Auro: Monsters & Their Abilities
With regards to monsters in Auro, the original plan was to have the first level be the only non-random level. The idea was that it would always be full of Rats, which would be the only “easy” monster in the game, having no abilities. Again, since Auro is a game where most monsters have 1 health and deal 1 point of damage, the difficulty of monsters comes only from what special abilities they have.
I realized that we cannot have even one monster that has no abilities, since we want all monsters to appear on many stages, that would just be a “freebie” for the player if he gets that one “no ability” monster showing up in a few levels. More importantly – if a monster has no abilities, it’s just boring to fight against in a game like this. That’s what’s great about this game – because of the limitations on health and stats, this game just simply won’t let me get away with any stupidity. If something’s stupid, it will stick out like a sore thumb in Auro, whereas in a normal modern game it would be obscured by layers and layers of stats and percentages.
Further, I remembered that Auro is supposed to be a game about positioning – tactical choices and visible on-screen relationships. Many of the monster abilities I’ve got so far were positional, but probably more than half had no positional element. So here’s a bit of news about what I’ve done to improve the situation.
- I’ve cut down the number of monsters from 33 to 27. Keeping in mind that about six of these are rare special monsters that will only be seen once in awhile, we’re really talking about a core kit of about 20 monsters. I have not cut down on abilities – in fact overall I think I added two or three abilities overall to the monster roster. I simply combined several monsters into one. This is much better for many reasons, but the biggest one is simply that it’ll be easier to teach players what monsters do if there are less of them that each do more.
- The focus with abilities now has been this: make each monster have at least one ability that’s “positional”. This means an ability that is affected by spacial positioning on the grid.
- Rats are now interesting, while still being probably the easiest monster to fight in the game. A level with rats now also spawns 2 to 4 “Rat’s Nests”. These are special tiles that besides spawning rats from time to time, also support any adjacent rats by giving them extra health. If you’re fighting a rat who’s standing next to a Rat’s Nest, he’s got twice the hit points (2 HP) that he would if he were away from it. This will force the player to have to back up – which creates an interesting decision! Of course I want to get in there and attack that spawn point (the nest), but at the same time it’s smart to back up away from the spawn point so that I don’t have to hit these rats twice to kill them.
I also stole one of the most interesting and creepy monsters from Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup – the mushroom. A monster who cannot move, except for when he’s out of your vision – that’s scary stuff, and also highly tactical and interesting when done correctly! Anyway, expect to hear more news about Auro soon!