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Posts posted by Selke

  1. From the dev side of things, this would largely be an issue of how the "names" file is saved. There were mods for XCOM 2012 that approximated this as well. Example. You can see in the third screenshot that the solution they ended up with is sort of hacky (recruit's first name = null, recruit's last name = friends' name, and also the genders & nationalities are screwy) but it's not a complicated mod project to get a barebones system in place.

    But I agree with the rest of the angry mob, this is very much an "yes if we can do it in 10 minutes, otherwise absolutely not" sort of thing in my eyes.

  2. I took a stab at this in a previous thread as well. My initial take on it was that pieces of the chalice would need to be collected through successful conquest/adventuring, and you could either initiate the endgame yourself when that was complete or there was a hard stop in the timeline where the demons initiate the final slugfest. Not finishing the chalice would either lose you the game outright or, slightly more forgivingly, make the final sequence of battles dramatically more difficult.

    There are still pieces of that idea that I like, but the other contributors raised some very reasonable points against. It also doesn't really capture a mid-game failure -- whereas XCOM can hit you with a panic spiral and end your game very quickly for bad strategy, bad tactics, or bad luck, my model is more FTL-like in which you can trudge all the way to the end only to find out that you're completely outmatched and have been wasting your time for a while. That works really well in the context of FTL but would be kind of completely awful in an extended campaign like Massive Chalice's.

    The other sore point for me is that my whole model sort of assumes that you eventually get everything. Some battles may be harder than others depending on how you prioritize them, but there isn't really support for "this region disintegrated into demon-y goo" that I think hits an important note tonally.

  3. Are you somehow suggesting that MC money would be used for Broken Age's developing? I might have read too far into what you said but that's what I gathered from your post. AFIK that would break some accounting laws but I'm not sure and I don't think it will be an issue.

    Wasn't Gearbox getting sued for exactly this under suspicion of Aliens: Colonial Marines money being used to develop Borderlands 2? It's not an accusation I'm about to throw around lightly, but it's a legitimate risk. And I have no idea what the legal standing of it would be, especially since crowdfunding like this is sort of a new thing in the US.


    I had a huge rambling post written up about the situation, but frankly most of it's just me being an old man on my rocking chair. The whole situation is being handled as gracefully as I think Double Fine could reasonably manage, but it's still ultimately a black eye for them, and it's important to recognize that. (And a bigger black eye for the non-DF devs I've seen tweeting about how Project Management Doesn't Work For Games Because We're Special So Stop Nagging Me Jeeeeeez.)

    Having said that, it'd be a great confidence booster for Massive Chalice to show an overall management plan ASAP. It doesn't need to be a huge, elaborate Gantt Chart, but a quick outline of something like (1) how many people will be on the team, (2) their roles and responsibilities, (3) when the overarching design will be generally settled on, and (4) when the main build will be generally complete. I've been involved with enough project management work to know that we likely aren't going to link specific deliverable items to target dates right now, but there's no reason not to have ballparks of this stuff given where we are.

    The gaming industry -- and Double Fine is getting a reputation for this in particular -- has never seemed to be gung-ho on strongly-defined Plan-Design-Build-Test phases for their work. And that can be fine! I've seen that work in the right environment, and there are very good reasons to not isolate those too strictly when dealing with games! But it's becoming more and more critical that we see some of this very soon. We can't just plod along until next summer and suddenly go "Whoa, today was supposed to be release day and we're not done! How weird!"

  4. ...some of the more unique ones could grant a character passive abilities that are inherited by his line. So a character connecting with 10 consecutive ranged attacks might forever boost his line's accuracy, but one that avoids 10 total attacks while at critical health might instead earn his line a sort of Second Wind when they do get KO'd. And so on and so forth.

    This does introduce the danger of encouraging FFT-style grinding though, where you sit around with one neutered enemy and throw stones at your own team to earn skills, though.

    I would propose that instead of boosting the entire blood line after a hero completes something worth a modifier it would instead be translated as a boost to a relic's stats/abilities.

    I generally haven't given a lot of thought to relics, but you're completely right, that's a way better way to do it!

  5. @beermanbarman:

    I'm don't think anyone is suggesting that the demons show up, form a multiple-branch government, set up a system of taxation, and establish trade routes to neighboring regions. :P

    I'd imagined this as a very marauder-y group running rampant across lands that had previously been part of our kingdom, taking whatever they please in the process. Whether they're out for raw materials, captives for sacrifice, weird arcane energies, etc. is very much up for grabs. The artist world-map live stream even had an interesting idea where demonic occupation would actually reduce the land itself to primordial goop. Basically there's a lot of room here for stuff beyond "Welcome to Demonopolis, Have a Nice Stay" in terms of concept.


