Game Development

Blog 681: The Design of the Warrior

I’ve made no secret that my own attempt at a real game is basically a Nox clone, albeit with a few twists and (hopefully) upgrades. The Warrior of Nox has five special abilities that make him a well-rounded individual, and I’m going to follow that formula with my own All-Purpose Assault Mech (and its inevitable variants)…

The Design of the Warrior

The Warrior’s five abilities are all acquired pretty early, and remain completely static for the rest of the campaign. Each has its own very specific uses, to counter the abilities of particular enemies and the environment.

Bull’s Charge
Probably my favourite ability, Bull’s Charge allows you to barrel into an enemy at great speed. Although the Warrior has access to shurikens and chakrums for ranged assault, he excels up close — which means he needs a way to quickly close the distance at the beginning of any fight. Bull’s Charge is that mechanism, giving you a burst of speed and a whopping 150 damage on successfully impacting an enemy. I say “successfully”, because there is a downside — aim poorly, and you’ll smack into a wall, damaging and stunning yourself. Ouch.


Specifically designed to counter annoying enemies, Warcry is a way to stun weak opponents and hold them in position (ripe for a Bull’s Charge). Although it doesn’t have any effect on larger, more powerful enemies, it does always stop spellcasters from casting — and even cancels any spells that are still in flight.

"Don't forget your warcry -- it really confounds those wizards!"
“Don’t forget your warcry — it really confounds those wizards!”

Eye of the Eagle
Things start to droop a bit by the third ability. Spellcasters can become invisible, this is a way to reveal them. That’s all.

Tread Lightly
Another very specific and circumstantial ability, treading lightly means you can walk over cracked ground without it disintegrating. The blurb also claims that treading lightly should, more usefully, avoid setting off the pressure plates that guard ancient tombs with nasty trapsĀ (Nox‘s ceiling fist that descends with a choral shout is one of the greatest things in any game ever), but it doesn’t seem to do that in practice.

Things get back on track with the harpoon, which is the opposite to Bull’s Charge: snap it out to pull an enemy towards you. It is somewhat dulled by enemies being able to run against its force sometimes, but there’s one particularly nice moment in Galava where a civilian is patrolling behind a locked door — harpooning him drags him into the door and, since he’s carrying the key, unlocks it.

Come to me!
Come to me!

The Design of the All-Purpose Assault Mech

My central conceit is a standard corporate-run future, where quiet skirmishes over territory and resources are rife. Corporations have security forces and everyone drives a large robot because large robots are cool.

Enter into this turmoil the super-versatile solo operative mechs, who go on the most dangerous, exciting and secret missions. Operating without serial numbers and registration plates, they go under the radar and plead ignorance if caught. Just like Nox, the lone hero versus the world needs abilities to help it deal with any situation.

The All-Purpose Assault Mech has appeared before, in my WC3 total conversion RDZ Industries: Project Y4. The WC3 interface allows comfortably for four abilities rather than five, but the same principles applied. Rather than doing a Bull’s Charge, I gave it the pulse guns — a way of stunning a single enemy, giving you the chance to run up to it safely. Then it had the artillery guns for dealing massive damage at range, Overdrive for a speed boost (both attacking and moving), and finally the undercarriage unit which was… well, anything at all — it could be swapped in and out at your leisure.

Of course, with the full power of Unity and C# at my fingertips, I can afford to be a little more extravagant this time around…

Screaming into enemies at high speed will always be tremendous fun. Interestingly, because the AP-AM has a blade in each hand, the possibility of an upgrade is revealed — if it stretched its arms out, it could rake through nearby enemies as well as smacking into the primary target…

I was going to claim there was a redundant set of actuators in the legs as the justification for limited bursts of speed, but then I added butt-rockets instead.
I was going to claim there was a redundant set of actuators in the legs as the justification for limited bursts of speed, but then I added butt-rockets instead.

Spin Attack
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, eat yer heart out. Since my control scheme doesn’t really suit charging up special attacks, I’m going to have to make them as individual abilities in their own right. Spin attack is born of the need to be able to escape being surrounded — although it uses the primary swords, some of their damage is converted to knockback here.

Shoulder Guns
These guns may or may not be controlled by ammunition, depending on your choice of equipment. Initially, I am expecting to reinstall the infinitely auto-charging pulse cannons here, so that old single-enemy stun is always an option, but it uses the same socket as every other mech so theoretically any generic gun will fit here.

The medium/long-range backpack cannon will be your primary method of destroying heavy fortifications and clustered enemies, but the tight ammunition constraints will remain to keep this power under control (as AP-AMs operate “behind enemy lines”, ammunition will be scarce). The alternative would be to install an EMP burst ability, similar to the Warcry, that would stun all nearby vehicles — however, that could fit better into the…

Undercarriage Unit
There’s no way I’m letting this go. Big guns, mine layers, companion spawners, invulnerability shields, auto-turrets — if’s cool but it doesn’t fit anywhere else, it dangles from the undercarriage. This will give the player a modicum of variance with which to shake up the fixed abilities and tailor their AP-AM to suit their style, taking us neatly to five abilities.

I do think five is a magic number in this case. If you have too many options (like playing Nox as a Conjuror or Wizard) then it’s easy to get confused in the heat of battle. With a small, tight set of abilities, you can get to grips with them very quickly and concentrate on the fun stuff — actually using them.

The undercarriage unit, and the potentially variable shoulder guns, won’t necessarily be swappable in the middle of a fight, so you’ll be considering your options in downtime and then sticking to them. This will keep the cerebral stuff under control.

Of course, I still have to implement the mortar and some undercarriage units…

And you tell me...

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