Discord, Patreon and closed Beta testing

 

After many years of work, Ymir is now finally in closed Beta and being tested by its first ‘external’ players for the past 2 months.
Since then , the Ymir Discord (directly accessible from this website)  has become the main place of activity for the ‘community’ of the game and to follow the project more closely which is also why i’ve been late in posting news about the progress of the game here.
In the discord, some members received temporary ‘pig pioneer’ status with access to the closed beta and received a temporary steam key that will be revoked when the testing phase is over.

Patreon and game keys
But besides that, I’ve also opened a Patreon account and I decided to add some rewards as promised after the initial objective of 200$ per month was reached.
From now on, all donators who accumulate lifetime donations of 40$ or more will receive a permanent key of the game (accessing the closed beta as well but not revoked when its over).
– Patreon emphasizes monthly donations, but if you wish it is possible to donate only for one month and then cancel your pledge the next month. You can donate 40$ only for one month and receive a key to access the game.
– 40$ is more than what the game will be initially sold for on steam at its release. Its a way to support the development of the game and not just a “pre-sale”. If you’re only interested in buying the final product for what it’s worth, its probably best you wait for the actual release!
– For now, payments on Patreon are only processed at the beginning of the next month. You can still cancel during the whole time before that! But that also means you will only receive the key once the payment is processed the next month.
Besides the Patreon i’ll probably still release ‘pioneer’ free but temporary keys to testers, but at my own discretion on the Discord! 

Victory missions & player scores
Adding new big features to the game is pretty much done now, until the game is actually released. 
Still, the biggest added thing since the last news is victory missions, victory points and player scores.
To win a game, a player needs to gather 100 victory points which can be earned in 2 ways : by completing victory missions, or by having a score higher than the ‘average score’.

Victory missions are common to all players and only the first one to complete it gets permanent victory points in rewards. Victory missions include objectives such as being the first to produce or accumulate some resources, discovering a new tech, reaching a certain level of population intelligence, amount, or life-quality in your city etc…
The objectives are procedurally generated depending on the current state of all players to be reachable but not too easy to complete.
Then there’s the score, calculated by combining various stats of your society : wealth, culture, knowledges (techs) and military strength.
Based on the scores of all current characters, an ‘average score’ is calculated plus a score cost for victory points.
All characters with a score higher than that average receive victory points based on the score cost of each point. example if you have a score of 1800 and the average is 1400 and the score cost of each point is 50, you’ll receive 8 victory points. Unlike the victory points from missions, the ones earned from the score fluctuate and you can earn or lose them depending of how your score evolves in relation with the average one. Its also not possible to win the game only with score points, in all cases you need to complete at least a few missions to win. 

The new score leader-board allows you to see your rank and the details of your score. Here i am 2nd despite having a lower score than the 3rd player, because i completed more victory missions giving me extra victory points.

Servers lobby
I added basic support of steam lobbies, and created a server list making it easier to see and join games instead of relying on direct IP only. 

the new servers lobby

Terrain tile infos
Maintaining right-click now gives infos about the hovered terrain tile : fertility level, terrain type, objects on it like trees, and also listing of all potential resources exploitable on this tile allowing you to identify ores and such.

Resource locators
Still based on testers feedback, i added ‘locators’ that will help you see exploitable resources when placing buildings such as the Hunter or the Gathering camps.

Tutorial
A starting tutorial, Sagacious Pig, has been added to help new players in the game step by step based on the feedback from the first testers.
Additional parts to the tutorial are planned and remain to be added.

Besides all that, most of the work has actually been about fixing countless issues, bugs, and re-balancing things in the game. 

Why Patreon rewards & personal situation
This is the result of 2 things.
First the fact the Patreon reached its goal of 200$ for which I had promised rewards, and secondly the fact that my financial situation is a bit tricky right now so i could use the help :troll: .
As i explained in Patreon, i would like to relocate before releasing the game. But currently I depend on a small state subsidy which i’d really like to stop relying on. If I relocate, I obviously lose it, and without it what’s left of my savings won’t last more than a few months….
So i’m stuck and right now my best hope would be to be able to replace that subsidy with Patreon. This way i would be able to relocate where i need to for the release. I would still be depleting my savings, but at the same rate as I am right now here which still gives me some time!
Without it i’m not sure yet how i’ll manage relocate and might have to do everything last minute which is a bit complicated or loan money which i’d like to avoid at all costs…
I have to say reaching the goal of about 800$ a month would be a tremendous help for me and would solve quite a stressful problem i have to deal with in parallel of working on the game itself!

Technologies : Step 5/5 is complete!

