This will be a fun week for Legendary Heroes. On Tuesday we will be release the 1.6 patch as well as updated to the Quest, Loot and Dead World DLC. Overall this is a balance patch based on lots of playing (this is a process that can go on forever in games like this). But we also have a few good things in store.
There is a fix that improves the randomness of item generation which is a significant fix, especially if you have the DLC’s (the more items you have, the more problematic the generation would be). But I’m also excited because we’ve added some new features to the engine. These are very minor on the code side (literally 3-4 lines) but modders can get a lot of use out of them. They are the ability to have conditional modifiers be based on the target or attackers stats, rather than be comparative.
In Legendary Heroes you can create an ability that has a conditional comparative modifier, such as the Brute ability that gives +3 Attack when you are attacking someone who is lower level. It is conditional because it only applies in some situations, and it is comparative because it compares the attacker’s level to the targets to see if it should be applied.
Which this change we can have conditional abilities for things beyond comparisons. We can have a conditional bonus that is only applied when the target has less than 20 hit points (as with the new Death Blow ability) or a bonus that is given only when the attacker is above a certain level, is enchanted (if we created a unitstat to count enchantments and had every enchantment increment than unitstat), or is using a certain weapon (such as in the new Master Archer ability that gives the unit a critical hit bonus when wielding a bow).
I wanted to make sure to get in abilities that used the new feature both ways so that modders would have examples (and because they are fun).
On Thursday we will be releasing a new Leader Pack DLC for Legendary Heroes. This adds a new sovereign from the lore of Elemental to each of the 10 base factions. This is the bulk of what I have been playing with for the past 2 months when I have been testing and balancing the game. This will give you 10 more leaders to play as or against in your games.
With each of the leaders the goal is to make the experience different than playing with other leaders. My favorite is Magesta. For those of you up on your Elemental lore you will know that Magesta is Procipinee’s daughter. So I wanted something that made her feel like a powerful caster, but giving her a lot of spells felt a little flat. Giving her attack magic didn’t feel very “Paridenish”. Procipinee herself was always one of my favorite leaders because her crown broke a rule of the game and made her feel like she had a special proficiency with magic without being overpowering (as well as encouraging her players to really invest in enchantments and not be bled dry on mana for other spells because of it).
Magesta was the last leader I had to design, everyone else was ready (though one went through a redesign, which I’ll talk about later). I just couldn’t find any combination of abilities that felt interesting for her. I knew I should create a new ability for her, but for what? Create a new spell for her? Give her a bonus to her summons? I tested a lot of abilities and none of them really changed the way I played her. I was playing her like any other caster.
The trick came when I was in looking at the MeleeAppliesSpell code. We have some abilities that trigger a spell whenever you strike an opponent. The Frostborn ability does this to apply Slow every time the unit strikes an enemy. I began to think about what an ability that triggers a spell each time the unit casts a spell would look like and I had Magesta’s unique ability.
It’s called Lifeblood, each time Magesta casts a spell she is healed. That spell could be summoning an elemental or hasting an ally, each spell doubles as a heal spells for Magesta. When I played with this I found myself timing my spell casting more carefully. I would attack with my melee attack instead of summoning an elemental to allow my enemy to get a swing at me first, then summon the elemental to take advantage of the healing. When I realized I was playing her differently than other leaders I knew I had a good ability.
After Magesta I thought I was done. I wrapped the DLC pack, sent it to QA and started inviting others to play. One of those was Adam Biessener, our brand manager, marketing guy and all around strategy game nerd. Adam gave great feedback but he didn’t think that Moria, Queen of the Gandru (our new Umber leader) was good enough. Moria established power by rallying bandit groups and umber tribes under her banner. She wasn’t the most powerful of the leaders, but she is sneaky and ruthless. Adam remarked that LH lacked a good thief archtype in its leaders and he thought Moria would be a good place to add that. Since Adam always likes to suggest solutions when he points out problems he also recommended a new roguish ability for her, that she have a chance to get better items from goody huts. I got the ability in and a few hours later we were play testing with her, it felt great and though she can be unbalanced (we put a lot of work into pacing out what random items you find and when, and she breaks those rules) she is fun to play.
One of the challenges in providing new leaders for a game that allows (if not encourages) you to make your own leaders is that it may be viewed as being lower value. After all you can fairly easily make 10 new leaders on your own with the tools we have provided. But even in that case you can take advantage of the DLC. All of the new leader abilities have been added to the sovereign creator. There are new abilities like Lifeblood and Treasure Finder. There are new items and equipment in sovereign customization. And even if you never play as the new leaders, it’s fun to find new enemies to play against.
I look forward to getting it released this week and I hope you have as much fun with the patch and the DLC as I have.