Now that you know what The 4400 is, we can get on with the actual game design ideas. For the first one I want to present you the incremental clicker idea, something like a Tap Titans. Not that I’m particularly proud of this one – actually, I’ve been developing this design for a team of other guys a couple years ago, but things didn’t pan out. So I’m releasing this one here for free. It’s more or less a complete (other than it’s incomplete, actually) concept. The codename was “Proejct R”.
As I’ve said, this is mainly an idle “battler”/clicker, but I wanted to deviate from “Tap Titans” and similar games’ formula, and bring something interesting into the gameplay. So I kind of mixed Tap Titans with Juggernaut Wars/Summoners War and added a bit of gameplay on top ;D
One day, right after the Fall of Magic, the Tower just was there. One day it wasn’t, and the other day it was. Clouding the skies, casting shadow over the lands, it seemed infinite, piercing clouds and the skies. You could look up, trying to find the steeple or at least some sign of the Tower ending, but it just wasn’t there. As far as you could see there were walls – solid, moss-covered rocks and boulders with little windows here and there. It was huge, almost grotesque.
The settlers of Glenmore kept away from this strange building, which seemed out of place. The rumor was, some adventure seekers tried sneaking their way into the tower – well, there was something resembling a large, sturdy door – but none of them returned. The rightful ruler of Glenmore summoned you, as a known Seer and his friend, to find out what this tower is, what it’s purpose and meaning are, and what hides behind those walls.
In the Project R, the player is a Seer, and must help his friend – the ruler of settlement called Glenmore, in assembling a party of adventurers and leading them through the Tower, to the very top of it.
In the very beginning of the game there are no adventurers at your command, but you can explore the Tower with your magical powers – slaying all monsters that lurk inside it.
The game is divided into levels, called “floors”. On each floor there are 10 waves of enemies, 9 of them being regular enemies and the last one – boss. Enemies come in differently sized packs, up to 5 in a single wave. Player must defeat them in order to move to a next floor. Each enemy defeated rewards player with money.
At the start of the game player can only tap on screen to deal damage to enemies, but soon after they gain the ability to hire adventurers. The ‘tapping’ power can be upgraded, enhanced and altered in different ways, allowing for different strategies.
There will be many adventurers available for hire, though in the party a player can have only maximum 5 of them. Not all of the adventurers will be immediately available for hire, some of them are unlocked after reaching a certain tower floor, some of them only through achievements and different tasks.
Each adventurer has a number of stats, like Health Points, Armor, Damage and others. Also, each adventurer has their own equipment, which can be upgraded, enchanted and replaced with a more powerful one. Adventurers have active and passive skills and one ultimate skill, which can be activated by player. Skills can be upgraded directly by increasing their level with money or altered by talents. Talents are a representation of adventurers’ unique development way. Instead of having a predefined set of skills and their behavior, player can unlock talents and alter how skills work and behave. Adventurers’ progression is represented by them having levels, which are increased by slaying enemies and earning experience points. Some stats are increased with level growth, which also yields skill points and talent unlocks.
Adventurers are faced with different enemies. There are different types of enemies: melee with fast attack speed and low defense, ranged with almost no defense and high critical chance, and so on. Some enemies have only basic attacks, some of them possess different spells and abilities. Boss enemies are generally have a lot more health than common enemies (sometimes even more than all of the enemies on the floor combined) and stronger attacks. They also possess abilities and spells, but not always. Like adventurers do, enemies have active and/or passive skills and the same number of stats.
Instead of some enemy waves adventurers may find different kinds of encounters, like treasure chests, healing pools and so on. Such encounters count towards the wave progress of the floor.
There is a formation at which adventurers and enemies stand. There are front-row and back-row enemies and adventurers. Generally, for either side to attack back row, they have to deal with front row first, but there are exceptions. The fight between enemies and adventurers is happening automatically, with player helping party by damaging enemies with taps and activating their ultimate skills.
Another crucial part of gameplay is the ‘Descend’ mechanic. After reaching certain floor, player can choose to ‘descend’, losing all progress in floors, adventurer levels and pretty much everything else, and starts from floor 1 again. But instead player earns some currency, which allows them to get upgrades which are not lost between descensions. Thus, when the game becomes too hard, player can descend and gain more power for his next play-through.
There is also a ‘Homestead’ – basically representing Glenmore settlement. It is a special screen, where player will be managing different aspects of the game. For example, building in which player hires adventurers, can be upgraded for an increased chance to gain more powerful adventurer upon hiring. There are several buildings with their own purpose, and each can be upgraded for some kind of profit.
