Project Update - AMA and FAQ
Lost Pilgrims had an AMA session over on discord where players asked us questions about the game and the studio alike. We had a great time talking to people and decided to compile the questions and answers into a single AMA article for posterity. We also added some very frequently asked questions to the beginning that players or those looking up information on the game might find informative.
Q: What kind of a game is Vagrus?
A: Vagrus is a roleplaying game (RPG) with strong elements of strategy; you not only manage your own character and companions but your caravan and its crew as well. The game has a strong focus on narrative, exploration, and resource management.
Q: Is Vagrus a finished product?
A: Vagrus is currently in Alpha-access, which is in a stage before Early Access. Expect glitches, work-in-progress text, and missing features. That said, the game already has 30-50 hours of content and is mostly playable. Some of its parts are nearly completed, like ‘Pilgrims of the Wasteland’.
Q: When will Vagrus be released in full?
A: Vagrus is about to enter an Early Access period soon, and it might take another year or so to complete depending on how successful that EA run is. We have a lot more content and a ton of interesting stuff up our sleeves but how much is added will ultimately depend on your support. That said, the full release is planned somewhere during the first half of 2021.
Q: Is Vagrus a visual novel?
A: No, although the game is quite text-heavy towards the beginning, which might give you this impression. There is more and more gameplay with less and less reading after the first few hours.
Q: Is there a lot of reading involved?
A: Only if you wish to enjoy the story. The game works as a trade simulator with combat and RPG progression even if you do not read any story text but the context will be largely missing.
Q: How can I get the game?
A: You can play the Demo on Steam, GOG, and here on Discord for free - it has a few hours’ worth of content, probably enough to give you an idea of what the game is like. Currently, the only way to get the Alpha-access full game is through crowdfunding on Fig https://www.fig.co/vagrus.
Alternatively, we have a Patreon where a few successive months of support gets you a game key (Steam or GOG) as well https://www.patreon.com/lostpilgrims.
Q: What is ‘Pilgrims of the Wasteland’?
A: ‘Pilgrims of the Wasteland’ (PotW) is the title of an 8-12 hour long, standalone scenario you can play separately from the main game. It is both an introduction to the setting, a prequel to the main campaign, and a tutorial. It is more text-heavy than the main campaign initially and more linear due to it being a tutorial but opens up later on. You can choose to play it if you tell the old man at the campfire that you want to hear his story.
Q: Do I create my own character?
A: Yes, but only in the open-world main campaign of the game. You have a set character in ‘Pilgrims of the Wasteland’.
Q: How do I play the open-world campaign?
A: After starting a new game, tell the old man that you do not wish to listen to his story and you can start creating your character right away.
Q: How many people are working on the game?
A: We are a small team, five of us in the core team while some others work on the game part-time or in the form of regular commissions.
Compiled Questions from the AMA Session:
Q: What were the typical problems encountered during the development of the game?
Szonja: Unity at times lacks certain features, it was developed more for 3d/2d platformer development. Animation can be tough with our fake perspectives and complicated UI is also tricky.
Geri: Perhaps learning a lot of new things at a fast pace because nobody else was going to do it for me; though it's more of a challenge, not necessarily a problem. Also getting the artists 'see' what is in my head about creatures or locations was not always easy and I had to adjust a lot.
Sztaszov: Building on what Geri said, it's been quite a journey for us as almost all of us are new to game development. Our initial plans for how long it would take to create certain things were naïve, to put it mildly. Everything takes a bit longer and more things break than you would expect. Our 'problems' also come from our ever growing appetite when it comes to new features and more content. We dream to push until we bring the game to its full potential and that often takes us to choose the harder pass. One of the good things about open development (making our dev builds available to backers) is that we could gather a lot of feedback on what our players felt important and we more than once refocused our attention to improve those areas. I.e.: we learned how steep the learning curve for the open-world part of the game was and we decided to move up the development of Trade Tasks on our roadmap so we allow players to have more time with a fairly reliable income from those before going into deeper waters.
Q: What software do you use for making the game?
Szonja: We mainly use Unity with some custom tools, personally as a graphic designer I paint in photoshop and animate with Unity extensions.
Geri: We all use Unity to some degree. For writing (which concerns me the most) we use a tool that we call the 'Editor', coded specifically for this project. I also make use of graphical tools such as SketchUp for maps and sketches for the artists, and of course a lot of database/management tools like Airtable or other spreadsheet tools.
Q: Do you have a system in place that lets you add new quests/storylines into the game easily? Also, would that be open for modders? I am thinking about quests that do not have fixed cities or locations and can pop up randomly during gameplay. That would be nice for replay value even though not really essential.
A: We do, fortunately, it's a tool we call the 'Editor'. Our coder, Nobo, built it from scratch and it uses its own little scripting language but also has the texts in place. As for modding weeeeeeell, I would not promise anything. As of now, the Editor is difficult to provide access to for anyone outside the studio. It would require a lot of resources to open it up and control it, resources that we'd like to use for the game first. Later on, who knows? There are also a lot of quests that can pop up here and there, Events with non-fixed locations, branching stories that can take you to several places, and more of this will come. Tasks are procedurally generated, so you'll see a lot of replay value there, especially when we add Mercenary Tasks (those almost exclusively lead you to a location out in the wasteland that you have to find first).
Q: What were some of the inspirations behind the game?
A: There were quite a few. If we take a look at other games, there's definitely Sunless Sea, a bit of Darkest Dungeon (for some of the combat), maybe even Banner Saga for some character management aspects. As for other sources, there's an article here that you might be interested in reading on how the world came to be: https://vagrus.com/news/how-the-riven-realms-came-to-be
Q: How extensive are the use of references while creating the game assets such as the creation of the characters and textures?
A: We use a ton of moodboards for asset creation when it comes to characters and locations, though these are rarely image references from specific other IPs. Often I draw sketches of my own, other times I try to look for generic images for atmosphere while I provide the specifics. Also, I had very specific ideas for character and location design based on our RPG sessions and my own writing/imagination, so the question was more like: how do I communicate this to our amazing artists and in what aspects do they get free reign?
Q: Can we expect more content like ‘Pilgrims of the Wasteland’ in the Future?
A: More linear? Unlikely, we are now concentrating more on the open-world campaign (but who knows, maybe later on?). That said, more and more narrative-driven stories and quests will be added, each similar in depth and sometimes length to that of Pilgrims. These large questlines will make up the real 'story' of the open-world part.
Q: How many words are in the game currently?
A: Somewhere around 500k words, although that includes ‘Pilgrims of the Wasteland’ and also the next large area we're going to add sometime after Early Access, which already has a lot of new content. The 500k covers the scripts used within the events. All that you see as tests and consequences. Also, it may sound a lot but there are so many paths and solutions to Events that you won't see all of it in a playthrough.
Q: How much will the game cost upon full release? And once at that state, will it receive further content updates?
A: We are not close enough to make a decision about the full price yet. It will be dependent on a number of things:
- The amount of content we will have created by the time of the release. We are currently at 50 hours of content with the Crowdfunding Backer version and that is the same content we plan to go live with here on Steam when entering Early Access (soon). It will grow from there and potentially even go beyond a hundred hours (thought it is also too early to say that for certain).
- We need to factor in that Vagrus is a very niche game. Not many players are willing to read this much anymore, which means lower prices would not result in significantly better sales. Players who want to play Vagrus would buy it earlier, not waiting for a lower discount, but overall we would not be able to sell enough extra copies to make up for a price cut.
- We also keep our finger on the market's pulse. We'll see what the trends are at the time of release but right now we are taking our cue from the likes of Battle Brothers, Iratus, etc. on how to price the game.
So we have nothing final for the full price but we can share that our current plan is to enter Early Access on a $29.99 base price with a launch discount.
On the post release updates: we would love to keep developing Vagrus for many years to come. Our decades of TTRPG campaigns provide us with an almost infinite source of material. If there is an audience for it, we would love to keep expanding on it with DLCs, paid and/or free, even after the final release. We will see how long we stay in Early Access and how much interest we receive from players. We would like to realize Vagrus in its full potential and hope that with the help of our community, we will figure out the best way to do just that.
Q: about the vagrus/main character:
1. Are professions and attributes only for skill checks or do they serve other roles?
2. Does gender matter for the narrative? For example, in Fallout, male and female characters have different dialogue options, is it similar in Vagrus?
3. Currently, there are two avatar images for each race, will we get more later on?
1. Professions do serve other roles, or they will (many are work in progress). For example, Evaluate will allow you to judge prices offered by vendors (so you know if they are paying below or above of the items base value). Navigation increases the chance of scouting. Hunting and beast lore influence the success of your hunting checks. Attributes do not have a specific use like Professions but are requirements for character upgrades, something we are currently working on (Companion progression is a future milestone in our Fig campaign).
2. No gender-specific narrative is planned. However, there are occasionally race (Half-Elf, Dwarf, etc) and background (veteran, criminal, laborer, etc) specific choices in events and stories.
3. We are planning to add more races first with two avatar pictures each and see before release if we have time to expand the catalog for the current ones.
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