Friday, September 13, 2019

Queen's Wish Is Out. Here's Why It's So Weird!

All new. All different.

Now that we've finally released our new game, Queen's Wish: The Conqueror, we're finally free to talk about it! Nerdy game-design talking!

We have been writing role-playing games for a very, very long time. It's what we do. One of the ways we stay sane while doing this is to change things. Every game or two, we like to change stuff: The graphics. The setting. The game system.

Doing new things inspires us and keeps our brains fresh. After 25 years, we want to innovate. Stretch the form. Take risks, win or lose.

The problem is that whenever you make a change some people will get mad. Whatever change you make, some people will dislike it. (Which is reasonable. People like what the like.) It is then the responsibility of the developer to earn new customers to make up for the ones driven away by the changes. (which is difficult and scary.)

Our newest game, Queen's Wish: The Conqueror, changes EVERYTHING. It's a completely new RPG, rewritten from the ground up.

Some of the changes, like the graphics and the storyline, will be pretty self-evident. Some people will like them, and some won't. I hope you're cool with it, but it's out of my hands now.

There Is One Way I Can Make Things Easier

There is one thing I can help with, though. I've changed a lot of rules and ways the game system works. For decades, we've set up stuff in a certain way, and now it's different, and it's caused some confusion among our testers.

So, for our long-time fans, this is a quick guide to the stuff we've changed. This will help you avoid confusion and kill monsters with maximal efficiency.

I don't want you to waste your time. Every dungeon you enter, you can WIN. You have to win. If not ...

1. Trash Monsters Don't Get Experience

This is the single change that makes people the most angry. You get experience with victories. Completing quests, defeating dungeons, these are what give experience.

Sneaking into a dungeon, killing two wolves, and running out doesn't reward you. You have to enter every dungeon determined to get victory. Coffee is for closers.

I understand the anger about this change. A lot of people play RPGs to get that constant dopamine drip of tiny rewards. I'm trying to do a different thing here, and it's going to cost us money. I don't want you to waste your time killing the same 3 brigands again and again and again. I want you to always be pushing forward, exploring new areas, defeating new foes, trying new things.

2. You Have To Do Dungeons In One Trip

Along the same lines as #1. Your enemies can get reinforcements. You can't dip into a dungeon, kill a few monsters, return to town to rest, and repeat until the adventure is whittled away. You have to use strategy and conserve your power to defeat dungeons in one trip.

Don't let this stress you out, though. We have worked really hard on balance. On Normal difficulty, the dungeons should be exciting and suspenseful without being punishing. If you want a true tactical challenge, on the other hand, Veteran and Torment difficulties are there for you.

3. You Don't Have Much Energy, But Effects Are Powerful

In our earlier games, you had tons of energy and cast lost of spells all the time, but they had less of an effect. In Queen's Wish, you have less energy (though killing foes refreshes it). The effects are quite powerful, but you will have to take care to use them when they can have maximal impact.

If character development seems to simple, remember that how you improve your forts is a major part of your character build. There's lot of complexity, but I don't hit you with it all at the beginning.

4. Healing is Weaker. Crowd Control is Stronger.

It is more important to control your foes than to just let them bonk you and heal the damage. You will have a full suite of stun and terror abilities to get your enemies under control.

A nice tip: Many of your ability make your next weapon blow have a special effect (like causing bleeding or stun). These abilities help attacks from bows and wands too. You can have your archer stun the evil wizards in the back row!

5. You Make the Best Gear In Your Forts

The dungeons still have good treasure, of course. However, your most important reward for completing missions is resources for your forts. Then you can build new smithies, alchemists, etc. The more smithies you build, the better the gear you can get.

Having trouble in a dungeon? Remember that the best gear is sold in your forts. Go back to one of them, build a new smithy, and do some shopping. It will help a lot!

There are over 40 base abilities. Some are core. Some are situational. Some dungeons on higher difficulties may require special character builds.

6. You Can Change Around Your Skills At Will

When you train your character in a set of abilities, you can unlearn those abilities in your forts at will. Some abilities are more useful in certain regions.

On Normal difficulty, this probably won't be necessary. In higher difficulty levels, you might need to change your skill loadout or switch to alternate characters to overcome certain challenges.

You may find the Queen's Wish system is way deeper than it appears at first. You'll have to make a lot of decisions about how to build up your forts and how to shift your skills around to deal with new foes.

7. No More Junk Items

For the last couple decades, there were lots of small incidental items (like spoons or bricks) scattered around to add flavor to areas. These aren't in Queen's Wish. Boxes only contain treasure. You don't get to collect a millions small items, but, on the other hand, there's no need to collect a million small items.

Your backpack is only for useful items. It has limited space, so you have to decide what to take with you into a dungeon. Fortunately, it's not hard to make your pack bigger.

And If You Hate These Changes?

Don't worry! We will still be remastering our old games, and we will leave the things you like in them alone as much as possible. Our next game will be a remaster of our beloved old Geneforge, and we promise to respect what you loved about it.

