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What does it take to KILL a creature?

Co0kieL0rd

Cultist
Backer
Jan 29, 2012
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#1
If the thread title might sounds weird to you, then please read to get my point.
Creatures in Dungeon Keeper were more valuable than units in most RTS games. Therefore, they are harder to kill because they usually faint before dying if they don't get rescued eventually. If a strong creature dies, probably a lot of effort and gold invested go with it.
In DK1 you have to manually activate escape mode if you don't want your creatures to die instantly at a knock-out. To prevent your creatures from killing foes, you had to activate capture mode. But even if you activated these, there are still some threats that just ignore that fact and kill them still:
  • poisonous gases (Bile Demons, Priestesses, gas traps)
  • fire breath (Dragons, Hellhounds)
  • keeper lightning spells and lighting traps
  • being knocked out in or above lava (mind the Priestess' Wind spell!)
  • boulder traps (Oh shit, shit SHIT!)
In Dk2 creatures are (fortunately) not so easy to kill in general. They always faint before they die (except for undead creatures, of course). The only way to instantly kill a creature is to knock them out in or above lava (which is less likely because creatures can't be pushed into lava anymore).
On the other hand, this often leads to massive unit concentrations on one player's side because it's easy to convert all enemy creatures, and with a larger army, in turn, it was easier to beat up the rest of the enemies.

Now you see what I'm getting at. I understand if you can't say that much about this issue, yet. But for a game like War For The Overworld, it should definitely be taken into consideration, how hard (or easy) your creatures perish. Will the game mechanics help the player perpetuate his valuable inferiors? Or will they screw the player up over and over if he or she is not cautious enough to protect his creatures?
 

Kyle

Dwarven Worker
Nov 9, 2011
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#2
When it comes to combat, units are going to vary on how hard they are to kill, a cultist might take a few blows from a Juggernaut before dying but a Juggernaut might take a metric shit tonne of damage..

and yes, units by default die when being attacked, the plan is to allow the player to in someway pick what units they don't want killed, but I'm not going to reveal too much of this.

something I will add is we are thinking of adding weight values to creatures, and force ones, these aren't really stats that anyone beyond programmers will have to worry about, but they basically allow someone like a Juggernaut to smack a worker and watch him go flying, if the Juggernaut were to hit someone not quite as small and light, say like a cultist, the cultist would only have a quick flinch.

We aren't making it though however so that something like the Juggernaut can just hit the units and get advantage from them while they try to recover , that's something we're making sure doesn't happen.
 
#3
something I will add is we are thinking of adding weight values to creatures, and force ones, these aren't really stats that anyone beyond programmers will have to worry about, but they basically allow someone like a Juggernaut to smack a worker and watch him go flying, if the Juggernaut were to hit someone not quite as small and light, say like a cultist, the cultist would only have a quick flinch.

We aren't making it though however so that something like the Juggernaut can just hit the units and get advantage from them while they try to recover , that's something we're making sure doesn't happen.
It would seem to me that if the Juggernaut knocked back a cultist, it would put him at a disadvantage as the cultist works generally at range and the Juggernaut in CQC. It's an interesting dynamic in the combat there. Of course, all speculation built on speculation.

Another interesting mechanic built on the weight system is carrying creatures, it might take more workers, or more time to drag the corpse/wounded creature back to where-ever it is needed. Kind of like Pikmin. The more Pikmin you use, the faster they move, but obviously that puts you at a disadvantage if you say, come across something that requires a lot of Pikmin and your resources are devoted elsewhere.
 
Likes: Amon

amcoops

Priestess
Founder
Dec 9, 2011
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#4
Good information here, I like the decision.

The whole knock knock back thing reminds me of Minotaurs from Age of Mythology...


...loved taking on an army with some Minotaurs to see the men fly. :D


It would seem to me that if the Juggernaut knocked back a cultist, it would put him at a disadvantage as the cultist works generally at range and the Juggernaut in CQC. It's an interesting dynamic in the combat there. Of course, all speculation built on speculation.

Another interesting mechanic built on the weight system is carrying creatures, it might take more workers, or more time to drag the corpse/wounded creature back to where-ever it is needed. Kind of like Pikmin. The more Pikmin you use, the faster they move, but obviously that puts you at a disadvantage if you say, come across something that requires a lot of Pikmin and your resources are devoted elsewhere.
I can see your point in your first paragraph, but I can see it as a consequence ignored by the Juggernaut. Correct me if I'm wrong but I see a Juggernaut as a big, dumb brute, the knock back is not a tactical choice but rather just a consequence from the power the Juggernaut is putting into it's attack.

