As I write this post, I am sitting in the canteen on the Falmouth University campus along with my friend Tomas who I worked with on the Woodland Chaos project. This is the first time I have physically been to the Falmouth campus and it is pretty good to actually be on a university campus.
Over last night and today, I have been trying to work out some of the mechanics around the game, particularly how the Púca character advances and develops (Schuller, 2017). I will be basing this largely on standard RPG mechanics that are seen in table top role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons (Bilsland et al., 2014), as well as computer based role playing games, chiefly JRPGs such as the Final Fantasy series. I am opting to use these mechanics as they have been long established and have proven to work well. They will therefore serve as a building block to develop the mechanics for the Púca game. I will modify the framework of the traditional role playing game to convey the story of the Púca.
The following is based on notes that I have written up to work out the mechanics of the game. These are in turn based on issues that have arisen while I have been attempting to build the RPG mechanics in Unreal Engine using a tutorial (Unreal Engine, 2021).
This is still a work in progress and is subject to change according to how it fits within the game prototype.
In RPGs, a character is made up of stats – typically Strength, Charisma, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Constitution (The Core Stats in Dungeons and Dragons (and What They Mean), 2022). Some of these will be applicable to my game and others less so. Here are the stats I will use and what they will be based on:
- Strength: This speaks for itself. The Púca will be required to fight during the course of the game and this indicates how much of a chance he will stand against a given opponent.
- Speed: This stat is based on Dexterity. How quickly the Púca can move and/or attack.
- Resilience: This is based on Constitution. This affects the Púca’s hit points and how well he withstands states such as poisoning.
- Wisdom: The Púca is stranded in a strange world that he does not know much about. As he spends more time in this world, his wisdom increases and he becomes more aware of what he can and cannot do.
- Charisma: It is not merely enough for the Púca to shapeshift into a different form, he needs charisma to pull it off and really fool people.
These stats will consistently advance as the player progresses; however, each animal form that the Púca acquires will apply negative and positive modifiers that affect each of these stats, which the Púca is in that animal form. For example, if the Púca shapeshifts into a rabbit, additional points may be added to their speed, but points may be subtracted from strength.
I will not be including the Intelligence stat. The reason for this is that the Púca is already a highly intelligent creature and this will not be affected when the Púca shapeshifts into another animal.
Throughout the game, the Púca will complete quests. These quests will help the player to advance the narrative. Through completing the quests, the Púca gradually regains his memory of who he was, as well as how he got to the island.
The Púca will acquire these quests by exploring the island, visiting new places on the island and interacting with villagers; similarly to Skyrim (Carver, 2011).
The quests will vary in difficulty and content. Some are more combat orientated and involve fighting and defeating and enemy whereas others are lighter and may involve running errands or resolving disuputes.
These quests will require the Púca to shapeshift into different animals or people and certain quests will require certain abilites that come with each animal. It may also be beneficial to use certain animals for quests based on the modifiers provided by their stats. For example, a quest based on combat would be best with an animal that has a higher Strength modifier. A quest based on resolving a minor dispute between two or more villages would be better with an animal that has a higher Charisma modifier.
The player can only play one quest at a time. Once they have started a quest, they have to play it through until they complete it. If they fail the quest or die during the quest, they must start it again. If the player fails a quest, they have the option to try again or they can leave it for later and go off to do another quest.
Before a quest is about to begin, the player is presented with a yes/no question as to whether they want to start the quest. This question (and the answer) will most often be incorporated into the dialogue that the player has with non-player characters.
The player can discover and begin quests in any order but some quests may be harder or even impossible to complete until the player has unlocked certain forms or abilities, or has acquired enough experience.
The Púca will have an inventory in which they can store weapons, food, potions or other items that are specific to quests. Their ability to use any of these items may be dependent on the form that they take.
A core part of designing a role playing game and determining how a character progresses is through a system of levels. Levels are normally gained through the accumulation of XP (Experience points) (Level systems and character growth in RPG games, 2020).
I intend to retain this principle for my game as it will help to control the flow of the game and will give the player an understanding of the progress they have made. However, i will alter some of the terminology to make it relevant to my game.
