Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rex Does Kongai: Sketching in the Rock Stars

When last we'd left off, I'd gone through all the twenty-odd characters in this imaginary expansion. Setting out a preliminary plan for how to proceed with them and fit them into the framework for the groups that I'd set down earlier. Creating a plan not just for who these cards are, how they might appear and the flavorful descriptions attached to them that help them to come alive, but also the glimmer of an idea for how they'll eventually function. Hinting at their skills, their abilities, and everything else needed to create a Kongai card.

This time around, we'll be going one step further by picking one group and roughing in the details from those brief summaries.

Before I get to that, let's talk a bit about what we actually need for a Kongai card. There are at least 11 bits of information that we'll eventually need to fill in. Each card has, at minimum:

  1. A name.
  2. A title.
  3. An innate ability.
  4. Health.
  5. Physical resistance.
  6. Light resistance.
  7. Dark resistance.
  8. A first skill.
  9. A second skill.
  10. A third skill.
  11. And a fourth skill.

Although it's not strictly necessary, each card also includes some art assets. An icon and a colored border based on the group it's from. Probably a patch or another icon to represent which expansion it comes from. And, of course, the picture of that character. Those aren't absolutely crucial but I try and include them anyways since I think having a good visual idea of what a character is helps to create an idea of how they should be, mechanically speaking.

Because, beyond that, each card represents a character. A personality that somehow fits into the game's lore and has a backstory and motivations of their own. So, they'll also need some form of backstory.

And if you want to fit them into the nifty new card album, you'll need to have a one or two line summary and some strengths and weaknesses, too.

We're up to 18 spaces to fill in on the sheet, if you haven't been counting. But it gets worse than that because each skill is more than just a line item to scribble in. They've each got their own necessary components:

  1. A skill name.
  2. Energy cost.
  3. Priority or Speed.
  4. Damage, if any.
  5. Type (Physical, Light, Dark, or, possibly, something new.).
  6. Hit rate.
  7. Proc rate.
  8. Critical rate.
  9. Range.
  10. Special Ability(ies), if any.
  11. Descriptive flavor text.

With four skills each adding their own 11 new bits to the mix, that's 51 pieces of information that I think are necessary to properly detail a card. Some of them are simple enough to include – it's not going to take a whole lot of thought to jot down a character's group or include the standard 3% crit rate. But others are going to take some soul-searching cogitation.

It's a lot of work, in other words. You can chop out a card quickly, if you're willing to leave out some of the important bits. But if you're starting from scratch that's a lot of blanks to fill up.

We're not going to go that far today, though. We're going to be working with not just one character with 51 unknowns but a group, which means at least five times that amount. I can type pretty fast but not that fast, even if I knew the answers to all of those questions. But we don't need to go that far, since a finished character will have a lot more polish than the barely practical ideas we'll be creating now. We're in the rough stage where the ideas are raw and the details are scant. And what I don't want to do is lock those ideas down by getting too specific about what they'll actually do. We'll get to things like energy costs and resistance matrices and the like further on down the road.

Instead, today, we'll be piecing together those characters into what I call a “shadow bar”. It's not what you could, say, turn over to the programmers and tell them to get on with while you nip out for a pint. Or three. But it's enough to get a vague idea of the really important parts about a character – what they're going to be able to do. Sketchy details on their skills and maybe even their innate, in other words. Sometimes I put in concrete values but, more often, I leave out the numbers. Instead skills deal “low” damage or have “moderate” costs. Which are loose values along an ill-defined range that I might or might not get into later.

I tend to leave out health and resistance at this stage. Not because they're unimportant but because I think they're highly dependent on a character's bar. I generally have some idea of whether a character has a lot of health or if they're a 55HP softie with no resists or not. But a lot of it depends on the strength of their bar. Health and resistance can help offset strengths elsewhere or balance out a card's weakness. And without knowing more about a character's abilities it's difficult to say whether they're the kind of character who needs a lot of health as padding to help them get their skills off or if they're the type who needs only a little bit because getting those skills off is so scary.

But, in general, nothing specific, in other words, just bringing our guideline into sharper focus and preparing to eventually fill in the remaining blanks.

