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Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 12

Game Mechanics Part 12

Welcome to our twelfth blog on game mechanics! Today we're going to be getting into some minutiae and talk about several small RPG Maker mechanics that are almost always done wrong, we'll discuss damage formulas and how I am utilizing them, and we're going to be discussing minigame mechanics.

so, let's jump in.

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Sweating all of the small stuff

If you have been around RPG Maker long enough, you know that there are some game systems that commonly suck among RPG Maker games. This isn't because the game developers did these systems wrong; they are bad because RPG Maker itself does them horrible and fixing them is sometimes a pain in the ass.

These are systems like escaping from battle, the attack hit system, enemy balance, and status effect interaction.

In the Legend of Emilar, I will be attempting to address all of these annoyances, though getting them to work the way they should is hard in RPG Maker because the coding behind these systems is not sophisticated enough.

While I could try to update the code, I think, for the time being, it isn't worth the amount of effort it would take so I will be trying to fix these issues through plugins, adjustments to formulas through some YanFly plugins, and other small-scale changes. A plugin may be made/used on a case by case basis as needed.



Can't I just escape?!

Escaping from battle in an RPG Maker game can be an exercise in futility. Unless the developer has taken some time to work out a decent formula, escaping is almost an impossibility.

In Emilar there are going to be some modifications to this system. First an foremost, escaping will generally be an almost guaranteed success, but there will be some situational impacts as well.

First, if you are facing off against more enemies than you have party members, that will impact your escape success. If you are facing off against twice your party size in enemies, it will impact your chances writ large. If you are facing off against enemies that have a higher combined agility rating than your party, this will impact your escape success.

If you are fighting two or three enemies and these enemies are slower than your party, escaping should be quite easy.

Each of these conditions is not exclusive. If you are facing off a small group of enemies, but those enemies are faster than your party; your chance of escape is going to be a bit lower.

I don't have any hard values, but here is how I envision this breaking down:


More enemies than party members

Each extra enemy (if you have two party members and they have 3, that is 1 extra) reduces your chance of escape by 1%. If there are twice the number of enemies compared to battle party members, the amount is increased from 1% to 5% for each enemy.

If they out number you greater than 2 to 1, even by 1 enemy; the amount is increased from 5% to 8%.

If you match their numbers or out number them, no change is made to the base success chance.


Enemy team agility

If the enemy team is as fast as or slower your team; no penalties or bonuses are added.

If the enemy team is slightly faster (up to 25%?), a small penalty of 2% will be applied to your escape chance for each enemy in the enemy team. This per-enemy penalty is designed to be very disruptive if fighting larger enemy groups.

If the enemy team is moderately faster than your party (up to 75%?), a penalty of 8% will be applied, not on a per-enemy basis.

If the enemy team is double or higher your party speed, a penalty of 12% will be applied, not on a per-enemy basis.


Enemy levels

Enemy levels will factor into this calculation as well though the impact will be less substantial. However; in a close contest, it could be the deciding factor if you are able to escape or not.

If the combined average enemy level is lower or around the same as your party's, no penalty will be applied.

If the combined average enemy level is somewhat higher than your party's (within 2-3 levels), a penalty of 5% will be applied.

If the combined average enemy level is higher than your party's (over 3), a penalty of 8% will be applied.


Enemy type

Enemy type will also factor in here too. Most normal bosses will prevent your escape. Optional and super bosses should generally present your with no issues when escaping unless that specific enemy has abilities or traits that hinder you from doing so.

Normal enemies will get a base 0.5% chance of preventing your escape for each enemy in the team.

Variant enemies will get a base 1% chance of preventing your escape for each enemy in the team, even if the other enemies are not also variants. So be on the look out for variant enemy teams that have multiple enemies.

so what does this all mean? Let's whip up some examples.


Example 1
Let's say you are fighting 5 enemies with three party members. Three of the enemies have low agility, one has normal agility, and the last has an about average agility leaving your party agility score at 50 and the enemy's at 64. Let's also say that the average enemy level is 4 levels higher than your party's. All of them are normal enemies.

Following the rules set out above, your chance of escape would be reduced from ~80% to ~57.5%. -2.5% for the enemy type penalty. -8% for the enemy level penalty, -10% for the enemy agility penalty, and -2% for the enemy team size penalty. That is a total penalty of -22.5%.

While you may be able to escape, it might take you a try or two under those circumstances.


Example 2
For this example, let's say your are fighting a single enemy with two party members. It has an average agility, but it is 10 levels higher than your party's average. This enemy is also a variant.

Considering the above, here would be your penalties:
-1% for enemy type
-8% for enemy average level

so your final escape chance would be ~71%. So pretty decent chance of an escape on the first attempt. But, let's hold on a moment and make this a bit more interesting.

Let's say that at the start of the fight you are confident that you can beat the enemy so you go in pretty hard. Then about halfway through the fight, the enemy uses an ability that spawns in four minions. Now you aren't so sure you can win; you have used up a good deal of your healing items in fights up to this point and are running low on MP. While the minions are average in terms of their agility, the extra values pushes the enemy team ahead of yours (45 to 105).

So you decide to try to run, however the new enemies have shifted your chances, dramatically. Here would be your new penalties:

-5% for enemy type
-21% for the number of enemies compared to your party (almost 3 to 1; 8%/enemy w/ 3 extra enemies)
-12% for enemy agility (over double)
-5% for the average enemy level (because the minions are lower level, the average level difference is now 3)

Total penalty: -43%
Escape chance: 37%

So now your chances for escape are much lower than before and you might find yourself trapped for a few turns; given the number of enemies and your party's state, that is all it might take for your party to be taken out.

It may seem silly to put this much thought into such a small and insignificant system, but it won't feel so insignificant when you are faced with the situation posited in example 2 and in that situation, if the escape system is using the normal cracked RPG Maker system, you're going to be very frustrated while trying to escape.

In the instances where you need to escape, but can't or have a hard time doing so, an item will also be available to force you out of battle. It will not be cheap and finding shops that have them will be an uncommon occurrence. You may also find them in chests once in a while.



Why do I keep missing?!

Another common issue with RPG Maker is that the hit rate system makes no sense. It will have you missing attacks 15% of the time when you are not blinded, the enemy has no buffs, or anything like that.

In Emilar the ideal working of this system will be that, barring a higher agility enemy or some other considerations, you will always have a 100% hit rate when no status effects are in play.

Enemy agility will play a small factor in your hit success chance. It should be minimal though and require the enemy to have a substantially higher agility to dodge your attacks on a regular basis.

If you are impacted by a status effect, you will see some of the more significant hits to hit success rates. Blind will drop your hit success by 60%. You will get the occasional hit, but more of your attacks should miss.

If you are hit with Slow, your agility is lowered so that might impact your hit chance. The status itself will also have a minor hit rate penalty of 10%.

There may be other status effects that will impact your hit success rate as well. In addition to that, your magic hit chance can also be impacted. Blind will do so and there will be some specific status effects that will lower this stat as well.

In addition to status effects, battle conditions can play a role too. While I have not nailed down all of the details of the system yet, there will be a battle "weather" system. If you are fighting in light fog, for example, your hit chance goes down. There will be some other aspects to this system we will discuss once I am ready to talk about it and know it is feasible to do.



0 damage?! Fuuuuuu!

If you have played a lot of RPG Maker games, you have probably seen the incredibly annoying "0 damage" message a number of times. What causes this is when your enemy's stats are high enough to nullify your attack damage.

In most cases, this isn't a problem for shorter games where the stat increases per level and gear upgrades are substantial. In longer games, like this one, it is a huge freaking problem. I have a two-fold approach to this one. One of them we're talking about in the damage formula section.

The other one is a scaling plugin from Yanfly. How it works is that it takes your attack power and the enemy's defensive power and then scales them against each other to try and prevent there being no damage calculated. While this plugin is a god send, it is also not quite enough on its own to be utilizable, at least to my liking. The enemy levels plugin also screws around a little bit with this too.



Why didn't Wet remove Burn?!

The last of these smaller systems we're going to talk about are status effect interactions. A lot of the time, this is something that game developers might overlook. If I have a status effect that seems like it should be exclusive to another one, and then I have that other one applied it should remove the original status.

To that end, I am putting some pretty hefty consideration into all of the status effects and the interactions each would have. For example, if you have both types of poison status effect applied, the damage they will do to you each action is increased.

If you are afflicted by Burn and are hit with a fire spell, that fire spell is going to do more damage.

If you are bleeding and then are poisoned, the damage that poison does and the number of turns applied will be reduced.

If you are afflicted with Wet, ice and lightning attacks will do more damage to you.

These are few of the examples.


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Damage, where does it come from?

The humble damage formula. The source of much jubilation and much anguish. It is also something that is hard to get right and easy to mess up.

If you have never dabbled in RPG Maker before, the way all attacks do damage is via a damage formula on the skill. Every type of attack in RPG Maker is a skill, even normal attacks. Items also have a damage formula.

In a lot of cases, damage formulas are not spicy; they are just basic calculations that go something like this:

a.atk - b.def / 2

Not even joking. I have seen that in some form or another in many RPG Maker games and that, in fact, is very similar to the default damage formulas that are used on the example skills.

These formulas can be so much more though, you have a lot of tools to be creative. For example, you can use checks against status effects, game variables, switches, and a number of other Javascript functions to make things much more interesting.

I would suggest, though, to enterprising RPG Maker game devs to use YanFly's skill and status plugins so you can utilize Lunatic mode to do your complex stuff in the note tag boxes instead of in the damage formula as you only get one line and adding in complex logic is hard to maintain in there.

Anyway, in Emilar damage formulas are very spicy. For example, there are a number of level-based formulas for skills. What does "level-based" mean? It means that your class level is taken into account in the formula somewhere. This is done to make sure that weaker skills retain their usefulness as you progress through the game.

Here is an example, the humble Stab weapon skill:

Math.floor((2 * a.level) + (a.atk + (a.atk * 0.50)) - (b.def + (b.def * 0.35)))

So, what the hell is all of this you may be asking. Let's break it down.

Math.floor((2 * a.level) + (a.atk + (a.atk * 0.50)) - (b.def + (b.def * 0.35)))

This is a Javascript Math function. What it does is rounds down to the nearest whole number based on what value you give it. So if you give it 78.98, it will give you 78 back.

Yes, this means that all damage in Emilar is rounded down.


Math.floor((2 * a.level) + (a.atk + (a.atk * 0.50)) - (b.def + (b.def * 0.35)))

This part here is where the level-based nature comes into play. The first part of this section is the base damage. All attacks will have a base damage that is guaranteed to hit. This is to stop the 0 damage attacks from happening and to give the Armor Scaling plugin we talked about earlier a bit more to work with.

The base damage is then multiplied by your level, so the higher your level the more guaranteed damage Stab is going to do.


Math.floor((2 * a.level) + (a.atk + (a.atk * 0.50)) - (b.def + (b.def * 0.35)))

Next up is your damage calculation. Most, if not all, attacks in Emilar will consider your total attack power and then add some percentage of it into your damage. In this case, your attack damage is your total attack power plus another half of your attack power.


Math.floor((2 * a.level) + (a.atk + (a.atk * 0.50)) - (b.def + (b.def * 0.35)))

This section calculates the enemy's defensive power. Similar to your attack damage, the enemy's entire defense power is taken and then another percentage of it is added.

Attack and defense are switched to their magic equivalents for spells, though some spells use both physical and magical stat attributes.

So, let's get an example using the formula above going. Let's say you're level 82 and have 177 attack power. Let's say the enemy's defense is 190. How much damage would you do? Let's find out.

Math.floor((2 * 82) + (177 + (177 * 0.50)) - (190 + (190 * 0.35)))
Math.floor((164) + (177 + (88.5)) - (190 + (66.5)))
Math.floor(164 + (265.5) - (256.5))
Math.floor(173)
173

So you would end up doing 173 damage before the damage variance and any status effects are applied.


Here is another interesting one:

b.isStateAffected(90) ? Math.floor(b.hp * 0.6) : Math.floor(b.hp * 0.3)

This formula is from a "Gravity" like skill. Gravity, also known as Demi, is a common RPG spell that cuts your health down by a percentage. In this case, though, we have a status effect check. It is using what is called a ternary which is basically just a true/false statement written on one line. If the condition is true, the first outcome is used, if not then the second is used. In this case, the condition is "are you afflicted with status effect 90?".

If you are afflicted with that specific status, your health damage goes from 30% of your current HP to 60% rounded down. In this instance you can see why I am rounding damage down as opposed to up or to the nearest whole. If we did either of those, this type of spell could kill you.

