WU MEANS WEEKLY UPDATE AND I SHORTENED IT TO THAT BECAUSE I AM SUPER-COOL AND NOT BECAUSE THE TITLE WAS TOO LONG. SUPER-COOL!!!1 CLEARLY!!!
It's remarkable how inspired I get from playing games! Since I've been playing old SNES games recently after a fairly long time not playing anything at all, I've been feeling the fires of game-making inspiration being rekindled in my mind. Or something.
I had an idea the other day about what to do with Miasmon... Oh, Miasmon! I started it forever ago, and I keep changing my mind about what to do with it. I have many monster designs that I want to keep, but I can never decide on the mechanics; I don't want to just make a Pokemon clone that rips off its battle system, and I also know that there are so many monsters that making it as a single stand-alone game wouldn't be feasible.
I've decided at least that it's set in the Alora Fane world, where monsters are born from emotions... That means that the six 'sentiments' (Courage, Fear, etc) need to be used somehow... but I also got carried away in the past assigning things like 'body types' (similar to Pokemon types) to each monster and it all got unnecessarily complicated. I also tried playing around with different stat and battle systems, but never really had anything that I was particularly fond of.
I don't know if my latest idea will work out in the long run, but I've stuck with it for long enough to at least make a working prototype over the course of a day, to test whether it's even fun
to play with. Here's a picture of that:
Basically, it involves you and the opponent each having something called a 'perianth', which is a pendant/necklace thing that up to six gems can be stuck into. Each of these gems is essentially a 'crystallised emotion', or something, and they resemble the petals of the 'Aster' symbol that represents Alora Fane (the thing in the upper left corner).
Each gem is usable as a skill in battle... but also, the combination of gems in the perianth determines what monster will form.
Each species has a 'recipe' for its creation, you see... For example, Modestoat might require the gem/skills "Hide" (a Fear skill that restores HP) and "Cuteness" (a Bliss skill), while Gruul might require "Scorn" (a basic Destruction skill) and "Anger" (a basic Courage skill).
You can freely alter the gems in the perianth at any time outside of battle, inserting any gems you'd collected as items during your travels, and often several different monsters would be able to form from the combination that you have (both Modestoat and Gruul could be formed from one that contained Hide, Cuteness, Scorn and Anger, for example). When this is the case, you're given the choice in battle to shift freely between these possible forms whenever it's your turn.
Each form has its own stats and sentiment, and can use all of the skills available in the perianth.
Rather than having an overall HP stat though, each gem instead has its own HP. All skills damage the whole perianth - that is, damage is applied separately to each of the up-to-six gems - but sentimental relationships come into play. Gems absorb their own sentiment as HP, take double damage from their weakness, half from the one they're strong against, and normal damage from the other three.
The power of a gem/skill is affected by its HP. HP can go up to 200% of the maximum! When HP is low, it shows on the perianth display by the gem being cracked and losing its shine. When HP is over 100%, it begins to glow, more intensely the higher the HP is. Essentially the HP adds a multiplier; the skill does 50% damage when HP is at 1, and 150% damage when it's at 200% HP.
Gems can also contribute stats to the total simply by being equipped; Anger, for example, might increase the attack stat by one or two points while active in the perianth, so equipping multiple Anger gems would continue boosting that stat even if you didn't gain any new skills to use as such. Some gems might increase stats a lot - and have a lot of HP - but their skills would be basically useless.
Oh, and there'd only be three stats for monsters: Intensity (which is attack), Stability (defence), and Alacrity (speed). There's no need to divide things up into physical/magical; it seem like it'd just overcomplicate things and require twice as many skills to be added, which wouldn't work so well with the whole 'recipe' system (there'd either be too many 'dud' combinations or there'd need to be way more monsters than I could feasibly add).
