Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Change Logs, actually released

Just a quick update.  I know a while (see years) ago we mentioned the usage of a change log but never actually went ahead and released those logs.  They are at a very high level and more references for the developers but I figure for those of you out there interested in see the changes here is what we have addressed in the past.  In future posts the hope is that we'll always have a change log to accompany the new changes we are discussing and how they impact the game at large.  Note these are all changes in the past that have been in place for some time as the implementation dates might indicate.

4.3.0 - 1/29/2018
  • Dodge Change
    • Dodge no longer halves ongoing - instead it increases CR by 3 + 1/2 level.
  • Monster Crit Change
    • Monsters no longer roll for crits - it does a fixed value.
  • Stealth Init
    • Stealth now grants +2 init per rank.
  • Monster Mass Tweakage
    • Monster bonus MP’s has been properly revamped. All monsters now have a fixed number of bonus MP they can put towards favored categories.
4.2.9 - 9/02/2017
  • Initiative Valuation Change
    • Init is worth less -- this ends up increasing the amount of init gain from talents and stealth. The Qu stat gives only slightly more Init then before, but now it also gives more starting HP.
    • A rank in general now increases your recovery by 1-3.
4.2.8 - 7/21/2017
  • Player HP
    • Starting HP increased by 1
  • Themes
    • Weapon spec put back to v6, T’s are now 2-7, 5-14, 7-21
  • Talents
    • Many of the defensive powers have been slightly weakened. Scaling has been changed for the passive reduction abilities to be more inline with other passive scaling.
    • Major overhaul of the “Weapon/Magic” Greater Talents. In almost all cases they were weakened.
  • Monster Damage Shield Overhaul
    • They are cheaper now.
  • Spell Critical Overhaul
    • See Spell Meta notes spell crit section for details
  • Caster Review
    • All caster meta has been reviewed and tweaked
4.2.7 - 5/16/2017
A revisit of core powers. Some crazy AoE’s are reduced, many PP’s tweaked...
  • Talents
    • Dodge buff’s slightly reworked,  all the core “improve dodge” powers now have a minor action or a swift action component.
    • Some greater talents got some extra minor perks.Knacks:
    • Split Strike now does -1 to damage (-4 from -3)
    • Most Knacks are being overhauled / tweaked with AP’s being reduced in power from 13.5 though 40.5 to 13 through 39.
  • Themes
    • Weapon spec slightly reduced,   T’s are now 2-7, 4-13, 7-20 (down from 5-14 . 7-21)
  • Weapons
    • Tweaks to unarmed & throw weapons & crits.
  • Necromancer
    • There have been a number of additional changes and tweaks to this sphere from 4.2.5 up till now.  Still not officially stable but once the sphere is it’ll be marked in a release.
  • Racials
    • Cut to the Chase is now perform an SSA while charging.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Annual Update?!

Wow it's been nearly a year since my last blog update.  You can rest assured though that the CORPS team hasn't been slacking, well maybe a little, but honestly we've made some huge developments both in our tooling and monitoring of CORPS (which helps us with the design processes) as well as additional new content.  I mean last time I wrote we were on CORPS 4.1.5 and as of this writting we will probably be wrapping up 4.2.7 at the end of June.

We are almost finished testing on our 2nd to last spell sphere, the Necromancer sphere and once we've signed off on testing we'll begin development on the final spell sphere we have in the works which will be the Archmage sphere.  Once those two are complete perhaps the single biggest hurdle (character spell spheres) will be complete.  Assuming I am not spending too much time on actual development and testing I will make sure to add a post to go into a little more detail of what all is involved in the spell sphere.  Until then happy CORPSing.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

CORPS 4.1.5 and CORPS into the future

As with any game in development, especially when trying new concepts, certain things are going to fail and other things will work.  CORPS has certainly been no exception.  We've had a number of things work for us and a number of things that for one reason or another had to be scratched from the game.  One thing I can say for sure is that the progress in the game has certainly been going in the right direction.  I mean that both in terms of completeness of the game as well as the goals we set out for the game in the first place.  CORPS was meant to be above all else a fun table-top role playing game.  As we developed the game we pretty much agreed that the real heart of the role playing game would be the combat and thus we have the acronym Combat Oriented Role Playing System.

