Jul, 25
Upcoming gameplay changes, part II: combat

The previous blog post about progression has stirred a lot of discussion, and I want to follow up a little bit, before I go into the main topic of this post. If you haven’t read the previous post, I recommend doing it first.

First of all, my comment about my lack of desire to implement complex management a’la Dwarf Fortress made a few people worried, so I want to clarify. I didn’t mean that there won’t be any new features of this kind, only that it’s not the main focus of KeeperRL, which should be obvious by now 🙂 . So you won’t see detailed tracking of minions’ emotions, fluid simulation, etc., but there is new stuff coming even in the next update.

Second, some of you were worried that the new progression based on mana would interfere with other elements of the economy. I had a nice discussion with Steam player WarMaster GoreHowl, and he postulated that major expenses, like technology, should use different resources than more minor things, like crafting, because otherwise the player is too conflicted about spending on the minor things.

It’s a fair point, and it made me play with another idea of using gold for technology and population advancement. Unfortunately this didn’t work well, because there are multiple sources of gold in KeeperRL, and it’s hard to make sure the rewards for conquest are balanced well. Mana, on the other hand, can be more easily curated to make sure that players are getting the right amount, for example two technologies per each major villain conquered. My current choice, therefore, is to use mana only for technologies and population (everything else that uses mana will be switched to another resource). Exact amounts of tech and population costs are to be resolved later, of course. Note that nothing is set in stone, and further testing or feedback might change my mind again. 🙂

Together with the progression overhaul, I’ve planned a set of drastic changes around the combat in KeeperRL, as this part of the game is severely lacking right now. My main motivation was to make spellcasting creatures more significant. This includes the Keeper, most importantly. I decided that all damage dealt in combat will be of one of these three types: Melee, Ranged, and Magical. Every creature will have an attribute for each of the types that dictates how much damage it deals. For example, an orc with Melee Damage 25 and a +8 sword will deal 33 damage, and when an orc shaman with Magical Damage 18 casts an offensive spell, it will deal 18 damage every single time. The current attributes Strength and Dexterity will be removed, and as a consequence, there will be no missed attacks anymore (although an attack against a well protected opponent may deal zero damage).

It was tempting to also add a separate Defense attribute for each type of damage, but it proved to be too convoluted. So instead every creature has one Defense value against all types of attack, although it can receive a “resistant/vulnerable to <damage type>” buff, intrinsically or via a spell or potion. For example, all ogres will be vulnerable to magic attacks, cyclopes will be resistant to ranged attacks, and minions will be able to learn a spell that protects them from melee attacks.

Naturally, the three damage attributes need to have training possibilities. Each will have a separate path: the Training Room will train Melee Damage and Defense, the Library will increase Magical Damage, and a new room, Archery Range will improve Ranged Damage. Every creature will have predefined maximum levels that they can reach at each kind of training, for example an orc shaman will train up to +3 in the training room, and up to +7 at the library. The library and archery range will require upgrades to train minions to the fullest, just like the training room does at the moment.

Since we will have more offensive (and also healing) spells now, they will add more interesting tactics to the game. I decided that this should be accompanied with a long planned tactical feature: full turn-based control of a team. By default you control only your team leader, but you can switch to a mode where you make moves for every minion on the team, which is extremely useful in combat! Sorry for the horrible gif. 😛

This makes combat more similar to the Civ games, with the difference that creatures act sequentially, and thus almost always make only one move at a time, and you can’t “wait” and go back to a creature later in the turn. The play is a bit clunky because of that, although it still feels extremely fun to me. I’ve also added common line of sight between all minions, so if one minion can see something, then everyone can (even outside of the team).

You’re probably getting dizzy from all these new features, so let’s move on to the last one. As you can see above, the game displays health bars over wounded creatures. This feature comes with underlying changes to damage and health calculations. The result is that combat is much slower and less random, there are fewer surprising insta-deaths, and also it’s easier to overwhelm a strong enemy with a large number of weaker creatures. Things that many players have asked for.

This was a very speedy summary of all the incoming new stuff! In reality, it also comes with a lot of smaller, accompanying changes, including many in the UI department. All of the things mentioned are already implemented, but the game is now terribly unbalanced and needs a lot of testing. I’m eager to hear your comments and criticism, although I think that to get concrete feedback I need to release a testing build with all the changes, which will hopefully happen soon.

COMMENTS

Home Forums Upcoming gameplay changes, part II: combat

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #6868

    Naur
    Participant

    About progression:

    If we are going to win technology’s by defeating bosses (something that I think can make the game progression better) maybe we don’t really need a “resource” at all: Maybe when we win a prompt can open up with a technology tree and 2 “free” points that can be used to unlock 2 techs from it.

    If it needs to be more role play-oriented the bosses or final area could hold “ancient tech/magic books” that can be read/spent to win those 2 points.

    That would leave the mana resource for other things, like the ones already implemented (and maybe some future ones like world changing rituals?) and make it clearer, as mana is normally portrayed as magic energy and not always related to research.