Now, we have four groups, if you'll recall. In the order they were, basically, created: the Necros, the Psychos, the Gangsters, and the Rock Stars. I've decided to work on the Rock Stars first. They were the last group created and, therefore, in need of the most work. If you look back at when we roughed the groups in, they're description is the most sparse and of the least use as a guide. That's a symptom of my not knowing more about them. But, let's revisit, anyway:

Rockers: Musicians and rock-stars, the Rockers use the power of their hard rock to harm their opponents and boost their teammates. Team-wide buffers and light magic users – a “good” set to balance out all the evil groups in this set. Based on famous rockers like Sid Vicious or Elvis Presley or Alice Cooper. Shared mechanics: Songs. Rockers will buff themselves and their teammates by singing songs.

It's all well and good to say that they'll “buff themselves and their teammates by singing songs” but we're at the point where we need to figure out how. Are these innates? Are they skills? Are we going to create different items, each representing a different song that the Rocker is singing? On-going effects? Do different Rock Stars sing in different ways or do they each share a similar method that ties them together as a group? How, in short, does it work?

What I've decided is that these songs are going to be skill-based. And that the skills are going to be similar to give the Rockers some internal consistency. Not only that, but we're going to break “Songs” up into two different subtypes. One offensive, and one defensive. Or, in other words, one that targets opponents and another that benefits a team.

The defensive type will be how the Rock Stars get those team-wide buffs. Perhaps not the only way but the way that they'll all be able to slap some temporary bonus down for everyone of their teammates to enjoy. We'll call these “Ballads” because the concept will be the Rocker is standing there singing for a little bit and those moving words cause some bonus for their team. Ballads will be expensive and we'll be careful to restrict them because they'll be so powerful. We're talking about long lasting boosts that could potentially affect any card (We need the long-lasting, after all, because if these buffs last only for a few turns, it doesn't matter how many cards they affect. Most of those turns will be burnt up by switching out, making them little more than self-buffs that pay for an extra effect you'll never use. With a few extra turns of duration, you can swap and get out another character to take advantage of them. Which, really, is the whole point. The Rockers are going to benefit from these buffs, that's a given, but we want to emphasize the teamwork aspect here, so the key is getting other characters to use those buffs. And getting players to think about how to do it. We'll probably want to include an item for the Rock Stars that makes it easy to switch, for example, to make it even easier for them to be such good team players.), after all, and that'll cost. Making them expensive also emphasizes how important they are, if they're the biggest skill on the bar then they'll get noticed for sure, and we can really push them that way. But we'll also give them some decent priority as compensation – as well as making these important, costly buffs harder to disrupt.

As an example, we could have a skill called, say, Arena Rock that we wanted to buff attack damage. If could give single-hit attacks 4 bonus damage and last for 10 turns, affecting every card in your deck. Giving it a “high for a buff” priority of, say, 5, and taking away any chance for it to fail by giving it a 100% proc rate, I'd put a skill like that at 40~50 energy. That makes it more costly than the Ubuntu skill it's based on but, keep in mind, Ubuntu's Staff Strike has to proc that buff while this one will always go into effect, and that makes it easier to plan and exploit for a card like, say, Yoshiro – just having this skill in play makes it so that he doesn't have to automatically slot a General's.

Moving on, the offensive type will be a way for the Rock Stars to damage and debuff their opponents. We'll call them “Echoes” because the idea will be that these skills will do something on their way in and then boomerang to do something on their way out. Just like an echo bouncing back from across the room. They'll have an impact on activation and then some kind of delayed effect. These Echoes will give the Rock Stars a way to create “magical” effects, a conceptual way for them to do more than just stand there and punch. The idea being that their voices are so powerful that they can...stun an opponent or cause them to bleed or any of the other fun effects we'd like to play around with. Being voice based, they'll give our Rockers a bit of range, since it won't feel odd to have them work at distance as well as up close. They'll also be a way to hold Rock Star power levels or at least price tags down since that delay will mean that the impact of a skill will be spread over a length of time. Damage in a few turns, after all, isn't as valuable as damage right now and the same holds true for most effects. But that's alright. The Rockers aren't, in general, supposed to be a team with the raw power to batter down their opponents. They're, you know, bards. They can fight (And, really, in Kongai cards need to be able to fight. If you can't kill anything you're worse than useless.) but their main point is to play those Ballad buffs. Giving them skills that take a while to take effect plays into the idea that they're not the best fighters in the world and have to rely on other things.

