View Full Version : Preview: The Banner Saga: Factions [Destructoid]

09-19-2012, 08:51 AM
Sure, Destructoid got some juicy info out earlier in helping Stoic announce Factions and talk about the November release date... but that wasn't all. Check out Destructoid's preview of The Banner Saga: Factions (http://www.destructoid.com/preview-the-banner-saga-factions-235135.phtml)...


Somewhere between checkers and chess, the contemporary turn-based strategy game resides. Advance Wars, X-Com, Heroes of Might & Magic, and Fire Emblem are known by many, loved by some, and mastered by very few. Their intricate systems are simple and colorful enough on the surface to attract a following, but none are quite as pretty as The Banner Saga: A great board game that never existed brought to life within the milieu of a gorgeous animated fantasy that never existed.
Read the entire article: Preview: The Banner Saga Factions (http://www.destructoid.com/preview-the-banner-saga-factions-235135.phtml)

09-19-2012, 09:50 AM
This looks fantastic, I can't wait to play.

09-19-2012, 10:01 AM
As I already commented on another post (http://stoicstudio.com/forum/showthread.php?212-The-Banner-Saga-Factions-Destructoid), I was kind of surprised about the microtransaction thing. But now that I think of it I guess they need to have some way of profiting from the free-to-play version, especially since it will most likely be updated with the player owned cities multiplayer feature? That would prove to be expensive to host without any kind of source of steady income.. ;)

The game, Factions, itself seemed to hold up very well. I liked the idea of armor and willpower mechanics very much, not to mention the achievement system, which sounds amazing! The achievement system seemed nice, too. I don't usually like achievements at all, but when you can shove them to your enemy's face on a banner.. that's something!

Can't wait to get the beta :)

09-19-2012, 11:13 AM
Maybe I've missed something, but I haven't seen microtransactions mentioned.

Other than that, gaming journalists are still...gaming journalists : "painstakingly hand-drawn art by Powerhouse Animation", "During their Kickstarter phase, I ridiculed them for having the tenacity", "The Banner Saga: A great board game that never existed brought to life within the milieu of a gorgeous animated fantasy that never existed"...

09-19-2012, 11:34 AM
The article mentions that you'll be able to level up your dudes with cash money instead of XP. However, paying money to have less game seems kind of odd to me.

09-19-2012, 01:57 PM
Hey guys! Thanks for the feedback on this! A quick explanation about the revenue model, since the message can sometimes get muddied in interviews:

Every time you play a match you earn "Renown", which is our currency for everything. You can use it to upgrade characters, buy new units, buy items, so on and so forth. You can do everything in the game just by playing. You can also purchase renown if you want to skip a few fights.

It was really important to us that you don't feel like you need to spend money to play the game. We don't have an "energy" system that locks you out after a certain amount of time, or an impenetrable grind that requires you to buy huge stacks of Renown. We also never sell an advantage in combat.

Bottom line is - if you want to spend money, great! We'll use it to pay salaries. If you don't want to, there's no pressure and nothing lost to you.

As we keep working on the single player campaign we'll be updating Factions with new content like characters and maybe even single-player skirmishes as enemy AI comes online.

Hope that helps!

09-19-2012, 03:33 PM
A good read and an unexpectedly very interesting game Factions will become.
I also didn't expect micro-transactions in the game, although it is now a logical companion to F2P games. If the way it is implemented really is that of a bonus for those who want to bypass a number in fights, I see no problems.

09-19-2012, 04:42 PM
I'm glad to see you guys aren't making it a pay2win kind of scheme.
It looks fantastic so far, I can't wait for that beta!

09-19-2012, 04:46 PM
So I take it Renown is basically TBS's take on experience points and gold.
The ability to purchase Renown can make sense, since it wouldn't so much be buying power as it would be cutting down on the time needed for "grinding".

Interesting that you're tying health to strength. Have you managed to balance it against "death spiral" effects, because if you have then it would be an interesting system.

09-19-2012, 09:37 PM
Looks great!

09-19-2012, 11:02 PM
I should start by saying that I'm not a fan of microtransactions. I like the idea but playing "free to play" games has only soured my opinion of the model as a whole, and I am disappointed to hear that Stoic has chosen this route.
I trust that Stoic has only the best intentions, but I do not see how you can have a fair microtransaction system when the rewards are not limited to cosmetics.

