Arcen Games

Games => Skyward Collapse => Topic started by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 12:25:48 PM

Title: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 12:25:48 PM
Trying to get this figured out so that it pitches the game in a vastly briefer format than I've managed to do so far.  Comments welcome!  I know that at the time of this writing none of you have actually played the game yet, but that's actually okay; if you're in this forum, you've probably read a ton about the game.  So here's what we're working on so far, and I'll revise this post as suggestions come in:



Game Description
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between factions without letting either side obliterate the other?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a landscape of villages when bandits and mythology are conspiring to tear it down?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen's second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You create -- but cannot control -- gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense: Heimdall's horn causes everyone outdoors to drop dead, for crying out loud.  Your task is to keep both factions alive and fighting until The Master calls you home -- but this is harder than it sounds.  Bandit Keeps pop up periodically, as do Woes such as floods, serial killers, guild strikes, and vegetarian uprisings.  Every game plays out differently, and you'll need even the craziest of your powers in order to survive what lies in store for you.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to maintain the balance of power.
* Make towns and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want by controlling the circumstances of their (brief) lives.
* 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and three active powers, help you further your goals as you pass into the Age of Monsters.
* Level up your player profile by winning games. Twelve unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up... but the strategy runs deep.
* Multiple difficulty levels let you play a very relaxed game up to a nail-bitingly difficult one.  There's no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer for up to 8 players.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Mick on April 30, 2013, 12:44:54 PM
Well, I really want to play it, so this must be doing its job.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: madcow on April 30, 2013, 01:00:00 PM
Maybe its just me, but I don't really like the line  "without letting the other side commit genocide."  Maybe others could weigh in, but I would personally prefer something like "without letting one side wipe out the other." or "keep the war perpetual and in check, without one side overpowering the other."

Saying this is a game where you need to prevent the other side from committing genocide just rubs me the wrong way, its just that specific phrasing.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 01:01:20 PM
Okay, I think that this is tighter wording in general:

Quote
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between villages without letting either side win?
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Mick on April 30, 2013, 01:06:24 PM
I think the phrase "balance of power (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_of_power_(international_relations))" should be worked in.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 01:31:04 PM
Great idea, worked that into the first bullet point. :)

Also other changes to the top description paragraphs from emailed notes from Keith.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: PokerChen on April 30, 2013, 01:51:47 PM
How wordy should it really be? Here are some of my impressions with biases towards subtlety. Feel three to take and refine anything that jumps out.

On Game Description..
I'm not all that keen on 100% second-person descriptions, and for the lack of a better term, the logic-flow tastes of US-marketing influences (i.e. question, answer, method triplet). Wouldn't actually catch me all that well. My first attempt to rephrase it thus:

Enter the role of a conflicted Creator, tasked to create an endless arms-race that is balanced on a knife-edge. In this living board game, you will create two proud civilisations and their pantheons as the pieces rise into place. Under their own free will, they will thrive, build, and most of all massacre each other across the floating world of Luminith. Your celestial master is inscrutable, and his demands are unyielding. He will have maximum carnage. What does it take to achieve stalemate in the midst of powerful artifacts and capricious godlings? Will you achieve your master's perfect vision, or will you fade into obscurity as just another myth?

Shepherd the unwilling. Fuel their bloodlust. Maintain absolute equilibrium.


Game Features...
> * Choose from among 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and active powers, to further your goals during rounds 2 and 3 of each game.

I would suggest: "...to further your goals as the game develops over three phases."
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 02:09:47 PM
That's mostly a really different style from what I'm terribly comfortable with.  It also comes off a little generic to me, just because the statements there are so broad that they could refer to anything.  I'm not saying that the way I've started with it is the only way I'll consider, but I think it gets the uniqueness across better; and let's be honest, this is all about you-the-player in a god game.  You're not controlling an avatar, as with most games.  Hence the second person.  But I think a lot of that is just down to taste, honestly.

Under the game features one, very good note, and I've changed that.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Cinth on April 30, 2013, 02:13:37 PM

Enter the role of a conflicted Creator, tasked to create an endless arms-race that is balanced on a knife-edge. In this living board game, you will create two proud civilisations and their pantheons as the pieces rise into place. Under their own free will, they will thrive, build, and most of all massacre each other across the floating world of Luminith. Your celestial master is inscrutable, and his demands are unyielding. He will have maximum carnage. What does it take to achieve stalemate in the midst of powerful artifacts and capricious godlings? Will you achieve your master's perfect vision, or will you fade into obscurity as just another myth?

Shepherd the unwilling. Fuel their bloodlust. Maintain absolute equilibrium.

To me this reads like the flavor text on the back of a console game case/box.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: JAlfredGoodwin on April 30, 2013, 02:22:40 PM
Quote
Arcen's second full strategy tile
Title?

Quote
How do you build larger towns while bandits and powerful artifacts are upending them?
Upend is an unusual and IMO poor word choice.  Perhaps, "while bandits and powerful artifacts try to tear them down?"

Also, if you are the Creator, then how do you have a Celestial Master? Perhaps it would be better to say something like World Builder?
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 02:25:29 PM
Great on the first two notes, changed -- thanks. :)

In terms of The Creator and The Master, that's what they are actually called in the game, and that won't change.  There is a humorous thing coming soon that will make more of the backstory clear.  At any rate, you're the upper-middle management of the cosmos, basically. ;)
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: JAlfredGoodwin on April 30, 2013, 02:32:55 PM
Great on the first two notes, changed -- thanks. :)

In terms of The Creator and The Master, that's what they are actually called in the game, and that won't change.  There is a humorous thing coming soon that will make more of the backstory clear.  At any rate, you're the upper-middle management of the cosmos, basically. ;)

Does that mean that in Round 2 you get a trophy wife and Round 3 you are afflicted by swivel-chair spread and male pattern baldness? :D
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: PokerChen on April 30, 2013, 02:33:36 PM
As an aside, while it's all good here on the forums, I think there needs to be an effort in the blurb/previews to discourage the association of the game itself to middle-management. Who wants to play a middle-management game? ;P
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 02:45:42 PM
@JAlfredGoodwin: Hahaha, unfortunately not, but that's funny.

@zharmad: That's not something we're actively promoting, for sure!  But it's something that I find humorous, and we're always looking at the funnier side of this game.  In the same way that Boatmurdered is the hilarious side of a grim situation in DF, if that makes sense.  Or the same way that some of the murderous things the AI does in AI War are humorous.  I like that kind of humor.

In the case of The Master, we needed him in order to have the Edicts make any kind of sense.  Those were a player suggestion, and it fit really well with what we were doing; now I can't imagine the structure of the game long-term without the edicts!  But in order to have edicts to you-the-creator, there had to be some sort of higher-level entity that is giving those edicts.  Hence... a bit of a demotion. ;)
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: cupogoodness on April 30, 2013, 02:48:47 PM
As an aside, while it's all good here on the forums, I think there needs to be an effort in the blurb/previews to discourage the association of the game itself to middle-management. Who wants to play a middle-management game? ;P

Depends on how fun the gameplay is. :) I think press would absolutely love a middle-management themed game from an indie developer (if it was enjoyable to play).
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 02:51:34 PM
I think that's pretty much true about any subject that isn't an absolute taboo, so long as the game is fun.  A janitor simulator, done right, could be amazing.  The most likely outcome is obviously terrible, because that's a tall order of a game design.  But still, if it were executed well it could be great.

I mean, who would have thought that a game about running a shop could be so awesome?
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Mick on April 30, 2013, 02:55:50 PM
Janitor Dash.

Diner Dash with janitorial theme. Boom - one million+ sales on app store!

I'll accept a 1% royalty for my efforts.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 02:56:23 PM
 :D
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Penumbra on April 30, 2013, 03:36:01 PM
A janitor simulator, done right, could be amazing.

