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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsKing, Witch and Dragon - the Reversed Metroidvania [2.5D, cell-shading]
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Author Topic: King, Witch and Dragon - the Reversed Metroidvania [2.5D, cell-shading]  (Read 1203 times)
torchinsky
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« on: November 01, 2019, 06:55:55 AM »

DESCRIPTION

King, Witch and Dragon is a fantasy platformer with 2.5D perspective (3D characters and environment, but gameplay constrained to 1 plane).

In this game player takes role of Prince - young, selfish and arrogant son of King, that has to save the kingdom from Dragon.
At the beginning of his journey he will get several special abilities that will help him to navigate through game world and reach his goal: double jump, dash, wall climbing, grappling hook, etc.

Sounds like metroidvania? Here is twist.

During his adventure Prince will constantly lose his abilities and will become weaker. Player can choose in which order Prince will lose them, but there is no way to avoid it. Through this sacrifice young selfish boy will become true king...


In the game where avatar become weaker and weaker, player has to become stronger, more skilled and get more knowledge about game world in order to proceed.


That is Antivania.

CURRENT PROGRESS

Main character:

Main character weapons:


Character abilities:




Character Controller:


« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 12:38:22 PM by torchinsky » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2019, 09:37:49 AM »

At the least it looks like you have a pretty solid character-controller there! ^_^

For myself, I'm not sure of how I feel about losing abilities--but I'd be tempted to try out such a game, I think.
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2019, 04:00:34 PM »

I've thought about this game a bit before, where you level down instead of up. The thing is, gaining new powerful abilities serves two purposes: you get stronger, which makes you feel badass; and the gameplay becomes more complicated and interesting to throw new things to master once you've gotten used to the basic stuff. I think you can effectively sacrifice that first part to go for a different aesthetic, but sacrificing the complexity with level might not be that satisfying. The danger is that in the beginning, players will be overwhelmed by all the special abilities the prince gets, but by the end they'll be slowly walking and jumping to the exit just as they've mastered the grappling hook.

So maybe if you can make your downgrades be about making the character more complex in weaker ways, like going from "run around at high speed all over the place" to "when running, your turn rate is limited so you have to think about lining up good paths" and things like that, people will remain more interested in the game.
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torchinsky
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2019, 04:13:46 AM »

Hey Foxwarrior, thanks for the comment. Let me explain my reasoning in more details.

BULLET SPONGE PROBLEM
Quote
you get stronger
I see a fundamental mistake here. Not you get stronger, but your in-game character. To maintain level of challenge and difficulty game developers have to compensate character badassness. Usually by making tougher enemies. I see this flaw in many games that have character leveling system. This approach leads us to bullet sponges like for example in Division. For me this is lame design and I want to avoid it.

CHARACTER VS PLAYER
There is another way to maintain level of challenge - keep enemies constant and degrade character. My idea is that, as you said, YOU (player) are getting stronger to compensate character weakness. In that context stronger means better skill and better understanding of game mechanics and rules of game world.

For me the great example here is "Shadow of the colossus". In this game all the bosses always the same as well as your character (except slightly increased stamina at the end). This means that player has to master sword, bow, climbing, stamina management and controlling Agro. And this what makes me feels good about this game, the feeling of "I've become badass, not my character"

ADDING PUZZLE ELEMENT
Here is an abstract example. Character has 2 abilities: to run and to jump. Lets say you're running and see a pit in front of you. If you know that your character can jump then you just jump over the pit and move further. But what if you approach another pit and you don't have jump ability anymore? You start thinking. Maybe you need to find a wooden plank, build a "bridge" and run over the pit (you still have ability to run). Or you may fill pit with water and swim across (if you have swim ability). Or just backtrack a bit and try to find another way around.

This is another thing that game depth can come from.

SELF-EXPOSED CHALLENGES
There are tons of videos and streams like "Beating Dark Souls without parry", or without dodge roll, or "Defeat Ganon with a mop" in Breath of the Wild. Hardcore players like these kind of challenges that limit character abilities, and other players like to watch it. I just decided to make this optional challenges the main (and mandatory) part of the game.

