I’ve been hinting about this over here, and actually answered a lot of questions about it. However, we were planning on doing a big announcement through an interview with a major news site to announce the game, and so we didn’t want to say too much.
We’re now reversing that stance, however. We actually don’t particularly want major news coverage about this in advance of it being playable, we decided. Why? We don’t want it to be over-hyped, and we don’t want to run up against potential skepticism for people who didn’t like the first game. We’re still in the process of getting the art assets together to where we could really do a true announcement, and so we haven’t even contacted any of the press just yet about it.
Warning: extremely long post incoming. But you already know that if you read this blog much. ;)
Is this really a sequel?
Make no mistake, Valley 2 is a true sequel — it’s a lot more different from the first game than many sequels are compared to their original. There are a lot of changes I’ve been wanting to make for a while to the game, but these changes were too deep to do without angering players who bought one game and then had us change it on them to that degree. This way players can keep playing the original in its current state (though we won’t be doing much more of anything to update the original game from here on out), and they can also enjoy the awesome sequel for free as well.
And I get this for free if I already have the first game?
Yeah. Basically everyone will be getting both games whenever they buy either one. Kind of like what Zeboyd Games does with Breath of Death 7 and C Saves the World. You get both for the price of one.
Why do it this way? Well, we think that’s fairest to existing customers, for one. And for two, we don’t think anyone will be much inclined to buy the first game after they see the second. But the first game is cool in its own right, and so that’s something we wanted to preserve. It breaks a lot of new ground that no other games have ever experimented in before, and we didn’t want to just throw that out. The game isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t last forever, but it’s fun for a goodly number of hours and it’s something that people should be able to experience for years to come if they’re into that sort of thing. Meanwhile we get to move the “Valley franchise” forward in the manner of our choosing with the sequel.
So what’s different, already!?
It’s almost easier to define what is not different. But here are some of the highlights in no particular order.
– Completely new enemies. At the moment, 120 have been designed and are scheduled for art and programming, but not all will be available right at first beta. They have a lot more variety of designs both artistically and in terms of gameplay, and they are in general a lot smaller and thus something you can get more up close and personal with. In general the feel is closer to a Metroid game or similar in terms of the scale of enemies (whereas previously in AVWW1 the enemies were 4x to 8x larger than in Metroid in many cases).
– Completely new procedural generation methods. We’ll be using a “slices” methodology to create undergrounds, interiors, and exteriors. This basically uses pieces of chunks that are created by hand in a level editor and then assembled and populated randomly. Although enemy placement will be done by the 11 broad classes of enemy, and thus will be hand-done. That way you’ll get much more interesting and unique scenarios with enemies compared to what you did in the first game.
-Huuuuge new citybuilding game that ties everything together. This is much more descended from Actraiser now. Keith and I spent four days on skype designing out the new game, and this was one of the biggest topics. The new citybuilding game uses dozens of buildings on the map that you capture, and some of which you can convert into other building types. You can give your survivors orders, and they gain skills in five skill categories based on what missions you send them on.
– The dispatch model for NPCs is completely different and much improved now; no more moods, profession books, or gifts. No more professions at all, in fact. These were grindy and annoying, and we have a much better model that involves multi-NPC dispatches and skill points in five categories that improve based on successful missions. Plus the risk of death on missions will be a lot lower than in the first game, meaning you’re not feeling so heartless sending these poor folks out. There’s more strategy and less cannon fodder.
-Entirely turn-based in the macro-game. The citybuilding stuff is all turn-based, and even the day/night cycle is now turn-based. It flips back and forth between day and night as you change turns. There are thematic reasons for this, and it lets us have a unified timescale rather than a separate day/night cycle and time period cycle.
-It is actually possible to win the game. Each game is more randomized in how it unfolds, and basically plays out across what would be a super-continent in the old game. Much larger than a single continent, but not infinitely large. In fact, the entire world is generated right when you start it (as with a galaxy in AI War) and that becomes the basis of how you plan out your advances and strategy of how you’re going to become more powerful. When you actually defeat the overlord, you win the game. If you play it again, the game will play out quite differently.