As a longstanding fan of the Tribes series I'll use the recently popular Tribes Ascend, developed by High Rez, as a case study for what is wrong with any implementation which gives an in-game advantage to players who spend real money.

In Tribes Ascend you can unlock weapons and upgrades with in game experience, or with Gold (the in game currency which can be purchased with real money).
The developers claim that none of the unlockable weapons give an unfair advantage. Similarily Stoic has promised that the cash shop will be implemented in a manner that is fair to people who don't want to spend money..

High Rez maintains that locking certain weapons until you earn or buy them is fair, and yet they charge more for certain weapons than others. If the price of the weapon were representative of its value, and all the guns offered equivalent advantages including the free ones, then all locked weapons would be offered at the same standard price wouldn't they? This just shows that High Rez is aware of the advantages they hold back in the hopes that people will spend money.

If it's fair to allow people who pay with real money to unlock advantageous weapons in Tribes, then it's surely fair to allow someone to forego the grind of Banner Saga's multiplayer. However, Stoic designed this game with a board in mind, so they should easily understand that chess is not better when you can purchase extra pawns. I don't understand why Stoic would potentially unbalance the game when they could offer alternate unit skins or other cosmetic items instead.

If you purchased Tribes 1 and 2 then you got every class, every skin, every voice and every gun the game had to offer. There is a lot more content in Tribes 2 than what High Rez have been able to implement in Tribes Ascend with it's 'free to play' model, and yet to access all of the comparatively meagre content in T:A right now, I would have to spend more than $100. That's ironically a lot more than the price of any game which is not "free to play".

If Stoic is confident in their multiplayer game and they want to offer a balanced multiplayer experience then I cannot fathom why they wouldn't just offer it as a one time purchase and forget about the cash shop. If they insist on making it free to play then offer something tangible that doesn't affect the gameplay like alternate skins and races for your warriors.

I understand that Stoic expects to create a balanced experience but I do not believe it is possible to do it in the way they plan to proceed. I am hopeful that I am wrong.

09-19-2012, 11:34 PM
I have to agree with Bevel. For similar reasons, my past experiences with free-to-play have soured me on the concept.

So much so, in fact, that, given how many games, books, and personal projects I have backlogged, I don't even feel it's worth my time to give free-to-play offerings the benefit of the doubt anymore when I could be playing something I know I'll like instead or writing a program or book for pleasure.

I may be a $50 backer on the Kickstarter project and my brother may be too, but if there's no option to do LAN play completely independent from the repercussions of the free-to-play model, I guess my reward for my support will be a single-player game.

Could be worse I suppose. It's not as if Final Fantasy Tactics had multiplayer and my only issue with Tactics is how, if you grind for the pleasure of the skirmish, the enemies get tough faster than you do.

09-20-2012, 12:56 AM
I played Tribes Ascend for a bit and quit for the very same reason also. Yeah sure I could play the game and save up to get weapons instead of using real cash but it would take countless hours to unlock them. It took me like 20 hours of playing to unlock one or two weapons while a lot of the players bought everything they wanted and it certainly gave them an edge. I am not a fan of the system but I hope it works better for Banner Saga. I'd rather just pay more money for the multi-player than have it be micro-transaction based personally.

09-20-2012, 02:30 AM
I played Tribes Ascend for a bit and quit for the very same reason also. Yeah sure I could play the game and save up to get weapons instead of using real cash but it would take countless hours to unlock them. It took me like 20 hours of playing to unlock one or two weapons while a lot of the players bought everything they wanted and it certainly gave them an edge. I am not a fan of the system but I hope it works better for Banner Saga. I'd rather just pay more money for the multi-player than have it be micro-transaction based personally.

Agreed. Especially given what I've read about decision fatigue (http://www10.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?_r=5&pagewanted=all). (New York Times. Login required)

(The gist of it is that research has proven that making decisions tires out the mind and it's better to make one big decision than a lot of little ones.)

...though EA is probably banking on the fact that, the more decision fatigue sets in, the sloppier and more impulsive our decision making gets.

09-20-2012, 07:35 AM
it all boils down to how Stoic implements the grind effect. If the renown gain is sufficent enough to not feel that you have to grind for it, then all is good in my books, as long as there is some kind of balance between both players.

If there is match-making based on the overall Renown gained by each player, then the game would be balanced, otherwise we might end up running too fast agains high level content due to the other party purchasing renown.

