Developing A Species | Part 1
For today's post, instead of the more traditional monologue posts, we wanted to provide a dialogue so that the community can see various perspectives and how each of us has worked through the challenges of developing species and game mechanics. So I’m joined by our creative director, Jared.
Jared, do you recall which of the species we worked on first?
Jared: If my memory is correct, we began with Achroite, but they looked far different than they do today.
Hunter: Yeah, they had a pretty severe color and ability restriction. I think we had Regund and Achroite in development when we started trying to piece together all of our ideas, and Achroite had the first full system that we reviewed. You had to pick a color, right?
Jared: Yes, there were effectively six subspecies of Achroite. One for each color. They embodied the nature of that color. As long as you stayed on or near your color, things would go great for you. If you got pulled to your off color, you slowly died.
I think the visual we were going for was that the light inside of you dimmed until it flickered out.
Hunter: It was a very appealing character for the first few pre-alpha testers, but the restrictions proved to be too prohibitive.
Jared: Purple Achroite was the dominant character at that time. They usually had a range that stretched across the entire map by the third or fourth turn of combat. Something I am still excited to see people try and do.
Hunter: Absolutely, there’s a sort of chess mechanic in Iris: Adventure Game where you’re trying to balance contributing to the team’s damage (to end a combat scenario) while also giving yourself and your teammates the tactical edge.
Shooting across the map is fun, but you have to check it against what the team needs to overcome the challenge. I think we also had a tester who liked to increase his speed and run into enemies.
Jared: That caused several problems. Not least of which, I think in one of those early games I kept dying while that tester kept running.
Hunter: Haha, right, that balance of survival and cooperation. And from those first few games, we started to see what refinements not just Achroite but all of our species at that time needed. I believe by that time we had Achroite, Regund, Seti and Taes.
Jared: Yeah, we had all four of those and then Achroite went through a major overhaul. We let abilities bleed over into other colors. So that you still had a prefered color but also had the versatility to do other jobs.
Hunter: We kept seeing a push by the testers for simplification and versatility. Let me have a handful of abilities that I excel at and also let me have the choice to do more. Maybe I’ll start combat by increasing range or barrier, and then around turn three or four, I’ll add in some damage or healing.
Jared: It seems like we overcorrected at that time. Achroite were being played less often.
Hunter: Yeah, finding that sweet spot between “you can do everything” versus “you can do only this”.
Jared: That ushered in a third major overhaul, which pulled an idea from the Seti of that time. Traps were a Seti tool that wasn’t clicking for them.
Hunter: Seti, clicking... =P
Jared: The trap mechanics were strong but clashed with the fast and aggressive Seti playstyle. So we found a better home for them.
Hunter: Right, while revisions for Achroite were occurring, we were also testing and revising the other species. We wanted Seti to be quick and simple; Regund should be versatile and consistent; Achroite should grow in power as combat goes longer; and Taes should break things.
Jared: Woah, you’ve said too much. We’ll have to save all of that for some other diary.
Hunter: And then the Auroran and Unysyn....
Jared: Some other time. Do you want to wrap up with where Achroite are today?
Hunter: I guess I’ll wait for the other species. So the Achroite landed where you select your preferred color realms, and those realms provide small stat bonuses when you color shift. Achroite can also access any of the color realms and abilities, and they set these traps that increase in power the longer they go untriggered.
The mechanic played well with their lore of being these mischievous, wild people who may seem childish but actually think and plan -- and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Jared: Absolutely, a clever Achroite player will be ready with whatever the team needs, and a clever Achroite player with the support of a Taes or Seti will run the field.
So any strategy our Achroite players should be using, maybe specific suggestions for making Tumble as powerful as possible?
Hunter: Anyone playing Tumble in THE CRASH OF PACKET CRUISER K748N is in for a treat. First off, he may be carrying a one-of-a-kind item that could be worth an absurd amount of money.
As a purple Achroite, you should spend the first couple of turns providing support: increase barrier or health for your frontline (remember that health and barrier can exceed base values). As your Source Charge hits 3 and higher, use Third Wind to give your team a big move boost, and then use Blast and Scattershot to help clean up remaining enemies. If someone needs to retreat, drop them a Lookout trap (6 Source Charge) so that they can safely attack from a distance.
Jared: Don’t forget about color-shifting. Each turn, you should check if your strategy allows you to shift into Purple to gain that +1 range and +1 move passive. New players often forget that even if you are already in Purple, you can still shift out and back in.
Hunter: Color bouncing is important for Achroite and Seti characters to build those gradual gains.
Jared: I think that about wraps it up. Any last words for our players?
Hunter: If you haven’t already downloaded your free copy of THE CRASH OF PACKET CRUISER K748N, follow this link to sign up and get it. Check out Tumble (the Achroite) and the other characters. Thanks so much for joining us, and we’ll pick up next time when we talk about Seti.