11 Jul 2012

The Right Tools For The Job

Author: Kevin Hassall | Filed under: Game Design

From time to time we’ve seen the players discussing, and indeed have discussed ourselves amongst the dev team, which troops are ‘best’. Is it Knights for their fearsome attack?

Is it Trueshots as excellent all-rounders? Of course in most cases, the best troop type is the unit best suited to the task at hand: neither Knights nor Trueshots fare well when defending in forests, for example. But pretty soon, this answer will change. It will not just be the unit type best suited to the mission, but also the unit which is best equipped for the mission.

Enabling players to pick a unit’s equipment is an obvious step for Illyriad. We have always said that we want players to be free to do as they please in the world. And as most players enjoy their armies, we wanted to let them develop those soldiers to suit their own objectives and playing styles, with a variety of possible strategies. Thus we are developing the equipment system (what we are calling Crafting v1) to give players this freedom.


Different players may choose to approach this equipment in a number of ways. Which of these many approaches become popular is up to the players, and we wouldn’t presume to guess how they will make use of the available equipment. Some players may invest heavily in giving small Special Forces type units the absolute best equipment. Some players may collect only cheap equipment, or none at all. Some may hoard a single type of gear, so that their huge army becomes honed for one very specific role. Some may collect a range of weapons and armour, so that they can react effectively to any challenge. There is no one best way to use this gear: it’s up to the players to explore the possibilities.

What equipment is ideal will also depend upon the exact mission, as well as a player’s strategy. For example, when sending your Dwarven Halbardiers to defend a neighbouring settlement from an unexpected attack, you may want them to carry lighter than usual equipment so that they can get to their destination as fast as possible, before the attack strikes.

If they are to defend a wooded tournament square, then perhaps you want them to carry only shorter spears and armour adapted for woodland combat, so that they get bonuses based on that terrain.

If you want the same units to defend a nearby Obsidian Mine, then you may want really heavy armour that gives a bonus in defence and Pikes to fend of cavalry raiders, and as the troops won’t move often you won’t much care how much this bulky equipment slows their movement. And so on.

Obsidian Mines? Ah, yes. Not all of the weapons and armours will be made from common iron. And these rarer components will have to come from somewhere. So, the map may soon come to include Obsidian Mines, amongst other things. That, however, could take quite a while to explain, and for now I have descriptions to write for 26 specialist swords.

So the question of mining will have to wait until another day.

9 Jul 2012

Player Spotlight: Shadow

Author: Luna | Filed under: Player Spotlight

This month’s Player Spotlight focuses on Shadow, a long time Illy player, active community member and shining example of good sportsmanship in the field of competitive tournaments. Shadow’s good-natured spirit of competition are what drew his peers to nominate him for this spotlight, and we couldn’t agree more. Learn more about the Player Spotlight program at our website and nominate players by sending an email to community@illyriad.co.uk. Now on with the interview!

GM Luna

Shadow's RL Avatar

What brought you to Illyriad and how long have you been playing?

I have always enjoyed “build and conquer” type games, so when I stumbled on Illy in January of 2011, I knew I found a game that could hold my interest.

Have you played many other online games or been active in other online communities?

Never anything with an online community. This was a totally new experience for me.

Any hidden talents or interesting hobbies outside of gaming?

Hidden talents….hmmm, I’m still looking for those! I don’t know how interesting racing is to the rest of you, but it’s always been a big part of my life. I grew up racing go carts, and have been hooked ever since.

What keeps you playing Illyriad?

My friends on here, are the biggest reason. Just pure curiosity is the other. We just never know what kind of mischief those crazy geomancers from the Circle of Five are going to create!

What’s your favorite aspect of the game?

Tournaments are something I take personal interest in. My alliance was created to focus on these, as well as the mysteries that are still out there.

What’s your proudest achievement in game so far?

The alliance I have formed, of course! I couldn’t ask for a better group of players to support it. Not only are they my allies, but also people I call friends. I am also proud of what I “almost” achieved in the Undead tournament….lol. I held the lead nearly the entire tournament, and had a great time while doing it. It didn’t matter that I was taken out and lost the lead (I think I finished out of the top 20…lol). I just loved the special attention I was given by other alliances. They made it fun!

What are you most looking forward to for the future of Illyriad?

I look forward to all the new features and updates to the game. It’s why I play. The game is constantly evolving, causing the players to evolve and change their strategies. It really keeps players involved in Illy.

