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[Role Playing Game] Shadow Over Blackwood

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Hey everyone,

in this thread, I want to introduce my current Warcraft III project The Shadow over Blackwood.

The Shadow over Blackwood is my vision for an atmospheric and thrilling stealth RPG gameplay set within a dark vampire theme. The game is settled in a small town whose peace is threatened by a vampire scourge. Consequently, guards are patrolling the city at night and bounty hunters have come to the city to make some quick money. Imagine the game like a multiplayer RTS variant of the game Thief. Imagine the vampires as thieves, lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike incautious town residents from behind, while the guards and hunters are trying to protect the civilians and strive to kill the vampires.

Currently, I am specially searching for feedback and good ideas for the end game. I will upload a map prototype here soon

Features Overview:
  • Playable with 1 – 9 players (up to 6 vampires vs. 3 hunters)
  • Original and novel game design featuring stealth multiplayer action-RPG gameplay
  • Line of sight system similar to games like THIEF (you can approach enemies undetected from behind)
  • Detailed medieval village and forest scenario with careful art design
  • Complex AI behavior with more than 100 NPCs being simultaneously active on the map
  • Crafting system (collect ingredients to craft potions)
  • Vampires can transform into different animal forms, including rat, wolf and bat

Screenshots:

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The Vampires:
Vampires need to bite and suck the blood of as much victims as possible to increase their power. At the same time, vampires need to avoid the guards and hunters as they won’t stand a chance in an open fight (at least not on lower levels). Therefore, playing as a vampire requires tactical lurking in the shadows, careful study of the environment and seeking out for a proper opportunity to strike an unprotected victim. The more blood the vampires suck, the stronger they get so that they will eventually become strong enough to defeat even the hunters.
Vampires can learn different magical spells and thus can specialize in certain directions. Important vampire core abilities are transformations into different animal forms, including bat, wolf and rat. Each form has it’s purpose, strength and weakness. For example, the bat is effective for fast escaping, invading and overcoming obstacles. However, the transformation is quite expensive and the bat is very vulnerable against archers on towers. The wolf form is well suited for travelling longer distances at higher speed and the wolf also makes a decent fighter. Though he can’t compete with a guard or hunter in 1on1, a wolf still may be effective in a group or for delivering a killing blow to a hunter that is already hurt. Then, there is the rat form which is usable for hiding and stealth tactics. In this form, the vampire can easily hide in bushes and dark corners as long as he wants and wait for the proper opportunity to strike at his target. In addition, rats won’t be automatically attacked by guards as long as they keep a certain distance. Finally, when reaching the highest levels, a vampire can learn the Overlord form which will be powerful enough to face and crush all enemies in an open battle.

Vampires also have access to a complex alchemistic crafting system that is powered by a vast array of ingredients. Some of these ingredients can be found in the forests, some are only found in the city or in crates, and some are exclusively sold by a mysterious and hard-to-find ghost merchant (sometimes he also sells some rare recipes if you are lucky). If a vampire has collected enough ingredients, he should search for a magical witch's cauldron (these are on different random locations each game) and mix up magical potions there. Potions have powerful effects, like increase of hero power, extending nighttime duration or temporary transformation into a human so guards do not spot the vampire and even open the gates for him. There is even a love potion, so a vampire can force another vampire to become a permanent ally of him (note that all vampires are rivals by default).


The Hunters:
The hunters are reckless soldiers of fortune who travelled to the city to make some fast money. Choosable vampire hunter classes include the Gunslinger, the Assassin and the Mage, while the mage can specialize in different magical disciplines like fire, frost, lightning and arcane. All the classes will feel and play quite differently.
While hunters can learn different abilities and skills, their power mostly relies on proper equipment. In order to have enough gold to buy powerful gear from the local merchants, the Hunters need to acquire gold by killing undead threats and maybe by doing other small jobs, like escorting, delivery, etc. The primary goal of the hunters is to kill all the vampires and to protect the civil residents at any cost since their deaths increase the strength of the vampires. If there are too many victims, the vampires may eventually become unstoppable for the hunters. However, if the hunters act wise and vigilant, the may be able to hold back the vampires and survive until daybreak.


