In a previous blog post we talked about our original combat model and why it didn't work. Now we are happy to show the lessons learned and how it lead to a better system, which you'll soon get to play!
Our biggest mistake was not doing a rapid prototype early on. It took us way too long to get our idea on its feet enough to see that it didn't quite play how we envisioned. Good thing to remember next time! Game design is about testing and iteration. Solid programming is sometimes not as important as just making it work fast so you can see.
Specifically we learned that our idea to make combat both tactical and twitchy was necessarily fighting against itself. So our smartest move was to separate offense and defense. We would preserve the combo system and tactical planning as you attack the goons. Then it was their turn to attack you, and you had to think and act fast. By breaking apart the modes we were able to represent what we wanted in a clean way that kept things interesting and paced well, and didn't have contradictory elements fighting against each other.
The basic idea behind offense mode is to plan to your attack path. You have a certain amount of time to set a path for the hero, which he then follows, attacking anyone in the way.
Terrain also comes into play here - you can't land on empty space (though you can jump over it) and you can't move through solid objects. You try to hit as many guys as you can, and then when you press Attack (or when time runs out) your attack executes.
On Defense it's the surviving enemies' turn to attack you. They project patterns of attack (each enemy type has a unique attack), which you have a split second to remember. Then you are presented with options of where to dodge.
Click a hex to dodge into it. Hopefully it's not where the enemy's attack was! After you choose where to dodge (you are given only a half second), the enemy executes the attack over the pattern they flashed earlier.
Hopefully you chose an are outside the pattern, otherwise you get hit! Get hit enough and you die. If you survive, it goes back to offense mode where you have another chance to take out the enemies.
The combo system makes offense tactical. Whenever you hit an opponent, you gain his type (normal, heavy, archer, mage) and element (fire, ice, lightning, poison). You can chain combos together by matching type (archer to archer) or element (fire guy to fire guy). If you fail (lightning mage to ice heavy) your attack ends right there! If you succeed (fire archer to fire mage) you not only keep going, but tick up a combo point. Every three points and your damage doubles.
Certain enemies also have multiple hitpoints. Sure you can attack back and forth to try to kill them, but if you plan it right you can create a path from weak guys to stronger to strongest and slay everyone in one hit in a blaze of glory.
But Wait There's More
Soon we'll implement boss battles, which require more hits, harder attacks to dodge, and master of the combat system. We hope to add more attack animations and more terrain features before launch, but at the very least we can promise boss combat for alpha!
We also have some pretty great music that we are excited to share, too. Nice work, composers!
See it in Action
Take a look at the video below to watch yourself, and stay tuned!