Tuesday, we will be releasing articles about our games! These can range from simple things like analyzing the base pentagon in BattleCON to complex card counting in EXCEED. This week, we have a beginner guide for BattleCON!

In-Depth Eligor Guide "You're unworthy to be part of my legend!"

In-Depth Eligor Guide "You're unworthy to be part of my legend!"

Welcome to the Eligor In-Depth Guide. In this guide, you'll learn all you need to learn about Indines' Templar! Note that this guide is NOT a substitute for experience. It's always better to go out there and play some games!

Advanced Tech: A Guide to Punishing in BattleCON

Advanced Tech: A Guide to Punishing in BattleCON

Hey, everyone! Welcome to our new piece of Daily Content! Every Tuesday, we will be releasing articles about our games! These can range from simple things like analyzing the base pentagon in BattleCON to complex card counting in EXCEED. This week, we have an advanced BattleCON Guide from Marco!

Learn how to punish opponent misplays in this weekly article!

In-Depth Lixis Guide "Not feeling well?"

In-Depth Lixis Guide "Not feeling well?"

Welcome to the Lixis In-Depth Guide. In this guide, you'll learn all you need to learn about Indines' Dryad Alchemist! Note that this guide is NOT a substitute for experience. It's always better to go out there and play some games!

Seventh Cross v33-35 - Locking Down Mechanics

Seventh Cross v33-35 - Locking Down Mechanics

With the combat and exploration mechanics for Seventh Cross locked down at last, we begin working on content and gameplay. In this update, I talk about scoping out the game and organizing all this data, as well how combat stages work.

In-Depth Cindra Guide "All heroes fall, but I rise again!"

In-Depth Cindra Guide "All heroes fall, but I rise again!"

Welcome to the Cindra In-Depth Guide by chucklyfun. In this guide, you'll learn all you need to learn about this rising phoenix! Note that this guide is NOT a substitute for experience. It's always better to go out there and play some games!

CLICK NOW to read-up and learn!

Seventh Cross v30-32 - Multi-Stage Castles

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Last time...

My latest post ended with the conclusion that the Gear Grid and the way we had been building castles was not viable for the game that we were trying to create. But what was the game we were trying to create? I wanted something that would capture the feel of castlevania-style exploration and backtracking, giant boss combat, and narrative story progress.

After 30 versions of development, I finally arrived at the conclusion that there could be no universal way to handle all these things within one system. Building a stat-check system was an option, but it wasn't adding anything new to the genre of "four guys explore and fight monsters" games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Descent, and Gloomhaven.

In the end, it was by giving up on a unifying system that we found the way forward.

Stages

The idea for stages began when we looked at the sprawling castle game board for Seventh Cross, and the way that hunters were moving through it. Traversal across the board was always a pain, even with things like teleporters to help you out. And once an area was completed, there was rarely more to do there. The idea came to us to make each wing of the castle a single "stage"– a little mini-encounter that could be cleared by the whole party at once.

With this system, the party would separate and act independently in battle, but work together as a team outside of combat. It kept everyone involved at each point in the adventure.

At first, the game was just a series encounters where hunters would have to clear a dungeon with traps and small mobs. After a few iterations, we found that these stages were pretty boring. The only interesting combat stages were big boss fights. So we decided to cut all the mobs and traps, and keep combat purely relegated to boss fights. This marked the return of the epic big boss fights we had been sorry to cut out earlier in development, and I was glad to see them finally come back.

An early v30 encounter with many different mobs. This style was eventually dropped in favor of just doing large boss fights...

An early v30 encounter with many different mobs. This style was eventually dropped in favor of just doing large boss fights...

Going from one big fight to another was a bit heavy, so we broke up the adventure with other kinds of stages to simulate the exploration portions of the genre. These other kinds of stages are treated like their own mini-games. Your performance in these games helps you to advance through the castle, and/or improves your abilities in the main battle game.