What area of the game do you think needs the most improvement?

Defense. Mainly encampment defense. Armies should have the ability to “dig in” and defend themselves better. At present, there’s not much you can do about a large advance cav army coming at your occupying force.

What advice would you give a new player in Illyriad?

Hang in there! Illyriad can be a bit overwhelming at first, with all the research and buildings. Take your time and don’t get discouraged. The community is very helpful, and allows new players the chance to grow, unlike some games out there. Finding a good alliance that can support new members is very helpful early on. Just be sure the alliance suits your play style. Don’t just jump into the first one that invites you. Take the time to get to know players. Other than that, have fun, and welcome to Illy!

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16 Jun 2012

Illyriad Update Introduces New UI and Alliance Medals

Author: Illyriad Press | Filed under: Press, Press Releases

Illyriad, the acclaimed HTML5 massively multiplayer online strategy game, introduces a new user interface, Alliance Medal award system, friends lists and more.

The new Alliance Medal system allows players to design a deeply customizable award from hundreds of unique pieces that can be combined to create thousands of unique design options. Players can then award the medal to a fellow member of their in-game Alliance to be displayed along with a custom title on the player’s profile page. Medals give Illyriad players an opportunity to grant prizes, awards and inter-alliance rankings for their peers in a meaningful and interactive way. Medals are purchased through a new shared Alliance Prestige Pool system that allows players to donate in-game currency into a shared bank for Alliance use.

A refreshed user interface is also now available in game. The re-designed UI gives a cleaner, more user-friendly visual appearance and adds many usability improvements including: additional navigation options, tabbed sidebar settings, a game-wide search tool, new friends list feature and an interactive lore book within the game.

Video with a walk-through of the UI changes and medal designer is available here: http://youtu.be/q8GWVMmhXGk

Illyriad’s latest update, including these and other features, goes live this weekend.

About Illyriad:

“An epic RTS but with killer lore and an awesome community.” – Massively.com

“I could tell right away that this game was special.” – ThriftyGamer

“Illyriad has a great niche…. There is plenty to do and I would suggest that everyone with a few minutes goes and checks it out.” – Vagary.tv

http://www.illyriad.co.uk/press/Reviews

Illyriad is a browser-based Massively Multiplayer strategy game, in which players take control of cities, engaging in city-building, quests, diplomacy, warfare and trade. Developed by London-based Illyriad Games Ltd., Illyriad went live in 2010 and was officially launched on May 16th 2011.

http://www.illyriad.co.uk/

For further information, please contact: press@illyriad.co.uk

Press assets are available at ftp.illyriad.co.uk , and further assets, quotes, interviews, etc., are available on request.

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GMs Luna and Cerberus take some time to show off the new UIv3, walkthrough the Alliance Medal design system and take questions from the community in our latest dev chat video.


13 Jun 2012

Preview: Alliance Prestige Pool

Author: Luna | Filed under: Development, Game Design

For quite some time, Illyriad players have asked us for a way to share prestige with their friends. The dev team has had some reservations as to how we could go about providing this option in a way that works best for both the game and our players.  The solution that we’ve developed is the introduction of the Alliance Prestige Pool.

The Alliance Prestige Pool will function as a communal bank to which all alliance members can donate and, depending on permissions, spend in game. Alliances will set permissions based on alliance role that define who  has access to spend the prestige and at what amount their daily spending limit is set. Individual players within the alliance with appropriate access can then choose to spend their own prestige on items for their account such as instant builds, production bonuses and other prestige items, or they can spend from the alliance pool.

Another function for the Alliance Prestige Pool is as a way for players to bind together to purchase Alliance Medals for fellow players. The associated prestige cost for these designs will be deducted from the alliance pool, so that players can purchase the awards at a shared cost. As these awards are meant to represent recognition from an entire alliance to an outstanding player, we believe this is the best way to approach the system.

More information will become available with the release of the Alliance Medals and Alliance Prestige Pool in an upcoming game update. Until that time, below you will find common questions and answers about the system.

Alliance Prestige FAQ:

What is Alliance Prestige?
Alliance Prestige is a shared amount of prestige that has been donated by players into their Alliance Prestige Pool.

What can Alliance Prestige be used for?
Alliance Prestige can be spent on individual player bonuses as well as Alliance Medals.

Who can spend Alliance Prestige?
Spending limits and roles associated with permission to spend prestige are set by individual alliances.

