It's about the middle of September, which means it's time for our latest monthly progress report. If you missed the last one, you can read it here. And don't forget to sign up for OUR NEWSLETTER if you haven't already!

This month's focus:
Implementing every defined skill for the first four major characters

Next month's focus:
Stabilize the build, work on implementing every defined skill for the next major characters

We'll talk about DQ2's progress in a sec, but first, let's talk about some big news:


Steam Labs

As you may have heard, Valve recently announced that they hired me to work on Steam Labs. Let's address that first:

Why are you working for Valve?

The short answer is: working for Valve is a sweet enough gig that I can finally cut out on all other contracting work I've been doing all along and just focus the rest of my time on DQ2.

For the past six years when I haven't been trying to extend DQ1's revenue tail I've been taking on tons of contract jobs, this Valve gig is just the most public one so far. The most notable projects I've worked on include BrawlHalla (helped with some technical issues related to their console ports), Dicey Dungeons (authored the mod support), and Papers, Please (helped with the PlayStation Vita port).

And let's be honest, besides all that I wound up taking on way too much other stuff, which I have now trimmed down significantly.

What does this mean for DQ2's development schedule?

Now, thanks in large part to this Valve gig, I work on exactly TWO things and nothing else.

  1. Every morning: work on DQ2
  2. Every afternoon: work on Steam Labs

I don't know how long this Valve gig will last, but it's injected a whole lot of stability into my life.

Every day now I do my best to put in at least four solid hours on DQ2 and do my best to get at least one concrete thing done off of my progress tracker. Honestly, I feel more efficient using this method than I've ever been.

I disagree with your choices and want a refund
Sure thing. If you preordered DQ2, email leveluplabs@gmail.com with any information that will help us locate your order (typically the original email address you used to order it) and we'll sort you out.

<Insert joke about Valve Time>
Hey, it's not like I don't deserve it! But as someone said to me the other day, we all know Valve can count to two!

Does Valve own Defender's Quest now???
Nope. They only own my work on Steam Labs, which so far consists of exactly one project, Deep Dive.

X on Steam is bad or broken! You work for them, can you fix it?
I'm an external off-site contractor, not a full time employee at headquarters. I don't have any control or magical influence over Valve's overall policies, and my job description is specifically to work on a self-contained experimental project of limited scope. So I can't tell you whether or not Half Life 3/4/Alpha Turbo Edition exists, or why a recent change was made, or whether they're planning to make another change. Your best bet really is to reach out to either customer/developer support! I swear I'll be useless to you.

How long will you be working for Valve?
Don't know yet! I'm working there for at least as long as it takes to ship Diving Bell / Deep Dive. If they want me to stay on after that I'll gladly keep working on Steam Labs experiments, as long as I can continue to keep working on DQ2 the way I am now.


Anyways, I have some DQ2 progress to report!

  1. Boilerplate
  2. Summary
  3. Commit Log Firehose

First the boilerplate

Boilerplate

Spoiler Alert:
We're talking about a WIP game in an unstructured firehose way. So, spoilers.

Unspoiler Alert:
Just because something's in the log doesn't mean it'll be in the final game.

Line Item Illusion:
The number of bullet points is only a rough indicator of the amount of labor. A 1 line item might have been 10x as much effort as a 5 line item. Or vice versa.

WHEN WILL THERE BE ANOTHER BACKER BUILD
I just stabilized a bunch of skills, my next focus push will be on build stability. So... soon-ish?

Customer support:
As always, if you're unhappy with your pre-order for any reason, contact leveluplabs@gmail.com with the email address you originally ordered form (or any other info to track down your order) and we will cheerfully refund your money.
For everyone else who is patiently bearing with us, you have our sincere thanks.

Summary

(SPOILER ALERT)
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Last month we talked about Skill Trees, this is from last time:

bouncertree

This is one of the skill trees for the first four main characters, collectively known as "The White Hats."

