Author Topic: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!  (Read 2446 times)

Offline x4000

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Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« on: January 30, 2013, 08:28:52 PM »
Original:  http://arcengames.blogspot.com/2013/01/valley-2-beta-722-concentrated-reports.html

This one is, without a doubt, the largest release of our beta period.  I've said that before, but this one tops the rest -- and won't be topped between now and 1.0, either, I'm quite confident.  There's so much in this one it's almost hard to know where to begin...

Equipment
Let's start with equipment, because it was definitely the single weakest mechanic in the game circa release .721.  These have had quite an enormous overhaul in a lot of departments based on player feedback.  The clarity of just what the heck equipment does, and what you are wearing at the moment, has been vastly improved.  But along with that, the actual utility of equipment has gone through the roof compared to what it was, too -- the actual functions it performs is more useful, and its durability is way higher, too.

To be honest I found myself skipping equipment most of the time, like a lot of players were reporting they were doing.  It was to the point I was very seriously considering just removing equipment all together.  But now I find it personally exciting to find what is in a chest when I find one, because it's actually useful and interesting and changes how the game will play out for my character for a little while.  I'm quite excited about how that changes the weakest mechanic into something that I think is actually quite strong now.

Strategic End Of Turn Report
This is the big thing that Keith has been working on for most of the time since the last release -- this has been quite a job, but the results are stunning.  Before the end of turn report was basically a "wall of tiny text."

Now the report has a sidebar of easy to read, color-coded buttons with summary-style information.  You can use the arrow keys to move your cursor over the various buttons and see details in a much larger, more readable font.

As Keith pointed out to me, the lack of clarity on the old end of turn report was actually making the game artificially harder.  Players were not recognizing trouble spots (like dwindling food) until it was too late.  They'd notice when people started dying or morale was in the pit, but not when there was a negative food trend just starting.  The new end of turn report really makes all of those sorts of trends and events a lot more obvious -- I think all of us are about to get a lot better at the strategic game!

Combos Out, Concentration In
Back on the adventure mode side of things, we've removed the extremely opaque "combo" system that was previously in the game.  It was so unclear that even most advanced players didn't know it was there -- and a few who had noticed the effects of it thought there was some strange glitch!

The purpose of the original combo system was to encourage players to use a variety of spells; but that's already being handled via monster variety and circumstances of the level design.  To my great delight, actually -- handling this intrinsically is much better than trying to lead the player by the nose to using multiple spell types.

The new Concentration system has an entirely different purpose: rewarding perfection during high-level play.  Basically, it's something for the really hardcore players to focus on improving their skills at.  If you are at full health, then every enemy you kill starts giving you progress toward increased Concentration.  When your concentration is higher, you do more damage.  But any time you take a hit, you lose a single bar of concentration.

So it really is something for the perfectionists, particularly on higher difficulties, and otherwise this mechanic mostly stays out of the way and isn't something that we're balancing around for normal players.  It's kind of a "stretch goal" for those who like that sort of thing, but not something that is expected for normal play.  This was the result of several player suggestions, so we'll see how the community likes it -- should be fun.

Yet More Strategic Refinements
In general it seems like people are loving the direction that the strategic game has been taking lately, which is great.  But there were some definite problem spots that we've now ironed out.  Specifically:

- The wounds system was rather frustrating in practice.  It was too easy to get into a death spiral with that.  We've taken away the wounded status on NPCs, and changed around how the clinic works to more generalized healing.

- The mana resource had become pointless/frustrating, and so has also been removed.  The mana producer buildings have been given new NPC-class-specific functions that you can activate, instead.  These are basically like single-use powerups on the map that you can use at your discretion -- new weapons in your arsenal!

- There was a persistent complaint that all of the wilderness areas were kind of useless / that you were too powerless in wilderness areas.  Having these open areas for maneuver is important, but having the ambient threat be something you can't deal with in these areas was definitely problematic.  You can thus now build fortifications on all the base wilderness tile types.  The fortifications act like small housing, providing some cover from ambient threat for nearby NPCs -- and like hovels or shacks or groves, they are too small for the overlord or his monsters to bother smashing.

