Sunday, 24 June 2018

Going Krackerz!

The Bullion team is growing again! We are very pleased to welcome aboard new crew members...

This has been a huge boost to the team - we have been wanting to add more artists to the line-up since GEEK 2017, and as with Matthew and Ben before them, we feel very lucky and privileged to be working with such talented people.

On top of this - as those who have been paying attention to our social media will know - we will be exhibiting Bullion at Replay Events' new Play Expo London in August! We are very excited about this, and since our new artists came over as being so enthusiastic, we decided to drop Stuart in at the deep end and give him the first Bullion boss battle to design... which ended up with Cap'n Krackerz - an undead pirate parrot!

Raised from the dead to bring the wrath of the gods down on our bovine buccaneers...
Of course, this brings with it a host of new challenges, not least being how to integrate a boss battle into a game where the basic idea was to grab the most treasure in a timed round...

For the boss battle we decided to do away with the timer, but otherwise, the basic premise remains the same: be the one with the most treasure at the end of the round and if the whole crew wipes out, the round ends with no winner. To push the players towards fighting the boss, we set up the boss's health bar with a number of units - the player who scores the hit which completely depletes a health unit gets a big, fat treasure reward which - unlike the smaller treasures - cannot be stolen by other players. The stick to this carrot is that the boss's attacks will gradually increase in damage over time, so the longer the boss is alive, the greater the chance of the crew wiping out becomes. So once again, our players are faced with the choice: do they collect treasure? fight each other? fight the boss? Compete or collaborate - the key concept behind Bullion's gameplay.

"BFD"s (big fat diamonds) drive both the boss sequence and the player actions
As expected, the boss battle has brought a host of new coding challenges: Krackerz has multiple "special moves", including summoning minions and projectile attacks (what, you thought that cannon under his arm was just for decoration?) which his AI has to be capable of choosing, and then the game front-end has to deliver. The latter of these has actually proved a lot more straightforward than anticipated, largely thanks to the massive rebuild that took place after last year's GEEK - once again, time well spent! Similarly, following the debut of our computer-controlled players earlier this year, we are expecting to see similar returns on the planning and effort that went into building the AI framework.

Meantime, Deanna has taken on the job of taking the Salty Swamp stage from the current placeholder-heavy demo version up to production-ready. Building the island arena stages presents its own unique challenges, which we will be looking at in a future post - along with some before-and-after and other showcase images.

So - exciting stuff! And while we don't want to count our parrots... sorry, chickens! before they've hatched, we're pretty confident we'll have a boss battle to show off at Play London... and maybe a few other additions besides!

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