Tag Archives: ideas

tsrpg class – cleric

I will be documenting plans for my tsrpg character classes in individual posts like this one. Since this is the first class post, I will include a bit more in the way of explanation of terms this time around.

Cleric (tier 1)

Original Summary
Robes-medium armour + shields, blunt weapons. Low mobility, medium offense, medium defense. Primary healing class.
Related Classes
Tier 2: Mystic, Knight, Druid, Warlock
Tier 3: Paladin, Summoner, Necromancer

A Cleric may multi-class with any one of these seven other options – provided it has been unlocked by the player.

Stat Advancement
Strength: 4 (increases strength of physical melee abilities)
Speed: 2.5 (increases turn order and frequency of turns, increases ability to evade attacks)
Defense: 4 (decreases physical damage taken from melee/ranged attacks)
Will: 8 (increases strength of magical and ranged abilities)
Resistance: 6.5 (decreases magical and status effect damage taken)

A character gains this many points in each of their core stats every 10 levels. The value is rounded up and all stats have a minimum value of 1. Thus, at level 10, a cleric has 4 strength and 3 speed. At level 25, the cleric has 10 strength and 6 speed. At level 100, a cleric would have 40 strength and 25 speed.

Health: 6
Mana: 6

A character earns this many maximum health and mana points per character level. Thus, at level 1, the Cleric has 6 mana and 6 health. At level 100, they have 600 mana and 600 health. A character’s health or mana may never exceed 999.

Movement: 3 (base movement points in hexes per turn)

Movement is a constant value that never increases except with equipment or special abilities.

For purposes of class balance for all tier 1 classes, the advancement values in the 5 base stats should add up to 25. Health, Mana, and Movement values for all classes should add up to 15. Tier 2 classes get 2 extra points in addition to these 40, and Tier 3 classes get an extra 5 points.

Allowed Equipment
Clerics are allowed to wear robes, light, and medium armour. They are also allowed to use shields if they have an available hand. They are restricted to using only blunt weapons, but may use any blunt weapon, whether light or heavy, one or two handed. This includes staves.

There are 4 basic classes of armour – robe, light, medium, and heavy. Shields are a separate category. Weapons are divided up into several different categories based on weight and handedness – which may or may not be related (it is possible to have a 1-handed heavy weapon). Weapon weights come in 3 classes – light, medium, and heavy. Staves, bows, and polearms are separate categories. Additionally, some weapons are flagged as appropriate for individual classes on an item-by-item basis.

Class Availability
Clerics are available from the beginning of the game.

16 of the 20 classes in the game must be unlocked by performing certain quests that will vary wildly in difficulty and time commitment required to complete.

Skills

Every class should have approximately 20 skills at their disposal. Some classes that gain more equipment options or which get better base stats may wind up with less actual skills than some of their lower tier counterparts.

Healing Abilities

  • Lesser Heal – Low mana cost short range healing ability that allows the cleric to quickly cure minor wounds on a single target up to 2 hexes away. Starting ability.
  • Antidote – Cures poison and similar weaker status effects from a single target within range. Rank 1 at Lvl 1.
  • Revive – Revive an adjacent dead or dying ally. Additional ranks improve the amount of health the comrade is raised with. Rank 1 at Lvl 10.
  • Heal – Restores a large amount of health to a single target up to 3 hexes away. Rank 1 at Lvl 10.
  • Far Heal – Costs more mana than Lesser Heal, restores a comparable amount of health at a much greater range (3-10 hexes, each rank improves range by 1). Rank 1 at Lvl 20.
  • Group Heal – Restores a large amount of health to multiple targets up to 4 hexes away. Rank 1 at Lvl 30.
  • Greater Heal – Restores a phenomenal amount of health to one or more targets up to 3 hexes away. Rank 1 at Lvl 40.
  • Regeneration – Cures the target of a few hp every turn until the spell expires. Rank 1 at Lvl 50.
  • Panacea – Cures any negative status effect from a single target within range. Rank 1 at Lvl 60.
  • Resurrection – Revive all fallen allies within 3 hexes to full health. Ultimate Ability (Lvl 100).

Support Abilities

  • Defense Up – Increases the target’s defense score. Higher ranks yield even more defense points per casting. Stacks multiple times. Rank 1 at Lvl 20.
  • Resist Up – Increases the target’s resistance score, just as Defense Up improves defense. Rank 1 at Lvl 20.
  • Will Up – Increases the target’s will score, just as Defense Up improves defense. Rank 1 at Lvl 30.
  • Amplify Healing – Increase the effectiveness of all future healing effects on the target. Rank 1 at Lvl 60.

Passive Abilities

  • Receptive Healing – Healing spells that affect the Cleric cure more health than they would normally. Rank 1 at Lvl 30.
  • Field Medic – Restorative items used by the Cleric (on himself or an ally) are more effective than normal. Rank 1 at Lvl 40.
  • Aura of Relief – Attempts to cure up to 1 negative status effect from any 1 friendly target within range each turn. The aura’s radius increases with ranks, but in the event that the aura has a greater range than the cleric’s equivalent Antidote/Panacea spell, the spell will not be cast. Rank 1 at Lvl 50.

Several classes offer an aura passive ability. These auras are always on once learned and may not be shut off by the player. Auras will deactivate upon the death or unconsciousness of the character. It is possible for a character to have two active auras – one from each of their classes.

Offensive Abilities

  • Silence – Prevent a target from casting spells for the duration of the debuff. Rank 1 at Lvl 40.
  • Brimstone – Heavy damage, long range, single target fire/earth damage spell. Rank 1 at Lvl 70.
  • Repel – Knock any enemies within 3 hexes of the Cleric back 2-7 hexes and stun them for a few turns. Rank 1 at Lvl 80.

