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Game News Together in Battle is the next deterministic strategy RPG from Sinister Design

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Sinister Design; Together in Battle

    Sinister Design's Fire Emblem-inspired strategy RPG Telepath Tactics was one of the more minor titles of the early Kickstarter era. After its release in 2015, creator Craig Stern spent a couple of years working on a tabletop game called True Messiah while also beginning development on a new engine for Telepath Tactics. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that the new engine wasn't just for that. Today Craig announced his next game, Together in Battle. It's another deterministic strategy RPG in the vein of Telepath Tactics and set in the same world, but as the title suggests it also has a large focus on character relationships.

    [​IMG]

    Set in the Telepath universe, Together in Battle is a strategy RPG and team management game of love, friendship, and turn-based tactical combat.

    You’ve arrived in the island kingdom of Dese with a sack of coins and a secret mission to enter the gladiatorial games to find loyal fighters under the guise of competing.

    Recruit and manage charming characters with their own distinct personalities, interests, and histories. Each day, you’ll have the chance to field them in glorious turn-based tactical battles; and each night, they’ll build relationships with each other, face personal crises, and come to you for advice.

    You must manage your group’s resources. Stay stocked on food, maintain enough money to make payroll, and ensure that your characters practice regularly to continue improving. But beware: they have feelings! Allow their friends to fall in battle, and they may become depressed. Fail to address their needs, and you’ll risk resentment and desertion. Keep them happy, however, and they will grow close to one another, form fond memories, give each other nicknames–even share their special combat skills! With skill and patience, you will emerge victorious…together in battle.

    An evolution of the lauded Telepath Tactics combat engine!
    With a simple deterministic core that never wastes your time, combat in Together in Battle nonetheless features dizzying tactical depth. Shove enemies into environmental hazards, off of cliffs, or into each other; take up defensive positions in tall grass, or hack it down to deny that same advantage to the enemy; set traps and detonate explosives; build bridges and barricades; freeze water; burn down trees. The battlefield environment is yours to command!

    Tons of content!
    Together in Battle features dozens of random events and side quests; six different playable species; two dozen base classes with branching promotion options for a total of 72 distinct character classes; more than 150 different character skills; and hundreds of thousands of possible procedurally generated weapons and pieces of armor. Oh, and then there’s the characters…

    Deep procedurally generated characters!
    Every character has a distinct personality, appearance, stat line, skill progression, personal history, named family members, religious beliefs, life skills, hobbies, physical traits, romantic preferences, preferred gifts, hidden secrets–even non-verbal tics and ways of laughing!

    These details are not just for flavor: they also have consequences for how characters behave in their free time. A baker may use up some of your food to produce cookies and cakes you can eat or sell; a jokester may do funny impressions to boost morale; a blacksmith may repair the group’s weapons. Dancers are nimble; sailors are superior swimmers. Some characters will even undertake long-term projects like growing food, making dolls, or writing a novel!

    A campaign creation suite!
    Together in Battle comes with a very capable campaign creation suite to let you build your own full-fledged SRPG campaigns! Build characters in the character creator; place them in cut scenes using the cut scene editor; add branching dialogue trees using the dialogue editor; sculpt battlefields and place armies in the map editor; create skills for your characters to learn in the skill editor, and items for them to loot in the item editor.

    Want to get really fancy? Construct your own scripts, then assign them to items and character skills for whatever custom effects you can dream up!
    Always nice to see another indie developer get back into the game. Together in Battle is scheduled for released sometime in 2021.
     
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  2. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    Wow I see male characters.

    Is this an arena battle game with "campfire" sequences between the battles? The description makes it look like it, but then there's the campaign editor.
     
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  3. Gunnar Savant

    Gunnar
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    So he's expanded upon the worst aspect of the first game by turning the shitty cutscenes into a babysitting mini game.
     
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  4. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    [​IMG]

    I like the whimsical sad lollipop weapon. Not sure the 3D/2D mesh quite right though. Might be a bit of a step down graphically from Telepath Tactics.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Grauken Arcane Patron

    Grauken
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    yeah, looks pretty ugly
     
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  6. Dr Schultz Scholar

    Dr Schultz
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    Agreed. But still, when missions begin, telephat is the best fantasy tactical games of the last few years (and I've played all the worthy ones). So, I will suffer the atrocious art style as I will for Flashpoint
     
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  7. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    This better have character creation dammit.
     
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  8. Tom Baker's Arse Learned

    Tom Baker's Arse
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    I'll take a pass at this
     
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  9. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    Wasn't Craig Stern obsessed with the graphics and especially animations in the first game and paid a lot of money for them?
     
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  10. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    He later concluded it was a huge miscalculation though, because reviewers said it looked like stock RPGMaker art, because the zoomed out view made the graphics not pop sufficiently, and because the lack of idle animations made it static. (At least, that's my recollection.)
     
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  11. vazha Arbiter

    vazha
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    Looking forward to this, cautiously.
     
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  12. StaticSpine Arcane Patron

    StaticSpine
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    This dude looks rad!
    upload_2020-2-8_7-44-45.png
     
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  13. Craig Stern Sinister Design Developer

    Craig Stern
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    Yeah, I wouldn't say "obsessed"--I just spent a lot of time and money trying to get Telepath Tactics to a point where people would appreciate the visuals. MRY remembers correctly: it made absolutely no difference. Nearly everyone who appreciated TT appreciated it because of its mechanical depth; seemingly nobody cared about all the detailed sprites and animations.