By always rounding down, these types of spells cannot kill you because at some point you'll be taking less than 1 damage which will always be rounded down to 0. That said, scaling may prevent the "don't kill" aspect of this formula set up; I haven't tested the two together yet.


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World Systems, fancy name for minigame

In Emilar there will be a number of side-systems that allow you to do stuff that has no real impact on the story, but can help you with side quests, crafting, and other activities. These are called World Systems, but really they are just minigames.

Farming, mining, fishing, collecting, and digging are the planned minigames.
Each minigame requires a specific type of key item to do and there may be certain stages to the game that require more advanced tools.

For example, a standard pickaxe can be used for mining general resources from rocks and stones, but in order to mine Magi-crystals, you need a specific tool.
This will be similar for all of the minigames.

For the most part, fishing and farming are just things to waste some time one.
There may be a few side quests that require you to use these systems. For example, you may need to have a certain level in farming to instruct someone how to cultivate food to help them sustain their village or you may need to find or grow a certain plant for someone.

The fishing minigame will be more of a minigame than an additional system.
Each fish category and size will impact the amount of gold you can sell them for. Some of the more unique fish types may give you buffs when eaten in battle.
Certain quests might require you to catch certain fish, participate in fishing tournaments, etc.

Mining is one of the more utilizable minigames. Crafting is going to be heavily incentivized. The total cost to buy an item vs. crafting that item will be about 3 to 4 times. So while a potion might cost you 150 gold, you can craft it for 25 gold plus the materials needed. This price scale gets larger the more valuable and complex an item is. A Mythril Shield, for example, might cost you 2500 gold, but you can craft it for 275 plus the materials.

Mining is also the most common way to get Magi-Crystals for the secret finder. You might find them occasionally in chests or as rewards in battle, but not in enough quantity to properly utilize the secret detector.

Collecting is kind of a catch all phrase for harvesting (kind of related to farming as well). There will be certain plants and other objects that you can collect materials from over time. Each type of object has its own tool. For example, to harvest leaves for potion crafting you need clippers. To collect wood for making hafts for swords, you need an axe.

Digging is the final minigame and is what it sounds like. Grab a shovel and start digging. I am still working out how digging should work, if there should be a specific type of tile that indicates "HEY, you can dig here!" or if it will be a system where you can dig anywhere and there would be a random chance of finding something.

I am leaning toward the former because that is easier to control balance-wise and I don't need to create some kind of crazy plugin to make that happen. It also allows for me to specifically tell you that something can be found in a location rather than you having to Metroid the game in a second way.

You can find lots of things by digging; gold, items, equipment, maybe even hidden areas (?!).

We will talk more about the crafting system at some point, but you kind of get an idea of the level of detail it will have if you'll be crafting hafts.


Well, that is it for this week. Catch you next week for part 13! Questions and comments below.

Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 11

Game Mechanics Part 11

Welcome back for part 11 of this game mechanics blog series. Today we're going to be discussing equipment types and the equipment system, the magic naming convention I mentioned in part 10, and go over how the Steal and Snatch mechanics will work.


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1 slot, 2 slot, 5 slot, 6 slot
The Legend of Emilar will feature a custom equipment system powered by YanFly's Equipment Core plugin. Similar to the way equipment is handled in ARPGs like Diablo and Torchlight, you will find that you will be able to fully equip your characters with gear.

Available equipment slots will include two weapon slots, one of which can also be used for a shield, a headgear slot, body slot, leggings slot, and a boot slot.
In addition there will be four ring slots, five accessories slots (1 pendant, 2 earring, and two armlet slots).

Most of these are self-explanatory, but let's talk specifically about the accessory slots and accessories in general before going over all of the equipment types.




Accessories
You probably noted above that there are what amounts to 9 accessories slots. The game will allow a massive amount of customization of your character through the use of accessories and each type of accessory has a specific purpose or a set of them.

Pendants, for example, will generally deal with status effect related options. These range from reducing tiered status damage, to nullification of a status effect, to auto-abilities that are put into effect at the start of battle.

Rings have two main focuses: magic stat buffs or elemental effects. You may find rings that increase your MP, enhance your magic attack/defense, or that might give you elemental resistance buffs and even some that will allow you to absorb elements and amplify elemental damage.

Armlets will be focused on the physical side of things by granting attack and defense buffs. Some may even give you access to new skills while they are worn.

Earrings will be exclusively used for increasing max MP, reducing MP costs, and elemental resistance buffs.



Armor
There will be a number of armor types. These include Light Armor, Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, Magic Armor, Robes, Boots, Shoes, Greaves, Leggings, and other types.

I won't break down the type of armor by class as we kind of already did that in a previous blog, but I will explain some of these groups.

The different weight-class armors are body armor for non-mages. As you work your way up these class trees, you will gain access to heavier types of armor, usually. Some class trees, like the Thief tree, can only use Light Armor and then Medium at Tier 2.

Magic Armor is a special category of armor that is planned for use with specific Compound classes and the Grand classes. These pieces of armor are incredibly rare and usually very powerful. That also means getting them is generally going to be hard.



Weapons
There will be a number of weapon types in the game including the following: one-handed swords, two-handed swords, daggers, scythes, maces, rods, staves, short bows, long bows, crossbows, tomes, gloves, lances, guns, and claws.

Each weapon type is used by at least one class and each type of weapon has special traits that affect the stats for that weapon.

One-handed swords are your bread and butter sword type. They have all-around good stats, but don't excel at anything in particular. They can be dual-wielded with other one-handed swords or any other equipment that only requires one hand such as a shield or dagger.

Two-handed swords take up both weapon slots. While they have greater attack power, they also are heavy and so they reduce your agility slightly. Some two-handed swords will have armor piercing traits.

Daggers are small, light-weight weapons. These can easily be dual-wielded and while they feature low damage, they increase your agility.

Scythes are one of the heaviest weapons in the game. They feature a fairly decent penalty to your agility, but feature high damage and more armor penetration than two-handed swords. These also take up both weapon slots.

Maces are a stable of the Cleric tree. They offer a solid, weighty weapon with good damage for a small reduction in agility.

Rods are primarily for magic casters. They feature both physical and magic attack damage buffs, though the physical side is lower. There are some rods that are full staff and take up both weapon slots. These ones feature greater magic damage and may have unique traits.

Staves are pretty much the same as rods, though they have equal parts magic and physical attack buffs. As a trade off, staves generally reduce your agility slightly.

Short bows take up both weapon slots and feature slightly higher agility and average physical damage buffs. These bows cannot fire more than once.

Long bows are just better versions of the short bow, although some of them can fire multiple shots.

Crossbows are the high damage bow-class ranged weapon. They do high damage and have good armor penetration. They do have a modest impact to your agility though.

Tomes are the high-powered magic caster items. They take up both of the weapon slots and feature higher magic damage, but cannot be used to attack physically. Some tomes also have extra magic buff traits in exchanged for increased MP consumption.

Gloves are the main pugilist weapon and can be dual-wielded. Gloves will increase your agility and feature good physical damage, but will leave you open to taking more damage.

Claws are pretty much the same as gloves, but they do more damage. Most claws also feature bleeding abilities.

Lances are the weapon of the Dragoon. Jump abilities can only be used when a lance is equipped and most lances require both weapon slots, though some rare ones can be dual-wielded.

Guns are the strongest ranged weapon, but lower your agility and require ammo that can be hard to find at times. Most guns feature some level of armor penetration, but some of the stronger and more specialized ones can be quite nasty.



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Cracking the magic name code
In Emilar, most magic will be named based on a convention system that replaces the name of the element with something more unique and also contains a level naming system inspired by Dark Ages/Final Fantasy.

Each element has a lore-based name and those are as follows:
Fire - Ard
Wind - Pho
Earth - Rhys
Water - Waise
Light - Tial
Shadow - Jor`Bal
Ice - Cyl
Thunder - Zal

Non-Elemental doesn't have a name in this system. Each of these element names is paired up with the level of the spell. There are currently 6 level designations and more will likely be added over time:

Level 0 (Novice magic) - Estol
Level 1 - Baes
Level 2 - Bast
Level 3 - Sol
Level 4 - Sola
Level 5 - Scran
Level 6 - Tsvar

So if you see something casting Sola Ard, you're about to be hit by a level 4 fire spell. Each level gives a damage buff to the spell:

Level 0: none
Level 1-2: +0 base damage and +15% ~ 25% Magic Attack
Level 3-4: +15 base damage and +25% ~ 50% Magic Attack
Level 5: +24 base damage and +50% ~ 75% Magic Attack
Level 6: +38 base damage and +75% ~ 120% Magic Attack

The base damage buff is added to the elemental base damage and then added to the base damage of the skill or spell. The Magic Attack is an additional calculation added to the damage formula for that spell level.



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Steal from the rich
Emilar will feature two stealing systems. The first is a traditional steal system where you have a chance of stealing a random stealable item. The second is the Snatch system, if you have played Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass you may have seen this in action.

Both systems are implemented through YanFly plugins. Each enemy will have at least two items that can be stolen. The type of item depends the class of enemy. Stealing from a bat isn't likely to bag you a weapon, for example.

There will be gear, class traits, and status effects to help improve your chances of stealing stuff.

Snatch is a bit different. The Snatch system shows you a list of the items you can steal and the chance to steal them. This allows you to do pin-point stealing so if you are grinding for certain items, it becomes a lot less RNG-based and you don't have to worry about grabbing something you don't need.

Another additional feature Emilar will be using in certain battles will be the steal debuff system. This is a system where stealing certain gear from an enemy debuffs them.

As an example, say the boss is wearing a piece of armor that you can steal/snatch. If you manage to grab it, the boss will lose the benefits that armor provided it and be weakened.

Right now I am only planning on using this on Humanoid variants, bosses, and super bosses. I might expand it to other enemy types though.



Well that is all I have for this week. Comments/Questions below, as usual. I will see you next week for part 12.


Progress Report

Demo Progress and Plans

Demo Progress and Plans

Yo, while I am working on the gameplay mechanics post for the week (will post tomorrow or on Tuesday), let's talk about my plans for the demo for the game.

I have mentioned in the main page for the game that there will be a demo, but I wan to go into all of the details of the demo, how the demo will be released, and what kinds of access you can get to it and how to get that access.


_________
How long will the demo be?
At the present time of this post, the plan is for the demo to be between 6 and 10 hours long depending on which story route you take and how long you spend exploring/grinding.

The last time I played the demo from start to finish was back in the RPG Maker XP version before all of the story elements had been implemented. That version of the demo took me around 4 hours to complete on stream taking some extra time to explain things as I went through it. This is where my estimate of 6-10 hours comes from.




What part of the game will the demo cover?
The demo will encompass the entire prologue of the game and all 5 story routes through it.



What are these story routes?
As you progress through the beginning of the prologue, you will find yourself in a training program for the Guard Force, the military organization of the Felgarin Empire. As you progress through this program, you will accrue what amounts to grading points. You can gain and lose these based on your actions, answers, and performance throughout the training program.

At the end of the program, based on your total accumulated points, at least one story route through the prologue will be made available to you. Each of these routes will lead you through a unique story arc that will potentially take you to different places, allow you to meet different characters, and open up certain story paths later on in the game or close some to you.

At the end of these arcs, you will return back to your home province where you will continue through the later half of the prologue.




What game mechanics will be available in the demo?
As many as possible. Obviously some won't be able to be showcased this early in the game, however I am working out a plan to incorporate as many of the systems that would normally be available later in the game, in the demo using level-appropriate samples.

For example, I want to try to include a showcasing of the Advanced Weapon Plugin which allows you to improve your weapons using EXP and gold for certain weapons.

As a result, the demo is going to take a bit longer than expected to complete as I need to consider which mechanics can be included and then create the mechanics that don't yet exist.

Other things, like Compound and Grand classes won't be in the demo as there is no way to handle them correctly considering our next topic.




Is progress saved?
Yes! Your progress in the demo can be carried over into the game on release. Due to this, there are some game systems that cannot be showcased properly in the demo.

To handle this, I am considering creating a secondary demo to showcase these other systems, a tech demo of sorts.

Your progress in the game, your levels, unlocked classes, items, and upgraded weapon(s) will be carried over into the main game.




Demo versions and access
As mentioned above, there will be several versions of the demo available.


Alpha
While the demo is in development, access to alpha versions of the demo will be made available through Patreon. You only need to subscribe for one month ($5) to gain access to the alpha.