    I think I get where you're coming from. There are a few things I'm dubious on, but you raise some really good points.

    Focusing on XCOM for now, I felt that the actually-interesting Geoscape decisions were the research. Aside from wanting to get Engineers for the first mission or three, panic control was really the only thing that needed much paying attention to. Ultimately picking the battles felt pretty flat and micromanage-y most of the time, particularly because the UI necessitated jumping out to the situation room to check on the rest of the countries on each continent. That the maps weren't in any way location-specific also took a lot of the impact out of that selection too, since for all I know I may have been defending the same Burger Town in Kenya as I would have in Canada.

    Even research only varies so much though. Whether you rush straight towards interrogations, carapace armor, or beam/plasma weaponry influences the first dozen missions, but as soon as you have an interrogation room built and at least one upgrade for your weapons and armor, you're over the initial hump and the game plays mostly the same each time. That combined with the reactive nature of missions popping up makes XCOM's Geoscape only so-so for MASSIVE CHALICE, in my opinion -- we want a highly replayable, strategic game about going out and grabbing the demon by the horns.

    Taking that & to this context, I think you're right in that a lot of the fat could stand to get cut out in order to make the choices feel more impactful. Does the idea sit with you any better if you cut out "empty" territories completely so that each battle is for a keep, a unique location, or a piece of the chalice? Each of those has a potentially significant impact on game flow - particularly if unique locations vary from game to game - and gets around some of the banality of "hooray I conquered some gigantic featureless plains." It also sounds like it'd fit better with the sense of scale I've gotten from the design videos I've seen; if there are only 8-12 battles per generation, it makes no sense to have 50 map tiles to retake. Especially if 35 of those locations just give you a paycheck and a pat on the back.

    You could even take that further and arrange the whole game into "campaigns" rather than focusing on individual territories. The player might just select The Northern Front as his campaign, which signs him on to fighting for The Mines of Golderly Rock followed by Malachai Keep followed by The Great Library of Bardonia followed by Terodia Cathedral, where a shard of the chalice is. And by doing so, you've specifically chosen not to spend that time exploring The Southeastern Assault, which would have consisted of Smiff Keep, Eastre's Grove, and The Crypt of Glormograthondraxis, which holds a chalice shard. That removes some of the nuance but retains a feel of making big decisions, and it also isolates some of the big decision making in the strategy layer so that you aren't constantly assessing fiddly bits. I'm not completely sold on this idea myself, but I think there's some potential.

  6. It sounds like a lot of what you're talking about is more of a tradeoff than a positive boon, but you could definitely go to the latter side. Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis had a system of Emblems - basically achievements - that granted modifiers or access to classes based on the character's actions. They included a number of really simple ones (kill X enemies), but some of the more unique ones could grant a character passive abilities that are inherited by his line. So a character connecting with 10 consecutive ranged attacks might forever boost his line's accuracy, but one that avoids 10 total attacks while at critical health might instead earn his line a sort of Second Wind when they do get KO'd. And so on and so forth.

    This does introduce the danger of encouraging FFT-style grinding though, where you sit around with one neutered enemy and throw stones at your own team to earn skills, though.

  7. Re: the territory-capture angle. I totally understand the responses of "it works, but it's not especially new." This is a pretty simplistic take on the Kickstarter's line of "unite your kingdom under a powerful dynasty, eliminate the demonic threat, and reforge the MASSIVE CHALICE" without going straight up XCOM 2012 and automating most of it. Truth be told, most of the ideas I've been putting out on these forums in general have been well-trod territory, intentionally.

    Ultimately, I don't actually think we need a ton of novelty on this piece of the game. The biggest hook for the game seems to be the bloodline system as part of tactical combat, so most of the attention (both in design and in play) should be on those subsystems. That's why I'd want to link Chalice pieces (and potentially some Unique Locations) directly to bloodline benefits. It keeps the focus on the bloodlines everyone was so excited to kickstart rather than introducing a Civilization-scale strategy game to sit on top. My concern - especially in light of the couple of responses here - is that a fairly traditional & simplistic approach like this, while easily understood and worked with, could be banal enough to actually detract from the overall game experience. Not getting the player's blood pumping doesn't strike me as a huge problem here, but if it leads to rolling the player's eyes then it's definitely an issue.

  8. AH, a good couple of points, and nice point of clarification as well. I hadn't imagined actually having to place units around the map to fortify; I was following the XCOM model of "baddies drop in, and we teleport out from the Academy of War to go meet them in the field." That's what I get for saying "Risk-like" rather than "Atom Zombie Smasher-like," which I guess is what I was actually thinking of. :P That's definitely worth considering though for the angle of fighting a war on many fronts.

  9. So far it seems like the tactical layer has gotten a lot of attention, but beyond talk of how bloodlines & marriages work it seems like comparatively little discussion has revolved around the strategy layer. I propose that this is silly, so without further ado, I've hurled together a basic pitch for our geoscape. Please rip it to shreds in the interest of fleshing out what pieces people are most interested in.

    Game Intro, in Old-Timey Comic Speak Because I'm Bored

    In ancient times, there was a MIGHTY WARLORD that united the lands!

    But after his death, the kingdom FELL INTO DISARRAY!

    Now, in the year 20XX, demons have begun to spill into our world through MAGICAL RIFTS!

    As country after country fell before the hordes, the remaining survivors knew they had only one hope... the MASSIVE CHALICE!

    The nobles retreat to it and offer a BLOOD SACRIFICE. Though the chalice was set asunder ages ago, they were able to revive the spirit of their IMMORTAL RULER!

    Now, as the RULER OF ALL HUMANKIND once more, you must unite your kingdom under a powerful dynasty, eliminate the demonic threat, and reforge the MASSIVE CHALICE!

    The Overworld

    The overworld map is broken up into a number of individual territory tiles, akin to Risk. Most of these tiles begin under demon control. The player begins with his Capital City (where he manages his army, research, and equipment) and two keeps with randomly established bloodlines & marriages. When enabled, the tutorial mission consists of capturing an adjacent keep; upon victory, the player is introduced the process of installing a bloodline and arranging a marriage.

    As for the map itself, there are a number of points of interest:

    Difficulty Level: Each demon-controlled location lists an approximate difficulty level, indicating how hard the battle will be if the player attempts to recapture it. (More on this later).

    Ruined Keeps: A few locations around the map include Ruined Keeps. If the player recaptures such a location, the keep is automatically repaired, and he may install a new Bloodline within it. He may purchase a variety of upgrades for each repaired keep in order to strengthen children born into it. Locations are semi-random.

    MASSIVE CHALICE Pieces: The chalice has been damaged, and its pieces are scattered across the land. If the player recaptures a location with a MASSIVE CHALICE piece, he gains a benefit that affects all of his bloodlines. Examples include but are not limited to: more inheritance "slots" per child, higher rate of trait inheritance for children, more children per marriage, etc. Locations are static from game to game, and pieces are not unique. (IE benefit X is gained when 1 shard is collected, benefit Y is gained when a second shard is collected, etc.)

    Unique Locations: Unique locations are just that -- unique. They may be a magical grove, a legendary forge within a mountain, an ancient library, or a holy cathedral. If a player recaptures such a tile, he gains a benefit unique to the location, such as increased research speed, reduced costs when forging equipment, a one-time reduction of Difficulty Level at handful of of locations, a powerful hero to found a bloodline, etc. Locations are semi-random, and only certain ones will spawn from game to game. (IE there may be 10 that exist within the game, but only 6 appear for on any given playthrough). Some may need to be "staffed" by a bloodline to maintain their benefit over time; I know that that was a request by the LGB-friendly crowd, and this feels like a logical place to fit that in.

    A spectacularly crappy MSPaint example is provided below. No Unique Locations are included in the interest of keeping things readable. (And frankly there's lots of room left for brainstorming.) Also, I'm assuming that this image is only a portion of the world map, but there is a very real possibility that I am dumb and wrong.


    Actual Gameplay on This Thing

    The player may, at any time, initiate an attack on an adjacent demon-controlled territory. Victory will grant him control of that tile, award him money (some flat, some over-time), and access to any objectives within. There is no penalty for a loss, aside from casualties incurred during the battle. The player may also choose to advance the Epic Timeline (similar to XCOM, though we will probably move in months rather than days) in order to allow his soldiers to recuperate, complete research, acquire income, and let bloodlines have children. However, while the Timeline advances, Demons may launch attacks of their own. Losing one of these battles causes the player to lose control of the region attacked, including the income provided by the region as well as the loss of any keeps held within it. Most locations on the board will begin with a fairly low difficulty to encourage the player to make some early progress, but over time the demons will provide reinforcements, increasing them.

    Aside: This provides some counterbalance to the desire to attack everywhere on the board immediately to maximize income. Some locations will simply be too difficult to conquer immediately, and the player must balance his standing army so that he doesn't have his whole squad in the infirmary when a demon attack occurs.

    When Does It Stop?

    The demons have begun corrupting the land in order to fuel their war machines, and only the MASSIVE CHALICE can save us! The player must recover all (5?) pieces of the MASSIVE CHALICE, at which point he may march into Hell to stop the demon threat once and for all. (Or at least once and for now.) In addition, after Generation 5 (defined in-game by a definitive date -- say 150 years after the start) we reach a make or break moment. The player is forced to enter the endgame at this point if he has completed the MASSIVE CHALICE. If he has not, well, it turns out he wasn't such a wonderful warlord and the demons simply win.

