2012 30 Oct

Combat System #4: The Grid

Categories: Game Design

Just a quick preview of the combat grid in Chaos Chronicles. You can see the path preview that indicates the range for move+action (green) and double move (yellow). Soon, we can show more than this – thanks for your patience so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an earlier post (Combat System #1, Sep 03) that discussed the combat system, we admitted that we originally aimed for making a turn-based game. However, we also mentioned that other variants (esp. the RtwP combat of Dragon Age) were worth discussing and we spent some time doing so. We are grown-ups that make games in an industry that still mostly focuses on kids as customers. Most of us were still teenagers when turn-based RPGs vanished and made place for the new era of realtime. And even if the pros and cons sometimes come down to personal taste, we think that no one would argue one point: turn-based games tend to be less “action-packed”. It can grow annoying (especially in a less tight combat) to wait until all those goblins, kobolds, what-so-ever-minions have finally made their turn. Especially watching enemies moving is kinda boring and that’s why some TB games have sped up movement (e.g. animations) to the brink of sheer ugliness.

Players are eager to see their characters’ turns and they are also excited to see whether the enemy boss will kill their tank in his next turn. And while we all enjoy wiping out 20 goblins with a fireball, no one wants to see them all move and attack one after the other. In fact, some of us got often tempted to reload and see whether their wizard has a higher initiative this time to get rid of those little annoyances in the beginning of the combat.

ToEE tried to tackle this problem with a menu option that, once activated, would allow enemies within the same initiative group to move simultaneously. That turned out to create cool packs of hobbling and wobbling goblins but (as mentioned above) was not always beneficial: In a fight with a small number of semi-bosses that happened to be in the same initiative group (say, a giant, a werewolf and a demon) we would not only want to anticipate their attacks separatly but it also does look kinda unepic when these individuals make their moves together.

So we wanted to take care of the boring minions on the one hand without randomly grouping more epic enemies on the other. We straightfowardly decided to let our level designers choose which enemies should be grouped and which shouldn’t. The ‘minion mobs’ were born and we found them to provide additional advantages:

Rather than rolling the gobs initiative individually and grouping them up accordingly, we group them up beforehand and roll their initiative only once. This implies that a group of minions can not be ‘spread out’ over the initiative list and act individually (a case that the ToEE approach didn’t prevent). Also, we are going to try and give them some additional ‘identity’ exceeding the simple fact that they act simultaneously, by also tweaking their AI to stay together and attack the same target whenever possible. We think that might add to the strategic depth of our combat (and even if it won’t, it will still be more atmospheric). As an additional consequence, the player will be able to predict the a mob’s behavior to some extent. As far as we’ve implemented this (grouping and movement already looks good, but AI is still very basic) our idea feels great and we hope we’re well on the way to make turn-based combat a little more appealing regarding the pace.

We hope you enjoy our super-size-goblin-minion-mobs screenshot (more will follow soon) and we are, as always, looking forward to your comments!

 

 

2012 11 Oct

Meet your angry foes

Categories: General

Today, you can get first impressions of your future opponents in Chaos Chronicles. Those 3D models are directly taken out of the game. At this time, Skeletons, Orcs, Ogre, Ghouls, Zombies and Gargoyles can be found here, but more will follow soon. (Click on the thumbnails to enlarge).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As mentioned in the previous post, we are currently working hard on the storytelling part of Chaos Chronicles. In this context, we discussed about stereotypes in High Fantasy settings, especially those about race and gender. Here are two examples how we planned to include those ‘racial’ habits in our game:

a) Your party enters a stinking place that is totally messed with old food. The elf in your party is disgusted about the smell; the halfing complains about the big waste of food and the male warrior asked one of your female party members to clean this place.

b) Your party discovered an old dwarven forge provided with firewood taken from surrounding woods. The dwarf in your party starts to praise the superior blacksmith skills of his people; the elf blames the dwarves for chopping down ‘holy’ trees. The halfing proposes to use the forge to create another tasty meal.

What do you think about the use of classical stereotypes with your own characters? Do you think that those characteristics are acceptable for a High Fantasy game or should the game leave those personalities to your own imagination?

Please contribute your opinion (if you have one) !

We’ve planned to post more informations regarding the combat system and the world map. But lately we were busy with adding story elements into Chaos Chronicles and by doing this we now want to share our thoughts about storytelling in a party-based CRPG. Needless to say, we will deliver the above mentioned content at a later date.

If you remember the first entries of this blog there was something in there about most modern RPGs telling the tale of a single character. The player is the hero etc. Often with the results that if it is a party based RPG the other characters in your party have their own personalities. It’s rather you going on an adventure and meeting up with other characters that join you. On the one hand that is of course a good way to create immersion and pull you into both the game’s world as well as its storyline. On the other it is a very linear way of telling a story that resembles the way stories are told in other media as books or film much more than the kind of story you got away from when playing some of those old-school RPGs we have been rambling about in this blog.

It may be debatable if there is a definite way of telling a story in a game or if there are several but this is not what’s we want to talk about here. We rather want you to understand why we thought it might be interesting to choose one way of storytelling over another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First of all let’s get back to the other side of the coin – so not the UltimaBaldur’s Gate or Dragon Age way of storytelling (you, the hero making friends) but rather the Phantasie and Pool of Radiance way of storytelling (your party on its journey). As a kid with a wild imagination it was hard not to bring those creations to live while playing. Even though each character pretty much was only a listing of values that you attached a name and – in the case of Pool of Radiance - a head and a torso to you couldn’t help but fill in all the blanks on the character.

The more sophisticated games have gotten over the last decades the more they actually take that from you and stage the experience. Ever played Fallout? The first one? Ever tried to create a character with very low intelligence? Imagine the thoughts and work the developers must have put into the game to make all of that work out and provide such a unique experience. Or all the banter going on in a game like Baldur’s Gate between the characters commenting the current situation. While these are definitely cool things it was also very cool to imagine the same things going in your own fantasy. Maybe all the pen & paper roleplaying as kids got into our heads but while exploring a sewer you could easily imagine the elf complaining about the smell. Little things but memories we are fond of.

The whole thing did get even more dramatic considering your characters could die and sometimes had to be replaced. Overall the experience that formed in your head was much more similar to reading a book than imagining yourself playing a role in the story.