I mentioned this last time, too:

This design process has four steps:

  1. Fill out all the skills
  2. Create accurate dynamic descriptions
  3. Go implement all the abilities to match the descriptions
  4. Test & balance it

As of last month, 1 & 2 were done. 3 is now half done -- all the major White Hat skills are functional and working in-game. From here on out I will focus on stabilizing the White Hat levels and putting out a new build, and after that we'll focus on implementing all the Black Hat skills.

So let's look at some of these new skills! Here's another skill tree:

whitesplash

We talked about the skill trees last month, but now that all the white hat stuff is implemented we'll show a quick preview

This is for a character currently placeholder-named "White Splash". The original idea for this character was a more muscular incarnation of DQ1's healer class -- an assist character who also had some useful AOE skills. As we iterated we eventually settled on them using a lot of buffing and debuffing status effects. We also have settled on an insect theme. The exact story incarnation of this is still TBD, but the basic idea is that this character attacks foes with clouds of stinging insects, but can also buff by sending out a specially trained mutant variety that injects friends with steroids (or whatever) instead of venom.

Aside from generic AOE damage that happens to be hymenoptera-themed, this actually gave rise to two unique special abilities: Swarm, and Larva.

Swarm is a DOT (Damage Over Time) attack, much like poison. But what's special about it is that unlike Poison, you're guaranteed to get your money's worth out of this effect. In the event that an enemy afflicted with a swarm dies, the swarm checks to see if there's still time left on its clock. If so, it detaches from the now-dead enemy, pauses its clock, seeks a new target, starts stinging that poor sucker instead, and resumes the status effect countdown from where it left off. This makes Swarm a very efficient way to finish off weak enemies without losing potential DPS to overkill, and also a potential way to let the attack spread a bit out of its original range.

Larva is a status effect that does nothing until the enemy is killed. Upon death, four new swarms will burst forth from the enemy, each seeking a unique target. I made sure to put some simple target-seeking AI in here so that all four swarms don't latch onto the same enemy, but instead spread themselves out intelligently to ensure maximum angry bees. Here's a cheap gif to show it in action (please excuse our ugly placeholder art):

beeees


And now, the commit log:

August 15 - September 17:

  • Fix the "enemy projectiles are always invisible" bug

  • Implement Status Effects / debuffs

    • Cleave (reduce enemy health by X%)
      • Bouncy damage numbers for various levels of Cleave
    • Mortal Wound / Doom (set a "you will die after X seconds" timer)
      • Countdown effects over enemy heads
    • Flip
      • Stops enemy temporarily, their armor counts for nothing in this state
    • Cripple
      • Permanent debuff to enemy's walking speed
    • Shockwave
      • If an enemy is knocked back, cause it to damage to surrounding foes when it lands
    • Flee
      • Make an enemy run backwards (weaker version of TERROR)
    • Larva/Swarm
      • Angry bees burst from a defeated enemy
      • Make them intelligently (enough) seek unique targets
    • Shove/Pushback (not to be confused with KnockBack)
      • Shove an enemy linearly backwards along the path
    • Placeholder status effect icons / visuals
  • Implement Defensive buffs

  • Improve pipeline for a defender to grant statuses to friends

    • Aura/Ephemeral statuses -- statuses that last for no time, they just trigger some other behavior and then vanish (so INVINCIBLE_AURA --> grant INVINCIBLE to friends)
  • Reflect

    • Absorb X% of projectile damage, Reflect 1-X% of it back at the attacker
  • Invincibility

    • Can't be hurt by anything
  • Barrier

    • Thorns + Reflect, in one status effect (retaliate vs melee, and reflect projectiles)
  • Blaze of Glory

    • Barrier with 100% reflection, and also sets enemies who hit you on fire
  • Elemental / Flavor interactions

    • Add "residue" of just-removed flavors that lasts one frame after their removal (solves some bugs)
    • Check for amount & status of trigger statuses
    • Implement water + electricity synergy
      • Extra damage for wet enemies when shocked
      • 2X duration of shock time for wet enemies
    • Implement fire + oil synergy
      • If an oiled foe is burned, trigger an explosion that also catches nearby foes on fire
    • Work on water + ice synergy
      • Increase duration of chill/freeze if foe is wet

    And that's it for this month! See you next month!