Design

Dev Chat: Building Crafting Systems in Games

Posted by Seth Coster

July 10th, 2015

As we’ve fleshed out the world and systems of Crashlands, one of the biggest hurdles we’ve had to overcome is how to balance the game’s crafting system. We have over 800 things in the game, 470 of which are craftable. Each recipe can have up to four unique types of components, and those components are all obtained in different ways, in different places in the world, at different rates. HOW DOES ONE MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL?

Simple(ish). WITH THE POWER OF AUTOMATION! Check it out.

Would you like to know more? Hit up our forums and drop us a line!

We also talked about this very problem in our latest podcast episode, so be sure to give that a listen!

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Spider Monkeys and Biomes – Crashlands Pre-Beta Devlog #3

Posted by Sam Coster

February 5th, 2015

Biomes, the distinct land-types of Crashlands, come in three flavors: Savannah, Bawg, and Tundra. While the Savannah felt like a fun place to explore from day one, both the Bawg and the Tundra were suffering from a distinct lack of exploratory fulfillment, despite containing more cool stuff (resources and creatures) than the Savannah. Something was off about these biomes, and we couldn’t figure it out. Turns out, Spider Monkeys had the answer.

Crashlands is, at its heart, a game about exploration. Such games fuel the itch to find out what’s on the other side of the screen or around the river-bend have. To do so they have to cleverly handle how they dole out resources and unique landmarks. The location, rarity, and spread of these resources and geological structures — the “Distribution,” as we call it — is the primary driver of exploration enjoyment.

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Randomly Interesting Combat – Pre-Beta Devlog #2

Posted by Seth Coster

January 22nd, 2015

(~6 minute read) Post-Alpha we looked into how players engaged with the creatures of the world through combat. Our combat system required learning the unique move of each creature type, which provided an interesting first-time experience. However, over the course of hours of gameplay, players felt the single-move combat mechanics of creatures grow old and boring. This is how we addressed it without going too HARDCORE. Combat design in crafting games is frequently an extension of the harvesting system; the only difference is that the object being harvested is moving and damages the player on contact. This is the case in games like Terraria, Minecraft, and Starbound. With little exception, it is the rule in the most popular of crafting titles that killing an enemy bears a striking resemblance to mining; You’re mining living entities that don’t take well to drilltips.=&0=&Each creature had a single move at its disposal. Once engaged, the creature would place a large overlay on the ground, showing the range and size of their move. Players would then have to “Dance” around these overlays to strike at foes. We called this the “Dance of Death”. In the case of the Glutterfly, it went like this:
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The Glutterfly’s overlay gets more solid as it prepares to unleash its projectile, which has its own overlay style to show the danger radius.
It was simple for new Players to pick-up and lent each creature, with its separate timing and effect types, a feeling of uniqueness. It also gave combat a distinctly different feel compared to harvesting. This combat system stayed enjoyable so long as the flow of new Creatures was refreshed fast enough. However, for the Game-at-Large to remain interesting, the rate at which the player moved from one set of Creatures and Resources to another had to slowly grow longer as new recipes became more complicated to produce (see Seth’s Loops and Rockets talk for why this is). And here lies the culprit; Combat was only interesting so long as there were new creatures to learn from, but those creatures were limited in supply and arrived at further and further time intervals as the game progressed. The system we devised offered Mastery potential, but not enough to weather those longer stretches between new creatures. We needed to make the combat more interesting and for a longer duration, but without busting the accessibility and ease of it. =&1=&For new players, the sense of bored Death-Dancing seemed to be setting in around 4 hours into the game, a scant 10% of the way through its intended duration. Seth, on a hunch, changed the attack code of the Wompits to have a small randomization in landing accuracy. Immediately we saw what we’d been missing;
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The three Wompits here land in slightly varied locations, rather than completely on top of the player.
Variety
And just the tiniest bit. Over the following day Seth added some “wobble” to every Creature’s attack, but we found this slight variation in the existing moves to not be enough. While it created variety in creature-attack-execution, it didn’t deliver a variety in player-response. In a small creature overhaul, we generated a list of secondary attacks: Glutterflies, the one-shot poisoners from before, could now fire a 3-shot burst; Wompits, the one-stomp fatties from above, could now perform a second, larger stomp in rapid succession after their first; etc.
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The Glutterfly now occasionally fires a multi-shot volley, requiring a change in player combat approach.

The end-all effect of this is that combat is more consistently interesting, because while you may know what the Creature is capable of, it’s a roll of the dice in determining what it’s going to choose to do. It’s a subtle way to boost the Mastery potential of combat while keeping it accessible, and distinct from harvesting. We think you’re going to love it. Stay tuned for parts 3 & 4 on the updates to Crashlands, and get your BscotchID. You’ll need it to enter the Beta…SOON. 😀 If you missed part 1, about Recipes, check it out here.

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Looping Recipes – Pre-Beta Devlog, part 1

Posted by Seth Coster

January 14th, 2015

At the conclusion of our Alpha test we found that there was something very WRONG with how Player’s experienced Crafting in Crashlands. In short, the system we had constructed alternated between being boring and overwhelming. To solve this HORRIBLE problem we first had to examine why this might be the case. =&0=&

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Will it blend? Talents and Achievements COMBINED!

Posted by Seth Coster

April 26th, 2013

When we hammer out a game concept, we often try to look to a variety of existing, successful game designs and ask ourselves, “How can we take the best parts of these and BLENDY JAM them together?” Game design is a lot like genetics. If you keep breeding two closely related things, you’ll end up with some health problems, and the offspring won’t survive. You have to keep injecting new concepts and new ideas — new genes — into the genre to improve it for the next generation.

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