If you look at the distribution of new abilities, their availability is spread out fairly evenly into a moderately boring bell shape with 2 abilities unlocked at each of levels 1 and 10. Three abilities are unlocked at each of levels 20, 30, and 40. Two abilities are unlocked at each of 50 and 60, and levels 70 and 80 (and 100) each unlock one more ability. Most classes will follow a similar curve for their distribution of abilities.

tactical strategy rpg v3

Ever since I was in Jr High, I’ve been fascinated with tactical strategy rpg’s. Shining Force consumed a good many weeks of my life back then. As a side-effect of all of this, I’ve also always wanted to write a game like this. Not that I’ve ever gotten very far into things… but I have at least thrown together basic design docs on at least two previous occasions.

It’s time for a 3rd edition of the idea. I’m not referencing any previous writings for this post, these are all “new” ideas for an online multi-player rpg where the player controls multiple characters in combat and is presented with lots of fantasy-themed PvE content and some optional PvP.

core principles

At the very foundation of this idea are two principles I keep coming back to when I need to make a decision:

  1. Give the players lots of options.
  2. Make those options easy to grok.

By options, I mean that players should have many similar – but never identical – ways of doing things, they should be required to make many choices when it comes to the characters they train and how to use them during combat.

However, I also want players to be able to understand the consequences of their actions. They should not be required to use a calculator in order to determine optimal party compositions or character builds. The game should actually be fairly deterministic – the outcome of any given action in a particular set of circumstances should be quite obvious. Where there is a random chance of failure/success, I would like players to see their odds.

When possible, I prefer to use smaller numbers in stead of arbitrarily inflated numbers, and I prefer to use percentages wherever appropriate.

Smaller numbers matter more. If you have 10 hp and take a hit for 4 damage, that means a lot more than if you have 5000 hp and take a hit for 2000. Smaller numbers are also easier to understand, remember, compare, and look at. Any number that requires 4 digits to express is too big 😉

basic gameplay

Player input should be exclusively performed via the mouse. I like contex menus that appear at the mouse in stead of at a menu or button bar in another location on the screen. This reduces wasted mouse movement and speeds up command input.

Combat should be turn-based with plenty of time for players to make decisions. I’m also a hex-grid addict, so I’d like to see combat play out on hexes in stead of on a square or gridless map. Only one character is allowed to occupy one hex at once.

Character facing should matter, and most characters should be allowed to act and then move or move and then act on any turn (some actions might modify movement options in some way). If the character moves at the end of their turn, the player should also be allowed to specify their facing direction.

Combat maps should not be terribly large. A character with the ability to move 6 hexes in one turn will be considered incredible mobile.

Terrain should matter, both for defense and for movement. It should cost more to walk through sand or swim through shallow water than to walk over grass or a bridge.

Elevation may or may not play a role, but regardless, characters should probably all have a ‘jump’ action available that might allow them to skip over a hex or two – depending on the terrain types involved.

Terrain types should also likely have positive or negative effects on certain types of magic cast to/from them. So, a character who is wading in a pool of water will notice his fire magic is weakened while his water magic is strengthened.

party system

Each player will take the place of the leader of a corp of mercenaries or some other military body. Parties will have a home base of operations where they may store supplies and where the injured may rest and new recruits may be trained. Bases will grow as the game progresses, very similarly to the bases in Konami’s Suikoden series.

Bases will have a maximum population. Players may only maintain so many characters at once, and cannot train new units when their roster is full. This roster will start off at 10 characters, plenty for the new player – especially since they will not be allowed to actually field all 10 units at once. Eventually, this limit will probably increase to something in the neighborhood of 40 or 50 units for those players who are so inclined.

Players will start the game with four characters (leaving 6 roster slots empty for new recruits), and will have a maximum active party size of three. Eventually, the maximum active party size should scale to something like 8 units at once.

The player’s entire party roster itself will level up as the individual characters on the team advance. The party level is used to determine things like max roster/party size and base upgrade availability as well as the actual level of combat encounters that players will face.

PvE content should scale to match the player’s party level. Certain areas in the game will always be skewed to be easy or difficult, regardless of the levels of the characters involved.

Party level also influences the quality of new recruits that may be hired. For example, a level 10 party may be able to hire level 5 recruits in stead of level 1 recruits. The bigger characters will cost more to hire, but they’ll require much less babysitting in order to become useful.

characters

Individual characters in a player’s party will come in a large variety of class combinations. Characters will range between level 1 and level 100. They will also be defined by a few statistics, all of which are also numbers 1..100: Strength, Speed, Defense, Will, Resistance. With equipment and magic, it should be possible to increase these numbers to 150% of their natural base.

Every character has a class that determines their base stat progression, their allowed equipment, and the abilities that they may use. Every character will be human(oid). I do not plan to introduce any racial modifiers to a player’s characters, if I ever do, they will likely be primarily cosmetic in nature.

In addition to their core stats (which are identical for all characters of the same class and level), they will also have health and mana values – 1..999. Base maximum health and mana are also identical for all characters of the same class and level, and may be modified by equipment (but may not exceed the cap of 999).

experience

Characters earn experience points by performing actions in combat and by completing quests.

The cost to advance by one experience level is always 100 points. The maximum amount of exp earned by a single action in combat will be capped at 49. Even failed actions will always earn at least 1 exp. There is no cap on quest reward exp.

The amount of exp earned is based on either the relative level difference between the acting and target characters or between that of the acting character and the difficulty level of the encounter.

When a character advances in level, they keep any extra exp. Thus the character who starts at zero exp and performs 3 actions in a row, each worth the maximum of 49 exp will wind up advancing in level with 47 exp left over.

Characters who are more than 5 levels higher than their targets will earn a maximum of 5 exp per action performed. Characters who are more than 10 levels higher than the target will earn a maximum of 1 exp per action performed.

In addition to experience earned for individual actions performed during combat, all living party members also earn bonus experience equal to an action versus an opponent of the level of the encounter.

skills

In addition to providing the core stats and allowed equipment for characters, classes also provide them with a number of skills that they may learn. Ideally each class eventually provides about 20 unique skills/spells to the character, each of which may be divided up into as many as 10 ranks of effectiveness.