Is your second paragraph actually confirmed or just an idea? Either way I like it. :)
 
Mar 11, 2012
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#6
When it comes to combat, units are going to vary on how hard they are to kill, a cultist might take a few blows from a Juggernaut before dying but a Juggernaut might take a metric shit tonne of damage...
It's obvious that weaker creatures take fewer hits to be defeated, but what cookie is revering to is that there's a difference between defeating a creature in combat, and killing a creature in combat.

Being able to recycle defeated creatures is something I think isn't beneficial to the game, as the core element of the game is acquiring and nurturing creatures. When keeping them alive in a fight is a given thing, it removes the challenging part of the game. You could find other ways to make it difficult (e.g. limited resources, overwhelming numbers, scripted events), but none that will integrate as nicely in the general concept as simply being at risk of loosing you priced creatures when a fight goes badly.

It's a risk/reward thing. Having creatures die easily will allow the player to make mistakes without loosing the game. Stumbling upon a group of heroes when you are unprepared may cost you some valuable creatures even if you are able to defeat the group, setting you back while still allowing you to complete the level. If you're able to recover all creatures(because they all flee, or can be dragged back to the dungeon) after combat you'd either die or suffer no losses, making the player more reckless and for there to be any penalty for recklessness there would have to be the odd occasion that the group will actually kill you and force you to load/restart - not a fun gameplay mechanic.
When loosing creatures is top of mind, being able to conquer something without loosing the creatures - through proper strategy and execution of the mechanics at hand(Positioning, healing, retreating, rescuing, army composition, whatever) - is the proverbial carrot that keeps the player enthralled.
 
Feb 5, 2012
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#7
you could have a 'pull punches' option to make your creatures deal less damage, and when they knock an opponent down to x% hp they go unconcious, but this reduction is set amount, and if your creature even when pulling punches, ie a top level creature attacking a low level like an imp )just for this example) gets their opponent to 0, then their dead. So you just have to be very carefull with what creatures you use to try capture a smaller one, if you send in the big bad hell butcher everything, but send in the horde of goblins -who die realy easily so you may lose some, ie the risk- you may manage to capture a few. as such, it introduces a risk to the entire thing, and a possible way to try convert wild creatures. you can just fiddle around with the numbers untill you get a good rate of possible deaths to capture ratio.
 
#8
Stun and kill modes will* be available in the game.

They are combat mode options, the idea around them is the risk-reward.

Kill
If you win the battle, you defeat the enemy creatures permanently, you also lose some of your own creatures maybe.
If you lose the battle, you lose all the creatures in battle, but you might have inflicted some lasting damage.
(Low risk, low reward)

Stun
If you win the battle, you get to claim the enemy creatures to power up your own army.
If you lose the battle, you lose your creatures in the battle permanently and the enemy may recover his loses.
(High risk, high reward)

Obviously, kill isn't really "low" risk, rather it's lower risk than stunning because any damage you deal could potentially be reversed by the enemy recovering their loses whereas you don't get to do that (assuming the enemy is in kill mode). That's the logic behind it as far as I know. Recycling creatures doesn't remove the challenge, it's a useful mechanic for turning the tides of battle.

*Standard disclaimer, everything is subject to change.
 
Mar 11, 2012
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#9
The Stun and kill modes sound great. It is a setting on what to do with the creatures you defeat, on the enemies creatures. It has little effect on your own creatures.

Capturing new creatures is only part of the equation. The above is great, and works well when you are in a war with a rival, you have a choice to make. However, when you have no interest in capturing the creatures you'd always go for kill, and if you're sure to win you'd always go for stun.

Maintaining your own army is a completely different part of the game, and interesting when there are many obstacles in the world before you face your main adversary. DK had the flee-battle setting - not a very good design because except for some very rare situations you were always better of keeping it on so you kept your creatures.
You don't really need a setting, but at some part during the design you need a moment and think really hard about defense, how well is the player able to keep is creatures alive, during big battles and during small battles, and to what effect can loosing creatures in battle be prevented. For example can you pick up wounded creatures to save them from dying, can you automatically set creatures to flee, or once you've sent your creatures to battle are they committed until the fight is over and do you have to heal/sent reinforcements to prevent creatures from dying.
And simply in general, are creatures expendable canon fodder or is every loss a tragic one.
 

Kyle

Dwarven Worker
Nov 9, 2011
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Scotland
#10
The Stun and kill modes sound great. It is a setting on what to do with the creatures you defeat, on the enemies creatures. It has little effect on your own creatures.

