Hey folks, we’ve got another monthly update for you. Last September, we decided it was time to solidify the player mechanics so we can start nailing down the hero character animations. So this update is mostly about the hero, but we’ve got a few more goodies too.
To give a little history, we’ve spent a lot of time trying out different hero mechanics, from grapples, to jetpacks, to player-controlled mutilating hatchet saw-blades. So we’ve never lacked creative ideas. But no matter how fun the mechanics may be individually, there has to be a limit, for various reasons.
So last month, we started a process of ideation, prototyping, and feedback that is leading us to a much clearer picture of the hero abilities, player input for those abilities, and to which hero tool those abilities are allocated.
One idea that has come and gone throughout development, with various levels of depth and definition, is having different “modes” that the hero goes into. At the beginning of last month, those modes were warrior, gunner, and mech. Josh made a video that you can see here, that shows off one visual idea we had for the gunner mode.
After some prototyping and concepting, we decided that having 3 modes was too much and that we could just have 2 – the warrior and mech (now the “wolf” mode) – and that everything would work together even better this way.
Another hero concept we’ve tried out and like so far, is the idea that the hero can focus her energy and charge up her mana meter. (Mana is used to fuel her more powerful attacks.) If she continues her focus once it’s full, she can overcharge for a temporary bonus. This comes at the expense of being defenseless while focusing.
In addition to guiding us through the hero concepting, Josh has been drawing some new player sketches and digging through his older ones. They’ve proved inspirational in deciding how all the player modes and mechanics are packaged and presented to the player – i.e. the hero’s primary weapon and equipment.
Shield Splitting Into Two Blades
Horcrux Design – Soul Captured
The Warrior mode is the primary mode we anticipate the player to be in. It is more mobile and provides the player with more options than the wolf mode.
Warrior Mode (Concept Art and Artist Placeholder)
Last month (and this month), we added some visual FX to the boomerang and modified how it freezes enemies it contacts. Conceptually, the boomerang was going to freeze everything it contacted, but it proved to be over-powered. Josh came up with a fun idea to solve that… If you look at the image below, you can see three rings around the boomerang. Each one is a freeze charge that will temporarily freeze an enemy in its tracks. So now it’s still very powerful, just not overwhelmingly so in situations where a lot of enemies are close together.
A Mana Overcharged Boomerang with 3 Freeze Charges (Programmer Art)
In addition to the boomerang, we made some changes to the ledge pull-up and slide. We made the hero’s ledge pull up cancelable so you can go immediately into a slide without getting knocked off the ledge by enemies who occupy it. Additionally, we tweaked the hero’s uppercut move so that you could uppercut into a ledge-grab.
Holding onto a Ledge (Programmer Art)
Sliding Through a Crawler Bot (Programmer Art)
Chris has been working hard on the look and feel of the player’s mace and has prototyped the standing melee attacks, uppercut, charge (power up) twirl, and the mace flurry.
When we scratched the gunner mode and changed the appearance of the mech into a wolf, the purpose of this mode become clear – to not-so-gently dispose of obstacles that impede your progress.
Wolf Mode (Artist Placeholder)
As the wolf, the player’s mana drains faster, but she is more ferocious than as the warrior and able to faster collect mana from enemies, so as to stay wolfed-out as long as possible.
So, while Chris was working on the Warrior, Jeff was prototyping the upgrades to the Wolf mode. We gave the wolf a ground slam, an area of effect attack which stuns and damage enemies, for now.
The wolf can also pick up, carry, and use items or discard them at any time.
Wack a Lizard (Programmer Art)
Carrying and Throwing a Wolf-Sized Block (Programmer Art)
While brainstorming the wolf item mechanic, we thought it perfectly reasonable to be able to grab enemies and pull their arms off.
What a cute little green lizard walker… (Programmer Art)
I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squee…. uh oh. (Programmer Art)
Another idea we tried but put on hold is a carry-over from the mech – the thrusters. If the player held the jump button after jumping, the mech could burn mana to fly. On top of all the wolf abilities is the ultra power mode, which burns mana to speed up the wolf. We think this may play nicely into the wolf mini-game of trying to dispatch enemies as quickly as possible so as to stay in the wolf mode before mana runs out.
We wanted to see what it might be like to have a familiar as a companion that can give a little bonus and flavor to the game. We prototyped using a wisp asset that Josh created over a year ago.
Wisp Familiar (Programmer Hero Art, Artist Assets for Most Everything Else)
Finally, Chris made some updates to the level editor, including one that allows us to “pack” and “unpack” image assets into (or from) one object that’s easier to manage and gives us another options for building the levels.
That’s all for this time. See y’all next month!