    What Choices are We Forcing the Player to Make?

    This is really the important part of evaluating an idea like this, in my eyes. Are we making the player handle too much at once, or not enough to make the choices really difficult? Are the choices we're asking the right ones for our concept of the game? The challenges I've had in mind while putting this together are:

    • Attack territories in an order that suits your overall strategy. Maybe you want to rush to conquer more keeps to diversify your bloodlines, or maybe you'd rather beeline for the increased research rate Unique Location to get a jump on the tech tree.

    • Manage your army so that you aren't spread so thin attacking that you're unable to repulse demon attacks.

    • Manage your bloodlines so that they produce strong children, and that they produce enough of them.

    • Balance your cashflow between (1) upgrading your equipment, (2) completing research, (3) upgrading your keeps

    • Progress consistently towards repairing the MASSIVE CHALICE in preparation for the endgame.

    With that giant wall of text done, again, please tear this limb from limb until we arrive at something that feels solid.

  10. Bit of a roundabout preface here. I was scribbling out a couple thoughts for classes and figured that based on what our doubly-fine design team has mentioned so far, 6 would be a nice number. Specifically, that'd be 2 "strong" classes, 2 "quick" classes, and 2 "smart" classes. On the magic-y front, I thought a nice split would be an academic, dispassionate Sage on one end and a Druid entrenched in the natural world on the other.

    From there we start to get to my actual point. There's been a lot of discussion about the trade-offs between "Human Tech" and "Demon Tech," and how that ties into the ideal of demonic Corruption influencing the land and bloodlines. My real question here thus is, "From a narrative and thematic sense, are the interests of our kingdom inherently aligned with the restoration of the natural world? Or are we essentially creating an industrial revolution, where land is merely a means to our ends?"

    There are a couple of different directions I can see this going. There could simply be a default assumption in which our kingdom is shown using all parts of the proverbial buffalo -- and this could even be stretched support the quasi-eugenics the game is centered around. Or we could be barreling full speed ahead, chopping down trees and rerouting rivers willy nilly to fuel our war machines. The other end of the spectrum could leaving this up to the player, which could require further game mechanics (a third tech tree?) to build out.

    But trying at first to look at the "fluff" rather than the "crunch," is this a distinction that people have thought about or are interested in? Is there one that folks think is a stronger hook for the world? I'm curious to see the general opinion (if any) people have on this.

  11. I think the issue is less about creating art assets and more about the effort of creating a swath of classes then getting the breeding results figured out to people's satisfaction. Using Secondary classes similarly to FFT -- akin to equipping White Magic on your Knight -- means not needing to create an entirely new class and skillets called Paladin. I'd be surprised if we end up with more than 6 classes or so.

  12. Simple implementation: unhappy marriages produce their single, royally-mandated child and call it a day, whereas happier couples go at it like rabbits and give you a veritable litter. That would save the trouble of getting down and dirty in character statistics while keeping the theme, and is simple enough to factor in as a player to keep the needle closer to "fun" than "annoying.

  13. Now, the above is just an arbitrary example I thought up in like two minutes, but that's the point: it could have been anything. What the traits are, what they mean, and how they are related is up to the game designers. My experimental implementation merely explores a framework for passing down traits through a bloodline and can be used in whatever manner makes the most sense to the designers.
    I get a lot of what you're going for, but I need to stress that this is a big weakness in the system right now. You've created a big thing, and it's impressive looking and well put together, but it doesn't actually do anything until we figure out some kind of consistent input and output. The discussion so far has considered the "traits" to be any or all of active skillsets, passive skills, and now actual DNA that may or may not have any effect even when it manifests as non-latent. Again, there's a lot to love here and I think you're on to something, but "the actual effects of my big honking matrix and flow chart" is kind of a critical element to handwave away. :P

    For my part, I really like the idea of utilizing this to handle passive skills. It does model genetics in an interesting way, particulary in that it fits our not-at-all-true-to-life system of Houses v. Spouses (love that vocab, by the way!). And it also lets us use a more traditionally intuitive system of levels to handle most advancement rather than figuring out what increasing our Swordfighting skill from 77 to 83 does. Accepting that there's no small amount of pushback to the idea of a class system around here, this could also be a really interesting way to decouple some abilities from classes in order to drive the player to mix up his lines, particularly if we can increase variability in trait manifestation. Easy example -- you get a Knight with the trait Half MP Costs, but Knights aren't particularly gated by their MP. Suddenly you have a reason to consider pairing this guy with a Wizard in hopes of getting a Wizard kid with Half MP Costs.

