Conquest! Open Beta Begins
After ~8 months of development, the Conquest! mobile client has finally entered beta! What started as an email from an IRC player ("Hey, wouldn't it be great if Conquest! went mobile...") is now a fully functioning Unity based client! Woot!
This is an important milestone and it would not be possible without the following people: Krisztián Juhász (art and graphical design guru), my understanding wife Amy, and the following folks who offered encouragement, suggestions, and motivation: Steffon Scott, Eric Scott, John Bergin
There is still much work to do as we shift from building features to working on usability. As it stands right now, the client has some major issues in that area.
Conquest! is a complex game with many features and it is easy to get lost or stuck asking "Now What?". Part of this stems from poor marketing; Conquest! is not a single player game with a multi-player option. It is a multiplayer game only. The NPCs in the game do not attack and are only generated "upon request". Finally, getting the word out and finding people who will stick with it (warts and all) is challenging. I'm still targeting a summer release but it will be a busy spring to get the client ready.
Some new items this week include a redesign of the Move Units pop-up, based on beta feedback. Instead of using input boxes we are now using sliders to move troops:
Blue represents the amount of troops in the defense army, red (not shown) the amount in the attacking or campaign army. The two buttons at the top allow for troops to be moved en masse from one army to the other.
Another major project, which took ~8 hours, was going through all the Unity pre-fabs in the game and making sure they are all aligned and positioned the same. I have always used pre-fabs to build UI elements (i.e. I've never instantiated them via code). This is great for a WYSIWYG building experience but means that this validation was quite time consuming (I rarely position items at runtime and there is very little animation in Conquest!).
I also added tips in several more locations to help navigate the world and learn how to play.
Another new feature was adding a filter to the player journal:
The player journal logs milestones of your journey and can grow to multiple pages. The filter allows you to quickly find just what you are looking for (such as artifact locations or heroes).
Finally, Krees and I completed development by adding support for town ownership. I consider this feature "controversial" as it will be difficult to balance. The concept is that once players reach the maximum level for their class, they can purchase a city. This allows them to alter prices, open and close the markets, and even change the name. It has the potential to allow owners to quickly amass large amounts of gold and troops, which could be unbalancing. We will have to keep an eye on this one.
On the server side, the main change was ensuring the signature commands, which used to expire at the top of the next hour regardless of when they were activated, last the full hour. I also continued to shorten messages so they were easier to consume on a mobile client.
In our last two Core Labs sessions we discussed making good game pitches (to publishers or investors) and predicting and taking advantage of future trends.
Follow the journey on Facebook or Twitter. Until next time, I hope to see you in the game.
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James has been working on Conquest! since 1993.