I give you: Dustforce (http://dustforce.com/)!
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Billick on April 30, 2013, 04:53:15 PM
A janitor simulator, done right, could be amazing.

I give you: Dustforce (http://dustforce.com/)!
Dustforce is a pretty amazing game. 
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: PokerChen on April 30, 2013, 05:06:27 PM
A janitor simulator, done right, could be amazing.

I give you: Dustforce (http://dustforce.com/)!
Dustforce is a pretty amazing game.

Probably the most benign application of ninja and kung-fu skills ever to grace a game.

On the prospects of a middle-management game done right, well I've said this before in the PoE alpha - it needs to be more enjoyable than work. :P Otherwise, I'll just middle-manage in real life. *encourages workplace carnage*

EDIT: Thus, in this vein completive multiplayer in this game needs to have board meetings between rival Creators. You bid to have edicts bestowed upon your assignment.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Cyprene on April 30, 2013, 06:15:24 PM
Nitpicky comments inbound:

Quote
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between villages without letting either side win?
Could this be just "a war"?  "Villages" sounds kind of tiny and small scale, like I'm giving Bob the farmer a pitchfork to go stab Cletus on his donkey.


Quote
How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?

This is a cool, cool quote.  It's something your game does that nobody else has tried, and it's a fun concept.


Quote
How do you build larger towns while bandits and powerful artifacts are trying to tear them down?


The artifacts are trying to tear down my towns?  Are they like, floating sentient swords or something?  Like Excalibur floats up to my walls and starts trying to hack them down?  That's kind of cool if it's true, but is that what this is trying to say?


Quote
All in service to a larger end veiled even from you, though you suspect the "butterfly effect" is involved.

This last sentence strikes me as kind of weak, and not just because it's a sentence fragment.  Not sure how I'd improve it offhand, but it seems disjointed from the rest of the paragraph. 

Quote
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to encourage conflict while maintaining balance of power.
Should this be "the balance of power"?

Quote
* Make towns, trade, diplomacy, and war as the boardgame-like floating island continues to construct itself around you.
This is the first time in the text you've used the phrased "island" to describe the game board.  In the first paragraph it's the "floating world of Luminth", and so it's not entirely clear what you're talking about here.  Why not replace both "island" and "world" with "floating continent?"

 
Quote
* Choose from among 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and active powers, to further your goals as the game develops over three rounds.
I second the guy who said "phases" instead of "rounds."  I remember the first time I read that it was three rounds, I thought to myself "Wow that must be a really, really short game.  I make a move on one side, then another, and repeat that twice and I'm done?"  Took me a minute to figure out what you actually meant; for a while I thought it was going to be one of those microgames that you play over lunch break, like Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space. 


Quote
* Level up your player profile by completing up to 100 side challenges as you play; 10 related unlockable buildings in all!
Pretty sure that semicolon shouldn't go there. 

Quote
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up... but the strategy runs deep.
This is very good.  I like AI War, but it is... intimidating at first glance. 

Quote
* 41 Edicts (extra victory requirements) in three difficulty tiers help keep the game fresh every time you play.  There's no one best way to win!
Also good.  That last sentence is kind of an Arcen trademark.



Hope this helps a little.  I know I personally have been really carefully reading the copy on Steam since Greenlight started, and Valve started putting up games that were unfinished or very low quality.  Grammatical errors and unclear writing are my clue that the game's being made by a dude in his garage in Nigeria, and I should think before I plunk down the money for it. 

Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Pepisolo on April 30, 2013, 07:12:11 PM
Some good points from Cyprene, there. Looks pretty good aside from those. Here are a few thoughts, though.


"How do you build larger towns while bandits and powerful artifacts are trying to tear them down?"

This line seems clunky to me. Maybe something broader would be better. Something like: How do you maintain equilibrium (or the status quo) while bandits and powerful artifacts (?) are intent on spreading anarchy?


"and frees you to tackle these problems in your own style"

Would prefer in your own "way" I think, rather than "style".


"All in service to a larger end veiled even from you, though you suspect the "butterfly effect" is involved."

I would just cut the "though you suspect..." bit. Sounds more mysterious and intriguing without it.


Definitely reads like an eye-catching twist on the 4x genre, though. Good job.

Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 08:30:29 PM
Lots of comments, but just to respond to a few (and many other changes have been made to the original text based on your thoughts -- thanks!)

Quote
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between villages without letting either side win?
Could this be just "a war"?  "Villages" sounds kind of tiny and small scale, like I'm giving Bob the farmer a pitchfork to go stab Cletus on his donkey.

Well... this is a good point in some ways, but in other ways you've about got the right of it.  Maybe "towns" instead of villages would give a better impression.  This is not an all-out war on the scale of something like AI War, where there are vast armies going around.  You are training professional military units, it's true, along with mythological creatures that do great harm.  And it's also true that there are bandits that pop out to get you, etc.  That said, this isn't army-on-army battle.  It's about individual units running around and doing stuff for the short while that they survive, generally. ;)

In other words, the combat is consistent and potentially intense, but the scale of the units never gets too huge (that would also get tedious).  In some respects that makes this a bit like a tactics game, except you can't control the tactics and you're using strategy to make the tactics play out (most likely) how you want).  But I've drifted off point: what I originally was trying to say that the combat tends to stay small-scale because guys don't live very long.  They're all bloodthirsty, and you can't tell them not to fight, so only one of two things are going to happen: a) they are going to go ravage the other side's towns while you do nothing; b) you're going to help the other side raise a counter-force and thus that first bloodthirsty dude is going to die.  And back and forth from there.

Anyhow, there's also a distinct town-on-town flavor here.  You can build multiple towns per faction (and in longer games, will need to), and each town pretty much just wars (or tries for diplomacy) with its nearest neighbor.  If one town falls then it flips allegiances, and the balance of power swings pretty heavily.  That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you're going to wield your god powers.  At any rate, it makes the town-on-town aspect pretty important.

For now I'm going to change that word to "towns," because I think it helps to set the tone properly without giving the Cletus vibe.  All that said, I really do see your point and remain unsure about this.  Further thoughts welcome, especially now that I've given a bit more context as to why that word was in there to begin with.

Quote
How do you build larger towns while bandits and powerful artifacts are trying to tear them down?


The artifacts are trying to tear down my towns?  Are they like, floating sentient swords or something?  Like Excalibur floats up to my walls and starts trying to hack them down?  That's kind of cool if it's true, but is that what this is trying to say?


Yeah, this really isn't worded right, and you're the first to point it out, but I already was feeling unhappy with that line.  Yes, the bandits are trying to tear down your town, but the artifacts are not... well, not quite.  In the game lingo there's not anything actually called "artifacts" in the first place.  Let me explain how this actually works, briefly, so that perhaps folks can help me improve the wording here.  These are the myriad of game mechanics I was trying to refer to with artifacts:

1. Mythological Tokens (Global Effect): These are kind of like "global enchantments" in MTG.  Basically, you place one of these for a faction (at a hefty specialized resource cost), and then something happens to all your dudes (or all the enemy dudes, or all buildings of a certain sort, or whatever) for X number of turns.  Typically something substantial changes for 3-5 turns.

2. Mythological Tokens (Unit Pickups): These are kind of like "enchant creatures" in MTG.  You place one of these for a faction (again at a hefty specialized resource cost)... and then various units vie for it.  Typically the first 5 units of either side (or bandits) to reach it will get whatever the bonus is.  Some of them are limited to only ranged units or only mythological creatures or whatever, so everyone else ignores it.  But these things confer a permanent status effect of some sort onto the units that pick them up, making them more powerful in some unique way.

