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Weekly Shiryo Update from The Shiryo Team #49

Attention Wolfpack, we have bags of exciting updates this week!

Our lead animator Connor walks us through his work in progress, including tweaks to the game’s ‘balancing’, and our writer Steve tells stories about Edrea’s lore and history.

We think you’ll love this write-up, first over to Connor!

Work Progress Update

Hey Wolfpack, Connor here!

First, a brief explanation of where we are with animations within the game of Shiryo.

All animations required for the thirty-person test have now been imported into Unreal Engine!

Many of the animations are now working correctly and have been firing as intended during gameplay. Any animations that have brought any problems or visual issues have now been amended/edited so that they now look as they are supposed to.

Since the last time I spoke, the progress within the game of Shiryo has gained huge pace.

Moving from the creative side of creating animations, I have now been learning and using new technical skills of ‘bringing in’ and ‘wiring up’ animations within Unreal Engine.

This process has meant going through each and every animation, creating sprite sheets, then flipbooks of each frame, adjusting frame rates, and applying editor materials to match the correct material of the desired flipbook animation. This stage then allows us to create code to properly fire and show the animation at the correct time.

The next stage involves me working in tandem with our Lead Game Developer, Rick, to ensure animations are working correctly within the engine. This will be a lengthy, ongoing process, but we have made some solid progress and the game is looking better than ever!

Balancing

The team has begun the next stages of play-testing; checking not only the gameplay works as intended, but also individual cards.

As the game isn’t fully functioning in engine, we have printed out all 75 cards that will be used for the 30 person test and have been playing physical games on the old board design to get a feel for the game.

In turn, this highlights any areas that have needed improvement and new rules have been created to accommodate any ‘grey areas’.

During the first stages of play testing, we saw the potential that Shiryo has to offer in the gaming world, bringing exciting new strategies and play styles that are unique to any other trading card game.

We did come across a few gameplay issues along the way, the main issues we faced were-

1. Beasts were dying too quickly.

Simply put, beasts were dying too quickly during games, not allowing players to use abilities or synergise with other cards optimally. To combat this, we added +2 health to all beasts for a ‘quick fix’. This instantly made games more fun, beasts were surviving more than one turn, and we were able to use strategy and tactics more effectively.

2. Lack of card draw.

Players were running out of cards in the hand too fast; creating slow-paced games where there was never much going on other than one beast at a time being played and then destroyed.

We then decided to bring in a new rule in which a player will draw cards equal to the cost of an element card played. E.g. if your third fire element played costs 3 energy, you will also draw 3 cards once the third element card is played of that kind.

This new rule really allowed games to work and players constantly had cards in their hands. Element cards were sometimes saved until we really needed them, this brought along new strategy and layers nicely with the current gameplay.

3. Lack of damage to the players’ avatar.

Games were lasting forever as we were unable to directly attack the opponents avatars or deal significant damage when there were no opposing beasts. To fix this issue we changed two things.

Firstly, we decreased the player Avatars’ health from 40 to 30, secondly we added a new rule with Lycan cards.

Lycan cards or any bipedal werewolves now have the ability to; either attack as normal (random targeting to other beasts), or they can choose to directly attack the opponent avatar. This brings another layer of strategy to the game, where Lycans are highly prized and played at the right times/ right board positions to do the most damage possible.

This rule also ties nicely with existing lore we have surrounding Lycans ability — to be more sentient and still have some control over themselves, rather than the basic wolves that run off instinct. Adding both of these new rules allowed players to actually damage the avatars and win games.

Games are now running a lot smoother, and as we continue testing we will try new options and variations of cards and gameplay until we find what works best!

This will be a continuing process including the 30-person test, where we can gather more data from more people.

Now some words from Shiryo’s writer, Steve, who has been working on historic lore pre-dating when the current game is set.

This will become very important down the line to tie in and map out areas of the world of Edrea, allowing us to create storylines within the game along with an interactive map. This will allow players to explore areas of interest or read exciting stories.

Pre-Fall Lore

Hey Wolfpack, Steve here, and today I’m going to be explaining some Pre-Fall lore I’ve been working on that will eventually become discoverable through the map of Edrea that is currently in development.

Even though Edrea is now a war-torn continent, ravaged by wolves and lycans alike, it didn’t always used to be that way.

I want you as the players to see Edrea in its fullest, not only in the state it’s in now but as how it used to be, with a full history behind every town, forest and mountain found on its expansive landscape.

