Posts tagged Ideas
Ultra Bar
 
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Hello Everyone,

Today’s post will delve into Ultimate moves, a mechanic we have shown a lot in person but rarely online. Ultimate moves were always slotted to be a part of our game.  Mechanically, they give nice spikes in power that lead to some powerful turnarounds. This shakes up matches and makes them more dynamic and interesting.  Stepping back from sheer mechanics, I personally feel that the real power of an ultimate lies in the feel and spectacle of the moves.  Ultimate moves are fun, plain and simple. This is why implementing them into our game had to be done with a subtle touch to ensure they kept the power balanced mechanically while still feeling epic.

Haste, as we originally conceived it, had a set number of cards for each player much like a physical deck of playing cards.  These decks would be comprised of basic attacks shuffled in with cards from each of the 3 characters. Since the ultimate cards were powerful, we decided that only 1 ultimate card from each character would be shuffled in. This resulted in the problem where players could potentially draw an ultimate card in their opening hand.  An opening hand with an ultimate card would of course give an early spike in power that would be a huge advantage much too early in the game. To resolve this, we tried several solutions including built-in downsides for cards that discouraged playing them early.  This will be further discussed in the ‘Chopping Block – Ultimate Costs’ post coming up. Until then, the best example of a downside designed for late game would be Skrill’s Devour ultimate which sacrifices Skrill to resurrect another player. This card couldn’t be played until one of the characters died, and even then the card retains less value while Skrill has high health.  Other solutions included a hidden card counter that would stop the player from drawing the ultimate cards for X number of turns. Unfortunately, this still gave a huge variance on when a player can access the ultimate card before their opponent.

After brainstorming, we landed on an Ultra bar.  Despite the game’s RPG aesthetics, Haste is very much influenced by fighting games.  Early on I mentioned how Haste is closely related to fighting games like Street Fighter due to the constant action from the real time aspect.  Naturally, we looked at games like these for inspiration, which lead to our *ultimate* decision.  sorry...

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The Ultra bar works out great for a few different reasons.  First off, it solves our issue with ultimate cards being drawn too early.  Stopping players from randomly drawing ultimate cards also meant we could remove all detrimental costs attached to them, though we chose not to for several of the moves. One unexpected advantage of using the ultra bar, was that we could now play around with how fast a hero could build their ultra bar. This not only gave us a new balancing tool, but also allowed us to make different ultimate moves of different power levels. The longer it took to get your ultimate card, the better the payoff could be.

More broadly, the ultimate bar adds a sense of build-up and tension.  The bars on either your own characters or your opponents’ let you plan for upcoming ultimates to be used or defended against.  Also, with the bar comes a new risk/reward consideration when choosing who to put into the line of fire. If players are on their last legs and need that ultimate for offense or defense, chances are they’ll play a lot more desperately to get that ultimate out.

The last point I will make is that ultimate moves feel great to play after they’ve been ‘earned’.  By working towards the ultimate, the player now has a sense of investment even though they just played the game as they normally would.  This ‘investment’ increases the perceived impact of a move which actually allows us to lower their power level. Granted, some of the moves are still quite strong, but this isn’t true for all of the characters.  The ultimate bar in conjunction with Jacob’s epic animation effects give players the feeling of importance and power without breaking the overall game balance.

Would a Rose by Any Other Name…
 
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Hello Everyone,

If you missed the last post, we have recently changed the name of our game to Haste.  As promised, here is a follow up to our announcement from last week.

All the way back in March, we attended the Ottawa Geek Market and I wrote up a post discussing our experiences there.  This marked the first time that we brought the game out as a playable demo to the general public, so we took all of our feedback very seriously.  For the most part, the reactions to the game were very positive, which we were thrilled about. Moving forward though, we turned to the criticisms to see what we could improve.  Skimming over some of the quality of life and bug fixes that were brought up, one major issue weighed heavy on our minds… the name.

Our title, ‘Sigils of Kairos’ was never meant to be a placeholder, but it was definitely born out of necessity and a looming deadline.  Unfortunately for us, we didn’t begin titling our game until much later in the development cycle. It wasn’t until a potential opportunity came up for us to push the project out to people that we felt the pressure to slap a name on the game.  As a result, we came together and came up with Sigils of Kairos. But how did we come up with that?

Jacob was leaning towards a more obscure name that would be unique on the market.  Names influenced by old languages that touched on deeper meanings would be great for differentiating ourselves from other games.  Game titles along this line would be ‘Terreria’ or ‘Nidhogg’. The problem with this approach is that the names were often too obscure, making it hard for our audience to latch onto.

 I had a completely different philosophy, focusing in on catch words that rolled off the tongue well.  Catchy titles include games like ‘Clash of Clans’, ‘League of Legends’, or ‘Battle Ragers’. The problem with these mobile-like titles was that they didn’t stand out in any way.  These titles are so dime-a-dozen that you probably didn’t even question the fact that I made that last one up completely. 

By looking at these two problems, one can see that Sigils of Kairos was actually the worst of both worlds.  Though we thought the name ticked off the boxes of being both easy to say and unique, it managed to somehow be both obscure and bland at the same time.

This all became clear with our feedback to the game.  Though it was only a few people who even mentioned it, the truth was that the name wasn’t great.  

I should also mention that there were inklings that the name wasn’t the strongest.  Even going into the Geek Market, I suggested using Hot Sauce Bread for the T-shirts since it was a much easier name to remember.  Jacob correctly pointed out that we should be pushing the game over our company, which totally makes sense.  

So what do we do now?

Come on back next week and I’ll discuss what this meant for our progress and how we came about the new name, Haste.

~ Cedrick


In the Beginning
 
The original sketch for a game that was to become ‘Sigils of Kairos’. See if you can notice all the design changes made since this was drawn.

The original sketch for a game that was to become ‘Sigils of Kairos’. See if you can notice all the design changes made since this was drawn.

 
Image from the original Plants Vs. Zombies from ©PopCap Games

Image from the original Plants Vs. Zombies from ©PopCap Games

As this is one of our first posts talking about our actual game, I suppose I will delve into the genesis of Sigils of Kairos.  The idea that would turn into Sigils actually began from a minigame in Plants vs Zombies. In this minigame, cards would scroll onto the screen and players would use them as they became available.  Having played Collectible Card Games like Magic: The Gathering, I felt like this would be an interesting twist on the genre.

The idea kept burning in my brain for the next few days and I was scrambling to find a framework to incorporate as many of my ideas as I could.  I strayed away from summoning minions and complex mechanics because I was hoping for a faster paced game. I settled on having cards played as attacks using a set character for the player.  After a while I realized that having only 1 character for each player wouldn't work for a few reasons.

  1. Each player would run out of cards right away and it would turn into a spam-fest of cards as soon as they were drawn.  

  2. Both players might draw at the same speed (negating the need for the real time)

  3. If one player picked an avatar that draws faster than another, it would be infinitely frustrating for the slower player.

Instead, I looked at games like Marvel vs. Capcom, which swapped characters in and out.  I also incorporated class roles, which would give players reasons to switch characters often and for strategic reasons.  

It was now time to get a rough layout of the game.  I drew out my idea onto some scrap paper, and it hasn't changed much throughout the entire development.  Obviously inspired by the old JRPG games of my youth, this rough drawing became all of the inspiration I needed.  Weeks passed and the more I stared at it, the more everything seemed to fall into place. This of course brought on unique design challenges which I’ll delve into on some upcoming posts. If you’re reading this as I’m posting and are in the Ottawa area this weekend, please drop by the Ottawa Geek Market happening at the Nepean Sportsplex. It will be our first time running a booth and we would love any support you can give.