This access gives you the ability to gain early access to the demo. We'll talk more about what subbing on Patreon gets you later.

The alpha version will be buggy and will be a work in progress so there will be multiple alpha versions released over time.

The first released version of the alpha will include only the main story route. The others will be added over time. This is to ensure that any major problems are addressed before they have a chance to be replicated within the other routes, some of which will be considerably longer than the default route and take longer to fix.

Expect to find legions of typos, unpolished dialog, game breaking bugs, and other smaller annoying bugs.


Beta
The beta version of the demo will be available to the public for free. It will include all of the content that will be in the finalized demo, but the demo may still contain bugs and there may be balance issues.

The demo will be uploaded to the game's itch page and RMN if allowed/possible.


Finalized
The finalized demo will feature a 1 to 1 experience to what will be in the game upon release. The goal is for the demo to be fully polished once fully released.

This one will also be uploaded to the itch and RMN pages as well as to the Steam page for the game which will be made public at this time.




Patreon Rewards
Along with access to the Alpha versions of the demo, you will get access to the following benefits during the alpha dev phase:

  • Give direct feedback and suggestions that will either be fully/partially implemented or given reasons for why they will not be. (preferably through my Discord server)
  • Credited in credits based on your contributions to the game
  • Possible discounts to the game (if Itch/Steam allows this )


To qualify for most of these all you need to do is subscribe for 1 month ($5). The demo versions will be transmitted via a invitation-only Google Drive.

If discounts can be offered, a 25% discount will be given for subscribing for the single month. If you subscribe for at least 5 months, you will receive a free key for the game on Steam or Itch (if possible).

If discounts are not possible, then everyone that subscribes for the single month will get a free key for the game on Steam or Itch (if possible).

For the credits, there are three possible to qualify for:
Patron; Subscribe to the Patreon
Tester; Take part in alpha testing, requires reporting at least one issue
Influencer; Have one feedback item or suggestion make it into the demo.

You can have all three.

The patreon page will be published once the first version of the alpha is ready.





Will there be any content cut from the demo?
No, the finalized demo will represent the entirety of the content present during the initially released version of the full game. The demo will not be updated to include any new content released later.

The demo will be updated if new issues are found in the full game after release.





Timeframe for release of each version
The Alpha version will be released sometime within the next 4-6 months.

The beta will be released sometime next year (Q1/Q2).




What is the current state of the demo?
Currently most of the first version of the alpha has been finished.
I am currently developing and implementing the remaining plugin systems needed for the demo and then I will be polishing what exists to fix any easily found bugs, dialog issues, and some initial balancing.

The first alpha is currently about 90% content ready. with the remaining 10% being dialog changes, updates to skills, updates to enemies to implement the battle ai system, finishing some of the final quests in the demo, implementation of some streamer specific content, and then conducting the balancing and timing runs.

If you have any comments/questions please leave them below.

Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 10

Game Mechanics Part 10


Another week has passed, time for some more mechanics. Today we'll be discussing status effects, elements, and autosaving.


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It is elemental, my dear Watson
The Legend of Emilar will feature a wide range of elements from the usual "element" types we think about when we hear the term "spell element" or "attack element" to something more akin to a trait in other game engines.

Let's start with the basics; this will be a more in-depth topic than I think you may think.


Basic Elements
Basic Elements are your traditional elemental types. These are used mainly for spells and some special weapons and on armor and accessories as defensive traits.

  • Water
  • Earth
  • Wind
  • Ice
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Light
  • Shadow
  • Non-Elemental


Please note the order of this list; it isn't random. In Emilar there is an elemental pecking order. Certain elements are weaker than others in basic power. Water is the weakest, Non-Elemental is the strongest. This applies to anything that is associated with these elements as well.

Water-based equipment will be weaker, water-based enemies as well. Spells too will follow this pattern. So if you see an enemy in a battle that is Shadow-aligned, know that it is probably one of the stronger enemies you are fighting.

Enemy alignment is something we will discuss at some point, but that is an unrelated topic.

Elements have both strengths and weaknesses, some also have synergies (this will be the next topic). Here is the complete list and what these mean for you in terms of damage:

Water - Water's weakness is lightning (+25% damage), it is strong against fire (-35% damage). Water and Earth synergize slightly (+10% damage).

Earth - Earth's weakness is wind (+28% damage), it's strong against lightning (-35% damage). Earth an Water synergize slightly (+10% damage).

Wind - Wind has no specific weaknesses, but has several small-scale ones relating to water (+5% damage) and lightning (+10% damage). Wind is strong against earth (-35% damage). It synergizes heavily with fire (+35% damage) and slightly with ice (+5% damage).

Ice - Ice's major weakness is fire (+60% damage) and it also has a minor weakness to water (+15% damage). It is strong against both wind (-15% damage) and earth (-58% damage). It synergizes with both water (+35% damage) and wind (+10% damage).

Fire - Fire's weakness is water (+35% damage). It is strong against ice (-60% damage). It synergizes with wind strongly (+35% damage).

Lightning - Lightning's weakness is earth (+35% damage). It's strong against water (-25% damage) and wind (-10% damage). Lightning has no synergies.

Light - Light's weakness is shadow (+60% damage). It is strong against nothing and has no synergies.

Shadow - Shadow's weakness is light (+60% damage). It is strong against nothing and has no synergies.

Non-Elemental - Non-Elemental is not weak to or strong against any other element and does not synergize with any elements.


Synergies
We will cover this in another mechanic, but I wanted to mention it briefly here. This is a system that is still under development, but the general idea is that when a secondary element is applied to weapons, armor, or skills, those secondary elements will interact with the primary ones if they have synergies.

For example, if I have a wind-based weapon and I upgrade it with a secondary fire element on damage, the damage of the weapon will be increased by the synergy value.

This applies to armor, for defensive boosts, and to skills for damage. I am also thinking about if these synergies should apply to another system I am thinking about implementing: multi-skills. Essentially a system similar to Chrono Trigger's where two character's can combine their skills together into a dual-skill.

In this situation, synergies would also apply both in terms of the positive aspect, but also the negative. If you were to use a light and shadow skill in this system, the damage would be reduced since they are opposing elements.

This negative aspect may also be implemented for weapon/armor/skill synergies, but I am holding off on deciding that for the moment.


Basic Element Names
The Legend of Emilar will be using non-standard names for these basic elements. This is due to the lore and the story for the game and why this is the case will actually be a plot point within the game. There is also a magic level classification system, but we will go over that in a few weeks.

Here is the list of names to the elements they represent:

  • Waise - Water
  • Rhys - Earth
  • Pho - Wind
  • Cyl - Ice
  • Ard - Fire
  • Zal - Lightning
  • Tial - Light
  • Jor'Bal - Shadow


Non-Elemental is different from these other core elements.


Non-Standard Elements
The game will also feature a host of racial elements as well. Here are the ones that currently exist in the game, more may be added later:

  • Beast
  • Aquatic
  • Avian
  • Angel
  • Demon
  • Devil
  • Demigod
  • Humanoid
  • Reptile
  • Spiritual
  • Horror
  • Aberration
  • God


Each of these elements corresponds to an enemy type and increases damage against them. Humanoid applies to all humanoid characters, including you. Enemies wielding anti-Humanoid weapons or humanoid protecting gear will do more damage to you and take less damage from you.



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Status Effects for days
The Legend of Emilar will feature a full range of status effects both common and, if not unique, certainly not often seen. We're going to go over these statuses and discuss the ones that are not ubiquitous throughout RPGs or that need a bit more explaining. I am not going to include boss status effects.

Many bosses will have some unique status effects that they can cause that won't be seen on abilities for other enemies, or at least a very limited number. What we will become over are the ones you will commonly run into during the game.

One more thing before we start, many of the more unique statuses calculate their damage over time based on the stats of the attacker and the defender instead of based on a percentage of health. I will call this out occasionally below as well. Full breakdowns of how these calculations work will be covered under a different mechanic.

I also won't be listing the turn lengths and removal conditions unless it's something specific, like with Sleep. So some of the level descriptions for the stats will have the same traits and what changes is the removal conditions (usually the range of turns the state is applied for).


Incapacitated - What it says on the tin. If your character reaches 0 HP, this is you.

Immortal - You can't be killed, but you still take damage so be careful.

Poison - You're usual poison status. Does damage over time, though the damage calculation is not based on percentage-based damage; it is calculated from player stats like a normal spell. Removed after battle.

Virulent Poison - Much stronger version of poison. Is not removed after battle and cannot be healed by Antidotes.

Blind
Silence
Rage
Confusion
Sleep - The usual status effect except there is a 50% chance that damage will wake you up.

Bleeding - Three levels. Does damage over time and damage is calculated based on attacker/defender attributes.

Burn - Four levels. Does damage over time.

Freeze - Three levels. Drops your evasion and magic evasion rates as well as makes you more susceptible to physical and fire damage and prevents you from taking actions.

All Levels:
  • Eva -100%
  • Mg. Eva -100%


Level 1:
  • Fire +50%
  • Physical +100%



Level 2:
  • Fire +80%
  • Physical +120%



Level 3:
  • Fire +100%
  • Physical +200%



Paralyze - Three Levels. Prevents your character from moving and has the following effects:

All Levels:
  • Eva -100%
  • Mg. Eva -100%



Wet - Three levels. Makes you more susceptible to certain elemental damage.

Level 1:
  • Fire -10%
  • Ice +15%
  • Lightning +25%


Level 2:
  • Fire -35%
  • Ice +50%
  • Lightning +100%


Level 3:
  • Fire -75%
  • Ice +100%
  • Lightning +150%



Strength - Five levels; 4 and 5 are only used by enemies and certain Grand Classes. Increases attack power. Can be leveled up by higher level strength states or leveled down by Weak.

Level 1:
  • Attack +10%


Level 2:
  • Attack +25%


Level 3:
  • Attack +50%


Level 4:
  • Attack +80%


Level 5:
  • Attack +100%



Weak- Five levels; 4 and 5 are only used by enemies and certain Grand Classes, this applies to all states 4th level and above. Decreases attack power. Can be leveled up by higher level weak states or leveled down by Strength.

Level 1:
  • Attack -10%


Level 2:
  • Attack -25%


Level 3:
  • Attack -50%


Level 4:
  • Attack -80%


Level 5:
  • Attack -95%



Fortify - Five Levels. Increases physical defense. Can be leveled up by higher level fortify states or leveled down by Enfeeble.

Level 1:
  • Physical Defense +10%


Level 2:
  • Physical Defense +25%


Level 3:
  • Physical Defense +50%


Level 4:
  • Physical Defense +80%


Level 5:
  • Physical Defense +100%



Enfeeble - Five Levels. Decreases physical defense. Can be leveled up by higher level enfeeble states or leveled down by Fortify.

Level 1:
  • Physical Defense -10%


Level 2:
  • Physical Defense -25%


Level 3:
  • Physical Defense -50%


Level 4:
  • Physical Defense -80%


Level 5:
  • Physical Defense -95%



Fortitude - 5 levels. Increases your mental attack/defense (aka magic attack/def; these are redefined to mental in the game, I don't know if I have ever called that out before). Can be leveled up by higher level fortitude states and leveled down by Enervate.

Level 1:
  • Mental Attack +10%
  • Mental Defense +10%


Level 2:
  • Mental Attack +25%
  • Mental Defense +25%


Level 3:
  • Mental Attack +50%
  • Mental Defense +50%


Level 4:
  • Mental Attack +80%
  • Mental Defense +80%


Level 5:
  • Mental Attack +100%
  • Mental Defense +100%



Enervate - 5 levels. Decreases your mental attack/defense. Can be leveled up by higher level enervate states and leveled down by Fortitude.

Level 1:
  • Mental Attack -10%
  • Mental Defense -10%


Level 2:
  • Mental Attack -25%
  • Mental Defense -25%


Level 3:
  • Mental Attack -50%
  • Mental Defense -50%


Level 4:
  • Mental Attack -80%
  • Mental Defense -80%


Level 5:
  • Mental Attack -95%
  • Mental Defense -95%



Regen/Hi-Regen/Regen+ (might change these names) - These statuses will heal HP after actions throughout the battle until they are removed. Amount healed is based on the stats of the caster at the time of casting; so if you buff the caster with Fortitude, the regen will heal more health.


Stun - Three levels. Prevents the afflicted from taking action.

Petrify - One level. Prevents the character from moving and removes evasion. Defense is reduced by 80%, Mental Defense is reduced by 65%. There will be a mechanic where if all active battle members are petrified it will trigger a game over.