To give an example of an Echo, let's have a skill called Scream. This skill will be a damage dealer, hitting its opponent when it's cast. And then hitting them again the next turn for, let's say, a little less damage. An echo of the first hit that's not quite as powerful. But that can be combined with say, next turn's Sccream. How much this would cost depends on how much damage it would deal. But say it hits for, of course, but let's say the first hit is for 18. And the echoed hit is for two-thirds of that or 12 damage. That's 30 raw damage overall. And that's enough to kill the average opponent (With 70 health and 2 of any given resistance. That's my training dummy right there.) in only 3 hits. But, here, those 3 hits are going to take 4 turns to kill. You'll have to wait for that last boomerang before most characters are killed off. Even though you'd do a total of 78 damage by the end of that third turn, you'd have done it in 5 hits that each have resistance applied to them, and characters with as low a resist as 2 manage to survive until that last package of damage arrives. In other words, splitting up that 30 damage skill into two parts has lowered the chances that a relatively powerful hit is going to earn fast kills, exactly what we're looking for, and this skill is probably going to cost less than an otherwise equivalent skill that delivers that 30 damage all at once. We can further cut down on the lethality – and, therefore, the cost - by making this a multi-hit – 6x3 followed by 6x2 seems like a natural – which will get even further reduced by resistance. Or by making that second hit land at the end of a turn, that gives an opponent time to land hits of their own and at least trade even as they're going down. Going the other way, we could up the power of this skill by making that echoed hit work like, say, Juju's Curse. Dealing not 12 damage but 12 Bleeding or some other type that would cut through resistance. And then we'd have to take into account the other skills on this character's bar – nothing works in isolation and Scream would get really nasty if their bar has a solid hit that can land for somewhere around 40 damage on that second turn, after all. From there we could figure out how much it should cost and how fast it should be. But, in general, I hope you can see how the Echo effect can help us create effective skills that aren't quite as strong as they could be.

Together, the twinned mechanics of Ballads and Echoes should give us a good framework to build our Rockers around. In fact, if every Rock Star includes a variation on those themes, then we've already filled out half of their skill bars. Since that sounds like a good idea, at least at the moment, I think I'm going to try something here that I've been wanting to for a while. In order to streamline the process, I'll create a template. A generic bar from which to base all the other Rocker bars. Say each of them has an Echo and a Ballad, each of them can also have a version of some other skills. The result should make them all fairly similar and that's not exactly a good thing – we don't want to make a bunch of generic cards that all look and play like each other, after all. But if we're good about what those variations on our theme are, it shouldn't be so bad, because each card will have it's own niche.

Here's what I'm thinking of for a template:

  1. Guitar. A low to moderate damage attack that can be used as a staple. Close.
  2. Solo. A high damage attack or a moderate damage attack with a powerful effect, the bar's nuke Close.
  3. Echo. A skill with a delayed effect. Far.
  4. Ballad. A team-wide buff. Far.

The concept being that, up close, these Rockers attack with guitars and, when pushed far, they unmolested enough that they can sing it out. Up close they're largely unremarkable physical attackers, it's when they can loosen up their vocal chords that their real powers come into play. We can play around with this template, too. There's nothing saying we can't flip it around and have a far-range specialist, or make everything work at both range and create a more flexible character. The idea here, though, is that we have something to play against that will let us churn out card after card.

I guess I should explain what I mean by “staple” and “nuke” since I've been spinning my own wheels long enough to have developed my own lingo with terminology that's not exactly standard. Staple attacks are what I call those skills, like Poison Dart, that don't deal a lot of damage but are cheap enough and effective enough that they wind up being what players rely on, at the very least to space out their bigger attacks. They're the low risk, low reward attacks on the bar, in so many words.

A nuke, then, is the high risk, high reward skill. The one you'll spend a lot of energy on and grit your teeth about when your savvy foe manages to switch away as you whiff it. These are the power attacks, the money shots, and the signature moves that really shift a match. Guitar Blows will be the low cost alternatives to a Solo but Solos will be the skills that players will actually want to use.