  • Narrative stages are resolved with the Karma/Anathema system created several versions back. You participate in these as you progress through the stories of individual castles, as well as when you are resting back at Sanctuary, the hunters' home base.
  • Puzzle stages are actual word puzzles, designed to be relevant to the task at hand (think of the floor puzzle at the end of the Last Crusade, for a good example). Some even have multiple solutions, and the solution you find determines the path you take. 
  • Lock stages are classic adventure game-styled challenges where you will pair up key items you discover throughout the castle (and even in other castles) to open up barriers. If you've played any of the modern Escape Room board games, you'll recognize how these work.
  • Search stages are a kind of looting mini-game, where you try to figure out which discovery items match the location you are exploring.
An example of the Castle Board. This acts as a kind of 'stage select' between the different stages in the game. Defeat the castle's master (H) and you win!

An example of the Castle Board. This acts as a kind of 'stage select' between the different stages in the game. Defeat the castle's master (H) and you win!

Rather than having a sprawling game board that takes up a huge table and is only active at one corner at a time, we now have a smaller Castle Board, and when the hunters are ready to tackle a stage, they "zoom in" and do battle on a second board. Kind of like Titan, for those who have played that classic.

One of the best things about the stages is that it makes it very easy to drop-in or drop-out players between stages. The game can also be 'saved' cleanly during these points.

Hunters can reconfigure their loadout, upgrade their gear, and shop freely between stages as an area called 'Sanctuary'. As you explore more castles, you'll encounter Associates who will permanently join you in Sanctuary and provide new services.


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Though I was sorry to lose the big, sprawled-out mansion layout, the advantages to saving, table space, and episodic play in general were advantages that were well worth it.

In my next post, I'll talk about combat, and the changes we made to bring the big monster-hunter/souls-style boss fights back into the game.

I look forward to sharing that with you soon! :D

Deciding Discards: Increasing Win Rates Before the Game Even Starts!

Deciding Discards: Increasing Win Rates Before the Game Even Starts!

Hey, everyone! Welcome to our new piece of Daily Content! Every Tuesday, we will be releasing articles about our games! These can range from simple things like analyzing the base pentagon in BattleCON to complex card counting in EXCEED. This week, we have a NEW BattleCON Guide from Marco!

In-Depth Rukyuk Guide "It's time to use excessive force!"

In-Depth Rukyuk Guide "It's time to use excessive force!"

Welcome to the Rukyuk In-Depth Guide. In this guide, you'll learn all you need to learn about Indines' resident gunner! Note that this guide is NOT a substitute for experience. It's always better to go out there and play some games!

We're trying something new with our Character of the Week. Tell us how you like it!

Empyreal: Spells and Steam Train Preview!

Work is underway for our next big project

Empyreal: Spells and Steam!

Here's a look at what's happening in December to prepare us for the new project!

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What is Empyreal: Spells & Steam?

Empyreal: Spells & Steam is a rail-building game set in Level 99 Games's World of Indines (BattleCON, Pixel Tactics, Argent), and the next major design from Trey Chambers (Argent: the Consortium).

As a captain of industry, it's your job to bring the industrial age to this world of magic. Build railways to connect key resources to your network, then supply them to cities around the world. Each magical resource you harvest will enable new technological developments that improve your capabilities. Each contract you fulfill will build up your infrastructure, leading to the development of new company-specific powers. Mine mana from the land to enable the construction of more lines, balancing the opportunities of the moment against the depleting environment and the machinations of your competitors.

Only the savviest and most creative industrialist will be able to lead the World of Indines into the modern era!

Where are we now?

With the game design for Empyreal finished up, we're now working on components and graphic designs.

Fábio Fontes has put together 8 train cars to represent the 8 companies that are playable within the World of Indines. Each of these companies has their own disposition and powers, providing a different game experience each time you play. The train cars are roughly one inch in length. Here's a list of the different companies, together with their cars!

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Here are the original concept sketches for the 8 different train cars! Each company has a unique car, and Fábio has created 3D versions of those cars so that we can create miniatures to put in the game box! You can click on the cars to zoom up and get a better look!

Above, you can see rendered versions of the individual trains, as well as 'painted' renders (also kindly created by Fábio) that show what these train cars might look like if you painted them yourself!

We'll post a more formal introduction of each of the industry captains and the companies they lead in a few weeks! By that time, we should also have some visuals of the cards and game board ready to show you!