If you look in Wikipedia the term “aggro”, you find the following definition:
Hate, aggro, or threat is a mechanism used in many MMORPGs as well as some RPGs by which non-playing characters (NPCs; such as mobs) prioritize which players to attack. Players who generate the most hate (gain the most aggro) on an NPC will be preferentially attacked by that NPC.
This is what I added to Planet Stronghold 0.85 BETA (yes I can finally start to call it Beta!) and it completely changed the game battles (in a good way). Already introducing different attack types made quite a difference in the past, but this change has a really MAJOR impact on gameplay. Before, enemies would just pick a random opponent, making battles a bit of a mess, since no real defensive plan could be made.
It was a simple gamedesign mistake, really. Even a seasoned game designer like me (well, 20+ games released… I think I can call me like that? hehe) sometimes make them. To be honest, is also because I was coding this damn battle engine since december 2009 and was eager to get the game out, so I didn’t pay too much attention to such “details” (which are etremely important though, the famed “polish”).
To make a game fun, you need to have a clear goal and have cause-effect game mechanics. The aggro does exactly that. Now, you can still use Harm psionic at maximum concentration and do even 90hp of damage the first turn of battle, but then your poor psionic aggro value will skyrocket and you bet that when it’s enemies turn, they’ll massacre him/her
So, now you have to do like in many MMORPG (Everquest, WoW, etc), that is have a hero that is a “tank”. A tank is a party character that usually has very high HP and / or armor/resistances to damage. Use the Burst attack option, which now has the real purpose of catching enemy’s attention (sort of Taunt in normal fantasy RPGs), to raise your tank aggro, then use psionics to buff / heal him, and use scouts to silently “take out the enemies from distance”.
I think the battles now are very fun, especially when you fight with the full party, because even if what you have to do is clear, is NOT that easy. Sometimes your tank might be running out of HP, so another class with good HP like Guardian could try to get the aggro temporarily, while your psionic healers restore the tank full health, and so on. The possibilities are really many, but now knowing that the enemies will MOSTLY (not 100%, since some enemies have class-specific special attacks) attack a specific hero with the highest aggro value adds a completely new dimension to the gameplay.
Check the video below where I explain the basics of aggro inside a game battle:
Planet Stronghold 0.85 - Indie DB