The more time and effort we've put into the game the more I amazed at how we've been able to tweak things to really increase the level of fun and excitement we get while testing it out.  I also feel like things within the game are much more cemented.  I can't say how good it feels to be moving forwards with new development rather than going back and changing things that have already been done because they didn't work as well as you hoped the first time around.  Sure there are still minor tweaks here and there, especially in light of testing but the bulk of the game as it is now is how it'll be when we eventually move towards releasing the game as a finished product.   That time is still a decent ways away but I am more of the mind that we'll know we'll be getting close as we wrap up the last of development and start working on a kick starter campaign to raise funds for hiring an artist who can turn our ideas in to bold images to describe things as we see it.  Of course that is as I said, a ways off.

One thing I did think of as I was going through our older and infrequent blog posts is that despite talking about CORPS so much, there is a lot of stuff that had been previously introduced in prior years that is totally irrelevant or just out right wrong now.  I had thought about putting together another list of blog entries that would reintroduce CORP to the readership of this blog but the time spent writing to the blog is time that I could be spending towards the actual development.  Since this is all a side project it pains me to manage time so closely but life comes before hobbies unfortunately. Still I think it would be a good idea to reintroduce the game with the changes that we'll most likely go live with. The game really has come a long way since we started and even more so through all the various major releases we've gone through.  I plan to in the near future to begin taking this game to comic bookshops to try to run people through an actual demo of the game just so I can start getting candid feedback on how the game plays out.  The thing is, and this is why I primarily am bringing it up here on this blog, up to this point nearly all of my testing of this game has been done online.  It stands to reason if someone actually reads this post and has some interest in the game, even if it's just mild curiosity, it's someone like that that I should be reaching out to in order to have them test out the game.  So I'll just keep this short and say that if you are interested in helping us test the game just reach out and let use know on my website: http://www.nortain.net/corps-contact-us.html.  If you're curious as to what we are using to test here is a list of the software we use.

Mumble (VoIP)
MapTools (Tabletop sim software - requires java)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Change log? WTF is that? CORPS 4.1.3

Sometimes I feel like the development process for CORPS is something like sticking one's head in the sand.  Why are you sticking your head in the sand?  To see more sand in more detail of course.  In this case sand in my metaphor for all those tiny details that come together to make the game great.  Of course in spending such a lengthy amount of time working on the details you can tend to lose focus of the big picture as well as the processes that help support the building of the big picture.
One thing we had always done was to give our builds version numbers so we'd know where we were in our development process as also when something might be out of date.  This was often the case with test characters we created.  You make a character, test them some, make some tweaks that affect a number of characters and suddenly you have characters whose builds are no longer valid.   We quickly found putting a version number on the document proved very helpful in letting us know what and who needed to be reviewed before testing after making a change.  But one painfully obvious omission we made was that we never documented exactly what these version numbers meant.  That is to say when we made a big game changing update, we'd simply give that a new version number without specifically writing down what it was we had changed and more importantly why.  When you're constantly working on something constantly it stays pretty fresh and the developers never really paid it much attention.  We did a good enough job of remember what was recently changed and whenever we took breaks from developing any big changes had been fully implemented so even if we didn't remember what we changed recently we could plainly see what the new rules were.

It wasn't until this most recent round of changes that we ran into the problem of, "wait what version did this change belong it?"  With a lot of changes flying around going back and forth and length of the development cycle we started becoming slowly aware that we couldn't keep all this crap together.  Some documents had notes in the documents some didn't, some had documentation about a version number with no mention of what that number actually represented.  Needless to say it started to get pretty messy.  Luckily the fix was simple.  We were able to create a central record keep for all the changes that went in under each version and what those changes were and why.  It's really kind of sad cause we've overhauled the game essentially 3 times now, and have had numerious tiny and sizeable changes in between those and all this time we never had anything to clearly state what these changes were.  Sure we had them written down.... somewhere.  But the central record keep is really what we've been needing for quite some time.  Welcome to what programmers refer to the changelog.  The concept is simple.  It's a log of everything that changed since the last released version. Being programmers ourselves we had to laugh at the fact that we'd hadn't thought of putting this together sooner.

