It’s been a while since the last blog post… After the release of the Vallhund DLC we kept on working on the game non-stop, and we’ll keep working on it until the 3 DLC’s we promised are finished. Part of the team started to work on a new game though, but it’s still waaaaaaay too soon to talk about it ^^ SO, we’re pretty excited to let you discover the new features we’ve been working on for the Battle of the Heodenings DLC, since we kept them rather secret and there’s a lot of new things here.
An endless mode
A bit of context first about the name of the DLC. The Battle of the Heodenings, or “Hjaðningavíg“, is a legend from Norse mythology about an never-ending battle. It’s not very well known, but you can find references of it in some poems. All in all, we thought it fitted well with the concept of our DLC: a new endless, sandboxy mode.
In fact, when we released Dead In Vinland, we were quite amazed by how many people wanted to play the game like a sandbox “build your own viking village” game, which was quite unexpected for us because it was not how the game was designed at all! In retrospect, I think that when you sell to people the idea of a management game AND a survival game, people immediatly think about sandbox, maybe like the excellent RimWorld.
Some people also didn’t care one bit about the game’s story, but were really enthusiastic about the management aspects of the game. At first we were kind of disappointed, but all in all it meant that our systems were strong and interesting, even if they represented only half (maybe a little more) of the whole game.
SO we thought it would be a good idea to give these players a way to experience the game the way they wanted, that’s why we came up with the idea of this DLC.
Okay, enough blabbering, let’s look at the features!
So now when you start a new game, you’ll be able to choose between the story mode and the new Heodening mode.
In Heodening mode, we went crazy: we kicked out ALL the dialogs between characters, ALL the quests, ALL the storylines… No more nuisance, you can focus on surviving! The only goal of this mode is to survive as many as days you can. No limit. To achieve that, we had to rework some (a lot of) features.
Now the tributes are endless: they start right away, and every week Elof will come ask for the tribute. The dialogs are at their minimal, and always the same: you’ll be able to pay him the exact amount asked, 25%, 50% or 75% of this amount, or 125%, 150% or 175% of this base amount (or nothing at all). Of course, if you give him more or less than asked, the Animosity gauge will still change accordingly. You’ll still get retribution events every 10 steps of the gauge, and if you reach 100% animosity you’ll lose the game.
We reworked completely the system to make it procedural, meaning that Elof will now ask you for other resources than in the story version of the game.
It works like that: every resource has some weight number attached to it (Wood being the base 1). Every tribute asks for an increasing number of resources, multiplied by the weight of the resource (which has been drawn randomly).
An example, let’s say that Fresh Fruits have a weight value of 2, and the basic value of resources asked by a tribute is 10. Elof will then come and ask for 20 Fresh Fruits. (it would have been 10 Wood if Wood had been selected).
We added some control on top of it: some resources can’t appear before day X has been reached… Since some resources are harder (impossible) to produce early on.
You can still end up with unfair demands, but well, that’s the magic of the procedural generation ^^
Of course if we talk about an endless game in a finite map, there will be a problem at some point… So we thought of a way to make the island truly endless: every number of days (for now, it’s 25), all the empty cells of the map will regenerate a random content! You’ll never run out of things to discover in Vinland.
We made the tiles generation more procedural too: now there is a definite pool for every type of cell (Forest, Beach, Lake and Volcano). When you explore a tile, it generates a content from the pool, and remove it from the pool until you exhaust all the items in the pool, so there will be some kind of sense in the randomness. But that still means that the very first cells you explore contain Rune challenges or anything else… You’ll just have to keep them for later.
While playtesting it, I found that there is now a real utility in a little option that very few people used before: you can set the next target cell you want to explore by clicking on it on the map. In story mode, there is no real use of it because the progression is “intelligent”, but in Heodening mode if you don’t use that, you’ll never be able to reach the volcano… It can be useful. You’ll have to experiment.
Maybe you noticed? We added 3 big buttons on the map… the 3 “gods” are not generated on the map, but we thought it would be cool to have some use of them… In fact, they are clearly REALLY useful to mitigate a bit the randomness of this mode. Now, you can click on these buttons and go talk to them directly . They will act as traders, a bit like how Loki worked in the story mode.
Loki has a new inventory of useful items to sell (most importantly: Fire Crystal, Ancient Knowledge and Tinder), Freyja will give you some temporary powerful blessings or some instant healing, and Thor will give you temporary battle buffs.
They will all exchange their services for Orichalcum Beads, which are VERY important in Heodening mode. You’ll get them by completing Rune challenges, and by defeating boss squads.
Talking about fights… We reworked a lot too how they are generated, to make them truly endless. We iterated on top of one of the features we implemented in the previous patch: now the enemies you’ll face will automatically get an increasing number of random Traits the more days you stay on the island. We made a new encounter’s table too, you may fight harder stacks early on, but they will have 2 bad Traits until a few dozen days have passed. You’ll also have the chance (?) to encounter one of the 5 boss fights we have in the base game… very hard fights, but if you manage to win them, there will be good rewards. (yes, you’ll also be able to face Björn!)
That’s really something hard to playtest on our own, so we’ll need A LOT of feedback on your experience with the balancing of it all, but especially the fights, when you’ll be able to play the DLC… We have a ton of parameters we can adjust, but well, it’s kind of experimental.
Of course not! There is still a BIG new feature in the endless mode that I didn’t talk about, but let’s keep it for another blog post ^^
There are also some massive surprises for the free 1.3 patch, I can’t wait to show you!
The second DLC and the 1.3 free patch will be available this winter.