Closed beta on the game I'm working at, anyone would like to join?

Hello friends from the insert credit forums.

I am currently organizing a closed beta for the game I am working for, called [Songs of Steel: Hispania](https://store.steampowered.com/app/2603300/Songs_of_Steel_Hispania/). It's a turn-based strategy game that takes place during the Third Celtiberian War, in which the Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula against the local Celtic population. Best way to summarize what the game is about is: imagine Banner Saga with some elements from XCOM and other games like the Fire Emblem. Also inspired by some board games like Memoir '44, in case that is your jam.

We are looking for people who are interested in the genre to send them a Steam code for a playable beta of the game, which will help us to gather some statistics and feedback via telemetry, in order to make the final tweaks to ensure the game is on the best shape possible before launch. If you any of you is interested in giving it a try, please let me know and I'll add you to our contact list (I only need an email and a name, no other personal info required), so we send you the preview build when its ready, which should be around next week, depending on how long the team takes with the last couple of fixes.

We are looking at a 2 week timeframe to let people play at their own pace, all content will be available with no restriction during that time. Then, at the end of that, we'll be sending a very brief questionnaire (which won't take more than 5 minutes) to reinforce the feedback and information obtained via the telemetry. And after that, you'll get a Steam key for the full game when it officially releases.

So yeah, basically, if anyone feels like helping, please let me know!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_zdlRGuOAw
https://store.steampowered.com/app/2603300/Songs_of_Steel_Hispania/

I already shared this a couple of weeks back on the ic-adjacent Discord but I figured it could work sharing it here as well.

@“JoJoestar”#p155678 Sign me up, I love game dev. I haven‘t tested anything since Dead Space 2. I think I have all of my settings shuttered up. If you can’t message me, reply to this and I'll message you.

I would love to join! This game looks interesting and right up my alley! Sending a DM.

Thanks to both for the interest :smiley: Sorry it took me a while to reply I went to watch Dune on the afternoon lol

@HyggeState Yeah I don't see a way to DM you so if you can reach to me that'd be great!

@Tradegood Already replied to the DM but thanks again :)

I'll do it

@“yeso”#p155752 Always reliable, send me an email via PM and I'll get you in!

I am interested but honestly I won‘t be able to play it at all in the next two weeks. I’m adding the game to my wishlist though!

@“RubySunrise”#p155805 Yes I feel like this is something important I didn‘t mention, please also add the game to your wishlist, it’ll help the team a lot :_D

Also thanks to everyone contacting me via PM, we're still looking for people so if you want to join in do tell!

Hey everyone, it's been a couple of weeks since the beta keys were distributed and I was wondering if maybe anyone is having thoughts on the game? Would like to encourage people to discuss and offer impressions if you have them, specially if its concerning stuff we can change or improve.

Any kind of feedback, positive and negative is welcome, particularly with regards to game balance and difficulty, which are the main things this beta was conceived for. On that regard, don't hold back if you're not liking the game at all, I'm an outsourced contractor who hasn't been creatively involved with most of the stuff so no need to sugar coat anything! As long as it can translate into actionable stuff everything is good.

I liked:

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    focus on cohesion and morale. It can be a hassle to have to defeat every single enemy to clear a map in other games in the genre. It's great to just defeat the enemy tactically and be done with it. Makes sense historically and mechanically/thematically since this is a hit-and-run war of attrition.

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    related to the above: I like the mix of more "hardcore" hex-based wargaming with this lighter _Fire Emblem_ framework. Appreciate the use of terrain, engagement, cohesion, morale and even a little Order Of Battle in there too. Throw in some logistics and the game shifts a bit more into the grog camp. That last part isnt necessarily a suggestion; I know that only real freaks enjoy logistics

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    moving the mouse around and clicking on stuff compares favorably to The _Expeditions_ series and what I played of _The Banner Saga_. Feels good and snappy and responsive

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    like the (to me) novel and unfamiliar historical setting.

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    No strong opinions about difficulty yet. On chapter 3 playing as the Celts. Have been challenged in each battle vs my skill/understanding at the time, but was able to rally and do enough morale damage + a little bit of actual damage to turn the tide in my favor. I'm sensing that this may be the tension the developers are trying to elicit in playing as the Celts vs the Romans

  • Some notes:

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    the character dialogue popups during the battle go a little too fast for me. Granted I read Spanish slower than English, but I'd prefer they were click to dismiss in stead of automatic

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    would like more visual information about unit strength. Hovering the cursor over a unit shows this, but when looking at the whole battlefield, I sometimes have trouble keeping track of what units are strong, which have low health, which have high/low morale etc. Doesn't have to over-clutter the default view, maybe just a key you can hold down that will show more detailed information on all the units in play at once.

