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The video games you played as a kid, mashed together and remade into a tactical roguelike.
The video games you played as a kid, mashed together and remade into a tactical roguelike.
The video games you played as a kid, mashed together and remade into a tactical roguelike.
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Character Skills in Enemy

Enemy has a skill-based character system, rather than a class-based one, so your characters can mix and match abilities from different classic games. You'll put some points into skills at character creation, and as you play more, you'll gain experience which you can use to develop your character's skills more fully, and add new ones. That is, Enemy features experience points and levelling-up, as opposed to X-Com's implicit training of skills by use. When you recruit a new member of your team, you also take over their skill development. I wanted to use this update to describe the skills in Enemy and some of the design decisions behind them. The following list is what's currently implemented in the game. More may be added over time.

In a game with permanent death, health is pretty critical. In addition to making a character sturdier overall, a high health score also lessens the chance of injuries to specific parts of the body: head injuries damage mind, vision, and reaction skills; arm injuries damage ranged, bomb, melee, and throw abilities; and leg injuries damage the jump ability and slow movement. Characters take damage from attacks, but also from being struck by moving objects and debris.

In addition to having a health bar, characters also have a mental health bar, which reflects the effect that battle is having on their morale. While physical health is drained from getting hit with an attack, even attacks that miss can drain mental health. Mental health is also drained by sustaining injuries, and seeing allies injured; loss is reduced in the presence of allies and increased when a character is alone. If mental health drops to zero, a character may freeze up and do nothing for a turn, drop their weapons and run away from battle, or panic and attack wildly in all directions. A team with very low mental health can get by as long as everything goes perfectly, but often, as soon as one thing goes wrong, everyone panics, makes themselves vulnerable, and gets wiped out.

Your ranged skill governs the long-range weapons you can use, ranging from the humble blaster to the mighty, three-shot-firing spread-gun. It also determines the accuracy with which you can use those weapons. Because of its long range, it synchronizes very well with both the vision and reaction time skills.

Bombs are your best option for clearing out dangerous areas, collapsing structures, punching open new entrances, and more. This skill also governs the use of smoke bombs and flash-bangs. A bomb is a midrange weapon and doesn't have the same reach as blaster, so a big part of the tactics of effective bomb use involves setting up the rest of your team so that you can safely move your bombers into place.

Melee allows the use of magic swords, along with other iconic video game melee weapons like air pumps and hammers. It has the highest damage output of all the skills, but requires characters to move right into the middle of battle. In order to make wading into the heart of a battle a viable strategy, melee also governs the use of shields, which block a significant proportion of damage, so long as that damage is coming from the front.

The throw skill allows you to pick up objects, carry them around, and throw them. A higher throw skill allows for heavier objects to be thrown, for further distances, and with more force. Thrown objects will then damage characters and objects based on their momentum and material type. The throw skill is interesting in that it has the most degree of dependence on the specific details of the situation: what kind of objects are around, where they are, what they are made of, and how much mass they have. Anything can be thrown, provided you have the skill to lift it: if a swordsman has chopped down a tree, a character with a high throw skill could then pick it up and toss it; throwing your allies, enemies, allies who are holding enemies, etc. is also supported.

Jump allows you to stomp on enemies to defeat them, and is also a great utility skill to move quickly around the battlefield. It synergizes well with other skills: it makes it easier for characters who can throw to get next to heavy objects; allows snipers to get to hard-to-reach and high up places; allows melee users and bombers to instantly close distance. Jump allows a character to cross land while spending very few time units, but is tiring and can only be limited times per turn. Additionally, reaction fire from blasters can can interrupt a jump, injure the jumper, and knock them to the ground (see attached video). Highly-skilled jumpers do more damage, can go further, and can break through sturdier materials if objects are blocking the way.