Dread - One level. Those afflicted with this will have their attack stats dropped by 75%, their defense stats dropped by 45%, their agility dropped by 10%, and will be susceptible to Wail, Oppression, and a few other status effects at a rate of 100%.

Wail - Low success rate. Under normal conditions, causes 25% of your Max HP in damage. If afflicted by Dread, this increases to 75% of your Current HP.

Oppression - Low success rate. Under normal conditions, will occasionally prevent the afflicted from taking an action. When afflicted by Dread, the afflicted character will be possessed by the caster and will attack their own allies. Any damage to the caster is reflected to the possessed.

Doom - Low success chance. Countdown's down from 10, at 0 afflicted character is incapacitated.

Slow - One level (more will be added). Reduces agility by 15%.

Stop - One level (more will be added). Prevents afflicted from taking any actions.

Haste - Increases agility by 50%.

Haste+ - Increases agility by 150%.

Corrosion - Causes damage over time based on your physical defense stat. Also weakens physical defense over time.

Density Up - Increases damage from gravity-based attacks/spells.

Density Down - Decreases damage from gravity-based attacks/spells.

Irradiated - Three levels. Increases the radiation absorbed from radiation attacks/spells. Radiation is a tracked value that is used in calculating damage for radiation attacks/spells. The higher this gets, the more damage that will be done.

Radiation is reduced over time. Currently there isn't any on-screen indicator for how irradiated a target is; it is something I am looking into adding eventually.

Auto States - Some equipment can impart a status effect at the start of battle. The following states have auto variations. More will be added.

  • Rage
  • Strength I
  • Fortitude I
  • Fortify I
  • Regen
  • Hi-Regen
  • Regen+




__________________
Saving players from themselves since 2004
Emilar will feature an auto-save system as well as a traditional saving system. auto-saves will happen when entering/exiting a dungeon or a town. In many cases, also before boss battles (when you enter the boss rooms or just before a boss battle if there are multiple in the same area).

I am also contemplating setting up auto-saves before important story events as well and making that an accessibility option to be enabled if needed so that if you don't get a favorable outcome, you can reload and attempt the sequence again.

In some of those circumstances, auto-saves will not be used though. I will explain why that is the case in a later blog post.

You will also find save points through dungeons and be able to save at any point in towns. While in any other areas, you will only be able to save with a Tent or at a save point. Tents can be used outside of towns to save at any point.


Well, that is all for this week. Catch everyone in the next blog. Questions/comments? Leave them below.

Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 8/9

Game Mechanics Part 8 & 9

Another week, another game mechanics blog post. This week we will be covering another 6 mechanics.



Recruiting for the cause
The Legend of Emilar will feature a host of recruitable characters.
In all, at launch, there will be around 25 playable characters in the game, each will have their own detailed history, backstory, and part to play in the game.

To recruit characters you will need to go out and find them first. I may decide to use some kind of icon to signify if a character is recruitable so they can be more easily found; it would also be an option you could turn off if you wanted a bit less hand-hold in the game as well.

How a character is recruited is handled on a case by case basis. Some will be recruited just by talking with them, others may have specific requirements or there might be Anima System conditions upon which they will choose to join or not. Any such Anima System requirements will not be displayed to the player (probably; like I said before, I am toying with the idea of adding in a lot of options to turn on accessibility features like showing this type of information).

Others may require you to complete a quest for them, bring them something important to them, or require that you prove that you are worthy of following through combat. Others may refuse to join based on other characters you have recruited.

A number of characters will also only be available based on the initial story path you took through the prologue and even some based on the different decisions and actions you take throughout the game. Some will only be available along certain paths in the story too so you will never be able to recruit all of them at once. You may also find that characters you fail to or are unable to recruit may show back up within the story.

Each character will have specific things that allow you to customize them to your liking while also allowing them to have some uniqueness amongst the other characters. Balance will be the key thing and it will be hard to achieve.



____________________
The more the merrier, or something close to that...
Segueing from the last topic, let's keep focused on playable characters.


"Pick a class, any class..." - Random Forcer, 2023
Each character will come with a "class loadout" which will control that character's overall battle characteristics. Given that there are going to be more characters than base classes, there will inevitably be overlap. So how do we prevent the game from feeling like Chrono Cross where innates of each element feel the same?

The higher tier classes. Based on the selection of the standard classes available to each character, the compound and grand class choices become much more limited. This means that as you progress through the game with each character, they become more specialized.

What standard classes the character has available will be based on balancing the classes across all of the characters but I want to try and keep them related to the personality and history of each character if possible over balance. The problem there is that perhaps we end up with many more Lancer-enabled characters than there should be. It will be a process that will take time and careful consideration.

In addition to this, there are even further ways during the late game that characters become much more unique. We touched on this a while ago, but each character will have a backstory quest chain that will unlock a number of upgrades.



Unique Classes
There will usually be one new standard class unlocked, maybe two on rare occasion, attribute upgrades, ultimate gear, and, once you complete the entire chain, you will unlock a special version of their tier 2 standard class. How this class is chosen is by which class the character starts on, that is their predominate class type.

These unique tier 2 standard classes have a large attribute boost and a skil tree load out based on that character's experiences. For example, I think we used Leenord in a past blog post where we talked about these classes. Leenord unlocks some strong offensive and defensive techniques he developed while leading the Knight Guard and some more dirty fighting tactics from his time as a pirate.

Each character will have a similar unique skill load out on their unique tier 2 standard class based around their life events.



Build your stats the way you want to
We will talk more about this in a second, but to mention it here as well, you will have several systems at your disposal to alter the attributes of your character's classes. These range from single state upgrades through item to items that permanently increase the rate of growth for a stat for that class.

This will allow you to spec out your character's classes based on the situation and give an extra boost where needed.



__________________
We're going to need a bigger stat upgrade system
So, with all of these characters, classes, optional bosses, and all of the other weaklings and horrors you will come across during your travels across Elisnar you're going to need a way to improve your chances of survival outside of equipment.

Enter the Attribute Upgrade System (AUS) which is an array of plugins and game systems to help you improve the strength of your characters. We'll go over each of them in turn; some may have been mentioned in past blog posts.



A traditional system
I think we have all probably played a game at one time or another with an attribute improvement system. Dark Souls, Digital Devil Saga, Chrono Trigger are just a few examples; though CT used items. Legend of Emilar will feature a similar system.

Each level you will get a number of Attribute Points (AP) to use on your character. Each of the base stats can be improved for different costs. HP/MP are the lowest with one AP for an increase of 0.5% or 50 for every 100. The rest of the stats, except luck, cost one AP for 1 point increase and will cost more over time. HP/MP will have the amount of the increase dropped over time for the same price.

For Luck, the cost is 2 points for a 1 point increase and the cost will increase over time.

At every 10 levels you will get Special Ability Points (SAP). These can be used to improve any of the special or extended parameters like Exp Growth Rate or Pharmacology. These will cost 1 point for a 0.01% increase. This cost will never increase and the amount of the increase will not change.

At level 100 you will get 100 AP and 25 SAP. After level 100 you will no longer accrue AP at each level. Instead you will get 15 AP and 5 SAP every five or ten levels, I have not decided which yet.

You will be able to respec your points at any time for a cost in gold. The amount will depend on your level, so the higher your level the more you will have to pay. Above level 100 the cost can become significant, so please keep that in mind.



A not so traditional system
In addition to the above system there will also be items that can be used to improve your stats. There will be three tiers of these kinds of items:

  • Basic
  • Advanced
  • Mythic



Basic Stat Up items can be found in treasure chests or even as a limited sale item in some shops. These will increase a selected stat by 1 point; needless to say, these are much more impactful on any of the base stats other than HP/MP.

Advanced will only be obtained from some chests and as quest rewards. These will boost a selected stat by 5 points.

Mythic items will be rare drops from mid and late game variants and from super bosses. These items will increase a selected stat by 15 points.


In addition to these, there will be specific stat items that will improve a single stat. These will also have the Basic and Advanced tier system. Basic versions of these items will improve HP/MP by 10 and other stats by 1. Advanced tier will improve HP/MP by 50 and other stats by 5.

In all of the above cases, luck will only be improved by 1 (Basic), 2 (Advanced), 4 (Mythic).


But wait, there's more. There is another, strong tier of these kinds of items; ones that improve your stat growth each level.

These are very rare items, understandably, and can have drastic impacts on your classes. Each item you find can be applied to any basic attribute and will increase the rate of growth by 0.01%. It may not seem like much but consider the charts below:




Even small changes will have a large impact over 125 levels.


There is one more class of items to discuss here which are the level-up items (name tbd). These come in two flavors, 1 level and 5 level varieties. These will be given through quests as rewards on occasion. You may also find them rarely in chests. These will also give you the AP and SAP corresponding to any levels you obtain.



__________________
Party crashers
There may be times during the game where a character joins your party, but will not be able to be used in battle. These characters are Guest Members who will generally be with you for the duration of a quest or a series of events.

Guest Members will be utilized to enhance certain parts of the story or certain quests. On rare occasion a Guest Member may turn into a recruitable character based on your interactions with them.



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Ain't nothing passive about these
Another mechanic that will be used to set some characters apart will be passive states. Usually these will be tied to characters, but some may be class specific as well.

Generally these will be things like improved gauge growth in battle or specific things than can happen when a character is hit by something specific (like an auto-heal on hit or a counter if hit by a certain element). These passives will be based on the character's backstory if they have them.

Some may not be so passive either, they might inflict status effects on enemies at the start of battle or change the battle in some way via altering turn order.

The most impactful passive states will be on grand classes and the unique tier 2 standard classes.



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Special weapons can style on enemies
You will be able to obtain a special class of weapons in the game, not the ultimate weapons. These weapons will be hard to get and, on balance, be stronger than each character's ultimate weapon. The catch is that there are only a limited number of them, one for each weapon type.

These weapons are very powerful and with some upgrading can be made capable of unleashing special weapon skills. This system has changed a bit because normal attacks have been removed. Before it was going to be a system like in Golden Sun where normal attacks could sometimes trigger special moves.

Well now, these special moves will become unlocked through upgrading these weapons through the weapon upgrade system in the game. These moves will be spectacle-level skills that will do a lot of damage but have a high cost for use.



Six more down, many more to go yet though we are getting through them at a good pace. Once we are done with game mechanics we will shift over to lower and characters which will have a longer period between releases.

Catch everyone next week where we will talk about elements, all of the status effect types currently in the game, and autosaving.


Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 6/7

Game Mechanics Part 6/7

It has happened again D: Sorry for the lack of communication of the last few weeks. Stuff has been BUSY and everything I am working on has suffered greatly.

So for this week I will do a double header again; technically I owe #8 as well, but I will push that out next week with #9 to get us re-caught up.

This week we will be talking about the Request, Rope Climb, and HP Gauge systems along with Grind Reduction mechanics, Enemy Battle AI, and Tiered Status Effects.



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Location, location, location
As a person looking to have someone do something for you, what is the first thing you do? Right, get a floaty exclamation point to stick above your hea....wait a minute!

No, you go and register that request with your local Request Office.

Enter the Request System. This system centralizes most quest activities into a single location so that you do not have to go and hunt down each quest when you start or end them. Note the "most" above, very important word.

While most quests will be started from the Request Office for the province you are in, in some cases you will still have to track down the quests the old fashioned way. In most of those cases, the NPCs will have quest indicators above their head, we will cover those next week.

So, how this system works is that for each region, in each section of the game, you will have a number of quests available to you. Quests will usually not be timeboxed; meaning that after a certain number of events in the game, the quests will not be removed. There are exceptions to this for some specific events and story paths in the game though so please keep that in mind. With that said, ~90% of quests you can obtain from a Request Office will always be available to you.

Once you arrive at a Request Office, the NPC will tell you what quests are available, their expected difficulty, the rewards for completing them, and, if there are any, what quest(s) are unlocked by completing each quest.

It will also list who the quest is for and where they are generally located within the region.

Once you accept a quest, the NPC that made the request will arrive and you can discuss the request with them. They will also give you anything specific you might need for that quest that they have. In most cases, it will just be information which may be relevant to the quest.

Once the quest is accepted, it is added to your Field Journal in the Requests section, we will talk about these on a later blog post. Once you have taken the quest to a conclusion, completed or failed, you will return to the Request Office that you got the quest from.

The NPC the made the request will show up again and your rewards will be given to you if you completed the request and were promised rewards.

Rewards can encompass any item in the game, gold, exp, sometimes event new characters.




