Developer's Report #1
Combat & Customisation, 25/02/2012
So this is our first Developer’s Report. I suppose I should introduce you to what the Developer’s Blogs are going to be about and how they’ll be structured.
First things first, these are monthly. They won’t be posted on the exact same date each month, but I will try to get one out once a month for you guys. While we’ll be posting dribs and drabs of smaller progress reports here and there, these blogs will be pretty much full of information and progress. Their purpose is to keep you guys informed and to answer all of your questions.
Each Dev. Blog will have a spotlight. A spotlight is basically an aspect of the game which the blog covers mostly and explains in detail. Every blog will also have a screenshot gallery and an FAQ section which will be built over time with questions asked in that month, so check back if you’ve asked something. Lastly, each blog will have a progress report (your favourite part, I’d wager).
But anyway, I don’t want to bore you!
This month’s spotlight is COMBAT & STRATEGY
… an Introduction
In Shadows of Everwood, combat is a pretty pivotal part to the game. You’re most likely always going to be engaged in it. So we’re working on creating a fast, efficient and strategic system of combat involving various skill types and sub-systems, such as coded projectiles and ‘threat’.
We aim to make combat:
- UTILISE MOVEMENT AND POSITIONING
- VISUALLY STUNNING
- EASY TO COMPREHEND
To achieve this, we're incorporating a lot of systems and investing a lot of time into combat and how it works. In recent tests, we've noted the fluency of combat which is something we're very happy with. We want players to feel that combat is challenging them, rather than them sitting there and spamming some buttons. We want every foe to be a challenge and for fighting that foe to be a game in itself to be enjoyed individually or as a team. Now, onto some of our key combat mechanics and systems that accompany them.
Before I continue, I should stress that ATTACK SPEED IS NOT A FACTOR IN COMBAT
, nor does it have any stat or any player buffs associated with it. Each class has the same attack speed, which is decreased depending on what weapon type you are wielding. For example, if you were wielding a sword (-10%) and a shield (-25%), you’d have -35% attack speed. While a greatsword would reduce attack speed by 50%. However, auto-attack is also something we don’t want players to be constantly relying on. Standing there with auto-attack is boring. So it is also not an important factor to us. However, having a dynamic and fun arsenal of skills to use is a very important factor to us so to help make skills more ‘a part’ of combat, there is no ability that exceeds a cooldown of 20 seconds (there are, however, exceptions such as Tundra Dome and Unbridled Fury).
Shadows of Everwood has an elaborate system of debuffs called ‘conditions’. Conditions vary and come in different durations and effects, but also scale according to hero level. This system was implemented to make tooltips a lot simpler and straightforward while also giving players a better understanding of the debuffs in the game rather than a skill that deals ‘xx damage per second for y seconds’.
- Burning – short-lasting, high damage
- Poisoned – long-lasting, small damage
- Bleeding – a medium duration with medium damage
- Crippled – movement speed reduced by 50%
- Immobile – rooted in place, unable to attack or move
- Chilled – movement speed reduced by 25%, attack speed reduced by 25%
- Blinded – successful strike chance reduced to zero
- Vulnerable – resistance to magical and physical damage reduced
- Silenced – unable to cast spells or use abilities
Mirroring conditions, we have boons. Boons are, in a nutshell, buffs. Fewer than conditions and affecting stats, boons are still quite affective. Like conditions, boons scale according to hero level. The current boons we have are:
- Vigor: increases maximum health
- Stamina: increases movement speed by 25%
- Power: increases attack/spell power
- Regeneration: restores health over time
- Accuracy: increases attack/spell power critical chance
- Stealth: become invisible, exclusive to ???
- Protection: increases magic resistance and armour, every third attack done against you is absorbed, exclusive to ???
Every class has 14
skills they can access. You cannot access all of these abilities at once, however. Players are able to choose five skills in our custom skill interface:
- an attack skill
- a healing skill
- three additional skills
Attack skills are innate abilities which are basic and quick. They have no cooldown as they were designed to act as something to help break up combat, especially since every class has the same attack speed. Players have three to choose from. Healing skills are pretty self-explanatory. Players have access to two different heals.
It is important to understand that in Shadows of Everwood, skills utilizing magic are called spells and skills which use pure physical force are called abilities.