This might sound very punishing and hardcore, but you never know until you try it Wink

« Last Edit: November 02, 2019, 11:26:38 AM by torchinsky » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2019, 04:15:44 AM »

At the least it looks like you have a pretty solid character-controller there! ^_^

For myself, I'm not sure of how I feel about losing abilities--but I'd be tempted to try out such a game, I think.
For me the main motivation here - I want to try this game myself to see if it works Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2019, 09:34:10 AM »

At the least I think that it's an interesting experiment! ^_^

Regarding maintaining complexity with a reduced set of abilities, I could perhaps see an environment being designed such that the full set of abilities makes traversal easy--perhaps even trivial--but that as the ability-set dwindles, traversal becomes more complex, and demands a deeper understanding of the remaining abilities.

A simple example might be a long jump across a gap: When the player has the dash ability, crossing is easy: just dash from one side to the other at the touch of a button. But once the dash ability has been lost, the player has to learn the limits of their jumping ability, and so gauge the right moment to jump.

A better example might be something like this: At the start, the player has a grappling ability that makes a certain platforming ascent easy. Once that's lost, they have to rely on the specific physics of their running and jumping abilities in order to get to the end--drifting here, getting a bit of a boost from a curve there, and so on.
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2019, 01:41:48 PM »

Regarding maintaining complexity with a reduced set of abilities, I could perhaps see an environment being designed such that the full set of abilities makes traversal easy--perhaps even trivial--but that as the ability-set dwindles, traversal becomes more complex, and demands a deeper understanding of the remaining abilities.
Exactly! You totally got it.

Another important thing about world design and bosses design - all locations and all bosses must be designed in the way that player can beat them with ANY possible combination of abilities from full set to none. I have an idea for the system that will allow this, lets see if I can implement it and make it work as expected  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2019, 02:28:07 PM »

All right! someone is finally doing the reverse metroidvania thing. This idea gets thrown around but no one has the courage to do it lol

Your implementation so far looks solid! The challenge here is the player needs to learn how to use all skills from the beginning of the game.
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2019, 02:49:41 PM »

sounds awesome so far. really like the idea. what i thought about while reading it was; if they can choose which abilities they lose in any order, how would u ensure that they don't lock themselves out of necessary areas?
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2019, 01:15:04 AM »

The challenge here is the player needs to learn how to use all skills from the beginning of the game.
For sure there will be tutorials and learning period. Roughly put, player will be getting new abilities 25% of the game and then 75% of the game he  will be losing them.

if they can choose which abilities they lose in any order, how would u ensure that they don't lock themselves out of necessary areas?
This is one of the main game design risks and challenges that I have to tackle. As I said before - I have an idea of the level design system that should solve this. Need to implement it to see if it works.
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2019, 01:20:10 PM »

Concepts for the main character of the game.

In "King, Witch and Dragon" the main character Prince is presented in 2 forms: normal and corrupted.

BACKSTORY
At the beginning of the game player starts as normal Prince. At some moment Prince has been beaten hard, almost dead. The Witch (I'll talk about her later) brought him back to life through some not very pleasant ritual and turn him into corrupted Prince. She also helped him to get those abilities (double jump, dash, wall climb, etc.). From that moment, the goal for the Prince is not only save the Kingdom but also become human again.

DESIGN


I'm trying to be fairly realistic in terms of proportions and silhouettes. Since the game is in fantasy setting it makes sense to stick to medieval cloth and armor, but not 100% historically correct. That's why Prince has one arm protected by heavy plate armor and another with just pauldron and leather gauntlet. This also helps to break symmetry.

Important thing is that player should understand clearly that these are 2 version of the same character. That's why I keep bright accents on both characters (scarf, tabard, hairs) to create this connection.

The pose of each character should communicate how this character feels:
  • Prince is tall, strong, arrogant and way too self-confident
  • Corrupted Prince is the opposite - beaten, broken, exhausted

I created grayscale tone map (that you can see above) for both characters to check the contrast of different elements and visually separate them from each other. Then I created different color schemes for both:


Now I have to choose one color scheme, add some details, polish a bit and render it close to how it will look in the game.

Feel free to share your opinion on which color scheme do you prefer  Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2019, 05:17:54 PM »

A reverse metroidvania has alway been a fascinating idea in theory, glad to see someone tackling it!

Think my favorite color scheme is 4), but I feel like it'd look beter with greyer armor like in 1).
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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2019, 09:50:19 AM »

I quite like colour-scheme two--but that's largely my fondness for green coming out. ^^;
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2019, 11:43:12 AM »

After some consideration I decided to stick to color scheme #5 (in the end I was choosing between #3 and #5).
Also added some details, shading and outline to mimic cell-shading style. No weapon yet.
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2019, 09:13:54 AM »

That does look pretty good thus far, I think! That shading looks pretty good, as do the generally pretty-clean lines of it. ^_^

If I may offer one piece of critique, I do think that the character's hair looks at the moment as though composed of thick strings, rather than fine hairs. If that's an intentional part of the art-style (or otherwise has simply not yet been attended to), then fair enough! If not, it might be something to consider revisiting, I feel.
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« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2019, 02:55:24 PM »

I do think that the character's hair looks at the moment as though composed of thick strings, rather than fine hairs. If that's an intentional part of the art-style (or otherwise has simply not yet been attended to), then fair enough!
Yeah, hairs have always been tricky part for me. Right now it is more like a sketch, just to communicate overall shape. I plan to focus on it more when will be making 3D model.
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« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2019, 09:15:03 AM »

Fair enough, then! I think that it likely makes a good base for that purpose. ^_^
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« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2019, 03:57:05 PM »

Weapon concepts for the main character.

Prince as knight has classic Longsword with some dragon-related decorations.



Corrupted Price got Talon Blade from Witch. It has scythe-like curved blade reminiscent talon or claw of a raven. To emphasize raven theme it also decorated with dark feathers.



Next step - character abilities...
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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2019, 03:55:05 PM »

Some concept art for the abilities of the main character.

When I was thinking about abilities, from the game mechanics perspective I was trying to keep them familiar to the player, so I ended up with pretty standard set of "double jump", "dash", "grappling hook" and "wall climbing".

Meanwhile I was trying to make them very distinct visually. Remember that all his abilities Prince got from the Witch (not exactly, but we can say so at the moment)? So, keeping this in mind I tried to give all abilities some "witchery" vibes and make them related to some animals that people usually associate with the witches.

So, here we go:





What do you think?
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« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2019, 08:33:39 AM »

This looks incredible! I was iffy about the concept at first, but between the plot elements you describe and the creepy-animals aesthetics of the powers themselves, I think you have a good thing going here!

Your big challenge will be making both the corrupt/powerful and purified/weakened prince satisfying to play.

One problem you'll run into is players mastering an upgrade only to have it taken away. Another is players deciding to avoid the first problem by never using any of the upgrades. Which I guess is fine, but it takes your "Metroidvania where the player character gets weaker instead of stronger" concept and turns it into "Metroidvania where the player character never gets any upgrades," which is a very different concept.

The first problem is easy to solve: Make the prince lose his powers on a temporary basis every so often so the player is forced to learn to do without them. Problem is, that makes the second problem even worse: Why bother learning to use the upgrades if they keep getting taken away from you?

Another option would be to make the powerless portion the middle of the game: You start with witch-themed upgrades, sacrifice them, and then in the endgame you get dragon-themed versions of the same upgrades. (I'm basing this on the prince's sword being dragon-themed versus the one he gets from the witch fitting the same creepy-animals aesthetic as the powers.) But that undercuts the premise, too: It's "Metroidvania where you start with all the upgrades, gradually lose them, and eventually get them back." That's not a reverse Metroidvania--it's Metroid Prime, but slower.

You definitely have your work cut out for you. Good luck!
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