En bref. La seconde partie des notes de développement du prometteur remake de l’excellent Solium Infernum est en ligne. L’occasion d’apercevoir un peu mieux à quoi ressemblera le plateau de jeu et de lire quelques exemples des avancées du studio pour transposer le mieux possible la formule de gameplay qui a fait tout le succès du jeu d’origine, vers 2009.
Les quelques images fournies étant des animations rapides et de plutôt de petites tailles, elles ne permettent que difficilement d’apprécier le rendu de la carte, un des éléments clés du jeu. Je vous mets ici une sélection d’images un petit peu agrandies afin de mieux pouvoir se faire une idée du rendu final. Et je vous rajoute un montage d’illustrations qui serviront pour représenter vos unités, les légions infernales. Notez qu’il ne s’agit là que d’une version alpha / bêta, et pas encore donc du rendu définitif. L’image en en-tête a été diffusée à la fin de l’été dernier.
Rappelons que cette nouvelle version sera en 3D, toujours en tour par tour, sur une carte semi-aléatoire, comportera un mode solo avec divers scénarios et conservera un mode multijoueur pour six personnes. Il y aura également des ajouts et / ou améliorations au gameplay, mais rien n’a encore été clarifié.
Si vous ne connaissez pas Solium Infernum, sachez qu’il s’agit d’y incarner un prince-démon (archidiable ou archidémon si vous préférez) rivalisant avec ses pairs démoniaques pour monter sur le trône infernal et ainsi devenir le seigneur de l’Enfer. En plus de diriger des légions pour éliminer manu militari vos adversaires, le jeu proposait de nombreuses options permettant différentes stratégies. La création de son personnage avec des caractéristiques à bien choisir, ainsi que certains avantages spéciaux, la possibilité d’utiliser des reliques maléfiques, des ressources à gérer, des manuscrits et des officiers pour renforcer ses troupes, bref, il y avait dans Solium Infernum à la fois une grande simplicité et beaucoup de subtilité. Avec un peu de chance on retrouvera toute cette alchimie ludique mais avec cette fois un bon moteur de jeu.
Pour plus d’informations sur le jeu, qui devrait endiabler nos esprits on ne sait quand en 2023, en théorie, voyez cette page sur Steam, ou le site officiel. Ainsi que notre test de l’ancienne version du jeu.
Dev Log 02 – From Hell, With Love
Dev Challenges, Wrapping Boards, Playtesting & More!
Archfiends and Vendetta Holders,
Dante wrote that Hell is nine layers deep, each one worse than the next. All of them an open, gaping maw of a unique hellish landscape waiting to inhale the most devilish of humanity.
We take Dante and raise him: Wrapping Boards.
We’re taking Hell’s hexes (the digital kind, not the magical kind) and wrap them around themselves for all eternity. Why stop at nine layers, Dante, when we could go on forever?
That’s when we started hitting walls.
Maybe Dante was right to stop at nine layers.
Hi there, I’m Ty Carey, Co-founder & Creative Director here at League of Geeks. I’m also the Game Director on Solium Infernum, LoG’s revival of an old, much-loved cult classic strategy game.
Over the past year, we made significant progress in fleshing out the next generation of Solium Infernum. All games are difficult to make – hard enough that you’ll want to be crazy to try – but strategy games have interesting development problems that are unique to the genre.
A good example is; how do you get a feel for your strategy game, when developing all those complex interlocking systems might take the majority of your dev cycle? In other words, strategy games tend to come together in the final stretch of traditional game development.
And you might argue even more after launch.
Not only does this mean you must factor time into a schedule to play-test a finished game, but it presents further challenges. For example, selling a game takes a lot of marketing – you can make the best game in the world, but unless people know and are excited about it, it’s unlikely to succeed (especially a multiplayer game!).
Marketing requires being able to demonstrate the game you’re selling as early as you can to build an audience, and to sell the experience. Knowing that strategy games only come together late in their dev cycles … I’m sure you can see the issue.
And so … Solium Infernum’s Technical Demo
This year we’ll be asking people to join our first Technical Demo.
The technical demo will be rough around the edges and likely imbalanced, but having the game tested in your hands and the feedback we receive helps us understand and focus on the areas of the game that really need it.
If you were interested in partaking in Solium Infernum’s Playtesting, join the League of Geek’s Discord Server – you’ll receive regular news, updates and be able to discuss all things SI there.
You’ll also be the first to know when the first round Technical Demo kicks off.
