At the time of writing, it is Week 6 in the 11 week cycle to create a vertical slice of Bosscraft (still a working title.)
Recap on the Game Concept
Bosscraft is a game inspired by the raiding and boss battle aspect of games like World of Warcraft. Raiding is a co-operative event where large groups (usually between 10-40 people) of human controlled players battle through an AI and Boss infested dungeon. Bosscraft riffs on that idea with an asymmetric competition, where two players battle each other. One player controls the aforementioned raid, and the other controls the Boss. The raid is played more like a Real Time Strategy and the Boss has more in common with action games.
A major proponent of raiding is preparation and that is a major part of the game’s design. Preceding each battle, players have the ability to customize the raid and boss. The raid is comprised of healers, mages, warriors, and so on while the boss can have different abilities and different models. A big dragon that breathes fire, or a powerful necromancer that spawns baby dragons. In essence, the players get to design and play a boss encounter of their choosing and then play it out. (Note that this phase is no longer part of what will be delivered at the end of this cycle, though it remains a large part of the game)
What’s Already Been Done
The past 6 weeks have seen a lot of conceptualizing, but good work has been made on the demo front as well. Altogether, the progress is promising.
We’ve created the general flow of the game at the highest and lowest levels. That is to say, when players provide input and all major loops of logic has been decided.
Visually, the game’s art direction has been decided upon. A backstory we’ve created for the game provides context here. The battles that playout are the imaginary toy battles of a child. The big bosses are assembled, almost like legos, and fight the more ‘realistic’ action figures (the raid). While not an element in the game, this does give an idea of how the game is going to look. At the same time, with our influences being a large deal–we want to pay homage to these genres. At this point in time, the models for the Tank and the Healer have been created and implemented into the game (not animated yet). By the end of this cycle, a raid model for each class will be created and so will the Dragon boss (this includes animations).
In that same vein, the environments that have been conceptualized and begun to be implemented echo popular locales for boss fights. A rocky mesa top, a dangerous volcano, an icy cave, and so on. The rocky mesa is the environment we are going to focus on for the vertical slice–it is what is seen in the demo.
The demo has most of the major game features implemented in some way shape or form. The boss is controlled via controller, the raid via mouse and keyboard. 4 abilities for the boss have been created, covering a wide array of possibilities. The stats for the boss and raiders can be modified before a session to help us out with balance.
GUI art is also coming along. With this kind of game there is a lot of information to be displayed to the players and it also can’t be too intrusive. Each game element of the GUI will share several elements to group them visually. The abilities have a similar style icon, the raiders will have similar profiles, and so on.
Changes from the Initial Plan
The last week has seen a couple major design changes and scoping decisions that are worth speaking on. Mentioned earlier is the fact that the prep phase is not part of vertical slice. The team opted instead to focus on making the battle phase as good as we can. Make it polished, exciting, and–hopefully–balanced. We thought about still presenting preset bosses and raid setups to the players, but even still have decided to focus on the current raid party in the demo (Tank/Healer/Mage/Two Melee) and the Dragon boss.
The boss controls were meant to be rather unique in the beginning, but initial playtesting exposed that this was a difficult aspect of the game to grok. Currently, boss design is trending towards more a MOBA style (fewer abilities, but with more control on them). The unique aspects of the boss are in the 1 vs many scenario and how he is controlled, but the setup can be more familiar for players.
Where We Stand
As mentioned earlier, the progress is promising. With lots of the major features in place on the gameplay front, this gives us a reasonable amount of time to just focus on the battle phase and make that as good as we can.
We ended up taking an extra week to do more character concepts which means character models are just entering the game now. As these visual elements are so important in displaying information, this was a necessary delay. Even still, with the progress everywhere else in the project–the outlook is very positive with the characters.
With work on the prep phase being pushed out of vertical slice, we have more time to polish the assets for the vertical slice. A lot of GUI art would have had to be made for the prep phase, but now we can really solidify the visual elements in the battle scene. Moreover, we have less to balance. All in all, dropping the prep phase was an important scoping development that gives us more time to iterate.
The next few weeks are going to be iterations on what we have and implementing assets as they arrive. With many of the major mechanics in place, it’s a matter of balancing and visual polish. Even now, the game feels reasonably fun when playing it, it’s just not that exciting. Getting it to that next level is going to be a big focus.
We have made a relationship with a Drexel grad to help out on the audio front, which is exciting. Audio is another big chance to help provide information for players.
Material Up To This Point
The most recent demo is always playable here:
That page also has a recap on changes implemented into the demo over the last few weeks.
All concept art is available on the website, as well as a couple renders of models.
The teamwork pm project also contains our scrum and sell presentations as well as our Game Design Document Drafts.