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.

So it is with Quadropus Rampage, our upcoming title for iOS and Android. Specifically, we have taken two traditional game systems, Achievements (giving the player a set of objectives to strive for) and Talents (allowing the player to choose a limited number of abilities or upgrades from a pool), and combined them into one complete system, which we are referring to as Masteries. Here's  a screenshot of our functionally complete but aesthetically skeletal GUI for the mastery selection page.

masteries

In short, the Mastery system allows the player to earn new abilities by completing achievements.

This system gives us some interesting advantages in game design. For starters, it makes the achievements way more desirable. Instead of just getting the typical "gold star", when you unlock an achievement in Quadropus Rampage, you get to make a decision that will bolster your gameplay from that point forward.

This also gives us an edge when it comes to "teaching" the player how to use their abilities most effectively. Instead of handing the player new skills at an arbitrarily determined level-up point, we give them a new way to use an ability after they have mastered it. Hence the name, Masteries.

This system cuts both ways, however -- it also has one big drawback. Namely, if we want to add achievements to the game, we also have to add more abilities. And too many abilities could mean that the player becomes too powerful, to the point where the game is no longer challenging and therefore no longer fun. At the moment we have 20 achievements, all relating to several different aspects of the gameplay, and each of which offers some substantial reward upon completion. But each one we add pushes us closer to that "overpowered" threshold.

Of course, like all things in Quadropus, the Mastery system is in alpha and is subject to change, but we're pretty excited about the direction it's heading.