Hey everyone! In the lead up to launch we’re kicking off this new development blog (here’s the really old one) with one of my favorite parts of Treachery in Beatdown City – the enemies! Well, I mean I don’t like the enemies, as much as I like to fight them, because they are really obnoxious jerks and deserve to get their asses kicked by our 3 heroes.
The Underlying Design
A lot has happened since the initial kickstarter. Back in 2014 we had about 26 enemies planned for the first chunk of the game. These enemies have always been broken down into different class types:
- Brawlers – regular brawlers, with no real strengths. However, if they have any sort of debuffs they can become deadly.
- Sneaky types – weak fighters who have high strike evade, and do strike accuracy lowering attacks.
- Supports – fighters that clap, cheer, and taunt their way toward raising the defensive/offensive skill of any enemies around them, making your life horrible in the process.
- Grapplers – enemies who rely more on high powered grapples than their strikes, and can be quite counter heavy.
- And Bosses – fighters who are hybrid class types – these enemies come with their own abilities and mix up various attack types while dealing out unfair levels of hurt.
These were the enemies as they looked back in 2014.
With 5 class types, spread across 26 different enemies, these would usually be enough for a whole game, especially one in the beat ’em up genre – for reference, Double Dragon 1 has about 7 enemies total.
But I dared to think, well, there should be different people in different parts of the city – and all of them should be different in how they attack, react, etc. I even broke out enemies by “alliances”, and as you can see with the Moneybags Security folks, there’s a Brawler (Gloria), a Sneaky type (B. Pike, who cowardly uses pepper spray), a Boss (Rummie, the leader, who throws up finger guns to taunt), and 2 giant types. I realized years later that they had no Supports!
Similarly the biker gang is a bunch of grapplers, brawlers and bosses, also with no supports. And since they really aren’t big on making friends outside their gang, this made fights against them fairly limiting.
There were some ideas I had up my sleeve, but it took a lot of figuring out the core game before I started adding more enemies. It also required something that took a lot of struggle for from an art standpoint.
Shifting Visuals Toward Legibility
Back when the game was in Gamemaker (2012!) I relied heavily on dark colors for enemies and players alike. This clashed with the background style, and not in a very charming way. I basically worked on characters and backgrounds separately and only eventually joined them in Gamemaker. Because of that, it was hard to separate out the characters from the background, and after ignoring that (or just not seeing it) for quite a long time, I took notice when I received some Indiecade feedback about not being able to see the enemies against the backdrops that helped cement that notion in my head.
I ended up dimming the color palette of the backgrounds while brightening the foreground characters quite a bit. Overall, it worked quite well, and I’m glad that I had to revisit the art. I also outlined the players in a single color that wasn’t black to make them stand out even more.
And so this lead to a shift in colors, that was very necessary.
You were talking about Biker supports?
Oh yeah! Well, before I get to those, I wanted to mention our new “vehicle enemies”. We’ve always wanted to throw in enemies that broke the turn based nature of the game, enemies that made players have to deal with the impending doom of something that would just keep coming, that was so annoying yet weak enough to knock out with relative ease, and rude cyclists & joggers fit right into that design area.
These enemies took quite a bit of design, because they are completely different from the standard enemies. (also I totally had to find reference photography for that swoopy haired guy with the short pants on.) You know what I didn’t think about…? That taking an enemy and attaching them to an object might have any issues at all. But, it created ALL of the issues! (haha!) You know what else is, well less of an issue and more of a design problem? Hit boxes – how much leniency should uppercutting these fools have? I didn’t know! Too much, and the enemies are a breeze. Too little, and they’re mowing you down from what will probably feel like an unfair distance.
So we’ve tested them out a bunch, and they are basically working as intended, it just took more designing than I thought, but I felt they were worth keeping, because of the fresh experience they offered players.
And with the vehicle characters came another enemy type – bikers riding bikes! (told you I was coming right back!)
Besides brightening up the clothing of the bikers, (and removing most of the black from their outfits so they don’t blend too much in the background) I realized there were too few of them, and there were no “support” types.
Rather than appending that class to any of the marquee enemies, I once again decided to work on 2 all new ones, because I like more work? These enemies serve as less distinct, yet still cool bikers who more often than not ride into battle on a bike, and when knocked off, they get up and start buffing enemies! So, a double threat!
Speaking of buffs, I realized that the bunch of crooked cops that made up Moneybags Security were also missing a support type, and this is where our equally crooked balding, blonde haired lawyer joins the mix. I think I’ve watched too many over the top cop movies in recent years, so I also added a kung fu wielding cop for good measure.
And then there are the Kickstarter enemies!
So far we’ve got Alex Rigopulos, a drummer with a cute pug and a bad attitude, Keith, Bruce’s old time friend who has returned as a killer robot (what?), and fights with an erratic boxing style, and Charles “The Killer” Pratt, who in between teaching game design also teaches pain 101 with suplexes and a rarely seen, but much feared piledriver!
And that’s about it, right?
Oh yeah, these guys.
That’s Bob. The less said about him the better. You’ll see more of him in the months to come, but for a Deputy Mayor, he’s one tough SOB, and bigger than every enemy in the game!
Oh, and then there’s this guy. We’ll just call him Mr. X for now (and don’t go trying to figure out his name via filename, either!) You’re gonna love fighting this fool once we reveal him, but you’ll just have to wait a bit longer.