Dev Blog

Enchanting

June 22, 2022

Since the reward for the upcoming dungeon will be enchanting crystals, it's apparent that if these crystals are going to have any value it was time to get started on the enchanting skill.

If you’re reading this you’re probably already familiar with Enchanting from other RPG games. The player uses an enchanting table to add enchantments to items and armor which add customized bonuses or power-ups.

Enchanting is especially appealing to the min/maxer type of players who like to have the best gear. If a player is willing to put in the effort, enchanting allows them to create extremely powerful and tailor-made gear.

Beyond using the skill itself, enchanting also supports a unique type of experience - that of finding enchanted items. Opening a loot chest and finding a rare and enchanted item is an exciting experience. It also teaches the power of enchantments to players who might otherwise not have invested in the skill.

Goals

In the back of my mind I had a bucket of things I knew I wanted for enchantments:

  1. All players should sometimes find enchanted items (the enchanting skill is not required).
  2. Investing in the enchanting skill allows for more customization.

As for the skill itself, I had the following qualities in mind:

  1. Item sink – each enchantment requires different unique items.
  2. Uses crystals – enchanting requires special crystals, giving a reason to enter temples and caves to collect crystals.
  3. Complexity – the enchanting skill should have enough complexity to be interesting to players who use the skill. In other words, playthroughs should feel different to enchanting players as opposed to non-enchanting players. There must be room for players to be efficient, clever, ie. to game the system and play in line with their personality.
  4. Simplicity – enchanting should not be so complex it is hard to learn, or cannot easily be explained through a user-interface.
  5. Scaling – the same enchantment bonus, for example +Dodge Chance, should not always be the same amount. For example, a high level enchanter might be able to create an item with +10% Dodge Chance, whereas a low level enchanter creates an item with +2% Dodge Chance.
  6. Not Just Stats – some enchantments should go beyond raw numbers, and have interesting interactions with the world. I don’t want to reduce combat to purely stat checks, so there needs to be triggered enchantments or ways that enchantments relate to the context of a fight.

As it turns out, hitting all of these goals is not easy. And the system went through several designs before reaching the current approach.

Here I’ll discuss two of the decisions behind enchanting.

Potency

Problem 1 – What does levelling enchanting do?

Originally I wanted applying enchantments to weapons or armor to hae a chance to fail. The problem with this is that it can feel really shitty for players. It’s the same reason we don’t have burnt food in cooking. Instead, with cooking, we flipped it – so the random event was good (a potent version of the item is created) – instead of the random event being bad.

But without a chance to fail, how do enchanters get better? What does levelling enchanting do?

Problem 2 – How do enchanters know how strong their enchantments will be?

I also didn't want enchantments to have stats scaling along a continuous spectrum. For example, in Skyrim all enchantments scale based off your level. The problem with this is visibility. It’s not clear to the player what the min and max power level of each enchantment is, and how much value they will get from levelling the skill, since all they see is the output ("I guess I get +8% damage now instead of +6%").

The answer was potency.

Instead of a spectrum of possible values, each enchantment type is broken into 3 potency tiers, with each potency tier having it’s own enchanting requirement level.

Here's how it looks in the context of the full crafting UI:

In short, the potency system:

  • Gives players a reward for levelling enchanting without introducing failures.
  • Allows players access to what otherwise would be powerful enchantments at a lower levels (since they can craft a low potency version of it)
  • Gives the players options for levelling, ie. using lower potency enchantments to grind vs high potency.
  • Provides visibility, since players can see exactly what each potency does.

For these reasons it's feels like a great approach.

Enchantment Types

Alright, we have our potency. But what will be the available enchantment types?

The easy approach it to simply make an enchantment for each type of stat. And this isn’t terrible, because it provides enormous flexibility to players. Based on their build players can hunt down the exact stat they want.

However, I knew for enchantments to really be exciting, there needed to be something more. Therefore the current version is a combined approach.

Low level enchantments are (called “Standard Enchantments”), and buff a single stat.

Medium tier enchantments (called “Ancient Enchantments”) buff two or more stats, sometimes offering a negative with a positive.

The Highest Tier enchantments (called “Legendary Enchantments”) have a triggered effect.

If players want a single stat, they can find standard enchantments and do so. But the more powerful enchantments will have more limitations and/or risk involved.

Equipment Slots

The numbers for enchanting have been balanced under the assumption of an additional two ring slots, and a necklace slot, which is to say the upcoming update will include a new ragdoll equipment UI, along with these new item types.

Since this is getting long I’ll end it here for now, probably to be continued with a second post. In short: enchanting is a huge update, relates to almost everything else in the game, will include a tiered potency system, and is being expertly balanced to be the bestest version of itself it can be.




Map Biomes

June 9, 2022

Work has begun on the new mountain biome. Mountain biomes on Enalia our similar to our Tundra on earth; a rocky area with low precipitation.

Below you can see some of the new art including rocky walls, trees & plants, a bubbling hot spring, a hawk nest, and a cave entrance.



Why Biomes?

This leads us to an important question: what is the role of biomes?

The short answer is that each biome offers a set of resources and challenges. In this sense they are the same as dungeons. The player enters a map zone, and in that map zone are resources to harvest and challenges to overcome.

The difference between dungeons and wilderness biomes is that biomes are a place the player will see again and again. It is where the player can return to for resources if they are struggling; a place the player can become comfortable with; a place they feel their increase in power as the power gap between them and the local wildlife continues to expand.

The wilderness also acts as a "hub" - it is a stage for more rare encounters to be layered over top (a mysterious trader appears), or means of transport to other locations (like the cave entrance seen in the above screenshot).

Difficulty

Most biome types will have players visiting of nearly any level. It is likely for both a level 1 and a level 30 player to find themselves in a forest, for example. How then can these areas be balanced?

The answer is twofold. First, biomes are not balanced, nor do they have to be. Low level players must play very carefully in the wilderness, and can find themselves easily killed by impossible or nearly impossible situations.

But this isn't the whole truth. For a type of balance is possible, which is to require player input to trigger more difficult content.

For example, below we see a snake rock. The player is warned by red eyes and snake movement that this is a dangerous rock. Clicking on the rock will trigger a difficult challenge with a potential reward.

Difficulty therefore is tempered by allowing the player to keep their distance or avoid interaction.

In my opinion this sort of challenge makes for good game design because it encourages curiosity "what is this thing? how can I beat it?" and rewards the player for mastery "I must be getting strong...those snakes are easy for me now".

Planning Ahead

Long term, I would love to see players seeking out certain biome types based on their type of character and the resources they will need. Forests will have more food, but deserts may offer more rewarding challenges.

Building risk vs. reward decisions into map movement can have huge impact on evoking a true feeling of fantasy adventure.


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