Dev Diary #8 | Species Selection

Welcome back to another Iris: Adventure Game development diary.

One of the things I get to do in my job (as a university professor) is advise students on what classes they should take. This has been a big week for that, and it got me thinking about another kind of advising I often do. When Hunter and I play Iris, players often ask the question, “Which species should I play?” This is a tricky question to answer.

Usually I need to know a few things before I can answer that question well:

  • How much experience do you have with roleplaying games?
  • What are your preferred classes or play-styles in other roleplaying games?
  • Do you prefer consistency in combat or showing off?

Let’s take a look at each of these to see where each species falls.

 

How much experience do you have with roleplaying games?

First, we want to know how much experience a player has with roleplaying games, both tabletop and computer. Once we know how familiar you are with games like Iris, we have a pretty simple categorization for the six species:

  • Beginner: Regund, Seti
  • Intermediate: Achroite, Auroran
  • Advanced: Taes, Unysyn

If you’re new or unseasoned with RPGs or if you’re looking for a simpler play experience, go ahead and play a Regund or Seti. Both of these species have simpler mechanics to manage, with no or minimal resources to manage, and can be set up easily to play a single role (i.e. deal damage, increase health, increase barrier, etc.).

If you’re familiar with RPGs and like having options during your turn (you enjoy situational complexity), check out an Achroite or Auroran character. Both have focused roles, depending on what you want to achieve, both can adjust their roles from turn to turn, and both have a little more complexity in their game mechanics (i.e. resources to track each turn).

If you’re a veteran RPG player and want a distinct play experience, try out a Taes or a Unysyn. Taes do not play like any of the other species and have highly unique abilities to manipulate how others play the game. Unysyn control multiple characters simultaneously who all take half-turns to produce great versatility. For both species, you’ll need to maintain awareness of not only your characters but also your allies and your enemies.

 

What are your preferred classes or play-styles in other roleplaying games?

If you can answer this question, then you’re likely not an RPG beginner. Do you prefer to lead combat, to be sneaky, to fire from the backlines, to provide team support or to play a mixed bag of tricks? While our six playable species don’t align neatly with standard fantasy classes, let’s go ahead and see where each species falls on the play-style spectrum.

Achroite are going to feel similar to ranged magic casters, like wizards, bards and druids. Achroite can color shift to gain access to different types of abilities and effects, but they tend to prefer 1-2 colors (or 1-2 ability effects, such as damage, healing or reducing barrier). Achroite are typically great at a certain ability flavor and will typically be backline characters.

While Aurorans are ranged casters, their play-style is probably more akin to a monk or other classes who have lots of self-enhancing abilities. While an Auroran’s only team contribution is damage, an Auroran can fully control its own stat increases and will need to manage which stats are most important for the encounter (i.e. more barrier and health to absorb big hits, more piercing damage to bypass an enemy’s barrier, more move to chase down quick enemies, etc.).

Regunds are similar to clerics and sorcerers: lots of abilities and ability types always available. Regunds are ranged casters but also have high health and barrier, allowing them to get into the thick of battle as needed. Where Regunds lack pure power, they make up for it by always having a good answer (maybe not a great answer but always an effective answer).

Seti are your weapons combatants, like fighter, ranger or rogue. All Seti can deal damage, agnostic of their color realm, and then selecting your preferred color gear focuses the flavor of how you deal damage. Do you want to be the sturdy frontline tank? Focus on orange to empower your barrier. Do you want to be the stealthy assassin? Focus on either yellow for stealth or blue for ignoring enemy barrier. Or go with green to be a combat medic (decent damage and decent healing), or go with purple to be the ranged sniper.

Oh Taes, where do you fit in? Taes are like a cleric or a bard with none of the damaging abilities and all of the flavor abilities. Taes are powerful, but they’re not typical. They’re the dispatchers who are coordinating everyone’s movements and actions, or they’re the masterminds who are shutting down the enemies’ best-laid plans. Taes are also highly skilled and start with far more skill points than the other species; so in roleplaying, they’ll feel similar to a rogue who is adept at lots of skill checks.

Unysyn are similar to the hybrid classes that pop up throughout RPGs: witch doctor, shaman and druid. Depending on how a player builds a Unysyn character, they can be ranged support or damage, melee damage or tank, or a blend of all available options. Unysyn are also a pet class, by default (though you can spec into a solo-character build), so while overall their output is competitive with the other species, their main benefit is being able to activate more abilities (with lower potency) within a single round than the other species.

 

Do you prefer consistency in combat or showing off?

I struggled with how to phrase this question. Do you prefer knowing what you’re going to do each turn? Do you enjoy being THE damage dealer or THE healer or THE tank? Or, do you prefer trying something different each turn and trying to break the encounter with an oddly placed or unexpected ability?

Certainly, we all love admiration and getting a little time in the spotlight, but do you like knowing before it’s your turn what you’ll likely do, or do you like shifting with the flow of an encounter?

If you’re looking for a consistent play-style, Seti will be an excellent choice. Because Seti focus into certain colors when leveling up and acquiring gear, Seti will always deal damage and will always favor their color preference. They’re simple and good at what they do.

Likewise, any build (no matter the species) that specializes into red for damage or green for healing will almost always be doing that specialty each turn. An Achroite, Auroran, Regund, Seti or Unysyn who is good at red abilities will always be looking for the best opportunity to deal a lot of damage (same with being good at green abilities and trying to maximize health increases).

If, though, you’re looking to show off more and to attempt big plays, well, Taes is an easy choice. Taes allow you to meta-game and tell others what to do, including the game master, while still playing within the rules and lore of the game.

And then, any species that naturally encourage hybrid builds, like the Auroran, Regund and Unysyn, will put situational control into your hands. Aurorans can shift stat focus per turn, while Regunds can build themselves to be adept in several (or even all) colors. Unysyn start with one ability per color and can easily build themselves to simultaneously operate with bots in different colors, activating different ability effects.

Also, a nice oddball build is anything that specializes into yellow or purple. Because yellow and purple abilities hit an efficacy ceiling (you can only reduce an enemy’s move so much or increase your range to span the entire map), you’ll likely spend a handful of turns using your specialty abilities and then need to switch to red, orange or green abilities in order to help with damage or support.

 

So what do you think? Are you ready to make your choice?

Hopefully this provides some guidance on which species you should play as. Of course, playing is always more insightful than reading, so head over to our newsletter signup, where you can download a free adventure with some premade characters.

- Jared