Author Archives: Chris

Legends of Amberland version 1.22

Version 1.22 released

Some of you were raising a concern regarding wizards usefulness compared to other classes. I was deliberating on it for quite a while and evaluated this as a valid concern. So, here it is a Wizards rebalance! Basically, all offensive spells for all classes were boosted in efficiency, but in a non linear way, since, according to your feedback, the early gameplay spells balance is fine and only the mid-late gameplay needed adjustments. In addition friendly houses were adjusted to be less powerful (but still useful). This version also contains fixes, small interface improvements and experimental gamepad support (as an optional, disabled by default, experimental feature). Of yes, one more thing, sound effects are handled slightly different now. Previously when all party members were hit by a fireball the sound was played 7 times (once per hit party member), which was grand, epic and loud… well, too loud maybe, especially when on headphones. Now when the party is hit by a fireball the sound is played only once, which should be much gentler on your eardrums.

– [feature] Experimental option to enable gamepad support. It’s crude and might be incomplete but should be usable. Go to Options to enable it.

– [balance] Offensive spells boosted. Depending on the spell level, early spells work the same, then got boosted by +10%, +25%, +50% and +100%. So, early spells are more or less the same while late spells get massive boost in damage output.
– [balance] Due to a popular concern that friendly houses are too powerful, those now function like fountains and restore only HPs.
– [balance] I was brooding for a while if that’s a bug or a feature and decided to change it. Now when you remove any MP granting item it immediately reduces your MP to the new maximum amount. So, now it works like in most RPGs which also should be more intuitive.

– [misc] Spells & effects vs all characters/enemies now trigger a single sound instead of multiple sound effects. This prevents “sound clutter” especially noticeable when using headphones.

– [interface] Party coordinate display is hidden when minihelp is active (looks nicer).
– [interface] Small beautification of Magic screen.

– [fix] Hotkey keybindings not saving after selecting Restore Default.
– [fix] Keybinding was still waiting for key input after closing the keybinding screen before finishing entering new keybinding.
– [fix] End game button (Game Over/Victory screen) can now be activated via keyboard (like rest of the GUI).
– [fix] Other small fixes.

Legends of Amberland version 1.21.1

Version 1.21.1 released

This is a boring version containing mostly fixes and… well, the missing 5th Master! The thing is I simply forgotten to put him in the game and since he was non critical to the storyline no one noticed until I implemented achievements which required finding all masters. Then I faced a decision if I should simply change the achievement or add the missing Master. The consensus among players I enquired was that they would rather see him added. So, here it it, the missing Master of Willpower! Note that he can be found using any old save and it does not interfere in your gameplay in progress in any way, you can also simply ignore him if you wish.

One more thing, some of you were complaining about Wizards balance. So, after a long deliberation I decided to tackle the issue since the concerns raised by you seemed reasonable. But it requires testing. There is a secret way (listed below) to enable this test rebalance if you wish (preferably if you hop on our Discord and share your opinion on the rebalance afterwards) but it’s not recommended for regular players. Most likely those changes will go live in the next version.

– [misc] Added missing Master of Willpower (the 5th Master). Fully compatible with your older saves, you can just find him now. Check forum for the exact location if you just want to complete the online achievement.
– [misc] Started Wizards rebalance, it will be an official feature in the next version. Now you can enable the experimental version of it by going to Options then clicking “Wizards rebalance 122”. Check “Wizards rebalance” topic for details.

– [interface] Tooltip CTRL support for selected magic and item (on all screens). Useful for people who play using keyboard alone.

– [fix] Keyboard remapping was sometimes crashing the game.
– [fix] Magic shop was incorrectly applying a gold cost to some items (the bug was introduced by a price difficulty fix in v1.15).

Legends of Amberland version 1.21

Version 1.21 released

This version introduces what some of you waited for a very long time. Yes, the long promised Steam/GOG achievements have finally arrived! Total 13 of those. Also, I think that from now on all my games would come with online achievements implemented on day 1 (full release, not Early Access), not guaranteed by very likely.

– [misc] Added 13 online achievements. One can be unlocked on Hard or Insane difficulty only. Two are more hardcore and require more effort to unlock. The remaining ten are pretty casual. Note that some of the achievements can be unlocked retroactively using your old save (but not all of them), check the “Steam achievements” topic for fro more details.
– [misc] Updated localization files.

