Super Glyph Quest Dev Diary 09
First up - check it out! It's all heraldic and stuff. It even has a motto. In Latin. Kinda makes everything a little more legit, no? People are going to ask about the motto. Then we're going to have to explain it. But not right now - we'll let you stew a bit first.
Actually, speaking of Combos, we ran in to another interesting design dilemma. Thanks to the new, super-duper robust spell parser, you are able to Chain off either element in a Combo spell. For example, casting Sunstrike (Light + Fire) means that you could follow it up with Bless (Light + Air) or maybe Erupt (Fire + Earth) and either would increase your Chain. Likewise, if you were already in a Chain, you could follow Sunstrike with Crowstorm (Dark + Air) or Mudslide (Water + Earth) and you'd get a Reversal.
The issue now is... what happens if you do both? Follow up a Sunstrike with Smoke (Dark + Fire) or Regeneration (Water + Light). Both include a Chain and a Reversal, so what do we do?
There are several options here:
- Chain. Increase the user's Chain and ignore the Reversal.
- Reversal. Trigger the Reversal and ignore the Chain.
- Both. Increase the user's Chain whilst also triggering the Reversal.
We ruled out option 3 pretty early on. It's pretty OP* and would make an irrelevance out of one of the Upgrades later on.
The way the code was written, it followed path 2 by default. It made it trickier than normal to increase your Chain whilst using Combos. On the one hand, it meant that you really earned the larger Chain values. On the other, it wasn't particularly satisfying and somewhat cheapened the value of a well-timed Reversal as they'd happen often but at such a low Chain value.
Ultimately we've decided on Option 1. This means that you can increase your Chain with ease but if you want to pull of a Reversal, you have to think about it a bit more. It's also a bit of a 'banking' mechanic and I do love me a good banking mechanic. I've used it as an example before, but consider the scoring in Bar Billiards. You accrue points by potting balls. At least, the amount of points in your Break increases. To apply the points in your Break to your actual score, you need to finish on a shot that doesn't pot any balls or commit a foul. Sometimes, you can find yourself on a massive Break but unable to actually increase your score - or 'bank' it. The analogy holds true for Super too - the Chain is your score and the Reversal is the payoff. If you're sitting on a large Chain, are you going to be able to Reverse it before you run out of Glyphs to reverse it with? Okay, it's not quite as simple as that because increasing your Chain is a payoff in and of itself, but you get the idea.
All of the quests are in the game! Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. All of the main story quests are in with the exception of the Bad Dragon quests - but that's only because we haven't made the Bad Dragons yet.
|The Dwarf. He kicks skulls.|
Our good friend, Jim Zub, is a comic book writer of some renown. He's created his own series of fantasy stories called Skullkickers. It's about a pair of mercenaries who tool around the country, kicking... well, skulls and generally causing mayhem, all in the name of a gold-ladened payday. The writing is pretty hilarious and a great match for us as most of it pokes fun at existing fantasy tropes.
When we told him that we were going to make another Glyph Quest he said that we could use his characters in a quest arc if we wanted. We jumped at the chance.
Then we got an email out of the blue from one Hato Moa. You know her as the creator of the wonderful Hatoful Boyfriend. She dropped us a line to tell us how much she enjoyed the original Glyph Quest and to see if we'd be interested in working together sometime in the future. We said that we were working on a sequel right now and suddenly the Hatoful story arc was born and our land suddenly became a bit more... pigeon-y. She even did the artwork for us.
Working on both of these was great fun and hopefully adds an interesting dimension to the game. The biggest challenge is coming up with the quest dialogue and lore in such a way that it respects the original creation.
I've been told that one of the biggest challenges for a writer is to write people in different styles. The problem I have is that I pretty much just write... well, me. What you see is generally exactly what I would say in that situation. Stepping out of that zone and trying to ape another writer's style befitting the relevant character was a very interesting exercise indeed.
Step one is research. Lots of it. As painful and tedious as it was, I had to force myself to read through the entire Skullkickers back catalogue. All of it. In one sitting. Didn't enjoy that at all. Wasn't even remotely entertaining. Not a single chuckle was to be had**.
The Dwarf was pretty simple - channel a belligerent, drunken Scot and you're most of the way there. The Big Guy was also pretty easy too as he mostly lets the Dwarf do the talking. The Hatoful characters are... well, bonkers. Exuberant and bonkers. Great fun to write for though. There's also quite a few resources around on the interwebs about how they should speak - especially Anghel.
Coming up with the dialogue and trying to present it in the character's style is key. Mostly I just used existing phrases that I've seen the characters use before and try to work them in to a coherent conversation. I suppose it's the difference between learning to play a musical instrument and using a sampler. Either way, the best part is when the dialogue is all finalised and approved by the original authors. Kinda gives you a warm glow. We really hope we've done them justice and you never know - we might try and squeeze in a few more arcs for them post launch.
|Just one of the many, many monsters,|
All of the Monsters are in the game! Except for the aforementioned Bad Dragons that is. A handful are still using the graphics from the old game but Leanne is working her way through those. Either way, that's 110 monsters to discover, which sounds like more than enough for this sort of game. Hell, Pokemon had 151 and a huge team, so we're doing okay for just the two of us.
