Adventure Party is a third-person character action game. The player controls a party of three adventurers. Gameplay centers on missions where the player goes out to exterminate monsters.
Prototyped and Iterated on core party-based combat system
Developed multiple gameplay loops and interactions outside of combat
Conceptualized three different unique characters focused on creating different playstyles and emotional experiences
Designed core weaknesses and strengths for each character that factor into mission success
My games design macro details all of the assets, mechanics, and levels.
This Miro Board is where the large majority of my design work was done.
Designing a Character
The core focus for me during this project was designing characters. The characters were a core part of the experience. The biggest and most important things are their interaction with each other and with the world. I didn't want players to just use one character to steamroll the game. Team play and coordination were core parts of the experience.
Finding the Core
Each character, for me starts with core emotions. What feelings do I want this character to evoke in the player? Both in terms of how the character makes them feel strong and how it makes them feel weak. I wanted the feelings of weakness created by the character to guide the player. If a character created a feeling of vulnerability, players would gravitate towards characters that could protect them.
Establishing their Traits
To design any character, I need my guideposts. The things that make sure the identity stays true to what I want. And this comes in the form of "systemic traits." Strengths and weaknesses that guide the rest of the character's attacks and abilities.
When designing the systemic traits. I focus on the emotions. Positive traits should in some way feed into the positive emotions I want to create. While negative traits should promote negative emotions. And then the combinations of emotions and systemic traits are the foundation for the character to build off.
Often times for a character, I have a different starting point. If I have a class that I want to emulate. Or a narrative character to represent. I will start from that base. Figuring out what is core to players love of that class or character. And using that core to establish the emotions or traits
I knew from the outset I wanted to test a mage in the game. As it's a staple of fantasy worlds. And supports players who prefer a ranged playstyle. Mages are extremely common in team-based combat games. So I took the core elements of a mage in those games, high damage, and low defense. And amped them up in this game, making them work with the systems that are in the game.
Once my guidelines have been set. I move onto stats. And this is one of the most important parts of the character. As the stats allow me to do one very important thing. Compare characters.
When I outline the stats for each character, I can easily compare how the two characters' stats break down. This forces me to ask questions about the characters. If two characters have damage, why does one have lower damage? If two characters have similar stats, what makes them unique? These questions allow me to identify problems before I even prototype.
A core part of this game is the party. Players should be thinking about how their party works together. And if I want them to think deeply about their party, I need to think about it even deeper.
With these three sections, I outline what each character brings to the party, and what they want from the party. This allows me to create a web of who likes who and why. This way, later on, I can plan for how characters can evolve these combinations. Creating the groundwork for a deep party system.
Once I have established all of the important traits of the character. I begin working on their attacks. The attacks are often the core of what makes a character. Attacks are the action that makes the character unique. The thing that connects the player with their character fantasy
Every attack starts from the core question. "What is the purpose of this attack?" Why does the attack need to exist in the character's kit.
Taking the mage's "Back Blast" as an example. I knew the mage needed a get-out-of-jail tool. The mage is a ranged character with very little effectiveness up close. So, I needed to give them a way to get enemies off them. This is the back blast's purpose, its a low-damage, slow attack that pushes enemies away. Using this attack is not a good thing, Its inefficient in terms of damage. But players must use it to save themselves.
Another important thing in attacks is combo rhythm. Adventure Party is a string based game. As such, the tempo and rhythm of how attacks connect together is very important.
A common guideline for me when building a rhythm is that it builds. I want the rhythm to build with each attack. I do this by having the time between attacks get longer with each hit. The game is PvE so hitstun can be very long to support this. This allows each string to have a nice build to it. Until the final attack, which has the biggest wait and the largest payoff.
Once a character has gone through all of the planning steps. I prototype them, generally, I focus on prototyping just enough to test their core theme. If the character is combo-focused. I prototype all of their important combo attacks and let players loose to try out combos. Whatever I need to test the core of the character.