Life in town - the AI system:
The core of the game is a complex AI simulation of the NPC behavior. For example, the AI system features guards holding certain positions, guards patrolling the roads, villagers running around, random events, villagers talking with each other, villagers running around in panic and alerting the guards, etc.
Moreover, there is a visibility system that checks if a vampire can be seen by an NPC. Nearly all NPCs can be unnoticeably approached from behind (with some exceptions like guards that are stationed on towers). Such backstab attacks will enable vampires to suck the blood of their victims.
I also want to include a lot of random mechanics so the game experience will be different each game. For example, guard positions can be different each game, routes are not necessarily predictable, etc. I'm also thinking about adding some dynamics as it concerns the city layout so, for example, a gate won't be open every time you play the map.
My goal is to create different and thus interesting situations from game to game, so both vampires and hunters need to stay attentive and actively react on the current situation in town.


The Voice from the Shadows:
There is a mysterious dark voice that regularly talks to the vampires. For example, the voice gives hints or comments on the vampire's last actions. Rumors are that it even plays off the vampires against each other sometimes. Maybe, this is because only one vampire can finally become the prophesied dark champion who fullfills the mission of the shadows.


End Game - Your ideas are welcome!
The first vampire who reaches a specific (high) level gains a powerful overlord form. Other vampires may try to kill him and then get the overlord form themselves. However, only one single vampire can have the overlord form at a time. The overlord form makes a vampire powerful enough to kill the baron of the lands. This is not an easy task, but it makes it possible for this vampire to win the game.

However, currently I am not fully pleased with this type of end game. So maybe you have some suggestions.
Basic requirements shall be as follows:
- If one vampire reaches the overlord level, he should have best chances to win the game
- However, it should still be possible for other vampires and maybe also the hunters to win the game
- Endgame gameplay shall be different to the normal gameplay before
- Hunters win as a team, on the vampire side, however, only one vampire is the winner

I have also some other concepts for the endgame like vampires are striving for eternal night, while hunters want to push sun rise. Anyway, I would like to have an epic battle at the end.

I’m curious what you think about this idea and I'm happy about any suggestions, ideas and other feedback.
 
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Level 13
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Thanks!

Right now, the AI system is nearly finished. Though it involves some calculation-heavy algorithms as it involves detecting field of view and houses within line of sight (multiple times a second for many NPCs), it seems to work in a trim performace.

I hope that I'll be able upload a short teaser video soon. Uhm.. and I think I'll need to change the title of this project.
 
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I know what you mean.

The player-controlled hunters can be an optional aspect, so this does not necessarily require a particular game mode.

However, the choice remains if vampires should be allied or not. I think both options provide intersting gameplay variants.

I'll think about this. Maybe I find a way to go without modes, like FFA but with the option for spontaneous alliances in game.
 
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Chaosy

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Interesting idea, I'd love to play this. However I fear that it wont live up to my expectations. Not because I don't have faith in your abilities itself, but I think the gameplay idea is too bold.

For example, I am playing as a vampire and need to kill some civilians. Now, no matter what I do, any enemy player with something reminding of brain will notice how I walk. Even if I use the exact same model as the average civilian, the way I move with my unit will give me away and GG.

You could, of course go with lurking in the shadows with some sweet system, but in that case if some villager walk somewhere and suddenly dies it wont be that hard to hunt down the vampire. (Unless the town is very, very big and it takes time to run to that location once informed.)
 
