Happy new year! Here’s another game design quickie!

Hey everyone, happy new year. Best regards to all of us and let’s hope for more this year as well. And that would be the end of it, right there but, you know…I’m not a simple guy. 🙂

I.)Intro

With the turn of the year I decided to check on some older games I have…and don’t have(thanks youtube) I sat and though : “Most of my ideas are one shots…what about a series or a game that can segway into a series?” And what would you know, Devil May Cry had the answers yet again for me. Upon reading some of the rumors for what the original Devil may Cry 4 was suppossed to be like and what features it had, got me excited for one reason! It reminded of Castlevania : Dawn of Sorrow’s Weapon Synthesis system.

Dawn of Sorrow

With that in mind I actually started thinking about the game’s other mechanics and finally settled down on something concrete. One thing I keep in mind about the game documents I make is the “budget money” mindset, hence why my drafts often cite portable and at times rather simplistic designs incorporated and this one doesn’t escape that either. Very rarely I plan big since it will probably backfire hard. Besides, if Capcom, Banpresto and Falcom ever taught me anything as far as game designing and gaming bussiness standards go, it’s that even with these so-called “budget money” one can usually start a great series / revive a great series / revitalize its gameplay system greatly / all of the above(Devil May Cry, The Great Battle and Ys).

II.)The Basics

The game would be a light hearted, fun Stylish Action game, like a really light hearted version of Devil May Cry almost bordering God Hand’s ludicrousness of self parodying. The story will have very few serious parts and the characters…they will be cool and stylish for the most part, but the main character is going to be like Travis Touchdown from the first No More Heroes. Kinda like him, the guy would be an otaku with a somewhat stupid outlook at life and the crazyness that unfolds in front of us, yet a fun dork. Like Dante. As for the gameplay, it will be pure Action like the DMC’s with only a smidgeon of RPG elements…technically making it an Action-RPG…I guess Ys 7 really blurred the Action / Action-RPG horrizon to ridiculous levels for me. 🙂

Ys 7

The game is divided into story arcs that are usually divided into missions. Each arc takes place in a different locale and usually has more that one boss encounter, while each mission will be varied like the DMC ones. Between missions and even during them, there will exist some kind of “checkpoints” that will act like quick saves during the mission, get items and perhaps upgrade health or the Super Power gauge / Devil Trigger. Between arcs the player is able to “explore” the main character’s home and play with his stuff, fiddle with the options, change costumes, re-do old missions on any difficulty etc, along with being able to go to either to a “workship” to build new weapons(more details later on) or go to the “shop” to move on with the story or just adjust the difficulty for the current storyline. Simple, right? Kinda sounds like a mix between DMC and No More Heroes to be honest.

As for the combat it is really simple : it is like the old DMCs or rather, like Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition but with a few simple differences. First of, the gameplay engine just has to have some horsepower behind it, I don’t expect anything like MT Frameworks, but I do expect something of equal power as the Devil May Cry Engine used for that game…or at least the Dissidia / Birth By Sleep engine(what, just because they haven’t pushed the engine to its limits, doesn’t mean it sucks) or the Gundam Vs Gundam engine that was used for Gundam Vs Gundam and Next Plus. Being able to adequately pull off the fair number of enemies on a screen without hindering their AI or aggressiveness and without graphical problems like screen tearing, FPS drops etc, always being at the crisp 60FPS the game deserves and blistering perfomance rate. Even if the graphics end up looking like this :

Dissidia

Or this :

Gundam Vs Gundam

III.)The controls and the aspects of combat

Then there are the basic buttons of the game : directional inputs make the player move, moving for a while makes the player dash or just double tapping a direction and just keep it pushed, the other directional inputs(either the d-pad or the stick) are used to change into different “sets” of weapons, a jump button, a taunt button(select) and a pause button(start) that brings up the pause menu(more on that later) and a lock-on button. The rest of the buttons include a wide attack button, a heavy attack button, a “Style” button and a Free-Style Button(more on that later). You may have noticed that there are no firearms here, the first difference from DMC.

The second is a wide attack and heavy attack button that can be done with different weapons. That’s right, different weapons. And since I mention wide and heavy attack, you guessed it, these weapons have “Stances”. Basically think of it like Ninja Gaiden’s weapons, where they have light and heavy attacks, but the player can customize a set of weapons mapped to the buttons to differentiate between the light and heavy weapon or just put the same weapon in both slots. Of course depending on the weapon’s “Stance”, different attacks come out with different frames and properties and at times different numbers of hits during a combo along with different branches, wether these will be more or less compared to the other stance. Finally, compared to the mixed weapons that act like the set of weapons in DMC3 and 4 where changing weapon mid-combo cancels the frames and starts the other weapons attack with zero hassle, while if the same weapon is in both slots it may have some combos that interchange between light and heavy attacks to create new attacks, like the Ninja Gaiden games.

