Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A short project introduction.

I've been thinking about this project for probably around 2 years, in various incarnations. The core ideas haven't changed, but some of the particulars have. As my mindset changed and I realized I have as much time as I want to work on this thing, its scope ballooned. After letting a long-term project (MV, for those unfortunate enough to remember it; I won't go into more detail) die after rolling it around for 4 years, I found a new joy in entering the game compos with Your Mother, a veritable team of all-stars (as far as these communities are concerned, at any rate). But alas, the relatively short nature of these projects left a hole in my heart. Er, not really, but for the sake of argument, sure. Anyway, I needed a new pipe dream! So I found one.

Around the time, I started to really enjoy tactics RPGs -- FFT and its ilk. But I realized that they were always... pretty inferior, with regards to, y'know, tactics (and several other things, but I can't fault them for making quick games that appeal to only a small portion of the gaming crowd). So I set out to make the ULTIMATE TACTICAL EXPERIENCE. Except I wasn't really going to make a tactics game.

Originally, the plan was to make what would basically be a Phantasy Star 4 clone, but with tons of skills that did more than increasing amounts of damage. Unique effects and conditions for using them would be my milieu. In stupid developer fashion, I felt that this wasn't EPIC enough, so I decided to make it a multi-party story! That's right, split it into chapters and have it take place from multiple perspectives. A ludicrous idea for someone who is too lazy to make a full game, to be sure. A final tenet was that enemies would behave (gasp) intelligently! The old games were so easy because nothing was ever unexpected. I hear you saying "oh but so-and-so boss had an ability that hit your entire party for 278462 damage and thus killed you instantly! how's THAT for surprises?!" to which I say, "not very surprising." You kind of come to expect that in a game where numbers get tossed around in wanton.

But over time I realized that the system wouldn't be enough. I needed more ways to make the battles creative. So I decided to make it a tactics game at heart -- grid-based combat, using position intimately in the skillset. It will take place in real-time, with skills having cooldowns/delays/action times, but you can pause at any time and reissue commands, at the price of interrupting whatever you were doing and losing whatever you've put into it. I also expanded upon the idea of good enemy AI by having every enemy require a specific strategy (to some extent) to defeat it, and nearby enemies being aware of their allies' thinking methods and needs. A complex system of give and take, that will have to be different for every location.

Add on top of that multiple parties, each character of which having their own unique skillset and role, item crafting, blah blah blah, all the typical epic RPG fare (except done more intelligently, I hope), and you'll see why I called it ridiculously ambitious.

An underlying tenet is that if you go into battle expecting to bash the shit out the enemy until it does not move anymore, heal your damage, and move on, you'll be severely disappointed (and crushed into pulp). The tactic might work in the very first dungeon, so the player will be slowly acclimated to THINKING about combat.

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