Hello. I’m Ivan Bobenko – one of the game designers of the Ash of Gods project. In this diary I would to talk about game mechanics, bold decisions, favorite combat characters and … cloning. How ethical is it to reproduce the lamb Dolly, if the output is not a sheep, but a real wolf?
I want to start with mentioning the fact that I always read the new issues of the Developer Diary with a great pleasure. I am very excited by the informal and emotional delivery of the material from Nikolay. He always writes from his point of view, not particularly shy with his language and without covering up the harsh truth with sweet words. Therefore, I am glad to be able to have the spotlight as well.
The feeling when you have spread the numbers over two screens and ponder over edits:
Most of my attention in the project I give to the combat system. Without exaggeration, I can say that at the time of writing these diaries, I have played many times more fights in AoG than anybody else. In each of these battles I have pursued certain goals: sometimes to weaken the overpowerful characters, sometimes I have observed the losers of each squad gathering their will into a fist and becoming interesting (to match all the favorite archers), part of the battles was devoted to the AI behavior tests or checking whether some errors were fixed.
Even at the early stages of testing, many fights were quiet spectacular. This is especially true for the most difficult battles, in which the enemies, without any mercy and pity, have disemboweled my modest squad, exhausted by a long journey and the absence of strixes.
Only early on in the game can you skip reading the descriptions of the opponent’s abilities and passive skills, but the further in the Termimium, the thicker are the Enses.
To win a battle with your last efforts, when the larger part of your party already lies on the ground, without giving any signs of life – it is extremely fascinating.
WebPort is an application for testing AoG combat system, where you can “enjoy” solid color as a background and the machinations of the cruel AI. After spending 100,000 hours there, I thought it would be unfair to leave this legendary training ground in the shadows.
I have tried very hard to make the game classes not only attractive to the player, but also unique in comparison with each other. This feature is even more pronounced when the player begins to think through the party development plan, distributing skill points. For example, you can develop Thorn into a powerful AOEher or an excellent support character.
I’m sure when you start playing, you will have your own favorites in the team. Personally, I adore Fisk and Ramlin – I constantly buy and give them the best equipment, despite the fact that they are very unique and are not always effective. If the story suddenly poses the question of “lose a good friend or save Fisk?” – I’ll answer it easily.
Let the favorite characters finish off as many enemies as possible, and with the additional experience they will level up much faster than the rest of the team.
Fisk, who has a weakness for alcohol and has seen things, is in fact a fragile, but very strong damage dealer. If you are not careful with him, in the later stages of the game this spearman may well be killed by one powerful shot.
Some of my colleagues do not like Fisk for his low survival rate (and even by leveling up you will not be able to raise his health very soon), but in skillful hands he can work miracles.
For this character the turn order is very important. Due to the possibility of increasing his own protection, well-equipped and properly leveld up Fisk can sometimes even tank.
Ramlin is a support character. He had some witchcraft skills from his grandmother and in battle he can strengthen your party members for the duration of the battle. Many people are immediately deterred by his ridiculous attack value of one. But if you develop your strategy, based on the presence of Ramlin in the party, you can achieve impressive results.
A lot of the skills in the game are calculated from the character’s attack value: for example, Thorn’s defence depends on his attack value.
Ramlin can significantly increase the attack of another character – and then their abilities start to get out of control and become deadly. Also he can take the attack points from his party members and then steal a lot of energy from the enemies.
With the introduction of the system of cooldowns, I managed to liven up the behavior of the player’s characters. Now you need to think at what point it is better to use a defensive skill or how to hold out until the time when a powerful ability becomes avaiable.
Thanks to the cooldowns, we have managed to add truly “crazy” abilities. For example, the possibility for an Assassin class to kill a completely healthy enemy with one blow.
Abilities this strong are on the cooldown at the beginning of the fight, and the player has to wait until they become available.
Hold on. What are these numbers? 95 HP for Gleda? Whom should I write a ticket with a bug to? No, it’s okay, it’s just fully levelled up characters. In the campaign you willl not see this, so at least look at the screenshot. And the local Assassin Hoda has 45/38 even in the most developed configuration. Surely he is a very weak character!
Even before I’ve joined the team pretty bold foundations were laid for the combat system: for example, the ability to almost infinitly raise the character’s attack in combat without restrictions or diminishes. Or heling, which in our game is not traditional, the one everyone is used to, but is, in fact, a health buff.
So, when healing a completely healthy character, you increase the amount of his health and there are no limits for this. On one hand, it makes possible the use of cheesy strategies, on the other – adds lots of fun to the game and plenty of room for experimentation.
Choosing between the correct mathematical methods of calculations for strict balance and fun, we took the side of the latter – and I’m scared to think of what some ingenious players will be able to create on the release with the opportunities that we give them.
Imagine that you take two clerics aside and buff your tank – already pretty fat – with health, and then watch the vain attempts of the computer to kill this mammoth.
Honestly, before meeting with the developers from Aurum Dust, I saw news about the game and without getting into details, branded it for myself as the “Banner Saga reskin”, having lost all interest.
Spoiler: no, not about the banners.
But in reality everything turned out to be much more complicated and interesting. Everyone knows how often gamedev works today: we take a successful project, we attach some new features to it – and there you go: eat our clone on the hype wave. In fact, it turned that Stoic Studio in are aware of development, are supportive of it and even backed our undertaking on Kickstarter.
In addition – in my opinion – in the case of Ash of Gods, the number of unique and original elements (for example, the real death of all heroes or highly delayed consequences of player’s choices) allows the game to break through the cage of its heritage and act as something new and special.
Therefore, I hope that all those who have already made a hasty conclusion, sooner or later, will come across a review, a gameplay or just a funny meme about our game, which will meke them dig a little deeper and more objectively evaluate the project and decide for themselves whether it is worth to pass by?
I look forward to the release of the game no less than you do. It is often said that when you develop you have time to play enough to get nauseous, so that later you do not want to see the game again. In my case, this is not so true. On the release day, I plan to run someone’s stream on one screen and play the game myself on the other.
I cannot wait to read and analyze your praising and angry (and you cannot avoid having these) reviews about the release version.
The night is dark and full of terrors. March is coming.