The “Style” button is not so much a style as much as an “Action Trigger” that allows the player to execute different moves depending on what the player can learn and do, throughout the story. These “Style” actions include and are not limited to what is practically Trickster, Royalguard styles and the Devil Bringer in some basic level. A new “Style” I’d put in would be the “Akujiki” style, named after Hotsuma’s sword from the PS2 Shinobi, which would be a timed buff that grants the ability to insta kill all the enemies on the area. The ability off course acts kinda like the Tate kills in Shinobi but instead just require the enemies’ burning orbs(displayed on the screen the moment the buff is engaged) and to do the Tate one requires to have either injured all the enemies on the area before the orbs start burning again, indicating an enemy has resumed activity or just kill any of the enemies you injured after injuring at least four enemies. This doesn’t work on bosses of course unless the boss has some kind of attack that just unleashes a large number(over 8) of one-hit-KO drones / grunts and after killing them all, before they crumble you injure the boss and thus defeat it in one kill. All of them of corse have Lock-On added commands like all of the weapons.

While the “Style” button is way obvious in its use, the Free-Style button is actually an “Action Trigger” like it, but it is much more limited to either the “Devil Trigger / Devil Triggers” of the game and the “Revving – Exceed” system from DMC4. That system works exactly the way it works but the Exceed moves are way different the more they are upgraded, not just in flames and with more power like Nero’s, think of it more like difficult-to-do hard-hitting moves, since all the weapons have both mechanical parts and demonic parts, allowing for the choice between “Devil Triggering” and using the Exceed system. Moving on to the Devil Triggers…yes I said “Devil Triggers“.

Nero's Devil Trigger

The Devil Trigger system in this game works like the “Soul System” in Aria and Dawn of Sorrow that Soma has. The player can choose any of the two forms of the Devil Triggers the weapons give, when aquired of course. The “Devil Triggers” are as follow : a “Whole Metamorphosis”, an “Astral Projection”, a mix of both for the same weapon or finally a mix of both for different weapons. Let’s break it down though :

1.)”Whole Metamorphosis” : This is like the normal Devil Trigger that Dante and Vergil have but with subtle changes in the sense that it takes elements from all the Devil Triggers from all the games. The common perks of the “Whole Metamorphosis” are that the main character’s speed, attack speed and attack power are increased by 25%, the character is more resistant to knockbacks, he is invincible during the second the transformormation occurs, several traversing moves are upgraded greatly like the jump gains a 25% boost in height along with another jump in the air, allowing for a possible triple jump, dashing actually makes the players move about 50% faster and several attacks and style moves gain added abilities that very slightly affect their attack power and efficiency. The final note is that during this kind of “Devil Trigger”, the main character mostly looks like the Demon he got the “Demonic Essence” to infuse his weapon with unless he has a weapon that allows him to use his own demon form. Some forms have their own individual perks, often small stuff like “+25% Ice elemental damage” or something like that.

2.)”Astral Projection” : This is like the Devil Trigger Nero has but with some additions from Oda Nobunaga’s Demon Unleashed form from Sengoku BASARA 3 and onwards. First of all, the player doesn’t transform at all but instead has a “solid-looking” astral projection of a demonic entinty stand behind him and attack whenever he attacks as well. The basic perks include : Health regeneration for the main character, his hits count twice, despite the character being knocked back the projection can continue the attack if the player is pushing buttons, the astral attacks have slightly extended range and several attacks have added effects most common of them being the “Stinger-type” attacks involving the projection flying off while doing the attack and reeling in the enemies it hit, so that the main character can whail on them freely afterwards. Some weapons can gain added attacks via the astral projection moveset and the Devil Bringer “Style” gets extra attacks during the Astral Projection. Some Astral forms offer small extra perks as well.

3.)”Mixed Trigger” (Same weapon on both slots) : Like with the weapons, you can choose wether or not to mix the types of devil triggers. Basically the player can choose whatever trigger goes to the light and heavy movesets. The stark differences between the normal “Triggers” and the mixed ones are that most of the perks are only at half power the player has to customize the each trigger separatelly on his own and the forms themselves. Compared to the Whole Metamorphosis, the mixed one isn’t the form of the demon but a more human-like appearance and the Astral Projection, instead of being a “solid-looking” projection that appeared behind the character now is a translucent shadow of the waist and up of the original’s form. There are about 8 perk slots and each perk takes either one or two perk slots.

The humongous advantage the mixed trigger has over the other triggers is that the player can effectivelly control “two characters” by attacking with both “triggered” weapons, not to mention that compared to the normal astral projection that requires the player to attack with the weapon it is tied to, this one doesn’t and attacks on its own, making for all sort of possible moving and attacking combinations. Not to mention, different combos can be done with both.

