Dev Blog: Black Forest, Beta 10

A large update is uploading while I write this. The first thing to notice is that I have changed the name of the game back to Black Forest. I thought it a cute idea to use the german name (“Schwarzwald”), but it turns out that for many non-germans this is a much higher barrier than I had assumed. So here we are:

Aside from the name, what else is new?

Minor Changes

  • There are now links to the Facebook and Steam Greenlight page in the menu, as well as a link to the official Black Forest website.
  • A few sound effects have been added to the forst.
  • The diary reader now correctly displays village information.
  • The game now shows the current build and API version on the screen, to help with troubleshooting.
  • Henhouse description has been updated.
  • Strings are now correctly unescaped (i.e. the ugly \ that sometimes appeared in chat and diary are gone)
  • The actions panel and family info have received small bugfixes
  • Pathfinding when improving or repairing houses has been fixed
  • Small rebalance of monster damage for high-end monsters
  • Many small bugfixes and improvements

All of these are just the result of ongoing development and work on the game. Slowly but surely, it is being polished and made ready for release.

Major Changes

So let’s talk about the two major changes that this new build brings:

Food Yield Increase

While numerically small, this should have a big impact on gameplay. Fields now yield 7 (instead of 6) food during summer. I expect this to affect gameplay in various ways. Firstly, it means the well matters every day. You can lose up to 3 food if the well is not manned. Secondly, it shifts the balance a little more towards fields, away from henhouses. Having henhouses is still a good idea, but you may want to delay their building until autumn, because during summer fields are now the much better choice.

Why? Math.

A field takes 1 action to plant and 1 action to harvest, and a total of 3 turns to be ready. It will (ideally) yield you 7 food.

Building a henhouse takes 6 wood, which equals 2 actions of gathering plus one action of building. In 3 turns, it statistically gives you 1.8 eggs (60% chance of eggs every turn).

If you want, you can do the math yourself. It turns out that one peasant can make a consistent 3.5 food a day with fields. You need 6 henhouses for the same result, which take 36 wood to build which take 12 actions to gather. By the time your henhouses are up and running, the farmer has already made a nice surplus.

Things change during winter, when fields drop down to 4 food. Now having a bunch of henhouses is great. That is the whole purpose of this change. Both approaches to feed your peasants have their advantages, and the right strategy is figuring out the right balance that works for you.

The summer is now a time to make a surplus of food and store it for the times when food is more difficult to come by. Then, during autumn, you can calmly build up henhouses, for example.

The Market

With Build 10, markets will appear on the map:

At the moment, they do nothing. It will still take some time to finish them, but behind-the-scenes a lot of the server-side code is being put into place, so markets will probably work in Build 11.

The market is how I plan to monetize the game, which is a fancy word for: Make a little bit of money to pay for all the models, sounds, tools, Steam and Apple developer access and so on that I bought for the game. However, I have spent a lot of time figuring out a system that will not impact the game in a negative way.

The idea is very simple: Every time you do something in the game, you get a point of Karma for it. You plant a field — 1 point of farming karma. You harvest a field — also. You build something — 1 point of construction karma. And so on.

You will also get coins, silver and gold, for various successes in the game. There is a full list in the karma section of the manual. And coins can also be purchased with real money.

Both karma and coins are spent to trade for resources. In other words: At the market you can get wood, stone and food. Immediately, without using up a peasant action.

Since only coins can be bought with real money, not karma, you are still limited in how much you can get through the market. No matter how much money a player is willing to spend, he will not be able to dominate the game, due to these double restrictions.

Additionally, the market is a building on the map. It can be destroyed, just like the watchtower or well. In the end-game, when it is all about winning and only a few players are left, it is unlikely that the market has survived, so the winner will not win because he bought it.

These things are important to me, I despise pay-2-win games.

Summary

We have a wonderful new build out and I’m proud of the progress that has been made, even though this time it took three weeks between builds.

There are more things still to come and a few known bugs are still on my list to be fixed in one of the next builds.

Meanwhile more games are running and more players are joining and the Steam Greenlight Campaign is doing nicely, though if you haven’t done it already, go over there and give the game a thumbs up.

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