The Ground Floor
Once the foundation grout was set and I had a chance to jump up and down on it to test it’s efficacy, it was time to work on the ground floor. This is where the players start, the bare bones of the game that need to exist in order for every game to begin and end properly. This manifests in the 6 basic resource piles in the game, but also shows in other ways. The Uroboros Aheri began here, as well as the Rocket Launcher. A win condition was still needed at this point, and we wrestled with simply having whomever defeated the Uroboros Aheri (which was Willbirkin Stage 5 for the longest time) win the game. The gaping issue with this was that all your kills past getting your level 2 ability made no difference in the game. The win condition was quickly changed to how you see it now, leaving Aheri a definite game ender, but also functioning as an integral piece to winning, much like the Queen in a Chess game.
The Rocket Launcher is a much different story. After watching the initial gameplay between others in the office (and sweating bullets the whole time), I came to the conclusion that the
game has no inevitability. The game can go on indefinitely, with no guaranteed ending.
The Rocket Launcher in the Resident Evil franchise has always been the “One and Done” Weapon. Shoulder it up, fire away, and anything remotely near the explosion was toasted into a charred pile of flesh. Also requiring no bullets, this made the Rocket Launcher the ideal inevitability engine for the game, and was quickly slotted into the Mansion.
After the above was set, it was time to set the low points of the game. This includes the smaller Infected you see (Bui Kichwa to Zombie (Male)), the smaller Resource Area cards (anything costing 0 to 30), and the starting deck. The starting deck became a staple the second it was implemented, and was never questioned. One of the very few things that started in the beginning and stuck through to the end, your starting deck was very literal to the game as well, with players starting with roughly the same inventory they began with in RE1.
How can a House go from the floor to the ceiling and completely ignore the walls? By setting the high point before the middle, you can set just how high the crescendo of the game rings, and ramp up to the crescendo much more easily. This is the fun stage of the design. This is where you want to aim to give your players the hardest time you can. This is where game designers such as Tomonobu Itagaki (Ninja Gaiden) and Hidetaka Miyazaki (Demon’s Souls) feel most comfortable at. This is the stage where the “lieutenant” of the Mansion was created, the Nemesis. I had always wanted him to be the guy that smashes through the wall, wreaking all kinds of havoc and typically killing off 1-2 players, and although many of the people testing groaned whenever he appeared, this was the exact reaction that I had been looking for.
This is also where the super weapon idea was first introduced. I found that I had to give players a reason to want to dig through the Weapon piles, besides just going for the Longbow (started as the Flamethrower) or the Magnum. The super weapons accomplished this to some extent, providing players with excitement at every buy, and had the added benefit of making players pay attention to what was in the Resource area at all times. The Gatling Gun was also added into the Mansion at this point, allowing for a Super Weapon in the Mansion aside from the Rocket Launcher.
Obviously the Longbow and Magnum were added in at this point as well. Player’s needed a way to deal massive damage should their Character build not go through as planned, or if they simply wanted to have a generic deck. The Magnum, although primarily sequestered to Barry, fit perfectly as a high end Weapon that had a great rate of return for the ammunition you put into it. The Flamethrower/Longbow was created specifically with the future in mind, but to also allow players to trash all their bullets that are useless late in the game and get the most leg out of each draw.
Around this time is when we fill in all the gaps in between. Every card that you see facilitates a needed design element, from the minor trash ability of Ominous Battle, to the game overclocking ability of Item Management.
Around this time, Justin, one of the testers, had figured out that Shotguns were the ultimate “I win” button. In many games he would take out 60-70% of the Mansion before many others had gained their 2nd level effects. This is how the Yellow Herbs came about. Not only did I need a way to manipulate Health values, but I also needed a way to slow him down. Yellow Herbs are only found in the Resident Evil universe, and cannot be bought. Filling the slot nicely, I also added in the Gatling Gun Majini, penalizing players who play all their bullets without having the damage to back it up, and the Hunter, giving players a reason to think twice before buying a card into an empty Discard Pile before Exploring. Although this didn’t slow down the “Shotgun roll” immensely, it slowed it down enough to allow other players to catch back up.
Do you agree or disagree with the logic so far? Tell us what you think!