Post news RSS Devlog #14 Holiday inspired changes to the combat system

This devlog is about 2 big changes to the game, moving away from the XCOM pod system, and the introduction of a new phase system.

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Devlog #14 Holiday inspired changes to the combat system

Hello everyone! As per usual I get inspired after the holidays, and that means changing the combat system yet again! There are 2 big changes that I want to talk about today.

Goodbye movement/attack phase!

Separating the movement/attack phase to give heavier emphasis to the movement and speed of units was good at reaching my desired goal of sufficiently differentiating slower/faster units. The problem was that the player had less control over the order of execution. Luckily, in the holidays I get to know a game called Battletech, and their phase system has inspired me on how to solve this issue while keeping the slower/faster unit differentiation!

In the new system, every character will have a speed value, which corresponds to which phase it can activate. This will largely be defined by the equipment of the character, but there will be skills to modify this temporarily. When a phase is active, only the units with the correct speed value can activate, and if both the player and the enemy have activable units, it will alternate between them. In addition, it will be possible to wait. In that case, all units which were activable will reduce their speed by 1 temporarily. When all phases are done, a new turn begins. The UI was updated as well to reflect this. At the top, you will be able to see the current phase and the active team:

phase update

Your party will be shown on the right side of the screen, showing the character speed, which characters are activable, and which is selected:

side bar

My goal with this change is to give the player more options to affect execution order. For one, moving and attacking happen at the same time, so coordinating that is easier. Plus in the case of multiple units with the same speed, the player can decide the order of activation. The reason I think this is important is that I want to encourage comboing with different units, and order of execution is important for that.

Moving away from modern XCOM pod system.

The other big change will be about how a mission start, and how are enemy units activated. Previously, it worked like in the modern XCOM games. A pod is inactive till they don't see a player unit. The big problem with this system is how important it is to avoid activating pods, and how that discourages aggressive play. An inactive pod is a pod that will not attack you in the enemy's turn, even if they wander into your team. On the other hand, if they activate in your turn (even if that was your last activation), they will act on their turn against you. So the player is encouraged to reveal as little area as possible while fighting with ideally 1 pod of enemies.

What is our alternative? In our new system, every mission starts with a planning turn. You will see the map surrounded by the fog of war, and you will know your goal location. You will then have planning phase skills, like scry, which let you check out a part of the map a limited amount of times like so:

scry 1

Then using the intelligence you gathered, you can freely place your units nearly anywhere on the map. Even in the fog of war if you so desire! Just you run the risk of teleporting into the middle of an enemy pod that way ;) :

teleport into fog of war

By the way, you can see that the animations for our first enemy, the Redeemed are in the game as well!

So after the planning phase, we jump straight into the action. The enemy pods will be alerted of the player's teleporting unit's location and will start actively hunting them. Plus additional enemy pods can teleport in if the player takes too long to finish their goal. So basically, after jumping in, the player's goal is to finish the mission objective as soon as possible, then teleport out.

So that's it for today's devlog. I'm super happy with how these systems turned out but what do you think? Of course, the best would be if you could try it out in action, but you will have to wait a bit longer for that I'm afraid. As usual, if you want to show us your support, you can wishlist the game on Steam here.

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