___________________
Climb to Success
The Rope Climb system is another evented exploration mechanic like the bridge building mechanic.

Scattered throughout the world, you will run into posts and poles that you may be able to interact with. If you have a Climbing Rope in your inventory, you can set it up at these locations to open up hard to reach areas, short cuts, and more. This will consume the rope.

The first time you find and interact with a rope climb location, you will go through the entire set of text boxes as part of the tutorial for the system, but once you have set up the rope and used it once, you can automatically climb up and down a rope climb spot by just interacting with it; no text boxes or selections.

Some parts of the game will rely heavily on the this mechanic for traversal through the maps so be sure you have some climbing ropes with you before you venture out.


Yep, there is a bug in this (lol)





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A Fancy Modern Boss HP Gauge
One of the more interesting UI features in the game are the layered HP gauges for bosses. While my plugin can be configured for one of several style modes, in Emilar I will be using what I call the "Dark Souls" mode where it just has the enemy's name on the gauge and no other information as shown below.



Each boss will have one of these which consists of five layers with different colors. This violet color displayed above, a light blue under it, a green bar under that, and then yellow and finally red. Each bar layer should equal about a fifth of the boss' HP.

An overlay image may be added at some point; it is a feature I plan to add and might use in Emilar. Currently there are no plans to add ways for you to display additional information on the HP gauge; though it might be something I consider if I get enough feedback requesting it from the alpha/beta demo.




___________________
Grind as much, or as little, as you want!
One of the major focuses for Legend of Emilar is building out a host of Quality of Life (QoL) features in the original launch version of the game. In most cases, QoL stuff are released as enhancements and DLC after release.

I have pretty strong view on the practice; I personally find it sloppy and unprofessional. So, with Emilar there will be a host of features to make the game as hardcore or as mellow as you want it to be, outside of the difficulty system.

A major part of that are the Anti-Grind mechanics. What is Anti-Grind? What it sounds like, mechanics that allow you to skip the grinding you find in a lot of RPGs and get straight to what you want to.

This will be accomplished in a number of ways. First and foremost, enemies level up with you and as they do the rewards they drop do too. That includes EXP. So you have a level-bound exp rate on enemies and while there will be caps on enemy levels, this still should provide enough of a boost through the story so that as you travel back over locations you have been before, you are still going to be getting decent exp.

For characters that are either new to the party or that you have not used much and are lower leveled, there will be an exp boost system for those characters. At the moment I plan to set the system up so that characters that are 10 levels or lower than the average level of your party will get 1.5x the exp from battle.

You might be wondering why there would be a discrepancy like this. The main answer to that is that only characters that are in your immediate "Battle Party" will get exp. There will be items that can allow you to share exp with benched party members.

There will be a plethora of items that can help you grind out various things. There will be accessories to boost individual exp gain, or exp gain for the whole battle party, gold drop enhancers, drop rate enhancers, items that you can use to add levels, stats, and stat boost points to your characters (we'll talk about the attribute boost system soon).

Many of these can be found as quest rewards, rare item finds in chests, and some can even be purchased, albeit for a large amount of gold.

The Codex and Fast Travel systems will allow you to efficiently set up grinding plans for later in the game where focus on enhancement and crafting is larger and the need for materials grows or to find good spots for power leveling.

There will be items to allow you to increase the number of encounters, reduce, or stop encounters all together.

There will be special items that can increase your exp or gold rates by a significant amount, but will hinder the other reward. For example, the Maven's Eye, a legendary item, will boost your exp rate by 450%, but reduce your gold drop rate by 200% and prevent all but the most common item drops from giving you items.




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Are you smarter than a bat?
Now we come to one of the more interesting mechanics of Legend of Emilar; the battle AI system. I will be utilizing YanFly's BattleAICore plugin for this and setting up some very unique battle scripting.

Most of the really interesting stuff will be relegated to bosses and super bosses, but some normal enemies, probably the Variants, will see some of these mechanics too.

As mentioned when we talked about the Difficulty system, enemy battle ai will be modified by the difficulty level; the higher the difficulty, the stronger and more things enemies will be able to do. All enemies, not just bosses though bosses will see the most notable impacts.

Enemies will be able to use status to control their move sets, target specific characters based on targeting conditions, set up complex attack chains, and more. How the enemy utilizes the tools they have at their disposal will depend on their AI Level. The higher this value is, the more strictly they will adhere to the script tree they are configured with.

In most cases, the higher ai levels will be restricted to bosses but you may run into situations where variants have a higher than average ai level or even enemies that can increase their ally's ai levels in battle.




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Statuses have tiers?!
Many status effects in Legend of Emilar will be configured within a tiered system where you have increasing levels that signify a stronger version of a specific status skill.

For example, Strength. There are three, technically V but IV and V are boss-only, tiers. Each tier signifies a stronger buff and longer duration. Casts of tiered statuses are added together. So if you use Strength I on a character twice, that character's total tier is now II.

Likewise, the debuffs also work this way. If you cast Weakness I twice on an enemy, the total tier will be II. Not only can you use the buff and debuff additively, you can also use them on each other.

You can cast Weakness II on an enemy with Strength I to reduce his status buff into a tier I debuff. Likewise, you can turn tier I Weakness debuff on yourself or an ally to a tier II Strength buff using Strength III.

The statuses currently set up as tiered statuses are:
  • Bleed
  • Burn
  • Freeze
  • Wet
  • Paralyze
  • Stun
  • Fortify
  • Enfeeble
  • Strength
  • Weakness
  • Resist
  • Enervate
  • Density
  • Regen
  • Drain
  • Irradiated


Not all of these statuses have a debuff/buff relationship, but many do.



That's it for this week. We will have another six mechanics we will cover next week for parts 8 and 9.



Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 5

Game Mechanics Part 5

Another week, another game mechanics blog. We are on to part 5 today and will be covering some smaller systems; take a break from the page busters.

So, let’s dive in.


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Anima System
The Anima System is designed around your interactions with characters and the greater world around you. Think of it like Persona’s social stat system, but it has more implications for dialog choices, actions you can take, and what outcomes you will get in certain cut scenes.

Animism – noun – A universal belief that the human psyche is comprised of eight principle elements. Without these character elements, Humans would be mindless, inanimate creatures. The eight elements are:
  • Wisdom
  • Courage
  • Intelligence
  • Insight
  • Honor
  • Corruption
  • Morality
  • Inequity


The Anima system is based upon these traits. Each action you choose to take may impact one of these eight characteristics of your character. If you selflessly help someone in need, you’ll probably add to your courage and honor. If you lie to someone, that will likely lower your morality in most cases. Touch something and got poisoned? Insight will probably suffer from that.

The Anima system will be utilized to build a Mass Effect inspired dialog system where certain actions and choices will require you to meet a trait threshold. If you do not meet it, the option will probably be grayed out (I am toying with hiding them, but maybe that will be a player setting).

Certain story paths will require you to have specific trait values, though these will be limited, more often though you will run into quests you will not be able to undertake if the requestor finds you untrustworthy. There will also be many sidequest chains and character recruitment events where the Anima system will have an influence on what you can do.

Currently the system is still under design. For example, I don’t know if I want these traits to apply globally or to be per-character for certain things or just in general. Obviously the later would be massively harder to do, but there are some benefits to how much more specific I can then use those values throughout the game and a few bad interactions won’t necessarily ruin your playthrough for certain routes.

This plugin will also feature something I have been wanting to do for a while now, which is a Chart.js chart for the stat value display. Since RPG Maker MV runs on top of a browser, JS libraries can be imported. I will be building out a visual aid for the plugin similar to Persona’s.



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Normal attacks are for the weak hearted
I mentioned this last week, but I am working on several systems that will change the battle system and make fights way more tactical. One of the major things I am doing to put this into effect is to remove all normal attacks from Emilar.

Instead they will be replaced with skills that are tied to weapons. While many of these Weapon Skills will be common between weapons of similar types, the rarer a weapon the more likely it will have additional skills and possibly even unique ones.
In general, these skills will be like normal attacks, though the damage formulas may be structured a bit more complexly. These weapon skills will also have cooldowns, if you were wondering how this sounded any different from normal attacks. Some may even have warmups once we get into the later stages of the game.

As an example, starter swords will have a skill called Stab. This skill will have a base damage of 15 and then add your current attack power to 25% of your attack power, minus 80% of the target’s defense.

Formula wise, it looks like this (damage will be rounded down): 15 + (a.atk + (a.atk * 25%)) – (b.def * 0.8)

(a = attacker; b = defender)

Stab has a slight chance to cause the Bleed I status effect and has a two turn cooldown.


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Long Days and Even Longer Nights
Legend of Emilar will feature a faux Day/Night system. It will be story event based, so if as you are moving from one place to another after a cut scene the time of day should change, it will begin to shift. I am also utilizing a lighting plugin to add in lights during night to cities and interiors.
Here is an example of a shift from morning through each time of day to night:

The time of day will impact what NPCs are around, which might impact when certain unofficial quests can be undertaken. The time of day will also impact if shops or open or closed (this also varies per city) and enemies present in some maps (looking to make this a more common thing, but for now it is just in certain circumstances/areas).



Well, that is it for this week. Next week we will talk about the Request System, Rope Climbing, and the HP Gauge system.


Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 4

Game Mechanics Part 4


Well, on the heels of last week’s massive update we have this, yet once again, slightly less massive update. I honestly forgot I was going to be covering classes in this one (lmao) so we have another large topic to cover.

Getting to this as early as possible to prevent any delays to the post. So let’s jump right into the biggun straight off.


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A Class for Every Situation
The stinger title for this section is only half-joking. Legend of Emilar will feature a vast class system, I know people use buzz words like that all the time about game systems or content. This time it is actually true.

In all, there will be around 120 classes in the game. 120, that’s a pretty big number and there are reasons for it. First, let’s go into how classes work.

Within the game, classes will be referred to as Echelons. Mainly I wanted to get away from using washed out terms like “class”, “job”, and similar phrases used since dirt was invented. Funnily, it turns out there are not many terms you can substitute in that sound reasonable; who thought to call them classes and jobs were definitely on to something.

As is traditional with RPG Maker, the characters themselves do not have levels or stats; these are tied to the class they are at the time. This also means any stat increase items, stat growth items, upgrade items, or the like apply to the class they are at the time so use these types of items with that in mind.

The maximum level in Legend of Emilar is 125. This is so that classes can be scaled up effectively, skills can be more evenly distributed across levels, and it gives us a nice limit that is still divisible by 25. This allows for Grand classes to get the appropriate power boost they require; think of them as two classes in one so they cover levels 75-125 ostensibly.


Unlocking Classes
To unlock new classes, all you need to do, in most cases, is level up your existing class(es). The class tree is focused on class levels, with levels being your character’s skill within that class. Once they reach a certain level of command over a class, the next class in the tree becomes available.

This is true for all of the class types though the others have other specific requirements to unlock them. We will go over those in each class type section below.


Class Types
Classes are divided into three major categories and one subcategory. First are Standard Classes, I may refer to them as Tier 1 classes occasionally. These are your usual stuff like mages, thieves, clerics, and the like; your traditional classes and class trees.

Each Standard class tree is comprised of three classes. All you need to do is level up to unlock the next class. Each class has a specific level requirement of the classes prior to them to be unlocked. Generally, these requirements are universal and apply to all of the Standard class trees. I will be using 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Class to refer to the levels of the Standard tree classes below. So if you see “1st Class” that means the first class of a Standard tree.
  • 1st Class – Novice Lv 20
  • 2nd Class – Novice Lv 30, 1st Class Lv 15
  • 3rd Class – Novice Lv 50, 1st Class Lv 35, 2nd Class Lv 25



All characters start out as Novices in terms of background; characters do not actually start as Novices where you obtain them. They will have the appropriate levels in the classes needed for their current class. These level requirements are VERY subject to change once balance testing starts.

The lower the class is in the tree, the less exp it takes to level them; ergo Novices are the easiest class to level up. That said leveling will be reduced within the prologue of the game so it will be hard to get higher than the 1st class of a Standard tree until Chapter 1. This is a pacing and balance decision.

Next up are Compound Classes. These classes are a combination of two Standard class trees. Each Compound Class tree is actually two class trees as well. This is to facilitate the way that skills and magic will work within the Compound Class system, so let’s talk about that next.


Compound Classes
Compound classes are not just an arbitrarily stronger class version that you work up to. There are tangible properties that are applied to these classes based on the two Standard class trees that make up the Compound class. Each Compound tree has two variations, one for each of the Standard class trees that make up the Compound class.

