So, last time I told I would talk in detail about those other features I only mentioned, but, starting last weekend, I also made some fundamental design changes.
First, those features from last week:
To further ease the wrist pain, you can clone any of your gems. Drag it over the Anvil (the middle section of the gem creation/types panel), and release it. If you have enough mana, an exact copy will appear in your inventory. It costs the same mana amount as if you crafted a new gem manually, there is no penalty for using this shortcut.
If you’re short on mana and that very last giant monster will reach your orb inevitably, you can smash any of your gems to the the Anvil (drop a gem bomb on it), and you’ll get back 70% (or more, depending on a skill level) of the original mana cost. Rapid gem bombing works too, you can wipe your inventory out quickly to get some emergency mana. (You don’t even have to do it quickly, just freeze the time and sit back.)
Just 3 minor things to mention here:
In the Options screen, you can select to automatically freeze the time when a stage starts, so you can prepare your defenses without losing any time. It’s unchecked by default, because players new to the game might get confused by the game never starting.
The vfxes are not frozen when the time is, partly because all the glows and sparks would make the scene too chaotic, and partly because it gives a nice “bullet time” effect.
And third, originally I set the shortcut key to cycle through frozen, normal and triple speed, but that was a bad idea, not it switches between frozen and normal. (If you are in trouble and want to freeze time fast, pressing the key shouldn’t switch to triple speed and make things even worse.)
Unleashed vs Free edition:
Many of you asked what the difference will be, so here is a short comparison:
In the free version, you can access all the stages (and thus finish the game), but there are many limitations on the content.
-There is a player level cap (haven’t decided yet how high it should be, playtesting will tell).
-The bottom line in the skills panel is locked (the more fun, nasty and powerful skills).
-The two bottom lines in the settings panel (the toughest settings) are locked.
-The challenge amulets are locked.
What are challenge amulets, by the way:
-They have a high requirement to meet
-They are tied to a particular stage
-They remember your best try, even if you have already acquired them.
An example: “Kill 100.000 monsters on field L8 in one battle”.
The purpose of these amulets is to provide you a new way to challenge the other players.
You can build shrines in GCL, and they don’t have a use limit, although they take a long time to recharge. There are two types, that differ mainly in their range. The Charged bolts shrine has a range of 4.9 units (1 unit = 1 piece of path stone), while the Lightning shrine strikes in a 3 units wide row and column, in four directions.
First they take away a ratio of the actual (not total) hit points of _all_ monsters in their area of effect. Then they hit a number of monsters (depending on gem grade) as if the gem hit them, but with increased damage. Special effects also apply.
A gem placed in an amplifier doesn’t shoot, but boosts the surrounding gems. A part of the gem’s damage, as well as its specials are added to the adjacent gems’ attributes (if they have an active special of the same type).
How much the gem gives to its neighbours, depends on how many there are (if there’s only one tower or trap next to the amplifier, it gets 30% of the gem’s damage, range, firing speed, and its specials. If there are 8 neighbours, all get 9%. (This can further be boosted with the Magnify skill.) How to get the best results, depends on the situation, but is mainly up to you to experiment.
What amplifiers are good for:
-bringing down heavily armored monsters, boosting your powergem with other gems to give it more damage.
-giving your powergem just a bit more range to cover a long path and become much more powerful effectively.
-if you face a huge horde of swarm monsters, placing 6-8 towers around an amp, placing weak gems in them, and boost them with a powerful gem, can give you lots of adequately powerful shots, that are much better than a single powerful gem, and can make all the difference.
-you don’t have to combine your gems, so your defense can be much more flexible.
Ok, so these are the things from last week, but why did this blogpost take so long if these were already implemented before?
First, the design issues I wanted to address:
-Ok, that now you could pick what kind of gem you want to create, but each stage has it’s different types, and what if you wanted poison or shocking? Pumping up your gem type skill and transmuting your low grade gem is all you had.
-Some skills were sloppy. Two different skills to increase minimum and maximum damage, and raising initial and initial maximum mana (mana pool size)? What if I push my minimum damage above the maximum? Or if I go above my mana pool size with my initial mana? Then my skill points get wasted?
-How about epic bosses as a battle setting? (Many of you asked for it and you were right.)
-Special caps are so annoying? What’s the use of amplifying a chocking gem if I can’t go above 70% chance anyway?
