Hey folks - this is a lovely game in so many ways, and I made a playthrough video linked below. The only problem is... I think a bug prevented me from actually winning - let me know if I did something stupid or it's real :D
Wow, really looking forward to watching the whole video! For now, I just skipped to the end to observe the bug. Looks like I introduced it when doing some final day balancing and refactoring. When the king dies, it's supposed to drop the Chalice, not a regular corpse. Then eating the Chalice triggers victory. But the King didn't drop the Chalice... (If you directly eat the king, that also counts as victory, and that works as expected.)
Fixing this is going to the top of my to-do list! Thankfully it's an easy fix, just need to change the definition of the King so it drops the Chalice when killed.
As far as I'm concerned, you can consider yourself the first official winner of Wyrm's Wrath!
Watched the whole run, and it was great! I'll start of by addressing some questions/bugs you encountered, and then I'd love to get your feedback on some future directions I'm considering for the game
- Vomit card description mentions healing slime terrain - that's indeed a typo, should be slowing slime terrain
- At one point your energy was above your max energy - that's debatably a bug (I plan to fix it). Your energy and health is allowed to momentarily go above your max, and it's brought down to your max at the end of your turn. In that instance you did a flash, so your got more energy, but your turn hadn't ended it.
- There's a bug where a bunch of action log messages talk about things getting poisoned and not poisoned, when they should actually be talking about other status effects like strengthened, etc, so that might have contributed to some confusion about poison
- Trained slimes are kinda OP, even after some last minute nerfs. They are summoned by the Slime Tamer so there's potentially an infinite amount of them, which is why they don't give you progress towards the Slime cards (each level has roughly equal amounts of Crystal/Mushroom/Slime enemies and thus potential card unlocks). They have a poison ability on a cooldown, and one of my last minute nerfs was to change it so when they are first summoned, their ability not charged and ready to use, so that's why sometimes they didn't poison you.
- Crystalize card (turn terrain into crystal terrain) is not very good, since the additional damage from crystal terrain mostly affects you
- You weren't too sure what Armor did or when it would be useful
- Strengthen (deal double damage) isn't very good since you mostly just eat enemies
- Those previous 3 (or 4) points are all related to damage and health, which is the subject of the biggest design change I'm considering, more on that later
- Finally, how big are you supposed to grow? I don't know either :P Designing the game, I knew I wanted their to be a trade-off between growing stronger and consuming more energy, but I didn't balance for a particular rate of growth or final size. The City with all the juicy peasants end ups encouraging a final growth spurt before the boss fight, and I like how that turned out, but honestly that's a happy accident.
So, the big, far-reaching change I'm considering: remove damage.
- The player mostly eats enemies directly, and damage modifiers (strengthen, crystal terrain, armor) are not too important. I'm considering removing damage and health entirely: all enemies have a single hitpoint, and the player no longer has health and only dies from starvation.
- Armor currently subtracts damage received, which would no longer be relevant. Instead, it would fully block a single attack then go down a level (so Armor 2 would block 2 attacks, etc).
- Poison is damage over time, which would no longer be relevant. Instead, for enemies, poison would mean delayed death, giving the chance for a friendly Shroom Doctor or Shroom Chemist to cure them. More later on what poison would be for the player...
- Strengthen is double damage and would no longer be relevant. It would change to Piercing, letting an attack ignore armor (I'm guessing you probably didn't even notice that some enemies have armor in the current game, haha).
- Crystal terrain gives +1 damage received, and would no longer be relevant. I haven't quite decided what to do with this. It might be a completely unrelated effect. Perhaps instead you slip over crystal terrain like ice in some games, which would fit thematically with the Flash and Charge crystal cards (the sprite would be updated to something smoother looking in this case).
- When the player is attacked, instead of taking damage, negative Wound cards are added to their deck (similar to Slay the Spire, or the board game Mage Knight). The player is then a theoretically unstoppable monster, but they are too careless, then their deck will be clogged down with useless cards and they will die of starvation because they are not able to fight and consume efficiently.
- Healing abilities would remove wound cards from your hand.
- Other negative status effects for the player would add cards to your hand or deck. Getting slimed would add a Slimed card to your hand that is slow, and playing it removes it from your deck. You would then get to choose if you wanted to play it and take the delay right away, or let it remain in your deck for a while. Poisoned would be another card added to the player the deck, that would continue to add additional Wound cards (details TBD). This would also easily let other status effects be implemented. For example, Confusion (currently can only effect enemies not the player) would be a card that when played moves the player in a random direction and is then removed.
Other, less fundamental changes I'm considering:
- There's too much luck involved in the map / exploring. Not finding the stairs then needing to double back can be a death sentence since there's no longer anything to eat. I'm thinking I'll add some Slime/Crystal/Mushroom walls that when dug out, leave a consumable slime/crystal/mushroom, so you can save some snacks for the way back if needed. Other solutions I'm considering (might implement all them together): smaller maps, more interconnected maps, Stone Sense card to help with exploration.
- Introduce Poison as a mechanic in the Lair, since it's weird to have cards to cure poison when you never get poisoned...
- Difficulty levels. You're the only person I know of other than myself to make it past level 2. If I go through with removing damage, then difficult could be pretty simply adjusted by changing the amount of energy you get from eating things.