The variation determines the focus of the class. As an example, let’s say we have a character that knows classes from the Mage and Cleric Standard class trees. The player reaches the point in the game where Compound classes are unlocked. They now have access to two Compound class trees:

The Occultist and the Sorcerer trees. Both class trees are built from abilities of both the Cleric and Mage trees, but which of the Standard class abilities are focused on depends on which Standard class is the primary class for the Compound class.

Probably confusing, I know, so let’s continue our example. These two Compound classes are comprised of Standard classes that know both support and attack magic. The focus for the Occultist class tree, though, is on the support magic side so while this class will be able to learn some attack magic, the amount that it can learn will be limited.

Conversely, the Sorcerer class tree is focused on attack magic, but the classes in the tree can learn some support magic as well, but a more limited set of skills.

Each combination of Standard class trees will have a Compound class pairing like this and there are further differences to discuss other than just the combining of skills from the Standard trees. Class traits are also combined to form unique game mechanics.

Let’s look at another example. The Lancer and Thief Standard trees. The Compound class trees for these are the Vagabond tree and the Stalwart tree. Let’s look at the Vagabond tree first.

The classes in the Vagabond tree are thief centric. This means they use the same equipment as the Thief Standard class, have the same skill focus, and stats. They, however, also get some skills that allow them to do short-range jump attacks. These skills allow for higher level damage than a Thief would normally get and allow for armor penetration and status effects that normally a Thief would not be able to cause.

The Stalwart classes, on the other hand, are Lancer centric. They get the same equipment, stats, and skill focus as the Lancer tree classes do. They inherit an increase in agility from the Thief class and get some specific skills such as the ability to blind and poison targets, a few Jump abilities that have no delay after use, and several of their skills, including some of the jump abilities, allow them to steal and snatch from their targets.

Each Compound class pairing is different, some will get stat alterations, others will get special game mechanics based around the two classes. Some will get access to new types of equipment; others may get little benefit but have one thing that gives them a massive advantage over the Standard class.


Unlocking Compound Classes
To unlock a compound class, you will need to level up multiple classes within two Standard Trees and the ability to unlock them must be available (about mid-way through the game). The classes required are based on the classes in the trees that make up the Compound class you are unlocking. The first class in a Compound class tree only requires the 1st and 2nd Standard class tree classes and Novice. The second class in the tree requires all three Standard tree classes.

To continue using the Sorcerer/Occultist trees example, the unlock requirements for each are based on the primary Standard class for the tree. So the level requirements breakdown like this:

Sorcerer Tree:
Magus:
  • Novice Lv 80
  • Mage Lv 60
  • Wizard Lv 40
  • Cleric Lv 30
  • Priest Lv 20


Sorcerer:
  • Novice Lv 90
  • Mage Lv 75
  • Wizard Lv 60
  • Warlock Lv 30
  • Cleric Lv 40
  • Priest Lv 30
  • High Priest Lv 15
  • Magus Lv 20



Occultist Tree:
Apostate:
  • Novice Lv 80
  • Cleric Lv 60
  • Priest Lv 40
  • Mage Lv 30
  • Wizard Lv 20


Occultist:
  • Novice Lv 90
  • Cleric Lv 75
  • Priest Lv 60
  • High Priest Lv 30
  • Mage Lv 40
  • Wizard Lv 30
  • Warlock Lv 15
  • Apostate Lv 20



Note that, again, these level requirements are not set in stone and are likely to change. There will also be a litany of items you can use to reduce the grinding in the game as far as you want, even so far as to require no grinding for levels at all (which will require grinding for gold, but the grind is not as steep and there are also items to help reduced that as well).

So, Compound classes done; let’s move on to Grand Classes.


Grand Classes
A Grand Class is like a Compound class, only it requires three Standard classes instead of two. Unlike the Compound classes, however, Grand classes do not necessarily retain the unique qualities of the trees that make them up and each combination of three Standard class trees only makes one Grand class.

Grand classes are end game specific. They are designed to be extremely powerful and to help you stand a chance against most of the super bosses in the game. Note that there are super bosses you can beat without a single Grand class unlocked, even some of the harder ones will be cheeseable (there may or may not be some achievements centered around beating certain super bosses without any Grand classes).

Each Grand class is incredibly difficult to unlock just because you essentially have to almost max out the levels for all of the required classes and then there is a quest chain to unlock that class. The benefit is that once a Grand class is unlocked, any character that meets the level requirements can use it. In addition, each Grand class gets its own set of unique mechanics. Some of these are game-level mechanics, some are just high level buffs or powerful skills.

In terms of strength, even just one Grand class will make the final bosses of the game fairly tame.
Let’s go over four examples of what Grand classes will look like starting with an obvious first choice, the Paladin.


Paladin Grand Class
The Paladin Grand class is comprised of the Warrior, Fighter, and Cleric Standard trees. To unlock this class, and any Grand class, you will have to be over level 100 in every class from these trees. The exact break down is like so:
  • Novice – Lv 125
  • 1st Class – Lv 120
  • 2nd Class – Lv 110
  • 3rd Class – Lv 100
  • Tier 2 Standard Class – Lv 100


This is required for all three Standard Trees; yes, we are covering the Tier 2 Standard classes next. That’s a lot of leveling, but here is what you get for the time it takes you (or doesn’t if you bypass grinding) to unlock it.

Paladins get Light based damage for all their attacks. If those attacks have other elements, Light is added on or combined with other Light enhancements. When attacking Undead, Demon, Devil, or Aberration type enemies, their damage is increased by 25%. They take 15% less damage from Shadow element-based attacks.
Paladins also get some support magic such as healing and revival and their general skill load out is heavily Light based which means they will deal even more damage to the enemy types mentioned above in addition to their normal attack skills.

Paladins have access to swords, maces, battleaxes, long swords, and magic weapons. They have access to the heaviest armor, magic armor, and Blessed Accessories. Blessed Accessories are a special type of equipment that only Paladins have access to. These bestow powerful auto abilities and unlock even more damage potential against the enemy types mentioned above and protection from Shadow element damage.


Soulbinder Grand Class
The Soulbinder class is an amalgamation of the Thief, Mage, and Lancer Standard classes. The unlock requirements are the same as for the Paladin.

Here is what they do; they are heavily inspired by a particular mechanic in Skyrim. The Soulbinder is able to consume the souls of weakened enemies. The amount of damage needed to be able to steal a soul is dependent on the class of enemy. Normal enemies, you just need 35% of their HP left. For bosses (yes, even bosses), you’ll need to get them down to 15% and successfully cast a specific status effect on them that has a 35% success rate.

Even super boss souls can be captured, though you will need to whittle them down to 5% HP and use a skill to apply a status effect that only succeeds 8% of the time.
Each class of soul captured is tracked and makes your character more powerful. The type of soul also matters in terms of what is affected too. Here is the chart:

  • Standard Souls (Non-Human): 10 souls adds + 0.0025% to the base value of Def/Agl
  • Standard Souls (Human): 10 souls adds + 0.0045% to the base value of Str/Mg Atk
  • Variant Souls (special enemy class): 5 souls adds +0.0050% to the base value of Mg Def
  • Mini-boss Souls: 2 soul adds + 0.0045% to the base value for Max HP
  • Boss Souls: 1 soul adds + 0.008% to the base value of Str/Def/Luk and + 0.006% to Max HP/MP
  • Super Boss Souls: 1 soul adds + 2.5% to base Max HP/MP and +0.6% to all other stats (including extended and special) except Luk, hit, and evasion rates


Souls will be required to use some of the stronger abilities this class will have; generally nothing Mini-Boss level or higher will be required, just normal souls. There may also be some mechanics to use souls to apply buffs to your party members in battle.

Certain types of souls will also empower the special types of weapons this class will have access to called Soul-Bound Weapons. I don’t have more information on these at this time as I am still in the process of designing the system.

Souldbinders have access to the following weapon types: Swords, Daggers, Bows, Staves, Lances, Claws, and the aforementioned Soul-Bound weapons. They have access to medium level armor and lower and all the normal accessories.


Overlord Grand Class
The next of the classes we will talk about here is the Overlord class; loosely inspired by the anime of the same name. I am picking these Grand classes based on the mechanics they employ to give you an idea of just how different these will be from normal classes and the benefits taking the time to unlock them will bring. The Overlord gets some of the most interesting stuff out of the Grand classes.

The Overlord class is comprised of the Mage, Fighter, and Wizard trees.

It is kind of a counter-part to the Paladin, so it is heavily Shadow and anti-holy type enemy based. Its attacks are given a 15% increase in Shadow damage and it takes 10% less Light damage. Many of its abilities are primarily Shadow element and it does 15% more damage to Holy, Angel, Demi-God, and Ethereal type enemies.

For every Angel-type enemy the character with this class kills (even before the class is unlocked), certain skills will have a buff applied to them at a rate of 0.035% per kill. The stats for this class will also be increased by 0.0015% for each kill of a Holy and Angel type enemy, 0.0020% for each Demi-God type enemy killed, and 0.0045% for each Ethereal type enemy killed (only after the class is unlocked). These only apply to the base stats (Max HP/MP, Atk, Def, Mg Atk, Mg Def, Agl) except Luk.

This class will have a unique buff and debuff skill. The buff skill is called Power of the Overlord, it can only be used on the character with the Overlord class. When cast, it grants the character using the class a buff to their Max HP/MP, Atk, Mg Atk, and Def based on the number of characters you have recruited. For each character you will get +0.025% to the above stats. It will last between 5 and 8 turns and cost half of your MP. There will be a 10 turn cooldown applied and it will also cause Prostration to cooldown.

The debuff can be applied to any enemy, even bosses and most super bosses. It is called Prostration. When successfully applied, it causes the following effects:

For every party member the target gets -0.09% Max HP/Max HP and -0.05% Atk/Mg Atk/Def/Mg Def.

If you have over 20 party members recruited, it will also drain 0.25% of the target’s HP every turn it is applied. It will last between 4 and 7 turns and cost 25% of your MP. Once it is done, a 15 turn cooldown is applied and it will cause Power of the Overlord to cooldown as well for the same number of turns.

This class has two ultimate skills. The first is tied only to a level requirement. The second unlocks when you have recruited 20 party members. When used it will hit all enemies 5 times for high damage. It is a Shadow element spell. It will be able to blind and poison any targets it cannot kill w/ a high rate of success, even enemies normally resistant to these status effects, and will also recover some HP/MP for the whole party.

The Overlord class can use staves, rods, books, daggers, and magic swords. It can wear all mage-usable armor and accessories.


Einherjar Grand Class
The final Grand class we will talk about is the Einherjar class. This is a combination of the Lancer, Warrior, and Cleric Standard Classes.

The Einherjar are a war party under the command of Odin who will right in the end times during Ragnarok in Norse mythology. This class is heavily inspired by Viking mythology and RPG tropes.
The Einherjar focuses on high damage at the cost of defense. You’re going to hit hard and be hit hard. Most of the skills for this class will be physical based though you will have access to a very limited number of Cleric spells for minor healing and status recovery.

For each party member that has been downed, this class receives an automatic buff. The buff name is called Hyper Rage and it is a level based status effect. We will talk more about leveled status effects in the future.

Hyper Rage has three levels, one for each member downed. If an ally is revived, the status level is not immediately removed, but a status effect timer is started and the level is removed after two turns. For each level of Hyper Rage, the following happens:
  • Level 1: +75% to Attack and +35% to Defense
  • Level 2: Additional +75% to Attack and +15% to Defense
  • Level 3: Additional +150% to Attack and -200% to Defense. You enter an enraged state and Items and Magic are disabled; you will only be able to use Martial (read as physical) Skills. At this level you also lose your ability to escape from a battle.


For each level of Hyper Rage you will also get the following:
+0.05% Max HP per class level per Hyper Rage level. So if you have a level 50 Einherjar class, you are at Hyper Rage level 2, and your Max HP is 4800, under these conditions your Max HP will be 24,000.

At each level, certain skills are made available to you. The Ultimate skills are only available at Hyper Rage Level 2 and 3.

This class will also have some other unique abilities. There will be a “Consume Fly Agaric” ability. This will induce a weaker version of Hyper Rage that will boost your Attack and Max HP by 0.0025% per class level and remove control of the character. This effect will last for 8 to 12 turns and if any characters are knocked out, it prevents Hyper Rage from being applied. You will not be able to cure the status.

Once the Trance status has been removed, your Max HP is reduced by 25% for the rest of the battle and you will be poisoned with a very dangerous poison status effect that will require a high level healing spell or specific recovery item to remove. It will do 5% of your Max HP in damage per action and will be able to kill your character.