3. Ruins (Unit Pickups): Sometimes you can control these, a lot of times (depending on the map type) they just pop up themselves.  These work basically like mythological tokens in that they give status bonuses to the first 5 dudes to reach them.  Anybody but a god can go visit these, and will, of their own accord.  There's a set list of more generic bonuses here, rather than the faction-specific stuff from the mythological tokens.  But these upgrades can still swing the normal balance of power around in a moderate fashion for a short while.

Thus far, the first three things we've talked about are all "moderate effects" for the most part.  These have a sizable effect on the game, but it's not nuclear-warhead levels of drastic.

4. God Tokens: Each god has 3 of these, so there are 48 of them in all.  There are a very small number of duplicates between gods (maybe 6-8 out of 48, I've not counted it up), but the gods themselves are all unique.  These god tokens range from "very serious" in consequences to "cataclysmic."  Holy moly are these OP.  That's not exploitable, that's actually a problem for you since you're trying to maintain balance.  But if you want to really do well, you need to use these things... and then figure out how to recover from what you just did to yourself. ;)  The mechanic is that the god related to the token immediately seeks it out once you place it, and then when they reach it the effect immediately happens.

A few example god tokens:
Mjolnir (Thor): When he reaches Mjolnir, he immediately destroys the entire nearest enemy town, including the town center. This token cannot be placed on a building.
Reginnaglar (Njord): All allied buildings that currently exist get a permanent 100% bonus to their health based on their base health.
Skadi's Skis (Skadi): All allied units currently on the board gain the power to cross mountains at no movement penalty.
Gjallarhorn (Heimdall): All non-god units on the map, allied, enemy, and bandit -- all get killed at once, and his faction gets the destruction points for all of them.  (This is the horn he blows at the start of the end of the world, in mythology).
Bow (Apollo): All allied archery range units on the board at the time become invulnerable for 10 turns.  (Um... ow.  Archery units are already really intense as it is, since they can attack from range without taking damage).
Necklace of Harmonia (Athena): Every unit on her faction is killed, however your resources are increased by 4x the number of resources required to create each unit.
Serpent (Ares): All bandits on the board join your faction.


And so on and so forth.  So when it comes to "artifacts," I was referring to these various kinds of tokens.  These aren't things that just come out of the woodwork to screw with you (ruins aside, and those don't have an enormous impact most of the time).  They are things that you willingly, intentionally, do to yourself.  "Bring me the whipping switch, boy."  In order to meet the criteria of your edicts, or complete challenges, or just pursue a high score, these are things you have to inflict on yourself.  And then once you've inflicted one thing on yourself, that kind of sets of a chain reaction of things you have to do in order to continuously try to maintain that balance of power.

Round 1 of the game is comparably tame because you don't have any gods or god tokens yet.  It's all positioning and setting up your towns, and other moderate effects like the mythological creatures and mythological tokens.  You can rack up a lot of success there, and it's an important part of the game, but you're not likely to completely blow your leg off by accident in that round.  Once the gods come out... watch out.

All of that is actually way more interesting than just talking about "artifacts" threatening your towns, but I have no idea how to condense all that down!

Quote
* Choose from among 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and active powers, to further your goals as the game develops over three rounds.
I second the guy who said "phases" instead of "rounds."  I remember the first time I read that it was three rounds, I thought to myself "Wow that must be a really, really short game.  I make a move on one side, then another, and repeat that twice and I'm done?"  Took me a minute to figure out what you actually meant; for a while I thought it was going to be one of those microgames that you play over lunch break, like Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space. 

Definitely not a micro-game in any sense, though it's not so long as AI War.  I've just cut the wording about three rounds in general, as it added nothing substantial except this confusion. ;)

Hope this helps a little.  I know I personally have been really carefully reading the copy on Steam since Greenlight started, and Valve started putting up games that were unfinished or very low quality.  Grammatical errors and unclear writing are my clue that the game's being made by a dude in his garage in Nigeria, and I should think before I plunk down the money for it.

It helps a lot, and I really appreciate it.  I've noticed how Greenlight has affected people, too. :)
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 08:35:48 PM
"How do you build larger towns while bandits and powerful artifacts are trying to tear them down?"

This line seems clunky to me. Maybe something broader would be better. Something like: How do you maintain equilibrium (or the status quo) while bandits and powerful artifacts (?) are intent on spreading anarchy?

Agreed that this is clunky, and see my detailed notes above.  I'm a bit stuck on this.  One thing that I did one to emphasize, however, is that this is partly a city-builder like Pharaoh or whatever.  The economy isn't quite that in-depth, but goodness there are like 30 resources here, heh.  The learning curve on those is pretty low thanks to the interface, though, and to the fact that it's not lengthy splitting chains on resource requirements.

"and frees you to tackle these problems in your own style"

Would prefer in your own "way" I think, rather than "style".

Good point, changed it.

"All in service to a larger end veiled even from you, though you suspect the "butterfly effect" is involved."

I would just cut the "though you suspect..." bit. Sounds more mysterious and intriguing without it.

What do you think about the revised version that's up there now?  By the way, the game itself never explains what the point of the edicts is, although some secondary material we're developing will give a bit more explanation.  So the main thing I'm trying to avoid the sense that this is "pointless arbitrary rules" in terms of edicts.  Of course, with any game rules you could say they are pointless and arbitrary, so it's a thought that may not even occur to most players at all.  Quite likely I'm overthinking this, and potentially the entire last line could just be cut for brevity anyhow, or replaced with something more interesting about all those god powers above.

Definitely reads like an eye-catching twist on the 4x genre, though. Good job.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Pepisolo on April 30, 2013, 09:03:44 PM
Quick reply before I go to sleep.

"What do you think about the revised version that's up there now?"

Not much better really, I don't think. I think I preferred this... "All in service to a larger end veiled even from you" albeit without the "Butterfly Effect" effect stuff. This line on its own leaves me with a feeling of intrigue, as if there is going to be some kind of hidden plot to uncover . Seems nice to end the main text with something mysterious like this. As a player I can uncover the "Butterfly Effect" stuff on my own (if it is uncoverable, of course).

Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on April 30, 2013, 09:11:28 PM
as if there is going to be some kind of hidden plot to uncover .
As a player I can uncover the "Butterfly Effect" stuff on my own (if it is uncoverable, of course).

It's not, hence the problem.  If you read some supplementary materials it's revealed there, and we might include those materials as something in the game itself that you can see.  But there's no story to this game or progression of lore in terms of in-game stuff.  No more so than there is in AI War or Civilization IV or skirmishes in AOEIII or whatever.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: PokerChen on May 01, 2013, 01:20:39 AM
Quote
How do you build larger towns while bandits and powerful artifacts are trying to tear them down?

On this point, I wasn't not sure how much Civilisation is going to be in the game when I re-wrote the passage. I get the impression that a town is a single-tiled object that contained a list of building, and units will spawn from these building. Do they instead sprawl and visibly grow as you develop then? It's clear that there is no doctrine of total-war intrinsic to the people, but they fight and many of the example artifacts boost that rather than work on towns themselves. There also does not seem to be an over-arching empire with each town doing their own thing with every other town (i.e. not killing their allies).

If the tokens are mostly god-based, I think it may be better to mention the gods directly in the text, rather than as individual artifacts. There is a large difference of intent between things like Mjolnir, vase of aquarius, Hermes' Lyre, etc., versus Excalibur, golden fleece, etc. I presume both are in the game.

So, what about something along the lines of... How do you build thriving cities (or a thriving landscape?) against the threat of bandits and mythological powers? Could use another word for town/city...
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Cyprene on May 01, 2013, 02:24:14 AM
I may have some more comments tomorrow.  That artifact thing is really impressive, actually.  I'll try and think of a way to condense it down.

