Relics: A New Way to Progress Your Hero
When it comes to loot in Dungeon Defenders II, there is simply so much I could talk about. I honestly felt a bit overwhelmed when I was asked to write this blog. But there is one thing that stands out. Something a little special…
Stat Progression vs. Visual Progression
The earliest versions of armor in Dungeon Defenders were purely stat-based, with no cosmetic benefit. When we first approached loot design in Dungeon Defenders II, we wanted to find a way to balance this. To do so, we developed the following philosophy:
Players should never have to make a choice between the best stats and the coolest looking gear. They should have access to both! From a gameplay perspective, armor should give players stats that allow them to progress heroes, abilities, and defenses to fit their playstyle. But aesthetically, that armor also needs to feel satisfying; to become more and more awesome as you progress within the game.
To accommodate this we decided to separate the two concepts. Instead of being stuck with a set of gear you hate just for the benefit of good stats, you now have the complete freedom to mold and shape your heroes’ look as you see fit.
So how do you improve your character’s stats? To keep the visual progression separate from the stat progression, there will be two types of armor in Dungeon Defenders II:
- Armor that provides visual progression: This allows you to change the way your hero looks based on your playstyle. (Lots of exciting things I can’t talk about just yet!)
- Armor that provides stat boosts: Stat pieces that drop in the world and can be equipped. We call these pieces Relics!
Relics: Applying Stats to Cosmetic Pieces
Relics are powerful, enchanted artifacts that drop from enemies and chests. At this time, there are three main Relic classifications: Tomes, Medallions, and Totems. Tomes represent intellect and magical affinity, Medallions represent courage and strength, and Totems represent fortitude.
Each hero will have four Relic slots: Boots, Hands, Chest and Head. Additionally, heroes are restricted in which Relics they can equip based on their role. For example, the Squire can only equip Totems and Medallions in any of the four slots. We’re currently testing Relics with this distribution in the Council build.
When a Relic is dropped in the world it will have four main components:
- Relic Type: This can be a Talisman, Tome, or Totem.
- Who Can Equip It: The item info will display which heroes can equip the relic.
- Where It Can Be Slotted: This is indicated by corresponding visuals.
- And all of the other things you’ve come to expect from loot: Stats, tiers, etc.
Speaking of tiers, you’ll be pleased to know that Dungeon Defenders II will have 6 tiers of loot! From worst to best, the new tiers are:
- And the much coveted Legendary!
This is only one small part of a very large, complex, and rewarding system that is loot in Dungeon Defenders II. I look forward to sharing even more exciting loot news with you in the future, but until then, leave a comment below and let us know what you think of the Relic system so far.
Hero Preview: The Huntress
Last month we took you a bit deeper into the mind and arsenal of the Squire. If you’re reading this, you somehow survived the trip. We hope you’re ready for another, because this month we’re taking a closer look at the Huntress!
When she was younger, the Huntress spent her time learning to use a crossbow and making mischief with all sorts of traps. After making the journey to her destroyed homeland, she traded in her crossbow for an Elven-made longbow. The switch has only improved her marksmanship, as she can concentrate on a precise and well-aimed shot.
But devastating archery skills aren’t the only thing she’s bringing to the table. Her toolkit is also equipped with ample crowd control, along with traps and defenses that deal burst damage as well as damage over time.
It’s a Trap!
In the original Dungeon Defenders, the Huntress’ traps were primarily built for damage and could easily clear out cannon fodder in a lane. Some of these, like the Darkness Trap, helped control the flow of battle. These days, the Huntress is more aggressive in her means of crowd control. Her new Geyser Trap triggers a massive spout of water that blasts enemies into the air, delaying their pursuit of the core. It also makes them vulnerable to anti-air defenses like the Monk’s Sky Guard Tower, and applies a drenched debuff. If a drenched enemy is zapped by a Storm-infused weapon or defense, they’re immediately stunned, taking massive damage as lightning courses through them.
E.V.O.O — Exceptionally Volatile (certified Organic!) Oil
The Geyser Trap isn’t the Huntress’ only means of control, or even her only tactic for supporting her allies! When the time is right, she chucks an Oil Flask at her enemies. It shatters on impact and coats foes in a thick layer of oil that slows their movement. Did we mention it’s highly flammable? Whether they’re ignited by the Huntress’ Piercing Shot or any other source of Fire damage, oiled enemies spread that fire, taking consistent damage while the Huntress picks them off with headshots as they amble toward her.
That Girl is POISOOOOOOOON
But being a hero in Etheria means having a well-rounded arsenal, and for the first time, the Huntress has a true tower of her own: The Poison Dart Tower! This defense fires multiple poison-tipped projectiles into enemies, dealing immediate damage and afflicting them with a damage-over-time debuff. It can also tilt vertically, making it deadly to both land and air units, and especially lethal when placed behind a spawn point, allowing the Huntress to take out a good amount of enemies’ health even while they progress through a lane.
These are just some of the Huntress’ new abilities and defenses. True to her nature, the Huntress isn’t showing all of her cards, so you’ll have to be on your toes if you want to discover new tricks!
Now that you’ve seen what the Squire and the Huntress can do, what kind of combos can you come up with? Let us know in the comments section and you could get your hands on a Defense Council invite!
Do any of you remember our Five Pillars of Design? The Fifth Pillar talks about the unique, symbiotic relationship between the three different aspects of the game: Tower Defense, Action, and RPG. Our Fifth Pillar demands that we make sure these three sides of the game work well together.