    Rather than doubling down on new graphics that no one would properly appreciate, I decided to focus on improving the UI and mechanics this time around. I went with 3D terrain this time for mechanics reasons, eliminating weird map distortions and issues with ranged attacks from elevation not hitting the correct spaces, as well as making autotiling dramatically easier to accomplish. I'd like to replace the 2D battlefield sprites with 3D character models to more closely match the new 3D terrain, but that would be hyper-expensive and time consuming due to the sheer variety of species and classes in the game. (But perhaps I can make it happen if the game sells well and I end up with a lot of funds to throw around.)
     
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  14. Grauken Arcane Patron

    Grauken
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    yeah, no, without the spritework I wouldn't have touched the game
     
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  15. AMG Arbiter

    AMG
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    I haven't played your game, so those are just my unsolicited thoughts from looking at screenshots, but I think your tileset art is responsible for the "looks like RPGMaker" impressions. The maps look very empty, flat and monotone and since the majority of the screen real estate is occupied by the environment art, the eyes are assaulted by this "cheap" looking block of repeating patterns and completely gloss over the nice character sprites. Battle for Wesnoth has a pretty similar graphical style to your game and just look at a comparison
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Your character art definitely isn't any worse, but BfW is infinitely more eye catching and pleasant to look at. I think you have one type of grass tile repeating on that whole screen shot? One variation of a bush all over the place. It looks super cheap and this is what is immediately striking, not the nice characters which you need to squint a little to appreciate. And animations can't be even conveyed through screenshots either, no matter how nice.
    The interface art I've seen on your other screenshots is also ghastly.

    I guess the takeaway is that you either go all the way and polish every aspect of art to the highest standard, or you better cut your losses and don't bother with nice graphics at all. Making one thing well while neglecting other aspects does not do much to help to win people over on the looks front.

    And yeah, the new offering looks even worse, it looks actively repulsive, while Telepath just looks "cheap". And you shouldn't scale pixel art with non-integer values, it ruins the detail.
     
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  16. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Character creation yea or nay?
     
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  17. Craig Stern Sinister Design Developer

    Craig Stern
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    There's already a full-featured character creator in the campaign editing suite; I'm planning to add an in-game character creator as well (though that's a little more complex due to the need to be able impose restraints based on the demands of any given campaign). But I take it you're asking about being able to create your own party of custom characters at the start of the main campaign, a la a traditional blobber?
     
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  18. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Yeah. At the very least one.
     
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  19. Craig Stern Sinister Design Developer

    Craig Stern
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    I'm currently weighing allowing the player to create "themselves" as a character; crafting your own custom party in its entirety would kinda run counter to the ethos of the main campaign, though, where you're discovering who your characters are as you go. (With that said, though, modding custom party-building into the game would probably be really really easy.)
     
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  20. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    I'm with Grauken on this. (The game never looked like RPG Maker sprites to me, either, but I gather that's just pejorative shorthand of "bland SNES sprites" or something.) I'm a little worried that you're confusing three different thresholds:

    (1) Graphics are good enough that people are willing to play the game.
    (2) Graphics are good enough that people don't complain about the graphics.
    (3) Graphics are good enough that people praise the graphics.

    TT may not have hit #3 (which seems unfair; I agree with you that the sprite work is quite strong, although as I said in the prior thread, the lack of idle animations hurts) and didn't even hit #2 for some players, but I'm pretty sure it hit #1 across the board. A little worried that Together in Battle will fall short of #1 for many players. You may wind up seeing fewer complaints as a consequence, but only because graphics snobs don't even bother to buy it/try it.
     
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  21. Craig Stern Sinister Design Developer

    Craig Stern
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    Gotcha. Unfortunately, I simply don't have the resources to bring the whole thing into 3D at this point. If there's something comparatively cheap you think I could do that would help (like changing the textures on the terrain to look more pixel art-y), that would be good for me to know!
     
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  22. Grauken Arcane Patron

    Grauken
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    No idea, but your character sprites look kinda flat, despite being, no idea what, a mish-mash between 3d and flat 2d, maybe you can emphasize it in a way that it doesn't look as incongruous a it does now. Maybe make it look like paper-cutouts or so, or try something else. Right now, it looks somehow ugly
     
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  23. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    (1) You need to add the blob shadows back to your sprites. Having the blob shadows track the plane of the 3D will also help merge the 2D and 3D elements.
    (2) Make terrain less cartoony and more pixel art-y.
    (3) Make terrain less bright/saturated than the sprites. Right now, the background pops more than the sprites, which is backwards.
     
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  24. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    You could check the Octopath Traveller look / tech for inspiration (even if it's another perspective).

    I'm not a sprite art snob at all, but I appreciated the character sprites and animations in TT.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
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  25. MF The Boar Studio Patron Developer

    MF
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    Cell-shade the geometry of your terrain and use a crisper grass texture. Maybe use the grass from TT as a UV, or or use solid colors and randomize a noise texture as a normal map.
     
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