Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dead Man Walking: Post-7DRL

I'm working on a few things to improve Dead Man Walking as I think it has a lot of potential, but needs some more polish and just generally more development hours. Here's a list of things I'm working on and then a more in-depth discussion of those things.

  1. Resource system for enemies.
  2. Alternative bosses.
  3. Polish.
  4. Artifact weapons.
  5. Armor enchants.
  6. Trinkets.
All enemies are going to receive an invisible resource system. This resource system will vary from enemy to enemy and most normal enemy types (e.g., zombies) will not utilize it at all. The basic idea is to give me a deeper level of control on when and how a boss or advanced enemy type should use an ability. For example, Garjon will only use his Overload ability when he's gained 4 resource tokens and he'll gain those tokens by using his standard buff abilities (e.g., "Garjon powers up!"). The goal of this resource system is to allow more interesting boss fights to be made.

Bosses on the three main boss floors (2, 3, and 4) will have a chance of being replaced by an alternative boss. While predictably is the name of the game based on the above change, I still like my Roguelikes to be mostly unpredictable. Not knowing exactly which boss you'll be going up against is a good way to boost that random element. These will be entirely new bosses and will likely use the aforementioned resource system extensively.

Polish and game balance are kind of a given I suppose, but I feel like it's worth discussing anyways. There are two main things I'm focusing on here for the new edition: reworking Garjon and Decay and also making sure that the various weapons and their brands are relatively close in terms of balance. The goal with the different weapon types is to allow players to utilize different playstyles - if it feels like axes are significantly outperforming the other weapons, I'll tune them down. Similarly if a weapon enchant (e.g., malevolence) is better than all the others, I'll work to bring it in line. Perfect balance isn't the absolute goal, but I want to make sure each option appeals to a variety of players.

There will be an artifact weapon for each type of existing weapon. These will be very rare, deal more damage, and possibly have a special brand effect. In addition, I'll probably test out new weapon types and brands by putting in new artifacts. They're rare enough that they won't make-or-break most playthroughs while still allowing players and myself to test out new ideas.

Armor is relatively boring right now, though that's basically intended. Seeing a chainmail cuirass is meant to be a little hope booster, not a major game changer. In the new edition I'm looking at putting in "armor brands" (enchants) to make armor a little more interesting. Current ideas include an extra-protective enchant that slows your movement speed and the opposite, an enchant that reduces the effectiveness of the armor and gives you bonus movement speed.

Trinkets were planned to be in the original 7DRL edition but I failed to implement them and decided to scrap them altogether in order to finish the game in time. Obviously I'm not under any real time constraints now, so trinkets will finally make an appearance. You'll only be able to wear one, but it'll grant you a brand-type effect although there will likely be many more trinkets than there are weapon brands. They'll likely be pretty uncommon - probably on the same level as armor, if not a little less.

I think that's all of my short term plans for now. The long term plan is to expand the dungeon length from 5 to 8 or possibly 10 floors and the time-based length of the game from 10-15 minutes to 20-30 minutes, but that's probably a few weeks off.


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