Jan 032013

My first order of business for the new year is to refine and harden the way Dungeonmans implements combat powers. They work quite well right now, but there’s more work that needs to be done in order to really deliver the interactions that make them interesting. Being able to build a hero out of many different masteries is great and all, but it feels pointless unless the powers can be used in combination to really put the screws to the monsters.

In this scenario, our hero has (foolishly) found himself against a wall, approached by a pair of Skelemens and a Bandit Assassin. To make matters worse, there’s a Brigand Sharpshooter chuckling in the back ranks, ready to fill our dungeonmans with arrows. Well now. Round by round, let’s see what we can do.

Our hero has a couple of points in Foominology, a mastery dedicated to blowing enemies to pieces with fire and explosions. He’s wielding a two handed axe, but can still use magical powers. They might not hit as hard as if he was carrying a staff, but they still get the job done. So for his first round, he’ll cast Foom Ripple, which lights three concentric explosions around him, one round at a time. Foom Ripple uses Mana, which this hero doesn’t have a ton of but maybe that will change as he trains up his Applied Wizardry. This first round, it hits the trio of bad guys in front of him for a solid amount of damage. He might have been able to do more damage with his axe to a single target, but not enough to kill them. Unfortunately, this means he takes hits from all three of the enemies.

Round two: He’ll use his two handed weapon power called Crowd Control. This power uses Stamina to hit three enemies within one tile, knock them backwards, and stun them. Not only is he dealing damage with the axe this round, he’s also sending the bad guys back into the fire for a second hit! The stun gives him a round of breathing room, otherwise the enemies would just close right back in. This damage is enough to kill the Skelemans on the top. The Brigand Sharpshooter can shoot this round, and he does, tagging the hero for a small but annoying bit of health.

Third round: The enemies are no longer stunned, so after the hero acts they’ll move in on him. Our hero decides to use a power he picked up in Dungeon Acrobatics, using Razor Slide to dash up to 5 spaces and cut the first enemy he encounters. That would be the Bandit Assassin, who is dropped by the attack. Also, the Foom Ripple expends its last explosion, damaging the Sharpshooter. The Skelemans can act, and he’ll step towards the hero. He is *not* hit by the fire though, since that explosion happened at the end of the hero’s turn.

Round four: The Hero can now take an action to melee down the Skelemans next to him before he gets in a hit. The Brigand Sharpshooter was too close to the hero, so he takes a step back. Keeping the pressure on ranged attackers is important, because they usually can’t shoot and move at the same time. That melee hit drops the Skelemans, and now it is just the Brigand and a furious Dungeonmans, one and one. I know where my money’s going.

A fine show of force, but there’s a few things to consider. First, is all this hooplah more effective than just jamming melee attacks against the nearby foes? In this case yes, the hero only gets hit a few times where as if he just tried to tank those foes and box them down he’d take considerably more damage. As any roguelike player knows, you want the enemies to come to you. If they spend their round moving, you spend yours hitting, and against softer foes that can mean one hit kills without getting touched.

Second, is it worth it to use different powers? It’s often wise to step back and forth between Mana and Stamina based powers. Generally speaking, Mana based powers, spells, will either do damage to enemies or provide a defensive effect, but not both. Stamina powers can do both, but they have multi-round cooldowns, and Stamina doesn’t regenerate naturally during combat. Fortunately, this means good things for all sorts of builds. If you focus on martial fighting and melee attacks, you’ll have a broad collection of Stamina attacks to cycle through. If you concentrate on magic, you might be able to stop most threats through sheer force of Foom and Science. Hybrid builds can do both, and though it might take more thinking, you may find ways to survive longer and do more damage.

That’s it for this update. What sort of powers do you expect out of this system? Is there anything in particular you’d like to see in a development update? Leave a note in the comments!

  7 Responses to “Dev Update 01: Combining Powers”

  1. I’d like to see powers that can only be randomly obtained from finding items or whatever in dungeons; like find the rare item Necronomicon read it and gain a power you’d be unable to access as a player normally.

    • Well do I have some surprises for you then! I’ll get into more detail in a future update, but finding rare knowledge in the world that unlocks new power is part of the game, as well as preserving that knowledge in the Dungeonmans Academy.

  2. Love what I read here! Just found out about this game due to Steam Greenlight. Voted yes on this game :)
    Really enjoy games that let you combine powers in combinations like this. But will there also be direct combining of powers? Where using one before another, will enhance it. Classic example of this would be like a “grease” spell that causes enemies to move slower or fall, and then setting it afire with a fire spell or weapon.

    • That’s certainly possible, some of the debuffs I have working right now interact with other powers. One of the reasons I’m focused on position and motion in combinations is that it allows cross class powers to combo well. In your example, Grease and Fireball (or actually Burning Hands, if they’re close enough) are both spells. So while that’s a good, solid combination, it all based on the same class. On the other hand, if you used a spell that covered people in oil or grease, it would be disappointing if they didn’t get lit on fire very easily, regardless of the fire source. The game world has to make sense.

  3. [...] his dev updates, demonstrating his deep attention to detail and his pursuit of evergreen gameplay:Combining PowersLearning By DoingGet Lost! (map generation styles)Talkin’ ‘bout drinking (consumables and item [...]

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