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.
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.
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.
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.
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