Kick, Punch, Eat Meat Dev Log #3

Big month in many ways, not just for KPEM but also just general life. First, I got a dog! Meet Bubble, she is a good girl.

Bubble loves walks, wind and belly rubs

Also, Oxygen Not Included came out of Early Access on Steam and I’ve been hooked. The magnitude of my addiction to ONI is unlike that of any game in a long time. Something about it just keeps me building for hours. Klei did a fantastic job with it and I’m eager to see where they take it next. Since it’s so similar to base builders like RimWorld and Dwarf Fortress I’d really like to see some kind of external visitors brought into the mix.

When not walking the dog or creating cooling loops I’ve been plucking away at KPEM. So what’s been happening:

Card Drag UX improvements / Refactor

Needed to do this for a while. Card dragging had become overly complex so I needed to give it an overhaul. Now when you drag cards you get a targeting arrow and when played they have a little hop animation as they go to the discard pile. Basically just trying to get it to work as much like Hearthstone as possible. It also works across PC and touch screens!

Objectives! Purpose!

There are now 4 Objective locations in the world, each one has a mini boss. The idea to these objectives is that if the player defeats the mini-bosses within they not only get a major reward (cards/equipment) but also the final boss will become easier.

There will be thematic details on this stuff later, but mechanically the objectives are added to the world and a powerful enemy is encountered at each one. The rewards and their effect on the final boss still needs to be coded.

Timer Deck!

This is a big new mechanic. There is now a deck of cards called the Timer Deck. It is full of special cards which have an effect on the round. Timer cards are revealed, one at a time, after the player’s Movement phase, some have immediate effects, like starting a combat, while others change some aspect of the round and stay in effect until a new Timer Card is revealed. A Timer card can make you start all combats with an extra card while it’s in play or they can make certain terrain tiles easier or harder to move through. Overall, they add variety to each round.

It’s not called a Timer Deck for nothing. Spread out evenly in the Timer Deck are cards that will increase the difficulty of the enemies you encounter. It will be advantageous for players to complete events which add cards to the Timer Deck and avoid situations that will waste their time because when the Timer Deck is depleted the Final Boss will emerge and the Final Fight will take place!

Play testing with this has been fun and the best part is that it piggy backs off of the existing card logic and code. Meaning the time/effort to add in this feature was minimal compared to the amount of game play options it added to the KPEM.

Phases and the new Prep Phase

Like before, this allows the player to make choices about what cards they want in their deck beyond just the combat purposes of a card.

The flow of the game is now broken up into Phases. The round starts with the Prep(aration) Phase. In the Prep phase, the player is shown 3 cards from their deck, they are given the option to select as many of these 3 cards as they wish to be played for this round. In this phase, the cards in your deck provide Steps (movement points) and sometimes other effects on the round. For example, the card Kick provides many Steps, while Eat Meat reduces steps slightly, costs 1 meat to use but heals the player.

Rough Prep UI. Lots of placeholder stuff. Card Step values are in the blue box. Since I’m at full health I choose not to play Eat Meat this round.

After the player has locked in their Prep cards for the round the Explore Phase begins. In this phase, the player moves their character on the map, spending Steps. When the character lands on a special tile its effects are resolved right away.

When the player runs out of Steps the Explore phase is over and the Timer Phase begins. The Timer Phase is a short phase in which a new Timer Card is revealed, its effects resolve and then a new round begins.

And that is the overall Game Loop!

Enemy Intent

Enemies now display the type of attack and the amount of damage they will do on their turn. This is similar to other deck builder games like Slay the Spire and Guild of Dungeoneering.

This one I’ve avoided doing for a LONG time. In fact I fully intended to not display the enemy intent, instead just having the enemy attack always be somewhat unpredictable. But I must concede that allowing the player to see the enemy intent adds a lot of interesting gameplay and I cannot deny it any longer.

This also opens up a lot in terms of damage mitigation cards so I’m looking forward to adding more cards, equipment and enemy attack patterns with this new mechanic in mind!

Ok that’s everything for this month! Time to walk the dog and see if my Dreckos need sheering!

Kick, Punch, Eat Meat Dev Log #2

So many big steps made, things are shaping up nicely. There are still lots of mechanics with uncertainties around them and a whole lot of UI/UX improvements needed. But I’m here to celebrate the victories over the last month.

A major help was a day spent brainstorming with a friend of mine, Kevin Zipper. We went to Gumbo in Brooklyn, a shared work space for a gaggle of game devs. While there we used a meeting room for a day and really hashed out some aspects of the game focused on enemy abilities and over-world movement mechanics. It turned out to be a very productive 6 hours of white boarding and fleshing out of ideas.

One of the big things we discussed was how to get the player’s deck to play a larger role in the other aspects of the game. The core idea is that “The Deck is your Character” but the game had become something where the deck was only used in combat. This didn’t sit right with me so we spent half the day exploring ways that the deck could effect the other aspects of the game such as movement and events.

See, one of the issues I've had is that I'm not creative in a bubble (nor am I entertaining when alone, hence why my writing is too bland). I need someone to form ideas with but this game has always been just me. This is a big part of the reason development has been so slow and why the game has taken on so many other forms over the years. One day I'll put together a post showing the many different forms of the game has taken.

Anyway, let’s get into some detail on what’s changed.