Oh, yes, one more thing. In the next month/s I should be ready to announce my next project! If you want to be notified click “Follow” button on the developer’s page (Steam should then send you an email on any of my upcoming games). Alternatively, you can join our Discord (the best place for the most hardcore fans to hang around).

Stellar Monarch version 1.45

Version 1.45 released

This update contains several small fixes and improvements. It also introduces two small rules regarding how aliens operate, nothing ground breaking, more like stuff that you would intuitively expect (like can’t launch an offensive from a planet with lost orbit control and additional penalties for civilized races which lost their capital world).

– [feature] If a civilized race loses the homeworld they have a much lower chance for initiating a new military plan (fewer offensives).
– [feature] Primitive races (The Hive, Parasites, etc) will not launch an offensive from a planet where they lost orbit control to (under invasion).

– [interface] Added breakdown of stability penalties sources to the Court screen stability tooltip (it might have been confusing in some cases since there are other sources to stability penalties than court factions unbalance).

– [fix] 1.44 Very Big UI running on 4K – the empire customization page is too large and overflows below the screen, with no way to reach the button to start the game.
– [fix] Disallowed dashes in save filenames input box (since that’s not a valid filename).
– [fix] Embargo and truce was not cleared upon New Game start.
– [fix] A few typos/grammar mistakes on Help page.

The secret story behind pixel sizes

Yesterday, Legends of Amberland got an update upscaling all 3D view assets to 64px on all platforms (Steam, GOG, Nintendo Switch). Here is the full story behind the scenes of this interesting & important decision.

It goes like this. A long, long time ago I started the Legends of Amberland project with an assumption that all 3D view assets (landscape, monsters, map features, dungeons, etc) would be made as 16×16 pixels. It was consistent and it was looking unique in the artistic sense, I liked it. I posted some screenshots on a few forums (mostly RPG Codex) to get feedback, the response was rather positive with the exception of artistic style which was mixed. Still, I resisted for a while to adjust it, my main objection was that if I up it to 32×32 pixels then soon people will complain they want 64×64 and then 128×128 pixels. Then I went to Pixel Connect 2018 in Warsaw, it’s a very tiny but nice expo for industry members only, and exhibited the prototype of Legends of Amberland. I got a quite positive feedback but… the feedback regarding visuals was interesting. Some people hated it and some said “they don’t play such games for art”, in short people either disliked the art or were indifferent to it, no one, or very few have fallen in love with it. That’s when I decided to go for 32×32 pixel size.

So, the game was launched in Early Access with 32×32 pixels art assets. The reaction to the art style was much better than to 16×16, now some people loathed it, some didn’t care and some loved it. Which is a desired outcome for an indie developer who does not aim for mass market, you care about how many people love your work not how many hate it and definitely you don’t want to make it feel “average” or “compatible with tastes of the most people” as AAA companies are forced to do. Some people loved the art style which meant for me that it serves its purpose. Anyway, it was a good art style for the project and I thought it would be the end of the story.

As time went on and the game became more and more popular one thing occurred to me. There was a portion of potential players who would enjoy the game but the art style made them unable to play it and that there was some portion of the fan base who played the game despite the art style, they enjoyed the overall experience but they were suffering due to incompatible aesthetic. I don’t like when my loyal players suffer, so it made me sad. That’s when I started to think about the possibility of upscaling the graphics yet again. Maybe for a sequel as I thought at the time.

Then, one day, when I was on a walk with my wife and the small one, I got a call from Wojtek Kubiak (CEO of Pineapple Works, the company which made the port of Legends of Amberland for Nintendo Switch), he listed several well thought reasons why it would be great to upscale the art assets a bit. Great, I thought to myself, if he independently thought about the same thing I had, since I never mentioned it to him, it is a no brainer. I answered that I will look into the feasibility of doing it, agreed on the optimal deadline and then I hang up. Next I have chosen the number to Krzysztof “Pixel” Matys (my primary pixel artist for monsters and humanoids) and said to him “Do you remember when we talk about possible 64px upscaling? We are going to try it earlier. Can you redo all monsters in one month?” he sighted heavily and promised he will deliver it on time (that’s one advantage of having trusted long term contractors). This settled the hardest part of it since monsters were the most tricky and work intense of this upscaling. I continued to enjoy my evening walk with my family happy I managed to basically finish my part. The next day I looked through remaining assets (landscape, walls, doors, chests, objects, etc) and I contacted Maciej Mrowicki (my another pixel artist who so far did smaller assets) and asked if he can handle upscaling the rest, he said it’s no problem (he delivered it much earlier that I expected and without any fuss, which earned him +2 levels on my “artists’ spreadsheet”, so expect more art assets from him on my future projects). In short, I was on a walk, answered one call, made one call, sent one email and then got most of the glory & love from all this upscaling thing while others did 97% of the hard work.

