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    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    Technical Blog #11

    2015/10/05

    Banner Saga 2

    As you know from reading the previous technical blogs, I have been completely busy with porting and localizing the Banner Saga for most of the last 18 months. However, during all this time, development of Banner Saga 2 has been progressing.

    From the early days after launch of Banner Saga, Arnie, Drew, and I have been planning and scheduling the second installment of the Saga. There are plenty of technical changes and improvements planned for TBS2, but ultimately the game is very content heavy. We did filming of all the new animations required for TBS2 back in May 2014. You can see a little of that footage here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywQN8h28Cx8

    Immediately following that, we delivered all the footage to Powerhouse (https://www.powerhouseanimation.com/) to start rotoscoping the combat animations. Arnie began working full time on the art, and Drew began writing the story and dialog. Work on that has been continuing during all of my other endeavours.

    Finally with the release of Linux and gamepad support for Steam, all of my direct responsibilities are complete, and I can focus on TBS2. We have lots of improvements planned for the game, and it feels great to start working on it full time.

    One of our first big tasks was to pull everything together for a playable demo to be shown at E3 2015. The demo represents the beginning of the game, essentially half of Chapter 8 (the first chapter of TBS2). So far we've shown the demo at E3, Gamescom, at PAX Prime, and elsewhere.

    We implemented quite a bit more cinematic scripting during battles, making several battles more engaging and integrated with the story. The number of new classes and abilities in the game is quite dramatic, and there are some completely new mechanics such as invisibility and stealth. We've rebalanced the way clansmen are managed, allowing them to be trained into fighters, and tuned up the way war works and is presented to the player.

    Recently I've been working on an improved training system. In TBS, you could enter the training tent to spar against the AI and hone your combat skills. The trainer is programmed to give you tips and feedback along the way. In TBS2 we will keep this sparring system, but add another set of training scenarios that take you through a set of directed objectives, challenging you to use your special abilities in powerful and useful ways. Completing these training objectives yields additional tangible rewards such as Renown and Items.
    Currently I'm working on a system to import save games from TBS1 to TBS2. This requires helping the player find their old save file for the end of the game. Once loaded, a predetermined sequence of variables and stats is scanned and translated into TBS2 land. Once working, the next step will to make a nice GUI for it and deal with all the various ways that the process can go wrong.

    TBS2 is coming along very quickly, and it is exciting to see it taking shape. There's still much work ahead of us, but we can't wait to get it finished so and share it with everyone.

    Previous: Technical Blog #10 (Linux and Console Ports)

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    You have nothing "Coming Up Next" from this thread, so I guess it's the game itself! Or, do you have any other big events planned for these autumn months?

    Here's some more thoughts/comments/questions, if you have time to spend

    • Cinematic scripting during the battles looks like a very nice vehicle for the story-telling, judging from what we saw at the E3 demo. Back in September 2013 when you did that "Let's Play" video series of the PAX TBS1 demo, I remember seeing Iver say "Let me handle that big one with the shield" in Rook's first encounter with a Dredge Stoneguard in Skogr. At the time I thought that these bubble-quotes would have been a standard practice throughout all TBS1 battles, however we rarely saw them (e.g. when Alette attacked a human, or when Iver was facing Bellower in Einartoft). Glad you finally implemented them!
    • Concerning new abilities, I wonder what happened to those Wardog & Champion class-abilities that you had us waiting for back in 2013 Seems like Hakon got turned into a "simple" Warmaster and Iver into a Strongarm... I think I glimpsed dual-ability heroes and Rank 6+ items too. Exciting!
    • Clansmen -- I read in your recent interviews that they will now be used to generate more Renown and/or Supplies, or that they can be converted to Fighters. I assume this will have an impact on the Wars. Can you provide some more details about what you're planning to change there? Here's how I imagined an an improvement/extension of Wars.
    • Love the scenario training battles! I hope they are puzzle-like mini-battles, something like the TBS1 tutorial battle at Strand Great Hall; but more difficult! Many TBS1 players wanted something to "grind on" (for Renown/Items/Promotions) so this fits very nicely there! Speaking of this, TBS1 players had problem promoting Breaker/Tank-type heroes (compared to Bruiser-types), due to them having a hard time getting the required Kills in regular battles. Do you plan to address this somehow? Here's an XP-based suggestion I made a couple of years ago.
    • About this save-importing feature -- Do you plan to give TBS2 players who have not played TBS1 (or do not wanna import their saves) more options as to what happened in the first part? For example, big events like in {Skogr, Frostvellr, Einartoft, Ridgehorn, Boersgard} or character-specific choices {Egil/Onef/Ekkill, Yrsa/Ludin} etc. From what we heard at E3, it seems like they'll only get to chose between Rook/Alette playthroughs, and otherwise follow a canon story-line.


