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[REVSHARE] FREE GAME DESIGN - Prevent the Apocalypse! a Zelda-like Timetravel MECH ARPG

So this morning I had an idea for a game that puts a small twist on the time traveling trope and recorded it. Here it is, give it a listen give feedback, bounce ideas I appreciate it.

If anyone wants to make a Zelda-like top down action RPG hit me up. Would love to help.

If there is a zelda-like kit in the asset store kindly let me know if you recommend it. Cheers!

  • Top down slanted view, ie Zelda, Moonlighter etc.
  • 2D or 3D art
  • Orthogonal and Diagonal movement
  • Orthogonal attacks only for PC
  • Variety of Ranged and melee weapons the player can craft and swap between
  • Killed enemies drop crafting goods
  • Player has limited inventory, goods are shown as icons in square grid on inventory screen
  • Crafting - Raw goods dropped by enemies, found in breakables and chests can be combined into new weapons, consumable power ups, weapon upgrades, or recycled into 'scrap' or energy (basically its a currency), a common resource needed for all crafting. ie to craft a laser rifle upgrade player would need 2 tesla coils, 4 quartz lens and 15000 scrap/energy/goo/whatever
  • No stores or interactable NPCs fits the time traveling apocalypse theme and reduces assets needed for game KIS method
  • 1 Hero character, KIS
  • NPCs are the scientist who can communicate with hero and move story along but do not interact, KIS
  • No EXP or leveling. This is extra unnecessary work and adds a layer of complexity combined with weapon upgrades that make power adjusting tedious...unless we dont mind the player min maxing and going on a godlike power trip destroying everything in his path with no tension...
Player explores a dungeon related to the events leading up the apocalypse as he searches for clues or information that lead him to the next dungeon. Dungeons are interconnected square rooms filled with monsters, breakables, obstacles, loot, and simple puzzles. Layout of dungeon procedurally generated which leads to higher replability. Templates can be used to create a series of sets for the generator to choose from, obstacle layouts, spawn points, spawn randomization set lists.

Gameplay buttons should be limited to 9 maximum so game can be played via keyboard and mouse or gamepad. Game will differentiate between fast press (fire on release) and long hold for powerful charge attack, may include dash, spin or other movement as part of attack. (again fire on release).

  • A, X buttons for melee weapon*
  • Y button for ranged weapon*
  • B/L1 Button for dash jump 
  • Start/select Button for inventory/pause
  • R1/A Button for interact
  • L2, R2 buttons for consumables
  • Movement with Dpad and/or Stick
*x2 press types = 4 attack options for melee weapon and 1 for ranged. Each attack offers Different arcs, patterns, damage, charge time and recovery time.
ABXY buttons chosen for combat because the constant pressing will be more comfortable than using R1R2L1L2

Weapon damage is fixed amount with defined value, variance, and crit chance, crit value. Ie
  • Damage 90 (The base value for damage is 90)
  • Variance 10 (Damage will be randomized between 80-100)
  • Crit Chance .1 (10% chance to deal crit damage)
  • Crit 2.5 (Crits deal 250% damage)
ie Daggers have faster attack animations, and high crit chance but lower damage
Swords have medium arcs, medium animation, and medium crits
Axes have wide arcs,slow animation, high crit damage


Players like it when Enemies follow predictable patterns, giving them a sense of skill mastery as they avoid attacks and slay enemies with ease. Good tension comes when threats are layered on top of each other creating a complex web of dangers and then diminish as the player kills off enemies. Giving an Ahh so satisfaction feeling when you can finally breathe again. So it's important to have a variety of enemies with varying attack patterns, sizes and walk routes.
  • Small enemies typically are easier to kill with few hp and do little damage, but their small size combined with speed make them a nuisance
  • Medium enemies (same size as PC) are mid tier threats
  • Large enemies are usually well armored, harder to kill but balanced by being slow or predictable (signaling before charging)
It's important for enemies to follow player expected behaviors. If a smart animal such as person or bird, movement patterns should be more complex. This also leads to additional animations needed such as, unaware walking, becoming aware animation, wind up, sprint.

If environment threat or low intelligence like boulders, golems, etc their movement patterns should be simplistic. Often just moving back and forth or bouncing off walls.

