Part 2: Things to do
for this week
In my last developer diary, I described a typical day in my
life as a developer. This time I thought that instead of showing
you one day, I would go into a bit more depth about some of
the things I am working on this week.
Combat: This is one of my primary tasks. I'm responsible
for all of the math involved in deciding whether a character
hits or misses a monster, whether the monster blocks the attack,
how much damage the attack does to the monster, etc. etc.
It's hard creating a system that balances combat across all
levels. We've gone through several different systems, deciding
how skill comparisons work, how statistics affect hitting
and damage, how ranged combat works, and how armor works in
the game. Making it all come together so that combat between
a player and a monster feels right can be very tricky.
Whenever I find time I play with these numbers. Adrian was
kind enough to whip me up a simulator that runs thousands
of practice battles at a time so I can watch how tweaking
parts of the formulae or the fighters' abilities affects the
outcome of combat.
Monsters: The way a monster gets into the game is that
it starts with the designers. We get ideas from many different
sources including standard fantasy and horror, mythology,
and other people at the company. For the latest group of monsters,
David and I got together and came up with a list. I then wrote
up general descriptions of the monsters and sent them off
to Jane. She assigned them to the artists, who are building
the models and animating them. I keep up with this process
to make sure that nothing looks too out of line with the intended
design of the monsters, while still letting the artists be
as creative as possible. I also made sure that Shawn was in
the loop so that we can incorporate these monsters into the
story where they are needed.
Adventure Schools: This is another big area. Schools
are how a player identifies his role in the world. Each school
needs to have requirements, a skill list, skill progressions,
level rewards, and special abilities. I design the non-magic
schools as well as doing the work on how schools work in general,
such as how the experience progression works. I work with
Dina for magic schools, and with Shawn to make sure that trade
schools parallel adventure schools.
This week I've been working on the skill progressions for
schools. I've been going over each of them to make sure they
have the right skills and that those skills increase appropriately
with the character's level. I'm also creating special abilities
and attacks for each school and assigning them to a level.
Dragons: One of my more enjoyable jobs is working on
dragons. No other game has yet attempted to let players be
anything like them. Playing a dragon will be different than
any other race in Horizons. They do many of the same things
as other characters. They fight monsters, get experience,
gain levels and abilities, and collect treasure. They make
things for themselves and other dragons (although they don't
lower themselves to making items for "lesser races").
They build up communities of dragons, and defend them from
But they also do many things different than other races.
They don't wear as much equipment as other races, for example.
Who needs swords when you have razor sharp claws and teeth?
They have their own schools, which are different than other
races because dragons don't use many of the skills that others
Currently, I'm working on all of that. I'm creating the dragon
schools, working with Shawn on their trade skills and items,
and generally working on lots of other mechanics for them
such as flight, breath weapons, and their hoards.
Community: Dina and I both do a lot of work on Communities.
This section of the game just gets cooler and cooler every
day. We're trying to give players as many options as possible
for what they can do with their own property and within the
community that their property is located. So we want there
to be a lot of different kinds of structures you can build
on your land; from houses and shops to trade skill machines
to your own private teleporter.
We also want to let players influence the kinds of services
available in their communities as well. In general, community
structures such as shops, training halls, and defenses are
built automatically as the town grows. We want players to
be able influence this growth and get specific structures
built in their communities, most likely by ponying up some
Testing: Let's not forget testing. For every system
I design or feature I add, I have to go and make sure that
it works the way we decided it should work once it's been
added to the game. When I hear that a new feature is available,
I log in the game and test it out. If there's a problem, I
let the right people know and we fix it and test it again.
Thanks for listening! See you in two weeks.