What’s Next for Alliance… As We Hit The Homestretch of Development

Hey, everyone! Steve here, and it’s December. Here in Texas, it’s not really cold yet, but we’re still busy with moving full speed ahead in getting Alliance ready for release! Since it’s been a little while since I posted an update, I wanted to tell you in our own words what we’re working on, the state of the team, and some of the new game systems to look forward to upon release!

First of all, we are delaying the game until Q1 2022. I know that seems to be a common thing nowadays, but I can assure you that we’re doing it for the right reasons. Now that we have a complete team of seven working on the game essentially full-time, we’ve made more progress in the last 3 or 4 months than we have since the end of 2020, and we’re moving faster every week! The game is fully playable and at this point quite stable (I routinely play 40-50 turn games every evening now as a quality check to check longer-term trends and systems) and much of what we’re doing involves things like optimizing the graphics and the UI (a major area where Unity has really helped us), adding some amazing universe art, balancing out the economy and costs of things, and especially the tooltips/help system, and we are completely rewriting the tutorial to just have a tutorial campaign that utilizes very little ‘hand hold’ as our previous version, and uses a guided campaign with goals, subgoals, and an overarching plot to keep players interested while they learn by doing- rather than by watching! Basically – we want to get the game right on release, and it is our full intention to do so!

So with that said, I wanted to talk a little bit about 2 major systems that are coming to the game – the oratory system, and the full Emperor system. Currently, when you talk to a character, and they decline to do what you want/need them to do, that’s the end of the story. Now, we have a fully integrated oratory battle system, complete with unique skills, a full strategy and move tree that you can unlock as you develop your Emperor (more on that later), and an expansion of character’s personalities and their relationships with you! Now, you will engage in back-and forth conversation based on moves that you pick from strategies that may or may not work, depending on their personality and your ability to say the right thing at the right time! Highly persuasive moves use Focus, which you can recharge by using a pause action, but each turn that you fail to persuade the other character lowers their Patience, and if it reaches 0… not only do you lose the argument, but depending on the power difference between you and the other Character, you may lose Power and an additional AP!

You don’t have to enter the oratory combat, but if a character refuses you’ll have to find some other way to change their mind or improve your relationship so that they will do what you ask the next time you ask!

The other major update is to the Emperor system as a whole. We have introduced the concept of your life expectancy – once you reach this point, your chances of dying (and thus ending the game) go a whole lot higher! Fortunately, you can affect this over time – staying healthy, making friends, keeping your Spirit high, and not using every last AP each turn (i.e. don’t overwork yourself) will gradually increase this over time, while doing the opposite will lower it. A big part of Alliance is deciding how you will spend your limited time – do you take care of yourself, your relationships, or the Empire? That’s the triangle of time that you will have to decide each turn, depending on the needs of the moment.

We have also expanded the Skills tree, now called Epiphanies, while streamlining it as well. You will pick from several high-level Epiphany groups, such as Habitus, Openness, and Predictability, and within those groups you will have to choose categories that often mutually wall each other off – you can’t be both closed and open personality, for example; nor can you be a diligent person (studious and theological) while also being robust (athletic and war-minded). You will have to choose your path, but the top-level skills lead to subskills that round out your character, and affect everything in the game from your relationships to your stats to your health to how well your Events end up!

Next, we have expanded the Scales system to actually give you a public perception of your personality, and for that perception of your humanity, honor, and piety to affect how your people and your Houses view you. You will gain traits based on where you fall on these scales, and dedicating development points to your Force of Personality in a specific scale will give you more powerful traits – but be aware, there is always a positive and a negative effect for each trait, whether you’re a despotic, lawless tyrant or a benevolent, honorable ruler!

Finally, we have greatly expanded the number of Actions that are unique to the Emperor. The initial version had 3 Actions; the release version will have over 25. They are divided into personal Actions (actions that affect only you) Governance (effect how well you do your duty as the head administrator of the Empire), Character (actions that affect a specific Character) and Special (unique and powerful Actions that can change your reign if utilized properly!)

You earn Personal Development Points by interacting with Characters and through Events, so if you don’t focus on your people, you won’t develop as a person. You have to learn how to become an Emperor by doing, not by reading books. The more you do things, the more quickly you will develop and grow your talents and skills, and the more Actions you will have access to!

There’s a lot more coming, including more Province Projects, greatly expanded House AI, greatly optimized UI for the Nexii such as the Stellar Nexus and Character Nexus, the ability to assign new governors and viceroys from a new global assignment screen, and much more! We’ll talk about those soon enough, but for now…

…thanks for your time, and Long Live the Celestial Empire!

Steve Hawkins

Lead Developer, Alliance of the Sacred Suns