Zealots are now marching

I have the initial code done for the marching zealots. Selecting an owned portal brings up the action icons, which now include the ability to place a banner at another portal. Clicking on the destination portal starts the zealots marching out of the source portal. The path is highlighted between those portals while the source is selected. In addition, all current zealot paths are displayed on the game map. I will probably add an option to highlight the path between any portals so players can plan defensive positions, ambushes, etc.

I still have more code to complete before I can move to the next gameplay mechanic. For example, I need to make the zealots attackable and have the ability to see around them. I will inherit a different C++ class that has some of those properties and then tailor it to fit the mechanics of the zealots. I need to save the current zealot paths and states too. I should have the remaining required code and initial computer AI completed within the next 4 weeks.

The current design will allow for 12,000 zealots to exist within a game. The max number would only happen with very large games under extreme situations, but the game should handle it. In most cases, there will be at least hundreds of zealots marching between portals at any given time. I hope that they help make the game feel alive with action. Using them effectively will be vital to winning the game. Sending zealots to ally portals will not only generate prestige, but also allow trading important resources that help to speed up the tech tree progression. Furthermore, zealots will be the only type of troop that can damage enemy portals. They will gain additional bonus prestige too when they damage an enemy portal.

As prestige is gained, players can choose upgrades and summon elite troops. Even zealots can be upgraded to several different tiers. Each tier will improve the abilities of the zealots. The first zealot type will be passive and easily destroyed. The next tier will be much tougher to kill. The third tier will have a reactive ability that damages the attacker when the zealot is killed. This will make it dangerous for enemy troops to attack those types of zealots, leaving the job better suited to towers.

Upgraded towers will also be important to defend against guardians. After a portal fortress has been upgraded with all 4 towers, it can summon a powerful guardian at the cost of prestige. The creature will provide a strong defense against attackers. The guardian is a special type of zealot that can even be sent to attack an enemy portal. This will cause the guardian to materialize and fly along the zealot path, wreaking havoc on all enemies as it flies by them. The guardian will pummel the enemy portal until it is killed or the portal is destroyed.

The gameplay design is becoming much more clear as I make progress on the gameplay mechanics. I think it is shaping up nicely and I am on schedule so far. I will continue to reveal gameplay details over the next few blog posts. At some point I will update the web site too. Thanks for reading! :)

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