Checkmate is inspired by the classic game of Chess, but plays out significantly different. In Checkmate, you not only move your pieces, but also create buildings, each with their own strenghts and weaknesses. These buildings are used to lay deadly traps, launch large boulders, cast strange spells and even to spawn new pieces for your team! The building mechanic makes sure you, and your opponent, stay on edge at all times, creating fun moments for everyone to enjoy.
Starting out with a randomly generated board, the experience will always be fresh. Anything can happen and there are no "winning strategies". Instead, you will have to use your brain in order to win from the computer and your friends online... However! One wrong move does not mean fatality; It's only a step backwards and the game will ensure that you can recover from any such set-backs, provided you do so correctly. It's a battle until the end, where the first moves are equally important as the next, and the match is not decided until the last move.
Follow the progress of Checkmate to remain up-to-date to the newest changes, gain access to early builds and read about technical design insights by clicking that 'Follow' button down below! For faster, more day-to-day updates, follow my Twitter (@Quackertree). Take active part in the community and give feedback, see the game change; I listen and respond to everyone!
It’s been a while since I’ve made a post. I thought I had to little content to make a proper post, but it turned out that a lot of things had changed over the past two weeks that I even forgot about! :S
Either way, the devlog is here, so let’s dive right in!
There’s a thing that’s been in the game for a while now, and I think it has even been in the GIFs of the last blogpost aswell, but I forgot to mention it! So, here goes…
To show the changes, I’ll make a comparision between a screenshot of the game from 11-07 and 06-08. There’s lots of changes to spot, but there’s one important one in particular.
Here’s the old one:
And this is the new one:
Can you see the big change?
Apart from the adjusted shadows, texture work, etc. - The main thing to spot here is the removed feature “Skip turn”. This feature was a very important one; It allowed you to do nothing, giving you +1 ore in return. This ore could then be used to create buildings.
The strategy was that you would have to manage between skipping turns and making important moves on the board, in order to create those powerful buildings to put the game to your advantage. However, this turned out to backfire and it seemed easier to simply skip your turn everytime the enemy was at the upper-hand.
To combat this, the system was changed. You now passively generate one ore each turn and you are forced to do something. This makes sure that the game keeps “moving” forwards, as both sides cannot just keep skipping their turn. Something has to change every time.
This also means that the timer was now changed, so that when you run out of time, it means you ‘Resign’ and the enemy wins automatically. This also comes with a timer extension, so it’s less punishing, pushing the time limit up from 30 seconds to 60 seconds per turn, by default.
Alright, let’s cover those other new things!
Improved is a difficult word to use here, because on the one hand it has improved and on the other, it hasn’t. Let me explain why.
The old diffuse shader had a glaring bug in it. It’s not very obvious, but once you notice it, you cannot un-notice it and it becomes very apparant. Let me demonstrate this with an example:
You may have to enlarge the image for this, but look at the right-bottom of the pieces (especially the king). What you’ll see, is that there is a sudden “jump” in colouring where the shadows are casted. The piece colours some kind of dark red in that corner. No smooth transition; Just some pixels glaring out.
On a small screen this isn’t any issue, but as you get to larger resolutions, like 1920x1080, you’ll find that it’s rather obvious. At first, I ignored this issue, but later I realised something had to be changed here.
After hours and hours of figuring out why, it turned out that the texture that was being rendered to was rendered very dark. This meant that the colours written to the texture were clamped, as their values were too small. (E.g.: If the colour was something like 0.012, it would become 0). The gamma correction that would be applied afterwards on the texture, would take this data and apply brightness to it, but due to the floating point loss, the colours would mangle and look weird.
Lots of technical terms there, but the solution was to simply brighten up the image on its first shader pass. This solved the artifact that was going on with the pieces!
This is why I’d argue that there is a significant improvement to the shaders. Visually, however, there is a bit of a loss here. This mostly has to do with the new shadow direction. I chose this new shadow direction to emphasize the pieces more, making the icons much clearer than in the older images.
Sadly, this makes the pieces a bit more “flat”. It loses some the depth that it had in the previous images in the process. So, I’ll be on the lookout for more improvements to see if I can somehow bring that back into the game!
Enough about graphics, let’s talk about new mechanics!
There was a need for a new attacker building, which will be the last one that I’ll be adding for a while: The bear trap.
The bear trap is a building unlike any other, where instead of having to build it on the side of the board, you get to place it directly onto the board. It’s very expensive, but it’s extremely useful. I don’t think a lot of elaboration is required; It makes sense that blocking a single tile so someone cannot step onto it, is a valuable asset!
I still have to experiment with it to make sure it’s not too overpowered for its pricing. The tile, after all, is extremely effective and can be used for a wide range of purposes. On top of that, is doesn’t require any resource, so it dwarfs the other buildings in that regard!
As I said, this will be the last attacker building for a while; The spawner category is currently still sitting at one building, so that part of the game also needs a bit of love. Currently on the planning is the ‘Wizard Tower’, which will allow you to perform spells, like swapping some pieces, promoting pieces on the board, etc.
There has been a menu for a while now, but I’ve improved it a bunch more! Give it a looksy:
I’ve found a nice raining ambient in the public domain, which is now being played when you enter the menu. It’s a great escape from a serious battle, giving you a nice relaxing time before you hop into the next one!
There is also an in-game menu now. Nothing too special, you just press Escape and it shows pretty much the same menu as the Main Menu & it pauses the game in the process.
I just keep finding new things to talk about! Here’s the last one for now.
When you win the game, nothing happened. This, of course, cannot be the case in a final build, so I had to do something for the “post-game”. I’ve introduced a banner which shows whether you’ve been defeated and whether you’re victorious.
After the banner, the game will fade-out back to the main menu for you to start another match. This will change later when things like tournaments get introduced and multiplayer takes shape, but until then, this is a great alternative!
Another long post bites the dust!
There’s been multiple more changes, mostly subtle, such as the timer where the last three boxes have changed to a red colour, or, a new spectator mode where you can watch others play against each other (or the AI).
Talking about the AI, on the todo-list there’s still that building AI. The enemy still cannot build any buildings, and I didn’t have a clue how to tackle it, but I think I know how to now. Perhaps there will be significant improvements on this aspect next time…
For now, have a great day and I’ll catch y’all later!
The game gets a full re-write and overhaul. Click inside to read why this is, how this is going to happen and why this is important to you!
I talk a little bit about the feedback I've gotten, how I've interpreted this feedback and what I did to solve the issues people were having!
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