Actually, I just re-jiggered the way monsters are loaded and ordered to enable us to add more monsters on the fly without ruining the Bestiary layout too much. By that I mean things like the Bad Dragons should always appear at the bottom and Goblins should all be grouped together. It took a bit of fettling to get right as the last thing I wanted to do was start shuffling lists around whenever I added a new creature. This is all good experience really - I'll have a much better idea of how to architect this stuff next time.
Most of the Monsters are pretty adorable. But some... well, some are just nasty.
They're also just a lot more interesting to fight this time. This is largely down to a more comprehensive pass on their resistances. Instead of just being resistant to particular Elements, Monsters can also resist Status Effects. Some translate in to a higher chance of not being affected by the Status Effect whilst others are outright immune to it - you can't make a Skeleton Bleed, for example, or Petrify a Cockatrice***. You'll also find that some can even bring in friends to help them - a trick that never gets old.
Item use has changed a bit since the first game. One of the main criticisms was that they were a bit pointless. At least, as soon as you've unlocked Combo spells, you never really needed the items as you could always heal yourself in combat. This was a real issue for the Asian version which had adopted a F2P model where you could buy currency for items but never really needed to spend any of it.
From a gameplay perspective, this was also lacking. I mean, why have a system in place that gets made pretty redundant early on?
As you'd expect, Super Glyph Quest does it just that little bit better than before. Firstly, there are more items. Most of these are to deal with the various Status Effects the monsters can hit you with. Blind, for example, can now be cured with Eyedrops. Burn can be fixed by applying Salve, and so on. There's still the catch-all Cure and Restore potions but they're rarer and more expensive. This means that there's more of a tactical element to loadout. What sort of monsters do you expect to meet? What kind of attacks do they have? As inventory space is limited (but expandable), you have to make some tough choices. Also, Loot Glyphs only appear if you've selected the Loot perk during your Upgrade sessions, so you can't rely on picking up lots of items during combat.
The other major change is that we no longer end your turn when you use an item. This means that you can use as many items as you like during your turn before finishing everything off with a spell. All of these tweaks make for a much higher item usage across the board - keeping them relevant right up until the end game.
For those of you with your monetisation hats on, this will make the Asian F2P version a lot more... well, functional as an F2P experience. We may even decide to add currency IAPs to the paid version for those of you who simply don't have the time to play the game for currency.
And to those who just baulked at that last paragraph - don't worry! Yes, we're going to be a paid app. No, there's not going to be an energy mechanic and we're never going to stop you playing. The game will also be balanced in such a way that you will never need to buy currency to progress. It's only there for the people who actually want to give us more money than we charged (those people do exist) or the lazy ones with a large disposable income.
Actually, we haven't even decided on a F2P model for Asia yet. There's talk of Japan being premium... It's all going to come down to timing and a gut feeling from people who know this stuff better than we do.
I tell you what that IAP stuff did do though - it meant we needed to rethink the Harpy's Swipe move. It's all very well and good letting someone pay for an item but you'd better not have something else in the game that just removes it randomly. I'm no expert, but I'm guessing that would be Frowned Upon****.
So instead of removing the item from your inventory, the Swipe move disables your inventory for the combat. Your items are safe and sound but you can't get to them. Once you win the fight, you get them back. Actually, it may just be that once a certain number of turns have elapsed, you get them back - I might have to have another look at that code, but you get the idea.
The scrolling mechanic found in the Shop, Crafting, Spellbook and Bestiary has had a bit of a tweak. In has come stuff like momentum and out has gone that annoying bit where it would occasionally select whatever you happened to be over as you released your swipe. It's the little things...
|The Grizzle Pig|
We also did a complete overhaul of the Materials system - going over each and every monster and ensuring that it dropped relevant mats for Crafting. What with the monster indexing bit, I really hope I don't have to go through each and every monster again.
Some of the status effects didn't scale particularly well at the higher levels so we've tweaked them a bit. Now Poison damages you by a percentage of your current health, Burn damages you by a percentage of your maximum health and Regeneration gives you back a percentage of the health you are currently missing. That should help those effects to retain their relevance in the end game.
We got Testflight up and running and sent builds out to a few friends. They have been diligently***** letting us know when it all breaks and I have been pulling my hair out trying to work out why.
Auntie Saf and Uncle Ed came down to see us for a few days. This was an absolute godsend. Not only did Leanne get fresh meat for her Agricola slaughterhouse, but they took Willow off our hands during the day which meant that we got plenty of quality crunch time in. They even tidied up the kitchen******. You're welcome back any time guys!
Submission is looming large in the window. Plan A involves submitting by the end of this week as I fly to Malaysia on the 26th. It's going to be very tight unless we start pruning things but we don't really want to do that.
At least this time around we shouldn't have nearly as much trouble as we did the first time. I mean, surely we know what we're doing by now, right?
* Overpowered. The standard fallback excuse of online gamers the world over when they get their arse kicked by any given opponent's loadout or character choice.
** Somewhere in this paragraph is a subtle lie. See if you can find it.
*** Actually, at the time of writing, you can't Petrify anything. None of your spells or items have that effect. Maybe that's something we'll throw in for an expansion.
**** Frowned upon more than just the regular amount of frowning that the Harpy tends to generate in the first place.
***** No so diligently any more. It's almost as if they've got actual other things to do or something.
****** It has not remained tidy.