Monday, February 13, 2012

The Shattered War: Combat Design

Since I've been doing a bit of playtesting of The Shattered War, I'd like to talk about some of the design aspects of the mod.  While I often talk about things like dialogue, choice and character design, in this post I'm going to deal with the crucial gameplay aspect of combat.

The first important decision was to decide which level to start the player. Most players who play mods, particularly a stand-alone mod not part of the main campaign, will be familiar with the Dragon Age mechanics, and know how to conduct combat. Thus I don't need to hand hold people with basic fighting tutorials (as happens within the start of DAO), or how to create a character. For most players, it's also more interesting to not start at the lowest level. As such, The Shattered War starts players around level 9, and gives them some basic supplies suitable for this level.

Of course, there will be enemies to match your level...

As the player starts as a more powerful character, their companions must also start at a higher level. Because of this, there is the possibility that the player will decide a particular playstyle is not working, or that they don't like it. As a result, I'm also going to include the possibility of re-creating a character - by adopting the re-spec mod. This has been on my to-do list for a quite a while and I've only recently begun to look at it. This is a crucial part of having an adventure starting at a higher level, as it allows the player to redesign their character and their companions to create a balanced party. This is also essential because of the limitation in the mod of there only being four companions, meaning there is not necessarily the ability for the player to simply "take a different character" if the existing character build does not suit them.

The next point is to attempt to introduce new mechanics or combat scenarios to enhance the gameplay. Due to technical and balance considerations, I am trying to avoid creating new abilities or spells for players to use. Despite this, I trying to introduce new mechanics through usable items and placeables, as well as enemies with slightly different behaviour to the default game. It is important to understand that increased difficulty does not come simply from adding more monsters, but at the same time, I do not want to introduce effects or situation that seem far fetched compared to the original campaign.

So there's a short discussion of the combat of The Shattered War, if you have any questions about the combat (or maybe even some suggestions), please feel free to comment!


  1. Integrating the respec mod is a pro move. I'd suggest you'd still want your companions to start with very strong builds (not Shapeshifter ^_^).

    Are you planning on using the ravens, or giving it some other visualisation?

  2. I was planning on simply using the potions and having them being sold by merchants rather than using the ravens. Having looked at the source, I think I have that implemented already, I just need to do some testing.

    Creating default builds for companions is still something I have to experiment work on, but I realise it's desirable. I was thinking about including a potion of respec in each companion's inventory just in case the player really hates the default build provided, but haven't yet decided whether that is a little too generous.