GrindQuest - Devlog 2: Player Towns & Buildings
Every RPG requires a town - or at least a shop - to serve as a safe haven to the players. While full fledged AAA RPGs feature several towns with uncountable shops and NPCs, most mobile/casual games only provide one or more shop interfaces. There is a reason to this, as detailled, sprawling cities are often plain unneccessary when the core loop of a game can be boiled down to constant fighting and upgrading.
An argument for having several towns is the ability to have shops of increasing quality. This approach allows better control of the players progression through the game. When designing the Town aspect of GrindQuest, I took influences from mobile RPGs as well as city-building games and blended both of them together, to achieve a simple but interesting result:
GrindQuest features only a single town throughout the whole game, this town is a players hub and one of the most important elements in the game. When you start the game, your town merely consists of several empty lots. Players then start to build shops, houses and other buildings one by one. Each building serves a unique purpose that expands the features available via the town menu.
Look and Feel
It should be noted that players cannot directly move around Town. As GrindQuest is a browser based game with a strong mobile influence, it was decided to keep things as simple as possible: You merely navigate through (colrful) menu's in order to access a shop or upgrade a building. This rather abstract approach is common in most mobile games and even more common in browser games.
Furthermore, the whole town is just a fancy graphical menu. I try to keep things as simple as possible and utilize a mobile touch slider in order to represent most objects in the game. So currently, all buildings are aligned from left to right on a plane that you can swipe via touch and drag (or dragging with the mouse as well). I will stick to this system because it allows me to create dozens of menus on the fly, but there will be graphical improvements in the future: Like adding a parallax background with several moving planes, exchanging the background with a better one as well (note some buildings are painted above terrain features because it's just a picture). And finally decorations that the players can buy are planned as well (like Trees and Street Lights) - to spice up things a bit more.
Let's take a look at the various buildings implemented so far:
The central building of every town is the tavern, this is also the first building you will acquire in the game. This spelunky is a meeting point for heroes of all sorts from all over the land and the main source of new Heroes. Upgrading the Tavern increases the quality of available Sellswords as well as number of Heroes available at the same time. Please note that the most powerful Heroes cannot be acquired in the Tavern and must be found in a different way. Hiring a Hero requires a one time investment, so you basically buy the character once from the Tavern. Finally, Heroes are paid using rare Gems instead of Gold Coins - a currency that is much harder to earn. Please note that Gems have nothing to do with ingame payments or anything related to real money.
This is the building where you can buy all sorts of weaponry to equip your Heroes with. Better weapons not only allow your Heroes to deal more damage during combat, the various weapon types interact with each other in a Rock-Paper-Scissors system: Each weapon is strong against another weapon type and therefore more effective (we will learn more about this later on). Most weapons have more effect when the Hero is placed in the front row while some weapons are also very effective when fired from the back row (again, this will be explained later in detail). Most weapons in this shop are bought using gold. Upgrade the Weapon Smith to have access to more and more powerful weapons.
Armor Store & Item Store
These buildings function very similar to the Weapon Smith: The Armor Store provides you with protective gear like Armor, Helmets, Shields and other Accessories. It should be noted that in GrindQuest each Hero only has 3 equipment slots: One for the weapon, a second one for Armor and a final one that is called "extra". This extra slot depends on the Hero Class and can be another piece of armor, a special accessory or a secondary weapon. This means some Heroes are more geared towards attack, while others are more defensive when it comes about equipment in general. While the Armor Store is focused on Armor, the Item Store provides "Extras" in the first place.
Here the players can buy Skills and Magic Spells as well as special Items like Potions. Potions are used to apply a temporary buff on a Hero (we will go into detail later). Skills and Spells are classified as Abilties: Each Hero is able to "equip" three of these Abilities and is limited to Class Abilities. All Abilities in this game are passive, as combat is passive as well. By choosing the right Abilities, you can further finetune your Heroes and influence their combat tactics. It should be noted that you have to buy the abilities for each Hero individually. This means if you have two Rangers and want each of them to have the "Rapid Fire" ability, you must buy that abilitiy twice. On the other hand, you can remove abilities from your Heroes again and equip them to another Hero - if the Class allows it.
The Market provides the aspiring Hero party with all sorts of consumeable Items. This does not only compromise Food but also Grindstones, Elemental Spheres and other Items. Between battles, your Heroes heal automagically so there is no need for Healing Potions in GrindQuest. There might be rare injuries or dead party members later on, but the typical "HP Recovery" is not required in this game. Instead, consumeables serve a different purpose: You "feed" these items to your Heroes in order to grant them bonus XP, effectively accelerating level up's. As the level cap is very high in this game, you will need all the XP you can get your hands on. Im going even a step further with this system, as Weapons and Armor can be leveled as well (referred to as "grinding"). The Grindstones available at the Market allow you to improve the quality of your Items. And this is an absolute necessity, as Items do not gain experience through battles. Again, we will go more into detail later regarding the "food system" of GrindQuest.
Finally, the: Quest Board! Imagine all the townspeople and wandering merchants come here to write down the jobs they have to offer for your Hero party. The Quest board allows you to browse, view and accept Quests. By upgrading the Quest Board, more powerful Quests become available and those reward you with better payment and rare items as well. Of course, it is perfectly possible to play the game without any quests at all - but that's not a wise decision. As the extra income Quests provide allow you more economic freedom - think about all the Heroes (and their equipment!) that you have to buy and upgrade. So, when you complete a "raid" (later...) you will not only gain "loot" from it, but also a quest reward. Quests usually require you to finish a "raid" at a certain difficulty level or gather a specific amount on resources. But more on that later as well. :-)
Future Building Types
I have left out some important building types that will be added later to the game (of course, there is always room for improvement and expansion): The Guild Hall as well as the Auction House. Note that all buildings mentioned above have already been fully implemented into the game, while the final two exist only in theory so far. As far as ideas go, there is no end to the possibilities in a game like this. But, I would like to keep things reasonable complex until the rest of the project is done and tested.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for another journal entry in december!