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batiali
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« on: June 06, 2016, 09:03:57 AM »

Hello everyone. It's been awhile since I've posted something on tigsource but I kept following and enjoying the DevLogs so much. So I decided to put one for our indie studio's (Bee Square) current project called "Almost a Hero".

About the Game

Almost a Hero is an idle/clicker game where you train a bunch of wannabe heroes and help them defeat endless wave of enemies.

I personally believe that the genre itself is very interesting and not much iteration has been done yet. Even though we already made a game in collaboration with Gearbox for Battleborn (Battleborn Tap - iOS / Android), there are various things I still want to try / improve / excel at. One of those things is the meta, so it will be my personal challenge in this project to keep the game interesting without asking only for grind and provide meaningful content to players. I'm willing to share those design thought processes as well as the beautiful artwork our artists are making. I know it would be hard to get much feedback without showing the gameplay (yet) but any kind of feedback is appreciated.


We started to do concepts for the characters. We are at the process of defining each of them's abilities, so they are most probably going to change a lot.
The idea is to make them look like wannabes and not actual heroes.  


There is a character progression system we're experimenting. So we started the concept for each character's progression as well.
This is Kind Lenny. He is extremely powerful... But you know... he is just... too soft to be a hero.


I'll hopefully have more gameplay related updates soon.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 06:54:53 AM by batiali » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 09:51:51 AM »

Judging by the artwork, one can tell this will be a highly polished game. Nice work! Looking forward to the gameplay related stuff.
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 03:04:20 PM »

The art assets are looking crazy good. But I'm sure you knew that. Wink

What do you use for animation? These guys look like you could rig them up in Spline or Spriter and have some really fantastic animations going.
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 07:20:57 AM »

Thanks for the comments guys!

I used GAF for our latest project: Battleborn Tap mainly because it was an adobe air project and the performance differences between GAF and Spine was huge in that platform. (GAF was a lot better for us) Since we are switching back to Unity for Almost a Hero, we're planning to use Spine for animation. Soon, I'll be able to share some of the animations we are making.
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2016, 07:41:29 AM »

Hero Graveyard

In pre-production phase, we got into a very intense character design phase. We knew that many of them would be destined to stay in the darkness. As the time passed, we started to know more of what an "Almost a Hero" is like. This means that some off the designs didn't fit. I will keep updating this post for designs that most probably won't make it to this game. It doesn't mean we don't like them or will never use them though.



Thelma the Healer, stuck in the past


No-one quite knows how old Thelma is, but everyone agrees on two things: she is very spritely indeed for an old lady, and is completely unaware of her real age. Stuck somewhere in her 20’s, Thelma loves flirting with handsome hero types, and is quite partial to the odd bit of karaoke.

Perched atop an orthopaedic cushion she has magicked into a convenient hover, Thelma surveys the battlefield from a distance, though her failing eyesight means she just keeps getting everyone’s names wrong. Heals herself and others with some questionably legal herbal recipes.




Lorne, the Exiled


Lorne is an exile from the fearsome tribes of mean blonde people from the cold wastes over the mountains. No-one is quite sure how he came to be exiled, but he is mean and blonde, so no-one asks. A bit grumpy, Lorne seems to be permanently hungry or tired.

Being mean and blonde, the local womenfolk are quite smitten, so the villagers gather to evict this annoyingly handsome stranger. Thus, Lorne settles into a life of devilishly handsome roguery, teaming up for adventures with anyone who can resist his charms for long enough.



Thoria, Nude of Foot


As a child, Thoria became very fed up with how all the boys and her family treated her, and how she was expected to behave as a little girl. All the other girls were obsessed with being pretty and wearing pretty shoes, and being nice little wives, going to cookery school and such. In an act of defiance, she cuts her hair short, vowing to never again wear shoes, and runs away from home to enrol in the Guardian Martial Academy as a boy.

The other recruits are impressed at her bare-footedness, thinking that this new recruit is a very tough specimen indeed. She excels at all disciplines and is about to graduate when a jealous student announces her true gender. Expelled and ridiculed, but now with a fearsome set of warrior skills, Thoria embarks on a career as a solo soldier of fortune, fighting injustice, kingdom wide.

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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2016, 06:23:24 AM »

Development goes very well & fast. Hopefully I'll be able to show some stuff soon.
Next week, we'll be starting the character animations.
More character concepts are still w.i.p.
We have nice progress on ui/ux as well. We are currently using marvel app to see the whole flow and tinkering it every day before we start any implementation.
Idle / clicker games are very heavy on ui and that's one of the parts you need to master.

By the way, we've made a small animation for the logo.