Something occurred to me that you may want to think about.  Whenever I'm describing AI War to people, the part I always talk about is the attack on the AI Home Fortress: my fleet of thousands upon thousands of ships, firing everything they've got at this massive, impenetrable shield while the AI's gigantic guns hammer back.  Dozens or hundreds of ships dying with every blast of the fortress's cannons.  That, for me, is the defining moment of that game: the experience it offers that no other game does.

Is there a similar defining moment for Skyward Collapse, and if so, what is it? 
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 01, 2013, 09:02:38 AM
Quote
How do you build larger towns while bandits and powerful artifacts are trying to tear them down?

On this point, I wasn't not sure how much Civilisation is going to be in the game when I re-wrote the passage. I get the impression that a town is a single-tiled object that contained a list of building, and units will spawn from these building. Do they instead sprawl and visibly grow as you develop then?

Yeah, that's a good point -- our screenshots thus far have not shown that, or even the units, for that matter!  Will have to rectify that soon.  At any rate, yeah -- town centers are a single tile, and then there are two rings of town buildings possible around them (for a total of 24 buildings that can be ringed around a single TC).  We started out with just one ring, aiming for smaller (more specialized) towns, but with just 8 slots for buildings it's impossible to fit everything in.  Towns need a variety of buildings to stay healthy and not succumb to crime, bandits, or the other faction.

And that's just the buildings in a town.  All of the raw-resource producers (as opposed to "finished goods" producers) are located outside of town.  Your chapmen ferry goods from the raw resource producers into the town center, from which the raw resources can be used in any town.  The finished goods require a producer in a specific town for when it comes to military units that are auto-produced there, though.  So your store of pigs and sheep from outlying pig farms is universal, but your supply of bacon or mutton at a single town depends on the presence of a butcher.  Same with the need for fletchers, carpenters, stone masons, and so on and so forth.  As you unlock further things, you get into stuff like wells and breweries.

It's clear that there is no doctrine of total-war intrinsic to the people, but they fight and many of the example artifacts boost that rather than work on towns themselves. There also does not seem to be an over-arching empire with each town doing their own thing with every other town (i.e. not killing their allies).

Right.  It's a collection of independent towns.  There's no organization of the units at all, they all pursue their own independent agendas.  The agendas are fairly predictable (except when things get complicated), so you can guide your folks by guiding the circumstances.  That's a big part of how you "trick" your guys to doing what you want: give them few options in a given circumstance, or put them into a situation where you can predict their reactions with some fairly high degree of accuracy.

If the tokens are mostly god-based, I think it may be better to mention the gods directly in the text, rather than as individual artifacts. There is a large difference of intent between things like Mjolnir, vase of aquarius, Hermes' Lyre, etc., versus Excalibur, golden fleece, etc. I presume both are in the game.

Overall there are 64 tokens, and 48 of them come from the gods, so yeah.  8 are available to each faction throughout each game, and then a further 3 are available to each faction per each god they choose (so by round 3, if both your gods are still living at a given faction, you've got 14 tokens total available to you).  So it depends on how you look at it: in the course of a given game, the larger number of tokens are actually the mythological ones.  But overall the god tokens vastly outnumber the mythological ones.  At any rate, making more mention of the gods is a really good idea.

So, what about something along the lines of... How do you build thriving cities (or a thriving landscape?) against the threat of bandits and mythological powers? Could use another word for town/city...

Great thought.  This is what I went with, though it's a bit more wordy than yours:

How do you build a thriving landscape of villages against the threat of bandits and mythological powers?

It's wordy, but I think that "thriving landscape of villages" is inherently kind of evocative and interesting, and it gets the point across better that a) there is a landscape and b) multiple towns.  Which I think is what you were getting at, I just used both your words instead of choosing one like I think you had intended. ;)
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 01, 2013, 09:20:08 AM
I may have some more comments tomorrow.  That artifact thing is really impressive, actually.  I'll try and think of a way to condense it down.

Always appreciated, and thanks for the kind words. :)

Something occurred to me that you may want to think about.  Whenever I'm describing AI War to people, the part I always talk about is the attack on the AI Home Fortress: my fleet of thousands upon thousands of ships, firing everything they've got at this massive, impenetrable shield while the AI's gigantic guns hammer back.  Dozens or hundreds of ships dying with every blast of the fortress's cannons.  That, for me, is the defining moment of that game: the experience it offers that no other game does.

Is there a similar defining moment for Skyward Collapse, and if so, what is it?

It's hard to say, honestly.  Even with AI War, it's hard to say to some extent -- that's the defining moment for you when it comes to AI War, but to me that's just kind of the last formality.  It's not that victory at the end of a long game is a formality, as you know (unlike other RTS games), but what I mean is that it's just not that exciting for me.  What I love most is split between the early and middle game: a) I really love the expansion into nearby planets, and the sense of that "gold rush" to set up an early empire based on what I find before the AI can really react; and b) I absolutely love the back-and-forth in the middle of the game, when I am overreaching myself a bit and the AI and I are trading control (militarily speaking) of a central planet or two while I look for further targets to jump off to.

In other words, I think that the defining aspect of the AI War experience is that it makes you feel like an awesome space commander, based on what most people have said and how I myself feel.  But what evokes that feeling most varies from person to person.  I think that some people get that feeling most just from the mere fact of playing 10/10 games and being in a constant struggle with the AI.  So in other words, I think that the defining feature is more of an emotion, more of an abstract feeling, rather than a specific event -- when you're talking about general people, not a specific individual.

Speaking of Skyward itself... I think that the emotion (to me) boils down to a few things:

1. Building a really pretty and satisfyingly functional landscape.

2. Having the godlike power to really smash up anything I feel like.  If bandits are really giving me problems, I have some pretty huge things I can use against them if I've played it smart up until that point.  In other words, really feeling somewhat all-powerful despite the challenges and constraints that are put on you.

3. Figuring out ways to kick myself in the teeth as hard as I can, and then get back up and use that as an actual advantage.  Most of the god powers, in some senses, are a kick in the teeth.  Josh has actually been a bit worried that people won't use the more powerful ones, some of which I detailed above.  Those things are devastating to whatever you were doing.  But the thing is, if you want to win and win well, there's so much cleverness you can exercise with those god powers.  Which gods you choose matters, and which god powers you activate when matters, and how you set up your towns prior, during, and after that matters.  You can do all sorts of (for lack of a better term) combos with those pieces, to get desired effects.  To me this sort of thing is fun, because I'm setting the bar higher and higher for myself, and then struggling to reach it.  The edicts and so forth set minimum bars, and the challenges cause you added troubles if you reach for too many at once, but there's also a certain "what awesomeness can I pull off today" aspect to the game, which gets expressed as a high score.  Normally I'm not the sort to care about scores, but I think it's more interesting here.

