Tallowmere 2
Work in progress. Subject to change. More fun than you can shake a kitten at.
Tallowmere 2

Lady Tallowmere has begun expanding her empire.

Tallowmere 2 is an upcoming 2D dungeon platformer game, currently in its early stages, being developed by Chris McFarland in Auckland, New Zealand.

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Blog Post

Tallowmere II roadmap

15 January 2016  •  Chris McFarland

A rough roadmap! Please note that planning is merely guessing. Things might change, but they're a good drive to help give future direction.

On the plus side, since I have at least finished and published a game before onto multiple platforms and have gained lots of experience from that, these plans should be more feasible and realistic. In any case, developing a game is challenging.

  1. Port Tallowmere to consoles – in progress. This eats into my Tallowmere II development time, but I really want the experience of putting a game on a console, and starting small with Tallowmere seems fitting.
  2. Work on Tallowmere II – in progress.


Once Tallowmere II is playable and fun:

  1. Run a modest Kickstarter campaign. Offer limited backer reward slots to let people design abilities/mechanics, enemies, bosses, NPCs, etc.
  2. Create a Greenlight listing at the same time.


Once greenlit, launch on Steam as an Early Access title. I know a lot of people cringe at the thought of Early Access. However, having skipped Early Access with Tallowmere, I can say with confidence that I should have gone with Early Access. Early user feedback is extremely valuable. While under an alpha/beta state, I am free to change things without fear of upsetting people too much. But once the game is done, if the game is not a service, changing the game can upset people. Post-launch changes really should be put into an expansion or DLC, rather than modifying the base game. So this time around, I want to stay as alpha/beta for a lot longer to really get excellent user feedback and adjust the game as necessary to make it as good as it can be.

What will Tallowmere II have?

Scope is going to be big. Big equals fun.

On the guideline that if a game has a fun mechanic, Tallowmere II should have that fun mechanic as well, because fun is fun. The more fun the game has, the better.

With Tallowmere, using UnityScript was my biggest hindrance. Compile times to test out a single change were unbearably slow. But now I'm using C# and things are fast :)

Humans and creatures

  • Human creatures. People relate to people.
  • Leg animations. This sounds like a dumb bullet point, but since Tallowmere had zero leg animations, I think it's fitting to get this out here now.
  • Blinking eyes. A touch of human realism makes things more attractive.
  • Bouncing and stretching. This is a video game. My 2D art style also allows for this okay. Creatures bouncing and bobbing a little helps bring them to life.
  • Jumping up and falling down animations. So when you're gliding through the air, creatures look like they're reacting naturally to their velocity.
  • Attack animations. Gameplay is still fast and quick, but with more visual appeal.

Abilities and mechanics

One thing that irked me with Tallowmere was how every weapon had only one main mechanic.

I've spent a bit of time thinking about how Tallowmere II's weapons/abilities will be implemented.

There's generally two types of attacks in games:

  1. Melee
  2. Ranged

Games also tend to have various ways of how a mechanic can be implemented:

  • Tied to a weapon
  • Tied as a passive ability that is always present
  • Tied as a passive ability that only happens as a proc / chance-on-hit
  • Said proc might happen when you deal damage, or when you receive damage
  • Said proc might only happen if there's X number of enemies nearby
  • Ability might only happen if one of your resource bars is greater or less than a certain percentage
  • Ability might have a resource cost.
  • Ability might have a cooldown.
  • Ability could be tied to a consumable.

Take, for example, Tallowmere's teleporting katana. You attack with the sword, and if at least one enemy is nearby, you teleport to one enemy at random and hit them. The mechanic here is "teleport player to nearby enemy".

Now what if this teleporting mechanic was applied to a ranged weapon? Could the teleporting effect be applied to the enemy it hits? Could the projectile have a chain lightning effect, that would chain to nearby enemies and teleport them as well? If said enemies had a chance to activate an ability upon receiving a hit, what sort of gameplay would that create? There's a lot of procedural effects I plan to make that should add heaps of fun experiences.

Should everything be tied to the current weapon you have equipped? Nah. Lots of games have spells and passives and consumables. Tallowmere fell a bit short in this regard.

Because lets say you had a spell that teleported you to a nearby enemy. It could have a resource cost, so it would have a limited use, and you'd have to wait for your mana to regen before you could teleport you again. This would force you to make a decision to use it or not. Or, lets say you had a potion of teleportation, which is merely a one-off consumable. You'd use it wisely!

So in terms of coding this, an Ability could be applied to multiple types of interactionables, resulting in various playstyles.

This got me thinking that Tallowmere II should have:

  • Weapons with abilities, most likely without any resource cost.
  • Shields with passive / chance-on-block abilities.
  • Spells you can learn with abilities that may have a resource cost and/or a cooldown, or may act as a passive.
  • Consumables that perform an ability, such as potions or enchantments to apply to a weapon.

Some abilities will have a guaranteed mechanic, and others might only have a chance. Randomisation helps keep things lively.

Enemies

I largely plan on keeping most enemies humanoid. This will allow me to create clothing variations at a high pace, while using the base human character model.

So, basic attacks are either melee or ranged... But throw in a spell, and suddenly the creature can do anything you can dream of.

I envision there will be one creature per ability. Now, elite variations... Enemies could take on new abilities to make their attacks harder against you. Maybe some elite enemies would have a small range of different abilities they could use, or their melee or ranged attack would be greatly enhanced. Should be fun.

