Hi friends, fans & family! I have some exciting news to share but before I get to it I’m going to tell you what my vision for “Guardian of Gridvale” is/was and where it is now…

The vision

When I first began working on “Guardians of Gridvale” I had a couple of goals:

  1. Show the enemies upcoming actions so that the player doesn’t have to guess/figure out what the AI will do
  2. Make sure that skills manipulate positioning of heroes and enemies and alter the environment itself
  3. Have a timing mini-game to give an extra “oumph” when attacking

Goals 2 and 3 were fairly “easy” to achieve from a design perspective and I kind of knew how to approach them but showing the enemies upcoming moves proved to be tricky. Why? Because I didn’t want to straight up copy “Into the Breach” and so I thought of different ways of achieving this. The design lead me to make a system where the player makes moves and the enemies update their upcoming moves. This all sounds good and well in theory but I ran into some problems…

The problem

  1. It is difficult to implement. You have to take into account where enemies will be and make sure they’re not in the way of each other in the future for example. It also needs to be computed very often which has implications for how smart the AI can be. Undo functionality was messy and error prone too. 
  2. The logic behind how it works is difficult to explain to the player and a lot times how the enemy will react to my moves becomes a guessing game which was the opposite of what I was going for.
  3. The design is not tight and unique enough. It is not traditional turnbased gameplay nor is it entirely new. You could for example just turn off the enemy intentions and the gameplay becomes the standard I go, you go.

The realisation

So as I was working on the game a week ago something hits me that was sort of gnawing at the back of my head for a long time… 

This is simply not as fun as I envisioned. It is not as creative as I envisioned and I felt that I was failing to make what I set out to make. 

So I started thinking… What if the enemies show you their moves but don’t update them at all? “Into the Breach” gameplay is about protecting buildings so getting away from attacks is trivial: you just move out of the way. My game is about combat though so this won’t do. And then it hit me!

What if the enemies are in “overwatch”? “Overwatch” is a mechanic popularized by XCOM where units aim at an area and fire at the first enemy that enters that zone.  

I ran some tests and found that I could do a lot of fun stuff with something similar. What if the enemies move and end their turn aiming at the heroes? If the heroes try to move they are instantly attacked. Eureka!

The solution?

I implemented this system this week:

  1. Enemies move and end their movement targeting heroes
  2. Player has their turn. If a targeted hero tries to move he gets fired on before completing the move. 
  3. Enemies get to attack (if they haven’t already during the player’s turn).

Here’s two gifs that show you enemy movement and them attacking when the archer moves:

This improved the game immensely imho. It is pretty easy to grasp for the player and pretty unique. I did however need to fix a couple of things:

  • Heroes can now move+attack or attack+move. No longer is a hero’s turn over after an attack.
  • The player will get their ass kicked because the enemies do so much damage. To counter this I came up with giving the player a completely free turn. That’s right. The very first turn you get to move and attack without a reply from the enemies. This gives you a lot of freedom when positioning your heroes. Then the turn sequence starts. 

But does this mean that the player can’t avoid damage? No. You have several way of doing this:

  1. kill attacking enemies before they can attack.
  2. Use defensive skills like blocks, parries, dodges, teleports etc
  3. Use offensive skills like pushing/pulling away the attacker so his attacks is canceled. Use attacks that swap places with enemies or charge right passed them etc. Unlike moving, using attacks does not cause the targeting enemy to fire.

This will indeed make the game “puzzlier” which some of you might not like but rest assured there will never be “perfect” solutions. You will take damage for sure and be forced to manage that. Trust me when I say that the game has been much improved by this move. It’s way more fun now! Can’t wait to show let you try it!

If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter which is the only way of getting in on the very first, crude/raw demo of the game. Here’s the link: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/sinistersiamese

Thanks for reading!

// Luis

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