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    some of the colors can be a little harsh on the eyes sometimes: specifically the reds/blues on the overworld map and the hex outlines on the battle screens. Would personally dial those down a few notches to let everything cohere visually a bit more. I think it could be done with losing "readability"

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    I would get rid of the keymap instructions or make them unobtrusive. Maybe make "Atras" easier to see. I kept accidentally clicking on the keymap icons which don't do anything

  • [URL=https://i.imgur.com/74RsN4j.jpeg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/74RsN4j.jpeg[/IMG][/URL]

  • - I didn't understand why some of the choices were highlighted in red. Maybe I missed the explanation
  • [URL=https://i.imgur.com/f6hu7Va.jpeg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/f6hu7Va.jpeg[/IMG][/URL]

  • - Noticed some artifacting on the map screen when text/icons arent under the spotlight effect
  • [URL=https://i.imgur.com/bPjIXrq.png][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/bPjIXrq.png[/IMG][/URL]

    @“yeso”#p159667 Thanks for the thorough impressions! I will forward this to the team. Very interesting as some of your points were already brought up during development.

    >

    @“yeso”#p159667 I didn’t understand why some of the choices were highlighted in red. Maybe I missed the explanation

    I can answer to this one. Basically you can pick the choice using both keyboard and mouse, the highlighted choice is only the one you have currently selected with the keyboard controls, if you move the arrow keys it would scroll through the other optiones. Perhaps this is not communicated clearly enough.

    One thing that I find mildly annoying is that the camera moves without me choosing to make it move, if that makes sense. Like, I‘ll carry out a unit’s actions and then before I move my mouse, the camera moves. It does this slightly, but I find it weirdly annoying because it means I need to wait until the camera stops this auto-movement before I can click on my next actions.

    That's my main complaint so far! Which is pretty minor, all things considered.

    Really enjoy the theme/time period. I happened to read about this period about six months ago, which makes it fun to be able to play a game focused there.

    1 Like

    I am enjoying the game. It‘s simple in its approach, yet effective on the things it wants to do. I want to play a little bit more, but I only have one complaint, and I don’t know if it‘s my PC or not, but: the dialogues are kind of janky when you’re in combat mode.

    Also, I agree with yeso on this:

    >

    @"yeso"#p159667 would like more visual information about unit strength. Hovering the cursor over a unit shows this, but when looking at the whole battlefield, I sometimes have trouble keeping track of what units are strong, which have low health, which have high/low morale etc. Doesn’t have to over-clutter the default view, maybe just a key you can hold down that will show more detailed information on all the units in play at once.

    It's sometimes kind of hard to track things. It's not that bad since I can move the camera around (this is something I had trouble with since it moved weirdly), but I need to pause and step up. I think it may be easy to fix with the option to fiddle with the size of the fonts and letters, but I don't know how feasible is that without cluttering the pannels.

    Other than that, didn't expect the game to be that fun despite not being a big fan on the genre, and the decisions are very simple but also kind of compelling and interesting?. I liked it and I may be buying it and having a great time with it.

    Just wanted to leave some thoughts before the forum takes a nap:

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    I love that you can play as both sides of the conflict. Playing the first few chapters of the Roman campaign and then switching to Numatanians and getting to control the heroes who felt quite scary on the other campaign was very nice! I love that!

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    I like the presentation and atmosphere a lot! It's very consistent and the events that happen on the map are a nice little break between battles.

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    Battle Preparations screen is a little unintuitive to extract information from. The most important info to me is my unit's stats, and I did not realize where I go to see the strength/morale/cohesion. I just went quickly and clicked through everything that looked clickable and assumed we couldn't see unit stats until Turn 1 for the first few maps, which made the planning feel random. I think I was always at the bottom of the screen to try to get that information. I think maybe because the weapon, shield, and special item are more responsive pop-ups and inventory/unit progression is clickable.

  • >!

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    Similarly the Deployment screen needs a back button and that same mouseover information on it, because that‘s where I most want to see my unit and enemy unit’s stats and visually figure out how I am going to position my team. For example, I have to decide if I want to have balanced combat groups containing melee and ranged together or if I want to separate my melee and ranged before I see who I‘m fighting. Once I load in I can’t change anything and no longer see their stats, meaning I need to fully start Turn 1 and then surrender if I want to change anything.

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    In a battle, I love that you can press "Alt" and see the math that goes into the attack. Without that it is hard to conceptualize how much fortify, cover, flanking, etc is actually affecting what you are doing. I did notice as I became better acquainted with my units I was able to use them more effectively in battles.

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    Is there a way to see the advantages of certain terrain before you move to it? I could not figure that part out.

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    I think the game balance is pretty good, I played through a few maps in both campaigns and had a good time. I played on normal pretty causally and let myself lose units, but still felt like I was able to do what I was trying to do. I think reinforcements are handled well and the first map in particular does a good job of teaching you to always keep an eye on retreating during a battle.

  • These are probably deliberate game design decisions so it's not really a criticism but these did throw me off:

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    Only being able to control one hero‘s combat group at a time (and not having control over which one it is) throws me off. I definitely sent some men to an early grave accidentally just because I had to give them an action before I could get to the unit I actually wanted to control. I think with turn based games I am just accustomed to being able to control whichever unit I want when a turn starts (like a fire emblem or civilization) or there’s a fixed order of enemy/ally turns all mixed together (like a tactics ogre), so this feels like it's half-way between them and feels different.

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    Combine that with units not being able to move through each other messed me up a couple of times. With it being a hex-based game, movement is a tricky thing to nail. I would position some units on terrain or elevation and then realize that I blocked myself from bringing the next unit to the right place. It's a small thing in the big picture but it made the map movement a little bit frustrating.

  • I feel quite positive about the game though! Well done!

    1 Like