Wild Sky TD (Google Play Editor’s Choice) is our first game, combining traditional Tower Defense game-play with card-collection and RPG mechanics.
Wild Sky has events that rotate every two weeks. These events contain a story spread across 12 levels, three new cards, and special event game play.
Every other event, we have to design a brand new experience for players to keep players progressing. We have to implement all of the following:
Theoretically, the design team has 10 days for this task, but in practice we have closer to 5. The first few days are often spent fixing the previous release and the last few days are spent testing the upcoming release. Furthermore, the design team has infinite other work that also needs to be completed.
This is a tremendous challenge! Let’s take a look at how this all comes together.
The design process for an event starts with concepts from the art team.
The art pipeline works further in advance, so by the time the design team starts on an event, some things are already set in stone. For an example, in an ideal world the Coral Warden tower would have launched with Maryn. However, they were not ready at the same time.
Once we have the art concepts for the hero, spell, and tower the design team works together to come up with skill ideas for these cards that will synergize. We also consider what kind of event mechanic these heroes would work with.
Turn into a jettison of water and dive towards target location, dealing high damage.
Pulls Maryn towards a target creep, dealing damage. Upgrade to increase damage.
Spins in a circle, damaging and knocking back nearby enemies
Traps some nearby units in bubbles.
Increase weapon damage against Water enemies by an additional [30-150]%.
A nearby structure is blessed, increasing it’s range and damage and healing it.
In this case, the Typhoon spell and Leviathan towers were already fully implemented months before this event, so we just had to do our best to make Maryn fit.
For the event mechanic, we wanted to create tense moments where players felt like they were saved from defeat in the last moment. We also wanted players to feel the danger was greater than it really is. Because Leviathan and Typhoon cards had a lot of slowing and knock-back effects, we wanted the event to feature fast creeps.
Ultimately, we went with the following event mechanics:
When a tricky goblin starts to attack towers from a range, Maryn can Tidal Dive to deal with them. When Eggs are spawned, fun moments are created as masses of fast, strong creeps rush the player’s ship (without being too much of an actual threat due to their reduced damage) and are held back by the gust of the Typhoon spell or the Leviathan’s waterspouts. Meanwhile, Maryn can dive towards the golden egg and quickly take it down. As players defenses are about to fall to the hordes of creeps, players are saved at the last moment as the egg dies!
Personally, I think the event design was very fun! But there were some issues.
Creating an entirely new way of generating waves for a single two-week event was a lot of work, and as a result other aspects of the event had to be rushed and not tested sufficiently. As a result the event had a lot of bugs, technical issues, and balance problems.
Despite the intention of having there be more of a feeling of threat without actual danger (due to reduced creep damage and healing from the golden egg) the actual result was an increase in difficulty.
On a design level, this was a harsh reminder that Scope Control is an important skill for any designer to have. You have to make sure your ideas are something you can actually complete and finish in time to ship the release build! Luckily, we get another chance. Events are re-run, and when the events are re-run we have a chance to update the event to fix our mistakes.
An over-eager beginner game designer has a ton of cool ideas — and so do we! But the reality of game development involves compromises: planning events around available assets and scoping work to be accomplished under tight deadlines. A great example of this is Wild Castle. One of our designers controlled the scope of this project so that he could make the entire game by himself in just a couple of months! Check out the post he wrote about designing Wilder Castles here.
Come back next time for a look at one of the tasks the design team for Wild Sky at Crunchy Studios handles when we’re not designing new events where we give you a inside look at the creation of the tournament consumables system!