- There are also a number of other important improvements, such as to ivory towers, infighting, and so forth.  But these are more minor by comparison, and you can read about them in the full release notes.

Art Updates!  And Furniture!
There's a ton of new and updated art in this version, and a ton of new background objects -- furniture, rocks, other small objects, etc -- throughout the game now.  The Vorgga henchman now has his graphics, and Demonaica has a near-final version of his graphics minus a final round of shading.

The main menu has been finalized now as well, and the graphics for several parts of menus in general have also been improved.  The intro story scroll is gone, and there is now a briefer intro story that is just fixed on the screen when you start a new world.  The intro credits scroll is still there, but split into two columns -- one for Arcen and co., and one for the community.  The new main menu is now actually fitting with the awesome intro music that plays, and finally delivers the first impression that we wanted people to have when they start up the game.


And there's a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff, too -- various bug fixes, changes to how lighting works for your character, enormous numbers of wall crawler behavior improvements (I spent a solid day and a half on that alone), and a lot of HUD improvements.  Also one new enemy.

Starting tomorrow I'm going to be back on the new-monsters trail, trying to wrap up the new content of that sort before we hit our two weeks of polish and bugfixing.  I'm clearly running a few days behind on my monsters work, but given all the other things we've been able to accomplish I think that the temporary re-prioritization was definitely the right call.

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the  in-game updater itself, if you already have any version of the game.  If you have the beta on Steam, it will automatically update for you.  When you  launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found  if you're connected to the Internet at the time.  If you don't have the standalone game, you can download that hereIf you already own the first game, just use your existing license key to unlock the sequel for free!
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline madcow

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 08:44:14 PM »
This looks awesome, so much good stuff!

Not the least of which includes the hopefully final fix to crawlers ;)

The question that immediately springs to mind is if the Overlord will destroy the one-shot strategic buildings or not (pyramid, amp towers, and purification).

Other than that, there's a lot to take in here.

Offline Pepisolo

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 09:44:13 PM »
Very brief impressions. I liked the new menu screen a lot, very cool!

The new concentration system seemed to work for me. I was engaging with the combat much more, *concentrating* a lot more on my dodging. When I finally powered up to 3 I felt like a tough guy rampaging around the place -- until I got combo'd myself and put in my place. Seems to spice things up a bit. Rather than text on the HUD though, I'd prefer a vertical power bar of some kind.

The first piece of equipment I got was very useful for a time. Definitely nicer.

The new end-of-turn report stuff was an improvement, more useful, although I was still quite disappointed that we didn't at least get to see Demonaica's movements on the map. This BANG this is what happened last turn thing doesn't really do it for me.  It's a bit like if in X-Com rather than seeing the enemy movements (when visible) you just had a report at the end of the turn reading Gerard Dagallier was killed by a Chrysalid -- not really the same thing.

Overall, though, nice work!

Offline Aklyon

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2013, 09:57:33 PM »
This one is, without a doubt, the largest release of our beta period.  I've said that before, but this one tops the rest -- and won't be topped between now and 1.0, either, I'm quite confident.  There's so much in this one it's almost hard to know where to begin...

Quote from: Notepad++
Characters (without blanks): 20080

That is a lot of words indeed. Where did I put that image...

Offline doctorfrog

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2013, 11:25:21 PM »
You sound pretty proud about this one, and I bet you have some good reasons for it. Checking this out tonight!

Offline Panopticon

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 01:29:50 AM »
First impressions is this is an all around great update. All the new art/furniture really really does a lot for each level, all the strategic changes feel really solid and make the strategic side of the game a lot more enjoyable. The concentration mechanic is fantastic. I really like it a lot for several reasons. The first is now shots do consistent damage. This has made some Mage classes feel more valuable, especially ones with fusillade skills. Also the mechanic itself is really fun, and a nice reward for playing well. It's really going to bring out the rage against some of the enemy types, like those Airplane/UAV drone looking things. Some things are still feeling a bit on the spongy side still like the Electric Eels but generally everything feels much better in this regard.