Similar to Enemies but typically defined as no AI and often unkillable. Sometimes environment threats can be neutralized with opposing energy types, ice vs fire etc.
  • Lava
  • Fire
  • Turrets - Laser, machinegun, rockets
  • Pits
  • Collapse-able terrain
Damage isnt the only way we should use to build tension, we should also think of what kind of status effects we want to inflict on the PC and for the PC to inflict on Enemies.
  • Slow, from ice or an oozy monster that sticks to the PC
  • Knockback, that shoves the character in a direction and interrupts their action
  • Poison that damages the character over time and has an audible and visual clue to what is happening
  • Shrink with slow and increased damage felt
  • Enlarge with increased hit box but also increased damage dealt
  • Stun
Animations and characters are expensive to create so we should make sure we get a lot of mileage out of each one or not make it at all. Alternatively we can also get a lot of mileage and feeling from good visual effects which is more reliant on code than a custom series of animated images. Obviously there are plugins in the asset store we could use but each those needs to be integrated, tested and tweaked.
  • Screen shake from being hit with more shake for higher damage hits
  • Screen rumble from large enemy walking or hitting ground
  • Screen flash from weapons or hits
  • Red tint with audio when life is low
  • Color Tint overlay when poisoned or affected by environment
  • Dust particles
  • Doors open when all monsters are dead
    • Solution: Kill all monsters
  • Step on button door opens, step off door closes
    • Solution: Move thing on top of button
    • Variation: Kill a something or unlock a what to get the thing.
  • All of these things are on buttons (except one) and there is an exposed button, step on button door opens, step off door closes. Move the wrong thing off a button and now that button must also be covered.
    • Solution: Buttons are visible under 3 things but not the 4th move the 4th thing on top of the button.
    • Variation: Everytime you re-enter the room it looks the same, except the non-button is randomly in a different spot
  • Repeating Maze looks the same no matter which way player goes ie if player moves through left door he enters room that looks exactly the same as the room he left. If he ever exits from the door he entered from he returns to the room previous to the start of maze
    • Solution: Clue tells him directions to go that will solve the maze, ie up up down down left right, north, south, east easte
    • Variation: Things in the room changes that clue the player into which way to go, ie always go in the direction of the broken statue. Obvious if only one things changes, less obvious via layering ie statues change, footprints change, torches change
  • You can't do the thing because you don't have the tool
    • Keep exploring until you find the tool then come back to the thing, ie icewall blocks your path until you find the fireorb, need the boomerang to get the key across pit, need the arrow to shoot the button across spikes etc
    • Variation: Can't kill the dude because you don't have the tool/weapon ie The turtle can't be damaged until you flip him over with the shovel/fan/hammerquake, Can't kill the ice demon until you get the flaming sword upgrade
Audio is a vital component to creating emotion for players. While sound tracks and sound effects can be purchased from 3rd party websites or outsourced, it's important to bring on a dedicated audio engineer to tweak those assets to maximize their emotional impact.

Music sets the tone, crunchy hit impacts and weapon explosions raise the excitement, pulsating warning sounds raise the tension to a crescendo then clearing the stage of enemies and sliding off to a calm melody releases that tension for that all too addicting gameplay of tense & release.

Each feature, character, *thing* we add to the game increases our workload, so we should strive for quality over quantity. But here are some things that might be worth adding to the game

*Shopkeeper who appears randomly throughout the dungeons selling completed items or item recipes
*Hidden rooms
*More speaking characters for the PC to interact, like a sidekick human, advanced pet or robot
*Dialogue or event tree - dangerous workload increaser!
*Randomly occuring rare events
*Rare hard to find randomly occuring items
*Multiple endings

To keep costs low and improve reusability we should recycle enemies and animations when possible yet we need to balance this by having a good amount of variety also. One method for this could be to warp the player or let the player warp around to more difficult dungeons in the same time period, thus limiting the enemy types to be thematic of that time period. example: Oozes appear in 2099, the first time the player visits 2099 the oozes he fights are light blue and deal 25 damage and have 25 hit points. 2 hours of gameplay later the player visits a new dungeon in 2099 where oozes are orange and have 100hp and deal 100 damage. Recycling the same attack pattern, animation and silhouette just applying a new color scheme and increasing parameters. Note that if the player has upgraded his items his power arc should still treat this new improved ooze as an easy enemy, yet if the player is allowed to explore there too early and has not upgraded the ooze may be very difficult.

Slimey Ooze - Small, low hit point, leaps at MECH when close, Sticks to the PCs mech and slows them down, falls off after a few seconds of walking

MrMoneyBags - Fat round robot that appears randomly in one doorway and waddles straight across the room and exits out the other door. Unkillable but each time the player hits it money (scrap, crystals) comes out.

Rocky - Rolls right to left, or up and down until bumping into an obstacle, pauses, rolls the other way, repeat. High hit points and armor, high damage, very predictable and easy to avoid.

Metal Hawk - Clings to wall, swoops quickly towards player in a straight line and continues to opposite wall where it clings, pauses for 3 seconds then repeats. Low health, high mobility, medium damage.

Laser Turret - Starts pointed in a set position when entering the room, not directly at a door. Every 3 seconds the turret lights up for 2 seconds, turns 90 degrees and fires a straight laser beam. Medium health, medium damage, ranged unit, does not move only turns.

Cowardly Archer - This ranged unit runs away if you get to close. When it reaches a 'safe' distance it pauses for a moment, aims then fires a medium speed bolt at you. Unlike most enemies this moves away from the PC on purpose, by moving in attacking quickly or dashing ahead to catch up the player can kill the annoying ranged unit. Low health, low to medium damage, slow rate of fire.