Bosses

Bosses are fun. They break up the flow of the general "grind".

Boss intros are a thing, and Tallowmere II will have them.

But will bosses just be like, "Oh hey it's a boss for no reason, let's kill it I guess?". Not this time around. Bosses will have stories tied to them.

The overworld

For what's happening with Lady Tallowmere's dungeons these days?

Lady Tallowmere has expanded her empire. Now in charge of a vast land, having found it hard to manage multiple dungeons all herself, Tallowmere has delegated some of her minions to help oversee things.

However, not all is well. A legendary myth has surfaced, claiming that any kittens encased in crystal for the duration of three blood moons will become ripe enough upon sacrifice to grant unimaginable health and power. On the back of this revelation, certain minions have turned greedy and stolen Tallowmere's precious kittens.

Unfortunately, due to a typo on the Overseer Agreements that were written, Lady Tallowmere is contractually bound to not interfere with her minions' affairs and must sit helplessly idle.

In the shadows, Tallowmere has tried hiring various miscreants under the table to retrieve her kittens, but none have succeeded, and the third moon is fast approaching.

There is a grave fear that if her beloved felines are removed from their crystals on the final night and slain, their sacrificers will become voraciously unstoppable and will overthrow Tallowmere's hold.

Can you prevent the impending kitten apocalypse and save Lady Tallowmere's land?

So, there will probably be:

  • Overworld map.
  • Various areas.
  • Various dungeons.

I will see about adding in some land control mechanisms, for a bit of a light turn-based strategy between your dungeon romps.

Town areas will most likely be semi-3D, allowing for interesting cutscenes and more immersion as you walk around. Dungeons will remain 2D.

Progression

Tallowmere had some progression, but it was very streamlined and the player didn't have choices about what they wanted to unlock when they leveled up.

Tallowmere II will offer the player choices upon leveling up.

There will probably be:

  • XP bars.
  • Randomly-created skill trees.
  • Random triads of selections, forcing you to make a choice.
  • Character levels.
  • Item levels.
  • Unlockables.
  • Classes.

I plan to have a lot of classes with Tallowmere II. Classes can allow for different starting abilities, different perks suited towards certain abilities over others. The name of the game is to prevent incoming damage and deal damage when it's safe, so I should be able to play on different mechanics to achieve the same result. I still think your shield will be a necessity in most cases (I plan on having more homing abilities), but perhaps you could "dodge" an attack, or strike back to deflect an incoming attack. We shall see. In any case, shields will be in, and outgoing damage can be changed up for fun class variations.

I imagine clearing dungeons will not be super short but not super long either, so unlocking stuff will most likely come through clearing a dungeon. Perhaps killing a boss will unlock a new ability the boss was using, and that ability will then be available in the game's pool of available abilities that you can come across.

Character levels will increase, and NewGame+ will be a thing. Tallowmere II will have a completable story. Not sure if I will have multiple endings, but I will try.

In terms of gear, there will probably be:

  • Headgear
  • Amulets
  • Shirts
  • Rings
  • Gloves
  • Belts
  • Trinkets
  • Leggings
  • Boots

For the most part, I am not planning on having weapons, spells, and abilities be able to level up. There might be exceptions, perhaps a potion or spell could allow items to be upgraded, or a blacksmith could help you with that. But as there will be lots and lots and lots of abilities, retaining one ability you love for the entirety of the game would get a bit boring, and eats into the whole "cookie-cutter" mentality where you only want one set of abilities because it's the best. So weapons/spells/abilities probably won't level up damage-wise.

As you progress, you'll come across new weapons and spells that will deal more damage than what you currently are using, and so you'll have to decide if the new damage (and whatever abilities it comes with) is worth upgrading to. Eventually if you're hitting mobs like a wet sponge, you might finally give in and change weapons. So this will be the trade-off decision-making the player will have to decide upon.

I don't plan on having gated bosses that require a certain amount of levelling or gear. Since you should be able to block every incoming attack, in theory there's no threat of dying ;) ;) ;) It's just a matter of how fast or slow can you dish out damage. Certain areas might be require a key or something though.

Item selection during gameplay

There will be defined slots for Weapons, Spells, and Consumables. I want the player to have to be holding an item in their hand to use it. However, this time around, you will have 3 designated slot arrays for each of the 3 types, so you can quickly cycle through each type's array using 3 different buttons or keys. Probably won't use a weapon wheel, but might have pop-up grid slots instead.

User interface

The UI will be scalable this time. Browsing inventory and spells probably won't take up the entire screen.

Multiplayer

  • Local couch co-op
  • Network multiplayer

Tallowmere had couch co-op, but due to UnityScript sluggishness, I never got network multiplayer going.

However, since I'm using C# now and compile times are 7x faster, and I know now that it is much better to implement networking code earlier than later, and since I've successfully created a couple multiplayer prototypes last year, I am confident Tallowmere II will have network multiplayer.

Pets and companions

Little creatures following you around and helping you out are cool, so I'll be adding these for sure.

There's a part of me that wants to create a turn-based pet battle system for a laugh, but I don't know how it would slot into the core story. Might be a side thing, because why not. If anything, doing turn-based pet battles could unlock tokens that could unlock new story endings, and/or perhaps grant you new gear upon winning. Probably not a high priority, but we'll see.

– Chris