Archive for April, 2014

Completed first pass of troop and leader abilities

Monday, April 28th, 2014

It took almost 2 weeks to complete the remaining troop and leader abilities. I think I have a good base to build upon. The general idea is that the troops form the foundation of a battle. Then it’s up to the player to find opportunities to effectively use the leader abilities. They are very powerful when used in combination with various battle states. The skill factor focuses on identifying those opportunities, which involve certain troop types, rage levels, debuffs, etc.

Each player has an ability that is used to help control the battle. Shadow Knights can put a debuff on enemies that reflects half that damage back to them. Shadow Stalkers can root enemies and debuff their damage. Shadow Mages can pacify enemies so they no longer gain rage unless immobilized. These 3 abilities are useful when enemies have accumulated a significant amount of rage. Otherwise, those enemies will deal a great amount of damage due to their high rage levels. Only one of those ability states can exist at a time. The active debuff will have a visual effect associated with it.

Currently, player abilities have a 25 second cooldown for each ability. The global cooldown is 5 seconds, which means one ability can be used every 5 seconds if enough power exists. The previously mentioned debuffs last for 20 seconds, so there is a gap between uses. Most of the individual troop abilities last about 8 seconds. I’m sure I will tweak those values before the final release. But, they are a good starting point.

Each leader class has a unique way to generate rage for its troops. For instance, the Lizardman Executioner of the Shadow Stalker class has a rage debuff that it places on enemies. Any damage done to that debuffed troop will generate rage for the attacker. It is a really powerful ability that can quickly build rage for troops in the area. Shadow Mages have a player ability called Meteor Shower that damages troops with a bonus when debuffed by Wave of Vengeance. In addition, if it hits friendly Swirling Vortex troops, it generates AoE rage for each one. Shadow Knights can cast Blessing of Hate on friendly units, and generate 1 level of rage for each debuff cured. These are just a few examples of how each leader class can generate rage, besides simply taking damage from enemies.

Another aspect of combat involves the immobilization states of fear, stun, and mez. They all function the same way as far as the immobilization effect is concerned. However, there are unique procs for each effect when broken by an enemy. Fear will give the attacker a buff called Vampric Embrace, which is a lifetap bonus for each hit on an enemy with decay debuff. Stun will generate rage for the attacker when broken. Likewise, Mez will proc a heal for the attacker, which means a group of mezzed enemies will essentially give an AoE heal to the attacker if hit by AoE damage.

I changed the buffs to make them unique too. The siege unit for Shadow Knights casts Wrath, which is a buff that gives bonus damage versus structures. The siege unit for Shadow Stalkers casts a Damage Shield that causes damage for each hit by an enemy, which adds up over time. The tank unit of Shadow Mages use Harm Shield to mitigate 25% of damage to troops protected by it. There are other buffs too. I tried to make sure all of the combat abilities are varied while remaining balanced. I will have a better idea if I accomplished that goal in a few months when I start multiplayer testing.

In the meantime, I will be switching to zealot abilities next. I am planning to have 3 buffs that each banner zealot can have active at once. They will be unique for each leader class. For example, one buff could be massive damage to a structure that kills the banner zealot. Another could be an AoE heal that is cast when killed. Furthermore, each leader class will share 1 ability that sacrifices a zealot. This allows players to essentially kill their own zealot to unleash the buffs at a chosen location. This could be useful when zealot lines are running through a battle. Each zealot buff will have a recast that is tied to the fortress timer. Players will probably need to summon a Guardian after the portal reaches tier 3, before gaining access to those zealot buffs.

When I get close to the Alpha release in June, I will begin adding new information to the web site. I have been slacking big time with updating the info, which has not been changed in over a year. I hope to revamp my site so I can display the gameplay information in a way that is easy to navigate. I want to list every troop and ability to clarify the gameplay concepts. My priority is to get the Alpha release done. I can’t wait to update my prototype video too. Pursuit of Power 2 has come a long way over these past 21 months :)

Debuff icons and troop focus cost

Monday, April 14th, 2014

In a previous update, I mentioned that troops can be affected by combat debuffs. I also stated the importance of identifying those debuffs since they are used for powerful combos. I now display the active debuffs for each troop as a row of icons under the rage tier icons. I use a consistent position within the row to help identify the type of debuff. It works pretty well and I will continue to tweak the icons.

In addition, I changed the way troops are counted towards the max amount. The troops have been placed in tiers that determine their relative combat effectiveness. Higher tier troops cost more power and cost more troop focus, which is a new concept I added to the game. Instead of just using the max troop counter, I now use max troop focus. The same 100 max value is used, which would equate to the 100 max troops in game, if they are all tier 1 troops. Each tier costs that amount of troop focus (1, 2, or 3 troop focus).

This separation should encourage different army combinations and allow for more powerful units. Without the troop focus, I would not be able to balance the units if some were stronger. I have also always liked having some really strong units that can take on a group of weaker ones. It makes the combat more fun too.

I had to modify the computer AI to work with the troop focus cost. The attack triggers assumed max troop count. I added some code to use the current troop focus instead when calculating the triggers so they work properly. Otherwise, the armies just build up and never attack anything. The fights look pretty balanced.

Right now the fortresses are probably too strong, but that is good. I haven’t added additional zealot connections yet, which will help tip the balance. Plus, the leaders are purely defensive now, just building towers around the fortresses. When I start to teleport them to the attack targets, I will be able to use the combat abilities to break the defenses. That will be fun to code and even more fun to see in action :)

Currently, I am working on the next pass for troop abilities. I left some of them essentially blank, until I had time to implement them. I am going to spend extra time working on the combo abilities since they are very important. The leader abilities will add a dynamic component to combat, emphasizing the skill of the player. I definitely want to ensure that the gameplay has room for good players to differentiate themselves. I don’t want it to be just a zerg-fest. Leader abilities and banner zealots will be focal points in that regard.

Check back in a week or so, to see if I keep-up my weekly update streak :)

Computer AI : sending zealots to attack target

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

I added some more intelligence to the computer players. The AI will now send zealots to attack targets, which is pretty much required to defeat a fortress. Previously, I just sent zealots to unprotected portals after the fortress was destroyed. This worked OK before I started to balance the gameplay. Once I added the tiers and modified the combat values, fortresses became much more difficult to defeat.

The computer player will send zealots to its current main attack target. They usually start to head over before the attack, which helps since they are slower than normal troop units. This way the attack troops sync up better with the zealots at the fortress destination.

In addition, I have a counter that allows repeating attacks instead of just moving to the next target if defeated at the current fortress. This tweak takes advantage of the damage done during the previous attack. I plan to add a lot more intelligence to the attack logic. Right now I just want to make sure that the computer player has a reasonable chance to defeat a fortress. That allows me to continue adding gameplay while balancing the combat values.

Next, I will probably implement the tiers for troop types. Each leader class has 6 main troop types, which will be separated into tiers (basic, heroic, elite). The higher tiers are stronger and also cost more power to summon. Each tier requires another concentration slot too, which limits the total number of troops that can be summoned at a time.

For example, basic troops might cost 500 power and take 1 concentration slot. Heroic might cost 1000 power and take 2 slots, while elite cost 1500 power and take 3 slots. This helps balance the game while allowing for powerful units.

At some point, I will add unit information to the web site to give a better idea of the combat gameplay. I’m trying to make more time for blog updates too. Thanks for stopping by :)