Post feature RSS Sweeping changes in battle system (aka: JRPGization)

Combat in its current form was boring, we are changing it to a more JRPG direction (still turn based).

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When we started to develop Bounty of Pixels, our initial idea was that we want a game like the Heroes series or the original King’s bounty, but with faster paced combat and more emphasis on army building - unit synergies. Ultimately our original combat wasn’t as great as we hoped it will be. We identified a few problems with it:

  1. To make combat faster paced, we removed movement from the battle (no more maneuvering around rocks and such), but it had a much larger impact than we imagined. With no maneuvering, combat become boring, simply focusing all attacks on a single enemy unit, then move to the next.
  2. We had quite a few passive skills, but we were afraid to make them really strong, in order not to unbalance the game. But because of this, battles lacked the “wow” factor, every strike was predictable, and overall combat flow was pretty boring, with no great spikes in damage or defense.
  3. When there were numerous units in one stack, like “30 goblins”, and when you fought with them and lost 5, there was immediately an urge to go back to the camp/dwelling and refill them. We predicted this will be an interesting choice to go on one more battle, or lose time with refilling troops, but have a stronger army overall. The problem is, this choice wasn’t fun, but felt like a “bad choice”: go on with a crippled army, or do a boring walking to dwellings.

Because of these, we remade combat to contain the following changes:

  1. There is no more “unit count”. If you purchase a skeleton, it will take one place in your army from the possible 6 places (3 front, 3 back). A single unit has a much larger HP pool. This will make healing viable, and will remove the “going back to 5 more goblin” phase.
  2. Each unit has a separate meter, called Action Points. Units regenerate 1 AP each turn, and their simple attack does not reduce it. There are special attacks that unlock when the unit has enough AP to use them. Most units can spend a turn to “Prepare”, improving their AP gain, and there are other ways to gain AP as well.
  3. These AP skills are much stronger skills, and each unit has at least 1-2 of these special moves. Skeletons regenerate themselves, Water elementals can heal allies, Knights prepare for battle (getting stat bonuses) and so on. Their power is balanced by their AP cost.

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Overall combat became MUCH more enjoyable, with different strategies available (prepare for the big strike, or debuff an opponent, or just go straight to damage, or AOE damage maybe, etc). It also made synergies interesting too. A dryad can enrage your animals, a necromancer can heal your undeads, and so on. In the old system, these skills were passives (which isn’t as interesting), and they were relatively weak so they won’t unbalance the game. Now these are active skills, relatively powerful, but since they cost AP and a turn, when to use them became a strategical choice instead of a no-brainer.

Our programmer made a wonderful skill editor where one can put together a skill from "skill components". Skill components are like "dealing damage -> to all enemy units" or "increasing attack -> all allies -> if they are beasts".

Some skills already in the game:

  • Peasants are relatively weak units, but their pitchfork attack deals extra damage to magical, undead and demonic foes. They can also do an untrained charge move (costing AP), dealing large damage to a random enemy. Since they aren’t trained, these units cannot “prepare”(they cannot gather extra AP), but they still get AP every turn as other units.
  • Wraiths are large, magical ghost-like undeads. They can shoot cursed beams, that also reduces the attack of an opponent, however this costs 1 AP (they get 1 AP each turn). So if they just use this skill, they will never gather enough AP to Soul Scythe, a heavy melee attack that damages the whole front row of the enemy.
  • Monks can Meditate instead of Prepare, so when they gather AP with their skill, a random ally also gets 1 AP as well. They can also heal units, but only living units. Their healing fortifies the body, giving also bonus defense to them.
  • Red Cultists shoot cursed mana bolts, that remove the AP of the enemy, and deal extra damage to magic users. They can regenerate AP extra fast, but the price is that they cut a friendly unit, effectively damaging it. They can also empower allied demons.

All in all, we think this was a huge step to the right direction, making combat more enjoyable. We will make a demo soon, we are still undecided whether it will be a “combat only” demo, or a 0.1 version of the game, with army management and stuff. Thanks for reading this far, cheers,

Order of Pixels

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