It’s Been a While
Man, we only just realized it’s been more than two months since we did one of these. At the time of last writing, things were moving pretty slowly, so we figured continuing to try to get devlogs out weekly would over-saturate our market, so to speak. As a result, we decided to hold off for a little while. Then March and April hit, and the exact opposite happened. The past month or so have been nonstop action, both in and out of the game. We’ve put in new major features, updated others, and driven up and down the Eastern Seaboard to various events. But now, we are finally (temporarily) free of hard deadlines and actually have some time to tell those of you who haven’t seen our game firsthand some of what’s changed. So, here we go. Let’s start with the big one. The elephant, or dog, if you will, in the room.
Anubis – God of the Dead
Montu and Isis had been in Sons of Ra alone and unchanged for more than 6 months. We for a long time wished to add more deities from which players could choose to bring with them into battle. Well, we finally had the time to devote to bringing in a third, and we decided to go big.
Anubis is prominent in Ancient Egyptian myth, and we wanted to make the abilities he grants the player fun, engaging, and respectful to his depiction in history. As such, we start with his ultimate blessing, Embalming. This was the big new thing we wanted to try with Anubis. Up to this point, we have had 3 kinds of blessings in Sons of Ra – active blessings, ones that the player casts at a location for some effect (i.e. Solar Flare and Tower Lock), buff blessings, which give all the player’s units some temporary effect (like Immunity or Recovery), and global blessings, those that apply an effect to every unit across the map (Earthquake).
Embalming is the first Unit Blessing. It lets the player pay favor for a special unit with a unique effect. In this case, it lets you spawn an Embalming Priest, a ranged unit that applies a debuff called Embalm to units whose attacks it hits, and units who hit it with melee attacks, for a couple of seconds. If Embalm is active on a unit when the unit dies, it spawns a mummy to fight on the team of the other player. This blessing has the ability to, when played correctly, turn the tide of battle as you turn a player’s own forces against them. Since we introduced Anubis just before East Coast Games Conference, players there and at RPI Gamefest really seemed to enjoy this ability.
Fun dev fact regarding this ability – Anubis was initially heavy in development back in January, but the behind-the-scenes complexity of spawning mummies at arbitrary spots in lane was taking far too long to solve, and Jeff had to drop Anubis in lieu of other major outstanding tasks. As you can see though, he finally figured it out. And didn’t let the rest of the team hear the end of it.
Anubis’ second unique blessing is Decay. It is an active blessing that allows a player to place a long-lasting damaging aura on the battlefield, that does damage over time to all units inside of it. It’s pretty simple in effect, but requires smart placement as it is at its strongest when you are able to keep your opponents inside of the effect for an extended time.
Lastly, Anubis’ two basic blessings are Haste and Recovery, which you have already seen on Montu and Isis. Together, these abilities create a very unit-centric gameplay style for Anubis, which is a much more specific strategy than those employed by Isis and Montu, who are a bit more all-purpose in terms of gameplay. We hope you’re really excited to try him out!
Back to the Drawing… Wall….
Remember wayyyyy back when when we upgraded patron deity select to be styled like wall carvings or paintings of the chosen gods? Well, we went through a major second iteration on that menu in the interest of information communication and better showing off Mark’s art of the deities… which has also been redone since our initial design of the wall to be more iconic:
But onto the wall itself. Like we mentioned, we wanted to feature the art of the deities more than the art of the wall, so we greatly simplified the wall itself and re-positioned a lot of information on the UI. Here it is to see.
As you can see, the deity art is much more prominent now, and blessing icons are displayed more centrally in the screen. We also added a little bit of game feel as far as looking at blessing detail goes.
Overall, we’re really happy with how the new wall feels, and think that it adds a lot to the game.
But Wait, There’s More!
These were some of our biggest updates since last speaking, but we’ve still got a couple more things. First is a more in-theme pause menu.
As a fun added bonus, those images of the gods on the left and right will correspond to who the players have selected for the game! Our loading screens also got a small thematic overhaul in terms of text and color.
We also made some small gameplay changes, like a refinement of the tower placement system so that area of influence can no longer be shared between the two players if their areas overlap. It’s first come first serve now (until you take out the other player’s towers).
We also have new particle effects for Immunity to make it feel a bit more “ultimate”…
… and a shiny new splash screen!
Whew, that was a lot to type out. There’s still more coming behind the scenes that we’re excited to share, but the stuff we’re working on these days take a bit longer to perfect, so we won’t be trying to get devlogs out on a determined schedule. Instead, we’ll do like we did with this one, where we’ll wait until we have something really cool and complete to show (though maybe a little more frequently, so we don’t have gigantic info dumps like this). Hope you enjoyed it, and see you next time.