Welcome to the Cantata newsletter! Thanks for being subscribed, and as always it’s worth stating how much it means to me that you care about this weird tactical space game!
Cantata is going to be featured as part of Mix Next 2022 March 22! We’ve got a brand new demo on Steam planned that will feature two major components:
1) Totally redesigned Chapter 1 map
2) New Tutorial!
A LOT has changed since we first showed off the game at Gamescom last August, and we’ve been actively working to improve the game’s core systems and design as well as work on the campaign chapter maps. We’ve obviously been quiet around these parts recently, but not because we’ve away — we’ve been actively working with a full team of around ~11 people to make the game come to life!
We really hope you give the new demo a go and leave us some feedback on our forums with what you think!
Not only will there be a demo live, but we’ve got a big announcement planned as well… 👀
We’ll definitely send out another email once that’s up, but otherwise watch our social channels.
A lot of the work we’ve done since Gamescom has been to refine the core Cantata formula to make it more legible to players while increasing the tactical depth. To this end, you can expect to see a few major changes in the new demo:
This is probably the biggest change to the game! Maps in Cantata are now sliced up into smaller pre-defined regions. These regions can be controlled by players, and controlling a region often gives you access to build in it. Additionally, Region control may grant you some Victory Points, a number of which may be a pre-condition to winning a match.
Regions are further important because we also limit how many buildings you can build in a single region (similar to Northgard). Capturing new regions allows you to build more, which is a crucial component to making sure you win!
We’ve now also added a simple resource-gathering component to the game. Before, you started the game with a large number of global resources that ticked down each turn, with no ability to change that “dripped” amount. We now allow you to not only control how many resources you ingest each turn, but give you the ability to build mining facilities on controlled regions, allowing you to offset your draw by instead adding new resources at the start of each turn.
We definitely expect there to be intense fighting over these mining points, as their resources are limited!
One thing we heard loud and clear during Gamescom was that the AP system as-is was too controlling. We wanted to really enforce the sense that you couldn’t do everything in a given turn, but it turns out most people kind of liked that! What we’ve done as a compromise is to give every unit the ability to move and attack once per turn (with some exceptions for very strong units), and units now have the ability to “surge” their actions in order to allow them to act again at some AP cost.
This reflects the larger shift in our ideas for AP, which is that it’s more of a “stretch resource” than being some core component of every action. We’re excited to see how people like this change, and early signs from playtesting seem to indicate it’s a nice shift!
Related to the above changes, we’ve gotten rid of the exhaust system! It was a nice solve to prevent units from doing too much on a given turn, but was in generally too cognitively demanding to hold all these different exhaust states in your head, especially as they varied per unit.
This is a lower-key change but one that’s also important. We now limit how many units you are able to build based on your current “population limit”. Different units cost different amounts of population, and you can increase your population limit by capturing regions.
There’s even more to talk about, but because we don’t have a ton of new screenshots to share, this is turning into a wall of text! If this sounds interesting and you want to see more, check out upcoming demo!
One major point I’ve been rolling around in over the past few months is how “big” Cantata is. Not necessarily from a content standpoint (but with a main campaign that we’re thinking is ~20 hours long + modding there’s definitely a lot there!), but from a pure “amount of things to balance” angle. We’ve got three primary factions, each with about 7 units and 7 buildings, and another faction (the planet) with about 7 units. That’s more than 50 units at a baseline to balance with all sort of stats around how much they can hold in storage, what’s their cooldowns for projects, their move range, attack range, attack pattern, etc. It’s a lot! I’ve been jokingly saying we’re making turn-based Starcraft, which upon reflection is turning out to be more and more true.
There’s just a lot of design the game needs, and I’ve been happy to have two other scenario designers join the team because the core maps have to be made as well! We really expect players to help us a lot in their regard when the game is eventually out, and we’re also excited that we’re exposing all these little numbers and configurations to the community thorough modding.
We really can’t wait for people to start playing with all the factions in the game and get a feel for their inner workings, develop favorites, and test fun theories. But in all I’m just sort of in awe that we’re really making this weird tactics game come to life! It’s been so much work to get to this point and can’t wait for more people to start playing and exploring its world as well.
Anyways, thanks so much for reading the newsletter! Looking forward to talking to you all again after THE MIX and we can say more about what’s coming in the near future… 😀