Lest you think Legendary Heroes is going to get all the fun, plain old Fallen Enchantress is getting a ton of love too. We’re working on 1.3 and wow. I don’t want to oversell it but gameplay wise, this will be the biggest change since the pre-release builds IMO.
Where do I start? Let’s start with Diplomacy.
IMO, the biggest weakness of Fallen Enchantress is the diplomacy system. There’s still a lot of stuff that could be done here but my biggest beef has been the way the AIs interact with players and you. One minute they’re your buddy and the next they’re declaring war.
Now, the schizophrenic behavior of AI players is nothing new. Heck, multiplayer games are much worse in that regard. But it’s one area that single player games can be much better at.
I tinkered around the edges in 1.1 and 1.2 but ultimately decided it had to be tossed out. Sometimes, you have to nuke the system from orbit. And so the 1.3 diplomacy system won’t really seem different at first glance but under the covers it’s a whole new world. First, the AI no longer “calculates” relations. Instead, it fills a bucket of love (or hate) that gradually changes over time. Because it’s now a bucket (that means your history with them matters) there’s a lot of interesting behind the scenes “stuff” I can do.
Unfortunately, most users won’t even be aware of these changes but I think the expert players will. For instance, AI players will be more inclined to offer peace even if they’re stronger. That’s because it’s not calculation relations, it’s looking at your history together and the history of others. So it’ll look at what is in its best interests overall.
The AI is quite a bit smarter. The problem with these games is that it’s hard to have the AI be “smart” if the designer isn’t that good at the game. I’ve gotten a lot better at the game thanks to those players who post YouTube videos of their strategies. I incorporate those into the AI (and use them myself). For example, you very well may get creamed by the AI getting the Forge of the Overlord (spell of mastery victory) as a lot of players win that way and the AI focused too much on conquest.
We’re also doing a lot on the balance front. One of my pet peeves is how many “empty” turns there are. It’s a habit we brought over from GalCiv II that we’re curing (or starting to cure) with v1.3 of FE. Things will definite “move” a bit faster.
For instance, the differences between Towns, Conclaves, and Fortresses has been significantly increased. Towns provide a lot more gold. Conclaves a lot more research. And Fortresses a lot more production. The AI has the advantage here because it’s able to calculate the right balance based on looking at other players (you can look at other players too but most human players don’t – but it’s fair game to the AI since we let you look at the other player stats).
1.3 is the first version with procedural tile yield support. That basically means that the map generator will look at a lot of other factors when deciding the tile yield of a given tile is. The result is a lot more variance.
Generally speaking, FE 1.3 is just a lot more fun. That said, the best way to make the game more enjoyable is to get more units for each side. The AI doesn’t design its own units. It uses what you create. The more units you give a faction, the smarter the AI gets.
So why are we putting so much effort (and hence $$$) into making Fallen Enchantress even better? Well first, it’s important that Legendary Heroes be distinct. Legendary Heroes is an expansion pack. It’s not supposed to make the game funner by “fixing” things in FE. It’s about expanding on concepts already there and adding new ones. FE 1.3 is about taking an already fun game, taking feedback and what we’ve learned and polishing it.
I’m pretty excited for 1.3 to get out. I don’t have a date yet. My guess is probably in 2 weeks.
Spell of Making: DEFEAT
Ultimately in my test game, Pariden won by casting the spell of making. I’m requesting some tweaks so that there’s more warning when the various factions are constructing the towers leading up to it since this caught me by surprise and I only had 10 moves to do something about it.