The last major component is now in game. I am relieved to be done with the character progression. It took an extra 4 days to complete as it turned out to be trickier than I anticipated. Regardless, it’s done and I am very happy with the design. I’ll need to tweak the combat values and probably fix a few bugs, but it works pretty well even now.
I am trying some different ideas for the character progression. I’m not using the traditional grind and level method. Instead, I’ve broken the experience into smaller components. There are 32 different types of non-boss creatures in the game. As you slay each creature type, you gain experience for that specific creature. You gain levels and enhanced combat prowess versus that creature. The levels are actually tiers, ranging from 0 (pathetic) to 8 (elite).
The idea is that you would learn how to fight the specific creatures and thus gain combat experience. It also helps break up the levels so that you could be leveling up quickly on some newer creatures, while you max out another one. Also, if you come across some respawns of weaker enemies, you can kill them more quickly. If I had a global level, the difference would have to be minimal to keep the game balanced.
You also gain prestige as you complete quests and defeat enemy strongholds. There are currently 8 prestige levels, though I may increase it to 10 by release. You receive new titles as well as increased health, speed, and chance for critical hits as you gain prestige levels. This type of experiences allows for some gradual “global” progression as you play the game. The benefits certainly help during combat, but are not so critical that you must grind. I have tried to make it so players can still get that feel of progression, but without the tediousness often found in RPGs.
I took a slightly different approach with the player items too. I decided to avoid armor items and instead have magical gems. These gems provide many different benefits, such as improving damage versus a specific creature type, adding resistance to a certain element, summoning a more powerful pet, etc. In total, you can collect up to 255 items. The most powerful version of a gem takes precedence over the weaker ones. Players are automatically notified when a looted gem is an upgrade. These items can be looted off enemies, received after defeating a stronghold, or rewarded after completing a quest.
I played around with the new character progression most of today and I think it works very well. I wanted to add some unique elements and try to avoid a tedious design. I think I accomplished those goals. Hopefully, I will get some good feedback when I release the (internal) Alpha version in about two weeks.
This weekend I will be adding the necessary code for the first campaign board. I need to change my hotkeys so they can be disabled when the ability is not available yet. This will let me add new abilities as the player gains them. I also need to let players select the Shadow Knight model and provide a user name. Currently, I only have a user name option for the network game.
When I get those two things done, I should be able to create the first board. Then I will begin adding the actual game content. I’ll have to keep the scenery a bit simple since that isn’t done yet. In fact, the terrain needs to be created too. Right now, Mark is finishing up the creature animations. I can still get at least half of the first board done, though. As long as I get most of the quests, NPCs, creatures, and strongholds added to the board, I should be in good shape.
My next entry will signal the Alpha release