Finally, I think we've done all the prep work we need to start laying out those characters but, first, let's review which characters we're going to be making. From the post I wrote the other day:

  1. The 50's Rocker: A send-up of 50s, sock hop era rockers like Elvis Presley or the Bip Bopper. A big large man with an barely contained personality and a barely contained waistline. A high health heavy.
  2. The 60's Rocker: Okay, well, not 60s exactly, but a glam rocker. An experimental magician in the mold of Bowie or Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles. A trippy, freaky character with lots of sparkly, freaky deaky effects. I'd like him to have a focus, especially, on energy.
  3. The 70's Rocker: My tribute to musicians like Alice Cooper or KISS. Even Gwar. Those heavy metal groups that dress up in outlandish costumes, covered in spikes and bits of gore, whether it's 70s schlock or 80's hair bands all I know is he has to have one of those guitars that's shaped like an axe. And that he'll be a high damage scrapper with a nasty edge, too.
  4. The 80's Rocker: From the era of hairspray and hair bands, she'll also be a bit of a reference to I-No, the rocker girl from Guilty Gear. Generally speaking, a rocker chick with a head full of spunk and a mouth full of filth. She'll play fast and hit hard.
  5. The 90's Rocker: From the Seattle scene, modeled on someone like Curt Cobain. Or maybe something more recent and emo-tastic. Either way, a character filled with angst and apathy. Able to debilitate and weaken foes with his songs.
  6. The Garage Band Rocker: A golden youth, the every-man draw into events thanks to discovering a magical guitar and a hidden talent for the rocking. An all-arounder whom we'll try to make into a poster child for this expansion.

Now, the first thing that's got to go is the names, because they're awful. But that's alright because we'll be using those numbers as reference anyway. And I hope you will, too, because I'm just going to go where the inspiration takes me and that's not necessarily in order. Keep in mind that everything here is a work in progress and might not necessarily reflect the finished product.

Idea: Plays fast and hit hard.
Name: Izzy Knowles, the Headbanger's Doll
Innate: Quickening Powder type effect? Chance to have speed boosted randomly? Gets amped up somehow? Gets...energized.
Bar (v1):
  1. Headbang. Low speed, light to moderate (@25) damage. Target will be hit on fleeing next turn. Light to moderate cost, depending on damage, low (2~3) speed. Friendly w/ #2? Close. Phys.
  2. Power Lick. High speed, moderate damage nuke (@40, think Yoshi's Chi Blast). High (60s) cost, high speed (7+). Close. Light.
  3. Reverb. Target takes moderate damage and takes increased damage the next turn. Moderate cost, high speed. Far. Phys.
  4. Speed Metal. Entire team has +2 speed for next few turns. Moderate cost (30~40), moderate speed. Far. Phys.

The concept with Izzy (That's I. Knowles. I-Knowles. Get it yet?) here is a fast character and speed is what she'll be pushing. With a Ballad in #4 (Again, the names are so up in the air that I'm just going to call things by numbers to make it easier.) that gives everyone a Valkyrie's Charm and a fast acting nuke she's going to be a speedster. But what really interests me are the synergies created within her bar. #3 Reverb's a bit of a departure from the prototypical “hit, then hit again” Echo since it doesn't have a second hit, instead, it makes the next attack hit that much harder. But I like it, especially since it's a nice companion piece to #1 Headbang which also procs an ability that makes the next hit better. We'll have to watch the power levels on #1 Headbang and #2 Powerlick, not just because Izzy might be a cheap two-shot artist with an unavoidable nuke in the right situations but also because #3 Reverb has the potential to make them even better. But that “next hit is better” theme, I think, plays into the idea that Izzy is an up-tempo, energetic card, who's flying all over the field and trying to press the pace of the fight – she wants to hit, and hit, and hit again and what she doesn't want is a lot of stalling and slowing down.