Another interesting aspect of having a changelog, even though it's still pretty immature, it's neat to be able to see what we actually have been working on for the past... well year now.  Shit I really need to update this blog more.  Well anyway I figured I'd give a short list of the most recent set of changes we've made to give a glimpse into some of the stuff we've been tweaking as of late.

4.1.30 - Racial Review, 2m/2w updates

Racial Review - The stat bonuses are made more consistent, Burman are Br/Re, Gryx are Br/Pr,  Feydra are Agi then Pr Or Re, Primentals are Br then Pr Or Re.  This gives more flexibility for races to be casters, because making a Re based class without Re is just rough.  Melee has more flexibility, because you can go balanced weapons and use the bonus to Re or Agi.  Agile weapon user and Heavy weapon user still will need the isolated stat.

Oh the Humanity changes again.  This time it is +4 to hit, but gives advantage to any critical rolls.  It is difficult to balance as it is currently the only racial which has a decent chance of doing nothing by using it unless you are attacking 2 or more targets.  The swift version was strong, but for the wrong reason -- the game was hypernova back then.

Caster Core Powers Review - A more detailed breakdown of the 3w is leading to an overhaul of the kits.  1g’s apparent were way OP - but we have no test data to support the numbers.  In theory 2w/2m were underpowered because they were “equal” to a 3m or 3w (using three theme points).  2m/2w gain an encounter ability to cast a std/delib action spell and perform a snap attack.

2w/2m stat sharing - Updated so that 2w/2m will usually be marital stat primary -- All 2w/2m now get +1 to spell damage per point in Agi or Br.  This allows a 3 offence stat to have a +3 bonus to spell damage, and a +6 if they have an “off stat” racial bonus.  The old way was allowing 3 offence with off stat to have a +8 to melee, +6 to spells, and the epic stat PP bonus.  This is vastly stronger than any other setup, so it was highhandedly nerfed.

Overcast Magic Spell  - Duh.  Math is hard.  As an overcast reg spell is +18%, an overcast magic should be +18% -- which is a +2 to hit, not +1.

Core Caster Static Bonus:  The bonus for non-scaling effects has been increased from 25% to 40%.  This is for consistency with Juggernaut PP, which is valued at 9 (as a PP) and it gives 6 THP (non-scaling).

HP Increase:  SD, Vitality, and stealth now give slightly more HP.  All HP fractions are now X/3.  SD went from 1/4 to 1/3 per rank,  Vit is now 4/3, 8/3, 10/3. 12/3, [from 1,2, 5/2, 7/2] and stealth increases from 1/2 per rank to 2/3 per rank.

Makes absolutely no sense?  Yeah well I guess you'd either need to know the game some first before decoding what all of that slang means.  What you can take away from it though is that we're hard at work progressing CORPS towards general release and look forward to when we can start playing the game with regular people rather than those in our tight knit beta groups.  Until then... keep on gaming

Friday, March 20, 2015

CORPS 4.0 is coming along

If CORPS 3.0 was about bringing simplification to the CORPS system CORPS 4.0 has been about normalizing the simplification process.  In particular the spell system being utilized by CORPS has seen a dramatic shift in how things work.  Previously the type of spell was very important to it's assumed action.  This grouping followed along the line of thought that certain spells were considered attack spells while other spells were considered utility spells.  At the highest level of spell abstraction these were the two categories of spells which seemed simple enough.  But a byproduct of the balancing and simplification that was introduced in 3.0 was that some spells such as creature summoning spells needed to be standard action spells instead of move action spells even though they were technically categorized as a utility spell.  This realization came about after extensive testing and it was clear to see just what kind of an impact summoning spells could have on a combat.   Of course in 3.0 we then had this arbitrary bit of complexity embedded in spells which just didn't feel right.   In 4.0 we've sought to address this by removing the age old assumption between attack spells being standard action casts and utility spells being move action casts. Since a move action was less costly than a standard action spell we inherently made utility spells weaker than standard action spells.  However before I go forward with explaining the new changes perhaps I should take a step back and better explain how things used to be and why the change.