    Thanks (again) for your time, John.
    Last edited by Aleonymous; 10-06-2015 at 03:19 AM.
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    Technical Director John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    You have nothing "Coming Up Next" from this thread, so I guess it's the game itself! Or, do you have any other big events planned for these autumn months?
    Well, I don't have any more blogs in the queue, but yes most of what's coming up next is all TBS2 development. I'll try to share some more as we go.


    Cinematic scripting during the battles looks like a very nice vehicle for the story-telling, judging from what we saw at the E3 demo. Back in September 2013 when you did that "Let's Play" video series of the PAX TBS1 demo, I remember seeing Iver say "Let me handle that big one with the shield" in Rook's first encounter with a Dredge Stoneguard in Skogr. At the time I thought that these bubble-quotes would have been a standard practice throughout all TBS1 battles, however we rarely saw them (e.g. when Alette attacked a human, or when Iver was facing Bellower in Einartoft). Glad you finally implemented them!
    Yep, we plan on having quite a bit more exposition in battle, using the talk-bubbles, and other techniques (camera pans, spawning, movement, scripted attacks, etc...)

    Concerning new abilities, I wonder what happened to those Wardog & Champion class-abilities that you had us waiting for back in 2013 Seems like Hakon got turned into a "simple" Warmaster and Iver into a Strongarm... I think I glimpsed dual-ability heroes and Rank 6+ items too. Exciting!
    Folka has the 'Champion' ability now. She can protect adjacent allies with her shield. For TBS2 we accidentally had Hakon animated to perform the 'headbutt' version of Battering Ram (like Iver). The team is arguing about whether we should let him use it

    Clansmen -- I read in your recent interviews that they will now be used to generate more Renown and/or Supplies, or that they can be converted to Fighters. I assume this will have an impact on the Wars. Can you provide some more details about what you're planning to change there? Here's how I imagined an an improvement/extension of Wars.
    I'll have to get back to you for a more detailed comparison with your post, but the basics are: it is advantageous to have as many clansmen as possible, both in story terms and in renown rewards. During each war, you need a certain amount of fighters to optimally protect your clansmen. However, if you train too many fighters, your supply burn becomes too great, so you have to manage the numbers.

    Love the scenario training battles! I hope they are puzzle-like mini-battles, something like the TBS1 tutorial battle at Strand Great Hall; but more difficult! Many TBS1 players wanted something to "grind on" (for Renown/Items/Promotions) so this fits very nicely there! Speaking of this, TBS1 players had problem promoting Breaker/Tank-type heroes (compared to Bruiser-types), due to them having a hard time getting the required Kills in regular battles. Do you plan to address this somehow? Here's an XP-based suggestion I made a couple of years ago.
    For one thing, we're being more generous with kill awards this time around, trying to account for 'assists' as well as the final blow.

    About this save-importing feature -- Do you plan to give TBS2 players who have not played TBS1 (or do not wanna import their saves) more options as to what happened in the first part? For example, big events like in {Skogr, Frostvellr, Einartoft, Ridgehorn, Boersgard} or character-specific choices {Egil/Onef/Ekkill, Yrsa/Ludin} etc. From what we heard at E3, it seems like they'll only get to chose between Rook/Alette playthroughs, and otherwise follow a canon story-line.
    The default selection will be to follow a canon story line, as you say. We're not planning on creating a 'story editor', but I'm sure any interested programmer-player could put together a really cool save file editor.

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Folka/Champion ability -- From what little I saw in the E3 demo videos (e.g. here: https://www.twitch.tv/twitch/v/6338937 at 7m15s), she slams an adjacent enemy with her shield which zeroes his ARM, as well as her own. How does this affect adjacent allies? In fact, in that twitch video, it seems like it does 1 ARM damage to Iver as well

    Hakon/Headbutt ability -- Accidentally, you say? When I saw that youtube animation of Hakon/Wardog published 2 years ago, I actually though it was a 'core' design! Well, I say use the headbutt animation but design a new ability, one of STR-damaging and/or stunning nature.

    Kills/'Assists' -- That sounds about right! Seeing that you track all damages across the board in the gamelogs, it wouldn't be hard to 'acknowledge' all the armor-breaks and armor-damage received by such tank heroes.

    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    We're not planning on creating a 'story editor', but I'm sure any interested programmer-player could put together a really cool save file editor.
    Hahaha! I'd say "challenge accepted", but my schedule is quite burdened at the moment The main challenge is untangling all the story/character-related global variables, with all their interdependencies. Well, having a couple of small errors (intentional or not) in there wouldn't actually break the game, would it?
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    Finally with the release of Linux and gamepad support for Steam, all of my direct responsibilities are complete, and I can focus on TBS2. We have lots of improvements planned for the game, and it feels great to start working on it full time.
    So I guess that means there might not be any further updates to the Linux version of TBS until TBS2 settles down a bit? If so, that's a bit disappointing given the current state of the Steam version, and I haven't heard anything about the GOG version since the Kickstarter update back in April said it would "be uploaded in about a week". (I know I already asked about this in the previous Technical Blog thread.)

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    Backer balnoisi's Avatar
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    It's good to see development is going strong and steady, new units and abilities sound interesting but i am happy specially because of this :


    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    Cinematic scripting during the battles; Yep, we plan on having quite a bit more exposition in battle, using the talk-bubbles, and other techniques (camera pans, spawning, movement, scripted attacks, etc...)

    That ís one of the things that can push the game into a much more immersive and satisfying experience, i would exploit those in all or most combats / camp stops. Doesn't have to be always plot related, but interaction between characters and their development were some of the things i missed in the first game. Here's hoping the writer puts millions of dialogue lines there

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    Superbacker Ratatoskr's Avatar
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    Any news on when the second game is going to come out? IGN still says Q1 2016 and I was just wondering if that was accurate.
    I'll play it whenever it arrives, but I may have to replay the first one to remember what's going on and try to figure out which of my saves to start with.

    Also, in terms of importing saves. Will we have to stick with whatever program we used to play the first one, or will it be cross-compatible. For example, if all my saves are from the direct download version (that was still weirdly connected to steam for me), could I import them into the GOG version of BS2?

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratatoskr View Post
    Any news on when the second game is going to come out?

    Also, in terms of importing saves.
    No release-date has been announced. Seems like Stoic will stick to the "When it's ready" ETA for a few more weeks (months?)

    Concerning the save games, have you tried importing (i.e. copy-pasting) the TBS1-saves from the "other" platforms (GOG or DRM-free), to the Steam one, which will presumably be the standard one? Am saying this because, to the best of my knowledge, the GOG & DRM-free versions are not as up-to-date as the Steam one... Anyway, Stoic have said that "TBS1 progress will continue in TBS2" blah blah a million times, so they are kinda *obligated* to produce proper import function for any-and-all save game version(s)!
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  9. #9
    Hi,

    Banner Saga 2 is an amazing game. The graphics look amazing. The cinematic scripting during battles is beautiful. This my favourite game. I always play this game when I have free time.

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