Game Systems and Mechanics
Seer’s touch (referred to as ST for short) is a tapping/clicking mechanic, one of the most fundamental mechanics in the game. A single touch of the screen (tap) during a level progression activates a single use of ST.
Usage and Combo Mechanic
The primary role of ST is dealing damage to enemies. Per one tap player deals a certain amount of damage.
Combo Meter and Combo Multiplier
Combo is an additional mechanic for Seer’s Touch. Each time player taps, the Combo Meter (CMe) is being filled a little. If a player taps multiple times without stopping, the combo meter is being filled even more. When it reaches a 100%, the meter itself goes back to 0%, but the Combo Multiplier (CMu) is added, increasing damage of ST.
Each consequent CMu level increases damage output by 20% off Potency.
ST’s damage is 10, meaning player deals 10 damage to enemies per tap. If a player taps constantly, without stopping, CMe is being filled. When it reaches 100%, it goes back to 0% visually, but next to it a title appears (“2x combo!”), and the damage of ST is being increased by some amount (let’s say 10% for example), dealing 11 damage per tap now. Player continues tapping, and the next time CMe is 100%, it goes back again to 0%, but CMu is increased, showing “3x Combo” now and ST deals 12 damage (increased by another 10% off base value).Example
If a player stops clicking for a few seconds, the CMe will start slowly going back to 0%. If it reaches 0%, CMu is lost and player will have to tap again.
Stats and Components
ST is not just plain damaging tool, and consists of Stats and Components.
Stats are a piece of data that represent different aspects of ST and show how its predicted behavior.
Potency is, essentially, a damage power of Seer’s Touch and is a main stat. Increasing Potency leads to increase in damage per tap. Think of this as “Strength” in most games, where it only influenced damage, but is not damage.
Player have 230 Potency, which means with each tap he will deal 230 Health Points damage to enemies, if nothing else influences the Damage Output.Example
Damage output (DO) is an actual number of damage we deal to enemies’ Hit Points. Several things influence DO.
Combo Intensity (CI) influences how much of a Combo Meter is being filled by one tap. Each next Combo Multiplier level is less influenced by this stat (making it harder to reach higher CM).
|Combo Multiplier||Taps needed for CMu (player has 10 CI)||Taps needed for CMu (player has 1420 CI)||Damage Output|
(Player has 240 Potency, nothing else influences DO)
|Total Clicks for max CMu||2442||205||–|
Components are a special mechanic for changing how ST behaves. This is, essentially, an upgrade system.
There are numerous game levels, called floors (because, obviously, the action takes place in a tower). Visually and stylistically these floors can be vary varying. From a straight-forward actual tower floors to some grotesque open-air mountain ranges.
To progress from floor to floor, player must defeat several waves of enemies, ending with a level boss. With progression, number of waves increases.
At the start of every level, there is a first wave of enemies visible on screen. When we defeat them, the camera moves to the next portion of the floor, where there is another wave of enemies waiting for us. The process repeats until we reach the boss – behind him we can see a door/stair/portal leading to the next floor.
Boss differs from other waves, because this fight is limited in time. We have to defeat boss in under 30 seconds, otherwise he will just disappear (run away), and we’ll continue fighting regular enemies infinitely, wave after wave, but in this case (if we failed boss fight), such enemy waves don’t count towards a waves counter, and exist only for us to farm some money and gain a bit more power, so at any time we can press button “fight boss” and try again. When we defeat boss, the screen fades, and our party (if there’s any) appears on the next floor, starting the process from the beginning.
Sometimes, instead of any enemy wave there can be something else. For example, a treasure chest, which does not deal any damage to our party (obviously), and when we destroy it, we gain substantial amount of ingame currency. Another example can be something like Treasure Goblin in Diablo – there’s some creature/structure/whatever else, that exists for a limited amount of time (say, 15 seconds), and instead of virtually infinite amount of time, that we usually get for dealing with enemy wave, we only have limited time (like in Boss fight) to defeat it, gaining some rewards. If we fail, we just skip the wave without the ability to fight it again.
More detailed info about all this can be seen in Encounters section.
So, basically, what the structure of every floor will look like:
- Adventurers are tied to the left side of the screen and don’t move anywhere. When player defeats enemy wave, adventurers transit into running animation for a short period (simultaneously there’s a background scroll so we create a sense of adventurers actually moving through the level), until they meet another wave of enemies.
