I play a lot of digital card games. When I was working on Runescape Chronicle, I played that, as well as Hearthstone, Duelyst, Faeria, Magic Duels, Elder Scrolls Legends, Infinity Wars, Gwent, Solforge and, most recently, Eternal. Recently, from a professional point of view, I’ve been fascinated with the different ways that these games run their free to play economies.
Hearthstone, of course, set the benchmark for generosity and card acquisition rate. It’s interesting to see the different ways that these games approach the problem of getting cards and currency to the player. Some run a similar setup to Hearthstone (Elder Scrolls), whereas games like Eternal are trying to innovate (offering players a mode where they draft cards, then keep all cards they draft).
One thing that strikes me is that, in general, these delivery mechanics seem focussed on the velocity with which players earn cards, rather than creating the core retention loops seen in games such as Clash Royale. I know that this was something we came up against when working on Runescape Chronicle. We had a very clear picture of card acquisition rates, but ended up leaning on Daily Login bonuses as a means of encouraging players back.
Long story short, the first experiment was the indoor level, where the zombies were massively powerful, both because their inherent stats (health, damage, etc) and because the nature of the level (tight corridors and short sight lines) gave the melee heavy hitters a huge advantage.
To compensate for that, I made an outdoors level with enemies spread further apart, with longer sight lines and a variety of low walls for the player to use as cover. The thing is, that didn’t help very much.
After my indoor zombie experimentation, where the ranged player characters were overwhelmed by beefed up melee enemies who could take advantage of short sight lines and swarm the player, I decided to take the action outside.
There was two reasons for this;
The new level design would have the immediate, but somewhat tough to measure, effect of rebalancing the game in favour of ranged heroes who can now use the full benefit of their greater range.
With the game already rebalanced in favour of the player I now have a better space to start tweaking range/damage/health variables to get the levelling behaving as I want.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be using the Advanced Turn Based Toolkit (available in the Unreal Marketplace) as a base to prototype out different mechanics of my turn-based zombie game.
I know at this point I must sound like a salesman for this particular toolkit, but I just love the way it is put together. The best aspect of the toolkit is just how easy it is to customise. I wanted to put together a small, basic map to see how the different characters (a ranged character and melee character interacted).
First, I set out a hex grid and placed a couple of characters. See image below.
For a while I’ve had an idea for a game which I really want to make. However, for the purposes of showing design skill and proficiency with UE4, disappearing for a couple of years (or five?!) then reappearing with a finished game doesn’t really do me any favours.
What I thought I would do instead is write up the pitch for the game, then start working on a series of design documents which highlight the individual features/elements of the game. Once these short design documents are written I can then use UE4 to make small to medium-sized prototypes of the individual features. Where that is beyond me, or I would need code/art/audio support, I will flag that up and just present the design document.
The aim here is simple; show original thinking, show that I can write clear, concise design documentation, and show that I can turn an idea into a high quality design.
“Garrosh, always in your face, wanting you to hurt him, begging his healer to look elsewhere, ramping up damage until his dying breath.”
It’s been the year of Blizzard for me. First Hearthstone and now, improbably, Heroes of the Storm. Both games have been revelatory for me; bringing me rushing back into the brilliant PC gaming fold and opening my eyes to amazing game design.
Most of the posts I put on this blog are videos. I try and show a prototype I’ve made or tutorial I’ve completed. I wanted this post to be a little different. I wanted to design something on paper to show that I can be inspired by something and use that thing as a loose brief to create something which extends a game or changes it in some way.
My target was simple: to design a new hero for Heroes of the Storm inspired by the game most under-represented in Blizzard’s Nexus; Hearthstone!
Warrior has never been my class in Hearthstone, but I was fascinated by the Enrage mechanic and that could be applied to a MOBA character.
I’ve got another update to my teleport based platformer today. As the title suggests, it’s mainly a polish. However, I’ve also finished prototyping some mechanics which allow for the creation of puzzles.
The video below shows the first two levels of the prototype in action: