Developing A Species | Part 4
Hunter: We’re back for the exciting conclusion to our series on how we’ve been developing each of our species for Iris: Adventure Game. If you’ve missed any of the previous parts or would like a refresh, go check them at these links:
Today, Jared and I will be discussing our last two species: the Auroran and the Unysyn. I am quite fond of these two species. I think Seti and Taes are some of the most fun to write for, but the peculiarities of the Auroran and the Unysyn have led us into some fun lore conversations.
Jared: Both of these species were late additions to the galaxy. And both have seen a few revisions.
Hunter: Yeah, when we started the first playtests with friends and family, we had some ideas for other species but nothing substantial. We were still figuring out Achroite, Regund, Seti and Taes, and then one day while discussing a pet class that you were playing in another game system, we started talking about how we could pull off a pet class within IRIS that avoided some of the pet pitfalls and also felt molded by the color interaction.
Jared: That was my first time playing with a pet class and the ideas were really flowing. Our current Unysyn look more like my goals for that pet build (in the other game system) than that build had actually played. I had always wanted the pet to feel like an extension of the main character, instead of a separate character. We went through a several attempts at Unysyn before we landed on the current idea.
Hunter: And that was a big struggle we had was providing a companion mechanic that wasn’t (1) a swarm of characters (which we had during one version of Unysyn -- way too powerful) or (2) completely separate characters (which we also played around with, and turns took way too long).
Jared: It was hard to find the balance between timing, to not annoy other players, and simplicity, to not annoy the Unysyn players. Needless to say, we’ve annoyed most of our playtesters at some point because of the Unysyn. But the current multiple bots with partial turns pairing seems to solve both.
Hunter: Having GM’d multiple sessions with our various iterations of the Unysyn, our current system for them is fabulous. Unysyn are easily the most versatile class, able to respond mid-round to challenges -- throw out a critical heal, give a range or move boost, or share some clutch barrier -- and now with the Collective Command requirements, Unysyn are forced to prioritize when and how they perform those strategies.
Jared: It does take a little getting used to if you’ve been playing the other species. Suddenly, you have to be much more aware of what your party is missing and fill in that gap. And, not to spoil anything, Unysyn players who want more traditional turns and rounds can do so.
Hunter: Right, we’ve worked to provide a distinct companion class, that truly feels like you are a single consciousness operating as multiple bodies, while also providing some specializations options to play a more traditional character.
On top of that, we’ve also given Unysyn one of the most powerful features in the game: the ability to activate multiple major actions per round (if your bots are positioned well on the battlefield).
Jared: And that idea really fits in with our lore. We can save most of this discussion for a later development diary, but Unysyn (pronounced like “unison”) is an abbreviation for “United Synchronization,” which is this shrouded occurrence from the Unysyn’s origin story.
So these characters, despite being separated, need to feel united in purpose, and their actions need to build off of one another.
Hunter: The Unysyn origin is a tightly sealed secret. But one species does know some of the Unysyn secrets: the Auroran.
Jared: Look at that clever segue from lore and back to development.
The Auroran were a fun species to develop. While the Achroite and Regund use the source colors for their abilities, the Auroran embody the colors. It’s almost as if by being in a color, the Auroran gives up some of its freedom and is forced to bend to the nature of the color.
Hunter: Practically, Auroran were the other side of the pet class coin: what if I have one character who can manage simultaneous resources. And then thematically, they became this pure embodiment of the color mechanics -- they are the Source Colors.
Which provides them a lot of selfish freedom but heavily restricts their interactions with the other species.
Jared: The Auroran are easily the most selfish species. They have no means for doing anything beneficial to an ally aside from killing the thing that is trying to kill their friend. It makes them fun to have around; there is usually a good bit of table talk along the lines of “will you do something useful this turn”.
But if you’ve played an Auroran, you understand the need to improve yourself before joining the fray. There’s nothing sadder than a first turn Auroran charging in with no support from the team.
Hunter: Yeah, we’ve seen both types of Auroran players: the aggressor who stands next to the enemies, and typically gets overwhelmed, and the hide-in-green-and-do-nothing player who spends the entire encounter expanding health.
Jared: I remember the first time we played with an Auroran. You were GM, and I was the Auroran on the team. At first, you were having trouble dealing with my aggressiveness, but then you quickly realized that the easiest way to respond was to be just as aggressive. After that, I fainted several times that game.
Hunter: Hah, Aurorans who lose their barrier and then start losing health, get into trouble quickly -- because for an Auroran, your higher health increases your dice rolls. If you’re playing as Yawn Minutehand in THE CRASH OF PACKET CRUISER K748N, you’ll likely play best as a mid-field combatant.
Jared: It is tricky to balance. Yawn needs to be strong enough to take a few hits but that requires not dealing any damage at first. What Yawn really needs is V0-Y7R-901, with a helpful Reinforce Assets.
Hunter: An Auroran buddied up with a Unysyn is a pair ready for any duo action film.
Jared: Also keep in mind, your character does not have a maximum health cap. That’s a feature more important to an Auroran than anyone else.
Hunter: As Vee-oh, try to provide as many health augments to Yawn as you can, within the first 1-2 rounds. Position Vee-oh’s bots (it has 2) so that whenever you activate Reinforce Assets, both bots are within range of Yawn to augment its health.
But let’s say no one is playing as Yawn, what other strategies should Vee-oh focus on?
Jared: It all comes down to bot positioning. Keep an eye on the initiative ordering and make sure that when you are ready to use Slice or Blaster Turret that you will still have valid targets for all of your bots. Enemies are usually smart enough to not stand in range of your bots for too long.
Mobilization Command is your strongest tool, as it allows you to move and color shift all bots (independently), but don’t forget about Secure Mainframe, which also includes a move effect.
And if you are Yawn but the team is missing Vee-Oh, look for help from the other players. Almri can save you some effort with a Brighten. And Hish, Demosty and Tumble all have healing abilities that can help give you that early boost.
Hunter: Before we end, why the name “Yawn”?
Jared: Aurorans don’t really get language. Yawn noticed a connection between clocks and yawning and assumed that association was a positive one. I wouldn’t upset him by trying to explain it.
Hunter: I love it.
If you’ve read this far, we thank you so much for sticking with us as we’ve talked through each of the species. We’ve tried to keep these posts focused on mechanics and development, and as we start releasing more lore, we’ll expand our discussions to include how each species communicates, creates social units and interacts with the other species (which you can already learn some on each species’ page).