Idea: Spacey energy and regeneration
Name: Upton Heward, the Intracranial Spaceman
Innate: Something to do with how weird/eerie he is. A gender bender. A mind bender. Maybe he gains something while buffed.
Bar (v1):
  1. Enervation. Light to moderate damage. If target is stunned, energy is stolen. Low cost, moderate speed. Close. Dark.
  2. Stardust Sparkle. Heavy damage. Chance to buff team with...(Not energy again... Maybe debuff protection? The next time teammates would be debuffed they are instead healed for 10? Debuffed but regenerate health, 5for3?) High cost (55+), speed depending on ability. Close. Light.
  3. Haunting Lyrics. Target takes light damage. At the end of the next turn, target is stunned at end of next turn. If target is already stunned, they take light damage again. Mid cost (40s), low speed. Far. Dark.
  4. Power Ballad. Entire team has +5 energy regeneration for the next few turns. High cost (50?), mid speed. Far. Light.

Ugh. The names make me cringe but, that's okay, we're still figuring things out. It's just such a contrast with Rocker #5, whose names are sounding almost note perfect already – sometimes things fall into place, sometimes they don't. Anyway, the concept here is that our Glam Rocker might not be a terribly effective fighter, his damage potential might be on the low side, but he's still a useful character to have around because of what he throws around. And what he throws is a) energy and b) regeneration. He makes other cards better by giving them more to work with. For his Ballad, #4, I think +5en a turn is the absolute cap. Anything more and a character who rests can gain 50 energy and that's enough to rest and set the range – that's a dangerous situation to get into because of the potential for griefing (Playing keep away from, say, Ashi, or can't get away with, say, Andro.). Handing out free energy in any event is dangerous, so that's going to be an expensive effect that's probably only breaking even for the Glam. But that's more than fine because that just makes it better to use with everyone else. When it comes to his opponent, though, the Glam Rocker's main way of dealing with them will be shutting them down. The delayed stun from #3, the Echo, is really great, I think. It's not quite as unfair as an on-hit stun and it sets up a turn where a player knows they're going to get stunned at the end of it and have to decide whether to stay and get in a hit before that happens or risk swapping out to a card that won't be disabled – it costs them a turn, but it's at their discretion so they might be able to turn it to their advantage. But it's going to need a high proc rate to get there. And I like the Guitar Blow #1 here, too. It plays into that Echo and the energy theme. Landing it and draining away a lot of energy potentially cripples an opponent just as much as stunning them while not completely disabling them. Such strong effects means this guy isn't going to be an offensive powerhouse but I think if the effects are going to be worth it, that'll work out.

Idea: Nasty crits and hard-edged damage
Name: Wutan Utgar Snarlsgard, the Death God of Rock // Wotan One-Eye
Innate: Something to do with crits? Increased base crit rate (No, we can handle that skillwise.)? Procced effect on crit? Heals for x when scores a critical hit. Has a base crit rate of 10%, instead of the normal 3% <- mention in description even though it's a skill thing.
Bar (v1)
  1. Axe Guitar. A dark version of Bleeding Slice. Deals moderate dark damage and has a decent chance to cause bleeding for a moderate price tag. Maybe a bit lower efficiency here since this is a dual-range character. Starting point - 30en, 30(D), 95hit, 50proc 4for3 (@36 avg, more w/ crits. 45*10%, 30*85%, 12*50% = 4.5+25.5+6 <- yes, we're not counting the miss rate on DOT here, just guesstimating to see that the extra 7% crit seems to be worth about 1~2 extra dmg.). Light to moderate cost, moderate speed. Close. Dark.
  2. Whirlwind Tour. Hits all. High cost (70~80), moderate damage (@20). Keep in mind this hits all and that damage is multiplied but we want a big, heavy hits all that leaves a lot of enemies hurting and gives a lot of chances to score a crit. High cost, low speed. Close. Phys.
  3. Encore. Target hit for moderate damage (@25). Heals for moderate (@20) at end of next turn. Moderate cost, high speed. Far. Phys.
  4. Heavy Metal. Team gains +x crit (25?) for next few turns. High cost (50+), moderate speed. Far. Dark.

