Ananias Roguelike: Introspection; Content Creation and Balance
Slashing Dragon has published an article on his blog which takes an introspective look at Ananias, his roguelike for mobile devices (iOS and Android), PC (Windows, OS X, and Linux), and web browsers. This is evidently the first in a new series of post, based on the FAQ Fridays feature of a Reddit group for roguelike developers that Slash is part of.
The topic of this first introspection, then, is content creation and game balance:
Ananias has a fairly static collections of monster races. They were first added based on the original rogue monsters and with a single criteria on mind: each race should have an unique feature or ability.
Sometimes implementing an ability is costly and there’s the temptation of parameterizing it so it can be reused with slight variations, but I think it gives more character to the monsters having their distinctive skills. This means Ananias doesn’t have Ice, Fire, Water, Earth and Thunder dragons whose only distinction is the “type” of their attacks, I’d rather have a single Dragon monster distinguished by a strong ranged attack.
The uniqueness of an enemy race is not defined only by their active skills, their stats are also put in consideration. In this case they are assigned relative values first (i.e. orcs have high attack and medium hp, Lizardmen have extreme high attack and low hp). This is balanced so that races without cool active skills get some advantage stats-wise.
The dungeon is then split into 5 areas with increasing difficulty. Mob races are grouped thematically on these areas and then assigned final values for their stats by scaling their relative values to the difficulty level of the group they are in. In order to do this, I do a projection of the average stats for the player on each one of these areas and then I apply some simple general rules (for example, a strong monster may kill the player in 5 hits, a monster with low HP should be killed by the player in a single attack). These define ranges within which the stats of the final monster will be placed.
I don’t want to excerpt the whole thing, so click on through to read the rest. There’s a lot more to check out!
And while you’re at Slash’s blog, check out this explanation of how he went about creating the animated introduction for the Hearth of Britannia’s announcement page for HoBLotH IV.
And on an administrative note, I’ve finally gotten around to updating the project entry for Ananias here at the Codex, which was woefully behind in terms of the information it had to offer about the project.