Dev Blog #26: Mercenary Contracts and Greenlight Update - Battle Brothers Developer Blog

Sep
15

Dev Blog #26: Mercenary Contracts and Greenlight Update

Phew!

It’s been one week now since we launched on Steam Greenlight, and what a ride it’s been! According to Steam, we’re now 63% on the way to the top 100. Not too shabby for one week, but still a long way to go before being greenlit. Thank you all for your support so far!

If you haven’t voted for us already, please do so here:

Only with your help can we get the game on Steam, which would allow us to work on it full-time and make progress much faster. If you know others who might be interested in Battle Brothers, please do share the link!

So, that’s that. For now, let us take a look at contracts, which in Battle Brothers work much like quests do in other RPGs, and how they shape the game.

Mercenary Contracts

Contracts fulfill an important role in Battle Brothers. You’ll lead a band of mercenaries, after all, and contracts are what you do for work most of the time. Since the game has an open world, contracts are also important to give the player a sense of direction. You’ll be able to freely travel and explore the world at your pace, and you won’t have to take up any contracts as long as you can afford to pay and feed your men with the spoils you find. However, you should also never feel lost, not knowing what to do next; in a world torn up by war, there should be plenty of work available for a mercenary company.

Just as the worldmap and all the tactical battle maps are procedurally generated and will never look the same, so are contracts procedurally generated and don’t follow a scripted linear order. Importantly, though, contracts aren’t just random missions thrown at you. They are the result of what really is going on in the world; if a caravan travels on a long journey through dangerous lands, it will offer an escort contract. If a village is constantly being raided by bandits, it will offer a contract for protection. The bandits won’t be spawned just for the duration of the contract and to entertain the player – they’ll really be raiding the village beforehand, and the contract being offered is a reaction to them. Defeating their raiding parties will really lower bandit activity for a while, and burning down their camp may end it completely.

It’s important for us that all contracts are embedded into our dynamic open world and allow the player to really make a change, to have a real impact on the world, and not just grind random missions one after the other. If you haven’t seen it already, this blog post explains in more detail our open world mechanics. At least for now, you’ll also only be able to accept one contract at a time – we want to avoid that feeling of having an endless list of quests which you just work through, not even remembering where you got it and why you’re doing it.

Werewolves encrouching on a vilage.

Werewolves encrouching on a vilage.

Contracts also need to offer enough variety and change to last a whole campaign, and not grow boring and repetitive after a while. Our contracts are generated from a variety of variables which hopefully will offer virtually endless combinations together with the different locations they take place at and opponents you fight. Contracts can vary from short time assignments, like escorting a person or caravan, hunting down a group of beasts, scouting an area or destroying an encampment, to long time assignments, like protecting a whole region for two weeks. Even changing a little thing like the payment modality could change how individual missions play out; if you’re promised 10 silver crowns for every orc head, you might want to take more risks to hunt down every last one as opposed to when you’re promised a flat sum for destroying the orc raiding party, no matter if a few orcs can get away.

It can be hard for procedurally generated contracts to compete with a linear campaign in terms of pacing and atmosphere. To help this, we will present each contract offer with a paragraph of story to set the mood. Contracts will never just be a few bare bulletpoints, a price and an accept button. Instead it will be villagers telling you of their ails, or a lord with a proposition.

If you have any questions or ideas for contracts we should include, let us know here or at our forums!

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7 comments

  • drew1988west
    Drew
    Sep 15, 2014 @ 21:39 pm

    63% is brilliant for such a short number of days since it was posted to greenlight.

    Loving the idea of the Merc Contracts, especially the fact it is a one-at-a-time gig. I hate having a billion quests thrown at me in most RPG’s. Still as excited as ever! Looking forward to seeing the strategic layer in action!

    Reply
    • Rap
      Rap
      Sep 16, 2014 @ 2:11 am

      It’s not bad at all. I just hope we can keep the momentum going. Too many Greenlight projects end up dead in the water after a few months.

      Reply
  • InkPacket
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 1:15 am

    So, this got me thinking and I don’t know if this has been touched on or not but I created an account just to ask. As far as the history of players and their companions go will there be situations where people act differently or treat your entire band differently because of a few people that they dislike or like. And will these things affect how they are treated by the rest of the mercenary group? Or is this something that isn’t gonna be in the game?

    Reply
    • Rap
      Rap
      Sep 16, 2014 @ 2:08 am

      Interesting question. You mean something like having Battle Brothers with a criminal background in the party resulting in other people treating you differently?

      You might have read in the forums what we intend to have random events for a change of pace. Things like meeting people on the road, like a merchant offering an allegedly magical amulet, or a group of refugees asking for rations to spare. It is with events like these that character backgrounds could have an influence. For example, having a bunch of criminals in your group might unlock certain events that the player wouldn’t otherwise be confronted with. However, these events are mostly for flavor, there to help the illusion of a living world that reacts to your people, and the gameplay effect would be rather small. The group reputation as a whole isn’t influenced by backgrounds or character traits of individual Battle Brothers – though it may be slightly influenced by how you handle certain events. That said, neither reputation nor the event system are in place yet (and the latter probably won’t be for a while since it isn’t considered a core game mechanic), so this is still subject to change.

      Individual Battle Brothers having different relationships to each other won’t be in the game. We just assume that they are a tight knit bunch after facing death together in combat on a daily basis and depending on each other for survival.

      Reply
  • jaybanger
    Sep 17, 2014 @ 11:44 am

    So, I was wondering. From reading your blogs it appears that if you leave a settlement alone long enough
    that is being attacked it will wither and die if it doesn’t outside help. I guess they won’t be able to pay you
    much because they are about to fail as a settlement and have been constantly robbed. What is the reward
    for saving a settlement in this scenario? If you stay in the area and defeat the baddies will there be a karma system?

    Are NPC’s going to take up the call if we don’t?

    Do I get warm fuzzy feelings for saving settlements that can’t really reward you,
    or will my character get blue eyes and a halo?

    Reply
    • Rap
      Rap
      Sep 18, 2014 @ 18:54 pm

      Let me start off with a disclaimer: the worldmap is currently under heavy construction. Everything is still subject to change.

      Currently, settlements will only be really destroyed by the invading forces of the Greater Evil, not regular enemies roaming the map for whatever purpose. Bandits, for example, are more interested in constantly raiding a village instead of burning it down completely and then having nothing left to live off.

      Yes, NPCs will attempt to take up the call if you don’t. With (currently) half a dozen settlements over the map, the player can’t be expected to be everywhere at once. There are footmen stationed in guard towers and keeps that try to patrol roads and respond to threats, but they aren’t able to keep the whole map in check either, especially as the invasion begins.

      There won’t be a karma system. In fact, I dislike karma systems in general for forcing a set of values on the player as if it were the only valid one. What we may have (but do not yet have) is a reputation system; failing to fulfill contracts in time or helping out a village would influence your reputation, which in turn can have varying gameplay effects with more long-term benefits. Also, poor villages may be more inclined to reward you in other ways than money, such as food or information. Whether that is incentive enough to help out poor villages over others that pay better, and whether we even should attempt to balance this instead of accepting the cold realities of a pseudo-medieval world where people think of themselves first, is something we’ll have to figure out.

      Reply
      • jaybanger
        Sep 20, 2014 @ 7:40 am

        Good answer.

        Reply

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