For those of you that never played EverQuest, Jabober was one of the randomly selected names for the pet you summoned. A lot of the names were complete jibberish, but that one always stood out. I now have my own “Jabober” in game, though I have chosen to keep it nameless.
You can summon a skeleton to fight at your side by using a new combat ability. There is a 100% chance to summon a servant at the start of a fight. It gets harder to convince the undead to rise as the enemy gets more enraged. At enrage level 10 (the max), it is impossible to summon a pet. I designed pets in this manner to ensure the gameplay remains balanced. Plus, it makes sense too, because you are only a novice Shadow Knight. Your ability to command the undead to serve only works on the weaker skeletons.
I always liked having a pet in game, even if it was just for flavor. The pet in Birth of Shadows can actually tank pretty well. There will be many situations where it will be necessary to summon a pet if you want to win the fight. This will be especially true when fighting enemy strongholds. You can even buff your pet by using an ability that increases your aptitude to command. It effectively adds 25 percent to your pet’s damage and mitigation. This brings the total number of player abilities up to sixteen.
At this point, I think the combat design and implementation is finished. I still need to balance the combat values, but that will have to wait until I complete the character progression design. I plan to tackle that task sometime this week. I have it mostly worked-out on paper, with a few details to iron-out.
For the most part, the major coding is over now. I mainly need to start adding my game content, such as the story text and quest data. In particular, I need to start the initial board, which is probably the most important one. It will contain the intro story, along with some scripted events. The tutorial will be incorporated into the quests. Players will begin learning abilities and various game features. The board will serve as the demo too. It is essential that this starting area is very polished.
Before I can complete the first board, I will need to finish some of the remaining coding. I still need to create my “boss” design, though I will only have an “avatar” level creature to fight at the end of the first board. I’ll probably base it off my enemy stronghold design, since I want the bosses to be able to spawn waves too. In addition, I will need to add portals to the game. These will be based on my interactive items. Players will use portals to move around the world. I may even use some of them to create a puzzle mechanism.
The remaining stuff involves visual effects, interface improvements, etc. I’m constantly updating my schedule, but everything still looks doable. I’ve pretty much clamped down on the feature list at this point to make sure I stay on schedule. I’m still hoping to get my new web site up with Alpha screenshots of BoS in 3-4 weeks.