-Since these are now more finite campaign-style engagements more like we have with AI War, this also means that you won’t be able to change the difficulty once you start the game. This makes each campaign a finite experience that you play, win or lose, and then play again if you like. You can even set the size of the world that you want from a dropdown, and that will also affect how many levels you get from each level-up tower that you conquer on the map.
-Isometric world map! Enough said. :)
-You are not a glyphbearer. You’re actually a former henchman-in-training of the overlord; so kind of a bad person turned good. You’ve got an Oblivion Crystal which serves a different function from the glyph but occupies the same space.
-No more permadeath. The oblivion crystals prevent you from dying, and instead bring you back from the dead anytime you die. Your survivors can (and will) still die permanently, however. The overlord and his other henchmen also have oblivion crystals, however, so they are literally invincibile also. They can be killed same as you, but they’ll come back to life and return to fight another day if you defeat them. You’ll face the henchmen several times and defeat them several times on your quest to beat the overlord, but if you see the overlord before the end of the game (which will happen from time to time) you had better run instead of trying to fight him.
-Ilari are nowhere to be found. All those guardian stones, and indeed the glyphbearers in general? It’s not just that you aren’t a glyphbearer — they don’t exist in this part of Environ. Similarly, the wind never reached the level where it drives people crazy here. Wind is still a big problem all over the world map, and prevents your movement — you’ll have to “purify” tiles in order to be able to advance further on the world map because of the wind. But in general, this means that there are pockets of people all over the place, rather than people coming together for big settlements huddling around the Ilari. Environ is a big world, so this is just a part of it that is neglected by the Ilari and thus has woes of its own.
-No more settlements, and survivors don’t need to be rescued. It’s been a year since the events of the first game, and people are pretty used to what has happened by now. Your problem isn’t to rescue the survivors, it’s to recruit them. For that you’ll use other survivors who will be dispatched to convince them to join your uprising against your former master.
-The overlord and his henchmen actively terrorize the countryside. You’ll see their tokens moving around and literally destroying buildings of yours every few turns on the macrogame side. Your survivors don’t stand a chance against them in combat, so the only thing you can do is to try and create “reverse traveling salesman” problems for the overlord and his minions, while also rebuilding as you go.
-You’re not just fighting Generic Overlord #5 and his lieutenants. The sole overlord you’ll be facing in this game (for now) is named Demonaica and has a specific look, backstory, and all that good stuff. His henchmen (which differ from lieutenants in many important ways) are named Slender, Lilith, Vorgga, Fanzara, and Wordrak.
-Speaking of which, since there is no longer permadeath you won’t be playing a long line of characters you barely care about. When you start a new game, you’ll create your character and then that will be your character for the rest of that campaign. The basic character creation process is much like in the first game, except that you get to choose from any time period right from the start rather than having to unlock them. Then as you go through the game, there are a ton of new character customization options that you’ll run into (see below for more info).
-There is an all-new roster of 24 unique characters. There are four each — two male and two female — from six time periods. You cannot play as Draconites (who are not in this game, though tons more dinosaurs are in general), nor can you play as Neutral Skelebots (also not in this game, though several new enemy skelebot types are), nor can you play as ice age characters (which were over-represented in the first game, so I wanted to do something different).
-No more inventory, or loose items, or crafting (please don’t freak out, you’ll see why in a minute). This means no more stash rooms, and no more item pickups, and no more opal guardian store or consciousness shards. No more spellgems, no more spell scrolls, no more grinding to find stuff in various random parts of the world. No more materials, or placing wooden platforms or crates, or using settlement stockpiles (no settlements, recall?). I’m sure some of your are thinking “WTF” about this particular line item, so let me explain the subsystem we have in place of all that — it’s much more streamlined and lets you get to the meat of this game much better.
-First off, there is now a class system that lets you choose what kind of mage you’re going to be. There are five overall tiers of mage classes, and you’ll unlock each of them as you play through the game. The first tier you start out with, and you can choose from among 5 randomized mage classes to play as. Overall there are 10 mage classes per tier, and so each playthrough is a bit different as you have different options each time. Each player in multiplayer also has their own randomized set of classes, too.
Here’s the forum thread for this post if you want to join in the discussion about it.