In a few days they delivered me the example upscaled assets, now there was the critical part, do I go for it or not. I assembled it all in the game and… requested changes 😀 I got the revised assets, tried again and… yeah, it was looking good and it was consistent. I gave the green light to the new art style and started collecting incoming assets. Soon it was all done.

Overall, the tricky part was that a significant player base was already happy with the 32px assets version and the game was already released, so the upscaling to 64px was only an option if it was compatible in aesthetic sense with the existing look and feel. Fortunately, the 64px version was very similar regarding the feeling and the impression of pixelated graphics was not lost during upscaling, so it was not a problem. Another tricky part was the simultaneous update on all platforms (Steam, GOG, Nintendo Switch), not an easy task to synchronize it, but we managed to do it.

Oh yes, there was also another reason for the upscaling thing, a tiny little one I have not mentioned to anyone… It got under my skin that some unnice people were implying that the art style choice was just a result of my cheapness and lack of proper budget of my games not a conscious artistic decision. Now you can’t say so, you complainful personas! And I still manged to retain my artistic vision and aesthetics without bowing to your boring generic artistic taste!

In the end, my first suspicion that if I agree to upscale from 16px to 32px they will still want to go further was correct and indeed players wanted to do the thing *again*, so I ended up with a second upscaling from 32px to 64px. Now I wonder, will they try to persuade me to upscale it again to 128px, 256px and so on? Only time will tell…

Legends of Amberland version 1.20

Version 1.20 released

A big update. First, the assets were changed from 32px to 64px. Basically, everything is more detailed now, which is especially handy if you play on a big screen. I was considering for a while the option to choose between 32/64px versions, but decided against it, since the overall look and feel was retained and on the mood & aesthetic level it still feels the same, just a bit less pixelated if you have a big screen. Second, there are 4 new hero portraits to choose from. Third, the game is now fully playable by keyboard only if one so desires (except options which still require mouse) or you can use both keyboard and mouse at the same time (I designed and tested it for mouse only, keyboard only and mouse+keyboard simultaneously).

– [misc] All 3D view graphics assets (monsters, landscape, dungeons, etc) changed from 32px to 64px!
– [misc] Additional heroes portraits to choose from (2 male and 2 female).
– [misc] Updated localization files.

– [interface] GUI buttons now show a reddish highlight depending on which button is selected by keyboard (if you play via mouse only you can ignore this).
– [interface] Added “[” / “]” keys to toggle between heroes (rebindable). Works also for selecting a friendly spell target.
– [interface] OK key (“Enter” by default) can be used to accept selected friendly spell target.
– [interface] Integrated mouse and keyboard character selection (now you can confirm the character selection by pressing OK key or mouse click regardless of you selection method, can it be it by mouse or by keyboard).
– [interface] ESC key in “select friendly party member for a spell target” mode will work as Cancel instead of opening a quick menu.
– [interface] Blocked movement & rotate in “select friendly party member for a spell target” mode (it made no sense and was confusing).
– [interface] Removed UP/DOWN keyboard toggling between Character screens (Stats/Inventory/Quests/Titles), those keys are now used for toggling between equipment/inventory boxes when using keyboard, besides you can access those via U/I/O/P hotkeys anyway.
– [interface] Keyboard support for Inventory screen (mouse and keyboard can be used simultaneously).
– [interface] Clicking on an empty equipment slot (mouse or keyboard) switches to an appropriate item filter.
– [interface] Keyboard support for Shop and Item Deposit screens.
– [interface] Added TOGGLE key (“TAB” and “y” by default) which can be used on Create Party screen and Shop screen (useful when using keyboard only).
– [interface] Shop improvement (shop and shop used buttons, both react to toggle hotkey; craftsmen count relocated).
– [interface] Keyboard support for Town (and all subscreens).
– [interface] Keyboard support for Main Menu and Quick Menu.
– [interface] Keyboard support for How To Play (only additional keys added since it was supported already but with the assumption that mouse is the primary controller, now it’s more intuitive to use by keyboard alone).
– [interface] Keyboard support for Change party member position (hotkey).
– [interface] Keyboard support for Create Party screen.
– [interface] Keyboard support for Load/Save screen (except Delete file which require mouse).
– [interface] Rest screen can be closed by ESC/BACKSPACE now.
– [interface] Confirmation box displays the filename of the file to be deleted/overwritten.
– [interface] Adjusted trainer screen description (added “Training for…”, consistent with Healer screen).
– [interface] Create Party screen added mini help section (keyboard hints).
– [interface] Hide save file version from the Load/Save screen unless in tester mode (this information is not needed for regular players since all saves are compatible anyway).
– [interface] Holding CTRL key show tooltip of the currently highlighted (selected) button. Useful if you play via keyboard alone.
– [interface] Clicking on the mini map opens/closes map screen.

