Post news RSS Experimenting with Presentation and First-Mover Disadvantage

In this development update, we cover some of the design changes we've been exploring and the thinking behind them.

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We’ve been working the last few weeks on some features that we’ve wanted for a long time now - character customization support (i.e., appearance modding) and tiles that grant effects.

It’s still early, so we’re using some hastily assembled programmer art and a testing-purposes-only user interface. That is still enough for me to create horrifically ugly characters, which is my specialty:

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Right now, these are just palette swap models but our ideal setup would allow full replacement of each 3D component model, preferably with color masks for the different pieces of each asset plus color sliders to really allow people to go nuts. I will of course use that to create horrifying monstrosities of art, but there is the potential for goodness buried in there too.

We’re also experimenting with a different way of showing tiles on the map - having a semi-transparent overlay was not the most efficient display method and meant that our map had a grey hue over it. Instead, we’re seeing what using markers in the corners of the tiles looks like:

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It’s still early (lots of little visual bugs) and will need a beauty pass, but it seems like a better direction to go in. We’ll have to update the movement and attack range displays soon as well (they’re doing the previous iteration’s ‘cover the tile’ thing).

Also in there are some placeholder, sparkly particle effects showing where are our latest gameplay tweak is: tiles that grant bonuses. In the map right now, these just grant +4 Action Points to whoever gets there first, but we can easily add all sorts of options; we’ve currently got damage bonuses, defense bonuses, AP regen bonuses, healing, and Falling To Your Death. The tech is also expandable to AOE abilities and more.

Here's what that looks like in action:

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In introducing these effects, we want to address the ‘first-mover disadvantage’ where the best strategy was to stay back and wait. We also wanted to incentivize players to take quick and decisive action and to make the start of battles faster, giving a bit more tension to getting out and ahead of your opponent.

So far, they feel pretty good. It’s simple, but it gives players an immediate goal beyond waiting to see what your opponent does. With time and tuning, hopefully they’ll prove to be a fun and engaging mechanic.

You can always download the latest prototype from indieDB (these updates will be release in 0.0.4).

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