4. Speaking of emotions, this game is mostly pretty chill.  Like Sim City or Pharaoh or Civilization, I find all those games pretty relaxed.  They are turn-based, the music isn't trying to freak you out, and the pace and scale is such that you can understand things from the starting small scale and then all along as the scale grows.  It's really different from AI War where it's hugely intimidating from the start, both in terms of complexity (as a new player) and in terms of the scenario (in terms of your odds of winning even if you are extremely experienced).  That is in no way saying that Skyward is an easy game (heck, SimCity and Civilization are both extremely difficult, or can be), but I think that being fairly chill is common to most simulation games and god games.  Sure there are times when you are ripping your hair out or screaming at the screen, but it's different from being on a clock or being David vs Goliath.  I don't think I expressed myself very well on this point, but hopefully that makes some semblance of sense. ;)


I think that the key phrase "landscape of villages" that was just added in the last post really gets at #1 and #4 off my list, there.  For #2 and #3... I'm not sure how well those are coming across at all.  I think so far the pitch is "come for the fun," whereas it might should be "come for the fun, stay for the pain." ;)
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 01, 2013, 09:21:17 AM
Archiving the current version, before I make some potentially substantial edits:

Current Version Before Changes:

Game Description
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between towns without letting either side win?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a thriving landscape of villages against the threat of bandits and mythological powers?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen's second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  Greek and Norse gods, creatures, and men are yours to create... but not control.  In His infinite wisdom, your celestial Master gave your minions free will.  Luminith is a world of warring factions and roaming bandits, and your assignment includes maximizing warfare without wiping out either side -- while meeting additional requirements that The Master has set forth.  The Master assures you that all of this is in service to some larger end that you don't understand, noting only that the "butterfly effect" is involved.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to encourage conflict while maintaining the balance of power.
* Make towns, trade, diplomacy, and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want through incentives as well as controlling what buildings and resources they have access to.
* Choose from among 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and active powers, to further your goals as the game develops.
* Level up your player profile by completing up to 100 side challenges as you play. 10 related unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up... but the strategy runs deep.
* 41 Edicts (extra victory requirements) in three difficulty tiers help keep the game fresh every time you play.  There's no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer planned for 1.0 (but not available from the start of beta).
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 01, 2013, 09:31:20 AM
All right, this isn't perfect but the second paragraph is a lot more interesting now (the first paragraph is unchanged from the prior post).  The second para was too repetitive and off-topic in the original version, anyhow.  I kind of buried the lead.  I think this one gets at the core essence better, although it's probably too wordy among other problems.  I just wrote it, though, so I need a bit of distance before I'll be able to personally see my way through many edits on it.


Game Description
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between towns without letting either side win?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a thriving landscape of villages against the threat of bandits and mythological powers?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen's second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  At your disposal are many of the gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense.  We're not kidding: as one example, Gjallarhorn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead.  Your task is not undirected, though you have great freedom in how you go about it: you have various Edicts that you must fulfill in order to win, as well as many tempting Challenges that unlock more buildings and units.  Wielding your powers to their utmost takes skill and planning both in terms of how you use and deploy your mortals and your gods.  Your choice to use the most powerful abilities makes your core goals harder, not easier; but with the proper planning, they can also launch you to new stratospheres of success.

EDIT: Okay, I lied, I already made a bunch of updates to this in the OP.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Pepisolo on May 01, 2013, 10:37:00 AM
Here are my thoughts as I read through the latest draft.

First paragraph look very good now.


"Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith."

Just to clarify. Are you actually building the continent? Or are you just building on it? From reading this line I keep thinking that you're actually directly constructing an island. Not sure whether that is the case or not. If so, then this line is fine.


"At your disposal are many of the gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology."

This is pretty good, although the old "Create, but not control" was a nice line. Skyward Collapse: To Create yet not Control.


"We're not kidding: as one example, Gjallarhorn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead."

Don't like this. Breaks up the flow of the text and seems like a quirky aside from the developer.


"Your task is not undirected, though you have great freedom in how you go about it: you have various Edicts (set down by the Master?) that you must fulfill in order to win, as well as many tempting Challenges that unlock more buildings and units."

Seems fine. You could mention the Master here, I suppose. Not sure whether you'd want to, though.


"Wielding your powers to their utmost takes skill and planning both in terms of how you use and deploy your mortals and your gods."

Good. I guess you do control your mortals and gods then?


"Your choice to use the most powerful abilities makes your core goals harder, not easier; but with the proper planning, they can also launch you to new stratospheres of success."

I like this, I think. It's a bit head-scratchy, but in the good intriguing way.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 01, 2013, 01:09:52 PM
"Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith."

Just to clarify. Are you actually building the continent? Or are you just building on it? From reading this line I keep thinking that you're actually directly constructing an island. Not sure whether that is the case or not. If so, then this line is fine.

Yes, you are building the continent itself.  You can't place buildings on existing land, for instance.  Instead, you place pieces of land that have buildings on them, making the continent bigger.  You can also directly place land pieces yourself, or smite them and replace them (which sometimes you want or do not want a mountain range, or want to use some marshes to your advantage, or whatever).


"At your disposal are many of the gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology."

This is pretty good, although the old "Create, but not control" was a nice line. Skyward Collapse: To Create yet not Control.

True, that was a good line.  I've worked that back in, though I'm not sure if the way I did it is ideal just yet.

"We're not kidding: as one example, Gjallarhorn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead."

Don't like this. Breaks up the flow of the text and seems like a quirky aside from the developer.

That's actually why I did that -- as an aside from the developer.  I agree it's a big tone shift, and I'm not sure it's appropriate, but it's something I wanted to experiment with.  Having some degree of connection with the developer, and having a sense of actual authorship of the work, is a big part of why a lot of people like indie games, I think.  Even the larger indie teams with 15-20 people start to feel kind of impersonal from a customer side, I think.

I also really think it's important to give a very specific and interesting example of a god token that is crazy, because speaking in specifics rather than generalities is a good thing.  So keeping that part of the idea is something I'm likely to stick to in some form.  As for the aside from the developer... that I'm not sure on.

"Your task is not undirected, though you have great freedom in how you go about it: you have various Edicts (set down by the Master?) that you must fulfill in order to win, as well as many tempting Challenges that unlock more buildings and units."

Seems fine. You could mention the Master here, I suppose. Not sure whether you'd want to, though.

I think mentioning The Master doesn't really serve a purpose anymore, aside from making the explanation more complicated.  I'm trying to drive at the core points and ignore everything else as much I can, this time around.

"Wielding your powers to their utmost takes skill and planning both in terms of how you use and deploy your mortals and your gods."

Good. I guess you do control your mortals and gods then?

Not directly, no.  I explained that in painstaking detail a few posts back up on exactly how that works.  But basically you bribe them or trick them, more or less.  Or restrict what they CAN do so that they do what you want.

"Your choice to use the most powerful abilities makes your core goals harder, not easier; but with the proper planning, they can also launch you to new stratospheres of success."

I like this, I think. It's a bit head-scratchy, but in the good intriguing way.

Well, that's good. :)  I reworded it some in the OP, but just for flow and clarity.  I think it's good with a game like this to end on a "What? How does THAT work?" sort of note.  We're trading on the idea of uniqueness here as the main selling point, as with all Arcen titles, I think.  And fun obviously.  But there's lots of non-unique fun things out there, and the non-uniqueness starts to make them less fun.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: tigersfan on May 01, 2013, 01:21:42 PM
"Your task is not undirected, though you have great freedom in how you go about it: you have various Edicts (set down by the Master?) that you must fulfill in order to win, as well as many tempting Challenges that unlock more buildings and units."

Seems fine. You could mention the Master here, I suppose. Not sure whether you'd want to, though.

I think mentioning The Master doesn't really serve a purpose anymore, aside from making the explanation more complicated.  I'm trying to drive at the core points and ignore everything else as much I can, this time around.

Totally agreed with you here, Chris. Let's let the "other" thing you've been hinting about talk about the Master, not the store copy. :)
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Pepisolo on May 01, 2013, 02:57:14 PM
Quote
True, that was a good line.  I've worked that back in, though I'm not sure if the way I did it is ideal just yet.

Looks pretty good to me.

Quote
Wielding your powers to their utmost takes skill and planning in how you use and deploy both your mortals and gods.

I see this has been cleaned up a little (placement of the word both). However, is this sentence meant to read that you can use and deploy both mortals and gods? This is how it reads to me. Or should it be more specific, possibly saying "how you use your mortals and how you deploy your gods". Are mortals deployable?

Quote
That's actually why I did that -- as an aside from the developer.

As a deliberate aside, I think it'd work better in parentheses. Mingled into the main text it just seems jarring.

Much improved marketing copy, overall, though. Good job everyone.



Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Mánagarmr on May 01, 2013, 03:16:44 PM
Quote
That's actually why I did that -- as an aside from the developer.

As a deliberate aside, I think it'd work better in parentheses. Mingled into the main text it just seems jarring.

Much improved marketing copy, overall, though. Good job everyone.
Agreed. This is kind of the same thing as with the AI:War texts where you put in an "oh, and the AI commanders..." instead of "The AI commanders..." It just made the whole thing sound snarky, rather than funny.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: mrhanman on May 01, 2013, 03:21:36 PM
Quote from: x4000
We're not kidding: as one example, Gjallarhorn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead.

While I don't think mentioning a specific god and its powers is a bad thing, I would prefer it be one more easily pronounced.  I'm not sure why, but this is really sticking in my craw (might be related to this (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheUnpronounceable)).  Other than that, it sounds great!  I think it would entice me to buy the game even if I knew nothing about it.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 01, 2013, 04:03:10 PM
Okay, the current:

Quote
Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You can create -- but not control -- gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense.  (As one example, Heimdall's horn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead.)  Your task is not undirected, though you have great freedom in how you go about it: Edicts of varying difficulty set extra requirements for your victory, and you can simultaneously pursue Challenges that unlock more buildings and units.  Wielding your powers to their utmost takes skill and planning in how you influence both your mortals and gods.  Your choice to use the most powerful abilities makes your core goals harder, not easier; but with the proper strategy, they can also launch you to new heights of success.

I see what you mean on Gjallarhorn, although we didn't make that name up (or indeed any of the names up, other than Xiphos, which is the literal word for "sword" in Greek).  But I do see what you mean.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Teal_Blue on May 01, 2013, 06:50:38 PM
Just wanted to say that what you have up there on the first page now is just about perfect!  :)  I really, really like how it is worded and seems very clear and interesting! Am impatiently waiting to play the game! 

-Teal

Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 01, 2013, 07:04:29 PM
Thank you!
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: PokerChen on May 02, 2013, 04:10:29 AM
Looking much better.

At the moment, I don't quite see how the replayability will be extended beyond the number of edicts I choose to take and the units I can set loose. It reads to me that the creator controls almost every variable in the eponymous creation of the island. In this regard, the blurb does not the reveal potential sources of randomisation:

- When I create the island, do I play a game of Carcassone with all the tiles in my hand? Or do I play whatever is available to me at the time so I can't easily do things like place village on hill -> make killzone with marsh -> stock archers -> village become invincible to melee units.

- I can bring into being any god in every game?

- Does there exist drand() in the creatures' decision algorithms? (Is it is just irand() or no rand() at all?)

 The blurb seems to me as a more of a bloodied-zen exercise in discovering best moves. After I find satisfaction, I will stop playing (that's not actually a bad thing). Essentially, my primary fear is 100% player-driven optimisation. While it's true that the game is highly complex, it will not take long before a small set of seemingly-optimal strategies are found - such as chess. The key decision for freshness is when to step off the grid, there is no pRNG to push you. Whereas in AIWar much of the fun was in the pRNG - nothing like discovering teleport raider+battlestations (although not really viable for high-difficulty), or Zombard+TDL, to decidedly change your options.

= = =

I can see where this may end up going - a strategically masochistic 4X-god game. One can only hope the tokens implemented will play off each other and produce desired outcomes. I foresee complaints along the lines of "I buffed the Greek archers with invincibility, but they didn't go on the attack!".

Free-will is a fickle thing.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 02, 2013, 09:11:57 AM
Looking much better.

At the moment, I don't quite see how the replayability will be extended beyond the number of edicts I choose to take and the units I can set loose. It reads to me that the creator controls almost every variable in the eponymous creation of the island. In this regard, the blurb does not the reveal potential sources of randomisation:

In terms of controlling every variable: no, you don't.  Most of the land tiles that pop up are not by your choosing, and the bandits popping in are also not by your choosing.  We also have some other stuff that we probably won't introduce before profiles reach a few levels in (to give players a bit of breathing room at the start).  Josh and I have talked about a "suggestions" mechanic from The Master, but lately I've been thinking a "propositions" (not in that sense) mechanic from units themselves might be more interesting.

There's also randomization in a very butterfly-effect sort of fashion.  In other words, just having a few tiles different, or a guy making a random roll slightly differently, means that the outcomes are different.  For instance, I had a scenario that I was testing just last night to make sure something worked: Adamantine, a mythological token.  It gives the one dude who picks it up 100x his normal health and attack -- holy heck, right!?  But it also spawns 20 bandits at the end of that turn.  In one outing of this, he killed all the bandits within a few turns and had 65% of his health remaining.  In another 14/20 of the bandits were remaining after he died.  The difference there was both in which bandits appeared, and where.

Anyhow, there are already a triumvirate of goals in any game as it stands:
1. Make it to the end without failing your edicts or having genocide.
2. Make the highest score possible... because, come on, it shows you're awesome. ;)
3. Work on the 100 challenges, which unlock new stuff, and which are not something you'll blow through in a couple of hours.

In other words, for $5 the replay value is completely off the hook.  I wouldn't say that it has AI War levels of replayability by any stretch, but neither did AI War when AI War first came out.  If Skyward takes off, I hope to do with this what we've done with AI War, in terms of the combination of free DLC and paid DLC to keep it growing for a long time.  Of course, I've said that with every game since AI War and that's never happened -- but we've never broken even, let alone made a profit, on any game but AI War either.

Anyhow, I get what you're getting at above, but I'm not yet sure how to really address that beyond what is already stated.  It already talks about the challenges in the bullet points, it makes a big deal about both bandits and free will, and it implies heavily that figuring out an optimal strategy is super hard.  All those things, when I read them, say "replayability."  I don't mean that in a snarky way: different things pique different people, so I'm just genuinely not sure what is the missing element for you and am trying to find out.

- When I create the island, do I play a game of Carcassone with all the tiles in my hand?

It's funny you mention the randomization of what you can place in Carcassone-like fashion.  That's exactly how this game started and was conceived.  And oh MAN was it not fun.

Or do I play whatever is available to me at the time so I can't easily do things like place village on hill -> make killzone with marsh -> stock archers -> village become invincible to melee units.

Bear in mind that everything costs resources, and you are pursuing multiple objectives at once.  If you had no secondary objectives, then sure you could just set up a stalemate in various ways and everyone would be safe and happy.  However, if you don't create military units then your cities crumble into crime.  And your military units won't stay still if they have access to enemy towns or enemies in general: they will run off and attack.  So that archery stronghold you mentioned would instead be a breeding ground for archers running around the map, not staying where you wanted them to.  If those archers prove TOO effective, you're going to be struggling against yourself on the other side to fix what you just wrought.

On the other hand, if you block off your archers so that they can't reach the enemies directly but can just shoot at them, that actually would work... for a little while, until you die. ;)  See, the military units won't actually move unless they have an enemy in their sight range or an enemy town center that they can path to.  So if you make the enemy fortifications perfect, you'll get a backup blockage of guys in your "perfectly safe" town.  That sounds fine, until you learn that more than one unit can't stand on a tile.  And that military production facilities can't produce units while someone is standing on them.  And then you remember the crime factor, and in a dozen or so turns that perfectly safe town belongs to the bandits from forces within. :)

The whole "do I do whatever I want" sort of argument is kind of like saying the same thing in any any strategy game.  And I know the next argument in that: "but you're playing against a (human or AI) opponent there, rather than playing both sides."  Which is true, but here you are playing against an equally challenging... let's call it "environmental situation."  If you just doodle around, the game kills you. :)

- I can bring into being any god in every game?