– [fix] Calling a griffin while on Town screen made Town screen still open after transport. Now griffin use always trigger exit town.
– [fix] Removed debug tracking mode which was a leftover from me trying to track one bug in v1.16.
– [fix] Removed moving when in How To Play (not really harmful but it made no sense).

Legends of Amberland version 1.16

Version 1.16 released

This version introduces a proper localization to 7 languages! It’s still a bit flawed but 99.5% of the game should be translated. In addition there are tons of small interface improvements. Some of those were inspired by the localization needs (like change of some text to icons, which BTW looks cuter) and some for the plans of full keyboard support (we are not here yet, but if possible I would like to make the game 100% playable by keyboard alone). Note that keybindings will revert to default one upon first launching (you need to rebind those if you want custom ones).

– [misc] Localization to DE, FR, ES, PT, RU, PL (language can be changed via Options). Note that it is still considered an experimental feature and you might experience some parts of the game untranslated (but 99.5% of the game is translated so it’s about a few that are missing at most).
– [misc] Removed gold cost from Magic Shop, now only crystals are used (this is a funny change, I could not decide if to categorize it as a feature or a bug 😀 Initially I designed the Magic Shop to require mostly crystals but in some rare cases also gold as an additional cost for the item, but there was a bug and it never triggered and only crystals were used. The “bug” was fixed in the last version but then I noticed that actually it made more sense if there were crystals required only… So, in this version I decided to revert it and reintroduced the old bug as a feature. Basically, we are coming back the the way it worked in v1.00-v1.14 so most people will not notice any change anyway.

– [interface] Added Overencumbered markers (two grades of severity) on hero portrait, similar to monster caused penalties. Previously too many people overlooked encumbrance penalties and wondered why their Damage and Arcane suffered so badly, now it’s instantly clear.
– [interface] Bigger damage markers (on heroes and monsters).
– [interface] More distinctive miss icon (different shape and color).
– [interface] Changed “Buy” “Sell”, “Put”, “Take” text buttons to graphical ones (shop and deposit screens).
– [interface] Changed item filters text buttons (“Head”, “Body”, “Weapon”, etc) to graphical ones (inventory, shop and deposit screens).
– [interface] Added hotkeys for rest and info screens (note: all previously rebound keys reverted to default, you need to rebind them again).
– [interface] Default key for “Wait” action changed from “ENTER” to “h” (note: all previously rebound keys reverted to default, you need to rebind them again).
– [interface] “ENTER” key is used as “OK/Accept” button for magic selection, the usual “Cast spell” key works here as well (note: all previously rebound keys reverted to default, you need to rebind them again).
– [interface] Able to use 1-7 keys during “select friendly party member for a spell target” (so now you can select target without using the mouse, after the target is selected 1-7 keys revert to the usual role of selecting that character for interface/stats/etc purposes).
– [interface] Casting a spell removes notice from the previous spell (it makes it less confusing since older “unable to cast spell” notices will not be shown anymore).
– [interface] Added language selector (flags) on the main menu (in addition to language selector in options).

– [fix] A rare problem with blinking screen as if one key was pressed constantly (the one where restarting the game fixed the problem, now it always works properly).