Capturing new creatures is only part of the equation. The above is great, and works well when you are in a war with a rival, you have a choice to make. However, when you have no interest in capturing the creatures you'd always go for kill, and if you're sure to win you'd always go for stun.

Maintaining your own army is a completely different part of the game, and interesting when there are many obstacles in the world before you face your main adversary. DK had the flee-battle setting - not a very good design because except for some very rare situations you were always better of keeping it on so you kept your creatures.
You don't really need a setting, but at some part during the design you need a moment and think really hard about defense, how well is the player able to keep is creatures alive, during big battles and during small battles, and to what effect can loosing creatures in battle be prevented. For example can you pick up wounded creatures to save them from dying, can you automatically set creatures to flee, or once you've sent your creatures to battle are they committed until the fight is over and do you have to heal/sent reinforcements to prevent creatures from dying.
And simply in general, are creatures expendable canon fodder or is every loss a tragic one.

To give a broad answer since I'm fairly tired. Our goal when designing units within WftO was under the main rule of "No unit should be useless" and we don't count "being useful in the early levels only" as being useful. We want early game units as well as late game units to serve their purpose and be useful in multiple ways.

With the cultist, he's pretty useful to have in combat, but not only that, he can research and perform rituals, which is something we haven't revealed yet.

So, Dead bodies. Are they useful in WftO. Yes they are.

All dead bodies end up in a room that has a couple of purposes, but one of it's main purposes is stockpiling corpses, these corpses are only useful to particular units, whom we also haven't revealed yet.

The corpses aren't like Dungeon Keepers. Units don't turn into skeletons from dying in the prison, they turn into corpses. You can still capture and convert enemy units, but the corpses now serve a bit of a different purpose. I feel this is something that is an effective approach to adding more risk to battles in conjunctions with some of our other design ideas. Let me explain.

Losing units is bad, all units are useful and under all costs you should try preserve them or capture your enemies. Once you have a corpse it's not a matter of "oh, it doesn't matter since I can just make hundreds of overpowered units", the corpse would only benefit a small number of units or perhaps serve a small number of purposes, at the end of the day a corpse is really just a waste of a perfectly good unit that would of increased your chances of winning any subsequent battles.

On the subject of risk in battle. We've taken steps to ensure that players properly commit to their battles. We didn't want players just grabbing their units from battles when they felt it wasn't going their way, so we've made it that units in combat can't be picked up. There are ways to recall units, but this is only on a small scale and won't be abusable, so you won't be saving your entire army from a losing battle.

Since making this change, there is the issue of units running into the enemies base and getting themselves killed. So we've came up with the Threat mechanic. We didn't just want units running away at every battle, but we wanted them to flee when they were completely outnumbered and didn't really have a chance of winning.

Each unit has it's intimidation factor, a juggernaut's would be high, while a cultists might be relatively low in comparison. if it were a 1 on 1 fight, we'd most likely let them fight as player intervention could allow the cultist to win under some sort of circumstance. However if more than one units is together, their intimidation factor pools together. If the opposing teams intimidation factor heavily outweighs your teams, the unit will flee to try and preserve themselves. This has yet to be tested so we aren't sure how this will work out.

Some people might complain however that they would never want any of their units to flee and feel this is forcing their units to act in a way they don't want. We've taken heed of this and added a combat spell that allows you to decrease your units fear over the opposing teams intimidation factor.


Sorry if I repeat myself or miss something out, as I said earlier on this post I'm fairly tired. Also, please bear in mind pretty much anything in the game is subject to change.
 
Mar 11, 2012
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#11
Thanks for the thorough reply, it sounds like you have some experienced designers on your team, or at least thought it through.

Dungeon Keeper was a deeply flawed, badly designed game. Luckily it didn't really effect what made the game fun - the core mechanic of growing an ever more powerful army was left untouched by the systemic breaks that riddled the game. You seem to address several of them in your design. Some flaws in DK1:

1. The unit limit causes you to toss the less useful units in favor of stronger units​
2. The unit limit causes you to wait engaging in battle because acquiring new units through combat/exploration means less units come through the portal​

It seems like you want to solve the problem of trowing away the weak units by making all units "good". To some extend this is a wise decision, but try to prevent all units being equally useful in their own way. You need to have some units to be significantly better then others because this is what motivates the player. Better units for better dungeons. Flaw in DK1:

3. The strongest units are easiest to acquire (Bile Demon, Dragon, Troll, and to an extend even the vampire and heroes)​

A proper solution to address flaws 1, tossing early units, (in addition to making them a bit more useful in or out of combat), and flaw 2 would be to create a different unit cap. If in DK1 the portals would have given you an x amount of units, and that number wouldn't be affected by the creatures you own(toss back, lose in combat, whatever) you would have no reason to throw back the flies, spiders or goblins. They would still serve their purpose and you would be better of keeping them in stead of loosing them.