'Dud' combinations - where the gems in your perianth match no monster species' recipes - would result in some basic, weak monster (tentatively called Voidreg) which has poor stats and no sentiment (or rather, its sentiment is 'Apathy', which is basically non-elemental). This would be fairly undesirable, but it'd still be possible to win with that thing.
Since each gem has its own HP, they could be disabled individually. Once this occurred, that skill could no longer be used, AND the form of the manifested monster would change! So if your perianth has Hide and Cuteness, forming Modestoat, then having either of those reduced to 0 HP would leave you with just Voidreg.
This means that you could disable an opponent's powerful monster by carefully hitting one of their particular gems with a hard-hitting super-effective skill... even if it meant charging the HP beyond 100% of one of their other gems of the sentiment that your own skill is. Or you could take a more careful approach where you try and avoid charging any of their gems at all.
To illustrate through example, say your opponent has a perianth like this:
Skill 1: Hide (Fear)
Skill 2: Cuteness (Bliss)
And you have:
Skill 1: Creepy-Crawly (Fear)
Skill 2: Anger (Courage)
Cuteness is able to stun you for a moment (more on this in a moment), and Modestoat is faster than Carminymph, so even though it doesn't do much damage, if it keeps using it, you'll probably lose. Anger could shatter Fear in a couple of hits due to Courage beating Fear, but you might not have that long if the Modestoat keeps using Cuteness. So, you might use Creepy-Crawly - itself a stalling move - to do double damage to the Cuteness gem (Fear beats Bliss), EVEN THOUGH you're increasing the brightness/power of the opponent's Hide gem in the process. Hide is just a defensive/healing move though, so you have nothing to fear from it.
It's a more complicated decision than simply choosing which rock-paper-scissors thing beats another, and I think it could lead to fairly interesting things!
The centre of the perianth - the grey bit - would represent a skill itself, called Pulse, which is Apathy type and can be used at any time, though it's weak; much moreso than cleverly targetting sentimental weaknesses. It does mean at least that you'd never get into an unwinnable situation where your opponent absorbs all your attacks, though.
Each gem of a certain sentiment in your perianth boosts the power of that sentiment by 20%, meaning that a perianth with six Creation gems (for example) would make all those skills do 220% normal damage. This bonus would go down for every gem reduced to 0 HP, of course, and you'd lose any stat bonuses from destroyed gems too.
Rather than having one turn directly after the other like in my other games and Pokemon, each monster would have a charge bar like the ATB ones in Final Fantasy, sort of. This would fill at the start of battle based on the raw speed stat of each monster, then when it's full, you can choose a skill to execute. The skill then charges this bar based on the 'Speed' property of that skill ('A' in the case of the Cuteness skill in the screenshot, which is fast). When the bar is full, the skill executes, does damage, etc, and you're immediately able to choose your next skill (rather than having to wait for the bar to fill again before getting another chance). The 'Stun' property of skills is able to temporarily stop the opponent's speed bar from filling. Power determines damage. The letter ranks were used in earlier versions of Miasmon, and I like them so I'm keeping them!
Since you don't really 'own' individual instances of monsters, and instead they merely manifest from your combination of gems, there's no levelling up in the standard sense. However, each monster has a set of base stats, max stats, and a 'familiarity' stat, which applies to the species as a whole rather than an individual. Whenever you defeat an opponent with a certain monster active, that monster's species Familiarity goes up. When a monster manifests from your gem combination, its stats are determined by its base stats, max stats, and Familiarity.
For example, a monster might have a base Intensity (attack) of 10, a max Intensity of 20, and a Familiarity of 100 out of a total of 200 for that species (each species would have a different total, so some would reach their full potential much quicker than others). That means its effective Intensity would be 15 (since Familiarity is 50% 'full', giving you 50% of the difference between the base and max stats).
It's possible then to master every species by acquiring full familiarity for them all, though it'd probably take ages!
I think that's about it as far as technical explanations go!