How do I donate?
Visit the Alliance Prestige Pool page in game and choose “contribute” to donate from your personal prestige amount into your Alliance Pool.

Can I withdraw prestige from the Alliance Prestige Pool?
No. Players can only donate or spend from the Pool. No one can withdraw prestige into their individual account from the Alliance Pool.

What if I accidentally donated the wrong amount?
Prestige transactions are non-refundable, including donations into the Alliance Prestige Pool. Donation is a one way transaction that cannot be reversed by any means, even by the GMs.

What if I accidentally spent Alliance prestige instead of my own?
The GM staff cannot refund the amount you’ve spent back into the Prestige Pool. The best way to remedy this, if you’ve accidentally spent Alliance prestige, is to donate the amount you spent back into the Pool from your own funds.

What if I leave the Alliance?
Any donations you made cannot be refunded or returned to you. Once Prestige is donated to an Alliance, it is the property of the Alliance and no longer that of an individual player.

If you have any further comments or questions about the system, please feel free to leave them in the comments section on this post or on our forums.

GM Luna

9 Jun 2012

Player Spotlight: ScottFitz

Author: Luna | Filed under: Player Spotlight

This month our Player Spotlight focuses on Illyriad’s currently #1 top ranked player, ScottFitz. As a long time Illy player, forum participant and helpful global chatter, Scott’s positive impact on the game has been noted by his peers who nominated him for this spotlight. We all wish to congratulate Scott and thank him for his continued contributions to the culture of Illyriad. Learn more about the Player Spotlight program at our website and nominate players by sending an email to community@illyriad.co.uk. Now on with the interview!

GM Luna

ScottFitz's RL Avatar

What brought you to Illyriad and how long have you been playing?

I literally stumbled upon Illy two years ago in April of 2010. I had been trying out a few other games in Illy’s genre (but not in Illy’s league) and only lasted a few days, at best, with any of those, Then I happened upon Illy and fell in love. That was back before, biomes, geography, water or even NPCs, but it was still far superior to anything I had seen. And it has continued to get better. I am excitedly looking forward to the next two years, and the next two.

Have you played many other online games or been active in other online communities?

Nope. Just dabbled with a few gravely inferior predecessors to Illy, but never enough to get involved in what passes for a community there. Most online games fail to interest me beyond a few hours or days.

Any hidden talents or interesting hobbies outside of gaming?

I have been an actively DMing D&D games for the past 35 years, I am an amateur entomologist with a passion for eusocial aculeate Hymenoptera, and I have a deep interest in pre-classical anatolian and levantine history. My nerd credentials are fairly unassailable. IRL I work as a graphic artist in an ad agency so I am also a Photoshop pro and an expert on email marketing.

What keeps you playing Illyriad?

I love the underlying mechanics of the game, and by that I mean the fact that everything is delicately balanced. More is not necessarily better. Balancing tax rate, food consumption, population, army size, army composition, troop replacement rate and such are not straightforward propositions. I am constantly tweaking and fine tuning my towns and armies. Also, many of the mechanics are unclear. The glorious dearth of documentation on many of the aspects of the game foster guesswork, experimentation, reliance on intuition, and many fruitful discussions and arguments in GC, AC and on the forums.

What’s your favorite aspect of the game?

Well, naturally I love the community. We, the community, elevate an already excellently conceived and executed game into something truly spectacular, I have made real friends here and I deeply care for and respect most of my fellow players. There is a depth of interaction here that is rarely approached online, and sometimes not even out in the real world. I also love the persistent, sandbox concept. There is no endgame, no closure — I hate closure. We are all free to play as we see fit – I despise orthodoxy. I dearly love the graphic look and feel of the game. And, I actually love the pace! Everything requires patience and planning. Strategy and diplomacy win out always. It is possibly to step away for a few days or even weeks and come back to your towns intact, or relatively intact (not that I have ever put that theory to the test of course). Plus as a bonus, the slower pace helps keep trolls away; they get bored after a bit and go off to torment puppies or set things on fire, or whatever trolls do when they are not trying to rile up GC.

What’s your proudest achievement in game so far?

