So, this character is a mouse. He is a merchant and entrepeneur who will set up shop in rather unorthodox locations, like dungeons. A gameplay feature who needs a name. The screenshot is from the scene where the player is introduced to the character. If you have a good name for him, let me know!
Summer vacation is finally here, and I've been working hard on Everwind the past week. More storyline and a new dungeon (screenshot below) are the newest addition to the game.
I am trying out a new system for the Power pool (MP in this game is called Power). The maximum power won't grow along with levelling, the way health (HP) does. Power will remain at a core maximum of 100. This number can be altered using equipment and buffs, which will make finding interesting equipment and learning new skills much more rewarding. Also, it will make certain skills and items usefull throughout the whole game, rather than becoming practically obsolete once the player reaches a certain level.
Everwind will be highly equipment based, with lots and lots of items for the player to find. Many of which are optional loot and drops from dungeons. I believe encouraging exploration through proper rewards is the key to a successful RPG. These will not be teased through side quests, since the game will have only one storyline.
I read an interesting article about effective and encouraging reward systems. An interesting point is that a reward you receive by surprise after completing a challenge, is more reinforcing than a reward that you knew about before engaging in a challenge. This boils down to my key design philosophy for this game: Keep the player interested and maximise the fun. After all, a game at its core should be all about having a good time.
It has been a while since the last update. This time I want to show off some gameplay footage from the early part of the game. This footage comes in three parts. I will update when the next part is ready. The footage will cover about 45 minutes of gameplay in all. Share your thoughts and stay tuned!
So how do they work? Basically, the player receives skill points per level for each party member. Each party member has his own skill points to be used in his skill tree.
The skill tree in divided into tiers. Basically, tier 1 skills cost 1 skill point to unlock, tier 2 skills cost 2 skill points to unlock, etc. The player must unlock skills in the direction of the arrows, starting from the bottom. This means that a skill cannot be unlocked unless another skill leading to it has been unlocked first. However, all the skills on tier 1 can be unlocked right away.
This system forces the player to make choices, and plan out how he wants to use his skill points in order to get the skills he wants. Note that on tier 3 there are two skills that requires two other skills before it can be unlocked. It is theoretically possible to unlock all the skills in the skill tree if the player reaches a high enough level. However, the average player will probably only unlock one of the tier 4 skills. This is what the choice ultimatly boils down to: which tier 4 skill you want to unlock.
Right now there is no feature to reset the skll tree. There might be one if balancing requires it (maybe in exchange for a sum of money), but at this state I am not implementing such a feature. I want to force the player to make decisions and think about what he want to do.
What would Super Mario Bros. be without coins? One of the core elements in any game is collectables. So simple and so important. And what would coins in Super Mario Bros. be without that extra life for every 100 coins collected? Pretty pointless, that's what. In an RPG the most obvious collectables come in the form of experience points for leveling. But players usually appreciate collecables in games because they reinforce you to keep going. We want the reward for all those collectables we've collected. All the hard work should pay off.
In Everwind I have already included a few collectables. I have previously mentioned the obelisks which the player must discover and activate in order to be rewarded. I also have included what I've called Trophies, which are taken from optional bosses and traded in the Trophy Shop for Perks, which enhance the party members in different ways. Now I have implemented another collectable, in the form of cute furry red teddy bears:
These teddy bears are scattered all over Everwind - fifteen of them. For every three teddy bears the player brings back to Red Ted in Grinngard, he will unlock a treasure chest with a special item (unique gear mostly) that cannot be found anywhere else. Discovering neat treasure is, after all, one of the key elements that make playing RPGs enjoyable.
There has been quite a bit of progress the past few days. The story is unfolding at a smooth pace. I finished another dungeon tonight, a smuggler's den. Within this dungeon I put in place the first of many choices the player will have to make througout the adventure (see the screenshot below).
Choices made by the player will have impact on events later in the game. A choice may be whether or not to rescue somebody, whether or not to kill somebody, whether or not to take a certain object, etc. I think it is important to give the player a sense of control over the way the story unfolds and to break the feeling of linearity. Even subtle changes based on player choices improve the experience greatly. What the player does should matter.
I have been working a bit on the characters' skills lately. Currently, I'm getting quite confident with Marim as a Bard. I have mapped out a skill tree for his skill progression that I am quite confident with, although the effects of the different skills is still a work in progress. Below you can see a draft of the current skill tree for Marim:
The player will be able to unlock skills from the bottom and work his way to the top. This makes the left and right skills (the ones with three ranks) optional, while the ones in the centre are mandatory. The late game skills on the top will be a result of which path you choose (left or right). This will reflect what kind of character he will be, as the ones to the left are attack based buffs and debuffs aimed at the enemy, while the right ones are buffs aimed at other party memebers. As Marim is a bard, this is mainly a support class.
The past few days have shown quite some progress on what most people would concider "actual game". The introduction has been finished, and the first dungeon has been tied into the storyline. No new systems to report, but only good old fashioned story gameplay, including the first bossfight. Three out of four playable characters have been introduced (Emily, Marim and Vex), in addition to another important character: Captain Bellona. The picture below shows an important story event.
I am quite happy with the first major conflict in the story, and how the characters were introduced. I am especially happy about how Vex turnes out. I believe he will easily become the audience favourite. Funny how the most interesting characters are always self-centered, sarcastic jerks.
It has been a while since the last update. The past few days I have been thinking and working on a new perk system. This system will be integrated with the trophy system. Basically, collecting trophies will earn you perks as rewards. I have listed a few perks that will be available in the screenshot below.
The adventure status screen. Perks can be unlocked throughout the game by collecting trophies.
The perks will be handled as states which cannot be removed. Like a positive curse, if you will, that persists even after defeat and revival. The perks will be linked to specific party members, and the player will have to choose which party member he wants to be able to benefit from the different perks. Hopefully. this will add customization and more choice to the game. After all, a role playing game is all about choices and consequences. Not just a stupid dog that doesn't really do anything useful. Yes, Molyneux. I'm looking at you.