I came up with all this in a day, and I like it because it seems relatively novel, though there are surely still a lot of kinks to work out. As I said, I've made a working prototype that mechanically works but lacks bells and whistles (so I can play through battles from beginning to end, but there are no sounds or special effects or anything), and it seems to work okay; it's not too easy or too difficult. It's interesting having to think about what to do next. And so on. I've only added a small number of monsters and skills so far though, so I don't know how well it'd work at higher levels of power and complexity.
There are several things that I like about this system:
* It's fairly novel; I haven't seen anything exactly like it before.
* It uses the Aster symbol and gems/skills in a way that's customisable and which fits well within the Alora Fane world.
* It's sort of like a crafting system, in a sense, and I imagine there'd be some degree of excitement from seeing what new monsters emerge from new combinations.
* It requires more interesting strategies than simply pressing Attack over and over to win.
* Skills really 'mean something', and take on an identity of their own.
* The whole system is based around one single collectible object (gems), which serve as skills, equipment, and monster species all at once.
* Lots of customisability!
* It's sort of like the limb-targetting systems I've experimented with in the past... I like the idea of those for whatever reason, but they ended up feeling unnervingly brutal in games that actually involved them (systematically severing an opponent's limbs until it bled to death isn't exactly a pleasant experience for a non-sociopath!). This is similar mechanically without the same mental imagery!
However, here are a few fairly damning issues at the moment:
* One is that it might be overly complicated for a lot of people? It really isn't once you get past the initial unfamiliarity, I bet (and it's likely much easier to understand from playing it rather than just reading about it!), but perhaps many people would give up before they got to that point? Hmm.
* Another fairly critical one is that you can't really grow connected
to the monsters if all they are is a manifestation of the combination of gems... While it might be possible to give nicknames to monsters, you'd only be able to give the nickname to the species as a whole, which isn't really the same. This might put off people who are affectionate and sentimental and who 'love animals' and the like while appealing only to people with objective, impersonal, technical manners of thinking. This worries me!
* Battles might not be very long if you only have your single perianth... There's no switching between a party of different monsters or anything.
* It might be too unlike
Pokemon to appeal to the many, many fans of that franchise. I have been hoping to target such people with Miasmon (and I am one myself, so maybe I just won't like it as much as Pokemon).
I really love Pokemon's system, and I really envy how they're able to just keep it intact through each generation with barely any changes, yet it never feels broken or overly simple or complicated. I wish I could make a system like that... but I don't want to just copy
Pokemon; I'd rather make something that was new and interesting in itself.
However, I'm the sort who doesn't really care about battle technicalities when I play games anyway
... I play for the story and the world exploration, so I just want the game mechanics to be simple enough and 'unintrusive'. Perhaps this is something that I need to keep in mind.
For now, it's been fairly fun playing around with a prototype like this, because it's allowed me to get a bit of the bitter taste concerning AFC out of my mouth (hopefully allowing me to get back to that soon with a nicer story to tell), and even if I don't do anything with it, it's nice getting my mind back into Miasmon mode again!
One change I could potentially make to the system while keeping most of it intact is instead of having the combination result in different monsters - which change as gems are destroyed - instead you could have a party of six individual monsters, each with its own perianth, meaning it could have up to six skills equipped. It might learn these itself, or perhaps you'd equip them to it or something. The gems would break down as in this plan, but the monster's form wouldn't change during the process. When one monster was defeated, you could simply send out another in your party. Each monster might get experience and evolve, as in Pokemon (I've already planned tons of evolution families anyway
which might work better with this than they would with the form-shifting version).
Still, I do like my initial idea! I suppose I'll just keep tweaking it until it feels right.
As for what I'd do
with this as a game, I don't know! I've yet to decide. Maybe I could release Miasmon as a freemium mobile game or something. I think it'd work best in that format.
Oh! But! Buying gems would be much less satisfying - I imagine - than buying monster species! So maybe it would work best in every way if you could have a party of individual monsters, each with its own perianth. HMM.
I'll think about it, anyway.