We are right now preparing some massive updates regarding information about the combat system and the worldmap. This still may take some time. But we don’t want you to get bored and therefore we updated our media-section with a batch of new screenshots. So head over there and CLICK HERE.
With those new screenshots we just want to give you a little update on the progress of level creation and a short overview about some settings.
What an awesome night! Have you seen it? The guys from Obsidian have launched their own Kickstarter. It’s for a game called Project Eternity (Working Title). And it’s going to be a classic CRPG. That’s right! The team which employees a lot of people who worked on games such as Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment is trying to bring back these sort of games, too. They have a slightly different approach compared to us as they are going for a tactical real-time with pause combat-system but still: They are going for a classic roleplaying game!
Amazing fact: In under 24 hours they got this project almost funded. It’s right now at $838,367 from the needed $1,100,000. This is great in several ways. First of all: It’s pretty sure already that we’re going to get Project Eternity. And the other reason: This shows us that there is indeed a market for a classic RPG.
What you can do? Well. We already pledged a little bit. Go to their Kickstarter. Help them. Pledge some money. Support this movement. Show them (and the rest of the world, including big publishers) that the time has come for the return of real RPGs. We definitely want to see more such games (and want to create them). It’s in your hands.
As you may remember we mentioned the subject before when we talked about our die rolling experiments with D&D 4th Edition: Six sides are better than four. Let’s elaborate.
Actually this was one of the more heated discussions we had when designing the combat system. There are times when game development can lead to combat only it’s usually resolved with arguments and words instead of the use of force and weapons. If that doesn’t work out we have those handy swords around from our LARP player. We usually tell visitors they are for our animator to try out stuff. Let’s just say they can serve other purposes, too and not go into much more detail here. One strong argument for hexes was that they add more depth to combat. Six sides are just better than four.
Reason one: Movement costs are more obvious. The distance from any position on the hex grid to the center of the next position on the grid is same for each of the six adjacent hexagons. There is no diagonal movement to an adjacent square that only touches the field you are currently on in a single point instead of sharing a side with it. With squares you either have to make diagonal movement cheaper (and thus preferable and exploitable) as moving two squares to reach the same diagonal one or more expensive than moving a single square. With hexes you move one field and it can always be the same cost. If you have played D&D 4th Edition (which will let you move diagonally at the cost of one square) you will know the urge to exploit that apparent “extra ground” you can cover by moving diagonally. We felt that in a video game where you want to simply point at your target field and have the character move there it was easier to calculate the path to go.
Reason two: With hexes you can have a clear facing into the moving direction. With squares you either have to start implying that it is actually an octagon you stand on and you have eight directions you can have your character face in or make facing be irrelevant (as D&D 4th Edition did where it is only relevant that two enemies cover opposing squares adjacent to the one you are standing in). We wanted facing to be relevant for actions like backstabbing since trying to get into the back of another character (or trying to make sure the back of your own character is covered) adds more depth to the decisions made in combat.
Reason three: Outside of combat we have a world that is supposed to look natural or even organic. So we do not limit our level designers to build the levels on a grid since the grid will only be relevant in combat and combat is only a part of the game. Most parts of a level may never have the grid enabled since there will never be a combat encounter in them. And with a simple test we found out that the hex grid covered the ground of the existing scenes with ease while it would be more likely to have to readjust scenes around the square grid which seemed to have advantages inside buildings with straight walls and rectangular corners (at least if you new from the start that you were building them for the grid) but not so much on a path in the woods where some rocks lie around or fallen trees cover some of the ground.
Seems pretty clear that hexes are the way to go, so why the heated discussion mentioned above? Simple reason: For pen & paper it’s easier to prepare a map on a square grid, at least unless you have some experience working with hexes. Since we prototyped much of Chaos Chronicle’s combat system on paper some of us were reluctant to give up the squares at first. The argument had to be settled with LARP approved foam weapons. Just kidding. We did it like the pros: Building a software prototype with the hexgrid in it. It worked and everybody was happy.
In the meantime, please enjoy this blurry and underexposed picture of our development team (not complete). As you can see, everybody brought his favorite CRPGs. The stuff on the table is our main inspiration for developing our game Chaos Chronicles.
(click image to enlarge)
Let’s start discussing the combat system. It’s a complex subject and during the long time Chaos Chronicles was only an idea we bounced around as possible next project to work on we went through pretty much every way to implement a combat system into a game. At some point we even discussed making the combat more console friendly and action oriented.
But right from the beginning turn-based clearly was what we wanted. Everything else was worth discussing but never struck us as ideal. We all played Dragon Age (the first part of course, since the second part is just a sad joke and should not be mentioned again) which has a realtime with pause combat system. But nobody here felt comfortable with the idea of having a similar combat system in our game.
The only point during the concept development that we almost decided to prototype a realtime based combat system was when we started working on Jagged Alliance: Back in Action which was supposed to be realtime based in order to appeal to a larger audience. Fortunately there was some backlash (i.e. shitstorm) to that decision and that gave us a very strong argument to implement a turn-based combat system for Chaos Chronicles.
So why do we think turn-based is more fun?
Do you remember a very influential RPG that came out in the late 90s? One that actually pretty much singlehandedly revived complex RPGs as a genre? We’re hinting at Baldur’s Gate here. Which had what you might call a realtime with pause combat system. It played similar to what was already a very popular genre on the PC as gaming platform: Realtime Strategy Games. At that time this was a new and exciting way of implementing combat. It felt fresh and exciting. And maybe that’s what it took to revive the genre back then. But nowadays both approaches to do fantasy combat are pretty much on the table. Players have experienced both. Some prefer the one system some prefer the other. We prefer turn based since we feel it’s much closer to what we aim at: Bringing back some of the elements of the old school games we enjoyed in our youth.
So nostalgia plays a large part in our decision. At the same time a turn based system offers some advantages over one with realtime. First of all it pretty much eliminates the element of hand-eye-coordination from the game and puts the focus clearly on strategy and tactics. Clicking and hitting pause fast enough is not important and while that may sacrifice the adrenaline rush included in the more action oriented real-time approach it makes the combat transparent and clearly about the decisions you make. You can take your time to make your decision. You can think through different solutions for a problem.
In the end your correct analysis of the situation is what determines the outcome of combat.
If there ever was a doubt it was completely eliminated when we started playing D&D (pen&paper) in our office again. You know that this is fun when you have all players at the table discussing what each single character should do this turn. When there are several opposing opinions on what is the right move to make. “Don’t waste your healing word on me! Save it for the Fighter!”, “If you don’t cast your Wall of Fire now we will get in trouble!” Sounds familiar? That’s what we aim for in a battle in Chaos Chronicles. It’s fun, even if you have to do some of the arguing with yourself.
And despite the fact that almost all CRPGs of the last ten years have used some kind of realtime combat, there has been a relevant turn-based game called The Temple of Elemental Evil developed by the magnificent development studio Troika Games (you are being missed). Regarding the combat system, ToEE shall be our paradigm.