Poisonous Archer - Same as above but arrows are tipped with acid/poison causing extra damage over time.

Machine Gunner - Walks back and forth along simple path until it visually sees player. Then shoots out a trail of 6 bullets before it must reload. Player's best chance to kill enemy is to sneak up behind it or hide behind cover until its forced to reload. Hitting the MG interrupts it's turning action slightly, so if a player uses a continuous series of quick attacks the MG won't be able to turn and fire at the PC if behind it.

Diagon/Bishop - This creepy cloaked figure moves around in short diagonal hops and hops in and out of range of the PC. Whenever he lands in a diagonal spot next to the player his cloak flies up and a dagger slashes out at the PC (attacks diagonally). If we get the timing down correctly this should be killable yet annoying for the player as it takes advantage of the fact that the player can only attack orthogonally. Low hp, medium damage, melee only

Hardened Plasma Turret - Turrets cannot move only turn, this turret charges up and shoots an oval like ball of plasma at the player. Hitting the turret with any weapon deals no damage. The only way to destroy this turret is to time and angle your sword slash to reflect the plasma ball back at it. Medium damage, 1 health point but invulnerable to everything except it's own attack. Note the plasma it shoots is blue, when the player hits the plasma it turns red thus clueing the player in that it can be used as a weapon. Converted plasma will hit any enemy (including the turret) and deal 100 damage.

To keep development time and costs as low possible development should focus on creating 1 interesting room with full functionality and polished graphics.

This vertical slice of the game would accomplish 2 things
  1. It would show whether the existing talent of the team could deliver a high quality product

  2. It would be enough for me to show VC, publishers or crowdfunding a high quality demo of the game and raise additional capital to finish
3 different enemies, 1 simple puzzle (move the box on to the switch to open the door), obstacles, breakable obstacle, pit, character animations, skin, shadows, lighting and 4 melee attacks (2 press, 2 hold) and 2 ranged attacks (1 press, 1 hold), dash, music, sound, screen shake when hit, knockback when hit, loot pickup, loot chest and able to craft a new weapon. (Loot for demo would be static so player always had enough raw material to craft after clearing enemies).

So far we have a fairly straight action RPG that still needs a real hook to drive players excitement and anticipation up and into buying it.

Similar Titles and Their Hooks:
  • [/url]Zelda's hook is a longstanding IP, super high quality design, art, sound, puzzles (Nintendo).
    • Nintendo Quality
    • Puzzles
    • World Exploration
    • Familiarity
    • Cartoony enemies and graphics
  • [size=undefined]MOONLIGHTER Developer: [url=]Digital Sun Publisher: 11 bit studios 
    Genre: ActionAdventureIndie
    Release date: May 29, 2018 Price: $19.99 
    Score rank: 39% Userscore: 74% Old userscore: 75% Metascore: 78% 
    Owners: 50,000 .. 100,000[/size]
  • [size=undefined]Moonlighter's hook was that the game would combine shop simulators with dungeon looting. The player needed to fill his store with loot, decorate it, set prices and manager the store during the day before going out and collecting loot at night. It turns out the store feature of that game was very simplistic and felt tacked on, we could attempt a better version of this where the player really has to craft supplies into items and sell the made items and make choices (such as predicting what items people will want) rather than throw raw ingredients on the shelf and watch everyone buy everything. I think Moonlighters recent success for mediocre depth is a clear sign that the market want's this style of game and it's not oversaturated.[/size]
    • Store simulator
    • Plot
  • [size=undefined]STARDEW VALLEY Developer: ConcernedApe Publisher: Chucklefish 
    Genre: IndieRPGSimulation
    Release date: Feb 26, 2016 Price: $14.99 
    Score rank: 97% Userscore: 97% Old userscore: 97% Metascore: 89% 
    Owners: 2,000,000 .. 5,000,000 -[/size]
  • [size=undefined]Most think of SV as a farming sim and dating sim but dungeon diving for ore is an important part of the game and uses the same top down view and orthogonal attack system in zelda-likes. The Hook for SV was that everything, including sound, art and code was all made by 1 person for 7 years that picked up a lot of traction from amazing word of mouth because the game was so deep and addicting.[/size]
    • Plot
    • Discovery
    • Farming
    • Dating
  • [size=undefined]BIT DUNGEON 2 Developer: KintoGames Publisher: KintoGames 
    Genre: ActionAdventureIndieRPG
    Release date: Dec 15, 2014 Price: $3.99 
    Score rank: 57% Userscore: 83% Old userscore: 82% 
    Owners: 100,000 .. 200,000[/size]
    • Procedurally generated maps
    • Random gear with randomized stats drops from enemies and chests
    • Very lite gameplay - 4 direction buttons, auto attack in direction moving if enemy present and Only uses 1 button for enhanced attack, block, charge attack, interact (The interact action can be deadly annoying as you unintentionally swap for worse gear on the battlefield while trying to attack)
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