New skills and new ranks of old skills are unlocked at certain levels along the character’s advancement to 100. In order to learn higher ranks of a skill, the previous ranks must be learned first.

Every time a character would earn more than 5 exp from a single action or as bonus exp at the end of a battle, they also earn a number of points toward learning new skills or improving their old ones (1..20 skill points may be earned from a single combat action). Quest rewards also frequently involve skill points, which are awarded separately from the exp.

Skill points are not stockpiled for future use. Players must select which of a character’s abilities will receive the skill points in advance (a suitable default is pre-selected for each new recruit). When the currently selected skill is learned/improved, the game will automatically select a new target ability (and will inform the player). By default, the game will select the ability with the least skill points required to advance.

Players may change their skill learning preferences at any time (including during combat), and may stop learning one skill in favor of another. Incompletely learned skills will not be available until the character returns to and finishes learning them.

New recruits will begin with a suitable selection of skills for their level (30 skill points allocated per character level). All new recruits of the same class and level will start with the same skill loadout – even some level 1 recruits will begin with a guaranteed skill or two.

If a character has learned all skills and skill ranks available at their level, they will not stockpile potentially earned skill points. Likewise, if a character has reached max level but has not yet learned all skills available to their class, they will continue to earn skill points based on the exp that they might have otherwise earned.

classes

There are a total of 20 character classes, divided up into 3 tiers.

Initially, characters may only be recruited from the four core tier 1 classes: Fighter, Thief, Cleric, Mage. New players begin play with one character of each class.

(I reserve the right to allow for non-human(oid) and unclassed “temporary” characters that might make their way into player parties for quest reasons, etc…)

Tier 2 and tier 3 classes are unlocked by performing certain quests in the game. Some of these quests are easier than others, some are available at much lower party levels than others. Once a new class is unlocked, new recruits may be trained in that new class.

In addition to the class they start as, all characters have the option of switching to a related class after they have advanced 20 levels from their initial level (provided an appropriate class has been unlocked, that is). Thus, a level 5 recruit will be eligible to choose their second class at level 25.

This change may only take place once per character and cannot be undone. Any class skills that the character has not learned to at least rank 1 will no longer be available for learning. Any points spent in those skills will be lost. Because of the dramatic consequences of changing classes, the player will always be presented with a summary of the changes that would result.

Changing classes also means that the character’s stats and allowed equipment change on them, and the report will also mention equipment that will have to be removed as a result of a change.

My current tentative list of classes and their evolutions:

Note that every one of the tier 1 classes has a single tier 2 class exclusively available to it as well as one tier 2 class shared with each of the other three tier 1 classes. Ie, Geomancer is exclusively a tier 2 Mage class, but Bard is both a tier 2 Mage class and a tier 2 Thief class.

What this means is that it is possible to have a Bard character that knows Mage abilities as well as a Bard that knows Thief abilities.

The class change can happen in any direction, between any two directly related classes. Thus, it is possible to recruit a Bard and then turn him into a Mage later on. Or, it is possible to turn a Thief into a Ninja, but it is not possible to turn a Fighter into a Druid.

Since the change is a once-per-character deal and cannot be undone, it is important to note that there is a difference between a Thief gone Bard and a Bard gone Thief. The character’s initial class isn’t nearly as important as the class they change to.

Given a player who has unlocked every class in the game, any newly created character will have between 3 and 7 classes to which they might eventually switch. The total number of class combinations is… big. And then double it because the order in which the classes are chosen matters. 🙂

Also worth noting is the distinct probability that characters might not have learned all skills available to their original class.

ultimate skills

Each of the 20 classes provides a single ultimate skill, only available at level 100. These skills are not learned in the normal way, but are gained through items that are presented to the player as rewards for quests.

Each character may learn only one ultimate skill, even if they wait until level 100 to choose their second job (and thus spend time at level 100 in both classes).

class summaries

And before I quit yammering here, allow me to give brief descriptions of the classes planned. More details on individual classes will have to wait for future posts.

Archer (tier 2 – FT)

Light armour, bows. High mobility, medium offense, low defense. Attacks tend toward applying disabling status effects to enemies.
Barbarian (tier 2 – F)

Light armour, medium-heavy weapons. High mobility, high offense, medium defense. Attacks tend to move the barbarian after performing them. Berzerker rage.
Bard (tier 2 – MT)

Light armour, light-medium weapons + bows. Medium mobility, low offense, low defense. Bard songs are inexpensive, maintained, large area of effect spells.
Cleric (tier 1)

Robes-medium armour + shields, blunt weapons. Low mobility, medium offense, medium defense. Primary healing class. (more)
Dragoon (tier 2 – FM)

Light-medium armour, polearms + bows. Exceptional mobility, medium offense, medium defense. Attacks tend to bring the dragoon closer to his target. Abilities improve mobility and allow easy traversal of rough terrain.
Druid (tier 2 – CM)

Robes-light armour, light weapons. Medium mobility, low offense, low defense. Shapeshifter – different forms give a variety of ways to improve mobility/offense/defense. Nature-based magic. Some healing. Entangling vines. Summon animals.
Fighter (tier 1)

Light-medium armour + shields, light-medium weapons + bows. Medium mobility, medium offense, high defense. Core physical fighter class. Attacks focus on improving number of targets per action. Some crowd control.
Geomancer (tier 2 – M)

Light armour, staves. High mobility, low offense, low defense. Alter terrain at target of spell, either to change the map around or to affect the target(s) within the area of effect. Summon localized nature entities.
Knight (tier 2 – CF)

Medium-heavy armour + shields, medium weapons + polearms. Pitiful mobility, medium offense, exceptional defense. Ultimate tanking unit. The immovable object. Improves morale of nearby allies.
Mage (tier 1)

Robes, daggers + staves. Medium mobility, very high offense, very low defense. Direct damage elemental magic nukes.
Monk (tier 3 – FM)

Robes, no weapons. High mobility, high offense, medium defense. Unarmed melee fighters. Self-healing.
Mystic (tier 2 – C)