Version 2: Switch heal on crit innate to Big Bopper. Switch Heavy Metal, too, although keep the name. Maybe Whirlwind, too. Keep high natural crit rates. New innate: Gains +x% crit when target is Bleeding. Synergy with G-Axe, more vicious, less raw healing power on what's supposed to be a kill card.
Innate: When target is Bleeding, has an extra (20~30)% chance to critically hit. Has a base crit rate of 10.
Bar (v2) – Only one attack at each range. But it's a good attack...
  1. Axe Guitar. Dark B-Slice. 30En, 25(D), 95hit, 75proc, 6for3 (@38 avg. 37.5*10%, 25*85%, 18*75%). Pump up DOT to compliment new innate, pump down damage to compensate. Might be a bit too good now, though – best case is 55 o-all damage, 43 first turn. On the other hand, if this is the only Close attack on the bar... // Guillotine Guitar/Axe/Chop. Close. Dark.
  2. Sharpened Spikes. Self-buff. Either attacks cause bleeding (...what would be the point?) or being hit causes target to bleed. Adds armor? Low cost (20 or less), low speed. // Spiked Armor. Gain 2 resistance (+2/+2/+2) and 10% dodge, the next time you are hit with an attack your attacker begins Bleeding (2for5) and Spiked Armor ends. 20En, 3spd. Close. Phys.
  3. Delayed Cut. Target hit for light~moderate damage (@20), target begins bleeding at end of next turn (moderate @ 10~15 DOT). Moderate cost (35?), moderate speed. Far. Phys <- Meh.
  4. Heavy Metal. Team gains light crit (+12%?) for next few turns, procs (100p?) heavy Bleed heavy (@6~10/turn for 2~3 turns) on crit. Moderate cost (@45~50), moderate speed. Far. Phys. Dark.

We've had our first dramatic revision here, as the Schlock Rocker's original bar gets scooped up by a different character who felt like a better fit. But you can read more about that below.

Idea: Health, healing, and heavy.
Name: Alvis Priestly, the Big Whopper / The Sultan of the Sockhop / The Crown Prince of Rock and Roll
Innate: ? Has 1 bonus health for each 4 points of energy?
Song: Team gains health for x.
Bar(v1): ?

Version 2: Okay, going to steal the Schlock Rocker's bar, for the most part. The idea with the Big Bopper is that that he's the team's heavy. A lot of health, a lot of padding, a big round belly. We'd been thinking that this would involve making him a tower of health through buffs but instead of the buff tank route, let's go with the healer tank and let him be a character who can make his health fly back up through a lot of active healing. New innate will be to heal for x when he crits. We'll swipe old-Heavy Metal and Whirlwind from Old One-Eye but we'll forget about the high natural crit rates here – instead we'll have crit buffs and a high crit skill. Fear the BOP!

Innate: Heals for x on crit.
Bar (v2):
  1. Sock Hop. Light to moderate damage (18~24) with a high chance to crit (25). Light to moderate cost (20~30), low speed. Close. Phys/Light.
  2. The Big Bop / Round the Clock Bop / Bop Round the Clock. (P) Hits all. High cost (70~80), moderate damage (@20). Keep in mind this hits all and that damage is multiplied but we want a big, heavy hits all that leaves a lot of enemies hurting and gives a lot of chances to score a crit. High cost, low speed. Close. Phys.
  3. Golden Oldie / Record Drop. (L) Target hit for moderate damage (@25). Heals for moderate (@20) at end of next turn. Moderate cost, high speed. Far. Light.
  4. Do-Wop Ditty. Team gains high crit (25+) for next few turns. High cost (50), moderate speed. Far. Light.

Initially, I struggled to fill out a bar for the Bop Rocker. As I mentioned above, I was planning to make him a tower of health with an ability to pump his health bar up to insane levels representing the padding of his incredible girth. But I had trouble figuring out how to fill those ideas out. And while I was working on it, I kept turning back to the Rocker #3's bar. And, especially, his innate. The idea of proccing a heal on a crit was intriguing but didn't seem like a good fit for a card that was going to be an out and out killer. But for a card that was going to be about padding and protection, it seemed like a good way to shift him from a “stand there and buff off” role to something more active. And that's when the Bopper fell into line for me. He couldn't be a passive, defensive character. He had to be an active, aggressive one, who's defenses came from going after his opponent.