-Splash damage is just too powerful. Hitting just any amount of monsters in the splash range makes all the other gem types no match for it.
-What’s the thing with juggling? If I demolish a wall and build one at the other end of a long path, I can have the brutally tough last monsters march up and down endlessly while I can shoot them as I please. It takes all the challenge away.
And the tough decisions I made and implemented (started working on them last Saturday, they are all done and working by now):
Unlockable gem types:
All stages start with two available gem types, but you can unlock any of the 8 types with mana. First unlock costs 1.000, then 4.000 etc, the last one costs 36.000 (in case you want all 8 gem types at your disposal). The “lower cost of increasing mana pool size” now lowers the unlock cost as well.
Free low grade gems for gem type masteries, as well as the transmute feature, are taken out.
At last! You can face shadows, formerly only known from the title “GemCraft 2: Chasing Shadows”. This is not the news, it was planned already, but now that the “all gem types granted” setting is made obsolete by gem type unlocking, the setting at the bottom right of the settings panel lets you mix the second most powerful archenemies of the GC universe into your battles! The guardians from GC0 are no match for these guys…
Changes in the skill system:
Min-max damage is merged to increase both in one skill, same for initial mana and mana pool size.
This gave more room for more fun skills.
There’s a skill again for gem bombs, which increases the number of monsters you can summon with a gem bomb, with the same hit points and armor level penalty. It also increases the refund rate for the Anvil.
Shrine builder is merged to the generic Builder skill, making all building types cheaper.
New skill: Demolition (more info below).
Deadly traps skill: initially you have -80% to damage and +80% to specials. With this skill you can move up to -50%, +110%.
You can demolish your own buildings 3 times per battle, by dropping a gem bomb on your wall, (empty) tower, amp or trap. (Shrines are so expensive that you can’t demolish them, to avoid the huge accidental loss). With the demolition skill, you can increase it to 13 times, so you can have juggling as part of your strategy.
Gem types rewritten from scratch:
This was the most drastic and probably the most disputable change. First, the bad news for splash damage fans: Due to the unfair advantage splash had against densely crowded summoned monsters, it was removed, and instead red gems have the “bloodbound” special, which means, a ratio of the kills the gem has, is added to the damage. Combining gems won’t reset the kill count, but add them up.
All skill cap has been removed, but to do that, I had to modify the nature of some of the gem types.
Poison: stayed the same, get a bit stronger.
Mana gain: the same, got a bit weaker.
Bouncing shot (now officially: “Chain hit”): the chance of hitting more nearby targets can go above 100%. In that case, the gem has 100% chance to hit 2 targets, and x% chance to hit a third one. Having no cap, at very high grades, it can get so strong that every hit bounces onward to 4-5 targets, so this can be seen as the new splash damage.
Critical hit (“Multiple damage”): same as above, having 345% chance means you have 100% chance to deal 4x the damage of the gem, and 45% to hit 5x as hard.
Shocking: How can it go above 100%? If a monster is shocked, it gets some immunity against being shocked again. The more shock, the more immunity, and after a while, even 250% chance to shock has an effective chance of 10% against a 240% immunity. This means, most monsters can be shocked multiple times with ease, and it will save some time against tougher ones, but won’t make them a frozen statue.
Slowing: it can make monsters, say, 500% slower, but that doesn’t mean they will go backwards with 4x speed, but that they’ll have to spend 5x the time to move any given distance. So their actual speed will never reach 0%, but it can still hold them back seriously. (The formula is 100/(100+x)% instead of 100-x%.)
Splash -> Bloodbound, as described above. Works the best when you have lots of monsters to boost the gem’s damage (like lots of swarms).
Armor piercing (now “Armor tearing”): instead of a chance, each hit consumes a small part of the armor of the monster. This special ignores the armor level (you don’t have to deal any actual damage to damage the armor), so pull up a dozen of purple gems with the giants come!
About the release date:
The game is now very near to be completed, but that doesn’t mean it’s only a few days left, and that’s what we have before the holiday season arrives, so simply put, it won’t be released in December. Additional sound editing, additional art, playtesting (plus balancing the game mechanics and fixing any errors), promotion/meta materials, business negotiations, serverside connection/loading-saving to/from server, and tutorial panels are yet to go.
I’ll write as soon as there’s any major advancement, but there’ll be at least one more post this year.