All feedback are welcome!
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 07:42:46 AM by batiali » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2016, 08:05:03 AM »

Some design thoughts:

Idle games are usually separated into 2 categories. Those that are also clickers, and those that are pure idle.
  • Cookie Clicker, Tap Titans, Clicker Heroes are good examples of clicker idle games.
  • Adventure Capitalist, Swarm Simulator, A Dark Room are the pure idle ones.

(Although in AdCap there's a bit of clicking in the beginning, it gets rid of the clicking in a short amount of time.)

Personally, I do like pure idle ones more than the clickers. But providing enough interaction is very important, especially in the early stages of the game. Usually, because of the nature of idle games, there is not much management going on, so devs usually focus on clicking. Which actually has its own magic for lots of players. They tend to make strategies based on whether they will be actively clicking or not. But those strategies tend to get boring because of not many variations.

Almost a Hero is a game where you hire Heroes and manage their skills to create synergy between them. In addition to hiring heroes, you also have click power to help your wannabes. One thing we want to focus on is to add more strategy & variations to this clicking behaviour. How will we do that? Basically player will start with a single Click Power related to an element. As they progress in the game, they will unlock other elements. Each of these click powers have a special ability & different behaviour for interaction. There will be also special items to collect that boosts specific Click Power.

Some examples for Click Powers:

  • Fire power has Heat as resource. It gains heat as you click. When you stop clicking, the heat will reduce. When reached to max heat, it will activate its special power & start burning enemies for several seconds. In return, you won't be able to click for a while.
  • Water power has Mana as resource. You don't have to click a lot of times, you can click & hold to deal damage to enemies. It will consume mana. Its special power will also consume mana, so you can decide whether you want to keep holding for some time to consume it, or use the skill.
  • Earth power has Spirit as resource. With every 10 click, earth power throws a single powerful projectile, generating some Spirit. Spirit can be used to activate special ability. When the ability is used, it consumes all the spirit and deal huge damage based on the spirit consumed.

All of these might sound a bit complicated, but players will not even know these different Click Powers until they unlock the second one. I believe that it will help with transitioning to a more complicated game. There are other systems that we are planning to add which has synergy with this one, I will try to explain them later.

For now, take a look at some concepts for the Tap Powers:


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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2016, 09:19:20 AM »

All of the artwork is so very clean! I'm really looking forward to this. I like how you're planning on keeping things simple yet interesting for players, as well!
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2016, 03:02:38 AM »

Hello everyone!

Today I'd like to talk about something that I spent maybe too much time thinking about.
It's the handling of attack animations based on the character's attack speed.

In Almost a Hero, you don't have much control over the heroes you train. But with the synergies between other heroes and their skill trees, it will be possible for attack speeds to get out of control. And it's very important to present this information in a rewarding way. What we also wanted was a generic system to handle attack animations with all kind of attack speeds.

Let me explain how we did it in the end.


From the simulators point of view, we need to know how much time an attack takes & how much damage it deals. This information is enough to calculate the outcome of two units battling. An attack taking 2.5 seconds doesn't necessarily mean that the unit plays an attack animation for 2.5 seconds. The attack animation itself can be shorter but maybe there is a cooldown for the unit to start attacking again (and in the mean time, he just plays an idle animation.)

The white bar represents only the attack animation duration.

The idle animation after each attack is very important to give a small pause to the animation. It also helps us design & tweak different timings without requiring to change the animation all the time.


One very important thing to add on top of this, is the timing of when exactly the attack happens. (To deal the damage / show the text / play the hit sound / apply any effects at that exact moment.)



Slower Attack Speed

From this point on, we think about what is the expected behaviour of the animation when the attack speed is slowed. Imagine there is a 50% slow on the character & the total attack duration became 2.5 x 2 = 5 seconds. We came up with three different ways of doing it.


OPTION A

In option A, we preserve the attack animation duration, but extend the idle duration. We don't slow down the idle animation though, it plays the same speed but just does it longer. The bad part of this approach is that It doesn't give the feeling of being slowed down much. The good part is point of attack is not changed, it's easier to manage. Quality always comes with a cost!



OPTION B

In option B, we scale down the attack animation, it takes more time to play it. We also extend the idle duration. As you can see from the gif below, he looks slowed down.




OPTION C

The only problem with Option B is that when the unit is slowed down A LOT, the attack animation starts to look bad. So, that takes us to option C, which is the combination of A & B. There is a hard limit of how much we can slow the attack animation. When that limit is reached, we just extend the the idle duration.



Faster Attack Speed

The approach we take to handle faster attack speeds is kind of opposite. First, we decrease the idle timing until there is none left. The attack animation speed doesn't increase up until this point but of course total duration decreases. When there is no idle duration left, we start scaling the attack animation to fit in the total attack duration. In the gifs below, first one has 50% more attack speed where the second one has 400%.




Bonus



This one is not related to attack speed / animation. Just one of his special abilities.

And icon try-outs for his skill tree.


Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your feedback & suggestions if you had similar challenges in your projects.

« Last Edit: July 05, 2016, 03:11:26 AM by batiali » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2016, 03:15:09 AM »

Just want to say your game looks fantastic! I'll be keeping eye on this project.
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2016, 02:37:20 AM »

This post is so insightful to your process! My feedback is that the animations are in the right direction (if not already spot-on). However, for the slower animation, I wonder if you should have a longer windup and a faster swing, instead of a slower swing overall. Just a thought!

Ultimately, it's looking really fresh Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2016, 03:31:27 AM »

very nice artwork!
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2016, 06:43:56 AM »

Loving the animations and art on this. I think the best option is option A, the other ones would seem far too slow and I think that it'd be best to keep the animations' charm by giving it the appropriate speed
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2016, 07:38:11 AM »

Thanks a lot for the comments everyone!

However, for the slower animation, I wonder if you should have a longer windup and a faster swing, instead of a slower swing overall. Just a thought!
This is a good advice, we may try that. I suspect when the windup is 50% more slow and the swing is the normal speed, it may look a bit off.

I think the best option is option A, the other ones would seem far too slow and I think that it'd be best to keep the animations' charm by giving it the appropriate speed
Times when we change the speed of the animations are when the characters have some kind of temporary buffs on them. Otherwise we will keep the animation at the appropriate speed.
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« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2016, 07:30:09 AM »

Hey everyone! It's been a long time since the last update. We are going full speed on production.

I'd like to show some animations of the new characters we added to the game. Right now we have 6 functional characters with all their skill trees implemented in the game. (Still requires huge amount of polish.) The idea is to have at least 12 wannabes with our release and have a couple more planned for a very soon update after the first release.

So, this is our crazy wizard (to be named). This mad old fella can not control his magic. Let's take a look at his active skills.


With this ability, he actually tries to cast a lightning bolt. But sadly, a fireball comes out. We will emphasize more on this mistake with voice over.



And this ability shows his uncontrolled magic missiles. We handle the movement of the magic missiles by code once they are out.



Finally, his ultimate, where he gets mad at not knowing many spells and throws his spell book to enemies instead.



Meet our explosive specialist, Boomer. In a world where everyone uses alchemy, Boomer believes explosive science is the next big thing.


He's at least 30% fireworks expert.



He believes that his teammates needs a bit of inspiration, so he occasionally throws a dynamite to boost their speed.



And lastly, he takes his barrel in the back, and attacks bravely to enemies dealing huge damage to both enemies & sadly, himself.


Other than adding new characters, we implemented the first pass of the UI. We keep improving the UI all the time, but I'd like to show what our flow looks like.


The flow we had



For us, it's very important to see how the ui flow works in the game. So even when we know it's not final, we take the time to implement it in a basic form. We actually have several passes with UI implementation before deciding. Our flow works like this:

  • Designer provides mockup for the designed system / feature.
  • Talks with the artists. Make sure they understand the feature.
  • Artists come up with better ideas.
  • They iterate together until it's good enough.
  • All the screens are put into a prototyping tool (we use marvelapp) to test basic feeling.
  • We continue iterating on the tool.
  • When we feel it's good enough, we export the assets in a non-optimized way to implement in the actual game.
  • We figure out the problems, continue iterating over them.
  • We don't care about the style of the ui at this point. It's all functionality.
  • Once we are 'almost' comfortable with the functionality & flow, we start designing the style, colors, etc.
  • Iterate.

It may sound a lot of work for UI, but the game we are doing is very heavy on it and it's the most important part to understand the game. And from my experiences, it's best to do the work before instead of realizing your UI doesn't work at a later stage.


Here's a w.i.p screen for the style of UI. Designed for the skill selection of Heroes.



By the way, our indie studio is looking for a game designer. If you'd like to work with us, check this link.


« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 11:17:31 AM by batiali » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2016, 09:39:57 AM »

Been playing different clickers for years now. And I will definitely play this one too! Smiley Great job guys.
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« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2016, 11:13:24 AM »

Following! I like clicker games, and your art style looks so polished. Keep up with the good work!
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« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2016, 11:30:23 AM »

Those menus are looking really clean. Love where this is headed!
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« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2016, 02:55:50 AM »

Your new animations + characters really reflect the feel you're striving for. Great work on maintaining a solid, core vision!
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« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2016, 08:54:56 AM »

Player Goals

Design-wise, one of the most important thing in the genre is to set Goals for players and clearly communicate with them about their short & long term goals. Without a goal, there will be no sense of accomplishment and players would feel they are advancing for nothing. After a short while, it doesn't matter how high your numbers are if there is no whys.