Only then would you focus on making the units more useful later on, by making synergies with other units and giving them useful abilities. These synergies would only make the later units more interesting and when you'd find that people would still find the early creatures more pain then they're worth you could balance them by making them cheaper/easier to maintain.

Enough for now, in fear of completely highjacking the topic.
 
#12
You need to have some units to be significantly better then others because this is what motivates the player. Better units for better dungeons.
I would argue strongly against this, giving players "bigger guns" creates a false sense of accomplishment and ultimately results in hollow victories determined by who has the biggest guns, and how many they have. Whilst it works in reverse for single-player campaigns (using weaker units wisely to overcome seemingly impossible odds), this is not the case in multiplayer and battles against others with equal opportunities. All in all, every unit serving a purpose means that you'll need every unit for *something* and it's how you utilize your forces that results in victory, not merely by having the "biggest guns".

Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking, say, and army of maxed out blitzers into a full frontal conflict to try and overwhelm your enemy with sheer force. However, when you're met with appropriate counter measures (tanks, buffers/debuffers, ranged combatants), you'll soon realise why we have a diverse pool of creatures to utilize.

Basically, our goal with the "every child is sacred" approach is to avoid something like the infamous Black Knight rush in Dungeon Keeper 2.
 
Mar 11, 2012
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#13
I would argue strongly against this, giving players "bigger guns" creates a false sense of accomplishment and ultimately results in hollow victories determined by who has the biggest guns, and how many they have.
See point 3 of my previous post. This applies to the BK's in DK2, they are easily acquired in large numbers (the most important aspect of which is to throw away weak creatures to make room for them).
The answer for this, is to make it give you a REAL sense of accomplishment, make better creatures(which doesn't mean just blitzers) difficult to acquire, make it something you work for, preferably by having to use the weaker creatures.

In DK creatures in your dungeon serve no real purpose, there research and traps, but mostly they train to be strong and wait until the fight. The most vital job in the dungeon should be to BUILD the army. Early game units will get you mid game units (e.g. do research to get better rooms which allows you to build the dungeon to attract mid game units) and mid game units will get you the end game units (e.g put five occultist on an altar and eventually they will summon an archdemon)
With synergy between end game units and mid game units you can keep the mid game units useful. (e.g. When the archdemon goes unworshiped for to long he goes unhappy, and making the archdemon in combat be significantly more powerful when accompanied by his disciples).
How would this work in multiplayer? By giving the players a choice in builds. Player1 might choose not to invest in summoning an archdemon and train the occultist instead. When he fights Player2 before Player2 has a chance to summon or sufficiently train the Archdemon Player1 has the advantage(everything else being equal).

This would all work in parallel with having multiple combat styles, strong units could just as well be support units as they can be blockers. You can get some inspiration fom this from RTS games, like StarCraft II for example.

In this game you can very well use several weak goblins to absorb damage for one powerful ranged fighter, or one big bile demon to absorb damage for several weak ranged fighters. But it's '3 powerful creatures' versus 'the same 3 powerful creatures + 2 weak creatures' the advantage should always go to the latter, because that underlord has kept the weak creatures alive.
In DK the choice was always '3 weak' OR '3 strong', which is plain stupid.

Short version: Having 'better' units does not mean the older units become worthless. The design flaw in the DK games was that you had to choose between strong or weak units. When you can have both, the weak units add the the overall strength of your army. Having synergies between the strong and the weak will keep weak creatures interesting.

Make sure that getting the big creatures is an accomplishment, don't give them away for free with a layer and a hatchery.
 
Feb 5, 2012
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#14
their is always the option of having creature evolution, like the theif who turns into the knight and the deamon spawn that turns into the dragon. but you would have to do some decent work to get them their and then do something funky with game mechanics to make sure new creatures were on par with your current forces.

personally i just hope the traps and buildable static defences will be improved and work on a broader scale than DK2 wich had them running off of your manna supply.
 

Co0kieL0rd

Cultist
Backer
Jan 29, 2012
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#15
We are off topic now. The latest posts would better fit into this thread, where I'm going to write a new post, inspired by some of the suggestions above. Alternatively , you could continue this discussion (which is about a really interesting topic) in a seperate thread, because this is about what it takes to KILL a creature in WftO.
 
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