    About combat:

    Personally, I like combat systems that are more randomized (with misses or even better: dmg values that vary -like, for example, an ogre who can deal from 3 to 8 dmg-) because they add a little more strategy (do I use the weaker but accurate attack/creature and risk the battle last longer or the stronger one that can 1-hit it?) and the need to adapt to bad (or good) “rolls” and situations. (They are like spice: too much and they ruin your game, but a little gives it flavor)

    But I think the changes go in hand with the “minimalist” approach that you want for the game on the simulation part and can even be balanced on interesting ways. ( for example: melee has more damage, ranged damage depends on arrow quality -making the best real costly-, and magic can be limited by cool-down or even casting time)

    PS: Civ system looks interesting!

    #6869

    red_kangaroo
    Participant

    Interesting to hear about these changes!

    I presume the elemental damage types (fire, poison etc.) are still in game? That would be a shame to loose. It’s more fun when a dragon breathes fire than when it breathes ranged damage. 😉

    How will other spells than those with direct damage be influenced by increased magic damage? Will it have no effect? Will eg. teleportation go farther, healing restore more HP or stun last longer for casters with high magic damage?

    How exactly does damage and defense interact? Is a random amount of damage up to defense blocked, or does it work otherwise? I assume you don’t subtract the whole defense from every attack, because then high defense monsters would be untouchable. I also like some randomness in combat, but if defense is randomized, then that’s enough for me. 🙂

    I’m not sure how I feel about all attacks always hitting. I always liked fragile, but fast and nimble combat style/units. Maybe attacks would not normally miss, but each monster could have a chance to sidestep the attack, moving to random adjacent tile (a bit like Dwarf Fortress does for dodging)? This would make unarmored/fragile speedster builds possible, plus you could try to lure the speedster into an area where it has no free tile to dodge, thus all your attacks would actually hit.

    I really like the new health bar! I just hope we will still get some limbs flying reasonably often, that was always quite fun, even if you were on the receiving end. 😛

    #6870

    Bas Testerink
    Participant

    I’m especially looking forward to the new combat mechanics. When attacking an elven village in the current version you immediately lose track of what’s happening since all your units run off in the forest chasing elves.

    #6871

    If we are going to win technology’s by defeating bosses (something that I think can make the game progression better) maybe we don’t really need a “resource” at all: Maybe when we win a prompt can open up with a technology tree and 2 “free” points that can be used to unlock 2 techs from it.

    Statues and throne will also use the same resource as technology, so it makes sense to keep it as a resource. Otherwise good idea though.

    If it needs to be more role play-oriented the bosses or final area could hold “ancient tech/magic books” that can be read/spent to win those 2 points.

    At some point maybe I’ll try to come up with a more role play-oriented story, but it’s not that easy, for example giant ants normally wouldn’t have books in their hive 🙂

    I presume the elemental damage types (fire, poison etc.) are still in game? That would be a shame to loose. It’s more fun when a dragon breathes fire than when it breathes ranged damage.

    Yes they are, and later on I’ll try to incorporate them better in the combat. Right now there aren’t really fire or poison based direct attacks.

    How will other spells than those with direct damage be influenced by increased magic damage? Will it have no effect? Will eg. teleportation go farther, healing restore more HP or stun last longer for casters with high magic damage?

    Right now only one new spell, magic missile, uses the new magic damage attribute. For other non-combat spells I’ll probably make the cooldowns dependent on the attribute, I’m not sure yet.

    How exactly does damage and defense interact? Is a random amount of damage up to defense blocked, or does it work otherwise? I assume you don’t subtract the whole defense from every attack, because then high defense monsters would be untouchable. I also like some randomness in combat, but if defense is randomized, then that’s enough for me.

    It’s a simple formula: assuming no buffs, to do any damage you need to hit with more than 2/3 of the victims defense. If the damage and defense are equal, then 1/5 of health is subtracted, and if you hit with more than double the defense then it’s an insta-kill. It seems to be working well, but also very easy to modify if there is such need.

    I’m not sure how I feel about all attacks always hitting. I always liked fragile, but fast and nimble combat style/units. Maybe attacks would not normally miss, but each monster could have a chance to sidestep the attack, moving to random adjacent tile (a bit like Dwarf Fortress does for dodging)? This would make unarmored/fragile speedster builds possible, plus you could try to lure the speedster into an area where it has no free tile to dodge, thus all your attacks would actually hit.

    I can do something like that later on. I assume that the speedster needs to do a dodge move ahead of the attack?

    I really like the new health bar! I just hope we will still get some limbs flying reasonably often, that was always quite fun, even if you were on the receiving end.

    Of course 🙂

    I’m especially looking forward to the new combat mechanics. When attacking an elven village in the current version you immediately lose track of what’s happening since all your units run off in the forest chasing elves.

    Yeah, it really improves the combat experience.

    #6889

    Bas Testerink
    Participant

    I’ve played a bit the beta version with the new combat system. Having the option for the full control mode improves (my) combat experiences a lot, since you’re less likely to lose your favorite unit and can make more use of exploration and/or fodder units. E.g., having two bats block a tunnel for enemy reinforcements for two turns while your orcs beat up a dwarf can really make a difference.

    The new mana system is great! It improves the strategic progression of the game a lot.

    #6892

    Great! What do you think about the current mana payouts and costs? Is the balance ok?

    * 200 for main villain
    * 100 for lesser villain
    * 50 for minor settlements
    * 100 per technology
    * 50 per +1 population

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