    Such a system would demand:

    (1) Generalized traits that are at least sort of useful regardless of class. If your Knight/Archer hybrid has Extra Damage On Fire Spells it just feels wasteful, which I know that I as a player would find really annoying.

    (2) That characters have enough traits to give meaningful decisions in House & Spouse selection. If our Knight from above only has Half MP Costs, it could end up being a bit of a no brainer to pair him with a Wizard. Ideally he'd also end up with one or two that suggest a Knight/Archer/Ninja/Druid/whatever pairing.

  14. There's a germ of an idea here (and I do like radar charts), but a few things jump out.

    First, if we're passing along class strength for all classes, how do you plan to avoid a gradual slide towards all characters being roughly equally mediocre at their "off" classes?

    Second, what determines which specific class we're increasing the proficiency of? Is this an Elder Scrolls-ish system where the only way to rank up my Mage class is to cast Mage spells? Does that necessarily imply that all characters have access to at least one ability from all classes?

    Third, what does ranking up in a class actually mean? Are we gaining skills of that class as we go? Actives or passives? Do our existing skills & stats get modified as we go?

    You don't necessarily need answers to all of those right at this moment, but hopefully they help get the discussion going. Beyond that, there's a philosophical component to this that potentially bears more discussion. Namely, is it so bad if families change secondary characteristics relatively fluidly? Doing so frees up children to feel more like new characters than like statistically-slightly-better versions of their parents. I mean, even the promo picture for the game shows a swordsman with a berserker and an archer as his lineage.

  15. Quick thoughts:

    (1) Aaah page stretcher. :(

    (2) Thank you so much for thinking this through! The inclusion of code is maybe a bit of overkill, but a well-formatted post with a fleshed out idea gets a big thumbs up from me. :D

    (3) With respect to the power level bit, you're saying that experience would raise the trait's strength, correct? So Jimmy Hammerfist starts with 56 Spelunking, but as he levels up, that will increase, right? Otherwise, traits would only decrease in value as we go through generations, which obviously is a concern.

    (4) This seems workable on our limited scale, but it feels like it'd get really complicated really quickly as the trait list expands. I'd even suggest hiding the actual values from the player to minimize time spent crunching numbers when it's time to start matching houses & spouses.

    (5) Do you intend this to be used for both active and passive skills? That could get super complicated super quickly, and likely requires extra supporting logic to say "Hey we should probably not give this kid 12 passive skills and 0 active ones. I could definitely get behind using this solely for passives (nature) and using a separate system for actives (nurture).

    (6) Is trait strength strictly used for inheritance purposes, or does it affect the character's effectiveness on the battlefield? I can see Swordsman 90 dealing more damage than Swordsman 43, but Walk On Water 83 versus Walk On Water 51 feels way less well-defined.

    And finally, is that pseudocode or a specific language? My background is largely C/C++/Java, and that's really clean code.

  16. Going to try to spool this down so that we don't end up hurling increasingly long responses at each other. :)

    iconic fantasy? that sounds like something that should be thrown overboard day one if you ask me. =)

    "Iconic classes" and "classic fantasy" are not synonymous, and I'm with you 100% that we don't want the latter. If our class is called Cavalier, but the image is of an unarmed guy riding a velociraptor that's wearing a jetpack, that tells us a lot about the world and how that character fits into it. Or take a Wizard where the image is of a fit guy, blanketed in tattoos, with a snake for his left hand and an axe in his right. That again is strong imagery that informs us what "Wizard" means in this world, but its nothing like the classical image of a bearded old nerd in a pointy hat.

    Im sorry but can you take that again in other words? probably Im just being daft but I dont really grasp what youre arguing... "abstract" template?

    On visuals & abstraction, take Final Fantasy Tactics. By using well-defined base imagery for each job & sex, they ignore equipment almost entirely and maintain strong readability between classes. Your suggestion seems to be to use a single base model/shape to ignore character differences, which requires that we drive readability by doing a lot of work on equipment. Rather than doing 40 models of people, you make 400 models of equipment, then make sure that the differences between them are actually distinguishable at the scale the player is working at.

    I realize that this is a little bit last-word-ish, but I'm content to drop this part of the conversation if you are, at least with respect to production effort. Frankly, I think we're both sorta making stuff up at this point. :)

    In an act of grand heresy, I declare that Snapshot is anything other than terrible. (Editor's note: paraphrased)

    again Im missing something - youre saying classes are more important than ever in MC but then that they undermine the system?

    I agree with your wizards though of course.

    SNAPSHOT? You're breaking my heart! It's not like it makes the character worse, but any time you bring a Snapshot Sniper along, you're better served by just bringing another Assault. It's a terrible trade-off for Squadsight!

