Project: Velyria is a browser-based, sci-fi MMORPG that revolves around classic dungeon crawling and turn-based combat.

Report article RSS Feed Development Update #5: We Can Build Them Better, Stronger, Smarter

We list the work we have completed over the past month and dissect the new enemy A.I.!

Posted by MADSOFT on Jul 23rd, 2014

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It has been quite some time since our last update, but rest assured, we've been very busy. This month has been all about nailing out the finer details of messaging, trading, and combat.
Before we discuss our recent completed tasks, we would like to draw your attention to the status of our pre-release blogging schedule:

Every Tuesday, we post a new Weekly Feature highlighting a weapon, armour set, or skill, and its lore.
We are continuing with our Facebook Previews. Every 100 Likes earns a new preview, which we share on our various social media platforms a few days after reaching the milestone.

Unfortunately, the Task Corkboard Update, previously updating every Friday, has been put on hiatus. If you would like to see a return of the weekly task update, let us know in the comments below.

Our new addition, Screenshot Saturday, already has three entries. In these blog posts, we will post gifs and screenshots of Project: Velyria's UI and discuss some of the reasons behind our design decisions.

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On with the progress report! Here's what we got done this month:

Chat: We have added the ability to mute and unmute players. This particular feature is not meant to block players completely and it will not prevent private messaging from muted players, but we hope it will help players organize their chat. Players will also receive in-chat notifications when friends log on. Additionally, the chat system has been stabilized and we have fixed several bugs.

Exploration: Players can now use and drop items while on the map! In order to facilitate this, we built a new map-exclusive inventory UI. We also identified a major security flaw in relation to the inventory and map; fortunately, we were able to seal up the problem with relative ease.

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Messaging/Trading: Items can now be successfully attached to outgoing messages. Trades have an interface for rejecting and accepting items. You can learn all about the new UI in our recent Screenshot Saturday post. In-game and browser notifications were added for different trade statuses.

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Combat: Boy howdy has combat ever evolved from our initial plans. We've added a brand-new UI and hotbars which you can read about here. Players can finally use items in combat. Monsters have been programmed with enhanced AI; they can actually hit back now! (More on that in the next segment of this post)

Chipping: Weapons and armour pieces can now be enhanced through chipping. You can read blog posts that mention the risks and rewards of chipping here and here.

Alliances: We cleaned up the UI on the page. We think it looks a lot nicer without the floating buttons.


Here's what still remains to be done:

  • Exploration: Informational tiles on map, Improvements to Mission tiles, First-person view.
  • Briefing: Dynamically updating sector stats after completing missions/conversations.
  • Combat: Critical hits, Monster weaknesses/strengths
  • Chat: Reporting users
  • Player: Character selection screen
  • Marketplace: Front-end coding and design, Directory and item listing, Dashboard for shop management

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For this update, we really want to shine a light on the development of the monster AI. Instead of simply resorting to randomized attack patterns, we wanted to expand the enemy AI to provide a more interesting and varied combat experience. For this blog post, we will be using a randomly-generated Orange Slyhorn as our example monster. We will call her Pip.

Intelligence Levels

Monsters in Project: Velyria are randomly assigned an intelligence classification when generated before a battle. Intelligence determines whether the monster will calculate its skills using its AI or randomly select a skill. There are three levels of intelligence:

  • Dim: The monster has a 50% chance of ignoring its AI and randomly selecting a skill every turn.
  • Average: The monster has 25% chance of ignoring its AI and randomly selecting a skill every turn.
  • Bright: The monster always uses its AI to calculate its skills.

Pip was generated with an intelligence classification of average.

Attack Patterns

All monsters in Project: Velyria will be given a set attack pattern determined by its species.

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There are four attack patterns:

  • Damage-Dealer: The monster prioritizes dealing damage to the player.
  • Tank: The monster prioritizes buffing itself and debuffing/damaging the player.
  • Healer: The monster prioritizes healing allies with HP lower than 50%.
  • Support: The monster prioritizes buffing allies.

We know that all Orange Slyhorn are given the attack pattern Damage-Dealer, so Pip is an average Damage-Dealer.

Personalities

Each monster is given a randomly selected personality at the start of combat. This determines how the monsters react to the actions of its allies and the player.

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There are five personalities:

  • Short-Tempered: If the monster was attacked during the last turn, the monster will select a skill to target the player.
  • Egotistic: If the monster selects a skill that could heal or buff an ally, it will instead use that skill on itself.
  • Coward: If there are other monsters on the field, the monster will use a skill that does not target the player.
  • Protective: If another monster was attacked during the last turn, the monster will select a skill that targets the recently attacked monster.
  • Careless: The monster's personality does not affect skill or target selection.

Pip is now a short-tempered, average Damage-Dealer, meaning she has two characteristics that preferentially call for attacks on the player.

Targeting Patterns

Certain monster skills are given predetermined targeting patterns. For example, a damage-dealing skill would always target the player. Some skills, particularly those that target a monster's allies, do not have a set targeting pattern. Instead, the skill uses the monster's inherent targeting pattern to determine its target. This allows one skill to perform differently depending on the monster using it. Some examples of ally-targeting patterns a monster might have include:

  • Strongest: The selected skill will target the monster with the highest HP.
  • Non-matching: The selected skill will target a monster that does not have the skill's buff.
  • Random: The selected skill will randomly target a monster.
  • Tank: The selected skill will target a Tank monster.
  • Defenceless: The selected skill will target the monster with the least defence.

Pip has an inherent targeting pattern of defenceless. It is unlikely that Pip would buff or heal her allies considering her short-tempered personality and Damage-Dealer attack pattern, but in the event that she randomly selected a buffing skill due to her average intelligence, the skill would target her ally with the lowest defence.

Monster Types

In Project: Velyria, monster species are separated into four distinct type categories. These categories determine their strengths and their weaknesses when combating players. Each type is associated to a colour for the player to quickly distinguish the monster type during combat.

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  • Sprites (Green): Sprite monsters are quick and agile. Some may be able to fly. They are weak to scientists and strong against soldiers.
  • Barons (Blue): Baron monsters deal major damage with every attack. Some of them may have very high HP. They are weak to recruits and strong against workers.
  • Brutes (Orange): Brute monsters are those that seek refuge in the ground. They often have very high defence. They are weak to soldiers and strong against scientists.
  • Mystics (Purple): Mystic monsters are bizarre creatures that can control the elements. Some species lead aquatic or semi-aquatic lifestyles. They are weak to workers and strong against recruits.

All Orange Slyhorn are Sprites due to their swiftness. This leaves Pip as a short-tempered damage-dealer of average intelligence with an inherent defenceless targeting pattern that enjoys beating up soldiers in her spare time. Whew! That is a bit of a mouthful!

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We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the new enemy AI! We love hearing from you, so let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Project: Velyria
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MADSOFT Games, inc.
Engine
Custom Built
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