At the same time, I realized that Rocker #3 had to be even more aggressive and his abilities had to reward him for being so aggressive – the whole healing thing just wasn't working for him at all (I was going for a blood-sucking theme, really, to play into his dark, gothic warrior of rock thing. Bad idea. But, hey, it happens.). That's about when I came up with the conditional +crit effect. With a new innate, he needed a new bar. One with a lot of ways to get that condition in play and take advantage of a naturally high crit rate and his easy ways to increase it. The result is a blood-thirsty, literally, character who'll be kicking out a lot of damage. Maybe a bit much at the moment, but we're not worry about that at the moment – just about making cool characters that might be fun to play. And, I don't know about you, but Rocker #3 is looking like a hell of a lot of fun at the moment.

Changing #3 around and jettisoning his bar was great because that meant I could re-purpose his bar for Rocker #1. Now that the Bopper was going to be proccing crits and getting happy because of it, he greatly benefits from having those increased crits. Rather than tweak his natural crit rate, as I have with Rocker #3 (Really, just an idea I wanted to try out.), I've given him a hefty crit boosting Ballad in #4 and a high crit skill in #1. Even #2 gives him a better chance to crit because it should calculate on each of its separate hits. The concern now is that the Bop Rocker might be healing too much. Healing is, as I'll say no doubt a dozen time over, a dangerous thing. Cards that can completely wipe out their opponent's efforts break the game and shouldn't be made. And, here, the Bopper isn't just healing, he's healing as he deals damage. His healing power is likely going to be slight since we want things to tilt towards the offensive, but it's going to be there and it's going to be a nice little bonus as he's playing whack-a-mole with his foes.

All in all, a good change and we press onwards.

Idea: Juke Box Hero – morale and fighting. An all around solid card.
Name: Tommy Gibbs, the Juke Box Hero / the Golden One / The Wah-Pedal Wizard
Innate: No clue. Gains resistance against opponents who are Burning? Something about how he's good with music. Maybe he increases effects of echos and ballads although that's very weak. Maybe buffs don't lose duration while he's in play.
Bar (v1):
  1. Strum. Moderate hit (L). Low to moderate cost, moderate speed. Close. Light.
  2. High Note. (P). High damage hit with a low priority. Close. Phys.
  3. Hot Lick. Target set on fire (light to moderate. 3~5). Target set on fire again each of next few turns (2~3). Low cost (@20), low speed (@3). Far. Light.
  4. Rock Anthem. What does this do again? We're looking for a moderate cost team buff. Maybe something to play with the Golden/On Fire bit. Idea: Team gains +15 bonus HP and +1 dmg for several (5~6) turns. Far. Phys.

I'm already thinking of ways to change Rocker #6 and that's not a good sign. Frankly, I'm not very happy with the results so far. There's some nice stuff at play here – I like #3 Hot Lick which has a Burning effect that ramps up over time. If it deals 3for3 Burns then it's a 27 DOT but one that goes from dealing 3 damage a turn, to 6, and then to 9 before it scales back down (It's also a skill I'd call “Rex would really like effects to tick off all at once rather than all at a time, so I'm going to make skills that proc a half dozen effects until enough people are complaining and they're sick enough of it to want a change.” Really, I don't know why they can't just total up all the Burns and Bleeds and the like and have them run all at once, instead of having an animation and a delay for each and every one.), but it's still got a nice parting kick even as the per turn damage wears down. And the nice part is that ramping up effect continues with multiple applications. You can make someone have an awful lot of Burns in a given turn and the damage adds up pretty quickly – it's sort of a nasty way of going about a Bleeding Ritual. But, otherwise, the bar is pretty vanilla. That was the plan, though, wasn't it? Rocker #6 is supposed to be our generic character, the innocent who fell into things. But, at the moment, he's too plain. There doesn't feel like much of a reason to use him. I'm thinking that maybe #1 Strum could heal a random teammate and #2 High Note could play into the resistance gaining thing. But we'll leave that for the next time we get back to these cards.