Last question is apparently already answered by John in the Technical Blog

The plan is to have two modes:

Versus - auto match against another online player of similar party power
Friend - manually start a match against one of your friends

09-20-2012, 09:40 AM
I too have tried playing the new tribes game and gave up. But to give a counter example of how micro transactions can work is League of Legends. The main value is paying money there is to get alternate skins, but it can be used to get heroes and things that will improve the heroes (hence and advantage to the player). The thing is, the heroes and improvements can all be got with the in game currency. It may take a while to save up enough to get one of the more expensive characters, but in the meantime you aren't penalized for not spending money. The rotation of free to play characters means those who don't spend money aren't relegated to some starter set of heroes. End result, a lot of disgruntled tribes players and many happy League of Legends players.

All this is to say that micro transactions don't necessarily ruin a game, as long as they don't ruin the balance of the game. I don't think the proposed renown system will be an issue, as long as there is a way to sort out by their level of renown (earned or bought) as troll suggested.

09-20-2012, 06:03 PM
If renoun is just used to buffer the strength of your party, why would matching similar party strength require you to differentiate based on earned or bought renoun? From the sounds of it, matching based on renoun can't unbalance things if the matchmaking works properly, because you'll always being fighting someone with a similar level of group strength to yours.

The Tribes Ascend argument is invalid because matchmaking didn't separate people based on how many weapons they had, though League of Legends is more relevant as they do have an experience system in place to assist in matchmaking online. The problem you guys are attributing you microtransactions is actually rooted in not properly matching up people of similar "power levels", so to speak, in a competitive environment.

Take this example. A person new to the srpg genre played for a week or two and built up a moderately upgraded army with a couple good items to outfit it with. He hops online, jumps into Versus, and get matched up with an experienced srpg player with very little patience for playing as a newbie, who bought a similar amount of renoun as the first player earned. Would you consider this unbalanced in any possible way? Though ultimately the skill level will vary between any given players based on how experienced in the genre or the specific game they are, the core issue of both players having a similar strength and amount of tools at their disposal is kept in balance.

Edit: The real issue people should be complaining about regarding imbalance is that people who buy the single player game get 16 extra character classes that f2p players do not have access to. That IS a balancing issue.

09-20-2012, 07:23 PM
I have no experience with LoL but if Banner Saga's match making can create an enjoyable experience for people who don't spend real money then I have no problems. It's always the implementation.

09-20-2012, 08:31 PM
LoliSauce brings up an interesting point. The article implies that the additional 16 classes from the single player won't ever be available to those that don't get the single player part of the game.
Is this the case or will the f2p players eventually get access to them via renown or money?

09-20-2012, 10:02 PM
I think it is true that it may not have an adverse effect on the game if match making puts players with similar renown, whether bought or earned, together. In that case I would actually think the player that earned his way up will have the real advantage because he will have more real experience.

09-29-2012, 12:18 AM
Yeah, it all comes down to how well the matchmaking works. If it picks players with sufficiently close renown points then it is not a problem. However, there are a lot of games that have a matchmaking like this that was originally said to match players accordingly.. When the game releases the players find out that this is not the case. World of Tanks comes to mind. The matchmaking is often horrid at best. With a large enough player base this should not be a problem, but we'll have to wait and see.

LoliSauce has a very valid point on the matter of the singleplayer characters not being available to f2p players. This could potentially ruin the multiplayer experience on the long run when players who own the singleplayer get access to more tactics(characters), some of which might prove to be too good. It would be preferable if the system was something like that of LoL's where you can earn all of the champions by playing, although this does take some time.

But it's a bit too early to debate on balance matters when we haven't played the game yet. Hopefully when we get to play the beta our doubts are relieved, or if they are not then maybe Stoic listens to the testers and does something to correct the issues. For now I'm going to keep on cheering for them, and wish for a swift beta access! :)

10-02-2012, 01:02 PM
Hey everyone, thanks a lot for the great debate, it's been an interesting read. I'd like to hopefully shed a little light on what we hope is a balanced system, but Beta will prove it out or it will be fixed.

Renown is a "currency" system for TBS that is based off of your clans renown growing from defeating enemies in combat. A viking equivalent of 'word on the street'.

We track the amount of Renown you've put into a unit to raise their stats. As you add units to your 6 unit party we add up their values and show them in a column to the right. It's the total value or power level of your team. When you go to play an online battle we match you with someone of appropriate level or rather, numerical value.

The game has been balanced to make it fun for the players to earn Renown and upgrade units at an enjoyable speed without having to spend money.