Proc-Gen Map

Using proc-gen for map biome placement. Big thanks to another pal, Brian McLendon, the proc-gen wiz, for doing this. He’s able to turn Perlin Noise into a Perlin Symphony (sorry, working on being funny). Specifically, the world now utilizes a seed to generate height maps then uses those to decide which biome to assign to a tile. Previously it was just randomly picking a biome per tile, this has made the maps much more comprehensible.

Event ScriptableObjects

The Game Event system got a major overhaul and now runs off ScriptableObjects rather than an XML doc. This means a nicer way to create and edit events while making the events more customizable. Also, I implemented Choice Requirements, so some choices can be locked off unless the character has a specific card, equipment or whatever (like the blue text choices in FTL).

Equipment ScriptableObjects

Equipment now also utilizes ScriptableObjects, mostly for assigning all the visual and text aspects of the item. The equipment’s effect is still dictated by a specific class for each item, in order to give them unique and powerful effects. One cool thing that equipment can do is add more cards to your deck while the item is equipped, very much like in Card Hunter. So expect to see equipment that has powerful passive effects balanced with adding some bogus cards to your deck. Oh and there is an equipment type called Mutations, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

Movement Phase

This is a big change that mostly came as a result of the big brainstorming session. The player’s deck now plays a role in player movement on the overworld. During the Move Phase, the player is dealt a few cards from their deck. They then get to choose a card to use as their movement card. The card chosen will determine how many spaces they can move and may also provide other effects either in or out of combat. For instance, perhaps during the Move Phase a player chooses to use the Bandage Item card. This card doesn’t provide many move points, but it does heal the player. Or maybe they use Simple Plan, providing a moderate amount of move points while also giving an extra card draw in combat if it’s encountered.

There are still some aspects of this new mechanic that may change as testing continues but it’s a major step towards having a game where “The Deck is your Character”

Side Note: The original idea was to have this movement phase be just like 1 round of combat, using the same UI. But upon implementing this I immediately didn't like it. Despair set in, but I went ahead with a different iteration which I really like and is now what is currently in the game.

Dual Purpose Cards

To go along with the Movement changes, cards have had to change too. Cards have to play 2 roles now, Combat and Movement, so can have distinct abilities in each context. When looking at the cards in your deck or when viewing cards being offered to you, you’ll see the card’s stats and effects for both phases, but when in the combat or movement phase you’ll only see the values and effects that relevant to that phase.

Enemy Controllers

Previously, enemies were entirely defined using ScriptableObjects and their attacks were reusable classes like “DamagePlayer” and “AddCardsToDiscard”. These classes were attached to the enemy’s ScriptableObject via an array, giving them a list of possible attacks from which they would choose 1 to use each turn. This was great for reusability but not great for customization nor did it allow for complex, multi-turn enemy behavior (like charging up an attack to use next turn).

But now that’s all changed and I’ve introduced the EnemyController. With this, enemies get a slew of new potential abilities. Charge-up attacks, fleeing from combat, explode on death and much more.

The Rest

There area also a whole bunch of more minor changes, bug fixes and some changes that aren’t too impressive to talk about but are big code architecture changes that allow for stuff that you’d expect in this type of strategy game. Like spawning new enemies into the current combat. Seems like something that should be easy, but it required a lot of refactoring to get the system able to spawn in enemies all willy-nilly.

Wolf Girl calling in more pups! Those red boxes on that cards are temporary!

So that’s the big stuff. The game is nearing “Feature Complete” and the next few weeks will be focusing on cleaning up the UI/UX mess that has arose from all the rapid prototyping. Looking forward to getting new art and animations from Butzbo soon.

Kick, Punch, Eat Meat Dev Log #1

It is my quest to complete Kick, Punch, Eat Meat and if fortune favors me, turn Robot Monkey Brain into a sustainable venture. Leave a comment if there is any other aspect of this game dev stuff that you are interested in keeping tabs on and I’ll include it in future logs.
Here is what has been happening over the past 4 weeks:

  • Implemented Equipment as playable cards
  • Conducted multiple play tests, gathered a lot of quality feedback (thank you, friends!)
  • Removed Equipment as playable cards
  • Implemented Equipment as items added into Slots on the character. They provide passive effects.
  • Changed the map to a Hex map
  • Implemented Line Of Sight on the map
  • Added Ruins to the map, locations which present the player with special Events
  • Implemented multiple outcomes to events with probabilities used for selecting the outcome of the player’s Choice
  • Recongigering of the Combat UI elements
  • Much balancing of existing Cards, Enemies and abilities
  • Many bug fixes and performance tweaks
  • Progression towards making Robot Monkey Brain into an LLC
  • Researched the Photon plugin for Unity (for future projects)
  • Addressed a performance issue with Instantiating too many cards every time the deck changes
  • Added a number of new Poison card mechanics
An early version of the map with Hexes and their various Biomes. Chests represent Ruins for now and Mountains block movement and line of sight.

Side Quest

Eat all the food in my house before buying new stuff. I’m allowed to buy food that’ll go with something I’ve got an am trying to use up. For example, I have a bunch of granola, so I’m allowed to buy yogurt to eat it with. At this point, I’m getting pretty low on food stuffs and these pickle, salt and coffee ground sandwiches aren’t the best.