In my game, XP will be referred to as Memory. That is because the more quests that are completed, the more the Púca begins to remember who he is, having lost his memory before the beginning of the game. As the Púca regains more of his memory, he advances to the next level and with it gains a new animal form to shapeshift into and/or he regains an ability he previously lost. The Púca’s overall stats also advance, depending on the nature of the quest the just completed.
As the Púca gains more memory, he gains clues about how he can get back to the otherworld.
I have not yet decided whether I will refer to levels as levels within the game or if I will come up with a special name for it.
Health and Mana
The Púca will also have a health bar and a mana bar. I did some more research into the legend of the Púca to see if they have any other magic abilities other than shapeshifting and it is apparent that they do not. I contemplated giving the Púca new magic abilities but I also had to be careful not to deviate too far from the source material as otherwise the Púca will cease to be a Púca (Ó Longáin, 2020). While this is my story and it has been written by me, the character it is based around comes from traditional Irish folklore and I want to do my best to pay respect to that.
Within my game, the Púca’s sole magical ability is to shapeshift, and it is through what they do practically within any form they shapeshift into that wreaks havoc. In a previous post, I contemplated how I can include the shapeshifting in a way that makes the game enjoyable and challenging, but not so the shapeshifting is so unlimited that it would make the game either too easy or too complicated.
Mana, or magic points, will be expressed in this game as Shapeshifting Energy (SE). This means that when the Púca shapeshifts, they use up SE, meaning that they cannot shapeshift too quickly between forms. This will function similar to the cooling down that occurs when you cast a spell in World of Warcraft (World of Warcraft, 2005). SE does recover automatically but slowly. The recovery of SE can be sped up through the consumption of a potion. The speed at which it recovers increases with each level.
The other will be Health, which will decrease if the Púca is attacked or falls from a height. When the health runs out, the Púca dies. The player is then taken back to the beginning of the quest. Health recovers slowly but this can be increased through the consumption of a health potion or food. The speed at which it recovers increases with each level.
There will be two types of shapeshifting in this game – Integral Shapeshifting and Temporary Shapeshifting. Using either of these will consume Shapeshifting Energy.
This is a fixed set of animal forms that the Púca can choose from. The Púca can shapeshift into any of these forms at any time on the condition that they have unlocked the form that they have enough Shapeshifting energy. These animal forms each come with specific stat modifiers and a set of proficiencies and/or special abilities.
This is an ability that is only acquired once the Púca has reached a specific level. This allows the Púca to shapeshift and take the form of any specific non-player character they come in contact with in the game. In order for a Púca to shapeshift into a specific non-player character, they have to be within a certain vicinity of that character. The Púca can take the form of any character regardless of whether they are dead or alive, conscious or unconscious. This character’s form is not saved in the same way that integral shapeshifting forms are, but once the Púca shapeshifts back out of this form, they cannot automatically shapeshift back into it – hence the name – temporary shapeshifting. If they want to shapeshift into a specific character again, they must find that character and begin the process of shapeshifting again.
These temporary forms will not have any special abilities or stat modifiers in the same ways that integral forms will, but they can be used as part of a quest to bring the narrative forward, i.e. by impersonating certain key characters. The Púca’s capacity to deceive other non-player characters and convince them they are the real person will be dependent on the Charisma level.
Temporary shapeshifting generally consumes more SE than integral shapeshifting.
As mentioned above, integral shapeshifting will consist of animals that the Púca learns to shapeshift into. Each animal form will come with the following
- Stat modifiers – positive, negative and neutral
- Proficiencies and/or special abilities – these are skills and abilities that can only be done or that are particularly condiucive to the given form
- Certain weaknesses – certain things that are not recommended for the player to attempt while in this form
I have also made a rough brainstorm of possible animals that the Púca can morph into. They are as follows:
- Bird (not sure what species)
This is not a definitive list and is subject to change, I have not decided on stat modifiers, special abilities or weaknesses yet, but I will probably do this in subsequent posts.
I believe I have now established a solid framework with which to build my game. Everything I have documented above can be used to give me an indication of the requirments of the project, such as what mechanics need to be programmed and what assets will need to be built and designed. If anything else needs to be added, modified or removed further down the line, I can do this and I will be sure to record it in this blog as well as my justifications for this.
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