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Shores Unknown Steam page announcement, gameplay and content updates, fresh build playable at PAX East and more!

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Hello everyone! Vallynne here with a fresh Shores Unknown update.

First of all, I'm excited to announce we now have a Steam page. This means you can now support us by wishlisting our game!

Moving on to development updates: we've spent the past three months working on chapter 2 (out of 4) of our story content - the biggest one up to this point, as it includes four large open locations (including an actual city) and a number of smaller interiors.

A part of chapter 2 content is included in the demo build we prepared to be shown at PAX East happening in Boston right now, so if you're there, definitely come by our publisher Hitcents' booth #21019 and give the demo a try! We have prizes and goodies you can get, too!

Hitcents_PAX East_Social Graphics_Shores Unknown 3.jpg

With chapter 2 getting wrapped, we're approaching a half-way point in Shores' content, but that's not all. This latest round of development also brings a number of gameplay and UI updates, and I'm happy to say that the game's functionality is now 95% finished, with only the world map, used for quick travel between the various locations we have, remaining to implement - and that's also coming very soon.

Location map
Updated location map with points of interest

And boy, do we have some new locations to show!

The Great Tree

Mountain town of Iron peak teaser

The biggest gameplay change the recent updates bring is the combat system overhaul. After spending quite some time brainstorming and considering our options, we decided to let go of the multi-party combat. While the concept of managing a small army of characters simultaneously using vague indirect commands sounded fun in theory, based on our playtesters' feedback, it was making battles extremely unpredictable and very hard to read. While some of us in the team loved the uniqueness of the system and the feelings it gave the players when everything aligned, we still felt the frustration caused by when things weren't going as planned wasn't worth it. So, in the end a decision was made to streamline the combat while keeping intact the overall feel.

New combat
Updated combat UI with ability selection

So, to summarize, here's what's happening in the new combat:

  • The player controls up to 5 characters in combat by giving direct orders, e.g. "use fireblast on target from range" or "heal this ally". This gives the player a lot of control over what their characters do in battle - something that players automatically expect from tactical RPG battles but was lacking in the previous iteration of combat. It also makes managing the party outside of combat a lot more manageable - having to keep of track of equipment and skills on more than a dozen of characters risked quickly becoming a chore rather than a fun part of the gameplay loop.
  • The characters still retain a degree of free will and will reassess their actions if the initial order is no longer applicable - for example, if the target is already dead.
  • The combat is still split into two phases - Order and Action. During Order phase, you can take all the time you need to analyze the current battlefield situation and give commands to your party. In Action phase, the characters will act in order shown on the timeline bar (which is dynamically updated while you're giving orders, by the way!), resolving their actions until everyone is done, at which point another Order phase begins.

Sigvard smash

  • There is still no grid and the characters maneuver around the battlefield automatically as their situation requires. This ties directly into the Engagement mechanic: characters have a limited number of engagement slots which are used when attacking or being attacked in melee. If a character's engagement slots are full, the next attack made against them in melee will cause them to be flanked. Ranged attacks don't consume engagement slots, but in turn make the character susceptible to Opportunity attacks, which deal extra damage.
  • Since we no longer have multi-character targets, area of effect attacks also changed - instead of affecting a a party target, they now affect Engagement: if a character is engaged in melee with two targets, an AoE attack made by an ally (or the engaging character themselves) against one of those targets will also deal damage to the second one.

With this, we're hoping that our new combat system, while retaining its unique look and feel, will also be much more accessible to both new players and JRPG or CRPG veterans.

I'd definitely be interested in hearing our players' thoughts on the changes, and there's a good chance we'll be doing a closed test of the new mechanics and content in the foreseeable future. So watch this space for upcoming announcements!

A torch to light up the darkness

Finally, a quick announcement regarding the old alpha build files: we're archiving them to avoid any confusion with people playing a very old version of the game which uses placeholder assets and outdated mechanics.

As mentioned a couple of paragraphs earlier, we're planning to have some closed tests down the line. If you're interested in participating, follow us on Twitter and join our so you don't miss any announcements!

See you soon!

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