Anyway, Queen's Wish: The Conqueror for Windows and Mac is out. The iPad and iPhone version will be out late in the year. Thank you for your patience with this new world, and we hope you love these games half as much as we do!

59 comments:

  1. (By the way, I just checked on Steam, and our refund rate is actually very, very low. I have to make sure I'm not making the classic mistake of obsessing too much about a very small number of very angry people.)

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    Replies
    1. "RIP Spiderweb Software... Dead to me"? Wow. People are funny.

      I find myself wandering around pressing G to see if there are items on the ground I can pick up as a conditioned reflex from your older games-- On reflection, I DEFINITELY approve of having clearly marked treasure instead.

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    2. How does the "conversion rate" from the demo compare to the usual?

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  2. So happy to hear about the Geneforge remaster :D

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  3. I have been kinda thrilled by the system so far. It feels... good. And it's pretty simple. My default with this sort of skill... layer cake (it's not a tree) is still like, get to the end of a branch asap. But I gave one of my fighters a magic skill. Not because she needs it, but because it unlocked an extra point of energy.

    I don't have to worry about stat points. I get damage and armor buffs with expanding my forts... which makes material income feel like skill points.

    But the weirdest shift, I was kinda happy to tote some garbage weapons out of a dungeon to sell, because money is actually valuable! I need it to buy equipment and places that sell equipment. Also, it was only a couple knives, and not, like, 40 leather jerkins. Keeping the # of items small makes them easier to remember. If I forget half the gameplay when I'm done... was that a good use of time? How would I know? (gamer existential dread incoming)

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    Replies
    1. The first-tier magic passive skill that increases your buff duration is good for everybody anyway. My fighters use the feint attack that blesses and hastes a LOT.

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  4. Love the no more junk items change. Not that I picked up that many, but you always had to at least check. Dungeon crawl is much more focused on the fights and that sweet, shiny chest at the end.

    Also finding that improving the forts is a really fun mechanic. I find that more motivating than just gearing / leveling up my characters. Especially since a lot of the buildings provide benefits for all characters.

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  5. The thing I like best about the systems is how much they downplay the "RPG murderhobo" issue. You aren't a sociopathic packrack hoovering up everything that isn't bolted down while killing everything that crosses their path, because the game doesn't incentivize that kind of play. Kill only what you need to to get the job done. Take only what's *really* valuable. Usually the most valuable thing you get from that mine you just liberated is the mine itself, not anything in it!

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    Replies
    1. Well, you still have to kill (nearly) everything that's in your path, 'cause you can't avoid most random encounters and I've never been able to flee one.

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    2. I had one lone survivor successfully escape from a tidal wave of spreading ooze gone wrong, once. I was pretty happy about that.

      And it seems like it may have removed the encounter from the map, same as beating it would have?

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    3. @baud001: sure, there's lots of killing involved. But I never feel obligated to kill just for killing's sake. It's always because the enemy is between me and something that I want/need. It's a fine but crucial distinction. Similarly, I now have an incentive to try to avoid monsters wandering around the overworld. Every group I can sneak past is one less that I have to fight. I find this much more interesting than mindlessly beelining every blob of experience that's meandering about the map.

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    4. You're totally a sociopathic packrat. It's just that you're the King. When you leave them their stuff, they're holding it for you :D

      Delete

  6. El juego es diferente y estoy teniendo dificultades adaptandome a los cambios... en lo personal los cambios no fueron de mi agrado. pero seguire jugando un monto razonable de horas hasta que me guste o decida dejarlo
    The game is different and I am having difficulties adapting to the changes ... personally the changes were not to my liking. but I will continue to play a reasonable amount of hours until I like it or decide to leave it

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  7. I love all of these changes. There is a lot of cruft in CRPG tradition that's either immersion breaking (incentives to kill everything), a pointless waste of time (stealing everything not nailed down), or encourages degenerate gameplay (grinding enemies), and I think you've done a great job of shedding much of it.

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  8. All the changes look good to me. Interesting balancing the old school stuff with new... although I will note that IIRC 1st Ed AD&D had a bunch of stuff in it around forts and followers. It's all a remix! ;)

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  9. I really like every change made... Queen's Wish is my favorite Spiderweb game \m/

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  10. I own pretty much all of your games, including CD copies of Avernum 1-3 and Blades of Avernum. Your changes sound... well... pretty awesome, actually. I'll be buying this for sure, even though I've actually finished very few of your games. :D

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  13. I like how things work here. Get to focus more on the exploration.

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  14. Replies
    1. The Windows version will probably run in Wine. Did you try it?

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    2. Because Spiderweb Software never does Linux ports? But it does indeed work fine under Wine. (I play all of Spiderweb's games on Linux via Wine.)

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    3. Yes, it does work in Wine but with annoying slowdowns when there are hit animations in battle. Native Linux version is still very welcome.

