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Troll Herder

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Though the recent XNA workshop seems to be on permanent hiatus, I've really been wanting to actually sit down and code one of my numerous ideas, even if its just 2D with basic sprites.

So, would love some feedback on this idea, to help me make the decision if this is or is not The One. (that I should work on)

Troll Herder


In the game world, Trolls and Goblins possess a symbiotic relationship.

Trolls are large, rocky creatures(More akin to the Discworld Trolls than standard fantasy fare), who eat various minerals, gems, metals, etc. Their average I.Q. is approximately 4, and are generally too dumb to even move. As such, the standard Troll is often mistaken for a clump of odd-shaped boulders. Nobody seems to know where Trolls come from.

Goblins spawn from a strange moss that grows on Trolls. Each Troll produces its own "tribe" of Goblins, who use the generally-inert Trolls as a Village totem, marking their homes. Goblins are despicable and clever, but are no physical or magical match for the various humans, elves and dwarves of the world, save in overwhelming numbers. Goblins will generally raid the other civilizations, and each other, and feed their Troll whatever rocks, metal or gems they find.

A Troll's diet effects the type of Goblins it produces, and also its own attributes. A Troll fed purely diamonds for a season might be indestructible, for example, and produce goblins with a strong constitution. The higher quality the Troll's diet, the more active/intelligent it becomes. Goblins aren't fussy about what they eat, as long as its some kind of meat.

The Player

The player takes the roll of a Troll Herder, a goblin whose sole responsibility is the caretaking and direction of the tribe's Troll, and sole birth ability is sensitivity to the Troll's moods. If the tribe needs wood, you could provoke the Troll to charge you while standing with your back to the nearby forest, for example, resulting in a number of felled trees. Or you could herd your Troll into a river and use him as a temporary bridge. Or send him crashing through the walls of the nearest human town.

Gameplay

Gameplay would probably be a real-time top-down view of the world, zoomed in to see your PC and his surroundings. The world and characters would be procedurally generated, so that each game doesn't have the exact same resources available.

You'd receive direction from various individuals in the Tribe, like the Chief, the Shaman, etc. The goblins occupying these roles would be transitory(whether by death or other means), so you might have a Chief who treasures wolf-pelts above all else, only to have all the treasure dumped in the refuse pile the next day when he takes a fatal wound during a raid, and a new Chief rises who values goose feathers. (how much 'treasure' a Chief has would effect the standing of the tribe in all Goblindom, etc.). A player can also aspire to claim one of these titles himself.

You'd be free to follow or ignore this direction as you pleased. The rest of the tribe will seek to find hunt wolves, find goose-feathers, etc. on their own. So long as you meet certain requirements of Troll diet, you can venture off alone with your Troll for a year(the tribe will set up a new village if the Troll remains stationary for a week or so). You can even ignore the Troll completely and head off into the world on your own.

Short-term, you'd be dealing with rival goblin tribes and raids/skirmishes. Long-term, you'll be finding human villages, elven groves, dwarven halls, and all-out war.

Gameplay Mechanics

Manipulation of your Troll's AI to problem-solve.
RPG-style character building for your Goblin. As well as being a Herder, you can also improve your abilities in combat/magic/stealth/etc.
Basic Alchemy with Troll feeding. Mixing diets for different Troll attributes and the goblins in your tribe.

Winning Condition

The genocide, imprisonment, or enslavement of all non-goblins, and the genocide, imprisonment, enslavement or vassalage of all other-Tribe goblins.
(mainly I just want an achievement called "No Country for Trolled Men") :D

Losing Condition

The death of your Troll or Troll Herder PC.



So, any feedback/ideas/critiques are most welcome. I'm aware that the tribal-simulation might be overly complex, but the game covers those "Things I'd Like to Work On", like proc-generation, AI, etc.

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It looks like a really good initial idea from what i have read. It seems quirky enough not to be a carbon copy of any game i can think of while not being so different that it would turn people off the game. The setting seems like a nice bent on the traditional hi-fantasy setting, personally I'm a fan of hi-fantasy so I'm a tad bias.

The only thing i see that jumps out at me is that at one point you talk of ignoring "the Troll completely and head off into the world on your own." The problem i see with that is by adding it to the game you detract a bit from one of its main "hook", that being the Troll. I would advise, if you wish to include goblin only elements in the game, that you do it carefully and in some way include the troll, it could be that the trolls busy doing X thing for a time so if the player wants to go off they have to do it solo.

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It looks like a really good initial idea from what i have read. It seems quirky enough not to be a carbon copy of any game i can think of while not being so different that it would turn people off the game. The setting seems like a nice bent on the traditional hi-fantasy setting, personally I'm a fan of hi-fantasy so I'm a tad bias.

The only thing i see that jumps out at me is that at one point you talk of ignoring "the Troll completely and head off into the world on your own." The problem i see with that is by adding it to the game you detract a bit from one of its main "hook", that being the Troll. I would advise, if you wish to include goblin only elements in the game, that you do it carefully and in some way include the troll, it could be that the trolls busy doing X thing for a time so if the player wants to go off they have to do it solo.


Thanks for the input, and that's a valid concern. Mainly I'm wary of "Black and White" style gameplay, which in my opinion was potentially a great game if you could ignore the Creature the game saddled you with.

In the very early game, when you're a newly-spawned Goblin and the tribe's been feeding your Troll pebbles(and one unique rock that enabled your Troll Herder birth), the Troll is inert until you can improve its diet. So that initial "chapter" in the game you're on your own. After that it becomes a bit of a Buddy setup, only your buddy is the size of a van and immensely stupid.

Leaving the Troll inert in the village allows you to build up its "movability" via feeding, like charging a battery. Your Tribe probably works harder when the troll is acting as a Totem as well, not to mention that newly spawned Goblins can get straight to work, instead of marching through possibly-dangerous terrain to the village first.

So I'm imagining that you'd venture off on your own, especially in the early stages of the game, when you want to conserve your Troll's valuable time for more important matters. Solo-stuff would primarily be scouting the Goblin lands for minerals, food, better village location, etc. You could also join other goblins as they worked, raided, etc. Possibly also some solo errands for the Chief/Shaman/etc.

Then you'd build up some Troll potential, and could use that in various ways. Immensely hasten work details, like tree-felling mentioned earlier. Move your Troll to a better Village location(especially after scouring the land clean around the old one). Scout the more dangerous lands of humans, elves, and dwarves. And of course, use the Troll as a one-unit wrecking ball against your enemies.

In the late game, when you have dwarven slaves mining quarries for you, your Troll shouldn't need much or any downtime.

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