I’ll do a little post about combat within the game later, replacing this. While I cook that up, here’s a random mockup. Not a screenshot – I haven’t pinned down the art direction yet, so, these mockups will be a work in progress.
Sorry this was so long in the making! I thought about providing actual footage of what’s in the game now, but there’s still very few assets, and gameplay by itself isn’t easy to appreciate when it’s whizzing past, sans graphics.
The Action-RPG element is one of the two major forms of gameplay in Megatronica. I’m not sure how much time you’ll spend slaughtering things, but it’s one of the key features. It’s also being worked on in tandem with the city-building aspect. These two features are basically opposites – city-building is slow and requires a lot of conscious thought. Combat, on the other hand, is really, really fucking fast and doesn’t leave that much room for cautious tactical thinking, but a lot of unconscious, rapid-fire strategy.
The player can use both melee and ranged weapons. Magic is a special case and I’m not talking about it right now because I’m difficult. Both (er, all three) work on the same basic control scheme.
First, the game is obviously in 2D (3D is for pussies), and relies on an overhead, isometric perspective. The WASD keys lets the player move in eight directions, because that’s how we did it before analog sticks were invented. This is accompanied by a mouse cursor. Apparently some people have a hard time using the mouse and keyboard simultaneously. As someone’s who’s been doing this all their life, I think these people are weird. It also puts console gamers, those coming out of the endless waters of first-person shooters, in familiar territory. WASD for movement, mouse for attacking.
Ranged combat is about as simple as can be. Aim at enemies with the cursor, and click to fire. I haven’t implemented this yet, and I prefer to keep my mouth shut on features that are only ‘planned’, because I have learned much from Peter Molyneux. I love his games. I also hate him. But let’s assume there will be more than one kind of ranged weapon. Guns are definite. Bows are planned. And then maybe there will be throwing knives and crossbows and all that, etc etc etc. I’d go into it, but then I’d sound like Peter Molyneux. I sometimes want to kill him.
Melee is where it gets fun. You click, and your character throws themselves in the direction of the cursor, screaming bloody murder. It’s a quick rush that results in them smacking into an enemy, and hitting them with whatever they’re holding. Sword, hammer, axe, dismembered cock… whatever. Then you follow it up with more swings, or right-click for a strong attack, which has extremely short range, but massive damage and also knocks the enemy away.
This is what I’m focusing on right now, and it’s mostly implemented already. It’s just plain more fun, to me, than clicking things into submission. It’s a lot more tactile, and a lot more complex, because more factors get involved.
First, there’s the matter of height. If you’re using ranged weaponry, this isn’t even a factor. For melee combat, you get to do some Crazy Anime Shit. There’s a jump button. Let’s just say it’s E, since you’re being difficult. Maybe the spacebar. Just put your fingers on the WASD keys, pick a key that you’re cool with hitting from there, and assume that’ll be it. Tap it, and you hop. Hold it, and you do a charged jump, which means you go higher.
‘That’s not how jumps work’, you might say.
Well, I suppose you know all about jumps, don’t you? You ever hear the saying, ‘white men can’t jump’? You ever wonder if the people that say that know something you don’t? That’s right. They know what a charged jump is.
Basically, you get a bonus to attack by being higher up. This makes sense because if someone is running up to you with a sword, you assume they’re going to cut you. If they come flying at you with a sword, you assume they’re going to cut the shit out of you. Aerial attacks are naturally more badass, and therefore more damaging. Basic science.
If you jump while dashing at something, you then end up jumping at it, resulting in higher damage when you sail into it from above. But, even if you don’t, attacking an enemy results in the both of you going upward. You knock them up into the air, presumably, and then follow them up, travelling skyward until you’re like a few meters off the ground. This is what I mean by Crazy Anime Shit. You naturally end up in the air no matter what you do. This means that the longer you keep up an attack, the higher you’ll end up, and the more damage you’ll do from the height bonus.
And then you have stamina to deal with. If you’ve played Oblivion, you know how this works. You make the best character build imaginable, cutting out the useless stats that nobody cares about. Then you discover that your character happens to burn a lot of stamina, which you neglected, because it is a useless stat nobody cares about, until you run out of it, in which case you’re fucked and can’t do anything.
As you run out of stamina, you have a hard time gaining height, up until you run out and you actually can’t go upwards anymore. You also attack slower and weaker, though you can still do it when you run out of stamina, you just do half-damage. It recharges quick, though, so long as you stop to take a breath.
When you jump, you take a hit to stamina, so big jump attacks are only good for hit-and-run tactics, when you’re only going for a short burst of damage. Attacking does very little to stamina, which makes standard ‘dash attacks’ better for long combos. And the longer you keep up a combo, the higher you go, and the more damage you do… but the more stamina you lose, the slower you attack, and the more likely it is you’ll end up getting countered by whatever you’re attacking.
See? There’s so much you can do with it, even though it’s just a small number of mechanics. I could go on about it. And I probably will!
Timing is another thing. If you and an enemy rush at each other at the same time, both attacking, you collide like retarded ice skaters, take half damage, and get bounced in opposite directions. If you attack an enemy as they’re preparing to attack, or when they’re done and regaining their bearings, you do 1.5x damage and knock them on their ass. It’s pretty basic, because to be fair, you’ve already got a lot to worry about.
As for the amount of enemies you’ve got to contend with, Megatronica subscribes to the ‘swarm the player with a metric fuckton of things and watch them scream’ mode of thought… with occasional pockets of stronger enemies and, once in a while, a few enemies of near-equal strength to the player. Variation is always good but, for the most part, you’ll just be elbow-deep in low-level cannon fodder.
Megatronica is supposed to be a manic, hyperactive game. Fast, hard-hitting, and filled with Crazy Anime Shit, screaming trance music and particle diarrhea to get your synapses going. All of them. You’ll be switching between weapon styles, dancing between swarms of enemies, having to deal with being in the air while your stamina drips out while enemies wait below for you to fall, falling, and then getting knocked around like a pinball until you get your bearings and you’re back in the air again, slashing away until everything is dead. It’s twitch-gaming heaven. Bottom line, if you’re not getting seizures, you are playing the game wrong.
This is countered by the city-building, which is also inspired by Peter Molyneux’s games, particularly Black and White. I love Peter Molyneux. With mouth. Which is what I’ll get into, next time, as it’s the second fundamental half of the game.