Success. It seems the 7DRL gods favour me when I work in a completely new game engine than the one from my last win.
I’d already been toying with a turn-based-Diablo project earlier in the year, but I’d lost faith in it – I couldn’t get it to feel nice to play and kept letting myself get bogged down in details like trying isometric view, getting diagonal movement to feel equivalent to cardinal, how to broach collision and so on.
The concept revolved on the idea that bullet collision would be tracked in real-time, during the animation of moving from one tile to the next. I’ve done turn-based bullets many times before but it was always a confusing premise where you didn’t know if the bullet checked at the beginning or end of a turn – or if it was on your turn or the enemy’s turn. To make things even easier to parse I removed the idea of passing turns – everyone acts at the same time. The player makes their choice, then the enemies choose – then it all animates as one turn.
7DRL seemed like a great opportunity to try out a very basic version of the concept. I had a few other things I wanted to try, like spending health for bullets and spell-combos. The former turned out to be a big mistake – it demanded some sort of health regeneration. The result was the kind of gameplay complained about in big budget shooters where the optimal tactic was to mince along, shoot a bit, then hide, then shoot a bit, etc. Very boring. At this point I heard the disembodied voice of Darren Grey speaking to me like Obi Wan Kenobi:
Remove the health. One hit point. One hit poiiiinnntt…
Much better. This took the pressure off from getting AI to work. Ranged AI is very different from melee AI. Given more time I could have created a threat map generated by the bullets and created some very devious monsters, but I’d already lost a day making the monsters a threat to regenerating health.
Spell combos were great in theory – but only really came into practice when I let spells be used for a number of charges. That let me experiment with combo load outs and let myself build up a reserve for when I got cornered.
Like all games I’ve made, I’m having fun playing it but it remains to be seen if others will enjoy it. Hopefully I’ve answered the question, “what if bullets were turn-based”, satisfactorily and if people enjoy it I may expand on the concept based on feedback.