Legends of Amberland version 1.15

Version 1.15 released

This version is the first attempt on localization. Switching languages is very limited (only two languages for now, more to come) and is considered an experimental feature. It also contains fixes and small rebalance.

– [misc] Experimental option: localization (partially working, possible missing untranslated texts, possibly not fitting on the screen, etc, etc). For now only PL and FR.

– [balance] Spells minor rebalance. Cure Petrification MP cost reduced (it’s still a very expensive one as it’s supposed to be).

– [interface] Wider Options screen and caching selected changed (some localized text would not fit otherwise).
– [interface] Added quest names to the quest tooltip (above the quest description).

– [fix] All shop prices were from Insane difficulty, regardless of selected difficulty (ouch!) This fix affects both new and in progress games (it auto updates shop prices, your saves are not affected).
– [fix] Encumbrance being calculated incorectly if playing for very long without changing equipment.
– [fix] Default animation speed not showing properly on Options screen until you change it the first time.

Legends of Amberland available on Nintendo Switch!

Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown is available on Nintendo Switch now!

It’s a retro RPG, inspired by the games from the 90s era which I played as a youngster. It’s a travel back to the good old times where good was good, evil was evil and everything was much simpler, or at least that’s how I remember it today. You are on a noble epic quest to save the land, there are dragons to kill, stray princesses to rescue and treasures to find. All this was designed to work with modern machines and using somewhat modernized mechanics while preserving the look and feel of the old games which I have so fond memories of. It’s a journey to a beautiful mythical land filled with magic, mysterious creatures, royal castles and other goodies.

It was ported by a Polish company Pineapple Works who were consulting with me all the time, so this is a fine and a faithful port “just as the author envisioned”. Basically all the changes are those required by the platform or things that were simply more natural on Nintendo Switch, but overall, it’s the same story and experience you get as if you played the PC version. The port was well done.

Nintendo eShop

Daddy! Let me play, it’s not true I’m too young to chew the controller!!!

Legends of Amberland version 1.14

Version 1.14 released

This version has some nice features like keyboard support for spells selection, which was requested a lot, and autosaves upon entering a new location. There was one dialogue line added to Sir Thercion since it was confusing to some players and all text was spellchecked. There was also one more thing, a rebalance. Typically, at this stage of a game’s life I refrain from balance changes. Since the game is complete and I do not want to interfere with games already in progress. But I decided two changes were needed. First was a rebalance of healing spells. I was watching some playthroughs and I concluded that mid and late game spells simply do not provide enough healing since at that stage characters can have like 500 HPs, so I have increased these spells efficiency and decreased arcane requirements. Second was Insane difficulty rebalance. The common feedback was that Insane difficulty was not fun due to the amount of damage monsters deal. So, I tried to rebalance it without changing difficulty too much. Now monsters on Insane deal less damage but have higher HPs, also their power is more evenly spread (in v1.3x branch the monsters on Insane were relatively easy at the beginning and then became too powerful at the end). Hard difficult got some adjustments as well, but much more minor in comparison. All those changes are properly propagated using your old saves, so you can continue your playthrough with the new version rules without any problems.

– [feature] Autosave upon entering a new location (creates an autosave.sav file).

– [balance] On Hard slightly lowered monsters damage and slightly increased monsters HPs.
– [balance] Heavy rebalance of Insane difficulty. Overall, monsters now deal significantly less damage but have more HPs (to avoid situation when the whole party was wiped out in one area attack). In addition, difficulty starts to scale earlier, so (it’s harder at the beginning and not that deadly at the very end).
– [balance] Elven Song/Elven Touch spells rebalanced (higher mastery levels increased Arcane requirements and amount of HPs restored).
– [balance] Power Heal/Mass Power Heal spells rebalanced (significantly reduced Arcane requirements and increased amount of HPs restored).

– [misc] Move to new engine (technical upgrade).
– [misc] Sir Thercion got a dialogue line reacting to slaying the Red Dragon (purely cosmetic, not changing the gameplay in any way, no additional reward or anything). It was a bit confusing to some players that he has not noticed the feat you did, some even reported it as a bug, so I have added a line where he acknowledges it.
– [misc] Spellcheck (all story & content related, not UI).

– [interface] Spells can be selected using keyboard.
– [interface] New check boxes.

– [fix] Monster HPs were not increased properly by the game difficulty level.
– [fix] Griffin/teleport effect position adjusted (visual glitch).