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  • Reimagining Battle Network: A Classic Game Boy RPG

    [07.01.21]
    - Andreas Kuni

  • Reimagining The Battle System

    MMBN had a lot of cards with varying complexity. Some were really obscure and required Sherlock Holmes levels of IQ to understand. This is due to the extremely limited 4-6 word card descriptions and sometimes complicated combinations of triggers and effects that were never explained. A regular card in MMBN wouldn't just deal X damage to an enemy. It would summon a bullet, but without letting the player know how it moves, where it starts from and how it behaves when hitting the enemy.

    1. MMBN problem: Cards can be hard to understand and require a lot of memorization.
      GOPaws solution: Use on-screen icons to show which panels will be affected by the card being played and vaguely in what way to avoid spoiling the card ahead of time.

    2. MMBN problem: The player is sometimes in zero danger and just waiting to draw new cards  because the enemy is stuck or unable to cause harm.
      GOPaws solution: If the player stands still for more than 2 seconds then they will redraw a new hand much quicker.

    In MMBN; you could charge certain cards under certain conditions. In GOPaws you can charge any card at any time, but the player is unable to move while doing so, adding an element of risk versus reward that must be considered at all times. A great way to instantly make combat a lot more interesting!

    Reimagining Boss Battles

    Boss battles in MMBN were the best! They were so great that the challenge for GOPaws was to come up with new ones, without borrowing too many ideas.  Boss battles have to feel more grand, challenging and different from regular enemies. My method for designing new bosses was:

    • Come up with a gimmick for the boss.

    • Design all other attacks around that gimmick.

    • Give it twice as many attacks.

    Here is an example. For the Sand Master, the gimmick is to make clones. His gimmick consists of two attacks:

    1. Passively send out random Sand Children on a random row.

    2. Actively creates clones of himself that throws sand bombs at the player.

    Because all the Sand Children are independent of Sand Master's other attacks, he must be designed in a way so he won't unfairly lock the player on a single row.

    Reimagining The Final Boss Battle

    My opinion is that MMBN always had fairly good final bosses. They only had slightly more attacks as regular bosses. But they certainly looked and felt like real final bosses. Why? Because they were BIG! The final Boss always took up 9 times more space than any other boss. They also had cargo loads of more health that could actually survive the 1-turn-kill combos the player could consistently pull off.

    For GOPaws, the final boss is also very big, very healthy and has double the attack count of any other boss. There are no gimmicks and it is instead just a really straightforward hard battle. It allows the final boss to stand out from the other bosses.

    Closing thoughts

    I have worked on GOPaws for many years. Mostly because the project was rebooted and reworked several times due to my own vanity. But I learned a few tricks that I would keep reusing.

    • Constrain your game design and focus on one core idea, and then add extra mechanics and rules to fill out the holes that your core idea doesn't cover.

    • All action games need to have a button for charging attacks. It is simple and can add a lot of depth to combat.

    • Establish rules and patterns in your game and then intentionally break them once to surprise the player.

    • If you have no in-between sprites for character animations but only the extreme poses, then do a bounce tween animation after each pose transition to make it feel better.

    • Creating interesting enemy behaviour is easier if you design the enemy first and then use their appearance to decide on how they should act.

    • Have as few buttons as possible. Aim for supporting the NES controller, and then still feel accomplished if you had to settle for the SNES controller.

    • Giving constraints and  creative control to creative people (artists, musicians etc) can shape your project in new interesting ways than what you had planned.

    If you are curious about GOPaws, then give the official website a look.
    https://gopaws.arkuni.com/

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