Happy Thursday everyone! Welcome to the MoonWard going Forward blog! I'm Mr. Slate and I'm here to share some updates on the state of MoonWard.
Let me jump straight in. Like I mentioned last time the month before was rough. Things improved slightly when my contracting work ended at the beginning of this month. What I didn't realise was that the work was keeping me going and so when I decided to take a few days off... Well, I've been off since. Turns out taking care of a baby, running a company, developing a game and the imminent holidays don't mix well. At all. So I very quickly realised I was seriously burned out. There are also some other health issues that I'm not going to go in depth talking about, but they exist and make things even harder. In short, I needed a break and I've been off anything work related since start of December. I plan on continuing this time off until the beginning of January, when I'll resume work.
So, where does that leave MoonWard? Well, for one, there will be no pre-holiday patch. Like I said I haven't worked on MW since the last patch (v0.3.52). And that one was small by my own standards. I'd like to do better and honestly there was no way that could happen for the 19th of December. In fact, in reality the next patch won't arrive until last third of January 2024.
This is the patch situation. I apologies for the delays but I need to prioritize my health. I hope you understand.
Now for some... sort of positive news? Since the last patch I managed to speak about MoonWard with a game designer friend of mine. The feedback was great and will improve the game playability quite a lot. The discussion produced a significant amount of work for me. So in a way, anyone playing the demo just got a few more free updates! That's good! Unfortunately that also means that I can't start work on the final version for even longer. That's bad. The game get's to be much firendlier to players with the new design so more of you can enjoy it! That's good! But the release just got pushed even further. That's bad. Bit of an emotional roller coaster, I know. At least now you know how I've felt about every decision I've made on this project! That's... good?
Swiftly moving along! Here is the revised feature plan for the future. Somewhat the same as last time but with some significant additions.
Interactive Battle Tutorials. The video tutorials were, by players accounts, helpful but speaking with my designer friend it quickly became obvious MoonWard needs something a bit more involved. I don't think I quite realised how difficult to grasp the combat system is. The mix of 1vs1 fighting game with souls-like moves and completely abstracted 1 dimensional visuals is as far as I know completely unique. I can vouch for its simplicity and usability and I don't think that's the issue. I believe the difficulty comes from my inability to teach the player how to use the systems. I've been failing that job so far but my plan is to fix this as soon as possible. How this will look is most likely a (skippable) tutorial fight where individual moves are taught in a scripted sequence by Rowan, your resident trainer. I won't go into more details because frankly I haven't designed the whole thing yet but it will cover the major offensive and defensive moves.
Improved Battle Visuals. I want battles to feel more kinetic. Screen shake and particles are my current ideas but I'll be looking further into this.
Numbers. The designer pointed this out. Certain things like Defence are unintuitively large, while others like Renown are largely unexplained. There are others too. Ultimately I need to look at how I display and explain numerical vallues.
Improved Character Creation. MW is a single player RPG, unbalanced starting characters is essentially a staple of the genre. That being said there are discrepancies between the effectiveness of backgrounds and races. I want every choice at creation to feel beneficial in some way. Or at least appropriate in terms of role-play. Additionally, I want to include individual lore descriptions for backgrounds/classes/races in the creation screen. This was something suggested by QA all the way in May and I honestly forgot about it. I think it will improve first impressions by reinforcing role-play and adding context to mechanical choices.
Transcribed Dialogue. In short I want to give the player access to a transcribed version of the dialogue in completed adventures/stories.
Associates. This menu will show a list of all known named characters, with a short bio, their disposition and links to all transcribed dialogue they were part of.
Disposition. Same as last time. Named, non-bounty characters will remember your previous interactions and will like/dislike you based on your conversations. This can result in bonus rewards when finishing main/side stories, hidden conversation options, new practise partners, hidden stories etc..
Underground. I didn't have the time for this content. This would be a new universal biome, however I will try to use them sparsely because the game is already suffering from requiring too much writing. It would house dwellings like ruins, caverns, mines and yes... sewers.
Notes. An in game encyclopedia with collectable entries. The basics will be unlocked by default but there will be books awarded by completing adventures. At the very least, notes will give helpful combat tips against specific enemes or simply expand the lore. Reading these books will award a small amount of xp, unlock a note with some images and be sellable like any other valuable.
New enemies. Without going into too many details, I think there are holes in the enemy roster and I'd like to fill them.
I'd like to elaborate on a couple of things regarding the demo.
Content. The level cap for demo content is 15. The player can however level up their ward to 100 if they wish to. The demo will always have the complete first county, identical to the full version, and including all mechanics and systems. The demo will also contain a limited version of the second county. This will include all available second county mechanics and systems but not all story content. Bounties are unlocked for both counties, and limited to level 15. Essentially my goal is that, within the above constraints, the demo and full versions will be identical.
Support/Patching. The demo will continue to receive patches at the same time as the full version. This will include new or changed content in county one and two, as well as any upgraded/new systems and mechanics available in those hubs.
State. Currently, apart from the level limit, the demo build is virtually identical to the full build. What you see in the Demo is everything that is finished. That doesn't mean that in the future there wont be changes to existing content, for example I'd like to elaborate on some story points in county one by adding more lore relevant stories and as a result there will be both new stories and stories moved between hubs.
Price. The demo will always be free. The full version will always be a one time purchase. There will never be any in-app purchases. There will never be any adverts. Due to all of the delays I'm considering releasing the full version in early access, with all systems and mechanics, but limited to half the story content. The rest of the story will then be released as updates, working towards 1.0.
Finally, I will try to post as we get closer to holiday season. If I miss you in that time, then - Happy Holidays and hope to see you next year!