December 2020 Roadmap - Future Development Plans

Sovereign Tea: Cover Image

What a year it's been for Sovereign Tea. In January, we had only revealed three Tea Princesses: Bai Mudan, Silver Needle, and Shou Mei. The idea of a Kickstarter was still months away. Important gameplay mechanics like Princess Passives didn't exist yet. We had one prototype playable level. A lot has changed since then, and a lot more change is to come. Brew yourself a warm cup of tea (or coffee, if you're so inclined) and join us for this long, final devlog of the year.

This post will be divided into three sections:

  • Beta: Future QOL Work
  • Beta: New Feature -- The Library
  • Full Game: Mate and New Tea Units

Remember, if you backed the game on Kickstarter but have yet to receive beta keys, please ensure your BackerKit survey is filled out. Don't worry about finalizing details on address or add-ons yet, as you still have ample time for that.

Beta: Future QOL Work

First, let's talk at a high-level of what we want to do with the current beta. Thanks to the large volume of backers we have received quite a lot of positive and constructive feedback the past few weeks! We are planning on a small patch to the beta, v0.3.2. One of the most common questions we've received from players has been regarding the hotkeys and controls of the game. In order to help facilitate new players to the game, we intend to replace our current, frankly subpar tutorial with something a lot more interactive: a miniature tutorial level.

Tutorial Level

The new tutorial is far more hand-holdy than the first true level of the game is, but it presents itself in a manner intended to minimize confusion. For example, in the above left screenshot, you can see that Bai Mudan's path is blocked by rocks. You can also see that you start with no economy, and thus have no brew options. The only reasonable move you can make, the move the tutorial asks you to take, is to move her onto the resource tile. Upon doing so, we dynamically remove those blocking rocks and set you up for the next section of the level: to defeat the Espresso blocking your path to the blueberry resource.

This level continues, prompting you with simple basics on what to do next, until you've completed the scenario. Having finished it, you'll be more than prepared to dive right into the game.

Improving UI and UX

The main sources of confusion we've found some players run into have been the following:

  • Confusion over how to end turn
  • Confusion over how to cycle between units
  • Confusion over how to cycle between resource tiles

All of these have hotkeys (N for End Turn, Space for Cycle Units, Control+Space for Cycle Resources) but that information is presented poorly. We're going to add buttons to the HUD for all three of these actions. Hovering the buttons will showcase tooltips that will both explain what the button does as well as what the default hotkey binding is. While we won't have remappable controls yet for the beta, we hope this helps clarify this fundamental aspect of the game.

Improving Camera Controls

Internally, we talk a lot about the game's camera. The default way of moving the camera is atypical when compared to other PC games, even though it works very well for this title. Ultimately, we realized quickly that everybody has their own preferences when it comes to how to navigate game space, and as a result we can't go with a one-size-fits-all solution. This means we're going to expose multiple camera control modes for those who want it. To break it down specifically:

  • A toggle for if Edge Panning will be enabled. This allows you to move your mouse to the edge of the screen to move the camera in that direction.
  • Three different camera + control default options. Since remappable controls is out of scope for the beta, these are the current thoughts:
    • Mouse1: Select / Mouse1: Action / Mouse2: Camera (current default)
    • Mouse1: Select / Mouse2: Action / Mouse3: Camera
    • Mouse2: Select / Mouse1: Action / Mouse3: Camera
  • Furthermore, two different camera modes:
    • On camera button down, use WASD to move the camera (current default)
    • On camera button down, click+drag to move the camera
  • Finally, atop all of that, Arrow Keys to move the camera will always work across all settings, as they do currently

Do you have your own thoughts on the above? Let us know now while we're still working on this feature!

Beta: New Feature -- The Library

In addition to the above QOL changes, we're excited to announce that the next patch of the game will introduce a new section to Fort Steep: The Library. The Library will allow you to revisit past Fort Steep conversations. It may also contain some additional fun reading materials for those who wish to delve deeper into the world of Sovereign Tea.

We're especially excited to announce that this update will include a brand new piece of music, composed by John Leonard French. After all, our Kickstarter was to get additional music funds! This new track will play during a scene that already exists in the game: the Genmaicha Letter scene.

Genmaicha waiting for her sister, Matcha

By adding both this new audio track and the Library feature, players who have already completed the beta will be able to easily replay the scenario and enjoy the cutscene the way it was meant to be. We can't wait for you to try it out!

Full Game: Mate and New Tea Units

Take a look at this freshly brewed crew of Tea Minions! Let's talk about each unit from left-to-right, noting ahead of time that these abilities and effects are, as all things, subject to change:

  • Mate. Mate's Princess Passive as it exists currently is to provide her brews with a status effect called Stealth. This status allows units to pass through enemy units as if they were on the same team. Additionally, units with Stealth are incapable of being directly attacked by the opposing team (side effect triggers can still hit them!) Once they take damage, they lose Stealth. Mate's units additional gain +1 Move, allowing her units to truly take advantage of their newfound Stealth status effect.
  • Court Mage. This Raspberry/Chocolate unit has a unique status effect simply called Dodge. When directly targeted by the enemy in combat, the attack has a 30% chance of missing. If you like RNG, this is the unit for you!
  • Caring Sorcerer. This Vanilla/Lemon unit is very kindhearted. When it heals an ally, it will transfer all of the ally's negative status effects, like Poison, onto itself. This usually also means the unit will die the next turn, so be sure to use them to save your strongest brews.
  • Cha-Colate. This solo Chocolate unit loves to fight! When it lands in a tile, it gains Armor 3 for every adjacent enemy. As you can imagine, it combos incredibly well with Mate's Princess Passive.
  • Petite Sharpshooter. A favorite of the development team, this tiny Sugar/Chocolate unit has a wide attack range. When it hits an enemy, it inflicts them with a status effect called Impede. A unit with Impede will take 2 damage if it moves. Use these to establish territorial control from afar.

The Identity of Resources

Our goal with all the in-game resources that you can use to craft your brews is to introduce identity. While we're fine making exceptions if a unit's mechanics "feel" right, we generally try to stick to these guidelines:

  • Blueberry: Explosive, AE effect
  • Raspberry: Reaction effects
  • Vanilla: Regenerative effects
  • Sugar: "Action Economy" effects
  • Chocolate: Negation effects
  • Lemon: "Transfer" effects
  • Milk: To Be Announced...!

This is all to be as cohesive as possible with our overall game design.

Thank you for taking the time to read through all of this! As always, please join us on social media, on Twitter, Facebook, and Discord. Until next time!

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