Designer Kai shares is thoughts on the state of the game!

Design

Hello everyone! The combat prototype has been downloaded just over 500 times in the past two months, and we’ve been super busy collecting feedback from you all. Thank you to everyone who tried out the build!

In this post, I’d like to go over the feedback points and share our thoughts on where we’ll go from here. It’s mostly theoretical in nature, but that’s game design for you.

General Thoughts

Battle System – Despite all its flaws, the combat system seems to click! We’re quite happy with the system we’ve built, and we think it’s a solid foundation to build the rest of the game on. However, one missing piece seems to be the lack of interaction during the battle phase.

To this end, we’re considering a form of special ability that can be instantly activated once per battle. We hope that this will enable us to add a flashy visual hook the otherwise tight battle sequence, while also giving players more agency to improve the feeling that battles are either way too hard or way too easy.

Chrono Trigger, (c) Square Enix

Art Style – Despite working with a very limited amount of art assets, we feel the combination of 2D illustrations and pixel sprites works well together. And that’s great news for us, because it’s very cost effective to produce compared to other art styles.

The look of the UI will likely see the most changes moving forward – while we’re not aiming to overly stylize it, it does look a bit debuggy at the moment and we’ll try out a few variants over the next couple of updates. Icons are another question mark for now as they’re entirely taken from asset packs.

Complexity and Depth – From a design perspective, the current system enables us to create enough unique abilities and interactions to support a large character roster. While that’s great, the numbers are perhaps a bit on the high side – the amount of abilities and effects per character being one example.

To that end, we’ll try to remove some variables from characters moving forward without sacrificing their identity. The aim is to reduce all the things players need to keep in mind while setting up their characters, hopefully easing some of the mental load while still allowing for informed decisions.

Pain Points

Difficulty – The prototype campaign was extremely difficult. Part of it was by design, as we wanted to showcase some of the depth and complexity with the battle system. That said, having every single battle be a challenge got tiring fast, or as another player put it: “even normal battles felt like a massive commitment, rather than something I could play for a few minutes.”

To combat this, we’ll start to more consciously separate normal battles from boss and challenge battles in campaigns. We hope that campaigns will flow much better this way, with the strategy element of trying to build a good hand over a longer period of time coming into focus.

User Experience – The UI/UX is very rough. While this was to be expected since it’s our first iteration of it, having other people try it out helped a lot with identifying the specific issues that can be improved. Here’s what we’re thinking:

First, we’ll redesign some of the more problematic UI screens, such as the ability popover. Second, we’ll try out different interaction methods – such as using click-to-select instead of drag-and-drop for example to see what works and what doesn’t. Thirdly, we’ll do a polish pass to add more interaction states to make the UI more tactile and intuitive.

Missing Things

Now that we’ve built a solid foundation for the game, we’re looking at the rest of the features that will make up the game. These are all still very high-level, and as we’re doing feature work strictly on a one-at-a-time basis, I imagine that they’ll undergo change after we review the next feature. That said, here’s what we’re thinking at this point:

Character Progression – When you unlock a new unit, we want you to be able to use it immediately – similarly to a card in a CCG. Requiring you to grind for hours first before the unit becomes viable goes against our design philosophy. However, this results in a distinct lack of attachment to characters that is inherent in most RPGs, where growth and progress is experienced through levels.

While we’re likely not going to introduce levels or flat stat gains as that would create serious imbalances in multiplayer, we’re looking to add other permanent bonuses to characters you’ve spent a lot of time with. Something like alternate abilities, more unit charges or even changes in appearance.

Genshin Impact, (c) MiHoYo

Home Base – While the current campaign map and stage selection is very convenient, we’d like players to leave a permanent mark on the world. Whether or not it will be purely cosmetic or have a special gameplay function is still to be decided, but we want to at least have a visual representation of all the progress you’ve made and characters you’ve recruited.

We envisage this “interactive trophy case” to act as a main hub for the game that grows with you as you play, and a place you can always return to even as the campaign takes you to the furthest edges of Midgard.

Tavern, (c) @soapdpzel

The Story – We’ve left the story specific intentionally ambiguous until now as wished to avoid writing ourselves into a corner. Now that we’ve made good progress with the core game mechanics, we’ll start fleshing out the lore over the coming months.

Mechanically speaking, Legion Hearts is a series of short stories about its characters that ties into a larger, overarching narrative. While we haven’t decided on the specifics yet, we’re envisioning a story that reinforces this game format – such as reconstructing a timeline through memories to bring about a different future.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, (c) Capcom

What do you think? We’re excited to share some early designs with you once we’ve done some more work on it. Thank you again for sharing your feedback with us, it’s monumentally impactful at this early stage of the project and we’re always eager to read your comments on either Discord or Reddit. Until next time!