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Sneak Peek: Loonyland: Titan Tunnels09:36 PM -- Thu April 12, 2007

Not a whole lot different from the last shot... but here's the latest update on development! As of this morning, LL2CE is off. I'm waiting for them to finish making, and then ship to me, a sample of it so I can make sure it came out right. When I get that and it's okay, I'll order up the first (of many hundreds, I hope?) run of CDs for it, and then at last you will be able to BUY BUY BUY!

So while I've been on to that task (and many others - taxes, Kid Mystic's next CD run is also due, business talks, setting up the new Loonyland web site, and assorted other noise), I have been slow on Titan Tunnels. What I did get done was mostly at the library. I sat down and put in all the skills. Or almost all. There are still 4 placeholders in Grappling, and a few in Ice and Death Magic, not to mention however many I may change completely before actually finishing.

Don't get too excited, because I haven't implemented any of the new skills (except those way back when). I've just put them in the list and set up their descriptions as you see above. I'm really focusing on creating a complete set of skills that really interlock in interesting and useful ways, so that if you are going for a certain type of character, there's always some other skill somewhere you could boost (and various types of special equipment you might want) to really maximize its effectiveness.

The selected skill is a fine example. It's a teleport slash, where you just pop in and hit a number of monsters (1 per level, that's a lot of hits!). It's also a Serenity reference! Anyway, it explicitly references the Murdalize (formerly Assassinate) skill right there. If you don't recall, that's a damage bonus and stun for hitting someone while you are stealthed (very nice, since even with 0 stamina or 0 skill points in it, it's double damage). Since this is a teleporting hit, you can assume it's quite a stealthy attack. But that's certainly not the only synergy this skill has. After all, it's an axe attack. So all 10 Attack Skills will boost it in some way (except Axe Mastery - this attack costs no stamina and is instant, so speed is not an issue), as does Strength. Unlike other Wind Magic, this skill doesn't benefit from the automatic Spell Synergy, since it doesn't do any 'magical' damage. Maybe that synergy (and your spell damage % boost) should affect the amount of inviso-stamina it uses with Murdalize. Could be.

So I am creating these 'hidden' ties all across the skill list. There are just dozens of things that could help you with anything you want to use. Another example of how that plays out can be found in the bottom portion of this skill set.

You see, the first 7 skills in each Magic skill set are actual spells (4 you've seen, and 3 new ones). The 8th skill is a Grab Spell (remember, that's a spell you can only cast while holding an enemy). That makes the spell list easier to flip through, having one less spell to go through, while still giving you another spell (when you are grabbing someone, only Grab Spells are listed). This one, Inhale, actually eats the grabbed monster, healing you. I would love to do some kind of Kirby thing where you gain a temporary power based on what you ate, but that's just too big of an issue to deal with!

The 9th skill in each Magic set is a boost to another specific skill (not necessarily in the same set). In this case Whirlygig improves... can you guess? Whirl! It adds a tornado effect to it like Captain Capitan has (sucking in enemies, for more potential damage), and bonus armor while Whirling, at the expensive of Magic draining over the course of the Whirl. So it's sort of a spell, but triggered by doing something else rather than by casting it (another example is the Nature skill Quake, which adds a stunning earthquake whenever you cast Stone Spike).

The 10th skill is a true passive boost, exactly like the Talents, only you boost it with Skill Points rather than through use. This one, Chain Lightning, does just what you might think - it adds a random chance for any enemy struck by any source of lightning to chain a percentage of that damage to a nearby friend. I'm hoping to keep these more exciting and interesting than the Talents, which tend to just be simple numerical modifiers.

So you can kind of see how 'builds' begin to form. If you want to rely on Shock Orb a lot, you'd be foolish not to pump up Chain Lightning along with it. Of course, since Shock Orb is a Wind Spell, you'll also want to put points all over the Wind Magic page, since each point is 1% more damage. Another potential build concept hinges on the Ice spell Icebreaker. It shatters all frozen enemies, shooting out ice shards (no harm done to the shattered guys, except if they get hit by some shards). So you'd combine that with spells that freeze for a long time and freeze over a wide area - you want to shatter as many at once as you can! A Cool-Ade potion would also work well with it. The Ice Grab Spell is called Permafrost. It renders the victim frozen forever (and it radiates cold, temporarily freezing nearby enemies as well). That works very nicely with Icebreaker - you can Icebreak a Permafrosted guy as much as you want, he'll never thaw!

Speaking of Grab Spells and clever combos, the Nature Grab Spell is Healing Touch. It heals the guy you are holding and restores some of your Stamina. Why would you ever want to do that (besides to get some Stamina)??? That's for you to figure out! No, you can't pick up allies. But it synergizes nicely with a few other skills. I really enjoy unique build concepts, so I included skills that are meant for exactly that. I mean, there are 100 skills, and you get around 150 Skill Points total (I may add some, but not many for sure) - that means you can max no more than 15 skills out of 100. You definitely won't be using every skill! It's all about deciding what kind of character you are going to be.

Since you want to know, the remaining two spells on this page are Dust Devil (summon a Dust Devil ally, which sucks up enemies and spits them out, hopefully at other enemies) and Lightning Rod, which both causes the cursed enemy to be hit by lightning repeatedly and also makes any bullet that gets to pick a target automatically pick that enemy if possible. It's a lightning rod in the literal sense and the figurative.

That's another thing I'm looking at in making these skill lists - I want skills for different situations. Lightning Rod is a great skill for fighting a boss, or a specific guy you want beaten in the midst of lesser foes (maybe a healer for example). You get the Lightning Rod on him, and all of a sudden your firepower is being concentrated on that target. Other skills are better for general group mayhem. The Icebreaker strategy I mentioned above is all about fighting large groups. The more enemies, the more shards you get! The potential damage is enormous - if the conditions are right.

So that's what it's all about. I want to create a design space where you have enormous freedom to create. That sounds silly in the context of an RPG, but it's true. I want you to be able to discover a really fun combo that works that I never anticipated. Whether it's as simple as a skill that gets boosted really well by another, or more complex like a sequence of skills you use in a row. The fun I have in games of this nature is in developing my character, so I want to give you a lot of toys to play with in that development. As you can see, I've invented my own ideas and combinations in the process. I couldn't very well just randomly make spells and hope they fit together somehow. But I think I've created enough links that there is a lot of potential to make things I never expected. And this is just the skills - items and crafting will provide a whole other angle to tweak your character's power.

More to come on the topic of Curses and Charms next time!
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