Mostly my interactions with the community. I like to think I have built somewhat of a reputation for credibility and integrity, and I am very proud of the role I have played in helping resolve several significant diplomatic situations. And I am very proud of my part in helping to set the tone within my alliance. It is a very comfortable cohesive place to be. Without any bias whatsoever, I can safely say that mCrow is clearly the best alliance! I also a a bit proud of getting a town back up to legendary size from exodus in just over a week (with plenty of help from my alliance)

What are you most looking forward to for the future of Illyriad?

Re-tooling all of my towns when the next update is released.

What area of the game do you think needs the most improvement?

Communications. Private chat, friend lists, other chat channels, improved alliance forums and a few more email enhancements would add the most. But beyond that, just more of the same, Illy is nearly perfect as is, and is getting more so steadily.

What advice would you give a new player in Illyriad?

Focus on economics before military. Build up a strong town before building an army. Go into global chat and ask questions and get to know people. Visit the forums and the wiki. Read the guides. Do not join an alliance in haste. If you find yourself in conflict with another player, talk first to that player, then if that does not work, talk to that player’s alliance. If there is still a problem, either move, or find an alliance to help you. Mostly have fun and take your time.

6 Jun 2012

Preview: Illyriad UIv3

Author: Luna | Filed under: Graphics

This is not another April Fool’s Joke, Illyriad is proud to present our latest user interface refresh. As the game grows and evolves, more features are added and finding the best way to display those features is an important part of the development process. With the new UI, we hope to add some valuable usability improvements as well as give the overall game presentation an updated look.

Some of the updated features and visual changes are as follows.

New sidebar: The sidebar has been condensed to hold more important information and features. It now consists of three tabbed sections. The first is a tabbed box for next events and notifications, in the middle is the friends list and at the bottom is a tabbed box for both global chat and alliance chat. Players can click on the title header to bring the preferred tab to the foreground at any time and the global chat and alliance chat tabs can be undocked for viewing both at once.

Next events: The next events section shows both items you have queued for building and research.

Super search: The top portion of the sidebar contains a search box that you can use to find anything in game including players, towns, alliances and pages.

Friends list: With the friends list feature, you will be able to add fellow players to your friends (through a mutual agreement) and see when that player is online. This feature will become even more important when private chat becomes available in a later game update.

Positioning memory: In the new UI, tab settings and chat window placement will be remembered by browser. If you refresh or log out and back in on the same browser and computer, last size and positioning will be kept.

Navigation: A two-tiered tabbed navigation system is at the top of all pages, with links to pages within that section of the game. Players can choose to use this additional navigation, or use the radial menus at the top of the page, as is currently the style in game.

Herald: The lore portion of the Herald has been split into its own page that looks and functions like a book with turning pages. This creates a fun, interactive way to display the lore of the game as it evolves over time.

Stats page: The release notes and stats sections, previously on the Herald, now have their own page.

Player profiles: Profile pages have sections to display alliance medals and titles.

Visual changes: Stylistic, visual changes have been made throughout the UI to create a cleaner visual presentation and better use of space. Many elements, such as type style and buttons have a similar appearance to the Illyriad website. Interior pages and sidebar edges use a thin, wooden frame, with paper texture interior and golden patterned texture for headers. We believe this creates a cleaner, more cohesive presentation of the game as well as a more flexible framework that we can add to as needed.

We hope you enjoy these changes to the Illyriad UI and find it both easier to use, and more visually appealing. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section or on our forums. These UI changes and more will be available in our next game update.

GM Luna

Click for full size images.

21 May 2012

Feature Preview: Alliance Medals

Author: Luna | Filed under: Game Design, Graphics

It could be argued that more than anything, Illyriad is a game about Alliances. From tight-knit social groups to well-oiled machines focusing on military excellence, Illy really does have it all. One of the goals of the dev team is to strive to find ways to support and strengthen those bonds. One way that this has been requested from players is to allow individuals to grant their Alliance members titles and awards. This is an excellent idea and one that opens up an opportunity for a whole new level of interaction within Alliances.

The dev team and I are excited to show you a first look at the Illyriad Alliance Medal system. With this new option players will be able to design a medal and award it to a player (or players) within their Alliance. The medal designer allows for hundreds, if not thousands, of unique combinations using several graphical layers for each medal. Designs can range from small and simple to very ornate and detailed. They can then be given a name and a title to be awarded to the player.

The possibilities for how these can be used are really endless. You could give them out to show rank within the Alliance, to commemorate an epic event or battle or as awards for inter-alliance tournaments. I have no doubt our players will come up with some truly unique and clever ways of using the system.