- We have an abstract ‘wave’, which can be a wave of enemies, a treasure chest or something entirely different. Also there can be different number of waves. The thing is adventurers move from wave to wave. When they move enough (or rather we scroll background enough along with the next wave), they stop and start fighting. The process repeats until the next floor. Also we will want to make it so each wave can be randomized. Aside from spawning a treasure chest instead of enemies on the next wave, we have to have possibility to spawn different enemies and different amount of them into a single wave.
- When going to the next floor, instead of running anywhere else, screen fades to black, then fades in, and we see adventurers at the start of the next floor.
- Each several floors (20, for example), make a ‘zone’.
Zones are a concept for connecting levels together in theme and setting. Each zone presents a different setting, a different piece of story, features unique enemies and so on.
Usually enemies are limited to several zones they can appear in.
Zones last for several floors. After a certain amount of floors we successfully finish, the zone changes to a next one.
Forest bandits can’t spawn in “Space” zone.Example
First playthrough will be different from consequent ones, because of different factors.
When we first launch game, there will be an intro sequence, where players don’t actually get to play, but are introduced with the story of the game. After that the actual game scene loads, with floors and stuff, and for the first playthrough a tutorial sequence is initiated. This means:
- First of all, players won’t have access to all of the features. Features will be introduced one at a time. In the very beginning we will only have our Seer’s Touch. More detailed info is in the Tutorial section.
- Second, when each new feature gets introduced, players see a pop-up message/messages, describing what this feature is (in a lore-friendly manner), and how do they control it and what do they do with it.
It is a generalized concept for what player (along with his adventurers) will face in the span of the game. Encounters are essentially ‘waves’ of enemies/other stuff, that player have to overcome in order to progress through floors. At the start of the game, each floor contains 10 encounters, 10th being a boss fight. Number of encounters increase as player progresses through the game. This number can be reduced as well with the help of skills, talents, etc. Encounters are randomized in their type and their content.
On first playthrough, on floor 150 in the encounter #5 player will face a group of 4 enemies (2 archers and 2 warriors). On 10th playthrough, on the same floor in the same encounter player can face a group of 1 warrior and 2 mages or a treasure chest.Example
The main trait of an encounter is a collective number of Health Points (Health Pool), which is HP of every entity player faces in a given encounter. HP of each encounter increases the further through levels the player gets.
1st encounter Health Pool is 100. So we spawn 3 enemies for example. 1 warrior and 2 archers. Warrior have more health ‘weight’ (explained below) than archers, so he will have 50hp, and both archers will have 25hp each.Example
Or the same encounter can consist of 2 warriors with 50 hp each.
Encounters can be of several types:
Enemy wave is the most basic encounter and presents the basic gameplay – killing enemies in order to go further. Each enemy wave can contain up to 5 enemies. Enemy waves are randomized in order to eliminate repetitiveness. Randomization is limited by zones and Encounter Health Pool. Though randomized in wave composition, each unique enemy never changes. There are different kinds of enemies, which has their own unique look, traits, stats, etc.
There are, much like with adventurers, front-row and back-row enemies. Alignment is hard-coded into each unique enemy.
Each enemy attacks closest adventurer, or just stands still, if there are no adventurers in a party or all of them are dead. There are 3 types of attack behaviours:
- No attack. There are enemies, which do not attack, but rather just stand there and absorb damage. They are like tanks in MMORPGs
- Closest adventurer. Most of the enemies will attack whichever adventurer is the closest to them. Generally they will attack front-row, and if there are no front-row adventurers, they will move on to the back row.
- Back-row first. Some enemies will ignore any characters standing in the front row and go for attack straight on back row adventurers.
Each enemy has a certain set of stats:
Health weight is the main stat of enemies, which determines how much health out of Health Pool each enemy gets. Example are above, in Health Pool section.
Attack damage is another main stat, which determines how much damage each enemy deals to adventurers.
Sometimes instead of enemies a Treasure spawns. Think of it as a single-entity enemy wave that acts like a boss wave, with the only difference: the Treasure can not attack and doesn’t do anything, but Adventurers and player can attack it just the same. When treasure is destroyed (‘killed’), player gains a certain amount of in-game currency (a lot more that he would have gained from an Enemy Wave) and some equipment for Adventurers or other valuable items. Player has to defeat Treasure in a given time (think Treasure Goblin in Diablo), otherwise he won’t receive anything and move onto the next wave.
The only stat Treasure has is a health weight, which always equals to 1.
Adventurers is a collective name for heroes that player can hire in order to accelerate progression. They are an AI-controller entities, and act similar to Enemies, attacking on their own.
Phew… I think that’s it. There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t cover, but that’s pretty much all I have.