We’ve shared some of the new Tower Defense features of DD2, but how are we integrating that with the other two? I’ll be focusing my blogging efforts on this very question, starting first with Combat and how it came to be what it is today.
DD1’s Combat – The Good, The Bad, and the Floaty
When developing a hybrid game like Dungeon Defenders, it’s important that we keep in mind all the different sides of the game. We have to evaluate their strengths and their weaknesses. Most importantly, we have to isolate and identify how those sides can work with — and not against — one another. The first Dungeon Defenders featured a simple, yet entertaining combat system. It supported the Tower Defense side of the game and was improved by a rich loot and stat system coupled with unique character progression. But it wasn’t without its problems.
When development began on Dungeon Defenders II, we decided to take a good look at all three sides of the game and see where we could improve them. While DD1’s combat was entertaining and symbiotic, it felt a little too “floaty” in that it didn’t give you solid and powerful feedback. Internally we refer to this as the Lawn Mower Effect since it basically had you mow down loads of enemies without providing you with any sense of contact.
Building and Testing Combat Prototypes
Over the course of one week, Trendy’s development team split into three teams, each eager to prototype and showcase their vision for combat in Dungeon Defenders II. While two teams focused on refining DD1’s approach and pushing it further, the third team cooked up something rather special.
Their prototype featured the Barbarian stomping heavily on the battlefield. He slashed his famous axes through the air with monumental force, cleaving through his enemies before slamming his weapons into the ground. Each attack propelled the Barbarian toward his enemies, and each could be chained with another attack. His full body was animated, opening up the potential for attacks that looked both complicated and impressive. With every swing he gave a loud roar, and his axes shook the screen as they pummeled enemies and terrain alike.
When it came time to review all three prototypes, it was obvious which one we were most excited to move forward with. The third prototype was simple, but it very clearly showcased the type of weighty, visceral combat we wanted to give our players.
Since then, we have been hard at work on this new combat system. In the future, melee heroes will utilize an action chaining system that allows them to combine different actions seamlessly. Your Squire will be able to jump into combat. unleash a flurry of light and heavy attacks, turn and fire a few abilities, repair a defense, and then jump out of combat, all in quick succession. By the time we are through with our system, players will be able to fluidly chain actions together in the heat of combat.
Refining Ranged Combat
We are also improving how Ranged Combat feels in Dungeon Defenders II. One of the simplest (yet coolest!) additions I can talk about is the Hot-Spot mechanic. This allows Ranged heroes to target special spots on enemies and deal even more damage than normal. The prototype was first tested by adding headshots on a single enemy type, and we are continuing to apply this system to different parts of our game. For example: When hit on an unarmored spot, our Ogre will suffer more damage from attacks.
This Hot-Spot system can be used in a lot of interesting ways. What do you all think? Should we invest the time into implementing a full-fledged Hot-Spot system for our Ranged Heroes?
It is important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning for our Combat Systems in Dungeon Defenders II. There are still plenty of things we are working on that are hidden away deep within Trendy’s lair. You can imagine how the Squire’s combat plays out now, but what about a hero that wields two weapons? How do the weapon choices influence the combat?
That’s a conversation for another time, but until then, your feedback is vital! Be sure to leave a comment and let us know some of the things you are hoping to see improved in DD1’s combat system.
Conceptual Level Design: Symmetry vs. Asymmetry
One of the most critical decisions in level design is choosing between a symmetrical or an asymmetrical layout. For the most part in DD2, we’re using asymmetrical layouts.
Why We’re Using Asymmetry
For games like Dungeon Defenders II that primarily use arena-based layouts and combat, symmetry has a few positive effects:
- The player quickly and easily understands the layout — The human brain grasps symmetry with remarkable speed and accuracy.
- Artificial spaces are easier to understand through symmetrical layouts — Such as the symmetry found in theatres.
But there are some distinct drawbacks to symmetrical layouts as well:
- Symmetry is quickly assimilated by the brain — Because of this, it is less interesting than asymmetry. It is often less memorable, as well.
- Symmetrical spaces imply symmetrical use of a space — In DD1 terms, you would expect both sides of a symmetrical layout to have the same enemies and pacing because the brain already understands the space as a mirrored environment.
- Symmetrical spaces are less interesting to look at and build.
Working Around the Confines of Asymmetry
This decision means the maps are a little harder to learn. It’s worth noting, however, that while many of the maps are not physically symmetrical, they are conceptually symmetrical. The Greystone Plaza map, for example, contains two isolated lanes on the west and east sides of the map. These lanes don’t crossover, and both sides of the map contain an optional lane that becomes active once a sub-objective is destroyed. In many respects, the gameplay of the Greystone Plaza map possess a symmetry even though the map is geometrically asymmetrical.
Playing in a closed arena tends to be more fun when the 3D space is interesting to move through and navigate. Ideally, a space is fun on its own–before any gameplay has been added in, which is something I touched on in my previous blog about player paths. Part of the joy of a map is learning the space, the other part of the joy is knowing that space. When gameplay is layered atop a well-built space, it’s enriched because the space is already fun. By creating interesting, asymmetrical maps, we hope to create a space where gameplay can truly flourish.
What did you think of the map design in DD1? Which maps were easiest for you to read, at a glance? Leave a comment below and you could win a spot on the Defense Council!