Design Devlog - Dark Valiance on RPG Maker Jam#3
I didn't have time to write a Devlog while finishing the game, there were just too much work to do. So in this last Devlog I'll talk about the designs I created for this game, what were my ideas, how I put them and why I did that. There are of course spoilers, so you should play the game before reading further.
In short, Dark Valiance is an RPG with turn based battles. There is no Farming, no Dungeons to explore, no surprise battles and it's totally linear. The particularity resides in its specials Dark Powers, its story and the way battles are managed. The game works with a day/night cycle. During day the player can rest, buy items/equipment etc... During night he goes into the keep to fight a boss monster. The main reason is because I want to focus the game on battles and the influence of dark power. For the latter, maybe more NPC with more dialogues would have been good.
Why no farming/random encounters ?
I hate farming, I hate repeating the same pattern of attacks over and over to beat the same monsters. You can fight multiple times the same group of monsters, because it's fun to learn their pattern and find the best way to deal with them. But going to a place to win battles after battles against the same monsters in order to gain enough XP/Money to beat the next level... no. The same with surprise battles or "random encounters", when you're exploring a dungeon, trying to resolve a puzzle, and that every 20 steps a battle pop out of nowhere and breaks your immersion into the exploration. It's very personal, I don't blame the ones who love that. So I choose to exclude Farming/Random encounters in this game even if it's a key element of battle RPGs.
Moreover, it allows me to have full control over the player's level. The player will never be too strong or too weak during battles. It can just be a little stronger or weaker, depending of the choices he made (Didn't use Dark Powers, items bought etc...). It's easier to balance battles that way, and since I want to focus on battle, that's a good point. Plus, the player won't be frustrated like "Arf I need to px..." but if he does not achieve to win, well... he'll be.
The Dark Powers
As you know, I want the game to focus on the management of Liara Dark Powers. Liara the Dark Knight has a special DP gauge that represents the level of her Dark Powers. I want the player to be able to choose whether or not he will increase his Dark Power. Ultimately I want the player to use Dark Power when necessary to win battles, but also to try to keep it under 100 to not loose the game.
How to manage the Dark Powers (DP) ?
- Each time she casts a darkness spell, her DP will increase. The amount depends of the spell power.
- Eir, another character can cast Dark Repulsion on Liara to reduce the rising of her DP for some turns during battle.
- Succubus is an enemy that can use Darkness Call, a spell that increases Liara DP.
Out of battle
- The guard captain can give Liara "special missions". Once accepted, it gives the player money put also increases DP by 30 (The player can get stronger, but It will be harder to not overthrow 100DP)
- The nun can reduce Liara's DP by 40% in exchange for money (The player gets weaker, but it can be useful in order to not reach 100 DP. As it's a percentage, you can't totally eliminate DP, and it's more effective when you have high DP, so there's a pattern the player can use here).
Consequences of Dark Powers ?
- The more DP Liara has, the higher Liara's spells damage are (Push the player to user Dark Spells to win battles).
- The more DP she has, the more her Dark Aura's damage are high. Dark Aura is a constant passive aura that deals damages to allies each turn depending of the DP amount (Force the player to get constant healing if he uses too much Dark Powers).
- If Liara has more than 0 DP, she can't be healed or revived by Eir light magic (Push the player to use Dark Powers to regenerate, and then increase DP... Or he can use items).
- Enemy monsters darkness spells are stronger against Liara allies (Mainly used to balance the battles if the player does not use DP).
Out of battle
- The more DP she has, the more the Dark Corruption will evolve into the keep and the castle.
- When Liara has 50 DP, Siegfried leave the group. When at 80 Olaf will leave the group (used for story, but also to balance battles as Liara is way stronger with Dark Powers).
- When Liara has 100DP, she becomes a Demon and the player has to fight her (but the fight is impossible to win).
- The appearance of Liara changes, she becomes more and more lifeless.
I created the party with characters that will synergies with Liara' s abilities.
- Olaf the War Alchemist, in short, he's a tank that can DPS and Support other heroes, but only if you have money... He does not use weapons, have a light armor but a great shield to protect him. He has lot of HP, but very little attack. Olaf doubles the effects of the potions he uses in battle. He can also use Chemistry to throw explosive potions to enemies ! To make these, he does not consume MP but items. So the player has to buy explosive powder and other portions in order to use Olaf at his full potential. He'll be very useful to heal Liara as she can't be healed by Eir light magic.
