Development on the 4X-Roguelike hybrid Thea 2: The Shattering continues to roll along. This month, we got updates on crafting, resources, skills, and UI.
One of the biggest parts of Thea: The Awakening was crafting items. Thea 2 takes that activity to a whole new level. First, there are several new types of equipment being added to the game: wands, artefacts, and pets. Wands will have special magical properties and open up a whole new way to outfit your characters. Artefacts are rare and powerful items similar to jewelry in Thea 1. In fact, the developers aren’t certain that jewelery will make it into Thea 2 as a result. Pets, as mentioned in design update #1, will have several unique properties including helping characters bear heavier burdens.
Thea 2 will also be introducing a “Design Mode” for crafting items. When entering this mode, players will be able to test out different combinations of resources. This allows you to see what types of items could be created and also review their stats. Players won’t need access to the actual resources in order to test them. One of the difficulties in Thea 1 was knowing what resources to research and in what order they should be prioritized. With “Design Mode” players will be able to make more informed decisions on how to spend their precious research points.
The biggest change to crafting in Thea 2 will be the lack of a catalyst. In Thea: The Awakening, items required some type of “fuel” in order to be made, usually wood, coal, or string/leather for armor. That is totally removed in Thea 2, or at least it is for now. I can see pros and cons with this. On the pro side, that’s a lot less clicking and dragging. Also, the catalyst materials were usually found in such abundance that using them wasn’t much of a challenge for players, except in the early game. That’s where the cons come in, at least for me.
If you could establish a steady supply of materials in the early game of Thea 1, your chances of winning rose exponentially. There were plenty of times I had to make tough choices on what to do with my wood, straw, and string. I needed cloth armor, gathering tools, and cooked meals badly, but I couldn’t always afford to make them all. I had to prioritize, and I liked that. Also, the catalysts made sure there was a permanent cost to making something. You couldn’t recover catalyst materials when disassembling a crafted item. That meant, you had to use the rarer catalysts like coal and diamonds carefully, even in the mid to late game. I’m concerned that removing this aspect of gameplay will remove a lot of the challenge of crafting, and in the game as a whole.
While the final decision on catalysts hasn’t been made, the first alpha versions of the game will not have them. It makes me wonder if Muha Games has come up with another way to have players spend excess materials. I’ll be fascinated to find out.
Resources are changing quite a bit in Thea 2. Apart from the typical rarity and weight, resources will now also have what is called “Essence.” The essences a resource provides will impact the abilities, bonuses, and skills characters receive from items crafted with those resources. So, let’s say you want to craft a club. You have an option to make it out of bone or metal. If you use metal, which mostly provides Fire Essence, there will be different skills available for the weapon than when you use Bone, which provides mostly Soul Essence. The better the ingredients used for crafting, the more essence they give. And the more essence you can squeeze out, the better skills you will be able to assign to that club (either by getting access to more unique skills or by improving the level on a more common skill), and this directly translates to a better weapon.
Another mechanic that was frequently requested for Thea 1 was the ability to combine resources to make new ones. For instance, many players asked if it would be possible to transform large amounts of Coal into small amounts of Diamonds. The developers said that wasn’t possible, but it was something they would keep in mind for Thea 2. Well, they’ve kept their word.
Players will now be able to combine resources in order to get “Composite Materials.” Crafting composites requires materials from one or two resource tiers in specific amounts. A player might need more lower tier and fewer higher tier resources to create a new composite material. This will keep the early game resources relevant longer. Best of all, you won’t have to do just one item at a time. If you use more materials than the minimum needed, you can create more of the new composite resource. I can’t tell you how excited I am to try this out.
The resource “tech tree” has also been totally reworked for Thea 2. There are now just three tiers of resources. The first tier is made up of materials that can only be gained by gathering them up in the world of Thea. Collecting them will be essentially unchanged from the original game. However, Tier Two and Tier Three resources can only be acquired by combining Tier One materials. Resource availability will depend on many factors, even such as seasons (mostly for food), terrain type, and biome. For example the Dwarven Stone and Metal biomes will likely yield rare metals and stone, while the Ancient Forests will have no metals but could contain exclusive types of wood.
In Thea 2 the devs have streamlined character attributes, so that remembering your character’s strengths and powers in a given challenge won’t be quite as mind boggling. However, in order to keep challenges complex and characters varied and interesting, they’re introducing new skill mechanics. Skills include special abilities (race specific talents, class abilities, magical powers etc.), attack types (like piercing, range punch etc), and much more.
Skills in Thea 2 are divided into two groups: character skills and item skills. A character will derive his or her skills from two sources: species and class. So characters might have certain skills because they are a dwarf or an elf or a wild boar or a harpy or whatever. They’ll also get skills from their profession, much like in a role-playing game. I haven’t seen a full list of classes yet, but from what eXplorminate has been told so far, you’ll see druids, shamans, and warriors.
In addition to regular skills, characters might also get “sub-skills.” These skills can vary in power and use and can come from leveling up, becoming an adult, equipping new items, or random events. They can also have multiple roles depending on the situation. So for example, a sword made of particular material may give its main bonus to physical challenge, but then also give a blessing in social challenges because it’s so pretty.
The most interesting aspect of this is that characters could acquire temporary sub-skills from random events. Let’s say the developers wanted to create a skill that boosts attacks during spiritual challenges for ten turns. So they might create a sub-skill that deals damage to all characters on the table, slow an enemy in combat, or take away 1/3 of spiritual health with every hit. There is no limit to the number of sub-skills in Thea 2, so expect to see a lot of powerful, intereings, and even humorous abilities for your characters.
When it comes to items, crafted equipment will have three available tiers of skills based on the essence of the primary resource used to make it. The “Base” skill type will do normal item actions that you might expect like attack a specific enemy on the battlefield or increase a specific character attribute. “Rare” and “Ancient” skill types will be derived from the type of dominating essence from the item’s components, and the rarer the component, the more powerful and varied the effect will be. For instance, a rare golden sword may do only 50% damage in physical challenges but will utilize 100% of its strength in social challenges. On top of that, secondary materials would provide additional attribute modifications and skills based on the count and rarity of the resource used.
Pets, will also have skills, so a cat being the witch’s favorite may give you a bonus to mysticism, a pet wolf will have a special bite attack that you can use in combat, or a carrier goat that increases your carry limit. Personally, I can’t wait to see how pets interact on the battlefield.
Some complained that Thea 1 was a micromanagement heavy game. It never bothered me, but I can see how dragging and dropping materials and equipment over and over would get tiresome, particularly when outfitting an adventuring troupe. The developers at Muha are endeavoring to help with this.
They are creating a multi -character equip screen. On the regular equip screen you’ll be able to choose a tab that will allow you to view multiple characters as a list and assign items to them without switching back and forth between the villagers. This innovation will certainly help streamline assigning gear, and hopefully something like it is applied to other aspects of the game as well such as crafting.
So as you can see, Thea 2: the Shattering is coming along very nicely. Muha hopes to have a playable version ready for the Digital Dragons convention in late May, and perhaps that’s when eXplorminate will get our first peek at the game. Count on us to keep you updated!