4.)”Mixed Triggers” (different weapons) : This is like the above but the difference is that instead of choosing two triggers for one weapon, here two triggers can be chosen for two different weapons. The only further rule that exists here is that if the player chooses the same type of Devil Trigger for both weapons then the player loses the “Form-specific” perks and just acts like if Dante switched a weapon mid combo in DMC3, the form changes and the combo starts over etc.

Devil Triggers

IV.)Other aspects of the gameplay

The currency of the game is twofold, one is proper money that is earned through finishing a story arc and at the end of each mission depending on the rank and the second is demonic essence, earned on the spot by beating demons with a high stylish rank and is the currency the players make on the spot. The difference between the two isn’t much but it sticks out. Upgrades for health, DT and item purchases are done with demonic essence. On the other hand, weapon making and move learning is done with money, though the move learning is optional. The currency rewards follow the “Stylish Ranks rules” of these types of games, like DMC, Bayonetta and MGR.

http://devilmaycry.wikia.com/wiki/Stylish_Rank

The moves for weapons and some universal moves, like Double Jump can be learned either at a “dojo” in between story arcs or on the spot if the player fullfils some conditions during battle. This adds a slight RPG-ish element, but it’s only there for fun, as moves can be learned pretty easilly and are bought with way too little money.

Difficulty plays a vital aspect of the game and if I could sum up how it is it would be : “Having the aggressiveness of DMC1 and 4’s enemies but the fair and challenging difficulty of 3”. The difficulty levels pretty much play like DMC3’s :

http://devilmaycry.wikia.com/wiki/Difficulty_Mode#Devil_May_Cry_3

But instead of a “joke difficulty”(read : Heaven or Hell) there will be an even easier difficulty mode where the game just is a big tutorial, learning how things go, for people that don’t read the manual and can’t be bothered with a challenge or for people that, like me, believe it’s bullshit to have to go through one whole playthrough to unlock the weapons and moves we want to properly play the damn game…though the later can be done on easy as well.

Too easy!

I mentioned earlier multiple boss encounters and here’s why : instead of having tons of bosses that have little intros and stuff, each story arc shall have its own big bad, the big demon summoned to wreak havoc on earth and the characters learn about him or her throught the mission briefing and two or possibly three encounters. The first one or two encounters usually involve some sort of either completely monstrocity-like demon form or an “incomplete” form with less moves and modes, though the second is reserved only for bosses that have only humanoid forms and the final encounter always is their true forms and always it is a humanoid one, because, let’s be honest here, the best boss fights are usually the humanoids. The bright exeption to that shall be of course the final boss that has multiple “phase-forms” in the final battle and the “rival” character whose fights are completely optional.

Finally, the weapons and weapon crafting. Yes, weapon crafting. During the story the player can find blueprints for different weapons(one blueprint for each weapon) that are usually either in plain sight or a reward for a boss encounter and in between arcs, the workshop comes into play for constructing the weapons. Taking a note from Dawn of Sorrow and the Ninja Gaiden series, the weapons can evolve by putting more money into a weapon until it reaches its final mechanical level. As the level increase the move pool increases and the damage output returns closer to their original 100% performance rate and even an increased durability gauge. There are three mechanical levels, the first being the development of it, costing the less money followed by two more levels. The durabillity is essentially how many hits the weapon can take or deal before it goes back a level or just break completely.

Level 1Ultimate Level

The final step will be to include a demon soul to the finished weapon to finally complete it. By giving a weapon a “demon soul” aquired after the ultimate defeat of a story arc boss, a proccess that requires no money, restors the weapon to its original 100% parameters, unlocks all of its move pool, removes the durabillity gauge completely, thus making every weapon effectively unbreakable and sometimes giving it an element and boss moves that use said elements. The Devil Triggers are affected by the demon souls that reside in the weapons. A hidden feature of the game, that would be unlocked after beating the game once would be to able to construct more weapons up to infuse them with different demon souls that are canon to the story, making for more combinations between weapons and demonic souls for the players to experiment with.

V.)Music and final notes on the game

The music should be a pure “Rock Out” soundtrack, like the ones Ys and Guilty Gear have :

As for the bosses, an EXTREME Rock Out song is required, with the lyrics being total earworms of the highest quality and the sound actively being affected by the boss fight, like in Metal Gear Rising.

One feature of it that I should note, would be that the game’s made with a portable audience in mind, preferably the PSP(my actual intention), N3DS and VITA ones, no mobile ports or anything sketchy like that.

As for final notes…I’ll probably make it a full fledged document eventually I hope, it might sound stupid, but I really liked developing that idea. Guess now I know how SEGA and Team Ninja felt when going up against the first Devil May Cry. Here’s hoping for the best. Have a good one everybody. 🙂

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