The other unique ability will be a cover mechanic where, for 10 turns, the character will take 80% of the damage done to team members. It will also boost defense by 35% and includes a weak regen effect (+0.8% of your current HP healed per turn).

There you have it, hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect from Grand classes and the unique benefits they might give. I am trying to make them pretty cool because they can take so long to unlock if you do not bypass grinding.

For right now, I don’t have plans for custom class sprites for the classes. If the game does well, that might be a consideration for one of the free DLC/expansions (more on that at a later date).


Tier 2 Standard Classes
So, we have one last class related topic to discuss; the tier 2 Standard classes. These classes are essentially the “master class” for each Standard tree. They each have specific requirements to unlock them aside from class levels. The class levels, like with all other classes, are generic to each class:
  • Novice – Lv 100
  • 1st Class – Lv 80
  • 2nd Class – Lv 65
  • 3rd Class – Lv 30


Each character will have to undergo training to unlock these classes if they qualify for them. This is a cost in the form of gold and in-game time except for the main character. For everyone else, they will be removed from your party for 2 real-world hours after which you will need to return to the training facility in Shig to pick them up. For the MC, it just costs gold.

We will talk more about this during the character mechanics discussion at some point, but each character has a limited number of classes they can use. Only the MC can change to every class. As such, each character has a limited number of Compound, Grand, and Tier 2 classes they can use. Each character can also unlock a unique version of a specific Tier 2 Standard class.

The Tier 2 classes possess very powerful skills that are representative of the kind of skills that class has throughout the Tier 1 classes. Most are going to be very strong but have high cooldowns, these classes will also get a selection of the abilities from the lower classes.

These classes are meant to be somewhere in-between Compound and Grand classes in strength and will open up near the end of the middle section of the game.



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Poison-type Statuses Done Correctly
So, one of my long standing nit picks with RPG games has been how poison works. Normally, when you are poisoned you take damage at the end of either your turn or the end of the battle turn. I don’t like this for three reasons:

1. That isn’t how poison actually works
2. Due to how poison actually works, you take less damage than you should under certain conditions
3. They can do too much damage to high HP enemies and characters

So, how do I think poison mechanics should work? First we need to look at how poison actually spreads in the real world. In real life, poison does damage by spreading through the blood stream. Things that cause your heart rate to go up will spread poison and toxins faster.

Applying that back to RPGs, poison should damage you after each action. Not at the end of your turn, certainly not at the end of the battle turn. One problem; RPG Maker can’t really do that.

Enter YanFly’s State Buff Core plugin. With this, you can alter when you do the damage. Good. Smashing. Excellent. One problem. Statuses still tick down at the end of the battle turn.

Why is this a problem? Status turn numbers, for status that do damage, should be the number of turns the status does damage to your afflicted character; not the number of turns. Another problem, RPG Maker and YanFly’s plugin don’t do anything about that.

Enter my After-Action Status Effect plugin. This allows me to identify status effects that should have their turn counters ticked down after an action and allow that functionality to be put into place.

To address point 3 of why I hate traditional poison and poison-like mechanics, usually the damage is calculated based on the current or max hp. This leads to high HP bosses getting wrecked by poison. So to fix this I have implemented custom coding through the State Buff Core plugin to calculate a reasonable amount of damage. In fact, most of my damage-based status effects use custom coding, but we will get into that later.

So now effects that should do damage based on your character’s movement like Poison and Bleeding, do damage after each action and the status effect length ticks down after each action. It also adds a new layer of complexity to battle by taking something that should be a massive bonus, multi-actions, and turns it into a potential liability; something I love to do with stuff, I am very Newtonian that way (third law).



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Make it as Hard as You Want
Difficulty systems are not new to RPG games, but you do not see them too often in RPG Maker games and when you do they normally amount to “attribute value go up”.

Well, we’ll have some of that too but there is a lot more to it as well. First and foremost, the difficulty system will have 8 options and 2 special modes. That’s a lot, yeah? There are the difficulty options; note I don’t have the actual change in values configured yet so I will mention those on a later blog once I have:
  • Story Mode - (basically no challenge at all, play this if you just want the story and to make the game a lot shorter).
  • Very Easy – Same as Story but the bosses are a bit harder, super bosses are more hard.
  • Easy – An arbitrary and made-up number like 10% less difficult that Normal
  • Normal – Intended difficulty. Most regular battles will be easy enough, variants will give you some trouble, bosses can be challenging, super bosses will be challenging without Grand classes. All these statements also depend on your level; they assume you are at the level required to win the fights.
  • Hard – Harder than normal. Most normal fights will be the same as Normal, variants might be a bit tougher. Bosses and Super bosses will be harder to deal with.
  • Brutal – Harder than Hard. Most fights will give you a challenge and bosses/super bosses will become very hard.
  • Nightmare – Harder than Brutal. Every fight has the potential to be a struggle with bosses and super bosses being extremely difficult.
  • Murda (requested by Leif Ian Anderson) – Hardest difficulty. Every fight will tax your abilities and bosses and super bosses will turn into Souls-level encounters.


Special Modes:
Mode 1 – No Items
This mode disables the use of all items in battle and prevents you from healing HP with items outside of battle. You will be able to use MP recovery items outside of battle and spells for healing, though MP recovery items become more expensive and are removed from most chests.

Mode 2 – Boss Rush mode
Still figuring out how this will work but essentially you will fight every boss you have encountered in the game. I will need some way to track these encounters that exists outside of save files so that it is tracked across all your playthroughs. This includes super bosses.
More to come as I flesh out the system.

So, more details now. Each difficulty will change various parameters. The obvious stuff is that it will increase or decrease hp and mp values. It will also alter damage both incoming and outgoing. These changes will apply to both players and enemies.

“So where is the ‘other’ stuff at?” you might be asking, it starts right now.

In addition to the normal stuff you expect these kinds of systems to do, the difficulty system in LoE will also alter your stat growth for each class (still don’t know if this will be per-class or a blanket change for all classes), alter the exp curve, modify enemy levels and the enemy spawn counter, increase costs for some things like class unlocks (gold, not levels as those are already modified by the exp curve change).

It will also alter enemy attack patterns, we will talk more about that soon. For now, know that every enemy will have a custom attack pattern implemented through YanFly’s BattleAICore plugin and that the difficulty system will alter these. These alterations might be as simple as changing the rate some skills are used or as drastic as adding in new abilities that enemies can utilize.

The difficulty system will also impact some other systems in the game like the Anima System (next week) and the World Activities system (fishing, farming, mining, etc) which we will also talk about at some point in the future.



That’s it for this week. Next week we will talk about the Anima System, Weapon Skills, and the Day/Night System.

Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 2/3

Game Mechanics Part 2 & 3


Alright, it is finally time. We have a double header this week due to me fudging up the release for Part 2 due to time related issues. So, tonight we will be looking at 7 game systems in this order:

  • Fast Travel

  • Codex

  • Overkills

  • Random Encounter System

  • Threat System

  • Weapon Skills

  • Enemy Levels


This blog is going to be a long one....



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Speedy travels

This is kind of a must in modern, large-scale RPG games. We have it too! This will be transitioning from an evented system to a plugin soon, as mentioned above, because the javascript coding to make the system work through events will be too hard to maintain once things start to scale up.

It works just as you would expect. Each province/state/region and some important towns have a fast travel point; this means some areas will have two. You can travel from point to point from these locations, provided you have been to the location you want to go to and registered with the Fast Travel operator.

This is necessitated for lore reasons; a strict control over access to fast travel points is always maintained after an incident 106 years ago when a country used the Fast Travel network to invade an enemy nation.

There is a small fee for registering; once paid and registered you can fast travel to your heart’s content, except where prohibited due to story reasons. Though, for story reasons, accessing the FT nodes in countries other than your home nation will require some extra questing and access may be revoked under certain story-related conditions.



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All of the informations

If you are an RPG Maker game aficionado and have played large RPG Maker games that have lore and world building, what is an annoying aspect of those games related to those topics?

Right! Keeping track of everything. Problem solved for Legend of Emilar. I have been working on an extensive Codex plugin. It allows for any lore that you find to be tracked, keeps track of what's going on in the story, keeps track of everything you have seen, found, fought, bought, learned, or unlocked. From an item collection tracker, down to a living bestiary that updates as you find stronger versions of enemies.

It even has support for third party plugins used in the game too. Let’s break this monster down system by system starting with the external features, or the features that are not part of the Codex proper.


Notifications
This is a new-ish feature still under development. It will notify you through an unintrusive pop-up somewhere in the UI that you have either learned a new bit of lore or that something was updated. I am still toying with several ideas around this.

For example, what should this show exactly? It might be a bit overindulgent to have it updated for every thing that is found including weapons and items picked up. Should it highlight the specific entry updated/added in the notification or just say “Codex updated”. How should multiple entries at once be handled through this notification system?

See, lots of questions. I am leaning toward creating an options section for the notifications so you can tailor it to exactly what you want. Want to get spammed by everything under the sun? Go for it. Don’t want any notifications? Covered.

The other problem is going to be when these UI notifications can be generated and what kind of overhead they will generate. If you find a new enemy in battle, can I display the notification there? That kind of thing.


Text Hints
This feature will color certain terms in dialog text if they are related to a topic and that topic has been updated or is new. New topics will show in red, updated green. If you have viewed those topics, then the text color is the default white.

This is to help you know, in addition to the notification system, if there is new information available in the Codex. This will happen mid-dialog so if an NPC says something important you will know right away if something related to the topic is brought up again.

Balancing how much text gets highlighted will be a task and a half though and I am always looking for easier ways to achieve this. Right now I am using one of YanFly’s message plugin extensions, but it requires a lot of extra text to be added to Text Boxes.


Scrollable Windows
Many of the information windows within the Codex will be scrollable. This is also a feature I have incorporated into many of my other plugins. Currently scrolling is only supported via mouse. You can either hover the mouse over the info window and use the scroll wheel to scroll through the window or you can, in some cases, activate the information window and scroll through it with the arrow keys.

My goal will be to standardize these to mouse scroll only over time and I am trying to figure out how I can implement controller support for scrolling these windows or if this will be a “partial controller support” situation, to borrow the parlance from Steam.


First/Third Party Plugin Support
One of the things I am most proud of about this plugin is that I found ways to incorporate other plugin features into the information for the related objects. This is accomplished by parsing the notetag data included by the supported plugins and generating several mass objects that contain the relevant information in data form and are then converted into text information for the Codex.

Below is a list of plugins supported:
First Party:
  • Magic Crafting/Upgrading

  • Magic Schools

  • Item Crafting

  • Advanced Weapon Plugin


Third Party:
  • Enemies Level Up (YanFly)

  • Skill Cooldowns (YanFly)

  • Element Core (YanFly)

  • Steal/Snatch (YanFly)


With more planned to be supported.


Other uses for the Codex
Before we start digging into everything, I wanted to take a moment to talk about how the Codex will be used outside of its intended purpose. Obviously, it will be used to track information, but several other game systems combine with this to enable some spiffy built-in Quality of Life features.

QoL is one thing I am very focused on. If you are not putting in QoL stuff DURING development, not tacked on as an afterthought, you are doing your players a disservice. To that end, the Codex acts to implement some cool stuff.

First, and most importantly, the Codex, when paired up with the Fast Travel system, will act as a grinding guide for late game. The Bestiary keeps track of every enemy you have encountered, where you found it, the exp and gold these drop, and also the items along with the drop rates for those items if you have gotten them before. It will also track stealable/snatchable items and the rates for those as well.

Using these systems together you can plan out material, level, and other types of grinding during the late-game phase where it will be required to unlock Grand Classes and to prepare for fighting the super bosses.

Speaking of super bosses, many of them will be found through a series of quests that you must uncover on your own. As you play through the game you will find scraps of information scattered around the game world. Once you have enough information about a potential super boss you can begin hunting it down. You will have to determine if the lore you have obtained is about a real creature or not, the Codex will probably not explicitly state it although I am considering an accessibility option that will make it clearly mark if something is related to a super boss.

There will be certain quest lines that will require you to keep track of information within the Codex to complete them as well as there will be no actual quest tied to these; strictly just lore.

As mentioned previously, the Codex also acts as a progress tracker. The progress tracker can be turned off or made more verbose. There will be options to turn on “Granular Progress Tracking”. We will get to that in a minute.

