Iron Tower's Vince D. Weller pens a monthly update for The Age of Decadence as usual, informing us of the many changes to the game's core mechanics that are occurring lately, the team's optimization work, and their approach for the "end game". Here's a snip:
I know, I know. Is it really necessary? To be honest, I had doubts myself. We talked about it internally and it sounded pretty good, but it was very tempting to say '˜next game' and move on. Well, the next game will be different and it is a shame to throw away all these changes, which are the logical evolution of the previous concepts and the next and final design step.
So, when Oscar put it all in a design doc and made some mock up screens, I didn't even argue. It's fucking beautiful. It changes a lot of things improves the overall design, changes things that didn't work well or didn't fit the overall design, brings more clarity, both design-wise and the way info is communicated to the player.
Quick example: The character creation. It wasn't very exciting, for lack of a better word. You think about your stats, which define the rest. Then you distribute the extra points, which don't really change the overall picture, and you're done.
Now, stats no longer define the starting skill values. Instead, they add SP to two different pools: Combat and Non-Combat. Strength, Dexterity and Constitution add to the combat pool, while Perception, Intelligence and Charisma add to the non-combat one. The formula is (Stat-4)*5.
So, let's say you want to make a tough, but dumb and ugly bastard. Str 10, Dex 8, Con 8, Per 6, Int 4, Cha 4. You get 70 skill points in the combat pool but only 20 points in the non-combat one. It's a lot more fun to make characters now, that's for sure.
Knockdown is no longer a passive trait of hammers, but a special attack available only to hammers, which fixes the main (and probably only) complaint about hammers having enemies thrown back when you don't need it.
Expect changes to special and aimed attacks, dodge, block, crafting, counter-attack, inventory access during combat, synergies, skills, info displayed, plus new attacks.
Usually, it's the most boring part of the game that often feels like a chore. All quests are done, all choices are made, character development and gear acquisition completed, let's get it over with. We're trying (trying being the key word here) to spice things up a bit at the end. The end-game should not be a place where things stop being interesting, it should be a place where things just got interesting, where you sit and wonder (shit, what the fuck do I do now?)
I see such game design approach as a funnel. You have few options when you start and you have a very limited grasp of the playing field, and you're a nobody, and nobody cares what you think. Then you slowly grow in power and influence, which increases your options and broaden your horizons as to what's going on. By the time you reach the endgame, you should have even more options and viewpoints (which should lead to doubting of what seemed so clear earlier).
In other words, a complex plot with many active participants with different agendas should not have a simple solution or an endgame (kiosk) where you can select an ending of your choice.