Game Concept and Core Mechanics

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Game Concept and Core Mechanics

Post by AlexFricke on Mon May 25, 2015 1:55 pm

Guardians of Nogard: Return to Nogard, is a 3D 3/4ths perspective multiplayer fantasy hack-n-slash. Players choose one of 4 heroes and join them on their quest to return to the kingdom of Nogard after their capture by the orcs. Throughout their journey, players can find or purchase new weapons and spells, and level up their character's stats.

Playable Characters
Princess Pumkin - Tired of playing the damsel in distress, Princess Pumpkin has taken up arms and leads the knights on their journey back to Nogard.
Pompous Knight - Arrogant, self-absorbed, and, yes, pompous, while not defending his princess, the Pompous Knight can often be found caring for his glorious plume.
Serious Knight - Obsessed with the success of the mission, the Serious Knight, masked in hood and cowl, is not to be trifled with. He will always see the mission to its completion, and then likely disappear through a high window.
Totally Human Knight - No one's actually seen this hero out of his nature-adorned armor, and he exhibits some strange behaviors on occasion, shoveling earth and soil into his trousers being among them, but he's totally a human, just like the rest of us. Like, seriously.

Player Actions – Summary
Movement – along a flat plane (no jumping/platforming)
Dodge – move quickly to avoid enemy attacks
Light Attack – quick, fast series of weaker attacks
Heavy Attack – a single slow, strong attack, which can be charged for even more power
Grab/Shield Break - a medium speed attack, capable of bypassing an enemy's shield
Magic – offensive, defensive, and utility spells, which can be charged for a greater effect
Shield – temporary invulnerability to withstand enemy attacks for a short period of time

Basic Movement
- Basic movement consists of the players moving their characters along a flat plane.
- Controlled with the left thumbstick on a gamepad.
- There will be two to three movement speeds for all characters. The basic two are standing still, and running. If a third is included, it will be walking. Enemies may only need the basic two, even if the third is accessible to players.
- There will be no jumping or platforming elements; any verticality will come from slopes, hills, ledges, cliffs, etc, and will often impair characters' movement.  

Weapon Styles
- Players can equip different weapons.
- Only one weapon can be equipped at a time.
- Weapons will fall into one of four types:
       (ideas below are a starting place; may change as playstyles are better identified)
  > Balanced (Sword)
  > Heavy (Axe or Mace/Hammer)
  > Reach (Spear)
  > Quick (Rapier)
- What excels at AoE?
- Is there a great enough difference between Reach and Quick? Or Quick and Balanced?
- What happened to the Smashy Board?
_Stretch goals_
- Have texture swaps for weapons that correspond to stat changes. E.g. your starting sword could have a texture swap that comes with weaker damage, but better mana regeneration. Etc.
- Add an animation set for the Smashy Board, for old times sake. And because it's the Smashy Board. Obviously.

Weapon Attacks
Light Attack
- Light attacks string together, to create 2+ hit combos.
- They have little starting lag, and do less damage on average.
- The final light attack of the combo could have a little extra flourish, take a little longer, and do a little extra damage, but also incur a little extra ending lag.

Heavy Attack
- Heavy attacks are single, powerful attacks that can be charged for extra damage/effect.
- Players can release the heavy attack mid-charge to gain a portion of the charge bonus.
- Should the heavy attack auto-release at full charge? Should they be able to hold it indefinitely?
- Should the heavy attack lock the character in place while it is being charged? If not, does the character move at full speed? Are they slowed? If they are locked in place, can they pivot? (Working under the assumption that whatever the case, when the attack finally executes, the character is locked in place until the execution finishes.)

Rolling/Dodging Attack
- If the player inputs an attack command towards the end of a roll/dodge, their character will perform an attack immediately upon ending the roll/dodge, using a different attack animation.
- Perhaps weapon dependent. Maybe only one or two weapons can perform rolling/dodging attacks?