How the Progress Tracker works is that, when enabled, it takes the place of the empty area when the Codex is opened. It will show your overall completion and then below that will be each major category. Each of those categories will have a completion percentage.

When “Granular Progress Tracking” is turned on, each of the major categories is broken down into the subcategories at each level. Here is an image of how each mode will look in the final version of the plugin; though while I do have the beta version of the feature made, it isn’t cleaned up enough to showcase yet.





Codex Information
Alright, let’s dive into the Codex proper. We will go over each major category and talk about what information is tracked.

Below is the main menu for the Codex. The major categories are horizontally aligned and an arrow will be added to the edges to indicate when there are options that are hidden in those directions. This is also where the Progress Tracker will show when enabled.




Each major category is broken into subcategory lists. If those subcategories have subcategories configured under them, they will lead to another list window as shown below. This continues until you reach the bottom of the subcategory tree where the individual data items can be found. In the image below, Locations is a subcategory that also has subcategories (Dungeons & Towns).




Lore display is the simplest. All that these have is the name of the lore entry and then the text for that entry. No fancy bells or whistles. In some cases, names in the selection list may be shortened using an alias for the actual name if the full name would not fit into the window space. An example of this can be seen in the image below.




Equipment is easily the densest category. As you can see in the image, Armor and Accessories are treated separately. Each of these subcategories splits into further subcategories.




In the image below you can see the initial information shown for weapons and you can see that the Hazsdarth is highlighted in red because we have not viewed that entry yet. The weapon information displayed includes the stats the weapon gives (or takes) from the character, the traits applied to the weapon, and the Codex also can parse note tag information for supported first and third party plugins as noted above. The images below will give you an idea of what this looks like in-game.







Items have been given custom types. If you have worked with RPG Maker before, you will know that item types are hard coded into the editor and new ones cannot be added easily. The codex uses some notetag magic to add these in. Unfortunately I cannot show anything more off for this as the item category is broken at the moment.




The Class category is a bit interesting in terms of the information it shows. One of the major features here is that the Codex tells you how much, on average over all of the levels, you can expect your stats to grow. This does not consider alterations made by stat growth increasing items. It will take into account the difficulty you are playing though.




The information included also has a skill list and the level needed to learn each skill/spell, a list of all of the types of equipment the class can use, and a list of various traits associated with the class. All of these are showcased in the images below.







The Abilities category is probably the most complete at the moment in terms of visual styling. As you have probably noticed in the images above, some sections of the information look more detailed than others or seem to have been given an extra polishing. I will be trying to get icons for all of the things so that all of the information is consistent and standardized between each category.

Skills have a lot of interesting information displayed for them; things you won’t normally see games give you like damage and invocation information. In addition, more third-party stuff is implemented here. Images below.







Some more powerful skills will cause other skills of even entire classes of skills to be placed into cooldown. Most magic will function this way where stronger versions of spells will place the weaker ones into a cooldown. This information is shown on the skill information page as well; see below image.




As mentioned, the Bestiary will play an important role within the game. It tracks enemies you encounter and will update their stats when you find higher leveled versions. It will also record the drops you have found, their rates, stealable/snatchable items, and the location(s) where you have seen the enemies at. See the below images for examples of these and more.






Finally, to round out this section, we have the Misc category which will contain status effects, a list of all of the Fast Travel points you have unlocked and if they are active (if you are able to travel to them), and I will probably shove some other stuff in there too. Images below.






Whew, that was way too much information. Now you see why this took so long *sweat*.



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Overkill is acceptable, encouraged even

Inspired by systems like the one from Final Fantasy X, when enemies are killed by damage over a certain percentage of their health, they will drop more rewards. This is done via a third-party plugin though I will be looking to modify it to allow adding rare items to the dropped item pool on overkill for certain harder to obtain items.
Overkill will be indicated by an “Overkilled” image that will display above the enemy.



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Random Encounters for a Modern Society

Random encounters can be annoying, even worse they can be a turn off in the modern era of fancy on-screen enemies. Well, we don't have that fancy stuff. What we do have is a modernized encounter system. It breaks down into two related systems

The main system is the Random Encounter System (RES). This system overhauls encounters for RPG Maker, allowing for the setting of a limited number of fights in a map. Once you have reached that limit, no more encounters until you switch maps, certain events happen, or an amount of time has elapsed.

Which one refreshes encounters on a specific map will vary. Not sure yet if you will be told which one it is either. There will also be items to cut the encounter rate or to disable encounters for a time too, or to increase if that is your thing.

The other system is the Threat System. This allows for maps to have Threat Levels which can be used to indicate that either there is an increased number of enemies in the area, stronger enemies will appear, or that there is a strong variant monster lurking around somewhere.

The Threat Level for a map can be changed under numerous conditions; perhaps a quest has spawned a strong enemy, maybe you sat around for a long time and decimating the monster population so fewer and weaker enemies will spawn for a while.

The Threat Level will most often be set randomly as you enter a map, though some considerations will be accounted for such as if you defeated all of the enemies in this map recently, if you disabled encounters, if there is an event or quest that has affected the map.

The higher the threat level, the more enemies will spawn and they will be stronger. At the highest levels of threat, variant enemies may spawn regularly. Variants are special versions of normal monsters that are much stronger and have special attack sets. They also have better rewards.

The lower the threat level, the less enemies will be spawned and they will be weaker. At the lowest levels of threat, enemies will be very weak and the rewards they give will be greatly reduced. This is to keep you from grinding in an area for too long without intentionally wanting to fight stronger enemies.

I am also doing this for world-building reasons. It is kind of a conceit that areas will just spew out monsters non-stop in an RPG. In reality, if you were to keep killing monsters in an area, eventually the monsters that you would encounter would be older/younger and so weaker. Likewise, if an area is not routinely patrolled and culled, monsters would become much stronger over time.

The threat level will reset over time based on game-time played. Considering adding in items to artificially increase or decrease the threat level of a map so if you are finding an area hard to get through, you can lower the enemies levels a bit, or make them harder if you like that kind of thing.



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Skill Spamming Begone

One of the major focuses for Legend of Emilar is to make battles much more tactical. In a lot of RPG Maker games you will find battle systems that essentially amount to normal attack to win. That isn't going to fly in normal or higher difficulties (next week).

Part of the systems being put into place to make battles trickier is the addition of skill cooldowns. A skill cooldown is a wait system that is applied to a skill once it has been used. Until the number of turns indicated passes, that skill cannot be used again.

To add some additional layers to the system, certain skills can cause a host of other skills to cooldown when used. Powerful physical skills may cause similar skills to cooldown, or for magic, higher elemental spells will cause all the spells of that element that you know to go on cooldown. Ultimate skills will restrict all your characters skills when used.

There are also going to be warm-ups; the same as cooldowns, but that are applied as soon as battle starts. This applies to the ultimate skills and stuff like the Lancer Jump abilities. There will be some more systems we talk about on a later date that will also be geared toward elevating the combat in the game.



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Enemies.... Have Levels Too??

Another Final Fantasy inspired system, this time FF8, in Legend of Emilar enemies will have levels. This is so that as you progress through the game and return to areas from earlier in it, enemies will not be pushovers for you to steamroll (in some cases).

Enemy levels are calculated based on the average level of your party. They also have a slight randomness applied to them so they can fall within a range of levels and, in most cases, there is a maximum level that an enemy can reach.

Enemy levels impact their stats, so the higher the level the higher the stats for that enemy. It also increases the rewards they drop too.

There will be spells and items that can be used to increase or decrease enemy levels and several other game systems will be able to modify the levels of enemies, such as the Difficulty System, the Threat Level and Random Encounter Systems, and a few others.


That's it for this week. Next week we will cover the Difficulty system, the After-Action Status Effect system, and we will talk about the class systems (oh boy, another wall of text incoming). See you then!

Game Design

Game Mechanics Part 1

Game Mechanics Part 1


Yo! So, instead of dropping everything and all things into the game description, aside from the fact that there is probably a character limit, I have decided I am going to release a weekly Game Mechanics blog highlighting several mechanics each week.

These will be in-depth looks at the various systems that will make up the core of the features for Legend of Emilar and how, in a non-spoiler way, they will be used. Gifs of the systems will be present where available. If they are not in a showable state, gifs will be added to these posts when the reach it.

While I would love to jump right into some of the big boys, I am going to leave those for later. This week we're going to talk about three interesting evented systems.

These blogs have three purposes. The first is to detail out the mechanics in a way that doesn't clutter up the main page too badly. The second is for you to offer suggestions and feedback on these systems; quite often as I am working on things like the game mechanics on stream, a viewer says something or suggests something that I would not have thought of.

The third is to ensure a stream of regular content. Nothing is more damaging to a game than to be considered "dead" or "vaporware". By providing a constant drip of information on both developed and in-development mechanics, it will help keep you informed and also allow you to learn about lore and history of the world the game is placed in.


What is an evented system?
An evented system is a game mechanic system built entirely in-engine, no plugins or minimal use there of required. I don't have too many of them, but these three make up a handful that I do.


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Lantern

If your first thought was A Link to the Past, your head is in the right space. This mechanic was inspired by LttP, though there is a bit more to it than Link's trusty lantern.

There will be several areas in the game where traveling through an area will be made easier by being able to shed some light on the situation. While not full-dark (I am a firm believer in all things "movie dark"), you will still be able to miss things unless you have eagle eyes.

There is a solution; the lantern!

You can get the lantern early on in the game. It is a useable key item that opens an option select menu. From this menu you can pick the type of fuel source you want to fill the lantern with.

The fuel source determines the amount of time the lantern will cast light for as well as the distance it will cast light. The more rare the fuel source, the longer the lantern will remain lit and the brighter the casted light will be. Some fuel sources will even have a different color of light based on the materials being burned.

Example, once you find some Unrefined Verandium you can craft it into a lantern fuel source. Verandium fuels will burn for 8 and 16 minutes, cast 1.5x more light than the oil-based sources, and cast a greenish-hue light.

Once the fuel source is used up, the lantern will go out so make sure you stock up before heading into a dark area.





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Build them bridges

Ever seen two sections of land in a game and wondered "Why can't there be a bridge there"? Well, I have a solution for you (kind of)!

Throughout the game you will run into bridges. Some may be long, some may be short, but you will also find bridges that are incomplete or broken. You can repair/finish these!

All you'll need are some Bridge Materials and a little bit of time. Repairable bridges will be used as an exploration gate mechanic that will open up new areas of a map for exploration or create a convenient shortcut for you to make your way through an area more quickly.

Bridge Materials will be a commodity. You will either have to find them out in the wilds or get them, for a premium, from shops that carry them.





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A secret secret detector?

Well, not so much a secret now I guess. At a certain point in the story, you will have the ability to find the Amulet of Iskandour. As with most of my game mechanics, there is lore behind this item. I will be posting those up at a later date though.

For now, the important thing about this amulet is that it can detect secrets! Here is how it works. Like the lantern, this is a useable key item that opens up a select option menu.

From this menu you have the following options:
  • Detect Secrets
  • Scry
  • Feed
  • Put away



Detect Secrets
Detect Secrets allows you to use the amulet at your current location on the map. If you are close enough to a secret it will start vibrating (contemplating adding in controller vibration support for this as well) which will be visible via an on-screen UI element. The stronger the vibration, the closer you are to the secret.

At first, Detect Secrets can only detect Minor Secrets (secrets of level 1-3). You might find an item or two, or a secret area of a map with slightly stronger monsters.

Over time the amulet will become more powerful and be able to detect Greater Secrets (secrets of level 4-6). These represent treasure areas with multiple chests, stronger enemies that may drop better items or more Exp and Gold, and potentially special areas where you can find information thought lost to time.

Once the amulet is fully energized, it can lead you to Legendary Secrets. These locations will present you with many rewards and possibly also great dangers.


Scry
The Scry command requires you to have a Magi-Crystal, an item you can only find in areas with a high concentration of magic. Special tools are required to harvest these crystals.

When used, the Scry command tells you how many secrets are present in a map. The secrets this command shows you are dependent on the level of the amulet so when you first obtain the amulet, if it says "No secrets found", it may only mean that there are no Minor Secrets as it won't be able to detect the other verities yet. Something to keep in mind.


Feed
The Feed command allows you to feed Magi-Crystals to the amulet without using the scry ability.


Put Away
Put Away closes the menu.


Secrets can be found without the amulet, but will require you to "Metroid" the game which can be time consuming given the number of areas.


So there are this week's three game mechanic systems. Next week we will talk about Fast Traveling, the Codex (one of the big boy plugins for the game; this will be a long one), and Overkilling.

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