GAMEPLAY DETAILS! Part 1 of 3
As promised, this update is the grand Game Mechanics Unveiling! It’s basically a mini-manual for the game. Enjoy!
This is part 1 of 3, specifically covering:
Characters & Class Mechanics
The classes of miscreants in Delver’s Drop are all locked up in jail at the top of the dungeon. When you begin the game, you will pick one class whose cell the gaoler will open — letting one character out. You will then take that character to the Drop, a giant hole that tunnels down into the dungeons. Fortunately the jailers are constantly capturing new recruits, so you'll have plenty of prisoners to lead to their death. Or lead to their escape with fame and riches or whatever. But probably death.
Oh, and you won’t start with any decent weapons right away. You’ll have to find those as you go. But before you jump to your demise, you can purchase some items from the Jail’s armory. The inventory will be somewhat random, but you can improve its stock as you play.
The character classes come from an ancient adventuring guilds with their own specialized abilities and tactics. Several factors will differentiate each class from the others:
- Stats like amount of health and number of shields they can carry
- Their own specialized primary weapon
- Physics and movement properties such as acceleration, top speed, mass, and traction
- A unique perk tree
- Special Ability specific to that class
Each class will also have their own backstory, related both to the character(s) and their respective guild. The more the player uses a class (and plays through multiple levels with them), the more they will learn about their mostly-infamous history. And each time you play, your new character will have a randomly chosen name since, you know, the last guy you were playing as died. Some of these names will be contributed by backers! ($40 tier and up).
So what do you do once you drop a character down into the dungeon? These are the basic controls, with their default mapping on an X-Box 360 controller. We will also have (customizable) keyboard control, PS3 controller support, etc.
Movement — Analog Stick / D-Pad. You run around and stuff! Some characters might also float, slide, or prance, but it will always occur in the direction you’re pressing.
Primary Action / Attack — A Button. This is your primary action button, used for attacking enemies and opening treasure chests. You might also open doors and things, but mostly you’ll just smack stuff with a weapon.
Swap Sub-Item — L/R Triggers. You can cycle through a queue of 5 secondary items, putting a different one into the active slot for use. These will also be accessible with keyboard numbers 1-5 for those who want that option!
Use Sub-Item — X Button. Throw bombs, quaff potions, open spell books... this action uses whichever item is in the active slot!
Special Class Ability — Y Button. This is your trump card, your super move, your perk activation command. It will be wildly different per class!
Here are your points, variables, specs, and meters you'll see on screen and in your stat menu. All the fun stuff that number-crunching part of your brain expects in an RPG!
- Health (HP) — Each time you take a hit, you lose a heart... and when you run out of hearts your character will die.
- Shields — Shields stack over your hearts, and take damage first. You will only lose hearts if all Shields have been depleted.
- Coins — You can pick up money in a few denominations of coins, and use it to buy items in shops.
- Experience (XP) — You will gain experience points by killing enemies, solving puzzles, opening treasure chests, etc. These contribute to your level when they reach the required point value.
- Level — As you level up, you will find slightly better loot, and for each level you will put one point into your perk tree.
- Perk Trees — A set of skills and bonuses that are applied to abilities. You can upgrade these as you progress.
- Special Ability Meter — Each class has its own special move, which can be used when this meter is full.
As the player defeats enemies and performs other actions, they will gain XP. This will contribute to the class's level, and this level is persistent for the class regardless of individual character deaths. This is what we're calling "semi-permadeath” — when the player dies, they will lose their currently carried items (and possibly some gold), and the dungeon level they are in will re-randomize causing some progress to be lost. However, you will keep any XP and levels earned.
Leveling in Delver's Drop does not increase the character's base stats (health, attack power, etc), since we want to keep the stats consistent in the vein of other classic Action RPGs. We're trying to really emphasize player skill and mastery of the gameplay while avoiding any form of grinding, either for XP or loot. But leveling does offer other bonuses, such as more interesting weapons that can be equipped or purchased, and more importantly it lets you upgrade or re-spec your perks for that class!
When you level up, you will be able to upgrade or alter one of several perks for your chosen class on their skill tree. The trees will usually have the following 3 branches for a given class, granting improvements to:
- 1. Innate perks or passive abilities. Examples: find rarer items, move faster, have a chance of “dodging” projectiles.
- 2. The character's standard weapon attack. Examples: additional range, sweep, knockback.
- 3. Class-specific special ability. Examples: increased power, elemental attributes.
Each class has a special ability that can be activated once their special meter has fully charged. A class’s ability and method of charging the meter will be unique. Abilities may range from defensive to offensive to navigational. The method of charging the meter will vary widely — from collecting gold to killing enemies to running a certain distance.
We will design each ability to suit the given class's play style, and players can use the special move to amp them up at the right moments, escape tight situations, or just blaze through opposition. From continuous wand blasts to stealth spells or giant area-of-effect carnage, these moves are your ticket to victory. Remember to fine-tune them via your perk tree!
Every class in the game can carry shields, though the maximum amount they carry may differ. Whenever the player is shielded, damage will be absorbed by the shield, which is then destroyed. This protects the player from losing hearts.
However, shield loss has a secondary function: it can be used to knock back and even damage enemies. If the player comes in contact with an enemy when shielded, the enemy will be knocked back as if attacked. Though the player will lose the shield, they may also deal damage to their opponent. This can be used to defeat enemies when no items are available, or to attack some enemies that may be impervious to normal weapons.
We want players to rely on their speed and momentum, and encourage the idea of sometimes just tackling enemies when there is no other option. Sure you’re sacrificing some shielding, but it might be worth it to knock that nasty monster into the spikes right behind them, or punt them down a bottomless pit. And shield fragment pick-up items will be much more common than heart-healing items, so they can be replenished easily.
That's all the exciting info our little fingers could type for now. Look forward to our next update tomorrow, for information on items and dungeon mechanics!
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