Scarred By Heaven

09-03-24 -- Training Mode and An Obsession With Status Ailments

Hello again!

As fate would have it, the break I claimed I was taking in my last post didn't turn out to be much of one, and I've ended up still working on the game a lot...

Over the past few weeks, I've been mainly focused on writing. I've managed to finish the first draft of the game's 2nd chapter script, and have started on the 3rd. Right now, there's a planned 13 total chapters, all of varying length, so that milestone doesn't actually mean much on its own. Still, it's very satisfying to finally be putting the plans and ideas I've been holding onto for years into a concrete script.

In terms of gameplay, the main thing I've implemented recently is a 'training mode', in which players can freely practice defense against any enemy they've previously fought, as well as experiment with combos. It's not very thrilling on its own, but it's also a very useful debug tool, which makes me wish I had added sooner. (You wouldn't believe how many times an enemy with only two attacks can use the one I'm not trying to test in a row...)


Other than that, I've recently been thinking about negative status effects that enemies will occasionally inflict on the player. It's something I've wanted to put in the game for a while, but I've been hesitant, as I feel like it's something difficult to get right.

In a lot of action games I've played, I've felt that the player status ailment systems weren't very interesting, and that the effects themselves were either mostly ignorable, or were so crippling that they completely interrupted the flow of gameplay in a way that would become frustrating if I didn't have a way to remove it (which in a lot of games, is often just carrying the correct consumable item). This is something I want to avoid in SBH, with a system that is hopefully more dynamic.

BLEED - Deals non-lethal damage over time. The speed at which it deals damage can be outpaced by the HP restored by 'leeching' HP from enemies when attacking them with over 100 SP.

VULNERABLE - Causes HP damage to still be taken when blocking an enemy attack. Perfect Blocking, however, is unaffected.

SPIRIT BLEED - Causes SP to drain rapidly after a short period passes without attacking or Perfect Blocking an enemy.

FRAGILE - Increases damage taken from enemy attacks.

GOUGE - If inflicted, build-up resets to 0%, and the player immediately takes a large amount of damage.

These are the status ailments currently planned to be in the game.

Each ailment would have to be 'built up' before being inflicted on the player, with certain enemy attacks adding x% to the build-up when damaging the player. The build-up gradually goes down over time, but if it hits 100%, the status effect is inflicted, and lasts for an amount of time determined by the attack that inflicted it.

After this happens, the player would have two ways to remove the effect (or the build-up of the effect). One would be using an easy-to-acquire consumable item that cures all status effects, but is slow to use in the middle of combat. This would require finding the breathing room mid-fight to use it, and use up one of the 3 total consumable items allowed per battle.

The alternative to this would be a special ability, that exchanges a sizable amount of the special meter (SP) to immediately remove any negative status effects. This would be much easier to do than using the item, but sacrifices SP that could otherwise be used offensively (or defensively, for leeching enemy HP.)

Alternatively, the player could also choose not to cure it, and to simply live with the ailment until it's time expires.

Crucially, the downside of all of these status ailments can be minimized or entirely negated by playing well. I'm hoping this gives players more agency in how they can react to receiving a status effect based on their situation--a choice between waiting for a window of time in which they can spend a consumable to relieve it, immediately spending their special meter to relieve it, or holding onto both, and accepting the risk of managing the status effect.

Of course, this is all just theoretical, and none of it is actually in the game yet, so I'll have to see how it turns out in practice. I think a system like this could also grow very irritating if over-used or implemented badly, so I'll need to be careful...!


With that, I think I'll end this blog post here. I'm still not sure if these are interesting for anyone else to read, but I've been enjoying the process of archiving development milestones this way. I've managed to finally set up a comment system for the blog using this great plug-in, so I would be interested to hear your feedback!

On a personal note, I've actually been sick for the last two weeks, and have only just started to get over it. :(

To relax, I ended up playing and finishing 'Lies of P'. It has a similar parrying system to the one in SBH, so I guess I can justify the time spent as 'research', haha. It actually made inspired me to change SBH's terminology from using the word "parry" to the term "perfect block", as I feel like it's closer to what most action games would call a system like this, and a name that's immediately easier to understand. I've been worried for some time that "parry" might have implied it was something entirely separate from standard blocking.

I had some small issues with the gameplay of P (it threw fuel onto the fire of my current status ailment obsession by having some I found too intrusive), but it was overall very fun. I would recommend it!

- Topaz