As I mentioned in the last dev log, my next game (codename: More Tactics) will allow you to fight in a group of 6 (up from Voidspire Tactics‘ 4-man team). You’ll form your squad from a large pool of characters that you recruit and train yourself.
To facilitate this, More Tactics is going to have some roguelike-ish elements. For example: certain areas will be procedurally generated, and your characters can permanently die if not healed in time. (It’s important to note: Revive spells aren’t necessary – any kind of healing will stop the death timer.)
Now, More Tactics isn’t any old roguelike – it’s a Tactics RPG. If I just grafted these mechanics on and called it a day, the result would be a mess. In Voidspire Tactics you carefully build up a small team, gradually gaining abilities, unlocking the classes you want on a per-character basis. Imagine doing that for 10-20 characters – and risking permadeath! It would be a hugely punishing timesink.
What More Tactics needs is some numbers tweaking and a handful of design changes. To start, XP gain will be increased. Classes will be permanently unlocked for all characters via purchase, discovery, or special encounters. That alone should reduce a lot of grind.
However, there is another issue: in Voidspire Tactics increasing your stats, such as your Sword Skill or your Physical Attack, represents a significant increase in power. Points in either can result in 3+ extra damage per hit, which can easily trivialize what was once a difficult encounter.
That means ‘lategame’ combats have to be balanced accordingly. In our roguelike situation, you might need to do serious stat-grinding to progress. And heaven forbid your high-powered characters happen to die – then it’d be time to grind up a full party again!
Obviously that won’t do. So, my plan is to flatten the stats curve. In More Tactics each point of Physical Attack or Weapon Skill will be exactly 1 point of damage on a normal hit (abilities may vary). Similarly, Defense negates 1 point. Easy to understand, and easier to balance.
(Stat boost abilities such as the Warrior’s ‘Brave’ will have their values changed accordingly.)
Even with these changes, each character is a significant investment of time on the part of the player. I have more mechanics planned to make sure the player feels the risks & consequences of permadeath, but more importantly, doesn’t have their time wasted. Without getting deep into details, here are a few:
- upgrades that grant new recruits a % of XP you’ve earned in the past
- upgrades that grant all characters a permanent stat boost
- expensive ‘Escape Gems’ that rescue a character from the brink of death once and then break
- can recover dead characters’ equipment by finding their corpse
And of course, the ultimate concession: I’ll have an ‘easy mode’ that allows you to save scum like a normal RPG.
With all that, hopefully people will enjoy More Tactics regardless of how they feel about roguelikes.
(NOTE: this post outlined the original plan for Alvora Tactics. In the end I opted not to include permadeath for design reasons – however, many of the same lessons and ideas still apply to Alvora’s final design.)