It’s another Monday, and work on the Utility skills is in full progress!
As Teddy continues to prototype, I thought it would be fun to take a look at these very early stages of each of the skills! First up, we have the Defensive utility skills, three skills that are bound to change the game play slightly for at least some of you:
First among them, we have the blink (as seen above). As mentioned in the earlier rundown of the utility skills, it auto-targets some distance away as you tap the button, but you can also move the target around (if you have the time).
It’ll have a base cost of some energy, with a 20 more energy increase each time you spam it. If you stop using it for about 3 seconds currently, it will reset to the base cost. These costs will be lowered slightly for each silver point you spend on the skill, culminating in being able to use the first blink for free. The exact numbers are subject to change with further testing.
Next, the shield/barrier! It has an amount of HP, much like your physical shield, based on a percentage of your own HP, which increased per level spent on the skill. It can take damage up to his amount, but will always break after 4 hits regardless of how much damage they do to your shield. If your barrier gets crushed, you’ll take the remaining damage from the attack (the amount it failed to shield you from) as regular damage and you won’t be able to recast the shield for a little while.
Finally, the meditation/focus skill. It regenerates your EP faster the more you’ve leveled it, and if you channel it for two seconds the next skill you use will be cast free of EP cost. The circle underneath the character indicates when that happens!
As for the Offense skills, we first have Death Mark!
This skill has a new targeting system, which can be seen above. It basically aims at whatever enemy is the closest to your target, which you can move around the screen so long as you hold down the spell button.
Everything you see here is prototype graphics, so it will likely look a lot different in the end, but the general gist of it is that as you do damage to a target with Death Mark, a meter of some sort (in this case it will probably be a sword) will start to fill up. Once a set amount of time has passed, the mark will trigger and deal bonus damage based on how much you’ve already damaged the target. The more you’ve filled the meter, the more damage it will do when it triggers – so you better try to get as much damage as possible on your target before that happens, to maximize the bonus damage. If the damage Death Mark will do is enough to kill the target, it will automatically trigger and execute the enemy for you before the timer runs out.
Taunt/Challenge lacks all of the relevant graphics, but works much as described earlier: you challenge an enemy by shouting some insults at it, causing the both of you to deal more damage against each other. Upon leveling the skill, you’ll be able to target more enemies. Of course, in multiplayer, taunted enemies will prefer the taunting player when looking for things to attack, so your friends will be safe.
Sleep, or rather, Stasis is the skill we’ve come the furthest with graphics wise. The mechanics are fairly straight forward and as described previously: the targeted enemy gets put in a stasis from which it’s released either when a new enemy gets put under the effect, when you hit it, or simply when the timer (individual for each type of enemy) runs out.
Here’s the first prototype version, simply freezing the enemy in place:
In the second iteration, a flashing light was added to indicate when an enemy is about to come out of stasis:
Finally, some visual effects were added, and as it is, we’re already pretty satisfied with the way it looks right now – we might just add some small effect for when an enemy gets hit by the spell and otherwise keep it the way it is:
And, since the Utility skills will be implemented much sooner than the desert enemies, Fred has paused the creation of those beast and began work on the spell effects needed!
We felt Death Mark is the skill that’s perhaps the most reliant on the right graphics, and nearly impossible to really get a feel for without them: we want to be able to feel the urgency of trying to fill up that meter, and the satisfaction as it triggers and executes the enemy.
As such, Fred began sketching on multiple versions and ideas for what it could look like, with the guideline that we wanted it to be a sword:
He also began making the actual animations, first showing how the meter fills up:
And then the indications for when time is about to run out (the flashing outline):
He’s also begun work on the shield/barrier skill from the defense section, which will be a bubble of sorts, surrounding the character. We’re still working on tweaking the transparency levels and overall feel, but we think we’re getting there:
The rest of this week we’ll be testing all the billion ways each spell can break the game (which they do, a lot), by playing through the entire thing using each spell on every enemy in every possible way. While we won’t be able to find all of the bugs or problems this way, hopefully it’ll make them more or less fully functional before we hand it over to you guys in the Frontline beta! Multiplayer will need a whole lot of testing of its own, both to make sure the effects are syncing up between users, and to bug test the friendly targeting (as some of the Utility skills will be used as buffs which can be cast on anyone in your party).
At some point I will be called upon to make the proper skill icons for each of these, though I’m not sure if that will happen this week or later when we’re 500% sure these are the skills we’ll actually end up using (that is, once we’re certain none of them feel too boring as we try them out properly on our bug testing runs). Until then my art focus will be mainly on continuing the Arcadia Rework, as it’s what’s next on our to-do once the skills have been finished (and the occasional desert town portrait). Slow but steady!
Fred, meanwhile will be focusing this week on creating more of the Utility skill animations and Teddy will be put on major polish and bug hunting duty. At the moment, we don’t have an ETA for when the skills will be available on Frontline: it’s all very dependent on how broken they end up being on these playthroughs.
We’ve already had lots of talks about small edits we’d like to see on each of the abilities, so they’re not even in their finished form as it is right now! No major changes in terms of mechanics, but lots of tiny timing-things and such. For example, whether Death Mark should trigger automatically once the meter is full, or if it should still wait for the timer to run out. In this case we decided to keep the timer fairly short, and have it wait for it to run out before it triggers, even if you’ve done enough damage to fill the whole thing. Our reasoning for this is to make sure you can’t spam it too often, in multiplayer, for instance – as you’d be able to fill the meter a lot faster with four people who might all also have the ability (though we’ll try to balance this as well). Our goal is to make it fairly hard filling up the meter before the timer runs out, so it’ll be a bit of a fun challenge to try and fill it as much as you can when battling.
Hope you guys are enjoying your summer!