Tactical System Design:

Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the grid.

This week at school we are working on designing a game based in the universe of R.L.Stevenson’s children’s classic: Treasure Island. Our team has decided to base our game on a story that plays out in parallel to the book’s story. Our hero: John Benbow* Jr. is hired as a Privateer by the British Navy and is forced by some event to chase down Captain Flint’s booty on Treasure Island. The game hopes to be a 3rd person RPG with a turn based tactical style combat system.

I’m taking care of the combat system design, and I’ll try and post on the progress in the name of potent content.

There will be 3 main gameplay modes: Land, Sea and Port.

During the Port sections of the game you will be able to recruit new party members, trade goods and whatnot. The sea sections have two main goals, exploration and ship to ship combat. The ship to ship combat will be reminiscent of the sea combat in Phantom Hourglass, but the user will have the option to board any nearby ship as well. Land sections also will be split into exploration and combat. The combat on land (and on boarded ships) will be done in a manner somewhat like Final Fantasy Tactics, there will be a character class/ability level system, synergy bonuses based on party make up, combo attacks, and more!

So far I have divided up 3 class types along fairly standard lines: close combat, ranged combat and support.

Close combat:
-Swordsman
-Rogue
-Monk

Ranged combat:
-Archer
-Flintlock/Cannoner
-Priest

Support:
-Surgeon
-Chemist/Alchemist?
-Bard/Minstrel
-Quartermaster

I’ve also started with some baseline attributes:

-Strength
-Constitution
-Speed
-Seafaring
-Common Sense
-Negotiation/Diplomacy
-Weapon expertise

First on the agenda is breaking down the classes into their ability sets, then indexing those abilities across a leveling system of some kind. Then I hope to design the attribute system so that it complements the class abilities as they pertain to combat. Finally I would like to design some kind of synergy system where the user can set up their combat squad in order to take advantage of varied ‘combo’ mechanics.

Then I should look at the enemy design, as of now they will be designed with set abilities/attributes that force the user to redesign their squad make up as they go through the game. I’d like to take a look at how Dawn of War II has done their squad design, as I understand that the ‘class make-up puzzle’ is one of the main defining factors of their combat system.

Finally I’d really like to draw up some grid based level lay outs. I’m still not sure if we’re gonna go for a square or hex-based grid layout. Heck, I’m even considering a triangle based grid.

More soon…

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