If someone has purchased the Renown to upgrade their units then all it means is that he or she may be beaten more easily by someone who has played through many games to earn their Renown. They will not have, in any way, an advantage in the battle.

You will not be able to purchase Renown in the single player Saga because we want the experience to be balanced for the story.

Here are 3 main reasons why we are allowing the purchasing of Renown in multiplayer version of TBS.

We need full servers! We want new people that just got into the game to level up quickly and be viable combatants for other players to match against. No one wants to log on and search for a high end game for 15 minutes. Who cares how your enemy, of a similar power level got their points? Was it a fun match? You will be able to quickly see if they've played a lot of matches by how many achievements are sewn into their banner and by other means which I won't go into now.

People want to play with their friends who've been talking about the game! So lets say you've been playing for 2 months and have a fun high end deck of units that you want to test and see if certain tactics work. You tell your friend to log in and play with you in a friendly match and when they do you realize that it will take them 2 months to actually catch up to your level. Think of it as a D&D game where you invite a friend to play with your party. First thing you do is hand them a lvl 5 character so they can play. Same thing here, we want people to hop in, be able to level up quickly and have fun. We do not want to hand out Renown willy nilly for the same reasons that D&D would suck if you got XP whenever you wanted it. There is something to the ability to earn it that makes the game fun. We picture people coming in, liking the game and then purchasing a little Renown to kickstart them and send them on their way, playing for it from then on.

Making games is expensive! We got a ton of support through Kickstarter and have put it all back into the game to make it better than we could have hoped. That being said we need to stay viable as a company so we can continue to make fun games. If you like what we're doing then we need a way for you to support us to continue updating the Saga. Any money we make will help us make both the Factions game and the Saga that much better for you.

We're not financial guru's thinking up schemes to make millions and we're also not locking anyone out of any content with this model. It's a huge risk that some have tried talking us out of, but we figure that if we make a game people want to play then they will support it. Sorry for the long winded comment. :)

10-03-2012, 08:53 AM
Well, the reply above yours has convinced me. Currently playing Jagged Alliance Online and staying completely away from PvP because the best equipment is only available to be purchased with real money. That's play to win. Their reasoning seems solid to me, I'm willing to withhold judgement until the game is released. More and more excited everyday! Wish I'd discovered it before the Kickstarter closed.

10-04-2012, 09:23 AM
On another note, will it be possible to "reset" the team so that the players who enjoy the steps of growing to power can start again from scratch ?

10-04-2012, 10:01 AM
@Troll: Yes, you can reset any character (not team unless you do it character by character) and the reason is so you can tweak his or her stats without starting from scratch. You may find as you build your Provoker that he needs a little more armor than you put in, so you can reset his points and rebuild him if you wish, but not lose his current level of advancement. Rather than reseting a unit to get the joy of growing to power again why not just start a new character and build them differently? You can make as many characters as you wish and even of the same class. You could make a team of all Grudgewielders if you wish. We hope people try all sorts of builds and think of decks we never thought of. Can't wait to see what people come up with!

10-04-2012, 05:18 PM
Thanks for the answer, so respeccing is available, and somewhat necessary. Very good to know.

10-05-2012, 08:46 AM
Will respeccing cost real money or will it be available through other means?

10-05-2012, 09:15 AM
From Arnie's answer, respeccing seems to be an important part of the growth mechanics, so I'm pretty sure it would be free of micro transactions.

10-05-2012, 09:36 AM
It doesn't cost anything to reset a character's stats. You then rebuild them like normal. This actually seemed to us a more fair practice than trying to decide how much renown it cost to respec. But like Arnie said, even though we have the actual button there and working, it makes more sense just to hire a new guy and train them differently.

10-05-2012, 10:31 AM
Like Alex said if you want to start the entire character over from scratch as a base level character then just make a new character. If you just want to tweak stats then you can respec him/her without loosing their current level/rank. It's free but you'll have to rebuild their current stats for that level again. By the way we're using the word "rank" right now but in-game you'll see their "rank" as a title. I.e. 'Veteran Skystriker' - 'Master Skystriker'. We're still working on the exact titles.
To answer the deeper question of "will respeccing cost real money...": Everything in our game is achievable and balanced to be garnered through fighting battles and earning Renown. You do not have to spend money. That being said if you so chose to spend money we'd appreciate it greatly as it will go back into making more content for this game that we hope will grow.