Idea: Debilitation and despair. Emo-tastic!
Name: Edward Curtis, the Artist / the Voice of His Generation
Innate: Something to do with debilitating, decreasing his enemy's ability to fight. Idea: Has chance to dodge equal to one half opponent's remaining energy (ie, they have 50 en left at start of turn, he has 25% chance to dodge.). Could be way too strong - maybe 1% dodge per 5% energy? (10% dodge at 50 energy).
Bar (v1):
  1. Angst Blast. Moderate to heavy damage (25~35). Target has resistance and speed lowered for next few turns. Moderate cost, moderate speed. Far. Dark.
  2. Power Chord. Heavy damage (40+). Target loses x energy. High cost (50+), high speed (6+). Far. Phys.
  3. Ennui Weave. Target has x% chance to miss for the next several turns (4+). Takes light to moderate damage (20~30) at end of next turn. Light to Moderate cost, high to moderate speed. Close. Phys.
  4. Soulful Ballad. Team gains +3 resist (+3/+3/+3) and 25Dodge (All) for next few turns. Moderate cost (30~40), moderate speed. Far. Dark.

The concept here is that Rocker #4 is a card that depresses his opponents. Weakens them, saps away their ability to fight. I've included a variety of different ways of doing so. He lowers speed with #1. He takes away the energy they need to attack with #2. He lowers damage by raising resistance. He avoids hits by adding Dodge and lower hit rates. It's a powerful combination of abilities that adds up to a character with a lot of shut down. So why do I think this card is a mess? I don't know. I think it has something to do with the piecemeal, patchwork nature of his bar. It feels like a bunch of unrelated abilities stapled together, poorly, at the moment. A collection of ideas for how to weaken an opponent, not something that would actually work together in practice. Comparing it to bars like Rocker #2 or Rocker #3 who have a lot of built-in synergy already starting to emerge, there's no plan here, just a bunch of things thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Which is, basically, what I did here. He might be a character that really needs a good innate, tying everything together. But I don't know what that is yet.

Anyhow, I think that's enough for now. Probably more than enough. Before I go, though, let's review and look ahead at what we'll be looking at the next time. I'm running short of time here, so let's do this in bullet point form.

  • I'm worried that Ballads are, in general, going to be overpriced. The average Ballad is looking to be an effect that lasts about 4~6 turns and costs around 40 energy at around 5 speed. An admittedly powerful effect that spreads to every character but, of course, only one character is active at a time. Comparing Ballads to the buffs laid down by Ubuntu, the prototypical team buffer, and Elia (Another card I've created in the past that also features a healthy team buffing element) that's pricey. They have longer lasting buffs tied to skills that do something else besides, like deal some damage, but cost only around 20~30 energy. We might want to tick down the energy costs on that class of skills.
  • It's time to start thinking about items. The imagery of Rocker items is easy enough. You have microphones and amplifiers and guitars to work with. I'm going to be sorely tempted to include a card called “Groupies” or “Rabid Fans” or some such, of course. But the functionalities are a little more difficult. I'm thinking we need to play into their ability to buff and, especially, their ability to buff their teammates. We want them to buff and switch to another card to enhance deck building. I'm not seeing any tricks, yet, that give them an easy route off the field and I'm thinking that I probably won't. But switching out is risky so we'll encourage it through items. Somehow. An item that reduces the risk of interception or that gives a bonus for successfully switching out (Or punishes intercepting). Also, I think an item that extends Ballads or improves somehow wouldn't be out of place. But, obviously, we're still in the brainstorming phase.
  • Finally, a review of the cards and their progress so far:
-Cards I'm happy with:
-#5. Grrl Rocker. Nothing too exciting here but shaping into a nice, uptempo card. Need to watch her damage levels because some of her combos are scary quick and deadly.
-#1. Big Bopper. Stealing the old Schlock bar seems to have done the trick. He feels a lot more solid now and not very far off, overall. Over-healing is a concern but the idea is there.
-#3. Schlock Rocker. Looking nice and vicious with some interesting elements. Needs a bit of tightening and some careful consideration of damage curves but the general sketch is good.
-Cards I'm not happy with:
-#2. Glam Rocker. First, we need better names for his skills. Second, we need to figure out what those skills are doing. Power Ballad is a nice skill but I don't think it's well supported enough yet. Also, needs innate.
-#4. Grunge Rocker. Not feeling this card yet. Feels like a bunch of junk strung together and not an actual character. Settling on an innate and going from there might help immensely.
-#5. Garage Rocker. Feels pretty bland to me. Not living up to the intended concept of a card that boosts the morale of other cards through the power of his rocking. Might have to go back to the drawing board.
Next time we'll try to tighten up these characters even further.

No comments: