Archive for March, 2007

Combat design ready

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

I recently finished the initial combat design for my new game.  I set out to address a few issues that I have with RPG games.  I typically play MMORPGs in my spare time.  While my current project is not an MMO, it does share some similarities with the genre.  A few things have always bothered me in the games I play.

 First, there are so many abilities.  While I like having options, it is pretty crazy to expect players to keep track of 40+ abilities.  The vast number of hotkeys clutters the screen and delays reaction time while you navigate the cursor around the screen.  If the game has video lag, it just adds to the problem.  I have a pretty simple, but effective solution to the problem.  I don’t want to reveal it right now, but I’ll provide some details when the game is close to beta.

Second, there is often too much downtime in MMOs.  This issue isn’t as bad as it was in the past.  I still remember the days when you might have to sit on the ground for a few minutes while you regained enough mana to fight.  I also think that the tried and true method of limiting combat can be replaced by more interesting mechanics.  My combat design has very little downtime, but still accomplishes the goals of mana, energy, power, stamina, etc. that most games employ.  Again, I will reveal my solution a bit later during the development process.

Third, most enemies are pretty similar.  Yah, they might look different, and perhaps they have some different abilities, but they often don’t offer the player a different challenge.  I have designed my creatures with a few specific rules.  I want each one to have at least 1 buff for itself, 1 debuff for the player, 1 average attack , 1 high power attack, and most importantly, a creature-defining ability.  For example, I have a blob creature in my game that varies in elemental type (i.e. cold damage, heat damage, etc.).  When this creature dies, it explodes, creating a point-blank area effect that damages all players within range.  This forces players to treat blobs differently than other creatures.  There will be a few solutions to avoid the massive damage.

My next step is to revamp the interface.  I need to display relevant information for the new combat design.  In addition, I need to create a new formula for various combat mechanics that takes many factors into account.  I want my combat design to be mostly self-balancing, easy to modify, and flexible enough to quickly add new creatures.  I have some of the work done from my efforts a few months ago.  However, I need to take it further now that my combat has been refined.

Of course, I’ve been up to a lot more than just the new combat design.  In fact, I really only pushed for its completion this past week.  I finished an update for Pursuit of Power around mid January.  I also made many big improvements to the display code of the current project.  My mobs (mobile entities) now travel seamlessly between tiles and the screen will scroll with the player’s movements.  Everything is rendered in proper order when located between tiles.  The scrolling is no longer locked to tiles and will move even by 1 pixel at a time if desired.

The project is coming along very well.  I expect to begin releasing information each week starting this April.  I hope to have the new web site done by that time.  I am definitely excited about the potential of my next game :)