When you explore an area, places that have never been seen by your characters are completely blacked out. Areas that have been seen but are not currently in view are slightly darkened, and if enemy characters move through those areas, you will not see them. You will only see enemy actions and generate reaction fire if they take place within one of your team's vision cones, and the vision skill allows to to expand the distance and view angle of these cones. Of course, like all skills, this goes both ways: you can sneak up on your opponents just like they can sneak up on you.

This skill allows you to execute attacks that interrupt the opposing side's turn. It gives you a reason to move in a solid and defensible formation as you sweep through an area, to dodge from cover to cover, to blow holes in walls to gain line-of-sight, or collapse ceilings to rubble to block the sight of your opponents.

There are other aspects of the character system that are still in an experimental phase, including character history, and being able to take flaws and merits, in addition to other skills. In this update, I just wanted to cover the skills that are fully-implemented already. Thanks for reading!


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    1. Tom Johnson 2-time creator on February 27, 2013

      Thanks for the feedback guys. Your comments were really helpful, and I actually really like talking about design like this. The problem I had with my initial pass of the Jagged Alliance-style interrupt turn was that with the specific skills I had, it seemed to make interrupts a little too powerful, and that ended up incentivizing an overly defensive playstyle that wasn't really that compelling. However, there are definitely ways I could solve that problem. I think I will resurrect that code (because I always kind of wanted to) and see what I can do. I can promise, at the least, that I'll either have interrupt turns or smooth jump interrupts.

    2. Martin Kramer on February 26, 2013

      Thanks for your answer! I wouldn't be sad if there was a JA-styled interruption system, because as Robert pointed out that opens up new possibilities. I wouldn't mind the more fluid and maybe even (dare I say) more cinematic feel of X-COM's way, either.
      Depends on what works best, really. If there's a lot of time-stops, freezes in mid-air are okay because you learn to expect them. It just comes with turn-based territory. However, if mid-air shootings are the only instances of freeze, that might look a little out of place.

    3. Robert Kasalý on February 26, 2013

      Thanks for the response. For the record, I, personally, would prefer the Jagged Alliance interrupt turn system. Right now, a reaction shot pretty much only allows ranged-weapon equipped characters to take pot shots. An interrupt turn system would allow for something more fun and awesome - like a melee ninja with high jump leaping up to the jumping enemy and slashing them down in mid-air - wouldn't that be AWESOME? It wouldn't work with automatic reactions, because sometimes, you wouldn't want that to happen.

    4. Tom Johnson 2-time creator on February 25, 2013

      Hi Martin. I think that's actually quite a good idea. There's no reason I couldn't have the blaster character fire at the correct time to hit the jumper in midair without the game having to stop everything. I already have plenty of code written for calculating trajectories in every possible situation so that shouldn't be hard at all really.

      The one possible wrench in the plan is what Robert mentioned. Currently, reaction is implemented as an automatic reaction shot, as in X-Com (and therefore the uninterrupted shot would work), but that isn't completely written in stone. Earlier in development, I wrote an implementation of a Jagged Alliance-style interrupt turn system; I set it aside at the time because I wasn't completely happy with it, but there is a chance I will try to experiment with it some more.

      Thank you both for the feedback, I appreciate it!

    5. Robert Kasalý on February 25, 2013

      That brings up a good point, actually. Does reaction literally give you an automatic reaction shot like in X-Com, or does it give an Interrupt turn like in Jagged Alliance? If it's the former, then yes, there could potentially be reaction shots while the enemy's flying through the air. If it's the latter, there's no way around the turn-based nature of it.

    6. Martin Kramer on February 25, 2013

      Is the "freeze" moment during reaction fire there to stay? I think it would look super cool if the enemy reaction-fired during the jump, and you'd be really shot out of the sky, rather than there being a sort of time-stop. Don't know whether this is feasible, though, and of course the game is turn-based. Thing is, it doesn't look static and turn-based in the slightest in the other videos, so more fluidity during anti-air action would fit in nicely, in my opinion.