Upon reaching level 10, players begin to accumulate Talent Points every second level. Players can choose from ten talents to put points in. Additionally, we also have Trait Lines
. Each class has two trait lines with five specialized traits focussing on a key aspect of the class, concluding with a skill. Once you choose a trait line, you can’t build into the second one.
As in all ORPGs, Shadows of Everwood features stats. These stats do not influence the classic WarCraft 3 stats Strength, Agility and Intelligence. These stats have been eliminated and replaced with the following:
– increases damage (affecting abilities)
– increases health & energy regeneration
– increases your health pool
– increases damage (affecting spells)
– increases critical strike chance
Personally, I think this is quite self-explanatory and is possibly the simplest of the systems. There isn't much special about our threat system compared to others except something called threat manipulation
. Threat manipulation is the use of threat to benefit yourself. This aspect is found in most class, such as the Berserker with skills like Angerstrike. We also have a class who relies on this kind of manipulation to survive in a battle but I wont go into it too much.
The Threat System handles boss & creep attack and retreat decisions, with a powerful AI-script for each unit, providing intense and action filled battles!
Units will often attack the most threatening player, and in order to become targeted you must burst up to 30% more threat than the current threat holder.
In Shadows of Everwood, projectiles can be manipulated in almost any way you can think of. Their forward-movement is restricted to the xy-plane, with a curve along the z-axis however they cannot arc in this plane.
Every flying object in SoE is a projectile, and thus can be affected by certain abilities and spells.
All ranged attacks are projectiles, and very few of them are homing. However, ranged attacks are generally very powerful and carry with them some sort of secondary effect or condition. This makes projectile dodging pretty important in order to save yourself from taking a lot of damage.
However, since moving around isn't allowing you to do much damage, there are a few abilities and spells that may help you shrug of these projectiles. But
these skills are often considered quite powerful, and thus held back by a long cooldown (these skills are the aforementioned exception to the 20 second cooldown rule). This will force you to decide whether to play your card now, or wait for a better opportunity – which of course, has a great impact on combat.
Due to the long cooldown, you’ll need some other viable strategy to actively move around the battle field. Which is why we have movement skills
. These skills are your main tools for dodging deadly projectiles and escaping foes, and are much faster than having your hero run out of the way to dodge the projectile. All movement skills are interesting and have some sort of benefit to them. Examples of this are Shockwave, Wind Lash, Edge of Heaven, etc. This is something that fits nicely to the “easy to grasp, hard to master” type of combat that we’re currently designing.
Roles & Functions
In Shadows of Everwood, we have incorporated the ‘holy trinity’ as most call it. However, we haven’t designed classes thinking that ‘oh, this one will be the best tank’ or ‘this class will be the best damage dealer in the game’. In truth, classes are pretty equal in those fields. With healing skills and movement skills, any class can be self-sufficient and not rely on a pure ‘healing’ class (which doesn’t exist in SoE). With this in mind, classes have been designed to excel in different functions rather than roles. For example, the wizard excels in being versatile and being a consistent kiting class. The berserker excels in getting a lot of threat in a short period of time thanks to his area of effect potential. Essentially, whether your hero
is the highest damage dealer or has better heals doesn’t depend on your class
. It depends on how you build your class
To finish off this part of the report I'd just like to remind you all that, as always, everything is subject to change.
Basically, what's been happening lately is quite a lot. Presently, the terrain is in the hands of one of Hive's most esteemed terrainers Keiji
going through a bit of a polish. Recent developments in the terrain include the Duvant Bastion (the new starting zone, 1 - 9) and the Brightriver Keep & the Etienne Peak area (a training area and hub for crafting, quests as well as the passage into a the higher level zones). There are two screenshots in our little mini-gallery which show a sneak preview of both areas!
As recently announced, The_Witcher and Magtheridon96 have joined us as coders. The_Witcher is taking a bit of a break after coding a typewriter system for us and is currently waiting for Tukki to write up some documentation regarding skills so that he can start coding our third class, the PYROMANCER
. Our main focus at the moment is getting a lot of content finished. At the moment, we're working on Duvant Bastion and an event called 'Sylvanwood Cleansing'. This is also the case for myself, who is currently designing events, bosses and more quests to fill up certain gaps.
But anyway guys, that's our monthly report. Stay tuned for the 10th of March when we show off the Pyromancer. :)
Ask away guys. :)