Yes, but for purposes of challenges and otherwise you're encouraged to choose different ones at different times.  Also, depending on the map or on other circumstances (ie what else you are trying to accomplish in a specific game), you'll find that some gods are way better suited for some things than others.  Lots of bandits around?  Yeah, you're going to pick Ares most likely.  Working on lots of trade?  Foolish not to pick Pan.

But the thing is, you're rarely doing just ONE thing at a time if you're playing at an advanced level... so the choices aren't so obvious.  Or even if the choice of a god is obvious, choosing when and how to use his/her powers certainly is not.

- Does there exist drand() in the creatures' decision algorithms? (Is it is just irand() or no rand() at all?)

I'm not familiar with drand vs irand, so I'm not sure what you mean.  But there's a fair bit of randomization, yes.  The units can be somewhat predicted if you made a spreadsheet and looked at the exact board state at the moment.  Or just have an intuitive sense for the game from long playtime.  But the thing is, the circumstances are so ever-changing and the board state grows and changes after every turn in nontrivial ways, that there is a lot of "oh man now that just happened" stuff thrown your way, heh.

The blurb seems to me as a more of a bloodied-zen exercise in discovering best moves. After I find satisfaction, I will stop playing (that's not actually a bad thing). Essentially, my primary fear is 100% player-driven optimisation. While it's true that the game is highly complex, it will not take long before a small set of seemingly-optimal strategies are found - such as chess. The key decision for freshness is when to step off the grid, there is no pRNG to push you. Whereas in AIWar much of the fun was in the pRNG - nothing like discovering teleport raider+battlestations (although not really viable for high-difficulty), or Zombard+TDL, to decidedly change your options.

Well, the text specifically mentions that there are no optimal strategies.  The edicts themselves also have WAY more influence here than the AI types do in AI War, I should add.  And the challenges really are going to throw monkey wrenches into your usual strategies for a good couple of dozen hours or so.  Beyond a couple of dozen hours, Josh and I are aware that players could fall into something of a rut (once all challenges are complete, basically).  That's where our thinking on either suggestions or propositions come in, as those will add basically a fourth layer of randomization to this (bandits, map growth, and unit AI being the first three).

The reason that the situation in AI War is so interesting isn't because of some singularly brilliant AI algorithm -- what you would need for grandmaster-level Chess.  Rather, it's because of all the layers on layers on layers of AI and randomization and so forth.  Skyward is turn-based and so some different things apply, but rest assured we are thinking about ways (prior to 1.0) to address the "I've played this to 'completion' in terms of challenges and am now done with it" effect.  The effect, which I might add, is what eventually has driven me away from every RTS or TBS I played, even the ones I loved.  Usually took between 0.5 and 2 years for that to sink in, but it always did.

Another key thing with AI War has been that the game has actually been constantly changing over 4 years.  All those expansions and free DLC... well, I don't think people would still be playing the game without those.  Presuming enough interest in Skyward, that's again what I want to do here.

I can see where this may end up going - a strategically masochistic 4X-god game. One can only hope the tokens implemented will play off each other and produce desired outcomes. I foresee complaints along the lines of "I buffed the Greek archers with invincibility, but they didn't go on the attack!".

Free-will is a fickle thing.

Your archers will never just sit around if they have any route to enemies.  If they are sitting around, it's your fault.  The complaints would come in the form of "argh, you made small decision X instead of Y, and now my larger schemes need some adjusting."  That's part of what Josh and I both were adamant the game needed: somewhat predictable AI in the units.  If you have archers, and they have somewhere to go, you can be 100% sure they will start heading out.  Which exact place they go, or who they meet and how they fight along the way... that's a different matter.  But since this plays out over turns, you can kind of see how things are developing and airdrop minotaurs or whatever where needed. ;)

The free will here isn't terribly fickle: it's where the rand() you're looking for comes from.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: mrhanman on May 02, 2013, 09:26:38 AM
The AI is sounding a lot like Dwarf Fortress'.  The potential for carnage is unlimited!
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 02, 2013, 11:33:53 AM
DF is a bit more complex in that you can set rules for individual dwarves, whereas here the rules are built into the unit type from the get-go.  But otherwise, yeah; I think there's a lot of similarity there.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: PokerChen on May 02, 2013, 04:26:57 PM
W.r.t. the previous comment round, I tried to read the passage as if I have had no prior information on Arcen Games. A lot of games-blurbs that claim to have depth and replayability, and I doubt that many of them would have actually tried to carry out a game-state analysis to back-up those claims. Words like "great freedom" can also be a moniker for "a whole bunch of things that you could conceivably also do but either fail or have no net effect".  Analogously, "variety of spells" being used to describe "fire-bolt, ice-bolt, and lightning-ball with largely identical mechanics". These implicit statements merely make a game sound good, with strict-truth being a bonus.

 Sorry if I'm making myself a arbitrarily difficult sell. :P At a price of $5, I and hopefully a significant number of people would buy it just for the ride (I hope that the mobile-gaming and flash-gaming industry haven't spoiled them).

Quote
I don't mean that in a snarky way: different things pique different people, so I'm just genuinely not sure what is the missing element for you and am trying to find out.
Categorising my reaction to the triumvirate, (1) is interesting-good, (2) is eh-evil, and (3) is fair-neutral (depends on what the unlock are). As you say everyone goes for different things - I'm a meta-gamer and am missing this from the blurb: "what's the game-state tree like?" That is, how many different paths can I walk in a game? This for me determines re-playability moreso than the difficulty or number of challenges (I'm not a completionist, though I don't mind getting the ones that are not masochistic). I'll give a few examples:

 * N(arbitrary game) = number of full & partial playthroughs ~ number of distinct methods to play + fun repeats + curios.
 * N(Bastion)=1+1+0. Play once through for the story, once again for all the remaining challenges at the same time. Fun, and it never sold itself as a long lasting game.
 * N(Starcraft2 campaign)=1+0+0 Story not strong enough to bear repeating, so will play for all the marbles (achievements) at once. N(Multiplayer)<<100: same map structure, N-variations. Don't care about perfection.
 * N(Civ5)~ 4+2+4. Almost all civs boil down to a single meta-tree that is a function of the chosen victory target (~4). Bonuses due to highly advanced terrain generator (tried to analyse the kind of climate model in the engine). Perlin noise is interesting, but AI is too dumb.
 * N(4x-games) ~ number of factions - tedium of getting into a winning position...(<4 in general, sadly) I love the genre but the historical truth is that all arms races are the same, no matter what kind of explosions they make. There's also an innate problem with 2D, and papers-scissors-rocks red herrings.
 * N(Sandbox)=0. Aimless. It's more interesting to write the sandbox game (N=0.5).
 * N(RPG)=1 + breadth of character-development tree - grind factor. Very large variation, of course.
 So, when you add mode, terrain, and progression variation together, you get:
 *N(AI-War)~ (number of game-changing options) + (number of distinct knowledge unlock paths) + (variation of galactic structure) + (1st order taylor-expansion of their interactions) - (% of game time spent in pause mode). Works out to about 15 or so? Hard to judge the mapping on realistic wormhole connections. One can probably deduce that I've played exactly one choke-point galaxy map (cross) with Fallen Spire and 8 HWs. :P

NB: In that vein, N(Carcassone)=1+0+x, N(SettlersOfCatan)=2+0+x,  where x stands for multiplayer interaction.

Non-redundant randomisation isn't something that blubs generally answer, short of claiming butterfly effect or directly stating multiple ways to play. When randomisation alters your strategic decision (Barbarian invasion sacks half the continent, or a god sends a meteor down and creates an inland sea on Luminith) I agree that this is significant indeed. ;) Vis-a-vis, randomisation of a unit's damage is only significant at scales of Battle for Wesnoth. To their credit, kills by and on barbarians should count towards your final score.


