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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.