Technologies
The last main step to complete a releasable version of Ymir is finally complete: technologies.
Technologies work in 3 steps : Ideas, Projects, and Knowledges. 
Ideas are events that are triggered by special parameters that are hidden to the player. Each idea has its own parameters such as owning certain buildings, having a certain amount of a certain class of population, producing or missing an amount of a type of resource, having a natural resource etc…
When an idea appears, it unlock a Project. The project is visible to the player and all available projects are listed in his government menu. Projects are tasks that can costs money or resources and need researchers to be assigned to it. Once completed , a project gives the player a new Knowledge. Each project requires a specific population class as researchers : for instance an agricultural one will require Farmers. To start the project , the player has to assign a certain amount of this population class to the project, but it will reduce proportionally their productivity in their respective buildings ( If a project requires Farmers and half the available farmers are assigned to it, all Farms will have their workforce reduced by half ).
Knowledges are the actual ‘techs’ : they unlock new buildings, new resources, new policies etc. Each knowledge however requires a certain amount of ‘knowledge storage’ points, depending on how complex it is. Knowledge points represent the capacity of your society to hold and remember all its techs and skills and it is increased by 2 things : your total culture (and therefore the amount of total population in your society ) and libraries ( once you develop some form of writting ). You cannot get new knowledges if you reached your current limit.

The “knowledges” tab of the government menu, listing all the currently available projects and all the currently held knowledges on the left ( many texts for projects and techs are still missing, for there is a lot of them to write! ).

Worldmap exploration events
I also added worldmap exploration (black tiles until you explore them a first time) and Exploration events. Exploration events are triggered each time you move and uncover new tiles in the worldmap. Its on a per-player basis so events will be triggered regardless of other players exploring the same tile previously. 
These events are here to make the early game more eventful , as your expeditions can discover useful loots and be joined by new units but also face many dangers.  Once an area is explored it no longer triggers these events to move through it, making the path “safe”. It adds challenge and a feeling of ‘distance’ preventing players from easily discovering the whole world right from the start.

New early game defenses
I added new early-game defenses : simple walls ( palisades ) and  new freestanding defensive ‘stone age’ tower. Those simple walls are breachable like doors, unlike the big “platform” walls that have to be climbed by the enemy. The wooden palisade is available right from the start and allows to quickly defend your early village and take advantage of natural positions as the big “platform” walls are only available much later in game.

Herds and hunting
Also to  make early game more eventful, I’ve added Herds and a new hunting action. Herds are groups of neutral animal units ( a formation belonging to the Gaia npc faction ) that can be attacked to ‘hunt’ them and will give you big loots of meat and leather to boost your early cities. Unlike a ‘resource spot’ of animals in a region that you can continuously exploit with a hunter building, herds are actual units – like an army – visible on the world map and with a finite amount of animals. They will give you a lot of food at once, but once killed the herd disappears. 
Sometimes herds will spawn from events near your villages in early game. Otherwise you’ll have to explore the worldmap to find new herds before other players, and, as explained up, exploring is now a risky thing.
Hunting a herd actually triggers a ‘battle’ where your units try to kill all the animals, so depending on the animal’s stats it can be more or less dangerous. Once you mastered the knowledge of “animal capture”, it will also give you chances to capture some animals alive which you can then use as livestock and later on to start animal husbandry.

What now ?
The closed testing of Ymir before its release should begin soon. To participate you’re welcome to join the Ymir Discord where the announcement and organizing will be done when the time comes.
Before that, i’m busy doing various misc tasks of ‘polishing’ the game : fixing various issues i kept postponing, bugs, improving some things etc. For instance i redesigned some UIs ( got rid of the top bar ) and replaced all the placeholder icons. I’m already testing the game with only a few friends and re-balancing / adding contents based on the feedback.
Amongst these polishing tasks it now appeared necessary to include a more detailed tutorial. I also need to add more events including Victory Point missions : global missions that award victory points to the first player that completes it, so that the game can have a formal ending. 
Once all these misc tasks are completed, closed testing will begin distributing gradually an increasing number of temporary steam keys ( up to about 200 ) . After testing is complete, the game will then be formally released in ‘early access’.  

 

Discord and Porcopedia

Hi!

I’ve opened a Discord server for the game future community. Everyone is welcome to join (its now linked as a tab in the top bar of the website). 
This discord is where the beta testing will be organized when the time come. In the meantime its just going to be pretty quiet, but you can already join to follow the progress and be informed when the testing starts!

A wiki as also been added to the website. Its empty for now and i’m still trying to figure out how to use it properly, but eventually it will hopefully become the official wiki of the game to provide all the necessary game documentation. However there’s no way i’ll have time to do this myself, so i hope the first testers and players will help to add content to it.

AI barbarian waves : Step 4/5 is complete!

I ended up inverting the 2 last tasks and completing the AI waves system instead of the Techs first ( though the work on the Tech system is under way ).