Still hate Skelebot Research Facilities. It's a bit of a perfect storm of a bunch of things I find irritating. Forced backtracking through an area, sudden shift in pacing, and enemies spawning in right on top of me. I don't think this would be such a big deal if they weren't so damn absolutely necessary to progress the game and access new areas. I'll admit that I have yet to successfully complete one of these missions, and generally stop playing after dying during the escape sequence a couple of times. The most frustrating aspect of it for me is the change in pace, going from my more methodical style to the alarms screaming in my ears and music kicking up the tempo (nice tune btw). It just completely messes with me. Maybe I'm trying to take them on too early or something, I generally try to get through one when I get the chance and it's always the same. Maybe I'm missing a cue or something and making it unnecessarily hard on myself. As they stand right now it's by far the most aggravating thing I've experienced in the game, to the point of making me exit the game and find something else to do.

edit: Oh I almost forgot the equipment changes. Wonderful stuff. I'm seeking out the chest now and having fun with the equipment. Great changes there.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 01:55:56 AM by Panopticon »

Offline doubtful

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 03:22:05 AM »
Love the new update! :D

I can't really say anything that hasn't been said already, but...good show, sirs!

I would like to say that the strategic game feels more balanced now and less finicky with the latest improvements.  I'm not at all against a revisiting of the incapacitation of NPCs should you guys choose to revisit the idea, but I will bid a not-overly-fond farewell to the old system! :)  I also like your other changes regarding the class powers for structures and such.

All in all, great job everyone. :)

I'm hesitant to even mention it, but I did notice a wall crawler (on a pre-existing chunk I believe?) wigging out a little bit upon hitting a sloped corner on the ground, but it was like...one single instance of one monster doing it over a few hours' worth of play.  This was also in an existing world from last version, but I'm not sure I had entered that chunk before downloading .722.  Anyhow, no biggie. Things are looking great on that front now!

Offline Misery

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 08:42:21 AM »
Ok, let's get the stupid bit over with first.   I kinda feel bad about this one, but:

http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view.php?id=10530


I doubt I even need to say what kind of glitch it is at this point.   On the plus side, this one is rare, and it's the only glitchy thing I'm seeing them do at all.  Not counting the "leaping between platforms" bit, as I noticed that part in the patch notes.


There was one other thing I noticed, not really a glitch, but in a boss fight against Lilith, I did encounter a situation that was undodgeable;  her standing on a really long flat area, in a big open square room with nothing in it, and a tunnel to the right of it that I had to approach her from, her standing there firing that triple shot into it makes that particular attack undodgeable without just running away from it.  Which of course means that for the most part, I couldnt HIT her in that situation either, because I couldnt get close enough.   I dont think it would be totally undodgeable against the other bosses, since they move back and forth, I could enter the room when they're further away and moving in the opposite direction from me.  I wish I'd thought to take a screenshot of it, but I figured I'd at least describe it.   Not really a problem with the attack pattern itself, it seemed more like a positioning problem or a slice issue.   I'll try to remember to get a screenshot of the area later, as I do indeed have to go through there again.


This though, is a veeeeeery nice update so far.   I havent had overly much time with it, but all these changes and additions and such are very good.    Really liking the equipment system and the concentration bit, even if those #%&*-ing pigeons dont let me have it for very long half the time (curse them!).  Both of those are really excellent additions.


Havent had enough time to experiment with the strategic changes, but those are looking good as well.   I dont have to be so paranoid with the survivors anymore and ONLY stick them on 0-5% danger tiles now.     Most of this session tonight with the game though was cave diving and doing a couple of towers, so yeah, cant say overmuch about the strategy changes just yet.    I really like the sound of the ivory/amp/pyramid changes though.    And everything else there, really.   The strategic report screen is muuuuuuuuuch easier to read.



All in all, an excellent update.


