It turns out that the updated chapters 1 and 2 were not ready for release on Friday, after all. I can't entirely say I'm surprised, as I've had some trouble estimating just how long certain portions will take (sorry about that, people! I always underestimate how long testing and debugging takes). The database is well underway. The classes, skills and equipment is for the most part done. I've finished the animations for half of the characters, another 4 and some global skills left to go! I'm very grateful that Timmah has released so many wonderful animations, as they've really helped make the skills look unique.
Most of the damage/healing calculations and buff/debuff states are done. I've actually reworked the character-specific buffs/debuffs to target more than one stat, playing into the elemental affinities of their magical attacks. There's still a lot of testing left to do, however, especially when it comes to balancing enemies. One of the features I'm including is that the enemies have levels that are based on the average party level. So, you can expect each fight to be at least mildly challenging. However, I also don't want anyone to turn the game off in frustration, so there will be a couple options for lost fights. First is to retry - because let's face it, sometimes it's just bad luck! The second is to avoid the fight altogether. In this case, the enemy will disappear, but the party will lose half its gold.
The random enemies will either be visible on the screen, or require some sort of action - like the rats in the Bethlam Tower, where you had to shake the barricade to make them appear. There will be a few "trap" type encounters as well, where you trigger battles by stepping on particular tiles, but they will limited to certain areas. My goal is to provide plenty of battles for those of you who enjoy battles, but not force them on the players who would rather not fight. I should also mention that all states will be cleared after the battle (including death) and all characters will be healed to 50% of their health and mana. So, those moments when you're on your last potion and still have half a dungeon to go should be rare.
I'm also pondering the notion of adding a few more exploration areas to chapter 1 and 2. The forest path to Summervale, for example, is very linear and short. When I was developing the area, I had a much bigger set of maps in mind, but I shrunk it down for convenience. You would, of course, get to explore those areas when you went back to Summervale (chapter 3). But would you rather see them right away?
Now, as promised, here's a screenshot of a map in Chapter 3:
Where could Alistair be now? And what awaits him in this cave? Stay tuned!