Do any of you remember our Five Pillars of Design? The Fifth Pillar talks about the unique, symbiotic relationship between the three different aspects of the game: Tower Defense, Action, and RPG. Our Fifth Pillar demands that we make sure these three sides of the game work well together.
We’ve shared some of the new Tower Defense features of DD2, but how are we integrating that with the other two? I’ll be focusing my blogging efforts on this very question, starting first with Combat and how it came to be what it is today.
DD1’s Combat – The Good, The Bad, and the Floaty
When developing a hybrid game like Dungeon Defenders, it’s important that we keep in mind all the different sides of the game. We have to evaluate their strengths and their weaknesses. Most importantly, we have to isolate and identify how those sides can work with — and not against — one another. The first Dungeon Defenders featured a simple, yet entertaining combat system. It supported the Tower Defense side of the game and was improved by a rich loot and stat system coupled with unique character progression. But it wasn’t without its problems.
When development began on Dungeon Defenders II, we decided to take a good look at all three sides of the game and see where we could improve them. While DD1’s combat was entertaining and symbiotic, it felt a little too “floaty” in that it didn’t give you solid and powerful feedback. Internally we refer to this as the Lawn Mower Effect since it basically had you mow down loads of enemies without providing you with any sense of contact.
Dungeon Defenders Lawn Mower Melee
Building and Testing Combat Prototypes
Over the course of one week, Trendy’s development team split into three teams, each eager to prototype and showcase their vision for combat in Dungeon Defenders II. While two teams focused on refining DD1’s approach and pushing it further, the third team cooked up something rather special.
Their prototype featured the Barbarian stomping heavily on the battlefield. He slashed his famous axes through the air with monumental force, cleaving through his enemies before slamming his weapons into the ground. Each attack propelled the Barbarian toward his enemies, and each could be chained with another attack. His full body was animated, opening up the potential for attacks that looked both complicated and impressive. With every swing he gave a loud roar, and his axes shook the screen as they pummeled enemies and terrain alike.
When it came time to review all three prototypes, it was obvious which one we were most excited to move forward with. The third prototype was simple, but it very clearly showcased the type of weighty, visceral combat we wanted to give our players.
New-and-Improved Melee in Dungeon Defenders II
Since then, we have been hard at work on this new combat system. In the future, melee heroes will utilize an action chaining system that allows them to combine different actions seamlessly. Your Squire will be able to jump into combat. unleash a flurry of light and heavy attacks, turn and fire a few abilities, repair a defense, and then jump out of combat, all in quick succession. By the time we are through with our system, players will be able to fluidly chain actions together in the heat of combat.
Refining Ranged Combat
We are also improving how Ranged Combat feels in Dungeon Defenders II. One of the simplest (yet coolest!) additions I can talk about is the Hot-Spot mechanic. This allows Ranged heroes to target special spots on enemies and deal even more damage than normal. The prototype was first tested by adding headshots on a single enemy type, and we are continuing to apply this system to different parts of our game. For example: When hit on an unarmored spot, our Ogre will suffer more damage from attacks.
This Hot-Spot system can be used in a lot of interesting ways. What do you all think? Should we invest the time into implementing a full-fledged Hot-Spot system for our Ranged Heroes?
It is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning for our Combat Systems in Dungeon Defenders II. There are still plenty of things we are working on that are hidden away deep within Trendy’s lair. You can imagine how the Squire’s combat plays out now, but what about a hero that wields two weapons? How do the weapon choices influence the combat?
That’s a conversation for another time, but until then, your feedback is vital! Be sure to leave a comment and let us know some of the things you are hoping to see improved in DD1’s combat system.