Hi everybody, this is Colin from the game design group !
I've thought about the game design of our game and I came to an idea. My first thinking were on the time length of a game experience (from the start of a party to its end). I believe we should make a short replayable game (because it is easier to make), and so we don't need to make the player feel stronger via the stats of his character, but by the skill of the player himself. We then need "hard to master" mechanisms and items. I then came to the point that is the most important to establish : the inputs that can use the player to control his character. If we want to do a smartphone game, we won't be able to have a mouse and many buttons, I propose that we use a cross for directions and 2 or 3 buttons (like on a game boy or on a NES controller). Those inputs only allows 4 or 8 directions movement and few interactions of the player with the environment at a time.
But I believe it is what we want, we want the player to make choices about what weapons or item he takes and we want him to have a hard time mastering the combat system. Moreover those kind of inputs require no ingame tutorial because everybody knows how to use it. I believe that we should restrict us to 4 directions, because interesting situation emerges from this : enemies can hide in the blind spot and the player must find way to deal with it (placing bombs, using strange pattern weapons with less power...). Such system may seems to you as limited or frustrating or archaic, but I think that the limitations are a way to make things interesting. If we allows the player to move with 360 directions and to shoot by aiming with a pointer (the mouse or his finger on smartphone), then the combat system is really easy to master (too easy i believe) and we will struggle to build different situations from it.
For the same reason, I propose that for the game design, we use simple design that creates interesting limitations which are easily understandable for the player. I propose a discrete health system, discrete damage with few different values (let say 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10 for example), no usable inventory (you can't stock weapon, nor armors, nor spells, nor potions). The inputs would be used like this : cross to move, button A to use your weapon (sword, bow, axe...), button B to use you class ability (jump, shield, boomerang...) and button C to use spells (which would be found in chests during the game experience). I must say that button B and button C could be fusioned. I don't know if we should make a mana system or a cooldown system for spells, mana system takes place on the screen for display which is bad on smartphone, but brings interesting limitations.
I'll make a summary of a game loop with my design :
- the players decide to launch a game together and are asked to choose a class for their character (the class would define your weapon and your class skill), you may customize your class with skins or variations earned during your previous game (earned in chest or paid with the gold looted on monsters). We could imagine giving power index to those variations and adapts the dungeon to the sum of the power indexes.
- the players enter the dungeon and explore it (4 directions movements + class skills maybe + spells maybe)
- the players fight monsters (4 directions movement + weapon + class skills + spells), they can recover health (or mana) and loot gold from the dead monster
- the players open chest and earn : life bar upgrade (armor for example), spells (they have the choice to switch with their own spell), weapon or class ability upgrade : an upgrade that add itself to the other functionality of your weapon or ability (we could even force the player to chose a unique weapon and ability upgrade like for the spells), or keys to open special doors...
- the players end the dungeon (exiting, killing a boss, dying...)
One idea is that the players prepare for the dungeon by choosing their class and so the weapons and skills they will have (strategy part). Those class must imply unique gameplay (heavy and slow hammer, quick low range dagger, long range bow...), with different animation speed, damage, hitbox and range. And later during the stress of the dungeon, the players must adjust their strategy by choosing spells or upgrades looted in the dungeon. We will then have the replay value we seek.
An other idea that I like is to link the exploration with the combat system. Weapons, class ability and spells should help during both combat phase and exploration phase. For example jumping allows you to jump holes or traps and to dodge enemy attacks, a long range spell (or bow) allows you to fight and trigger a distant mechanism, a sword allow you to fight and to cut spider webs blocking your path... Then the players will have different combat mechanisms but also complementary exploration abilities, and must cooperate together in both combat and exploration to succeed.
Some example of the same kind of game :
- Zelda : The legend of Zelda (NES), A Link to the past (SNES), Link's Awakening (Game Boy), A Link between worlds (3DS)
- Binding of Isaac (PC)
I hope you understood my ideas and I will be happy to discuss them with you. Note that this is only my proposition of game design and not a choice the game design team made.
The following points are not fixed by my proposition :
- what is the end / the goal of the dungeon
- what is the form of the dungeon (room, corridors, stairs...)
- enemy respawn
- how do you explore the dungeon (I imagined that you can go back on your step, but that's not mandatory)
- mana or cooldown for spell
- what does players earn when they end a dungeon (fun ? gold to buy skins or class variations ? skins and class variations directly ?)
If you have other propositions, please feel free to post them ! =)