Combat in Golemizer can hardly impress anyone … A third of new players are quitting exactly when they get to the tutorial quest about combat (I’ll post later about the new player experience). Sure Golemizer is about crafting but let’s not forget that it’s also about crafting monsters …

There’s little excitement to have from typing /attack and then watching flying numbers over the head of your golem. And while you can customize your golems a bit (damage, HP, regeneration, resist and evade) it just doesn’t quite give you the excitement of seeing your last creation succeed in some combat as there is much chance that your golem was similar to the one you just killed. You were just lucky with dice rolls. I never got to the point of offering the kind of customization that would make a crafter really proud. Like I said there’s so little to customize that it’s pretty much just a matter of maximizing the stats … like everyone else.

What I’m trying to say here is that I think combat can be interesting for crafters if it is handled correctly. Right now there’s just not enough to get to that level. So let’s take a look at how combat in Golemizer 2.0 would be handled.

RPG combat screen

Combat in an action scenario is not easy to do. There’s always something wrong. The golem is not quite appearing where it should be because of lag so range is off. There’s something in the way and golems are hard to control. Some players found a way to create barricades to make his golems invincible and it goes on. And honestly combat in Golemizer is currently way too hardcore for the crowd is was meant to attract.

By having combat in RPG like combat screen (round-based) it would slow down the pace and allow actual strategy choices. Which power my rougarou will use this round (instead of just doing the same boring attack over and over)? Do I try to put some distance between my rougarou and this zombie? Do I try to escape combat? It’s also much easier to code which for an indie project is something to consider. It also prevents some behaviors like ambushing players (well their golems). I’m sure some players like that but that’s where I made an error. I went off the niche I was aiming for.

Our recent game from Psychoavatar Games, The Fae’s Wyrd, use such combat screen and it offers a combat experience much more interesting than Golemizer. But of course just switching combat to such screen without any changes wouldn’t be enough which brings me to the next point.

The Fae’s Wyrd – Combat screen

Golems built and used by crafters

I want players to be able to say things like “I experimented for 1 month with various components to create the perfect hearth for my zombie and it now can sustain a blood pressure high enough to remain berserk for 10 rounds!”. Well that’s just some example I just made up but that’s what I want player feel about combat. What if you experimented to find a way to put a laser in your zombie eyes? Or anything else that would make your golem different.

It was in my plans for some time but I just never found an elegant way to have such level of customization of golems in the current combat system. The end result would be to give the possibility to “plug” abilities and special powers to golems. You can think about something like Kongai but instead of collecting cards you would be “creating the cards” by crafting golems and their powers.

The effectiveness of a golem in combat must be directly linked to the crafting choices that were made. As mad scientists players should be able to let their imagination go wild and try whatever they think could work. Crafters need to become involved when their golem goes into combat. Their crafting choices must matter instead of it just being a matter of having used the resources with the higher quality. And with a round-based combat it would allow crafters to build up their strategy carefully instead of just clicking some attack button and hoping to get the best dice rolls.

Combat in The Fae’s Wyrd offers this excitement as your past choices have a direct impact on the strategy to use when facing different targets. That’s what I’d like to put into Golemizer 2.0. It doesn’t mean that all crafters would then become players enjoying combat but that still wouldn’t prevent them from enjoying to craft custom golems for other players more focused on combat.

Back in the days of SWG crafters were kings in combat. Not because they were shooting at enemies but because they would provide you the best weapons or the weapons that would fit best each situation. That’s the kind of feeling I want for Golemizer. Just selling a golem with more HP than another one isn’t enough. It needs to go deeper in the process of crafting. I don’t mean that I want all crafters to like combat but I’d like them to be interested in crafting weapons (golems) for others. Be recognized for their work and how ingenious they were.

Dr. Deadbeat’s zombie

Dr. Deadbeat likes to craft zombies. He knows that maybe they are not the most powerful golems out there but he appreciates the range of experiments he can do on zombies. You can try your wildest ideas on them and they will still survive the process.

Dr. Deadbeat’s latest idea is to have a zombie spit acid. Zombies are usually weak when it comes to acid attack so having a zombie spitting acid is quite unusual. The first thing he must figure out is how he will be able to store acid in his zombie without having it die from it. Will he put in his zombie some kind of acid resistant mechanism the zombie can activate or will he try to develop special flesh tissues so the zombie can store the acid directly in its stomach? Dr. Deadbeat doesn’t know much about mechanical engineering so he decides he will try to come up with a recipe that will allow him to create flesh that can resist acid.

After several days of research he finally figures out that by mixing daffodils with snake’s flesh and cow’s milk he can create a substance that doesn’t seem to be vulnerable to acid. He then uses this elements in the recipe of his zombie’s flesh. By doing so it means he won’t be able to provide his zombie a regeneration system as efficient as your typical zombie but he don’t care. He figured that a zombie spitting acid might be quite a surprise to opponents and that not having the typical zombie’s regeneration is not a great loss.

Dr. Deadbeat’s zombie is nearly complete but there’s something he doesn’t like. He’s the only one who was able to craft a zombie spitting acid and wouldn’t like that other mad scientists steal his recipe too easily. He use the last crafting slot of his zombie to add a DNA obfusticator that will prevent others to know the exact composition of his zombie. Dr. Deadbeat plugs his inanimate zombie to the lightning rod set on top of his house and pulls the a lever. Soon a lightning hits the rod and electricity flows inside the zombie … It’s alive!!!

Since this day Dr. Deadbeat was known as the first person to be able to store acid inside a zombie which is a surprise to others fighting his zombie.

What else?

Well maybe we could have golems group together. Maybe other players could join a combat. Maybe some golems could have a power to lock combat so other players can’t interfere. The important thing to remember here is that combat need to offers more options, strategies opportunities and that crafting must have an important impact on combat more than just boosting the HP of golems.

Forgetting about real-time combat sure slows down the experience but for a game like Golemizer the focus is not on action. The current combat system in Golemizer proved to be more problems than anything else and I’d be looking forward to improve this in Golemizer 2.0. Like I said it would also be much easier to code and would remove some of the headaches I had to get through while trying to code a server that could handle all of that. Combat would provide a richer experience and wouldn’t be limited to just issuing a /attack command that leaves players feeling like they don’t have much power over the issue of a battle.