Nowadays it’s almost impossible to develop a tactical RPG game without being inspired by XCOM (the 2K Games “model”, to be clear). For sure there some exceptions (who said Battle Brothers?), but generally speaking a developer who wants to make a good game of that kind has two option: try to copy its combat system and a make a (bad) clone of XCOM or try combine some interesting and original features in the “XCOM model”.
CookieByte Entertainment has decided to follow the latter option and now with Fort Triumph they are trying to make something quite strange: a bizarre marriage between two glories of the past, the mentioned XCOM and the never forgotten Heroes of Might and Magic.
What follows is the result of a little chat I had with the developers just few weeks ago.
1st Turn) Your game seems to have two well-defined souls. The first one, for sure, belongs to Heroes of Might and Magic, with its strategic maps to explore, full of resources to acquire and quests to accomplish. The second one, belongs to XCOM, with a lot of fast fighting and deep tactical choices. Now, referring to the strategic part of Fort Triumph, which features can we expect to find in the final release?
Our strategic layer core is still being developed and a few major changes are coming soon. In any case, Skirmish mode maps are generated so you can play again and have a new experience – we also make sure our difficulty levels are differentiated so if you’re not finding a challenge, just crank it up a notch.
For those unfamiliar with games like Heroes, the strategic layer is all about controlling resource nodes, scouting enemy faction movements and finding the best tactical battles to overcome and conquer the map. Maps have resource drops, towns, event locations, neutral monsters and more surprises.
By release, we plan to expand on the base building aspect, making it more robust mechanically as well as visually pleasing. In fact, a bunch of upgrades is coming in a few weeks focused on towns and town mechanics, including new ways to use resources.
On the visual side, we plan to have building choices cause visual changes to your towns which they don’t currently. We’re also planning to add many more events and interactions in the world map, taking procedural variety up a notch.
Lastly, there are more world map environments coming, as well as improvements to the generator. Players will also be able to take on several AI enemies or even groups of them.
2nd Turn) On the contrary, what can you tell us about the combat in the game? I noticed a lot of similarities between Fort Triumph and the last XCOM games and now I’m curious about the differences. What can you tell us about it?
Going to assume Turnbased’s well-educated readers know their Xcom, so yeah, let’s focus on the differences. We started thinking about Fort Triumph after XCOM: Enemy Unknown came out and trying to figure out what made it so good.
We wanted to be an indie game that’s aiming for as much tactical depth. And the conversation about that alone can be its own interview, but to tell a long story short, we do it by creating tons of environmental opportunities for players to explore, spot or create, and then utilize.
In XCOM – this happens through using cover and destructible terrain, Fort Triumph takes the idea a step further, by implementing a physics engine. We wanted to make environments come alive not only in visual terms but as weapons and tools during combat. In Fort Triumph, just about every object you see generated in tactical maps is interactable, pushable, topple-able, flammable or otherwise open to tactical exploitation.
Enemies in full cover behind trees? Knock the trees down on their heads. Surrounded by a trio of foes? Pull them into each other with a whirlwind spell, stunning them all. That makes the game slightly less about range and more about positioning and the correct tactical usage of your abilities in relation to the environment.
3rd Turn) Now let’s talk about A.I. During the combat, it seems very important to properly use the environment in order to achieve victory, but the enemies often come towards you without using it. I know that the game is still in an alpha stage, but what can we expect from the A.I in the near future?
First of all, will have you know that we already had AI using physics against players in early stages of development. Problem is, it made the game insanely difficult, so we needed to tweak it plenty to actually improve game experience and make it work across difficulty levels.
We’re planning on doing an internal prototype of physics using AI next month. If we see that it goes well and feedback from our testers is positive, it should be in a public build by the end of August.
4th Turn) There will be a main quest and side-quests to follow?
The game currently features Act I of the story campaign. We plan to keep adding more story content down the road. In the past we had a few side-quests you could encounter in the world map, these got removed as part of iterating the world map, but we plan to restore them by release (and hopefully to add more).
5th Turn) Besides the campaign (Story Mode) will there be a sandbox mode in the game?
There already is a Skirmish mode where you pick your faction, an enemy faction and a world map environment to generate a randomized run. We plan to add world map variations, as well as the option to face multiple AI factions or groups of factions to make it deeper and more interesting (This goes along with our plan to add hot seat functionality by release).
6th Turn) I’m curious about the RPG features of the game? Tell me more about it
In general, we’re trying to build the RPG aspect of the game to be deep enough to strengthen the connection with each hero, but simple enough not to weigh down tactical or strategic gameplay which is the core of Fort Triumph’s experience.
For now, we have skill trees with main skills and optional upgrades for them, and basic hero stats and stat manipulation. We plan to add unique traits that make heroes stand apart from each other soon (a bit like in Rogue Legacy for example), as well as cross-class special abilities and other perks.
This is something we keep iterating based on feedback from players, so it’s likely to keep evolving in the months leading to release.
7th Turn) Ok now something about the heroes. I know that you cannot create your own character, but the heroes in the game seem to have a well-defined (and funny!) personality. Can you tell us something more about the customization of the heroes?
Right now you can rename heroes, change their colors, and we plan on also allowing changing their gender.
We’d really like to add more customization for heroes as well as open modding support, as we get these requests often. Unfortunately being indie devs we don’t have enough resources to make promises… Hopefully, Fort Triumph does well, and it’ll become one of the major features for post-launch development 🙂
8th Turn) Many fans are asking for a multiplayer mode. Do you think to please the masses and implement a multiplayer mode in the game?
Oddly, quite the opposite! We always wanted multiplayer features and our backers voted them down compared to other features during Kickstarter 🙂 But it’s a feature both us and quite a few backers wanted dearly, so now that we have support from Allin Games we can reveal we will have hot seat, multiplayer and co-op features down the road. You’re among the first to hear about it too!
9th Turn) Will there be randomly generated contents in Fort Triumph? And, if yes, what kind of content will be randomly generated? Could we hope to find hand-crafted battles or dungeons?
Both our tactical battles and the world maps in Skirmish mode are procedurally generated, and we plan to expand on that down the road.
As to hand-crafted battles, we want to add “Challenge levels” which are hand-crafted battles with set-piece situations to crack, but it’s unlikely to happen before release.
10th Turn) Do you think to release a modding tool-set for the game?
There’s already some basic modability – global things, such as accuracy penalties/bonuses, physics damage, cover defense, AI tweaking, world map generation settings etc.
We hope to get more in there as time goes by, but can’t promise things like creating classes and abilities from scratch. As mentioned above – it’s all about how much support we get on release and how enabled we are to keep working on Fort Triumph’s future content.
Bonus Turn) Before leaving you, just a bonus question. Which is the latest turn-based game you’ve played or still playing?
I play most turn-based games that come out if I think there’s something to be learned from them, and there usually is. Most recently played the Battle Brothers expansion, Xcom2 (/Long war 2), a bunch of Slay the Spire. Oh! and Pathway, to round it out with a smaller indie game 🙂
I thank very much the developers from CookieByte Entertainment for this interview and wish the best of luck to Fort Triumph!