Stoneshard “Way Forward” Progress Update

Ink Stains Games, the team behind the challenging turn-based RPG Stoneshard, is currently working on the “Way Forward” early access update for the game. This update is expected to go live in a few months, introducing a massive enemy AI rework and a new dungeon generation system. Here’s what you can expect:

Hello everyone!

In this devlog we’d like to share our progress on the “Way Forward” update. It will be released in the end of summer or in the beginning of autumn and will be the largest and the most complex update we’ve delivered so far - it will include a massive rework of the AI and dungeon generation.

The large amount of time required to develop this update is linked to a significant number of systems, closely connected to the rework. Even if these systems will only be fully implemented at a later date, they already require a proper foundation which we have to lay down. Additionally, AI rework itself requires lots of testing and tweaking, so it’s hard to predict the exact amount of time needed to achieve acceptable results.

However, this rework is essential to finally start adding not just quantity to the game, but also quality. It will allow us to experiment with the behaviour of different enemy factions, add new enemy types, and introduce unique abilities to the existing enemies. With any luck, some of the new enemy types will be added with the “Way Forward” update.

At the moment the basic structure of our new AI is still being conceptualized and prototyped, but we can already share the list of targets we plan to reach:
  • Create a more complex ecosystem. This will include the manual tweaking of the relations between different animal types instead of crudely splitting them depending on their ration. We plan to add some specific behaviour patterns as well. For instance, deer will flee from loud noises (instead of running towards them), carnivores will be territorial (which will allow avoiding their aggression if you make a timely retreat from their territory). There will also be a herd/pack simulation added among other things.
  • Improve pathfinding and positioning. In the current version of the game mobs simply follow the shortest route to their enemy. We’d like to give them an ability to walk around traps and dangerous AoE zones when it’s possible, avoid tiles with solid objects behind them if the player makes an active use of Knockback, and keep their distance when using magic or ranged weaponry.
  • Add a more context-dependent system for using abilities instead of the existing system, which is based on chance and just one or two conditions per action.
  • Grant enemies some additional options: retreat or swap positions in certain situations, call allies for help, properly react to arrow fire and spells, correctly prioritize targets.
  • Introduce a more transparent awareness system, which will become a basis for the upcoming stealth system.
  • Rework the NPC system, which will allow adding random NPC encounters to the game, making the exploration much more varied.
The variety aspect also pertains to the dungeon generation rework. The existing dungeons are nothing more than a few dozen square rooms, connected with a web of hallways. We are currently working on adding lots of unique rooms to the dungeon generator, removing the mandatory hallways in certain situations, as well as trying out different approaches for generating different dungeon types.

Once we achieve all this, we’ll be able to start introducing new dungeon types to the game, populating them with new enemies (the product of the reworked AI), which in turn means the beginning of the long-awaited expansion of the game’s world.

We’ve already finished working on the prototype for the updated dungeon generation. We are pleased with the result, so it’s currently being added to the game. Still, it will take quite a while to fully flesh the system out, so for now here are some concepts for the new rooms which we plan to add to the game[...]

That’s all for now, thank you for your attention.
See you in a few weeks!