Before the Fall, Edrea was enjoying an era of peace where all nations enjoyed trade and commerce between them and the need for standing armies was a relic of the past.

But there was a time when each nation clashed against each other as grand armies spilled the blood of others onto the muddy ground.

The only nation who refused to be involved was the neutral lands surrounding The Floating City, Avia as they were under the protection of the grand council of mages that dwelled within, and very few were willing to risk invoking their ire.

But this is not the only thing that happened in the history of Edrea, take Hydensway for example:

Hydensway

A quiet village nestled at the point where the river that flows south of Avia branches into two; one flowing into Ganasea, the other into Deibel Rise.

A long time ago when the beginnings of Edrean structure were being formed, this village was the site of a large bandit clan led by the name of Hydens the Resolute who established a large camp to house his people. The position of this camp allowed for easy raids against merchant ships who passed by to either of the three regions nearby.

Many smaller clans over the years came and joined their forces to Hydens’ own, expanding their area of influence. Over the years as peace became the reigning ideal across the land, Hydens and his clan met with various leaders of the surrounding regions and agreed to lay down their weapons and choose a more domestic path of life in exchange to being able to keep the land they lived on and a generous sum of coin to fund their new beginnings. These days, the villagers provide security to travelling caravans and merchant ships heading to and from Avia.

The land of Edrea is one that is alive and full of stories that long predate the setting of our game.

I want players to be able to get engrossed in the expansive lore and know that while right now the wolves are pushing humanity to the brink of extinction, there was also a time when their biggest problem was a bandit king who got too big for his boots and had to be negotiated into living peacefully by the leaders of the other nations.

Even during that time of war, there were moments of acceptance and camaraderie when both sides laid down their arms and saw the folly of what they were being ordered to do.

One such example is the Isle of Grace and the following construction of Gracebridge:

Isle of Grace

Previously an unnamed patch of land that sat surrounded by rivers, the Isle of Grace earned its name following the Battle of Grace. A historic battle that showed that even in the depths of conflict and warfare, camaraderie and understanding could be found even among sworn enemies.

During the period of conflict when the entirety of Edrea was at war with each other, barring the neutral lands beneath the Floating City of Avia, Kedunn marched on Ganasea hoping to meet the enemy on a patch of ground surrounded by rivers, arrogantly assuming that the ensnaring waterways could keep Ganasea from providing their army with a constant stream of reinforcements.

As the two armies met and battle-ready stares were exchanged, a torrential downpour began to fall over them that muddied the ground and wore down the soldiers, but neither army were willing to let these conditions deter them as they charged against each other with violence in their hearts.

Blood and blades flew as the soldiers fought under the falling sky, their moods darkened by both the weather and the fury in their minds.

Under the unrelenting rains, the banks of the rivers surrounding them began to break as the rivers flooded onto the land, shrinking the battlefield ever smaller by the minute as it began to push the warriors closer and closer together into the centre of the island.

Fatigue began to plague the armies as it became clear that their conflict was a losing battle for both sides against the ever-surging hand of nature, and soon the soldiers instead turned their weapons into tools as they called a truce and worked side by side to build new banks that would hold back the encroaching tides.

When the rains finally ceased, the soldiers looked to the men they once hated and only saw brothers as they lost all taste for battle and laid their weapons on the ground. As the armies parted ways, each went home and began to rally for peace between the nations; seeing that they had no reason to fight the people who so easily showed them kindness against adversity.

In the years that followed, this patch of land became known as the Isle of Grace, and the village of Gracebridge was built as a place for these old veterans to come and break bread with their new friends, some even choosing to stay in the village for the rest of their lives.

On the site of the battle, there is now a statue of a soldier from Kedunn working side by side with a man of Ganasea to dig at the ground with their swords to forever immortalise this moment of grace where enemies became allies.

Gracebridge

A small village nestled between the branches of two rivers just west of Avia.

Its placement between two bridges crossing the Isle of Grace is what gives this settlement its name.

Before the age of peace dawned on Edrea, there were constant conflicts erupting between the nations as they all warred for resources and expanded borders. Towards the end of this period of conflict in the years following the historic Battle of Grace, Kedunn and Ganasea were one of the first to negotiate for peace between their nations. They met on a patch of land surrounded by rivers in the Neutral territories around Avia and signed the first treaty that would eventually cascade into a reigning peace over the entire continent.

The village of Gracebridge was where these delegations broke bread together for the first time in decades and the beginning of lasting peace was forged.

That’s it for this week’s development updates, we hope you like what our teams had to share, until next time – Wolfpack Strong!

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