- I guess that's about it other than a bunch of UI improvements and smaller balance changes. Though I'll end with a tease that I'm also brainstorming a whole new suit of Lava enemies, cards, and terrain ;)
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, since you clearly have a good grasp of the game! And feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.
Wow, that's a lot to digest and discuss!
I guess first I need to explicitly say that it's really hard to evaluate how the game would feel without actually playing it with the changes, so my ramblings are highly theoretical. I see two things in your plan that I would mark as risks:
- The change I fear the most is the introduction of the Wound (and similar) cards. If I recall correctly, during my playthrough I got beaten quite a lot (especially when I became longer and had someone chasing my tail), so I would end up with tons of these Wound cards. I assume you do intend to allow removing Wounds from the deck (as opposed to the hand) somehow - otherwise the following is exacerbated even further.
- I fear the situation where I accumulate a lot of wounds, but don't have a healing effect (terrain, card, whatever), and I just end up redrawing wounds endlessly - this doesn't feel like a lot of fun.
- I also imagine myself circling across mushroom terrain endlessly because I need to heal all those wounds - again, not super fun.
- That said, perhaps optimizing for not getting hit will turn out natural, or balancing of healing items and terrains will minimize the chances of this happening.
- That said, I haven't played Slay the Spire (yeah I know, I'm weird), so maybe I'm not visualizing the mechanic too well
- While in my runs I only ever died of starvation, I do remember keeping an eye out on my HP, and I kinda enjoyed that I needed to balance two resources (HP and energy). More importantly, I needed to choose cards with HP (and poison!) in mind, so it definitely affected my strategy a lot. On the flip side, it might have affected my strategy too much, because not having a healing card when you meet Trained Slimes is near suicide. Removing the Wyrm HP altogether indeed turns it into a very different game - and there is a risk that you'd lose something fun (not that you can't revert if that turns out to be the case).
Regarding the enemy HP- I indeed have not noticed the enemies having armor (although I did know that they don't always die in one hit). Was there some kind of indicator of the enemy's armor and remaining HP? I think having just a single hitpoint (and no armor) on the enemies might be a better design because it removes all the complication of tracking these things (for the player more so than the dev). Although I see how this removes some cards from the pool (Strengthen, the cards about tail-adjacent damage and body-adjacent damage becoming identical, etc.), so maybe it just removes too much?
> I'll add some Slime/Crystal/Mushroom walls that when dug out, leave a consumable slime/crystal/mushroom
That sounds like a great change - not finding the stairs is sometimes frustrating if you feel like you didn't waste THAT much time on the level. I also wonder if it's possible to add a way to scroll the map off-center to see the rest of the level (you might remember that even in zoomed-out mode I still couldn't) - although one could argue that remembering the map is a skill, it's not a skill I personally find particularly fun :)
> You're the only person I know of other than myself to make it past level 2.
That's interesting - I actually reached level 3 several times (prior to the video), so that did not feel like a problem to me.
> new suit of Lava enemies, cards, and terrain ;)
The 4th tribe :exploding head:
One last thing I want to note is probably something you understand without my feedback, but good to explicitly call out regardless. In my playthrough, some cards felt next to useless, and mobility cards felt really powerful. While this will get shaken up quite a bit with all the changes you plan, the core challenge would remain: you want to offer a set of cards that are balanced in a way that every card could be viable in some build - and there should be several viable builds. Furthermore, ideally the builds should be a reaction to the game state, as opposed to just something a player can determine ahead of time and stick to. In the current version of the game, I did not get an impression that I was adapting to the game state as much as just picking what I believed "globally" best. I mean, I like the game without all of this, but if it had this quality, it would be even more replayable and deep!
Thanks for the feedback, and for reading through my big wall of text! Yeah, this is all pretty theoretical for me too. Playtesting will reveal the truth, haha.
Regarding wounds, yeah, it might end up not feeling very fun to have your deck clogged up. It works pretty well in Mage Knight (Slay the Spire still has HP, but it has other status effects as cards). Removing player health is part of the design I'm most uncertain of... I could potentially still do status effects as cards and change enemies to have 1hp, but still keep multiple hp for the player. We'll see how it works.
Currently there's no indication of enemies current health. Armor and other status effects are mentioned in the action log, but I don't expect anyone to closely read that in general. Less things to track for the player is definitely one of my motivations for single hp. I'm not too worried about removing cards... The cards in the game right now are basically the only ones I could think of during the first few days, but I've had lots of other ideas during and after the 7DRL.
That transitions into your final point about card balance. I definitely agree with you there. Flash, Open Your Mind, and some others end being pretty obvious choices most of the time. And then others are I almost never choose, though I just buffed a couple of those. It's definitely an ongoing effort. I definitely don't want any card to be automatic grab or automatic skip. I want to focus on those bigger changes above first though, since they will have a big impact on the cards.
One tangentially related change I'm considering is adding variations on the levels, that are weighted towards different enemy/card types, to give the player a bit more choice about how to build their decks. For example, you could choose between going to a level with mostly slime enemies, or a level with a mix of mushroom and crystal, etc. with not all combinations always available. That might help each run feel a bit a different and make the deck building more interesting.