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I get your point, but I don't think this will be much of an issue. Let me put some more details to explain why I think so:

Vampires will not share the same models as villagers. They are clearly recognizable as vampires (at least if in vampire form, which is required for sucking blood). However, vampires won't be easily recognizable by hunters or NPCs if they are in rat form, especially if they are hiding in a bush or something. Of course, life bars are always hidden so hiding really is an option (and it is an important part of what makes up the fun of being a vampire; like hiding, waiting, backstabbing). Then, each unit has a limited sight radius. A hunter is only able to see a particular area around himself. He won't notice vampires such easily.

If a civilian notices a vampire, he goes panic, a guard will attack the vampire instead which might have lethal consequences fo the vampire. I think hunters will receive a minimap ping if a villager goes panic so they have a chance to chase the vampire. However, in most situations, hunters need some time to get to this spot (as the map is of decent size). Vampires can react by going rat and hide, or go wolf/bat and try to escape the area, etc. However, panic civilians might also alert nearby guards, so even without any hunters nearby, vampires need to be very careful.

The game will be asymmetrical: a full game probably will involve about 6 vampires and 3 hunters (or maybe 4). Of course, balancing won't be easy here. It will need a considerable amount of time to get this in proper balance for both forces, vampires and hunters. This is a challenge indeed, but I think being an asymmetrical game also makes up the particular charme of this game. And I'll try my best to make it challenging (but not unfair), even against NPCs only without any player-controlled hunters.
 
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Cool , will test the map as usual . Reminds me of Against the Darkness , you should check out the AI they made for that , it's the second best AI I have seen in Warcraft first Dota then ATD .
 
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You can hide HP bars, don't know how but I think I played maps where it was hidden.

Yeah, I've already removed the life bars as it is necessary for the rats being unnoticable by human players while hiding in bushes. It can be done by calling the following function:

JASS:
call EnablePreSelect( true, false )

I like your terrain from the screenshot. Are there additional screenshots you can provide?

Great that you like it. I've attached two more editor shots for now. The basics of the town are mostly finished, but especially the forests around still need a lot of further work. I guess overall terrain is about 40% for now. I'll upload more screens if the terrain sees more progress.
 

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I like those screenshots. I think if you stick with this it has the potential to be a really fun game. :)
I own a hosting bot if you want to get a large group of people to test from a variety of the realms (East, West, Europe, Asia). Let me know!
 
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Hey, though I do not post much updates here, I can say that the project is making very good progress. Most of the basic systems are working well already, but there is still a ton of work to do, like completing the terrain, balancing, adding more spells, items, intro, etc.
 
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Hey, this thread is now open and active again! :)

I've updated the initial thread description and I must say that I could use some help regarding the design of the maps endgame. I hope that you can help me here with some nice ideas on gameplay and mechanics. I will also upload a prototype of the map soon so that you can get a better idea of the actual gameplay for yourself.
 
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Endgame idea: It turns out there's already a powerful vampire overlord sleeping underneath the village, sensing neither team is currently a threat to him. When one team wins (and the vampire lord senses that there are no more vampires/that the PC vampires are now a threat), he awakes. The losing team are under his thrall, possibly with better spells, and once the boss is dead the PCs are free to attack each other to determine who keeps the loot/stays vampire overlord of the village (and wins the game). If the winning team is defeated the losing team can then rebel against the boss (due to his concentration breaking), then turn on each other.

Vampire thralls: Vampires can mentally dominate a villager (for transport in rat form, fetch quests, spying, etc.). The hunters have to figure out which villagers are enthralled by their behavior (What's that guard doing collecting blood at the slaughterhouse? Why is that noblewoman collecting herbs at night?) and decide whether to kill them (the feedback hurts the vampire, but also hurts their standing with the villagers) or follow them to the vampire. Thralls have a "return to NPC schedule" ability in case the vampire spots the hunters and doesn't want his hiding place found.
 
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Looks like a good start to an excellent project, from what I can see a good amount of effort is put into this and if you keep it up it will be a hit, I definitely would like to be able to play this when it gets release...
 
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