Free Company Tech Test 1 is here!

So I haven’t been updating much on the blog this month, hopefully thats just because I’ve been super productive on the game developing side of things. In fact, I have! What we have here is a genuine, installable, playable thing that will show you – the general public, roughly what about fifty percent of your time playing the amazing upcoming Free Company video game might be like.

You can download the full exciting experience right here.

13.6MB and its called FreeCompanySetupV2.exe.

It looks like this:


If your direct X isn’t relatively up to date then it won’t work. I looked at including the redistributable but it was about ten times bigger than the game so I left it out. If you think you might need to update your directX then try getting it here.

The main point of doing this, for me, is to gather some real world experience in releasing an application out into the wilds as that is something I’ve not done before. I also hope that some of you out there who try it will send me emails or write comments explaining why it sucks donkey balls and when and where it doesn’t work. Thats why I’ve called it a tech test. I’m testing my game technology on you, if you’ll let me.

If you do grab it then you might be a bit confused. It doesn’t really give you an objective when you press start. So I’m here to tell you – its the classic ‘Kill all the other dudes’. To help you do this I’ve provided camera controls mapped to the right and middle mouse buttons. Right button will rotate the camera and middle with let you drag it around. If you don’t have a middle button you can also move the camera around by shoving the pointer to the edges of the playable area, but its not as satisfying. Everything else is accomplished by left clicking; attacking with an axe, walking about – you name it the left button probably does it. If you hover over some stuff that looks confusing for a few seconds a helpful tool tip should appear and give you some cryptic clues.

I’d especially like to thank the fantastically simple Inno Setup for helping my overtired brain produce a thing that actually installs, just like a ‘real’ game. I hope to expound on the stuff that is going on in the tech test a little more when my brain has recovered.


Now try my Tech Test or I’ll look at you with slightly disappointed puppy dog eyes.


IMPORTANT EDIT: Looks like the auto-generated start menu/desktop shortcuts have been generated without the ‘Start in field’ . I knew that Inno setup was just too easy. If it doesn’t work and you were running it via one of those methods then try navigating directly to the install directory and running it from there. I’ll fix up the installer as soon as possible.

IMPORTANT EDIT 2: I’ve now fixed the installer link above so it should generate working shortcuts automagically. So if you can read this and you haven’t downloaded the tech test yet you can safely ignore the first important edit.

8 responses to “Free Company Tech Test 1 is here!

  • roBurky

    Hi Dan!

    Installed and ran fine for me. Except for a bug where I became no longer able to click on / attack two of the enemies, and they could be walked through by both my guys and each other.

    The game itself is completely not the kind of game I enjoy, so I won’t comment on that. πŸ™‚

  • Paul

    I got the same bug, other than that everything worked fine.

  • Dan Lawrence

    Thanks for trying it πŸ™‚

    I totally want comments from people who wouldn’t enjoy this type of game though so I’m sad to miss out on those.

    The rough intent is for it to be similar in structure to X-Com, with the strategic layer taking some queues from the likes of Dwarf Fortress. At least by the end of development, this fancy 3D bit was the hardest so I tackled that first. Its definitely not for everyone though I can imagine but I’d love to know exactly what it is that people who don’t like ‘this type of thing’ don’t like about it πŸ™‚

    Apologies for the bugs. I’m getting right on those, after some sleep.

  • roBurky

    Ok. I haven’t played X-Com, and I’ve only played a handful of games with this kind of turn-based combat involving actors that you order around one by one. These are the reasons I don’t like them:

    There is a disconnect between the setting/theme/fiction of what we are told the game is representing and the actual mechanics of the game. If the purpose of making a game depict something recognisable instead of being pure mechanics is to help us understand the game, then it fails, because there’s no way the mechanics could be thought to be related to the workings of medieval combat, or that the thoughts going through your head when playing are thoughts relevant to fighting a battle with swords and crossbows.

    But take away the fiction/setting, and I don’t think the mechanics are elegant enough to stand up on their own either. That might be a matter of taste, but I typically find nothing in them that interests, excites or appeals to me.

  • Dan Lawrence

    Thanks for coming back with your thoughts, I’d rather hear the unedited thoughts of anyone who tries my stuff out because I believe that getting good criticism is at least half of creating a good game design. Sometimes you can provide the criticism yourself but its better to get it from everyone that you can.

    First up, you should totally try X-Com! Its super cheap now on Steam and does a great job in evoking a tense atmosphere even now through the ancient graphics. I think the mechanics in it do enhance the great feeling of tension that it has. Particularly notable in the tactical battle is the slow revealing of your alien enemies via the fog of war as you explore and the sudden and brutal violence of the combat when you do find one. Perhaps you might feel differently about it, I don’t know.

    I’m interested to know exactly in what way you mean that the mechanics are in ‘no way…related to the workings of medieval combat’ if thats aimed specifically at my game then I completely agree πŸ™‚ At least for the time being anyway. There aren’t enough, or even the right rules to make it feel like there are meaningful medieval-esque choices rather than just lottery randomness. If you are aiming your critique more generally, are you talking particularly about the structure of you moving all your guys followed by the AI moving all his? Or are you are aiming that criticism at the whole species of turn based games versus say real time for this sort of thing?

    To defend tactical turn based games in general the intent is usually to give the slower reflexed gamer, or even any gamer if the decisions available are complex enough, to make and execute complex tactical decisions in a way that would be impossibly difficult in real time because of the number of actors under your command. The idea is to give you the chance to assess the situation, formulate a plan and then try and pull it off and see if you succeed. My favourite ones are X-Com and Civilization 4 but I’d love to know what other games you are thinking of that haven’t appealed to you.

    To the second point that the abstracted mechanics (taking away all the graphics) aren’t enough to stand on their own, I’m curious to know if you like chess, abstracted grandaddy of this sort of thing? Simple movement rules for each piece that interact strongly to create a huge array of possible game scenarios. Its very elegant in its simplicity but does it interest you?

    Lastly, if you were forced to design a turn based tactical combat game how would you approach it to make it interesting to you?

    Thanks again for trying it out and giving me your thoughts.

  • Nick H

    Defeat! I got killed by the bad bald men. But it installed and ran fine on my excellent computer, so it’s good that it runs on excellent computers. I am sure you haven’t finished on the artwork so I won’t comment on that, but it is suitably moody and dark. Panning the camera with the mouse wasn’t sensitive enough for me – I had to drag it back a good few times to get to the next room.

    I am aware that they are walking on invisible hexagons here, but I wonder if the system could be smart enough to make them walk in a straight line where possible, rather than jiggling left and right like some guy who’s trying to get around another guy in the street. Such an awkward situation, easily resolved by punching the other guy in the nuts.

    I’ve got my grammar eye on you, but there are no glaring in-game errors that I could see. There’s no apostrophe in McDonald though.

    I’ll be back to try and run this in Linux, so you best watch your sorry self.

  • Patrick

    I installed but when I run it crashes. Any ideas? I really want to see a game like this cause I love the tactical turn based games and I am a medievalist by trade so put two and two together I am one happy camper.

  • Dan Lawrence

    Oh hey Patrick,

    This build is super old and really needs an update to something more recent at some point.

    Off the top of my head, it might have problems if you don’t have a recent-ish build of directx 9 installed, it also had problems on older processors that didn’t support SSE2 math instructions and that’s about all I can think of!

    I’m intending to do another ‘tech test’ build at some point this year when I drag myself away from Diablo long enough at least.

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