Grab/Shield Break
- An attack that ignores the defender's shield. It should likely cause some knockback, and perhaps also stunning the defender briefly before the knockback.
- Purpose: to complete the rock/paper/scissors triumvirate of attack>grab>shield>attack.
- This ability could come from a few places: a separate ability, a spell (maybe two?), or from the heavy attack.
- Separate ability: Could use the Shoot spell cast animation, and theme it like a special magic spell that is always available. (Reasoning: shield is mana/magic themed, so a shield break that is similarly themed keeps consistency.)
  > Starting lag: medium - faster than a heavy attack, but slower than a light attack. Light attacks should be able to react to an ill-timed grab/shield break, but heavy attacks should be punishable by the grab/shield break. Question: Should the grab/shield break be able to be avoided by dropping your shield in response to the start of the grab/shield block and then light attacking or dodging away?
  > Ending lag: medium to high. If a grab/shield break is whiffed, it should be punishable by most attacks (light attack, probably an uncharged heavy attack, an opposing grab/shield break).
- Heavy Attack: The heavy attack could serve as a way to break through shields. Attacks could have a property that makes some of them especially good at breaking through a defender's shield, which would mostly be found on heavy attacks.
  > Questions: Perhaps certain weapons really excel at it more than others? Perhaps the shield break ability can also be found on a spell that you can choose to equip?
  > Concerns: If heavy attacks are the primary way to break through shield, it raises some issues with timing windows (being able to drop your shield and attack/dodge away before the heavy attack lands, and leaving charged heavy attacks in an awkward spot).
- Spells: Basically the same as the "Separate Ability" option, except now it's the player's choice to have the grab/shield break ability or not. If this option is chosen, then having more than one spell option that fulfills this role should be looked into, as you are now sacrificing your spell slot for it.
- Alex's vote: Separate Ability or Spells function as the grab/shield break. The heavy attack option feels like it causes too many issues (especially attack timing issues), where the other two are basically different implementations of the same idea, with different pros/cons and few drawbacks.
- Warning: make sure we can't chain-grab. Big no-no.

- Your character quickly moves in the direction they are facing. During most of the animation, your character is invincible, but you cannot take any additional actions.
- May be able to perform a special rolling/dodging attack at the end of this maneuver.
- Animation: A combat roll. If rolling is out of the question, then a short leap, dash, or other motion that is appropriate to a dodging/evasive maneuver.
- One of two defensive actions, the other being raising your shield (not necessarily a physical shield).
- How do we make this not OP!? (Based off of roll from the previous game.) Should there be another "Energy" resource? Just a longer cooldown?
- What are the benefits of shielding over roll/dodge? Both need their strengths and weaknesses; under what circumstances is rolling/dodging worse than shielding?

Shield/Block – Mana Shield
Super Smash Bros. inspired
- Holding shield makes you invulnerable while it is held.
- Holding shield slowly depletes your mana pool. (More on mana in the Magic section.)
- Damage dealt to the mana shield reduces your mana pool by a percentage of the damage dealt.
- Perfect shielding: if you block an attack within the first 1/10th (?) of a second of raising your shield, you don't incur any lag for blocking, allowing you to quickly drop your shield and attack back. (May have other benefits as well.)
- Design goal: to make block semi-tactical in nature, and give melee-focused characters a reason to care about their mana. It also incentivizes magic-focused characters to dodge/stay at range, because they don't want to waste mana on shielding.
- Perhaps should give clear advantages to melee-focused characters for using their shield over rolling/dodging.

- Players can equip different spells.
- Only one spell can be equipped at a time.
- Each spell has its own unique stats, timings, effects, etc.
- Spells use one of three animations (shoot, slam, rally) depending on its primary effect.
  > Shoot: directional, with a forward hand gesture, for spells like fireball, magic missile, etc.
  > Slam: Omni-directional. Fist slams into the ground, etc. For AoE spells like earthshatter, etc.
  > Rally: Omni-directional. Raise hands above head, etc. For buffs, suporty stuff, etc.
- Spells function like heavy attacks, in that they can be charged in the same way. When fully charged, they gain a special/bonus effect. Maybe not all spells can be charged? (Not appropriate for all spells?)

Resource - Mana
- Spells don't require mana to be cast. Instead, they consume available mana to become more powerful. More is consumed when charged.
- Melee attacks give mana when they deal damage. Mana generation is not linked to the damage; rather each attack of the weapon gives a specific amount of mana.
- Heavy attacks give more mana than light attacks; charged attacks even more so.
- Some weapons naturally generate more mana than others, making them more caster-friendly.
- Side-goal: make magic less spammy.
- Mana Regeneration: should there be any passive mana regeneration at all?

- Below are the stats we used in the first Guardians of Nogard, and current thinking of how they can translate to the new Guardians of Nogard.
- NOTE: Outside of Strength and Magic, I (Alex) am not particularly attached to Speed and Health in their current forms. I would like to have more than just Strength and Magic as stats, but Speed and Health need a close look at, to determine how they are serving us. Maybe one or both should be scrapped, and replaced with something else?

Primary Effect – Increases melee damage.
Secondary Effect – uncertain. Ideas:
 - Reduces Shield's damage-to-mana depletion %, allowing you to shield more/longer?

Primary Effect – Increases spell damage.
Secondary Effect – Increases your total Mana pool.
 Alternate Secondary Effect – Increases the mana gained when melee attacks hit by a %.

Primary Effect – Increases movement speed.
Secondary Effect – uncertain. Ideas:
 - Reduces roll/dodge cooldown? (Not a big fan.)

Primary Effect – Increases total health.
Secondary Effect – uncertain. Ideas:
 - Give/increase a Life Steal/Life Leach stat.

Character Advancement Resources
- Last game, we ran into a problem where there was a choice to be made by players: buy more stats, or buy a new weapon. We realized that we had to scale new weapon purchases with potential stats purchases. Do I buy the Spear or 4 Strength? New weapons had to have increased base damages to keep up with the stat purchases you went without. To avoid this balance problem, the idea was brought forth that the currency to purchase stats and weapons/spells should be separated.

- Used to purchase new weapons and spells.

- Used to purchase stats.

Last edited by AlexFricke on Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:08 pm; edited 1 time in total


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Re: Game Concept and Core Mechanics

Post by NathanKinnick on Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:59 pm


The playable characters summary online is accurate as of now.

Weapon Styles
-Added stretch goal of enemies having rare weapon drops. If you grab it, you equip it immediately and it is unlocked in the store. Your old weapon is still available to switch back to between levels. Walk over and hit/hold a button?

Weapon Attacks
-Light attacks combo up to 3 hits before the final ending lag.

Grab/Shield Break
-Shield breaking is not a separate move (with the possible exception of 1 or 2 magics), but is an inherent property of the heavy attack and may be more effective with charging the attack.

-Renamed to Evade
-Omni-directional and some control over movement during the Evade.
-Should have significant cooldown and ending lag, plus always goes a set distance.
-You can do an attack at the end of the evade, with little ending lag from the evade, but this attack has even higher ending lag.
-Has a small amount of bonus knockback from this attack
-You are invincible during the Evade, but vulnerable during the ending lag.

-No changes to what the block looks like, because there is still lots to discuss about how to handle this.
-Perfect shielding reduces your ending lag from the shielding state and may also slightly increase their stun time on the opponent.
-Perfect shielding and energy consumption has design issues which we will need to revisit.

-Generic playstyles: Shoot spells are for long-range, Slam spells are for close-range, Rally spells are for mid-range or support
-We do not want any builds that count as "Pure Mage", but we do want to support players who use their spell as their primary (but not only) attack.

-Our stat system needs to be reconsidered completely. We do really like secondary effects from stats to support play styles
-The primary purpose of stats should be a sense of progression though, while supporting play styles is secondary.
-Stats could be Perk Paths where some perks "increase a stat" (eg, damage up by 10%), while others give some kind of ability (eg, adds bleed damage). Both of those examples could be in the same Path.

-Stat points are given at the end of the game uniformly to each player. Aka, players do not have to buy stats instead of weapons/spells/etc.
-Stat points need to be given on a curve so that the first few points can feel valuable but do not ruin a build if a player makes a mistake.

-Gold can be earned in 3 ways: dropped from monsters, rewarded for the kill, and rewarded for the amount of damage dealt to the monster.
-This allows us to support long range and support builds, but encourages the "co-optional" gameplay from stealing drops and kills.


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Re: Game Concept and Core Mechanics

Post by AlexFricke on Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:04 pm

Rules of the game
 What do you do?
   You play as a knight of Nogard, joined by up to 3 friends, and fight hordes of enemies.
   Players can find/buy and equip 4 types of weapons with different attack styles.
   Players can purchase a number of unique spells.
   Players can steal gold pick-ups from their teammates, and push them around with certain attacks.
 How do you win?
   After completing all levels and defeats the final boss, you win the game.
   Players gain bonus reward gold for having the highest kills, damage dealt, etc at the end of each level.
 What are the obstacles?
   Enemies of various types.
   Mostly consisting of orcs with different characteristics.
     Grunt - only focused attacks
     Brute - only sweeping attacks, can knock around other orcs
     Tank - grunt with extra health that also shields
     Ranger - grunt that attacks from range
     Elite - strategically varies its attack, and also blocks
     Moneybags - quick, avoids combat, drops lots of gold.
 How do you keep score or track your progress?
   Players can find or purchase new weapons and spells.
     - 4 weapon types
     - 3 spell cast types (shoot, slam, rally): all spells will use one of these cast types
     - 3 to 4 stats, modeled after a progressive perk system like Kingdom Rush
   At the end of each level, players are shown a score breakdown, consisting of:
     - kills
     - damage dealt
     - damage taken
     - gold picked up
     - steps taken/distance traveled
     - damaged shielded
     - evade count
     - sweeping attack count
     - focused attack count
     - spells cast count
     - allies hit count
Gameplay inspirations and why they inspire you
 Castle Crashers
   couch co-op
   co-optional elements - weapon pick-ups, stealing the princess's kiss, etc.
   stat system/character archtypes - strength and magic focused builds, especially
   couch co-op
   enemy spawning
   end of screen progression
   how not to do an in-game store
 Spartan: Total Warrior
   Horde combat
   Focused and Sweeping attack breakdown (broad and narrow attacks)
 Kingdom Rush
   Stat upgrades - progressive perks


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Re: Game Concept and Core Mechanics

Post by AlexFricke on Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:11 pm

Ideas based on the feedback from our Project399 presentation and post-presentation discussion.

Player Progression
Each character has a core combat theme, which encompasses all types of combat.
E.g.  Totally Human Knight is a tank.
       Pompous Knight is a tough brawler.
       Serious Knight is a specialist.
       Princess is big effects.

At character select, each player chooses one of the four characters.
Players cannot choose the same character; there can only be one of each character.
Players then choose one of two sub-classes, which are derived from their core combat theme.
E.g.  Totally Human Knight can be Supporty Tank, or Mage Crowd Control Tank
       Pompous Knight can be a Spell Sword, or a Shield Breaker
       Serious Knight can be a Duelist, or Arcane Illusionist
       Princess can be a Berserker, or an Artillery Mage

With the removal of the Store, there is no need for Gold or Experience.
We need something to take its place.
We’ve already talked about having Health Orbs drop from enemies.
Enter Power Orbs.
Power Orbs drop from enemies like Health Orbs, but don’t do anything on their own.
However, once a player has collected 10 (?) of them, they are rewarded with a temporary buff.
This buff increases their weapon damage (and maybe knockback), spell damage and effects, and movement speed.
Picking up additional Power Orbs might extend the buff duration, stack up like normal, or maybe you can’t pick up any while under the effect of the buff.
Next, enter Life/Resurrection Orbs.
Basically, this is a way to handle extra lives/reviving.
There is lots of different ways for this to work, but the idea being that there is another type of Orb pick-up that that will give players another life, or allow them to be resurrected when they die.
Maybe you need to pick up 50 Life/Resurrection Orb Fragments to gain a Life/Resurrection Orb. You can only carry one Life/Resurrection Orb at a time, and if you die carrying one, it will revive you immediately. Outside of this, maybe you can be revived if an ally holds the “Interact” button while near your corpse.


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Re: Game Concept and Core Mechanics

Post by ThomasB on Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:57 pm

Golden Pumpkin discussion now has its own thread! Go there for further discussion. - Alex

Golden Pumpkin:

Core concept: object of power that one player possesses. Can be passed from player to player to assist them, can be stolen, or can be lost by all players where they have to retrieve it.

A golden pumpkin is granted to someone who scores a certain number of points (golden pumpkin seeds) from enemies.

Ownership of the pumpkin grants a big bonus to combat powers, heals you up to 25% of your health, and kerblams when you retrieve it.

With the pumpkin, you can pass it to another player (which you would want to do to heal them), or hold on to it for as long as possible (to be the most powerful player). However! Other players can steal your pumpkin if they get a certain number of points before you do. And the longer you hold it, the more enemies focus on you.

If you are still the leading player while holding the pumpkin, it drops somewhere randomly in the arena.  

If the pumpkin is dropped, enemies can potentially grab it. This does not give them incredible powers, but puts them in a euphoric state where they freak out and dance joyfully around the arena.

The pumpkin can have combat uses, like a ‘golden orc’ can only be harmed by the one carrying the pumpkin, or the suicide bomber enemy only targets the one with the pumpkin.

The pumpkin can also have puzzle or level uses, such as passing the pumpkin through a gate to open a door or activate a trap in the level.

Narratively, the player’s objective is: Get a golden pumpkin and bring it back to Nogard. That’s it.

Quick story outline: King of Nogard wants golden pumpkin. Also save his daughter or whatever.

The knights bravely fight through the hoards of orcs to reach the princess and save her.

But shock and surprise! The princess was waiting for them. “What took you so long?”

The princess had in fact gone undercover as a pumpkin, anticipating that she would be brought to the orc stronghold so she could find out where to find a golden pumpkin.

“What other reason would I have for dressing up as a pumpkin? Why would I do that?”

United, the brave Guardians of Nogard quest for a fabled golden pumpkin. Here the game starts.

When acquiring a golden pumpkin, the guardians find that their enthusiasm at defeating great foes (bosses) gets the better of them, and many pumpkins get smashed (as many as necessary to extend the length of the game).

With their triumphant return to Nogard, golden pumpkin in tow, it seems that the guardians are ready for some well-deserved rest.

But betrayal! The king was in fact not the king of Nogard, but a cunning orc (?) in disguise. He wanted a golden pumpkin for his evil doomsday machine! Suddenly, with his machine complete and the betrayal revealed, the cunning orc shows off his mighty golden pumpkin-powered pumpkin mech of destruction! (a.k.a. final boss)  

With a mighty and climactic final battle, the guardians triumph and save Nogard! And all the heroes live happily ever after, ever vigilant for new evils that would dare to threaten Nogard. Hooray!

Also we need a battle on the back of a dragon at some point. Just saying.


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Re: Game Concept and Core Mechanics

Post by NathanKinnick on Thu Jul 30, 2015 1:32 pm

Some additional notes of a meeting that we took way back when:

Sentinel's New Ability:
Shield Wall: While at max mana, block to create a magic shield out to the side, expending mana and stunning enemies inside and pushing them forward. Hold to block other enemies yet drain more mana.

Magic has a float hidden behind it. So an orb can be partially full, but not usable yet and fill up gradually with hits. Once full it can be used to drain it completely. Charging a spell up has a graphical overlay that fills up a ready spell orb. Once completely filled, the orb is charged and the spell goes up a tier. If there was extra charge left over after casting a spell, it gradually goes back down. However, the left over charge goes towards the next spell if you begin casting before it is all drained.

We also talked about the relative merits of the different Transfusion, but made no decision regarding it.

I think that's it!


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