Robes, no weapons. Medium mobility, medium offense, low defense. Summon spirits. Jedi mind trick, illusions. Delayed-activation effects (doom, etc…).
Necromancer (tier 3 – CT)

Robes-light armour, daggers. Medium mobility, medium offense, medium defense. Raise zombies. Reanimate slain enemies. Aura of fear.
Ninja (tier 3 – MT)

Light armour, ninja weapons + bows. Very high mobility, very high offense, medium defense. Elemental magic enhancement to weapon attacks. Assassination. Decoys. Blink.
Paladin (tier 3 – CF)

Robes-heavy armour + shields. Light-medium weapons. Medium mobility, high offense, medium defense. Healing aura. Holy attacks. Summon angels.
Sapper (tier 3 – FT)

Light-medium armour. Light-medium weapons. Medium mobility, astounding offense, low defense. Improved grenades. Traps. Engineering.
Summoner (tier 3 – CM)

Robes. Light weapons. Low mobility, high offense, low defense. Summons. Summons. Summons.
Swashbuckler (tier 2 – T)

Light armour, dual wielded dagger/light swords. High mobility, medium offense, medium defense. Ability to move-attack-move in a single turn. Parry arrows. Improved swimming and jumping. Ability to switch places with enemies and turn them around. Aura decreases morale of nearby enemies.
Thief (tier 1)

Light armour, daggers + light swords/maces. High mobility, high offense, low defense. Steal. Backstab. Trip.
Warlock (tier 2 – CT)

Robes, daggers + staves. Dark attacks. Curses. Summon demons.

goodbye 300

Well, it looks like Sean Howard’s Three Hundred project is ending prematurely at an even Fifty entries. While I’m disappointed… it has been one of my favorite daily reads ever since he started, and I don’t agree with his stated reasons for quitting… I can’t say that I blame him. Given the sort of flack I’ve received in response to some of my posts… and his site being only a few orders of magnitude more visible than mine…

I’m also more than a trifle disgusted with the people who’ve been giving him grief over it.

He owes you nothing. If he wants to stop letting you leech onto his thought processes, that’s his prerogative. At least he’s not abandoning things entirely. For now, I’ll just sort of sit here with baited breath and hope that whenever he releases one of his games it runs on a platform I have access to 😉

update

The 300 started back up again after about a month’s hiatus and has been releasing one or two ideas a month since then. I sincerely hope he finishes the project… even if it takes another ten years 🙂

weewar reflections and ideas

My friends and I have been playing a lot of Weewar recently. It’s like multi-player online Advance Wars on a hex grid. The game is both eerily similar and entirely different than AW at the same time.

In the games we’ve watched, discussed, and played over the last week or so, several interesting observations have been made:

  • Infantry are way overpowered.
  • The game is all about money, but then again, lots of games are.
  • Light artillery is useless.
  • The RNG hates me.
  • Alliances win.
  • It’s dangerous to be identified as the big threat.

infantry == free money

When we say infantry are overpowered… there really is no easy way to describe just how overpowered they really are. Light infantry cost $75 and heavy infantry cost $100. The difference is that light infantry move 2x as fast as heavy and heavy infantry hit vehicles 2x as hard as light (the game says that heavy have 4x the offensive power vs vehicles as light do… but that doesn’t seem to translate to 4x the damage potential). Infantry can capture bases. Infantry can cross mountains. Infantry get substantial offensive and defensive bonuses for being in heavy terrain. They suffer penalties in swamps, but then again, so do vehicles.

Compare this with your basic light tank. The tank costs $300 to produce, moves like light infantry, cannot cross mountains, suffers offensive and defensive penalties for being in heavy terrain, and will come out hurting very badly if it tries to solo a heavy infantry unit. Two heavy infantry who get the drop on a tank are assured a win. And it’s entirely possible that both units will survive – allowing them to heal up and fight something else.

This is where the game comes down to money. If $200 worth of infantry can beat $300 worth of vehicles, then the player with the infantry has tipped the money scale dramatically in his favor. To further illustrate the scenareo (which is not 100% realistic, but still illustrates my point), I present the following detailed example. Much of this example is just an extension of ideas Adam expressed a few days ago, so I take very little credit here 😉

Player A and player B are playing a game on a very small map consisting entirely of basic grassland, no fancy terrain bonuses here. Both players control two bases and the battle front is incredibly close. Each base produces $100 per turn. Let’s begin the scenareo with $300 per player and no units.

Turn 1: Player A moves first and creates two heavy infantry, bringing his money down to $100. Player B creates a tank for $300, wiping his money out.

Turn 2: Player A moves his two heavy infantry forward and creates two more. He is spending exactly as much money as he is earning, so his balance remains at $100. Player B had $0 coming into this round, earns $200 for his bases, and decides to keep that money in favor of producing a tank next turn.

Turn 3: Player A attacks the tank with his two foremost infantry and almost kill it. He then moves his second pair forward and creates a third pair of heavy infantry. Player B gets his second tank, dropping his balance down to $100. He attacks one of the infantry that attacked his first tank and kills it, but also takes some damage in the process.

Turn 4: Player A moves his injured infantryman back and attacks the injured tank with one of his fresh units. The tank dies, barely scratching the full strength infantry unit. He moves his 5 other infantry forward and creates two more. Player B attacks the unit that just killed his first tank and injures it fairly badly, dropping it down to 4/10 health, but not after taking 3 damage himself. He creates another tank and is back to nothing in the bank.

Let’s take a moment to count score. Money in the bank doesn’t count, but it doesn’t really matter anyway, since both players have similar amounts of money on hand and coming in. However, compare the monetary value of their units on the board.

Player A has 7 full strength heavy infantry worth $700. He also has one more unit at 40% health for a total value of $740. Player B has one full strength tank on the board worth $300 and one unit at 70% health for a total functional value of $510.

Turn 5: Player A swarms the injured tank with 3 of his uninjured units and kills it. He then moves his 4 remaining uninjured units forward, they are on B’s doorstep by now. His one previously injured unit rests for +1/10 health. He creates two more heavy infantry, bringing his population up to 6 uninjured, 4 moderately injured infantry.

Player B has one solitary tank now. He cannot afford another one. He cannot reach any of player A’s injured units to attack them, his only choice is to attack one of the uninjured units, which he does, injuring it heavily, but not enough to destroy it, and not without taking damage himself.

Turn 6: Player A stomps the injured tank, clearing the board of player B’s units. He moves one of his remaining uninjured infantry ont o each of player B’s bases and begins capturing. All of his injured units rest for +1/10 health. He creates two more units, just to be cheeky about the whole situation. Player B earns $200 more, bringing his money in the bank up to $400, but he can’t do anything with it since both of his bases are occupied.

Turn 7: Player A creates two more units, finishes capturing player B’s bases, and wins the game.

The final tally shows player A having not even broken a sweat. He has 14 units on the board and $100 in the bank, compared to player B’s zero units on the board and his useless $400 in the bank.

So… while it was a slightly unfair example, the point stands. Hordes of infantry are worth way more than their equivalent weight in tanks. Put them in rough terrain and the difference becomes even more marked, the infantry may move slightly slower through rough terrain, but they become significantly tougher. Of course, infantry through rough terrain are usually faster than vehicles through rough terrain anyway… What then, is the counter to heavy infantry? An equal or greater quantity of light infantry. They cost 25% less, move faster and hit heavies just as hard as the heavies hit them back. No contest.

Resting is free money. Remember, the only money that really matters is money that’s already been spent to produce units. If you can get more use out of your units… 😉

There are only two other unit types in the game worth discussing.

Raiders (recon bikes) are the fastest units in the game, they cost $200, and they hit infantry as hard as light tanks. They are great at closing gaps, blocking bases, and picking off solitary infantry. A small group of raiders can hit and run a poorly organized group of infantry into oblivion w/o taking any permanent casualties.

artillery

And then there’s artillery. In basic games, there are only two varieties of artillery. Light and heavy. Light artillery cost $400, move rapidly, and have an attack range of 2-3 hexes. Heavy artillery cost $600, move slowly, have a range of 3-4 hexes, and hit much harder. They have very little defense, so once a normal unit gets next to it, the artillery unit is pretty much dead. “Pro” games have a few more types of vehicles, including more two more varieties of artillery, both of which are quite nifty.

A wall of cheap infantry takes time to carve through, especially if they’re rotating their wounded out to heal. Stick a few heavy artillery pieces behind them and they’re unstoppable.

Why did I say that light artillery is ~useless? Well, for one, it only has an offensive rating of 4|4 (vs infantry|vehicles). Heavy infantry have an offensive rating of 3|4 and you can field 4 of them for the price of one light artillery, or you could get yourself a pair of 5|2 raiders for the same money. The other problem with light artillery is that they have a short range and cannot move and attack on the same turn. Thus they must get very close to the enemy to attack anything at all. That, and despite their speed, they’re pretty much incapable of attacking heavy artillery w/o getting blown to pieces along the way.

Heavy artillery have 5|5 offense, 2x the range, and 1 more armour than light artillery for only 50% more money. Thus, for $1200 you could either field three light artillery and have a hard time positioning them in such a way that all 3 can attack on the same turn w/o being exposed to attack themselves… or you could field a pair of heavies and slowly creep across the map flattening all who oppose.

Artillery Positioning What’s the solution to heavy artillery? Raiders. Large quantities of infantry. Anything that can close into short range and kill w/o being killed first.

How do you keep your artillery from being killed? Keep a thick wall of cheaper units in front of them. Remember, you can buy 8 light infantry for the cost of one heavy artillery. Nothing in the game has AoE attacks… so 8 cheap units take a very long time to carve through… especially if you’re able to cycle the injured ones back to rest.

unbalanced dice

One gripe I have about Weewar is that the random factor really is a bit too random for my taste. I like my tactical games to depend more on tactics than luck. Right now… it is too easy to have a run of bad luck and get knocked out of the game for a few bad rolls.

In Advance Wars, the attacking unit always gained an advantage. Healthier units always did more damage than injured units. Not so with Weewar. It is not unusual for a pair of fully healed infantry to attack a raider and both wind up taking the same amount of damage.

Infantryman 1 attacks the raider, does 3 damage, takes 4 damage.

Infantryman 2 attacks the raider – which should now be operating at only 70% power, does 2 damage, takes 5 damage.

To compound the situation, the game’s official documentation says that multiple units attacking the same target from multiple angles get bonuses.

With small numbers like this, slight variations due to a fickle RNG are still large enough to make any such advantage very hard to notice. It is there. It must be. I’ve convinced myself that it is. But the numbers only occasionally support this.

If you could see the dice, maybe? At least then you could brag about the crits when they happen and blame losing an attack on obviously poor rolls.

I don’t mind randomness… but the game doesn’t even keep a text log of attacks and their results (much less the numbers involved), and I think that makes the occasional spot of ill fortune seem even more pointless and arbitrary than it might otherwise. It’s not unheard of to attack a unit that you should by all rights be able to kill with minimal injury and wind up losing your attacking unit in the process – despite supposed terrain modifiers in your favor, etc…

Shrug. For now, the wide range of possibilities from the RNG are just one more reason that infantry are superior. You don’t feel so bad when the game throws your infantry away as you do when you lose a heavy tank to bad dice 😛

strength in numbers, sometimes

Another thing we’ve noticed about the game is that teamwork really makes a difference. Not only does an alliance mean you don’t waste your time killing each other’s units… it typically means ~2x the units pointed at your enemies.

I recently lost a game rather soundly because I was winning. Yup. Lost because I was winning.

See, it was a four-man match on a square board. Each player started in one quadrant of the board. I started in the NW and made a tentative peace with the player to the NE while I built up units along my southern border. The SW player provoked both myself and his other neighbor, the player to the SE. Meanwhile, NE and SE had some minor tussles but nothing too major.

SW made a mistake and I sort of crushed him up against SE and took most of his bases. This left me in control of something like 10 or 12 bases while NE and SE only had 6 or 7 each. This worried them, so they stopped their minor border conflict and charged west at me. Every turn for 4 turns in a row, my line was pushed back by one hex. I didn’t have time to repair any units, the push was too strong.

When I finally surrendered, I had captured SW’s remaining bases but had lost several of my other bases along the border. Between the two of them, they held 15 bases compared to my 11 – a 36% advantage in production capacity. I had started the conflict slightly depleted because of my successful campaign against SW (who had actually held the biggest army before I overtook him), and their collectively superior income were sufficient to give them an overwhelming majority of numbers.

It doesn’t pay to be too big. One-on-one, I could have mopped up either one of them. Unfortunately, because I had such an enormous lead on either one of them individually, they realized the obvious and allied against me. Like lobsters in a tank who can’t stand to let another one climb out… 😉

I think I could have had a chance at the game if I hadn’t taken all of SW’s bases. In stead, I was greedy and took off a bigger bite than I could keep down.

ideas

So, aside from the issues discussed already (infantry need a good nerf batting and the RNG is too random), there’s only really one problem with the game. It’s written in clingy, needy, zero self-esteem sort of AJAX. It’s the kind of code that feels the irrational compulsion to phone home to the server every time you click a unit to select it. I mean… if you’re going to wait for the server to do all of the thinking, why bother with any sort of client-side logic at all? The game could be so much faster, and the server could handle so many more players if they moved most of the incessant click management logic to the client where it belongs and only sent final moves to the server for validation.

And, aside from that little gripe… I’ve a few other things I’d like to see in the game.

Namely, I want to see a greater variety of units. The game is already a paper-rock-scissors contraption, let’s make units even more specialized, eh wot?

A few new types of infantry, perhaps?

  • demolitions squad – normal movement, 1.5x cost of heavy (bazooka) infantry, 1 defense, 0|6 offense (useless against infantry – death to tanks), unable to capture bases, ability to “sabotage” enemy bases. Sabotage destroys the demo squad and reverts the enemy base to neutral – instantly, in stead of having to wait 2 turns for a capture by a normal infantry unit.
  • flamethrower squad – slow movement, 3x cost of heavy infantry, 2 defense, 4|2 offense, deal splash (reduced, indirect) damage to the two hexes behind and to either side of their primary target. Splash damage always happens and attacks any units in the area, regardless of team affiliation.
  • mortar squad – slow movement, 2.5x cost of heavy infantry, 1 defense, 3|5 offense, attack range of 1-2. Attacking adjacent units still counts as indirect fire. Only artillery that can cross mountains. Do not get offensive bonuses or penalties for terrain.
  • recon team – fast movement, 1x cost of heavy infantry, 2 defense, 2|1 offense. Reduced movement penalty for moving across otherwise slow terrain.
  • engineering team – normal movement, 3x cost of heavy infantry, 2 defense, 1|1 offense. Ability to build bunkers that act as immobile 3|3 retaliatory units until destroyed. Building a bunker costs the team 6 health. Bunkers have 2 defense and cannot be repaired once damaged.
  • skirmishers – normal movement, 1x cost of heavy infantry, 3 defense, 2|2 offense. Can use any remaining movement after attacking.

Of course these numbers aren’t really balanced. At least, they’re not balanced any more than the current ones are 😛

If we allow flamethrower infantry, we probably want flame tanks as well. Perhaps cluster bomb artillery that randomly hit 2 or 3 hexes adjacent to their target? Maybe some type of AoE that is good vs vehicles but not against infantry? Maybe give a unit the ability to deal damage that tunnels on to the unit behind it, but only on a kill? Rail gun? 😈

How about special map restriction options or victory conditions? No artillery allowed, no infantry allowed, no recon bikes allowed? Game ends after 10 turns, with whoever controls the most of the map wins? First player to cap 7 bases wins? Etc…

Fog of war? Probably not. It could work, it does in Advance Wars… but I don’t see it working very well in this sort of environment. It’s too easy for players to share intel, it drags the game out too long if they don’t, etc…

I like the idea of adding shallow water to the game that only infantry are capable of crossing. It would slow them down just as much as mountains would and it gives an offensive and defensive penalty worse than swampland.

If we’re allowing infantry to move in water, how about naval units? That would require a whole new set of maps, but no harm there. Air units? Those would be nice too.

Other terrain types? Jungle is thicker than forest and is the ultimate entrenched position for infantry. Artillery cannot target units in the jungle. Roads give vehicles a bonus to movement but make you terribly vulnerable to attack. Bridges function exactly like roads except they make you even more of a sitting duck.

Could possibly allow engineering units to terraform the map, changing forest to plains to roads and building bridges across rivers, etc…

Mobile factories? Very slow, non-combative units that can only move along roads and over grass. Able to build units wherever they are for 50% extra cost. Can’t drive and build on the same turn. Possibly cost resources to maintain?

But, what I’d really like to see would be troop transports. Infantry are slow. APC’s are not. They’ve got no offense and minimal defense, but they’re cheap and they’ve got movement like a raider. What better way to deliver your bazooka wielding guerrillas to the jungle outside of your enemy’s base 😉

more tower defense

And… I’ve got more TD ideas rolling around my head. I’ll spare you the verbosity and only post the two good ones though.

competitive tower defense

The idea here is pretty simple. There are 2-4 players positioned evenly around an outer ring. Every player starts the game with a creep generator and sufficient moneys to buy a few wimpy towers. Players may only build within a certain (short) range of another building they control, thus these initial wimpy towers must be built close to the generator.

Generators pump out a constant stream of enemies that flow toward the other players’ generators. These creeps are divided evenly, so in a four player game, 1/3 of each player’s creeps will march toward each other player.

When creeps arrive at the generators, they pound on them until either they destroy the generator, or the generator’s defenses destroy them. If the creeps succeed in killing the generator, it will explode. This explosion cascades out through all of the losing player’s buildings and kills any creeps that get caught in the blast.

Any surviving creeps who were marching toward the losing player will choose a new target.

Creeps will not attack towers, but will attempt to flow around them. Players who wall off their generator will discover that their own creeps turn on them. Very unpretty.

The map here must be pretty small, and towers should have fairly short ranges. There should also not be a terrible variety in the number of towers given to each player – 3 or maybe 4 different models. In fact, let’s just go with some standard tower configurations:

  • arrow – low damage, long range, single target, high rate of fire
  • cannon – high damage, short range, small splash radius, low rate of fire
  • acid – medium damage, medium range, large splash radius, medium rate of fire
  • ice – zero damage, medium range, single target, medium rate of fire, freezes targets momentarily

It would also be interesting if players were allowed to build multiple generators. Generators would be expensive, but each generator pushes out a constant stream of creeps to attack the other players. The disadvantage here comes from the cascade effect – if one generator goes down, they all do, and you lose. Thus, players must defend all of their generators from attack.

Also, unlike towers, which we might allow players to sell off, generators are permanent fixtures. Once established, that’s it.

Games should be fairly quick, so I don’t think that any sort of upgrade path for towers is really necessary. If the game starts to drag on, generators will start producing tougher and tougher creeps until players are eventually incapable of resisting.

organic tower defense

This game is similar to the competitive TD idea in that the spread of towers is restricted, and that the creeps hit the base until destroyed. but that’s about where the similarity ends. For this one, we need a little thematic dressing to translate the gameplay mechanics into something that makes sense for people.

Wave after wave of insects attack a particularly rare/precious/yummy sapling as it grows to maturity. The player must protect the sapling by planting and directing the growth of defensive organisms.

The game pauses before each wave to let the player see what’s coming next, and to give them a chance to plant a single new seed. New seed varieties become available every few waves.

When these seeds are planted, they function exactly like traditional TD towers. They have an upgrade path that may be purchased with resources gained as you defeat enemies. But unlike traditional towers, these plants can grow outward to fill arbitrarily shaped spaces.

Thus, with a single seed, it is entirely possible to sprout multiple “towers”.

Creeps come in a variety of flavours, all insect themed:

  • ant – average speed, average offense, average defense
  • beetle – low speed, average offense, high defense
  • caterpillar – low speed, low offense, low defense, attacks towers
  • grasshopper – high speed, low offense, average defense, jumps semi-randomly
  • wasp – average speed, high offense, low defense, flying

Now, the caterpillar’s entry is somewhat misleading. All earthbound creeps can attack towers, but caterpillars seek them out. Wasps have no reason to attack towers, so they just fly directly at the sapling. Grasshoppers jump over towers but don’t travel in a straight path toward the sapling.

Different plants will have different growth patterns available, and individual nodes of a plant may or may not be upgradeable. There are three basic shapes of plants I am seeing.

The first is a ‘standard’ plant. It has a central node where you plant it initially. The plant can then send out little tendrils into adjacent nodes. These tendrils typically have no active purpose. Once you have branched out far enough from the initial node (usually not a very long distance), you can establish an additional base node that is identical in function to the initial node.

The second type of plant is one that consists entirely of tendrils. These start with a simple base node that is no different than any of the tendrils the plant can throw out. And, no matter how long you grow a tendril, you cannot create any new type of node – only more tendrils. These plants generally exist to barricade and distract bugs.

The final type is a ‘centralized’ plant. These are powerful, expensive plants that cannot establish new base nodes, and may not even be able to send out tendrils. They are the most similar to standard TD towers.

Players start off with the following plants at their disposal:

  • needle thrower – standard plant,
  • thorn vine – tendrils only, inexpensive to grow, damage any creep that crawls into and/or attacks the vine
  • honeysuckle – tendrils only, every node has a flower that attracts critters, who come and eat until the node runs out of juice, nodes do not die when spent and may be refreshed

They will eventually unlock a number of other plants, which might include things like:

  • tangle vine – standard plant, tendrils reach out and hold anything that passes
  • fly trap – standard plant, short range, phenomenally high damage, incredibly low rate of fire
  • razor vine – central plant that uses tendrils as whips to strike enemies, high rate of fire, number of targets at a time depends on number of tendrils grown
  • spore pods – central plant that blows spore pods at enemies, these pods explode for medium splash damage
  • mushrooms – tendrils only, every node is a tough woody mushroom that simply takes a long time to chew through

A few quick gotchas before I end.

You cannot build across another plant’s tendrils. Thus, some care must be taken in how you lay things out. You cannot sell off plants. Once you put something down, it is there until it dies.

The outer tendrils of a plant must be attached to the root node or they will die. Thus, if you have a 15 hex long plant and ants cut through the third hex, not only do you lose that square, but you lose the 12 hexes after it.

The exception to this is in tendril-only plants. They have no real base node, so each square of the vine is self sufficient. Thus, the only way to truly kill off a mushroom patch is by killing each and every hex it occupies. However, once a tendril-only plant has taken sufficient damage to kill off one or more hexes, it is incapable of growing further.

Dead plant parts will dry up and cease to function as anything other than a barrier. After a wave or two, dead plants will blow away and you can use their spaces again.

guild of miners and gemcutters

Ok, it’s time for some more Walraven ideas/plans/dreams/wishes.

Since it was introduced, mining has been one of the biggest and most popular activities in the game. It’s easy to get into, it’s relatively safe, it practices skills that are later useful in combat, it produces valuable resources for crafting, etc… Oh, and it’s fun too 😉

Mining is so popular that it is traditionally one of THE first activities a newbie engages in – usually at the advice of older players.

The problem with this is that the materials newbies actually need for any of their crafting recipes are best found in the desert area outside of Candle Hill. This is not the safest place in the game. It is also relatively devoid of convenient lumber with which to construct the mine. Your average newbie who wants to go digging for copper is going to take 2 or 3 trips between the forest and one of the mountain ranges in the desert. Odds are high that he’ll get eaten by a lion. There aren’t many lions out there, but after that much travel, the newbie’s bound to bump into something aggro. And at that point in their career, they’re not prepared for it.

So… we need to improve the safety for newbies who want to dig copper in the desert and make it more convenient for them as well. Nobody wants to trudge across the desert 5 times just so they can dig a hole that they’ll accidentally flood two minutes later 😛

Second, the city of Candle Hill has a problem. They lack material resources. They lack economic activity. I’ve always planned on spurring this by introducing NPC merchants and quest givers. It is currently easier for high level players to do things for themselves than it is to get another player to do things for them. People have no reason to trade, it’s too inconvenient.

Enter the mining guild.

I’ve always planned that the Miners would be one of the more influential organizations in town. They were originally intended to be a place where players could buy and sell minerals and tools (an open market), where they could get some training, and where they could hire some pack mule type NPC’s to help them with their mines.

They’ll still be most of that. But the new idea expands on things a bit more:

  • As a crafting guild, the Miners will have a traditional apprentice/journeyman/master path of advancement. New members may buy membership in the guild for a small fee (first year’s dues up front), and should ideally have a higher level (master rank) member sponsor them. Any one master may sponsor any number of apprentices for now.
  • The primary benefit of membership is eventual access to a number of helpful building recipes for improved types of mines – and the recipe for mining camps (more on these later).
  • It will be possible for members to post jobs with the guild – ie mines that are looking for workers. Both guild members and non-members may accept these jobs, which will be recorded in the player’s quest journal.

Guild members will have access to special parts of the guild hall, including a private storage room where they may keep supplies safe from other players.

mining camps

The biggest elements to the new mining guild’s operations will all be centered around the mining camps. These camps will be very expensive to build, and will need to be built in rooms with existing mines (owned by the builder of the camp, of course). Players will be limited to the number of mining camps they are allowed to own at once. This limit will be based on their guild ranking.

Mining camps will improve their associated mines in a number of ways.

The mining camp is a large two-room tent with an attached storage bin and a place for vehicles to park (similar to docks). The front room of the tent will be suitable for setting as a home location and the back room will store food and supplies. The storage bin will be accessible from the outside of the building, and is meant as a place to keep ore produced by the mine.

They will come with a total of four npc’s. Two of these NPC’s will be guards that will help keep the mine entrance safe from wild animals. One will be a mining supervisor, who keeps the key to the mine, and the last npc will be a mine worker.

The worker will occasionally wander into the mine, pick up any minerals that players left lying around, and haul them to the storage bin. If he can’t find anything when he enters the mine, he will emote mining actions and will produce a very small amount of ore to bring up to the bin. Thus, any mine with a camp will constantly produce materials (howbeit at a terribly slow rate), even if it has otherwise been cleared out by players.

Mines with camps are nominally owned by the guild but are managed by the player who established them. The guild maintains a number of supply carts that perform a regular circuit of the camps, providing food and tools as needed. It is possible for players to hop a ride on these carts in order to travel to remote mines safely and quickly.

shipping cart

There is also a single shipping cart that the guild operates to help ease the delivery of minerals back to town from the mines.

At any time that the cart isn’t already in use, the player managing a mine may request a shipment be scheduled by the mining supervisor. A few minutes later, the cart will arrive. The worker npc will unload the storage bin into the cart. When he is done loading the cart, it will return back to the guild, where the load will be quickly dumped into the player’s storage vault.

The guild will keep a 10% cut of all goods shipped in this way, in order to pay for their expenses (ie, keeping the npc’s alive and the carts running, etc…). This is on top of yearly membership dues.

While the shipping cart is stopped at a camp, the supply cart will skip them on the rotation. Likewise, the shipping cart’s arrival will be delayed if requested while the supply cart is already parked at the camp.

Players may not ride the shipping cart.

guild line

Guild members will have a chat line, just like any other guild in the game. NPC’s will also be capable of chatting over this line as well. Announcements of new camps being connected to the network, players joining the guild or being advanced in rank, and the status of the shipment cart will all spam the channel.

jobs

Any mining camp will have the option to hire workers. Both guild members and non-members may take on jobs.

Players will be able to list jobs at the guild hall, requesting x-many of a certain ore their mine produces, and offering a percentage of the profit to the miner. Thus, if I established a copper mining camp in the Candle Hill desert, I could list jobs for 50 copper and a reward of 20%.

Thus, if a newbie takes my job, goes out to the mine, and digs 56 copper, they will be given 11 copper’s worth of cash when they return to the guild hall to report the job done.

Mining supervisors track the player’s progress on jobs. When a player arrives at the mine (probably having come on the supply wagon), they must check in with the supervisor. The supervisor makes a quick check of the player’s inventory and gives them a pick if they don’t have one. He then unlocks the door and lets them into the mine. When the player leaves the mine, the supervisor checks their inventory again and takes the pick away from them if he loaned one. They player is expected to dump the goods they dug into the storage bin. Upon doing so, the supervisor will check them off and give them a receipt for their work. The player must then return the receipt in at the guild for their reward.

These should be enough checks to stop casual theft attempts on the part of diggers.

More heinous thefts (and armed robbery of the camp itself) will be announced to the guild line. It’s not difficult to get yourself permanently blacklisted by the guild for misbehaving.

I don’t remember if there was any more to this idea, I wrote this post several days ago and never published it. So… may as well push it and hope for the best, ne?

update

After referring with Vopisk and Sora a bit on the subject, it’s been decided that a few more protections need to be put in place for mining camps. The following minor changes will be made to the above:

  • The insides of guild mines will be flagged as no-teleport, no-combat, and no-magic.
  • An NPC will tag along behind the player and collect all ore that drops when they dig.

This pretty much obliviates any way of stealing goods from the mine short of somehow scripting a bot to jump on the ore the instant it drops and hoping you get it before the npc does – since the npc should be entering in the grab command before players even see the message.