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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Americana Dawn: Microbattles

A Staresque Ring on Foster could've brought him back up, but they're quite expensive early on.

A Microbattle in AD is the game's battle system and the main way to resolve conflicts. From a distance and from screenshots, just like ordinary battles you see in other JRPGs: Turn based combat, characters using skills and items on the field, etc.

Beyond that, the similarities end here. Other than a few functions which handle battle related units (such as stats, learned skills, and equipment), what exactly occurs in the battle is based on map implementation. Want to have a simple skirmish vs a few soldiers? That works. But for those who demand more creativity (like me) I focus on a few other mechanics it can have:

  • Units have both HP / willpower. Your characters (including enemies) will regenerate their HP once they're down or in cover, but further attacks on them when incapacitated will drain their willpower, which doesn't come back on its own and increases the amount of damage they take in combat.
  • Each character has carrying capacity, which limits the amount of items they can carry at one time.
  • Pardoning. Because killing enemies isn't the only way to resolve a conflict. Some events in the game may change based on your decisions.
  • Passive environmental effects, meaning some weapons can be less effective in an area.
  • Interactable objects. Sometimes the method to defeat them isn't as direct as it seems.

Note on Commands: Attack / Defend are not simple one-off commands, since characters usually have more than one attack type available. Example: If Foster has a musket, he can either fire (at reduced accuracy) or engage in close quarters combat and use it as a melee weapon.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gemcraft: Chasing Shadows Strategy - Turtling

The two gems do a max of 1k damage (0 on these swarmlings), but it's the orb that cleans them up.

Note: The damage boost on the orb was removed a day after it was released but I'll still leave this post up here for historical purposes.

The new Gemcraft Chasing Shadows is finally out, and after a few hours found a viable strategy to power level early game. They added quite a bit of new features, including dropping gems on your orb to increase its damage done to monsters (before being banished). Which is specifically what this post will cover here - turtling.

It works wonders on levels with lots of swarmlings (B3 being a notable example), where they have low hp and you can anger them a lot to jack up their XP. And even more if you spend shadow cores to up traits Haste and Beacon Storm (the latter giving you free XP if the map doesn't spawn any).

  • You're gonna need a bit of mana reserves for this one (be at least lv10 first). Level up Fusion and Mana Storm as high as it can go, and True Colors when you unlock it. Getting bunches of Achievements will help with this one.
  • Create a grade one gem, drop it on your orb to increase its damage, until it's minimum damage is at least the hit points on the first few waves. Use red / green if possible, since they grant more minimum damage on the orb. If you have spare mana, you can repeatedly balance betwen angering the next few waves and upping the orb damage.
  • Start the first wave - the first pack of monsters should hit the orb and die instantly granting you mana.
  • Use that to keep upgrading your orb damage to keep up with the increased hp in later waves. If your mana's near full let it level up first.
  • If there are giants on the field, you have more than enough mana to create high grade gems and have them specifically target Giants (Bolt is useful here). Don't use anger on them - they don't give out enough XP anyways.
  • One you see the last wave and no giants are there, you can use high strength gems to upgrade both the orb and incoming monsters. (Higher grade gems dropped to anger them uses up more mana, but it has a larger XP multiplier and more monsters compared to a wave angered to the same HP with low grade gems.)
  • Plan appropriately if there are some special conditions you need to meet to complete the stage (like wizard tower levels)

Angering them enough times gives enormous amounts of XP and causes their armor to go through the roof (several thousand when angered enough), but as long as your minimum damage is a bit under their HP, it's no bother since the orb usually one shots them. If they don't they get another pass but it's not like they'll survive the second time through. The number of beacons on the field don't matter, as it doesn't stop this strategy from working.

Considering that it nets tons of XP (as in tens or hundreds of thousands) in the first few map tiles, and that it detracts heavily from its intended purpose of the game (it allows you to complete maps without placing any gems in towers at all), it might be nerfed in the future.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April's Fool

One of the many whiteboard graphics on this whiteboard that appear in the Goleman Library. The other whiteboard, however, has a simple notice (that changes from time to time) about the fact that whiteboard markers are no longer issued to tutors. They're just for these boards, I guess. (And updating the tutor availability board)