That's why we are in a mindset of creating tools to be able to set meaningful goals for players. It's a long topic that covers almost all the game when talked in depth, but it's an important one so I want to start talking about it. Bare in mind that when these things are talked in a short blog post like this, they may sound very complicated. But in the end, all these goals will be introduced to the players in a well balanced pace (hopefully). We are also not just thinking about the release of the game but the future updates of it. I can talk hours about making a design with a huge play space and why it's important for f2p mobile, but instead I'll put this link here and recommend you to watch:






To understand the different layers of goals, I have to talk about Game Modes first.



Adventure

Players start the game with Adventure mode. In this mode, the main objective is to reach the max stage you can. There is no lose condition in this mode. When your characters die, they will revive after some minutes. Eventually, your progress will slow down though and you'll require more artifacts to progress faster. You can prestige whenever you want to earn artifact currency (which is very similar to other incremental games). Other than that, there are couple of adventure mode specific unlocks that you can get at predefined stages.
- Reach stage 10 to unlock a new hero.
- 20 to unlock merchant.
- 30 to unlock a new element.
- 50 to unlock a new game mode.

To get the next unlock in a mode is a medium level goal for the player. Those unlocks are cool because they create new ways to play the game. For example, when you unlock a new character, you will feel the need to fine tune your strategies. The list of mode specific unlocks has a place in the UI. But this is such an important information that has to be reminded to players from time to time. This is why, after player makes a prestige and wants to start the Adventure again, we remind the next unlock he can get.


A w.i.p. screen for starting a new game mode.


Of course, these mode unlocks are permanent, meaning that when you prestige, you keep your unlocks.

In Adventure mode, you can get a maximum of 5 heroes (wannabes) to play at the same time. So, what will happen to all those other heroes that I unlock? If you can only play with 5 heroes, what is the point of having 15-20 different ones? Luckily, we have other game modes to use others.



Solo Quest

Solo Quest is the second mode that players unlock. In this mode, players can only use a single hero.
Main purpose of this mode is to teach heroes skill tree better. The single hero chosen in this mode earns more skill points in time, so players can explore more options in character building.
 
Every hero normally has 1 ultimate, 2 active, and 8 passive skills in their skill tree. In Adventure mode, only ultimate skills can be manually activated by players. Active skills in Adventure mode are automatically activated by heroes when they are ready. But in Solo Mode, both ultimate and active skills of a single hero can be manually activated by players.  

Both Adventure & Solo Quest has offline progress, meaning that when you switch from one mode to another OR completely close the game, your heroes will keep progressing / beating stages and earning you precious coins. These modes don't share their currency between each other though. Their progress are separated from each other.

The objective of the Solo mode is not to reach max stage, but train the hero as much as possible. You earn prestige rewards & get new unlocks based on how many levels your hero has.


Starting a Solo Quest w.i.p screen. In this setup, player has to choose the hero in the beginning to start this mode.



Time Challenge

As you can see, new game modes come with their own set of rules / challenges / unlocks.
Time Challenge mode is the 3rd mode player will unlock and it's very different than the first two. In Time Challenge mode, there is a lose condition.
If you can not complete the challenge within a given time, you will fail it. Failing a challenge means you have to wait some time to try again.
Failing a challenge by a small margin indicates that it's possible to beat it with different strategies. (It's all about creating synergies between heroes.)
Fail greatly and you will know you need more player progression (more items, more artifacts, different heroes) that you can get from other modes.


An example of a challenge.

Completing these challenges is kind of a big deal. The rewards will be huge and players will want to strike for them.
So, in the player's mind, these challenges will stay as a major goal to complete.
"Farm items & artifacts in other modes so you can beat the next time challenge."



These 3 modes are the ones we would like to release the game with. We have a lot of cool game mode ideas for the future updates. And they will all serve breaking the linearity in the game by providing different mechanics and giving the player a feeling of accomplishment. It will be possible to complete everything a game mode has to offer (which will be really difficult) which also moves the story forward. Our plan is to release more meaningful content when this happens. (Instead of letting players farm the same content for a long time.)



These are not the only goals we want players to set for themselves. There are lots of other minor goals players will have. For example, for each Adventure Run, you will have a set of Upgrades you can purchase upon reaching a stage. These upgrades are huge boosts that will boost your progress. But you will lose them after each prestige. Still, trying to find out what the next Upgrade is a minor discovery / goal players will have.


In this example, when the player reaches Stage 50, he will discover what this special upgrade provides. It could be things like:

  • +1 skill points for all heroes.
  • +50% damage for all heroes.
  • Double health for all heroes.




That's all for now about the Player Goals. There are even more goals Smiley but I want to talk about them later.

In general, we have a very good pace in the development. It was a little bit painful to change our structure to support different game modes but right now it became very flexible.

In the next post, I'd like to talk about Artifacts. How players will be able to craft them procedurally and why that matters a lot.

Thanks for reading, all feedback is appreciated!
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