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About this blog

Early Access is only a month away. To celebrate I'll be posting a devlog each week explaining new mechanics and the hardships of solo game development.

Entries in this blog

Designing Memorable Enemies

After several redesigns, all of the enemy units in Firestone Saga have their own behaviors and abilities. Aggressive foes will chase you down like you owe them money. Meanwhile, some foes are more likely to run away and take a power nap in the corner. My goal was to have each enemy encounter feel like a mini puzzle and the key to success is figuring what their next move will be.     My favorite way to design an enemy is to think about how the player will interact with it. Players will quickly get bored if they can beat every enemy by spam clicking the attack button. Presenting new conflicts to the player will make them think outside of the box and they will feel more rewarded when they learn how to overcome that challenge.  Roaming Flame This flame explodes and freezes nearby tiles when you strike it down. Combined with the knockback mechanic, this explosion opens up the possibility of clearing new passageways, freezing a row of lava, or racking up deadly, combo kills. Unique interactions like these help keep the gameplay from feeling stale.    Floating Eye Normally the player can only attack one tile away, so having an enemy who can summon lightning from across the screen is a considerable challenge. I wanted the player to feel the excitement of dodging fatal bolts, but rushing head first felt like the best strategy to eliminate this threat. To tackle this issue, I added a temporary shield that disappears after the enemy attacks.    Sleepy Giant Having enemies randomly fall asleep was originally implemented for players who were having a hard time finding a weapon. I could have written out a whole page of dialogue to explain how it works, but most players don't like reading lots of text and would much rather learn by making their own mistakes. Instead I designed a tanky unit who can be assassinated easily while sleeping, but will relentlessly pursue the player if woken up.   Follow us on Twitter for more updates.  

Heroes of Firestone Saga

As you dive deeper into the cavern, you'll get the chance to add new heroes to your party. Each class feels unique and promotes different playstyles due to their respective powerful abilities. While designing a game, it's important to make the player feel powerful. If an ability is fairly weak or too situational, most players will eventually catch on and stop using it. At that point you have to ask yourself what purpose does it have in the game.     Having a set of balanced skills is important because players will always find the path of least resistance (even if it's the most boring way to play).   Wizard Originally the Wizard had the ability of being the only ranged hero in the game. I bet you can imagine how overpowered that sounds in a dungeon crawler but it was too much fun to cut it. So instead I added a chance for ranged weapons to spawn for all classes and implemented an electric discharge whenever the player passes a turn. This spell stuns nearby enemies and even knocks out sleeping ones but the floor breaks each time you pass turn. This prevents the player from abusing the skill and pushes them to keep moving forward into the action.   Trader   Adding random encounters to a roguelike isn't enough to keep its replayability high if every class feels the same. Keep in mind designing new mechanics can feel slow, but the cycle of designing, prototyping, and tweaking will pay off in the end. Originally the trader earned extra money when selling items, but that encouraged the player to never keep any of the cool stuff they found. Disarming traps and using them against other enemies turned out to be way more engaging.    Berserker To help make combat feel more interesting, the player can knockback enemies during a fatal blow. This opens up the possibility of knocking enemies into traps or even other enemies. However, early on I noticed playtesters weren't using this skill, despite it being useful. This can happen if you don't fully explain a mechanic or motivate the player to use it. To fix this, I explained this move in the tutorial and designed an ability that is triggered by the knockback.      Early access for Firestone Saga will be available July 24th. Follow us on Twitter for more updates.

The golden road to Early Access

Why go rogue? Eighteen months ago I started working on a simple roguelike adventure. I've always been intrigued by randomly generated dungeons but the thought of coding one seemed so daunting. Thankfully there's vast amount of tutorials out there if you plan on working with GameMaker. Checking out HeartBeast and Shaun Spalding on YouTube is a great place to start. Here's a reference of what the game looked like last year.  Swapping heroes I planned on adding this much later in the game but it was too much fun to make players wait. Whenever you are prototyping a game it's important to "find the fun". Keep trying new things until you're happy with the result. It also helped curve out the difficulty for casual players (the easier difficulty lets you tag in an ally on your first death).  Enchanted Weapons Adding variety is the key to making an exciting dungeon crawler. More options == More fun interactions Redesigned level layout Traditionally roguelikes start you off at level 1 every time you play. This can feel discouraging after awhile since it feels like you're not making any progress. On top of that backtracking can feel like a chore. That's why I chopped up the dungeon into bite sized pieces. Don't be afraid to change standard mechanics if they don't fit you're game.  Follow us on Twitter for more updates.    
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