Tavern Tactics

Hi everyone, long time lurker here planning to finally give something back to the community. I am already getting some setup done in unreal but this might take a while so I wanted to start doing some devlogging to gather feedback (and see if people could be interested in the project) and to keep myself grounded AND accountable for progressing its development.
The game will be a mostly fun and lighthearted experience, but things might go darker at times, and will be set in a 3D environment with 2D or 3D characters based on what kind of art direction I find decent cheap assets for e.e

The game will be free, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and, as I mentioned, to give back to the community, but I want you all to help as I am more of a programmer than I am a designer/artist.
I’m planning to, if this project gathers people’s interest, setup a way for you all to contribute to the development of the game, but this discussion is for the future…

TAVERN TACTICS (elevator pitch)
Tavern Tactics sees our (yet to be named) protagonist become the owner of an unremarkable tavern that is luckily (?) really close to the adventurer’s guild of the town.
In this fantasy world, our protagonist’s only skill is being patient, both with learning how to manage the tavern and in dealing with the rambunctious customers that show up on a daily basis.

ONLY READ ONWARDS IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT THE GAME IS GOING TO BE LIKE, THE TL;DR STUFF ENDS HERE

The Design
Wait wait wait… didn’t you just describe a management game with your elevator pitch? But I read tactics in the title, what’s up with that?
Well hear me out, I love tactics games, I’ve worked in restaurants IRL for 8+ years and I have seen a lot of rude customers and so I thought What would happen if those customers were capable of superhuman feats? And that’s how Tavern Tactics was born.

The Gameplay
Turn based tactics in which you control a crew of characters (chefs, bar people, servers, ecc.) and serve food to rowdy customers while hoping they won’t blow up the only chance you have at making money. This game differs from the classic Overcooked and such game in the fact that it’s not only turn based, but also requires you to do the customer serving as well. Cooking will be the easy part, keeping customers from fighting each other by feeding them in time or acquiescing to their “requests” (quests) will be the core loop.

The Narrative
The (idiotic at best, straight up mad at worst) story will introduce you to the “idyllic” town of Gudlack, a town at the instersection between two of the greatest countries and the Badlands, where only evil resides (allegedly).
The town is hell for regular people, constantly under the threat of monster on one side, and governed by two lords, hailing by both of the aformentioned kingdoms, on the other.
Both lords have a claim to the town and the only reason they don’t openly fight over it is the presence of one of the most productive adventurer guilds in the world. The strategic position the town has makes it a great hub for adventurers of all kinds, which are the main source of business for Gudlack dwellers.
The protagonist is a gloomy guy who will stumble into becoming the manager of a run down tavern to pay off a debt his family was forced to take on.
This job will land him straight in the middle of a conspiracy that will shake the town and force his weak self to take on much more than he (or his customers) can chew.

The Issues with this game
I can see you, reading until this point and thinking:
Yeah, Ilkastories, this is good and all but I couldn’t even count the amount of people that said they wanted to make a game with good ideas but then fell through due to the amount of effort required, what makes you think you have a shot at a project such as this?
And you have a point, it’s going to be hard and take a lot of time, so don’t expect me to get here with a complete game in one month, but I do have experience with making games and this is a mix between a passion project and a learning experience for me, so I’ll take the shot and not worry about failure.
Puts a hand on your shoulder in a friendly (but maybe a bit creepy) way. But now to talk about what I meant by needing the community to chime in with this.
I have 2 main issues:

  1. I’d love to have art in my game but cannot for the life of me draw anything more than a crooked stickman, and I genuinely despise AI art.
  2. I would really, really like to know what you guys would be interested in for this game, as I have a few kinks I like but would love for people to chime in with ideas for characters, side quests etc.

The solution for the second one is easy: I will set up a prompt form either here or on a discord server and I will try and go through your suggestions.
The first one I’m a bit stumped on but I won’t let it stop me from doing this. I would love for artists to help me but I’d like to have a bit more of the game before I go asking as I could spend a bit of money on assets but I’d love to get the community involved with that as well (be it paid or not).

UPDATES
I will try and make a devlog post each week with screenshots or videos until I get a demo going, so hopefully I got you at least a little bit curious about this project of mine.

Thank you for reading through this massive wall of text and talk to you in the comments!
:relieved:

10 Likes

This sounds like it will be quite a fun and interesting game. As for the art issue, I think it might be a good idea to just use placeholder ‘programmer art’ so you can at least get a feel about how the game will mechanically play out. And when you finally are able to get a working demo out then any artist’s can see what you’re going for and potentially pitch in.

3 Likes

Programmer art will definitely happen in the devlogs ahahaha. Unreal has some free stuff it gives out at times so not all hope is lost in the long term ahahaha. Thanks for the comment!

1 Like

This sounds really cool! Ambitious, but it seems like you are thinking through the implications of your initial pitch.

Long post below. Feel free to use any (or none) of these.