 P.S. drand() and irand(): it's more or less of a private maths thing on complexity of randomisation. I would use integer rand() to choose between one of several decisions, and real/double rand() when I actually have a utility function that takes in multiple factors.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: tigersfan on May 02, 2013, 04:52:20 PM
The idea behind both the challenges and the editcs is to give you different goals to work towards. In some cases, you might have to focus on making a TON of sunstone/moonstone, because you need to use a lot of god powers, and using those powers requires those resources. But, then in the next game, you might have to focus on getting a lot of trade going between the towns.

I think this is what you are asking about?
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: PokerChen on May 02, 2013, 05:19:26 PM
Yes.* :D Effectively, things that result in a significantly-different game. That is what I did not read: the words edicts and challenges didn't strike me as being any different from achievements.

*Some game blurbs interpret the word challenges/edicts/whatever to mean things like "complete in X turns", "do >9000 damage to a unit", or "50% buff to all enemy stats".  So, given a set of challenges, any sub-set that can be practically-completed in a single game (without having the stars align) are arguably the same as one challenge with all the requirements. The minimum number of games to complete this subset is then a realistic estimate of its re-playability value in that department for minimax-ers, rather than the number of starting challenges.
 Hence, if here I discover a strategy to unlock all buildings in one game, I will - gaming efficiency has been maximised. ;) After that I play around with the system and find new ways to win.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 02, 2013, 07:51:17 PM
When it comes to the challenges, there are 100 in all and many are contradictory.  Also, many of them are such that you have to actually finish a game to do it.  I doubt you could do all 100 of them in fewer than 30 games, and that would be pushing it.  I'm still not really sure yet how to make this more clear to you, but again at the $5 price point we might be past the point where it matters, like you said.  Still... someone like you will be on the fence and this would push them over into our camp if we could nail it, I'm sure. ;)
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Teal_Blue on May 02, 2013, 08:44:12 PM
Am really, really, really hoping this sells a million! This sounds soooooo cool!  And is so strategic, like AIWar, well... not exactly, but you know... in the same genre! And it is sooooo Arcen, which i am coming to understand as 'different than anything I've ever seen before!'  :) 

Anyway, am really really hoping this one goes viral!!!!   :)

-Teal


Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 02, 2013, 08:45:16 PM
Thanks!  And us too -- we could use a break from a string of uneven luck lately!
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 10, 2013, 12:40:04 PM
Okay, archiving the old while I make some updates to the OP to reflect the new mechanics and such.

Archived version:

Game Description
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between towns without letting either side win?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a thriving landscape of villages against the threat of bandits and mythological powers?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen's second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You can create -- but not control -- gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense.  (As one example, Heimdall's horn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead.)  Your task is not undirected, though you have great freedom in how you go about it: Edicts of varying difficulty set extra requirements for your victory, and you can simultaneously pursue Challenges that unlock more buildings and units.  Wielding your powers to their utmost takes skill and planning in how you influence both your mortals and gods.  Your choice to use the most powerful abilities makes your core goals harder, not easier; but with the proper strategy, they can also launch you to new heights of success.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to encourage conflict while maintaining the balance of power.
* Make towns, trade, diplomacy, and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want through incentives as well as controlling what buildings and resources they have access to.
* Choose from among 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and active powers, to further your goals as each game develops.
* Level up your player profile by completing up to 100 side challenges as you play. Ten related unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up... but the strategy runs deep.
* 43 Edicts (extra victory requirements) in three difficulty tiers help keep the game fresh every time you play.  There's no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer planned for 1.0 (but not available from the start of beta).
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 10, 2013, 12:46:14 PM
All right, my new version:

Game Description
How do you balance a war between towns without letting either side obliterate the other?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a thriving landscape of villages against the threat of bandits and mythological powers?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen's second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You can create -- but not control -- gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense.  (As one example, Heimdall's horn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead.)  Your task is to keep both factions alive until The Master calls you home -- but this is harder than it sounds.  Bandits, along with periodic Woes add to the variety of challenges that you'll face in any given game.  Every game plays out completely differently, and you'll need even the craziest of your powers in order to survive what lies in store for you.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to maintain the balance of power.
* Make towns, trade, diplomacy, and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want through incentives as well as controlling what buildings and resources they have access to.
* 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and three active powers, help you further your goals as you pass into the Age of Monsters.
* Level up your player profile by winning games. Twelve related unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up... but the strategy runs deep.
* Multiple difficulty tiers let you play a very relaxed game up to a nail-bitingly difficult one.  There's no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer planned for 1.0 (but not available from the start of beta).
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 21, 2013, 02:36:51 PM
Archiving the old one again, before more updates:

Game Description
How do you balance a war between towns without letting either side obliterate the other?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a thriving landscape of villages against the threat of bandits and mythological powers?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen's second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You can create -- but not control -- gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense.  (As one example, Heimdall's horn causes everyone standing outside to drop dead.)  Your task is to keep both factions alive until The Master calls you home -- but this is harder than it sounds.  Bandits, along with periodic Woes add to the variety of challenges that you'll face in any given game.  Every game plays out completely differently, and you'll need even the craziest of your powers in order to survive what lies in store for you.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to maintain the balance of power.
* Make towns, trade, diplomacy, and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want through incentives as well as controlling what buildings and resources they have access to.
* 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and three active powers, help you further your goals as you pass into the Age of Monsters.
* Level up your player profile by winning games. Twelve related unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up... but the strategy runs deep.
* Multiple difficulty tiers let you play a very relaxed game up to a nail-bitingly difficult one.  There's no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer for up to 8 players.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 21, 2013, 02:43:16 PM
All right, I think this is final:

Game Description
How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between towns without letting either side obliterate the other?  How do you rule over gods, creatures, and men who refuse to obey you?  How do you build a landscape of villages when bandits and mythology are conspiring to tear it down?  Skyward Collapse places you into the role of The Creator, and frees you to tackle these problems your own way.  Brought to you by the developer of the modern strategy classic AI War: Fleet Command, Arcen's second full strategy title is equally unique (but far easier to learn): a turn-based 4x strategic god-game.

Your task is to build and populate the floating continent of Luminith.  You create -- but cannot control -- gods, creatures, and artifacts from both Greek and Norse mythology.  The power you wield with these is immense: Heimdall's horn causes everyone outdoors to drop dead, for crying out loud.  Your task is to keep both factions alive and fighting until The Master calls you home -- but this is harder than it sounds.  Bandit Keeps pop up periodically, as do Woes such as floods, serial killers, guild strikes, and vegetarian uprisings.  Every game plays out differently, and you'll need even the craziest of your powers in order to survive what lies in store for you.

Game Features
* A turn-based strategic god-game where you control neither faction, but instead strive to maintain the balance of power.
* Make towns and war as the boardgame-like floating continent continues to construct itself around you.
* Persuade your minions into doing what you want by controlling the circumstances of their (brief) lives.
* 16 gods, each with unique passive abilities and three active powers, help you further your goals as you pass into the Age of Monsters.
* Level up your player profile by winning games. Twelve unlockable buildings in all!
* Straightforward controls paired with an intuitive and helpful interface make this an easy title to pick up... but the strategy runs deep.
* Multiple difficulty levels let you play a very relaxed game up to a nail-bitingly difficult one.  There's no one best way to win!
* Co-op multiplayer for up to 8 players.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: Pepisolo on May 21, 2013, 02:48:11 PM
Just throwing one quick thought out -- I'm really not sure -- but should it be "How do you balance -- and indeed encourage -- a war between **factions** without letting either side obliterate the other?" Either way, it's no biggie at all.
Title: Re: Working on Skyward Collapse marketing copy...
Post by: x4000 on May 21, 2013, 03:02:43 PM
Yeah, that's a good point.  Will change in the OP.