As I mentioned, spells used to have an associated cast action with them.  This used to work because all spell casters were allowed 1 spell per turn and so could choose use their move action to cast a utility spell or a standard action to cast an attack spell.  The actions of a character within a single turn are normally limited to a standard, move and minor action.  With standard encompassing complex actions like attacking, disengaging or total defense, move actions being responsible for general movement and shifting and minor actions covering mundane tasks like loading a bow, opening a door, drawing/sheathing a weapon etc.  So as a caster when casting the spell the player had a decision to make which usually boiled down to one of two options.  The caster could choose to cast an attack spell and use the move for movement or overcasting the attack spell. (Overcasting is a method to slightly increase the strength of a spell at the cost of the casters move action) or the caster could choose to cast a utility spell and then use their standard for something like an implement attack which is basically like a weak version of a normal weapon attack for casters.

While this sounds good and fine there were actually quite a few issues with the system as a whole.  The most offensive was probably perhaps how pigeon holed certain spell spheres felt based on their roles.  For example, the elemental sphere is a high damage sphere that should be able to dish out a high level of burst damage.  But if the elementalist every wanted/needed to cast a utility spell their damage would tank because everything that made their spells strong was lost when they attempted to use an implement attack.   On the flip side the priest sphere which focused on powerful utility spells, could continually make use of those spells while making use of their implement attack and when their allies were under pressure the priest could simply switch over to attack spells and essentially lose nothing in the process.  This is only one example and there were plenty others but ultimately it seemed by limited casters to only 1 spell per turn was really constraining how they played out in practice.

One thing 4.0 sought to remove was the 1 spell per turn restriction.  Instead casters were restricted only in action.  This meant that so long as the caster had the action to cast a spell they could cast it.  This idea while fairly simple and straight forward immediately broke a lot of assumptions surrounding existing spells.  Casters were suddenly incredibly powerful compared to their martial counter parts.  The problem was inherit in the design of our spells and ultimately that high level categorization of attack spells being standard action cast and utility spells being move action.  The solution was to make cast action independent of spell type.  The way we did this was that rather than assigning spell strength based on attack or utility we now assigned spell strength based off of cast action.  We normalized the strength of spells such that if a standard action spell were considered 100% spell strength then a move action spell would be considered 40% spell strength.  Using this system we also realized that there was an interesting new category of spell actions for deliberate spells whose strength would naturally be 140%.  With this idea we were able to build around a set of assumptions for each type of spell and then started converting our existing spell system to this new more modular and elegant spell system.

So far we have performed extensive testing across nearly all types of martial and magic characters and our results are looking very good.  The multitudes of different builds along with their viability is simply astounding.  Players are free to mix and match a wide variety of pieces in their characters that allow they to cobble together nearly any kind of archetype they can imagine.  It really speaks to our goal of being able to create a tactically balanced, classless combat system that is fun and engaging.  The success we've found in our 4.0 revision has been so great in fact we are looking at expanding our normalization process that we applied to spells and are now looking to incorporate it into the martial class's knack system.  While this is still in the works it should ultimately yield a normalized set of combat knacks among all the various types of combat fighting styles.  Our goal with this, much like what we planned for spells, is to have a simple system that accurately defines all powers available to a particular character that provides multiple viable options that are both balanced and among other available options as well as other character types as a whole.  I'd be lying if I were to say it was an easy process but it certainly is a fun an exciting one.  Hopefully these milestones will put us one step closer towards an end product or perhaps a future kick starter project to get CORPS off the ground and into the hands of table top players.