Here we are, another week, another post. First, as you might have seen through social media, we are almost ready to launch WOODPUNK on PC. You will be able to play it the 22nd of November, Xbox and PS4 release will be on Q1 2019!
Now with what you are here to read. This week we will dive into how we designed WOODPUNK’s enemies in order to affect player strategy.
As we have mentioned previously, we want the player in WOODPUNK to be able to play different play styles and not lock in to one sole play style. By designing different enemies all with their own strategies and synergies, we ensure that every play style has advantages and disadvantages.
Fueling more reminders, we have also explained in previous post that the player will have to fight hundreds of on screen enemies simultaneously, but if it always was the same enemy it would be boring right? At launch WOODPUNK will include 18 enemies and 5 different final bosses to fight against!
First let’s analyze the enemies found in WOODPUNK in relation to their difficulty level:
As the player advances through the “story/arcade mode” they will encounter enemies with different grades of difficulty:
- On the first world map, G-Nova, the player will be able to find to most simple enemies in the game. We want the player to learn here the core mechanics of the game. In G-Nova the player will fight mainly against the “weakling spear” and the “weakling bow”. These enemies introduce what will be the main enemies found in Woodpunk, the “spearman” and the “crossbow” man (these are also found in G-Nova, but are less frequent to not increase difficulty) The normal and weakling versions have the same attack pattern; the spearmen approaches the player to stab him, while the bow users aim and shoot from a distance. If the players approaches these bow users, they will flee in order to gain distance from the player. One month ago we believed that the enemies found in this world did not give a complete experience to the player, as there wasn’t a meaty enemy to introduce harder enemies. We developed the Brut, a big meaty enemy that if it’s not in the players proximity will throw whatever is close towards the player.
In each world map we aim to introduce new enemies that are exclusive to that map.
- The final boss of the second world map is The Necromancer, who summons skeletons around the battlefield. These skeletons are nimble but very fast so the player will have to move around for them not to get damaged. Continuing the theme of the Necromancer and skeletons in this second world map the player will find the Mini-necromancer, an enemy that does not attack the player per se, but who will summon skeletons from enemies’ corpses. Enemy difficulty is increased compared to the second world map. One enemy that we also introduced is the Musketeer who shoots shrapnel in a cone. Multiple of these enemies spawn at once, creating a big area of effect that can heavily damage the player. Once the musketeer shoots, they will take time to reload creating a brief space of time where the player can focus them down with their melee weapons. The last enemy we introduce to the player in this stage is the Shield Bearer. As his name states, these enemies have a shield to protect themselves against projectiles sacrificing movement speed simultaneously. If the Shield Bearer is close to the player, they will attack with their massive axe.
- The third world map is located in Trintio, in Italy’s cold north. Yet again, a new exclusive enemy is introduced to the player, the Sackboy. This enemy sole objective is to explode near the player, which practically one-shots them. The Sackboy has a high movement speed so the player will have to take care of his positioning. Other enemies will also appear for the first time in Trintio, but are not exclusive to this stage. The Hook Warlord with his dangerous hook pull the player towards him. If the hook hits the player, he will be attracted towards the warlord, while other enemies take the opportunity to attack the player!
- The fourth world map introduces several new enemies to the player. In Iso Bari the player will have to fight against Mages, which are weak enemies which cast magic balls towards the players, the leper doctor which throws flask towards the player that damage them if they walk over the spillage while other enemies heal if they walk over it. The Glaive Warlord is one of the hardest enemies which the player will have to fight against. It has to receive a lot of damage in order to die, and if a swing of his giant lance hits the player he will be heavily damaged. The Glaive warrior will also charge towards the player, but if the Glaive Warrior hits a structure he will be stunned, giving the player an opportunity to attack them.
- Lastly, in the Fifth world map two new enemies appear. One is the Banner Warlord which will interact with other enemy upgrading them to new units which deal more damage. The second one is the ninja (yes we know, typical 13th Italy) that will run towards the player, disappear to thin air and later reappear behind them.
So as you have seen, enemies become more and more complex as the player advances through different game stages. So how does these enemies affect player strategy?
- First we provoke player movement due to the sack-boys throwing themselves to kill the player. They practically one-shot them, so the player will have to concentrate on shooting the sack-boys from far away while moving around in case one of them approaches them from behind and other enemies are shooting or trying to stab him.
- The Hook Warlord has interactions with other enemies. If he hooks the player, other enemies like the sack boy have a coupe seconds to damage the player while he is pulled towards the Hook Warlord. This leads the player to do one of two thing; either focus the Hook Warlord, or concentrate on dodging his hooks while other enemies are attacking.
- The main enemies which effect player interaction in the fourth world map are the Glaive Warriors and the Leper Doctors. If left alive, these last ones will spread their spillage through the battlefield creating areas where the player will be damaged if stepped on or heals enemies, therefore they should be a quick focus for the player.
- In the last world map there is one enemy which the player will have to focus if they want to succeed. If the Banner Warlord stays in the battlefield for a long period of time, they will convert the all weak units into stronger enemies.
We use visual cues to help the player identify which enemies he is fighting against and what to focus. Enemies are color coded; melee enemies are all wearing different grades of blue, while the archers are wearing different grades of red. Other enemies, like the sack boy are drawn with different grades of yellow to make him stand out against other enemies and the environment.
There are a couple of enemies which only appear in specific game modes. In “Protect the Machine” there are two specific enemies which won’t attack the player, but will attack the structure the player will have to protect. These are the pike and the candle head. The pike will approach the structure and every couple of seconds hit it with his pike… while the candlehead explodes against the machine. These should be focused once the player identify them (they both have a small candle attached to their head) another cue is once the miner hits the structure, a sound can be heard that only can be heard if the piker hits the structure. This will trigger the player to go back to the structure and protect it. Other visuals cues involve arrows to signal the player to where to go in order to complete the objective. If the player has to destroy the objective the signal will be red, while if they have to protect it the signal will be green.
The player will have to take into account which weapon and suit he is using when fighting all these enemies. If the player is using a bomb-gun and is shooting against enemies which are chasing him up close, he will receive damage due to the area of effect the bombs have.
There are also a few weapons which will help the player against these enemies as they exert crowd control on them. For example, if the player is using a weapon that shoots fire, they can burn the floor and when enemies walk on top of it they will receive damage, or if the player is using an ice gun they will be able to slow or freeze the enemy.
Giving the different enemies the player can encounter, the player will have to choose wisely which suit he is going to use. The Stonepunk reduces the player’s moving speed, but will give him a big area of effect bomb which heavily damages enemies surrounding him, while the Fastpunk sacrifices the jetpack the player has for more movement. The combination of the correct suit and weapon will allow the player to stand to the challenge of fighting hordes of enemies.
Well these are a few ways in which the different enemies affect player interaction and strategy. We hope you find this article interesting. If you have any ideas or feedbacks please contact us through our official Discord!