Enemy Variety

Enemy Variety

Hey guys,

It’s time for another dev log. Today, we’re gonna be talking about enemy design. Ascent of Ashes is a game built around tactical combat, and while having a solid mechanical base is important to give the player options in combat, it is just as important to have diverse and competent enemies that can challenge the player to use those mechanics on.

There are several ways such variety can be achieved. The simplest way to do is simple statistical upgrades, where a developer ups the stats on a critter, then maybe gives them a different color palette to indicate that this isn’t just some level 1 regular giant spider like you’ve been fighting, no this is an extra-scary dire spider. While this works to keep challenge up at higher levels, it generally leaves players unimpressed and when overdone can kill any sense of progress as you’re killing the same enemies, just scaled to your current level.

A better method is to give higher level enemies special properties or abilities that distinguish them from their lesser brethren. This kind of upgrade heightens the threat of an enemy but in a non-linear way that requires players to adjust their strategy in dealing with them. For example, a staple enemy in Ascent of Ashes is the ubiquitous TV head, a zombie-like creature made from dead humans, their head replaced by an electronic control device. It has simple intelligence, no self-preservation and can only use rudimentary weapons in melee, but has the ability to uplink with higher tier mechanoids who can coordinate them tactically. So how do we create a higher tier TV head that remains relevant in the late game?

Introducing HDTV

After some deliberation, the concept we came up with is the HDTV Head: built from repurposed SmartTV’s, its larger, higher end processors and improved reception give it higher range on its uplink ability, while the larger internal battery causes an explosion on destruction of the TV, sending high-definition shrapnel flying. This ability makes melee strategies significantly more risky, encouraging the use of ranged weapons.

At the same time, the UltraHD imaging with Dynamic Shadow Technology enables it to project crisp camouflage patterns on its screen, preventing long range detection. The extra high display brightness can be used to blind ranged attackers in a forward cone, as it closes into melee range. To take them out safely you’ll need to distract them first, then hit them from the flank.

All these new abilities combine to create a challenging late-game enemy that can still threaten late-game players and force them to adapt new strategies, without resorting to simple numerical increases of health, damage or movement speed.

We hope you enjoyed today’s peek into the design processes behind our upcoming enemy designs, until next time stay safe and keep surviving!