Kink-related Ideas:

  • Stuckage (especially in booths or in the doorway) seems like a natural fit
  • Chairs and stools breaking under customers
  • Folks knocking over plates/drinks/other objects with their bodies (maybe staff need to try to mitigate the damage?)
  • A customer having to literally be rolled out
  • Repeat customers with growing orders (not necessarily every customer, but at least characters with lines/arcs)

Major event + Sidequest ideas:

  • Special event rushes (maybe an inter-kingdom tournament? a holiday?)
  • Eating contest (another way to bring in the conflict between the two countries)
  • Food critic arrives in secret (have the player try to find the critic)
  • New hire training (maybe the tutorial?)
  • Getting supplies from market (I could see this being either a special event or a part of the main gameplay loop)
  • Health Inspection (a momentary break in the main loop + character moments? Maybe a view into the workings of the countries’ governments)
  • Badlanders Are Coming! The restaurant prepares to defend itself against the (supposedly) evil Badlanders
  • Bar fight breaks out
  • Chef wants to try some new recipes (this could involve taste-testers, employees looking for supplies, looking for inspiration, etc)
  • One coworker has a crush on another. Player must play wingman and find out the crush’s likes and dislikes
  • Main character’s debtors decide to bump up the payment this month, so the player must find a way to earn more money
  • Advertise the restaurant! Travel around town talking about it, putting up flyers, etc
  • One of the employees used to be an Adventurer, and an old rival has come to the restaurant for revenge

Customer character ideas:

  • Frazzled college-student-equivalent (spellcaster-in-training?)
  • Egocentric customer with lackeys who cheer them on (think fratbros, or a Queen Bee and mean girls)
  • Snooty, unpleasable customer
  • Doormat customer who can be persuaded to try anything
  • That one customer who is Genuinely Nice and always has interesting stories
  • That one customer who is Genuinely Nice but also Genuinely Weird
  • Barfly. Things are not going well in their life, but they tell good jokes

Employee character ideas:

  • Overworked, hair-trigger-temper chef
  • Jaded but helpful veteran server
  • Eager but easily flustered new server
  • Cook or server who still dreams of being in the arts (and tries to show off every so often)
  • Cook/server/table buser who is very into some subculture in their off-hours (vibes: a metalhead line cook, or someone who does cosplay)
1 Like

Hello skitterwave and thanks for the great comment!
This is the kind of comment I am looking for right now and I’m really thankful to you for making it, I have decided to answer by color coding your own post as follows (hope you are not colorblind :sweat_smile:):

-Green
Means it’s definitely gonna be in the release of the game (of course, I will release alphas and betas before the game comes out, but for the official release it’s definitely going to be there).

-Blue
Means I really want this in the game and will either be in the release or in a later update, as I plan to release this game in chapters as many do on this platform.

-Yellow
Means it’s probably NOT going to be in the release, but I’d really be happy to add it in an update.

-Red
Means I’ve either got a different idea which I’ll talk about in coming devlogs or it would probably take a bit too much work/time/money to make, but doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea or never going to happen.
(examples: the tutorial I’ve already got planned, that’s why it’s red; the travelling around town part would require a whole different kind of game mode and a load of assets to portray the town, which is a bit too ambitious for now)

As for the character I will store all the ideas I get and see whether they suit the story or not, which will be another topic for my devlogs!

The color coded image:

Edit: forgot to add, feel free to send more concept such as these my way, I’ll be happy to take a look at them!

2 Likes

Sneak peak of the level design I’m working on for next week’s devlog, the art is currently programmer art :art:

(The gray block on the back is supposed to be a fireplace e.e, and the VERY GREEN carpet looking thing is supposed to be the entrance)

There currently are many tables, not as many characters to sit around them though.
Every journey needs a start though!
As usual feedback is welcome

Here I am for the promised weekly devlog :partying_face:
But before I start and lose any chance at getting your attention I wanted to check something with you all: do you think I should move this thread to projects since it’s actually being worked on?
Anyways on with the show!

This week has been a lot of fun for me, I’m working on multiple aspects of the game at the same time, such as looking for Assets, Developing the base mechanics, and working out how everything fits in the scope of this project, as such I will divide this log in 2 main sections: the high level story/asset related side, where I talk about plot, art, grafics etc., and the more in depth part, where I talk about mechanics and tech.

ART AND NARRATIVE


This is the kind of style I was thinking about going with my characters and environments. The characters are from an asset pack for customizable characters made by Sinty Studios that’s pretty easy to work on since it’s low poly but probably good enough since the game has a top down view as most tactics games do.
The environment is by Tidal Flask Studios. It looks pretty and cartoonish the same way as the characters do,
I could go for something more realistic looking such as metahuman or other unreal asset, but the problem is they are not made to be used in a setting such as fantasy, and they require a lot of detail work in the environment to fit the theme and art style of the game. Which would either be very time consuming or very expensive.
I am still looking at other stuff too, so if you have any suggestions on this topic let me know
Image for pov and scale reference

As far as the narrative and gameplay goes I’m not I’m still laying the groundwork for the whole first episode of the game.
They will be deeply intertwined as the game’s main focus over its whole arc is going to be the management of the tavern and the narrative will be spun by the character talking to the customers as they have their meals.
The gameplay will have a slow-ish pace, letting you think about what you want to do in your turns without having to rush and will involve you getting different requests from many customers and trying to complete as many as you can to gain money and progress your relationship with the customers, some of which will be able to become part of the Staff for the tavern if you manage to convince them.
The difficulty will scale up the more you progress with characters’ side stories, as the requests they ask will get increasingly more difficult, so the more you try to take on the more you will have to do to fullfill all of them.
Ideally some of the characters will be attached to the different factions of the game and, because of this, they will be unwilling to become friends or just be straight out hostile to you as you get more and more intimate with the enemy factions, both to give replayability to the game and to give a sense of aliveness to the world and a more meaningful conflict in the side stories and during the gameplay sections.

MECHANICS

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MECHANICS
As far as the development as the game goes Iàm still working on the grid system and the Tavern as seen on previous screenshots. The grid system is coming along steadily.
The grid works, and the pathfinding too, and I’m currently implementing unit actions which is the thing that will be the most important aspect to get right for this game.
For the dialogue system I am planning to work with Ink, as it is free and has been recently ported to Unreal by Chinese Room.
I think I’m going to mainly use Mixamo for animations for now since it’s easy to work with in unreal and free to use.
There’s not much to see currently though and I hope I’ll have more by next week!

This concludes this week’s report, thank you for reading up to here