From Here to the End

Ok, folks. It’s officially crunch time. The presentation of the completed project is next Tuesday. In my case this will be a relatively polished prototype of a single player version of the Chimera game concept. Here I will outline what I hope that prototype to include (in order of importance):

  • Interface PrototypeFluid Interface

I’m basing the interface around a radial theme, trying to make it feel like a scientific readout with information radiating out from each creature. To the right is the current prototype for the interface. I hope to get more polished graphics by the final iteration, but that is of lower priority than completing the flow of gameplay.

  • Combat

Random combat without engaging animation is boring and impersonal.  As an alternative I will be emulating a typical Pokemon-like battle system. Creatures have a set amount of energy, determined by stamina, and each attack takes a certain amount of energy.  An amount of energy is regained every turn.

In addition to attacking, the player has the option to defend against the enemy’s next attack which will reduce the amount of damage sustained by a successful attack. Defending costs no energy.

  • Training

This will soon get its own post, as I’m trying to come up with a training/level up system that doesn’t simply rely on gaining points that the player allocates to the skills they want to advance. Instead experience  earned in battle will increase the probability that a creature will gain a skill point when training a particular skill.

  • DNA combination machine

Forced mating is a little risque…  Especially because most of these creatures look male. The solution? Artificial DNA combination. When you win a battle you receive a sample of that creature’s DNA. You can then take that DNA to the combination machine and combine it with one of your creatures to produce a selection of offspring.

  • Parts variety

My goal is to have at least 4 distinct variations for each part set. I believe this will provide enough variety to make each creature look different from the next.

  • Selective randomization

Eventually the creatures the player will be presented with will not be 100% random, but randomized from specific sets of parts that fit well together. This will also be used to provide difficulty scaling, as the initial creatures generated will have low level parts, and as your creature gains experience, more powerful parts will be used in generating opponents.

The Chart Must Flow

The first step I chose to take in improving the battle system was to design the interface. As you may have noticed, little to no care has gone into the UI if the previous prototypes. Now that I have a clear view of what the program will eventually require, I can tackle interface design. In mocking up the UI, I outlined 5 screens that the player will move through when playing the game: Select, Inspect, Train, Combat, and Combination (Select and Inspect may eventually be made into one screen if it feels more intuitive).

Though I’m still roughing out the design itself, I have drafted a new gameplay flowchart with everything the player will do in the final prototype, and which screens each activity takes place on. Interface shots to follow soon.Gameplay Flowchart 2

Combat Prototype

Combat Prototype

Play Prototype 3

I have completed a preliminary combat prototype and quickly learned that having automated, non-interactive combat is kind of boring and leaves the player feeling very detached from the experienced. The alternative would be a Pokemon-style battle system where the player gets to choose which moves to use; moves expend energy; energy is determined by stamina. Creatures would also have a defend ability which allows them to take less damage if hit next turn (augmented by their constitution score).

There will also eventually be animated sprites that are played for each attack, while the creatures move back and forth to indicate attacks, dodges and hits.

Another key feature missing from this prototype which will be implemented in the next 2 weeks is training. Now, when you try to fight a creature and lose, you simply have to try again with another creature. In the final prototype, after you lose a battle you will be able to choose to train your creature in one of the traits which will increase it by 1 point. Trained ability, of course, is not genetically transferred.

State of the Prototype

Battle prototype, though a bit behind schedule, is well under way. I have the basic structure for combat in place, involving two randomly generated creatures throwing and evading attacks based on their genetic traits. I need to add a simple training mechanism and some (really) simple animations for each attack. I’m hoping to have this prototype published next Tuesday. After that, I’m planning to start working on the aesthetic treatment of the UI for the final game prototype.

Prototype 02

prototype02

Play Prototype02

So I apologize, dear readers, for not posting more of my prototypes thus far. To summarize my efforts, I’ve gotten a basic, random crossover function that generates random offspring from both parents. Each part holds the potential to modify the attributes of the creature, which include: Strength, Stamina, Constitution, Intelligence and Speed. Eventually (for the next prototype) parts will also hold ability objects which are the creature’s attacks in combat. Parts like claws would have a slash attack, horns have a headbutt attack, third eyes have a psychic attack, etc.

This current prototype had 41 part sets, and I will be adding more as I go. This prototype can create roughly 972000 different combinations.

In the next prototype I will make a rough combat system and attempt to add a system for skin color that is inherited and mixed between parents. Technically (on the schedule I drafted) these are two different prototypes, but I’m planning on working on both features interchangeably and I’ll demo which ever I finish first.