Finalized Gameplay

June 12, 2009

I’ve finally nailed down exactly how the battle/combat gameplay will work.  Here are the details:

  • You enter battle to face an opponent carrying a weapon, armor, and an accessory.  These three pieces of equipment determine your total attack strength and defensive strength.
  • You also carry into battle up to six spells.  Each spell can be cast for a certain effect that is beneficial to you.  Each spell carries a magic cost.  You start with zero magic points to use and gain magic points by making words.
  • As the game begins, you use the cursor to select letters in the proper sequence to make words.  As you confirm a word selection, the letters disappear from the board and give you word score.  Word Score gives you magic points and builds up your Word Score Meter.
  • Once the Word Score Meter reaches its maximum, you will deal a blow to your opponent using your current weapon.  The blow will either miss or strike the opponent dealing damage.  The amount of damage taken is subject to the opponent’s armor.  The damage is taken from the opponent’s health (HP).  Your opponent does the same back to you.  This continues as needed until one of the characters has zero HP.
  • Word Scores are determined by three factors.  The first is the complexity of the word in terms of how rare the letters are (GREAT is not as high scoring as PIZZA even though they are the same length).  Each letter is given a point value based on how rare it is.  The second factor is length.  Words over length of six are given bonus points.  The longest length of a word is 15 letters.  The longer a word, the more extra bonus is added.  The third score factor is whether a bonus tile was involved.  On the game board, certain letter tiles will have 2x and 3x score multipliers.  They are applied to the entire word score doubling it or tripling it.  Multiple score mulitplier tiles are treated as one.  The 3x tile is rarer than the 2x tile.
  • As character level increases (which can range from 1 to 50), the Word Score Meter gets harder to fill.  For example, at level 1, the character might only have to fill it with 15 points but at level 50, it might be 60 points.  These numbers will be tweaked as needed to scale the difficulty.
  • Spells can be cast as long as you have them equipped and you have the correct amount of MP to use.  The MP is built up as you play by making words (using the same word score figure).  Spells typically give you defense or do something to your opponent to tip the game into your favor.  They are another tool in your arsenal to use strategically.
  • If you are slain in battle, it is game over and you return to the main menu (to load your last saved game).  If you are victorious, you will receive experience, gold, and possibly an item drop from the opponent (an item could be, for example, a potion to use to heal, or a piece of equipment like a weapon).  The experience you gain may increase your character level.  Leveling up increases your stats, such as HP maximums.  You may also be awarded with a new spell at specific levels.

The rest of the game (meaning the non-combat parts) revolve around the map.  On the map, you see the entire game world with specific locations to visit.  These are cities, villages, and other landmarks.  You can move a little avatar from location to location to explore the world.  At each location, you can bring up a menu showing what you can do at that location.  Most locations will have quests to complete (which are just battles as outlined above). Some of the quests are part of a main storyline and others are side battles used to gain experience.   As you visit map locations, a random attack might occur and you will have to either face an enemy in battle or you will have to flee.  Fleeing allows you to get away, but you may incur some damage doing so.

At map locations you will also be able to visit the Inn.  Inns allow you to stay and rest to heal your HP for a small fee.  Many inns also offer Tavern Puzzles which are non-combat mini-games to play for gold and experience.

There are also chests to find at each location.  These treasure chests have to be opened by you using the chest mini-game (think of it as picking the chest’s lock).  Once opened, they will reveal treasure like gold and other useful items.  You also get experience for opening chests.

At any time on the map or in a battle, you may bring up your character sheet (which also pauses the action).  This character sheet presents your stats, equipment, items, and spells.  You can equip different weapons and armor in battle, but spells can only be equipped outside of battle.  You also have the option to flee a battle on this screen.

Also slated for the game are a practice mode that pairs you with a random enemy to practice battles with.  This mode does not give experience to your character (at least right now, I’m not planning on that).  It is just meant to help you practice.

There will also be a multiplayer part to the game that supports XBox LIVE multiplayer.  You will use your character’s level to determine skill matches over LIVE.  You can also just play at a particular level to handicap better players and make it more fair.  Local multiplayer will also be supported.


XNA Game Studio 3.1 Released

June 12, 2009

A new version of XNA Game Studio has been released.  I installed it last night and it took a while.  I had to uninstall 3.0 and then reboot.  The project upgrade wizard took my 3.0 project and upgraded it to 3.1 just fine.  Note that this version of Game Studio does not force upgrades and you can actually develop 3.0 and 3.1 projects independently.  I think all of this must center around the new XACT3 tool.  3.1 uses a new version of XACT (the DirectX Cross-Platform Audio Creation Tool).  The documentation says that 3.0 (XACT2) .xap files are incompatible with 3.1.  The remedy is to open your XACT2 .xap in XACT3 and then just do a save on it to convert it to the new format.

Some new features that have come out with 3.1:

  • Avatar support – load and use avatar 3D models in your games.
  • XBox LIVE Party support – gives some support to parties that allow up to 8 gamers to talk and interact with each other simultaneously.
  • Video playback – now you can play videos in games or even render video to textures to display on 3D quads.
  • Automatic content pipeline read/write – the serialization of content objects can be handled automatically by default using .NET attributes.
  • Audio – a new XACT version and SoundEffect usage.  XACT3 uses a new and improved audio compression scheme (xWMA) to encode music and sound effects.

Perhaps one of the most surprising announcements was the name of the consumer platform from XBox LIVE Community Games to XBox LIVE Indie Games.  I guess this is part of Microsoft’s strategy to improve visibility of Creator’s Club games.  Anything that attempts to market this service better is ok in my book — we really need it.