      Delete
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  16. I was planning to wait a while to buy and play this, but you just sold me on the game. From what you've described, this is the sort of challenge and gameplay that I've wanted from rpgs for a long time now!

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  17. I'm really liking the changes so far. Thanks for taking the risk on shaking things up.

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  18. Very nice article. It sheds light on some aspects of Queen's Wish that deserve attention. This article sold me on the game. RPG games have been struggling to face problems that have been there since the original D&D appeared. Spiderweb has dared facing these problems in a valiant way. AAA titles ought to learn from it.

    Some aspects of the novelties among those that deserve to be mentioned:

    1) They discourage degenerate gameplay. This is the best one. No need to steal whatever is not nailed to the ground, no need for grinding, no need for killing everything on sight. All this makes lots of sense. What is lost? Your character does not learn from defeats. HOWEVER, the player does.

    2)The game blends a strategic, country management layer with the RP layer seamlessly. The game lets the player feel that as ruler, diplomat, head of armies, he can get done way more than just as an adventurer.

    3)The game has become very goal-oriented and exploration oriented. It also discourages killing for the sake of killing.

    5)The PC and the party are not incompetent at the start of the game. Quite the opposite. It feels natural that the challenges will be tough. This makes lots of sense. The party feel as able people, not dimwits, as happens in many RPG at character creation.

    6)The game sheds tired tropes from RPG: you are not amnesiac, you are not an orphan, you are not a lowly character either. You know your background well, and that background provides the basis for the whole game, while still giving your PC lots of freedom to be whatever is going to become.

    Congratulations on the game. May it give birth to many sequels.

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    Replies
    1. Great blog post by Mr. Vogel and I agree with Jomi's response completely. Different is good. If you want the same old thing, there's plenty of ways to get that.

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  19. Adding the missing point, not without some trepidation:

    4)Many computer RPG foster irreflexive and destructive behavior patterns. On the other hand, Spiderweb games always invites the player to reflect about what is happening and about the options available. Queen's Wish goes a bit further in this aspect, since, by design, the game mechanics actually make necessary for the player to think and ponder in order to progress, while, on the side, the lore and characters in game provide materials for reflection if the person playing so wishes. This means, productive, healthier behavior patterns are encouraged (while leaving freedom for your character to behave in a way as dark, as noble or as imperfectly gray as you wish).

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  20. Not system-related, but I wish you could have added some death animations and dead body graphics. I really like the graphcis in general and think they're better than the isometric stuff, but enemies flying off-screen looks really bad IMO.

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  22. My favorite change - the removal of junk items. My least favorite change - you can't move very far in one combat turn. All things considered, I give it 10/10.

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  23. It´s too subjetive an issue on how crpgs should be done. Purists will come telling people they play "degenerately" just by liking to get everything not "nailed down", and grinding enemies to get exp and money. I like those "degenerate" gameplay features. Purists will always try to be elitists, while they play us their tastes as the best ones. Not true. It´s just your subjetivity, nothing to be imposed on others.

    Though, i like this game as it is just enuoghly amusing to me, i have played all other games by Jeff too, liked them all.

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  24. Queen's Wish has the best presentation ever for a Spiderweb game, IMHO.

    The world is pleasant to look at. Additional art is cohesive and somehow everything works well together. The music is effective and welcomes the player when returning to the game. Paired with the gameplay innovations, this game is a joy to play. The old magic is back, renewed and improved upon.

    Clearly, Spiderweb has taken risks with this game. The effort deserves meeting a huge success.

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  27. Jeff says crowd control is more important than healing, yeah, try that and see how you die, as you have so little energy that if you waste it in trying to control enemies that resists your intent to control them more than 50% of the times, you have to use that wasted energy in healing later as you have to clear whatever you are in, in one trip. Final conclusion?: too little energy just to enjoy both crowd control and healing, you have to pick one of them on most occasions and on most ocasions is healing above everything else. Dont matters even if you recover a point every 5 or 4 enemies killed. energy potions?, useless. WTF 3 or 2 points recover?, it is a joke?.

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  35. Reached the final battle to end up using cheats on it (to try and see the ending), as it was so ridiculously difficult that even with CHEATS i ended up defeated. Lol Jeff, good one there.

    You have dumbed down too much this game, and you tried to sell that as innovative. It´s not. Repetitive and boring for the most part.

    Forgot to mention in my previous post how abusive was the slow spell, constantly used by enemies, poison stacking, bleeding stacking, and all that shit stacking up for ever while you see enemies attacks you 5 times per turn while you dont even have the change to retaliate once.

    you dont have energy to heal and cure constantly!

    If you want a hint, be less purist and elitistic in your next games, you will make a lot more people happier playing them, like many previous ones you did. It´s not that we have to be open minded about your "new" gameplay elements, it´s that they are nerfing down the gameplay openly!.

    So little action points that lets you do nothing... etc etc etc

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