This is also exciting for us on the development side because it represents the first time in-game where players have the opportunity to deeply customize and create a unique visual mark for a character. I know that I, for one, have enjoyed playing around with the tool to see what sorts of crazy concepts I could make. The creative work of our art director GM Cerberus on this project thus far, has really been astounding.

Below are just a few examples of designs possible with our medal designer.

Full details about the Alliance medal system will be coming soon and the designer will be available in a future game update.

GM Luna

11 May 2012

The Devil In The Details

Author: Kevin Hassall | Filed under: Game Design

Having noticed animal populations moving around the map (wandering, breeding, dividing, sometimes fighting), players might reasonably expect that more NPC movement is in the cards. So, as developers, we should ‘switch on’ all NPC movement now, right? Well, before we are able to do that, there are a lot of things to consider.

As an example, take a look at the fellow on the right. In fact, just look at one detail. Look at the length of his legs.

Realistically, the rider’s legs are too long. So, the legs should be shorter. On the other hand, there is a tradition of showing riders out of proportion to their horses, and for very good reason: the Bayeux Tapestry for example shows riders whose toes seem almost to scrape the ground, but this is no error; showing the horse relatively reduced is a way to show more detail on the rider, and in a game like Illyriad, where the unit images are often very small, we want people to be able to see the rider clearly. So, the proportions are about right. But on the other hand again, our players will not be looking at the images as art historians, they will just see that the legs are too long. But then, perhaps there is a compromise….

That tiny detail took effort to talk through. It was an issue that we had to settle, so it required time. But in the grand scheme of NPC movement, it is a tiny detail – and just one of many tiny details. The whole process of ‘switching on’ broader NPC movements is a mass of tiny decisions, ranging from whether NPC cavalry would roam further from their homes than infantry, to whether Wulpor have preferences for what meat they eat, to whether Faction armies might intervene in sieges, to whether the perpetually-stoned Gnolls of Illyria would show intelligence in their battle tactics… and on, and on.

What sounds like a very simple goal, ‘switch on more NPC movement’, becomes a maze of these tiny decisions, which all need to be made. But we’re working our way through them. The devil is in the details. And so is the fun of developing the world of Illyria.

7 May 2012

Player Spotlight: Vanerin

Author: Luna | Filed under: Community, Player Spotlight

This month’s Player Spotlight focuses on wonderful Illyriad guide writer, frequent global chat new player guide linker and new player question answerer, Vanerin. We all appreciate Vanerin’s positive impact on the community and welcoming presence in game. Learn more about the Player Spotlight program at our website and nominate players by sending an email to community@illyriad.co.uk. Now on with the interview!

GM Luna

What brought you to Illyriad and how long have you been playing?

Well on the 13th of August 2011 I was having a slow day in between projects. Google Chrome suggested I look at its app store and there was this curious game called Illyriad listed. I decided to try it out and have been happily addicted ever since!

Have you played many other online games or been active in other online communities?

Nope, this is my first one! I feel kinda lucky to have found such a great game right off the bat.

Any hidden talents or interesting hobbies outside of gaming?

I have some talents, but you are right in using the word hidden. You have to look reeaallly closely to find them. :P I thoroughly enjoy music and art though. I play the piano, kazoo, cello, mandolin, and a little bit of the guitar. As for art, I mostly work with sterling silver to make jewelry.

What keeps you playing Illyriad?

The amazing community, the life the devs bring to the game, the depth, and the evolving nature of the game. You devs have done a wonderful job in all of those areas!

What’s your favorite aspect of the game?

All of the people! I am probably going to start sounding like a broken record, but there is a great community here. I really like how the game facilitates becoming friends with each other. So many things/places in the world puts people at odds against one another, so it is nice to get a breath of fresh air with the encouraging environment.

What’s your proudest achievement in game so far?

Hmm, I am probably the most proud of being in HUGS. It is really a great alliance filled with wonderful people. And I consider myself fortunate to be among them.

What are you most looking forward to for the future of Illyriad?

Factions! I can’t wait for all the options and paths that will open.

What area of the game do you think needs the most improvement?

In my opinion, Illyriad has a wonderfully deep combat system. But it seems a pity that combat is the only area that has that level of complexity. It would be really cool to see diplos, magic, and trading with a wider range of possibilities.

What advice would you give a new player in Illyriad?

Talk in Global Chat!!! There are some really cool people playing here and we all would love to meet you!

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