- Siegfried the Knight, in short he's an offtank. He can DPS, but not so much, and tank, but not so much either. He can use Martial Arts to deal damages, but he does not have a lot of different capacities. He really has nothing special, actually I want the player to dislike him since he does not like Liara and he'll be the first to leave if Liara becomes too dark. If the player make a paladin run (without DP) he can be very strong with the equipment upgrades.
- Eir the Fairy Mage, in short a Support Mage that can do some damages. She's very fragile. Eir is the hero tasked with supporting Liara since she became a Dark Knight. She got healing spell, and can cure ailments. She has Light Cocoon, a spell that will protect the party from darkness spells for some turns. She can cast Dark Repulsion on Liara to reduce the rising of her Dark Powers for some turns during battle.
As said, I control the level of the player. It allows me to set pretty accurately what the player can do (like giving him an anti-ailment spell just before a fight against a boss using ailments).
- The Minotaur : The party is composed only of Liara. The goal is let the player experiment with the battle interface and mechanics, and with Liara spells. Some players will directly understand how Dark Powers work, some might need to explore the castle and wait for the next battle to clearly understand. The player can't loose unless he don't attack. The boss only attack at each turn.
- The Imps : The party is complete. The enemies are composed of 5 Imps and 1 Big Imp. The goal is to let the player experiment more with Dark Powers (unlock a new attack) and with his new characters, but also to use zone spells (spell that targets every enemies but deal less damage that one-target spells). The imps only attack, the big imp uses Fira (fire zone spell).
- The Chimera : The chimera is the first real challenge. It will use attack 2 times per turn and will use ailment spells (paralyzed, fear, poison). When below 50% health, it will use Fire Breath, a strong fire zone spell.
- The ogre and the ghost : Here we can expect that Siegfried left the group if the player used DP and used the captain. The ogre is insensible to magical attacks, and resistant to physical attacks. The ghost is insensible to physical attacks, and resistant to magical attacks. When at low HP, the ghost heal the ogre. In this battle, I try to force the player to use darkness to kill the ghost, but he can also use Eir light spell to kill it.
- The succubi and the Demon : This battle is interesting because its goal is not to kill the player, not during the fight I mean... The demon uses darkness spells to make damages. But, the succubi uses Darkness Call on Liara in order to increase her DP. If the player does not use Dark Repulsion and kill the succubi fast enough, Liara can quickly get to the 100 DP, and the player loose. Moreover, if you don't kill the succubi at the same time, the survivor revives the other one.
- The Dark lord : The Dark lord is a hard fight only if you lost Siegfried but didn't use more DP. Because the Dark lord is strong if you have used DP. But if you have a lot of DP, you have ultimate darkness spells, so you're very strong and you can kill it with ease. If you didn't use any DP, then the Dark lord is very weak. But if you got 100 DP during this fight, you got the ending where Liara dies. I didn't have time to balance this boss, it's too easy.
There are five possible endings :
- Game Over : Whenever you loose a battle, you get the Game Over ending.
- Demonic Liara : If you get 100 DP before the last boss, Liara becomes a demon. You have to fight her, but the battle is almost impossible so you die and get the Game Over screen (but if you beat her there is a hidden ending).
- Bad Ending : If you get 100 DP during the last boss, Liara die from using too much Dark Powers after the fight.
- True Ending : If you don't get 100 DP during the last boss, Liara survives the fight.
- Paladin Ending : If you beat the game without using any Darkness (O DP), Liara becomes a Paladin.
What to do better ?
With the time limit, a lot of things have been rushed. One thing I wanted to make better are the dialogues. I wanted to have different dialogues each day for each characters and depending of Liara's DP amount. I wanted more NPCs, and the possibility to observe objects on the map. That way, I should have been able to let the player know more about the world and about the characters themselves, but also to experience the judgment of the other characters regarding her Dark Powers.
The customization, it's something most RPG players like. I didn't have much time to balance bosses, so I just put some equipments here and there. The player does not really have a choice, and can't really customize the characters.
I can't talk much more about the game, because the post would be too long for someone to read it (is it already ?) It was great creating Dark Valiance. I had a lot of fun using RPG Maker MV and creating plugins for it. It's been a long time since I wanted to create an RPG about this theme, so I'm glad I finally did it. I wanted to make a better version of this game quickly after the jam, but you know, other things came up ahah. I'll be glad to discuss with you the design choices I made, don't hesitate to comment or contact me !
Get Dark Valiance
Leave a comment
Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.