EDIT:  Also, I wanted to say:   The new art bits, they're wonderful.   As the visuals in the game go, this update was bloody amazing.  Adding all of those different background objects and such had a really major impact on how everything comes together with the art.   My favorite areas right now are the deciduous forests (and associated caves), and also that awesome purple section that is in front of the Overlord's castle.   But yeah, everything just looks great, I think you guys definitely chose the right art studio for this!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 10:15:55 AM by Misery »

Offline Aklyon

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2013, 11:48:20 AM »
The more I hear that sound from the mass purify, the more it reminds me of earthbound. Was that on purpose?

Offline doubtful

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2013, 03:15:07 PM »
The more I hear that sound from the mass purify, the more it reminds me of earthbound. Was that on purpose?

Earthbound as in Earthbound from SNES? :D? How I miss that game.  There's a fanmade sequel styled after it in the works titled "Mother 4", dunno if you're aware. at Andonuts.net.

Also, ON topic:

Having played this version a bit more now, I'd just like to reiterate that it's fantastic and all of you did an amazing job, seriously. :) I kept watching the upcoming notes every few hours wishing it would come out, hehe.  And it did not disappoint in the least! :D

Randomly, how're the new sounds for spells and such coming?

Offline madcow

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2013, 08:45:20 PM »
I've just put some playtime in, and its quite fun. The combo system really added more than I thought it would, its great fun trying to max out the combo meter, and I've been playing more towards that as an incentive than just making it through the levels - so kudos there.

The downside of the combo system though... those unfair moments where you can't really avoid getting hit (there are some trap slices like this - and some enemy/slice combos are like this) really really annoy me now. Whereas before I tended to think whatever, one hit doesn't matter.

Some of the enemies I've found particularly annoying are:
the urban droids are annoying, but they feel fair - they do seem to pop up very often.
medieval ceiling trap - this thing is like a machine gun that never stops, hard to approach it without getting hit.
Floating eyes - I love the whole dropping mine and flying back part. What annoys me is when they fly right at me, I wouldn't mind if they just zoomed overhead. They're very hard to hit while flying towards you, and it doesn't make sense that they do considering their attack pattern.
Snails - there's just not enough a window of opportunity to actually hit these things. Same could be said about other blocking enemies as well. Wouldn't mind if whips pierced against these types of enemies as well.
Firewalkers - I posted in mantis about them being bullet hell enemies. I think after more playtime the only change they really need is for their particles to go no through walls/floors. Also the contrast of their particles in the desert during day makes them hard to see.



The Deadly Leadenness was a hilarious item, haha. Completely impractical, but amazingly fun from a "screwing around" point of view. Still, I'm glad that it'll be fixed.

Things are definitely moving in a good direction though, the game's been a blast to play through. And I really am having fun trying to build the combo meter up!

The strategic side I haven't played enough to comment on, but from a UI point of view its fantastic. I can actually tell what's going on at a glance far better.

Edit: Those predator drones that have a basically unavoidable explosion when they die are pretty bad/annoying too. Largely from the fact that when they die its an almost guaranteed hit on you, unless I'm missing something. Double Edit: I think they're the c4 drones actually, so I guess you're not supposed to kill them at all. Still that explode pattern could use a bit of changing I think.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 09:50:21 PM by madcow »

Offline Panopticon

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2013, 10:00:41 PM »
After spending some time with the game today checking out the strategic side of things I can say I really like how it feels now. It feels like I'm running a rebellion and not a stack of fleeing survivors now. I can do things like prepare a position for attack now by moving in supporting resistance fighters before sending in that soldier or skirmisher to finish the job in a way that feels exciting and meaningful. Also using the Amp Tower is a really satisfying feeling. Now instead of getting a passive boost that a player may not even notice you are sending a kick ass warrior to push the button and nuke the enemy. Way badass.

The power levels are a nice and welcome change too. It goes a long way in distinguishing the resistance roles in a way that's understandable at a glance. The new mechanics for clinics that go along with it are nice too. Keeping a guy on a clinic in the off chance that he may save a wounded fighter felt like wasting a guy. But putting a scout on a clinic to give all the other fighters assistance as needed somehow feels more effective even though it's not much different mechanically.

In general I really like the way things are coming together on the strategy side.

Offline Misery

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2013, 10:59:48 AM »
After spending some time with the game today checking out the strategic side of things I can say I really like how it feels now. It feels like I'm running a rebellion and not a stack of fleeing survivors now. I can do things like prepare a position for attack now by moving in supporting resistance fighters before sending in that soldier or skirmisher to finish the job in a way that feels exciting and meaningful. Also using the Amp Tower is a really satisfying feeling. Now instead of getting a passive boost that a player may not even notice you are sending a kick ass warrior to push the button and nuke the enemy. Way badass.

The power levels are a nice and welcome change too. It goes a long way in distinguishing the resistance roles in a way that's understandable at a glance. The new mechanics for clinics that go along with it are nice too. Keeping a guy on a clinic in the off chance that he may save a wounded fighter felt like wasting a guy. But putting a scout on a clinic to give all the other fighters assistance as needed somehow feels more effective even though it's not much different mechanically.

In general I really like the way things are coming together on the strategy side.


I agree with this as well, after spending some more time with it.


My main issue with the game balance still remains the factories;  it's still very hard to get scrap sometimes, and building new factories seems A: Very, very expensive, and B:, it seems like it takes quite some time before a factory you build has paid back it's own cost, and thus actually becomes profitable.   Perhaps it's meant to be more of a late-game thing when you have huge areas of the map uncovered?   Getting enough scrap seems to still be very dependant on happening to find abandoned towns at times when the boss is not anywhere near them (and having enough guys to stand on enough factories at once).   


There's one other thing I'm noticing:  Is it just me, or has the overall danger level dropped REALLY dramatically?   For the survivors, I mean, not the player.   It could just be my map, but I've got tiles directly adjacent to wall tiles that have like, 2% danger.   The game though also made like a zillionty of the "small shelter" sorts of things, like swamp huts and whatnot.   The map, so far, is COVERED in stuff like that.  I figured I'd mention it, in case there's some sort of glitching there as opposed to sheer wacky RNG luck.   But the danger levels for much of the map do seem a little strange and random, even in the few spots that arent covered in tiny houses.


Aside from trying to figure out how to deal with the scrap issue, the strategic stuff has been pretty great so far.   One thing though, I wonder if it might be a good idea to buff the summoned beasts a little?    Without the wound system in place, these guys seem super easy to deal with, as (so far) they seem to do only 1 or 2 damage when they meet a survivor.   Unless they get stronger later maybe?    That's more of an initial impression of them with the changes though.  I'll have to see how it goes as my playthrough continues. 


Oh, also, the platforming side, I agree with what Madcow said about the predator drones or whatever they're called, the ones that look like deranged boomerangs that do a huge spray-shot sort of explosion when killed;   the explosion from them is almost always undodgeable since they can only be hit while going fast.    A suggestion for them:   Why not have it so that instead of just exploding outright, they stop moving and flash for a second or two and THEN burst?   Gives the player a chance to dive behind something, and encourages the player to choose the right spot to attack from before trying to pop the things.

Offline x4000

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2013, 11:06:23 AM »
Oh, also, the platforming side, I agree with what Madcow said about the predator drones or whatever they're called, the ones that look like deranged boomerangs that do a huge spray-shot sort of explosion when killed;   the explosion from them is almost always undodgeable since they can only be hit while going fast.    A suggestion for them:   Why not have it so that instead of just exploding outright, they stop moving and flash for a second or two and THEN burst?   Gives the player a chance to dive behind something, and encourages the player to choose the right spot to attack from before trying to pop the things.

The explosion from them is really dodgeable if you set up the circumstances right:
1. Move to a long straightaway.
2. Stand still until they are almost to you, then jump over them.
3. Fire like crazy at them as they move away from you, in the window while they are decelerating.
4. Profit. ;)
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Offline madcow

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Re: Valley 2 Beta .722 "Concentrated Reports " Released!
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2013, 11:12:22 AM »
Hmm. I'll have to give that a try.  I found they always popped real close to me and all I could pretty much do is go "oh crap" before getting blasted in the face. Even at a moderate distance it's tough.  I'll see how playing bull fighter against them works.