Real time combat RPG: Biting off more than I can chew

Back in March, I decided to learn some Unity programming to work on creating a simple game emulating the action combat from an MMO I used to play. After a few weeks, I was able to get the player-side skills to behave as they should, but was pretty defeated by some systems like better enemy AI, inventory, and an NPC ally I wanted to include. I created the elements with the default UI elements as a placeholder in order to focus on the internal logic, but it looked so terrible that it made me stop working on the project.

I’ve gotten back into it this week with some more motivation and figured this would be an ok place to jot down the ideas for the game since combat should be functional for now. I’m working on adding some better player feedback so that it doesn’t feel like as much of a mess, hopefully it’s something I learn how to improve later. The focus currently is to go through an inventory tutorial and then code in a proper ending to the battles.

Here’s a video showing the WIP of combat (you can see why I abandoned it lol): https://streamable.com/ojbsol
6/18/20 edit: Still a lot of placeholder UI to replace, but the main HUD area is looking better:
https://streamable.com/vz5j2z

The static “New Text” stuff on the left will be for the NPC companion described below.

You can see my game plan notes here:

The gist of the gameplay loop is taking an NPC companion into dungeons to earn gold/items, then getting upgrades for your character or ranking up in town. You’d be able to contract additional members, who can either join you or do specific stuff in your home in order to grant various bonuses. The WG aspect is similar to Fetish Master’s with its task-oriented management, but the companion joining you in battle will operate a bit differently, similar to how Emmie works in Some Bullshit Stuffing RPG. A design objective is to not need to focus on the dungeon aspect too much, since grinding isn’t too fun.

The positive side to not having real graphics or animations is that I’ve got a quick way to set up for adding new enemy types and bosses. However, I think I’ll struggle mightily with written descriptions for appearance and WG. Luckily there’s plenty of inspiration out there, so we’ll see how it goes once the framework is actually in place.

Feel free to leave feedback on anything. Obviously, this isn’t even off the ground yet, so anything can change.

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You have an idea, and a plan, looks good! Kudos to you for preparation.

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Back again with some more text, I find writing down notes helps solidify the ideas I’m working through. The inventory tutorial I’m going through had a short lecture on how to build out GUIs that can resize to different resolutions, so I was able to put together a mockup of the non-combat UI using that lesson.

Summary

https://i.imgur.com/e6mePlL.png

I had sketched out the inventory being on the left, but it turned out a little small. Taking up the entire right side is way too large, so I think I’ll shrink it to 2/3 height and add a panel above for showing character status, similar to this concept sketch:

Summary

I ended up getting like 7000 icons in a humblebundle sale a while ago, so at least the equipment, skill, and item icons are all going to be high quality and varied. It didn’t come with any GUI art and I haven’t found something specific I want to get yet, so those windows will probably be placeholder for a while.

Not sure where the skill page will go. I’m planning on the companion/home system to have a glyph point system to augment your skills like in TERA. Since there’s one universal glyph set each class would use, it’ll be less about selection and more about having your companions big enough to grant the required points.

For weight effects, the main interplay is going to be between fullness, metabolism, and fat/weight. Food will have different calorie amounts that convert into mana, but too many calories in a day will lead to weight gain (the horror). Higher metabolism is rewarded with a faster GCD/ATB meter, which will count as a tick of digestion to convert food into mana. I had the idea of it also granting higher mana, but then there wasn’t a benefit to weight, so I think higher weight = higher mana. One of the setting ideas I had was like, this female support role is common with the upper rank/noble hunters and are basically seen as an indicator of status. The women are often plied with lots of food in order to support the adventurer, but if they start to gain weight, they’re “retired” into a position at home where high magic power is all that matters.

Ideally, there’d be reaction dialogue and whatnot as you climb up the ranks and bring along your overfed companions, eventually leading to a change in social trends, but we’ll see what I’m able to get in place.

Making some more progress, the skeleton of the inventory system is coming along nicely. I’ll have to figure out how I want enemy drops to work. I had initially planned on having only “Drop Tiers”, but I think I’ll separate that out into broad enemy types and tiers, with bosses inheriting a type and having unique stuff on top.

The saving system is in place now, so swapping between scenes works and carries over health/buffs. Next step for that is to add a designation to effects to determine whether they are carried between battles or not. Skill and most companion-given buffs would clear out, but item buffs will last longer, probably determined by the time system once I add that.

I was able to add skill icons to players and enemies to see how they’d fit, and it almost makes it look like a legitimate game attempt! I’ll have to figure out some better readability on the enemy attack indicators, the plan is to put yellow/red borders around the attacks and perhaps those would also fill along with the status bar to show when the attack will begin. Here’s a short video showing the save/scene transition with some placeholder buttons:

I finally found a GUI that I like, but it’s all on one giant .PSD file, so those free assets might be there for a while, it’s quite a lot of work to get each piece from the .psd, slice it, and use the pixel scaling to get it to look how it should. On the plus side, the source file is laid out really nicely, so it’s been easy to make some edits of the pieces I’ve pulled to do things like the white flash when a skill is off cooldown. The main issue is the giant, ugly status bar for the player and enemy to show what state they’re in. It’s important info since there are no animations, but I can’t for the life of me think of how to make it look acceptable.

Anyway, things are going smoothly, especially since there’s really good documentation for Unity. Once the inventory is done, the next goal is getting the follower stuff up and running, since that’s what the game is all about. I think the early iterations will lean pretty heavily on the systems Fetish Master used, since I have some experience delving in and modding those.

Progress update since I don’t want to code anymore today: I’ve mostly completed the inventory tutorial and have the system working for equipment. Next step is to integrate it into an excel workbook I have so that I can generate the items and related stats easily. I’ll have to refactor a bunch of stuff to work with adding in the Follower, but I think that’s the next big addition to work out. I’m not sure how I want to handle the equipment and their stats, since it’s largely a support role.

Here’s a video with the general layout/equip system. The big tooltip window in the center seemed like a good idea at first, but I think having hovering tooltips in order to compare equipment might be the better way to go.

Video of town/combat views

But yeah, the foundations are starting to come together how I wanted, so soon it’ll be time to add content. I definitely made this thread prematurely, it’s a much longer road ahead than I thought.