Some of you have expressed keen excitement to help out with this game, and aside from playing it and providing us with feedback, the other critical thing is to help champion the cause. As early fans and cult followers, you know all the potential that this game has – otherwise you would of course not be here right now. Perhaps you’re part of our Discord group, or perhaps you have Wishlisted this game in hopes it scratches an itch you’ve held for a while.
The best thing you could do for our team right now is to share what we’re doing with the people you know will be interested. Whether they are long-term fans of SI, or complete beginners, everyone is welcome to join up in our playtesting rounds.
Your accomplices and yourself can find more information by joining our aforementioned Discord Server.
Looking Ahead to a New
Solium Infernum is the sum of complex interlocking mechanics and systems, where the player’s experience truly emerges when these mechanics combine with the game’s aesthetics. Within our Game Design process, we’ve been using a kind of beneficial simplification while re-imagining what Solium Infernum would look like with current development tools.
There’s something special about Solium Infernum that you risk undoing when you pull it apart and reassemble it – even with the best intentions. You may accidentally find yourself dabbling in the black arts. Counter-intuitively, the strange quirks and perceived flaws may actually be some of the ingredients that gave it its X-factor in the first place.
This means we’re looking for the most obvious forms of friction, confusion, or complexity and seeing if there’s a smoother method – looking through a modern design lens utilizing an additional decade of game theory that has passed since the original Solium was released.
Ultimately, you can pre-empt and predict a design to the best of your ability, but you will never be able to understand the true experience until you’re playing a (near) complete game. What is on the player’s screen is – truly — the only thing that matters.
The new Solium Infernum will have its own unique feel – it won’t be exactly the same as its predecessor. It will be different, but that’s okay. Not knowing exactly what that feeling is going to be is actually exciting.
These kinds of beneficial simplifications are flush throughout the design; the UI is massively upgraded to modern game standards, information is far easier to access (there were no tooltips in Classic SI, only a gigantic PDF manual!), and Praetor Dueling is currently being massively overhauled, keeping the tension while simplifying the amount of time required by the player to program moves.
In classic Solium Infernum, you would only see the outcome of your Orders as returned reports. Now, you are able to see them play out after you push “End Turn”. This alone changes the way the game feels, and presents some interesting problems – for example, being able to determine who did what on the map by observing turn orders – in a game of secrecy this is bad news! We’ve had to work at finding creative solutions to these unwelcome surprises.
Solium Infernum is about difficult decisions and a certain paranoia…
… There should be enough complexity that you should be worried that you may have miscalculated your plans or that of your opponents …
Legion battles still involve comparing Ranged, Melee, and Infernal ratings of a Legion in battle (along with any other factors), but we remove complexity by only having one ‘round’ of battle (in Classic SI a battle lasted two rounds, meaning even more mind-maths).
Then we have the greatest Devil of all… Wrapping Boards.
The Infinite Game Board
The infinite board is a feature carried over from the original Solium Infernum that’s surprisingly novel and infernally wicked. The beauty of it is that there are no safe sides in hell, you can’t back yourself into a corner – you’re exposed on all sides. You always have to factor in all directions into your strategies (unless of course, you’ve conquered all land across the map, in which case your empire wraps around itself!). This is a wonderful mechanic that not only emphasizes the nature of eternal hell but hasn’t been seen as a game concept quite in this way before.
But what seemed like an easy win … wasn’t.
I asked Matt, engineer extraordinaire condemned to make this system work, to describe the challenges they faced:
“The infinite board is a surprisingly tricky system to implement. At first, it sounds simple, but as soon as you start working on it all kinds of Gremlins pop out. For example, visible terrain seams along the “edges” of the board, have been a persistent problem. Pathfinding across board edges also presents a challenge and can result in troops marching all the way across the world, in the opposite direction, to reach the hex next to them. In addition to these, the infinite board feature can cause issues with camera movement, UI, audio and visual effects, not to mention the need for a bunch of custom rendering systems.”
We’re really proud of where the repeating board has ended up. Not only does it repeat seamlessly as you scroll across the ashen wastes, but it’s completely procedural nature means each game will be totally unique. The map is constructed with hexes, but it’s so seamless that unless you turn on the grid overlay you wouldn’t know it …
Of course, understanding the complexity presented by Solium Infernum, we will explore each of the items brushed over in this Developer’s Log in greater detail in the future… But for now, hold faith that even given any changes and difficulties, the game we know and love is still there.
We’ll go into each of these features further down the line in future events and Developer Logs..
As I mentioned before, if you wanted more regular updates, I highly recommend hopping into the League of Geeks Official Discord Server right here ?? Click me!
But for now…
See you in Hell,