    RE: The actual point, this gets into some of what you mentioned earlier with "mushy" ground between classes. As much as I'm a fan of class-based systems, there are still major issues to consider. "Niche protection" is a big one that basically says "classes should have strong identities." Don't make a Cavalier, Mountie, and Raptor Knight class, because they introduce the same gameplay patterns and step all over each other's toes. When I see a guy on a jetpack raptor, that should mean something with respect to his class. The flip side, and what I was alluding to with XCOM, is that this applies within a class as well. If all Raptor Knights are nearly identical, each individual one loses its identity, and you don't have any engaging choices for the player.

    Long story short (too late), well-designed classes create a stronger ancestral link than isolated skills do, but making the template excessively strict makes things feel same-y and boring. (P.S. plug plug plug)

    I dont know why the system as such always has to produce a well-balanced warrior. Id like it if some were good combinations and some a bit crappy. thats why you try to arrange marriages isnt it?

    I agree completely! I'm just saying that the inclusion of a little more structure avoids the player ends up with a crappy character or bloodline as a result of being overwhelmed by choice, and that classes are a good way to provide that structure. We shouldn't eliminate variation and risk, but it's worth making an effort to narrow the gap from best case to worst case.

  17. Sorry Ill answer the other things later when I have more time.

    No but thats what Im saying. you might not look like a ninja. youd be a generic dude in light armor, maybe special headwear and have a katana if youve equipped it. and youd move faster. so in a sense you would look like one, but it wouldnt be a ninja model. thats the whole point. strength or fatness etc wouldnt be in there. unless it can be "faked" with bone scaling or something like that.

    if there are unique models for all classes and you also have to make the different gear just for that model, and the gender and general variations. now. we re. talking. lots of modeling.

    You're potentially right here, but a classed system typically involves a lot more abstraction of equipment using a unique template, rather than putting a bunch of unique equipment on an abstract template. I mean, look at something like the Diablo games -- there's a lot of asset re-use (D2 was pretty obvious about this) but characters stay pretty readable since the base is so different across classes.
    I believe a sufficiently open structure/system is self balancing. The more options you have, the less likely any individual skill/combination becomes "un-counterable" or "broken". All the flavor/lore/narrative can be put on the bloodline/house systems. No skill or combination needs to be "worthless", just some may be more effective if you're lucky enough to get them.

    Keep in mind that this is specifically asymmetrical. Taking this to the extreme, if there's a group of skills that collectively allows you to instantly assassinate enemies from across the map, there's no implication that the demons have access to something similar. And even if they did, the game would be balanced, but probably not very engaging on account of having become rocket tag.

    On the "worthless" side, my assumption is that that would be due to combined accidents in design (creating skills that don't stand up to their competition) and accidents in play (ranking up skills that don't synergize with each other). Working within a more constrained system dramatically reduces the number of combinations to be concerned about, which in turn reduces both the frequency and the significance of those kinds of errors. I mean, I don't want to coddle the player any more than I think you do -- there should be meaningful choices to be made in character growth -- but I think there's something to be said for establishing at least a basic framework.

  18. I don't think that a strictly skill-based system simplifies it at all, really. Class-based systems live and die by the extent to which their classes are iconic for their setting. Fantasy is a genre that lends itself really well to that since you have very different skillsets all jacked up to 11. You have physical vs. magical classes (and some that straddle the line), melee vs. ranged, strength vs. speed, and so on and so forth. I'm a much bigger fan of classless stuff -- whether skill-based or just story-based for any number of other settings, whether it's horror or action movies or zombie apocalypses. But for fantasy, and in particular fantasy with a strong narrative or artistic direction, classes have become the standard for good reason.

    With heredity and heraldry being so central, my gut feeling is that classes have become more important, not less. The connection through lineage needs to be both significant and obvious. I think XCOM 2012 overshoots the target for classes in this respect. There are some explicitly "wrong" choices in the skill trees (Snapshot vs Squadsight comes to mind) that lead to units of a class ending up largely identical. And even some of the flexible options (e.g. Assault skills) end up amounting to little more than a few numerical tweaks behind the scenes. So with that in mind, I think you're right to be concerned about typing any classes we use too strongly. Ultimately we're going to be well served by having Wizard 1 feel different from Wizard 2, as it undermines a lot of the themes if they're from different houses but play identically.

    On the visual side of things... I'll start by saying I've never done modeling for games. But I'd think that having to do incremental changes to a generic model to support nigh-infinite skill & equipment combinations would be more difficult and time-intensive than putting together a couple archetypes for each class and customizing them in known ways. In a skill based system, if I have 4 agility skills and 0 strength skills, I might look like a ninja. If I have 4 strength skills and 0 agility skills, I might look like a knight. What do I look like if I have 2 and 2? If I have 1 and 3, do I just use the model for 4/0, the model for 2/2, or a unique one? This just strikes me as the Punnet square problem with classes, times a thousand.

    One last thing; you mentioned that it'd be cool to discover those baller combinations. You're right, it'd be cool to discover them. But also consider that the less structure we have to gaining skills, the more difficult it comes to effectively balance everything, so that "really good" combination might actually be "gamebreakingly and fun-destroyingly powerful." And on top of that, for every "incredibly powerful" combination or skills, there's also a lot of room for "completely worthless" combinations of skills. Having well-defined classes while allowing some appropriate room for customization shaves off a LOT of worst-case scenarios while clipping out a comparatively smaller chunk of best-case scenarios.

  19. Variations

    Class Warfare:

    So far, it sounds like the team's running idea has been to explicitly define a Primary and Secondary parent for the purposes of class determination. I think it's equally -- if not more -- valid to remove this piece, making our example of a Knight + Archer marriage yield either KNIGHTarcher or ARCHERknight children. It does mean that a particular house might shift from a Knight bloodline to an Archer bloodline though, which weakens some of the ancestral connection. We can sidestep that concern slightly if a marriage is expected to yield multiple children, however, since one of them will likely be able to carry the torch.


    From having listened to the design talks, it seems like Brad's general take on things has been that the heroes of Gen 5 will be demonstratively more powerful than that of Gen 1. It's not the direction I had original envisioned, but you could do something like, at defined plateaus (Level 5, 10) let the player designate an additional known skill as a bloodline skill. So when Mikhail starts churning out babies, he passes down both Berserker Rush and Cleave automatically rather than just the former.

    This is also neat in that it back-loads some of the complexity for the player. With your initial heroes, your actions are pretty limited so that you can learn the ropes of the game. Those decisions become more complicated as the characters gain skills, and by the time you get to a new wave of babies you're comfortable enough with the flow of game play to handle a few more options at your disposal rather than starting at square 1.

    Blood Magic:

    Rather than making bloodline skills completely generic, they could be upgraded versions of standard skills. So maybe Mikhail Ovechkin learns Aegis, but Natasha Bobrovsky will always have Sacred Aegis (or Blood Aegis, or Aegis+, etc.) which boosts both her defenses and her adjacent allies'. This could end up requiring double the design work per class, though, since you have potentially two versions of every skill. I suppose that some of that is avoidable if not all of the skills are eligible as bloodline skills, though that reduces our family diversity slightly.

    Exponential Gains:

    Another means to pass on additional power to a younger generation could be to go the specialization route and treat both bloodline powers eligible for inheritance. As an example, if I want a badass KNIGHTwizard two generations from now, I want to make a KNIGHTknight (with 2 Knight bloodline skills) and a WIZARDwizard (with 2 Wizard bloodline skills) right now. Neither of those two really has a secondary class, so marrying them will give us a KNIGHTwizard with all 4 bloodline skills. It feels more like a weird corner case to me than anything else right now, but there's a seed of an idea that may be worth exploring here.

  20. Why do something like this?


    As much as we, as the immortal ruler from on high, would like to believe, a big theme that I'm drawing from the game so far is that we can only push fate so far. Breeding better warriors is only so exact, assuming that the mommy and daddy we picked out love each other enough to give it a shot in the first place. With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense to me that we wouldn't have free range to tailor-make our heroes as you might in, say, Final Fantasy Tactics. Hence, while we do have some decisions in what tricks our heroes learn, they're still bounded by fate/genetics/the RNG. At the same time, this is balanced against identity.


    Family Identity

    I'm assuming that each class will end up with some flexibility. In the example above, "Knight" is our melee class, but it has raw aggression (Berserker Rush), grace (Blade Dance), and protection (Sacred Aegis) built into it. As a matter of lineage, passing down the class doesn't mean much if dad was a bloodthirsty barbarian and his son picks up with nothing but swashbuckling skills.

    Explicitly tracking bloodline skills could also influence the family's appearance. I'm imagining Ovechkin models as burly barbarian types with two-handed weapons, whereas Bobrovsky models are heavily armored soldiers with one-handers and tower shields. They may have different accent colors as well, but this gives us some immediate readability even within members of the same class.

    Game Identity

    One of the risks that we sidestep by explicitly linking some skills from parent to child is the idea of a bringing a character in without the ability to fill a role. A couple examples of this: In XCOM, a Sniper that has not yet learned Squadsight can't attack from long range, which is kind of the entire point behind having a Sniper in the first place. In FFT, the counterpart would be a character that just unlocked the Summoner class but doesn't have enough JP to actually learn any Summons. We didn't bring the guy along to cast Priest spells and whack people with his staff, but that's all he's got for now. That and the goofy headband, I guess -- gotta give the guy props for that.

    The overall point here is that, even though a new character should be weak compared to an established one, that new character should still have a defined niche that he can begin to fill, a reason for us to say "Yeah, this is a guy I could see developing." Having a defined bloodline skill immediately gives us that niche, which lends us a reason to consciously favor Clan Bobrovsky or Clan Ovechkin rather than just saying "Papa needs Knight babies" and flipping a coin. I'm still not going to trust my level 1 Bobrovsky to protect my elite veteran Crosby all on his own, but I can fairly expect him to at least chip in in that regard.


    And finally, there's been a lot of talk so far about hybridization: Wizard + Archer, Priest + Knight, and so on. What has gotten a little less attention is why we would want to specialize our lineage by, say, combining two Knight families. A system like this provides reasonable incentive to do so. Presumably we'd end up with particularly Knightly stats as part of it, but we also get 2 guaranteed skills that should play pretty well with each other. And we know that we're getting Knight skills at every single level up rather than watering it down with some Archer technique we may never use. Whether to say that this is a good idea depends on class balance, but the reasoning behind doubling up like this is pretty straightforward, as is the end result of doing so.

  21. Hi gang!

    There's already been a lot of spitballing on the design videos and on the forums regarding how classes will work with respect to inheritance, and I'm looking to add another idea to the mix. With this one, I'm targeting a system that includes the immediate readability of classes while embracing the continuity of hand-me-down skills. Without wasting any more time, let's get into the meat of things.

    Proposed System

    • Hero characters have explicit Primary and Secondary classes, defined by their parents' marriage.

    • Classes each have a unique list of learnable active skills.

    • When a character levels up, he will have a limited selection of skills from a class to pick. (Example: pick Knight Skill A or Knight Skill B)

    • Primary class skills will be awarded more frequently than Secondary Class Skills (Example: new Primary at level 2, 3, 5, 7. New Secondary at level 4, 6, 8.)

    • Bloodlines define not just class, but a consistent skill that will be passed down through a family.

    How this would work in practice

    We'll make up partial skillsets for a pair of classes, as well as 3 families for our example:

    Knight skills: Berserker Rush, Blade Dance, Cleave, Focus Strength, Riposte, Sacred Aegis

    Archer skills: Draw a Bead, Hamstring, Hail of Arrows, Impact Arrow, Rapid Fire, Trick Shot

    House Ovechkin is a Knight family, with Berserker Rush as their bloodline skill.

    House Bobrovsky is a Knight family, with Sacred Aegis as their bloodline skill.

    House Crosby is an Archer family, with Draw a Bead as their bloodline skill.

    We decide that we want a character with both respectable melee and ranged combat to give him a flexible engagement range. To that end, we marry a member of House Ovechkin (designated as the Primary bloodline) with one of House Crosby (designated as the Secondary). The child, who we'll name Mikhail, is born as a level 1 KNIGHT (Primary class)/archer (Secondary class).

    Thanks to his lineage, Mikhail starts with both Berserker Rush and Draw a Bead as active skills. After a wildly successful first battle, Mikhail becomes level 2, and we're prompted to choose either Cleave or Blade Dance as his next skill. We go with Cleave for now, since it sounds like a multi-target move and that seems useful.

    After a few more notches in his belt, Mikhail hits level 3. We're prompted to choose between 2 more Knight skills: this time, either Focus Strength or Sacred Aegis. Deciding to give little Mikhail a well-balanced skillset, we pick Sacred Aegis for some defensive buffs. At level 4, Mikhail gets an Archer choice, and we opt for Hamstring over Impact Arrow, since immobilizing enemies from range will make it easier for us to close the gap.

    When we marry Mikhail off, his child will absolutely receive Mikhail's Primary class of Knight as well as the associated bloodline skill of Berserker Rush. Mikhail's secondary class will not be inherited by his child.

    One piece that you've likely noticed in this example is that Mikhail Ovechkin, at level 3, gained Sacred Aegis -- House Bobrovsky's bloodline skill. This is intentional; there's not necessarily anything unique about how a bloodline skill works, it's simply a guaranteed part of the parent-child relationship. If we end up with ~20 skills per class, there's no expectation that Mikhail would learn every Knight skill, and in fact may never even "draw" Sacred Aegis as an option at level up. Even if he did, we might decide that Clan Bobrovsky's got that need taken care of and opt to give Mikhail the other skill.

    Finally, although this has focused on active skills, you could likewise bolt on passive abilities, perks/quirks, etc. without too much headache.

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