So i have now added a basic system of barbarian ‘waves’, which adds challenge to the game and purpose to defending your cities.
The point of this system is also to allow players to regularly experience battles and improve their strategy, as wars between players will be much more rare and punitive (as, like in reality, when someone attacks its usually because they already made sure they would have all the chances to win ).
Its also a simple thing that added a lot to the fun of the game, as there’s now a ‘stress’ to develop and to be efficient enough to keep up with the increasing difficulty. It also adds the possibility to actually lose the game, which is important to make things fun!

Barbarian cities appear near your settlements and every once in a while they spawn a barabarian warband that will try to raid or sack one of your cities.
They increase in difficulty with time and eventually will even attempt to invade. After a while it gets quite challenging to deal with them, and it also opens opportunities for your human player enemies.
The barbarian cities can be attacked and destroyed, which allows you to recover all the ressources they have pillaged and managed to take back to their city. You could eventually get rid of barbarian waves if you destroyed ALL the barbarian cities around you, to a certain radius.
Its important to note that this is a gameplay feature independent of game rules: the barbarian raids are spawned from nothing, and depart from any nearby barbarian region to target one of your regions.
Their choice of units is affected by their region of departure:  you’ll face different units if its a barbarian camp located in an arid region or a nordic one.
Each player now has a ‘hidden’ system of game-events points and difficulty. With time, difficulty increases and increments points that will trigger negative or positive events. For now , AI barbarian waves are the only event, but of course with time other will be added to this, to make things more interesting. This is a component based and tailored for each player, meaning a player joining a game late would start with a low difficulty while the ones already there would face much more challenging events.

Barbarian cities now spawn automatically near your settlements and regularly launch raiding parties to pillage your lands.

There is also a new NPC faction called the Free cities, which also spawns cities around players in the same way barbarians do. For now they’re useless, but eventually they will export and purchase things on the market. All players are by default at peace with these cities with trading rights opened. The point of  these cities is to ensure a minimum of trading activity and to provide basic natural ressources, as you can hardly get them all yourself.

These new features also mark the completion of the first foundations required to eventually develop proper AI players: there’s now the embryo of an AI that manages these barbarian and NPC regions. It’s able to place some basic buildings and i’ve started to organize how it will ‘think’ to face problems and develop regions. Eventually i’ll develop this enough to allow the Free cities to exploit successfully their natural ressources and sell them on the market as well as buying resources sold by players. And on an even longer term, this region AI will be used as a base to create a proper “AI player”.

Besides all that i’ve playtested the game for more than 50 hours with a couple of friends. Only with 3-4 players in “realtime mode” for now, but its been quite fun especially since the addition of the barbarian waves that added spice to the game. This has allowed me to fix countless bugs and balancing issues.
These tests lead to the addition of some miscellaneous new features such as:

Burning buildings during a barbarian raid

– maintenance and state power costs for active policies
– maintenance cost for infrastructures like walls or gardens (making it impossible to build an infinite citadel of walls, as its now pretty expensive to maintain)
– added a new policy: a state subvention allowing you to help a specific class of population ( gives additional income to the population class, paid by the state ).
– burning buildings effect during battles (cosmetic effect to add ambiance, instead of the building switching instantaneously to ruins when destroyed by enemy troops)
– range attack bonus/malus depending on the height difference. Archers on top of cliffs or walls now have a damage bonus + a bonus to hit while its inverted for range units trying to target them from lower positions.
– range attack malus against moving units (proportionally to the target’s speed )
– new charging bonus for melee units based on unit’s mass and movement speed.
– a new ‘reach’ stat for melee weapons ( spears have a higher reach than short-swords ) , affecting many things in combat like giving a bonus against high-mass units like cavalry.
– ground fertility now affects the fields productivity.
– arid and desertic rivers now generate a new highly fertile ground type, giving more specific pros and cons to these climates : smaller agricultural surface but highly productive, which is a big bonus in early game ( less fields to make but produces much more )  while in late game you won’t be able to produce as much as a continental region because of the smaller available surface. Regions with gravely ground types (low fertility) like hills are now at a disadvantage for agriculture, compensating for their defensive advantages.

The great “battle of the 4 armies” that ended one of our test games : while the red player was attacked by a massive barbarian army, the blue player launched a surprise attack as well while i sent reinforcements to help defend the red city. An epic battle ensued, while reinforcements from all sides rushed to the city, extending the battle… Eventually the city was successfully defended with only a few troops left standing. The blue player made a mistake attacking too soon: his army ended up fighting both the red garrison of the fort and the barbarians raiders – who are hostile to everyone! Had he waited a bit more, and the victory would’ve surely been his.

The industrial district of Cochonville, during a test game.