Archive for the ‘ Character Design ’ Category

Monsters for every season

Recently, I stumbled upon an amazing creature collection on Deviant Art.

It turns out that the artist, Nicholas Cloister, is launching a new service that will supply you with monsters at rock-bottom prices.

But who needs monsters?

Well, everyone! From dungeon masters to RPG publishers, from ebook writers to game developers (like myself).

The monsters are excellent not just at the concept level but are also very detailed and well-drawn. All are supplied at print resolution (7000x7000px!) and come with descriptions and even with sample encounters.

Agi Septhoron


Hurry up and sign up quickly because the first 1000 members will be getting the monsters for free, when 2000 members are reached.


Diablo 3 inferno farming

This is probably a bit of old news, as no one seems to be playing Diablo 3 any more (myself included).

I wanted to post my Demon hunter and my Inferno farming gear. If I have more time, I do ACT I runs (selective farming of rares) and once I’m up to 5 stacks, I usually go to the Pony level (Whimsyshire).

The key to the item build is the full Natalya set as it gives you incredible discipline regeneration. In Athene’s tests, he was able to kite/stealth for 2 minutes straight. This was enough to kill rare spawns even before the inferno hit points nerf.

As to weapons, I have a 1050 crossbow. The impressive part is it has 80% increased critical damage and a socket, which I can upgrade to +100%. Currently, it’s +70, which gives me +150% from the crossbow alone.

League of Legends quests

Last night, my team and I in particular received our first League of Legends quest – bring the head of Kha’zix.

I  was playing as Rengar, in an attempt to stave off my Maokai dependency.

The team was really excited when the quest popped up, so it’s easy to make the case for MORE quests like that. They are fun and require a bit of teamplay, which sometimes changes the dynamics for the better.

My Maokai record from last year. This year I came back to him as a jungler and late-game tank. Works out pretty well.

Sources of Inspiration, part I

When it comes to fantasy unit design, I find three constant sources of inspiration:

  1. Historic – that is the most obvious and often works flawlessly. Make your choice from Varangians to Teutons to Tartars. The big downside is avoiding cliches and meeting the player expectations. For example, making Teutons to be light-armored archers will surprise your players a lot!
  2. Word combos – sometimes a cool word combo will trigger associations for a unit design. Most often, I’ll keep the coolness for the name itself and the description will twist it a bit around. For example, the Gutrippers are one of Riftforge’s elite assassin battalions. However, the description states that they started as kitchen help before moving on to active duty (but the nickname remained).
  3. Music – for a long time, I’ve only focused on cool names and here rock and heavy metal come in handy. From the Ironmaidens to the Blackhearts (Joan Jett’s band) to Harvesters of Sorrow. Unfortunately, I have a problem with all of these – they are too literal, so the direct association breaks the immersion.

So music is relegated to inspiration about LOOKS!

Yes, punk rock becomes tribal, black leather becomes cultist/savages, and disco… Well, I’m still processing disco but it’s hard to top disco when it comes to flamboyancy, so it shouldn’t be hard to place it with a highly-individualistic race.

Exercise One: Here’s an over-the-top punk-rock-new-wave band from the 80s, see if you can find a place for it in your game design.

Now tell me you’ve already thought about putting a ripped pantyhose on the face of a character. No? Well, now you know it looks great. For the record, I first heard Sigue Sigue Sputnik in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, so sometimes it takes 20+ years of movie watching experience to pull off a single unit.

Fantasy Art Styles

Jon Schindehette has an interesting post over at the WotC site about art style, specifically when it comes to armor. He ends with the following conclusion:

Armor should look appropriate to the culture, environment, materials available, and technology, first and foremost. If the armor doesn’t pass that test, then it doesn’t matter whether it is being worn by a man or a woman.

I agree with his sentiments, but more importantly, I like his visual guide to the three general art styles when it comes to fantasy characters and their armor:

Once you have this guide, it’s really a piece of cake to figure out that Blizzard are fond of fantastic realism. Even Diablo 3, which previously sported a dark, gothic style, has now been transformed into another WoW when it comes to over-the-top fantastic realism with cartoony colors.

For Riftforge, we have chosen the third style. It requires a lot more effort on the part of the artist but when done right looks so true that Renaissance painters turn green with envy.

Exclusive access: Riftforge playtest

Riftforge is finally open for a limited public playtest.

You can start playing immediately by entering this secret passcode – SOFIA.

Playtest objectives

Riftforge playtest objectives are two and we expect your feedback on both:

  • Collect balancing data on the RPG classes
  • Improve the interface and overall interaction with the game

Playtest feature list

Your ultimate objective is to rise in rank. Winning against high-ranking players results in significant rank improvement and tons of gold.

Character Creation – creating your character gets you:

  • One commander slot – you choose your first archetype
  • Immediate access to three core and two special troopers
  • Full complement of weapons and armor for each trooper

PVP Battleground – once ready for battle, you can:

  • Play a ranked battle: wins and losses influence your rank
  • Join an existing custom game (training)
  • Create a custom game (training)

Equipment and troops – the gold from your wins allows you to:

  • Upgrade your gear with better weapons, armor, trinkets
  • Recruit veteran and elite troops
  • Improve your skills via training

Technical Details

  • Any modern browser (including Internet Explorer 9 via Flash plugin)
  • Any modern computer, including iPad (iPods & iPhones are too small)

Temple of Gameplay Evil

As a big fan of tactical RPGs, I often browse GOG for old games that have stood the test of time.

I have re-played Icewind Dale a few times through the years but I wanted something a bit different, yet D&D. So I reviewed the comments and found that at with the Christmas promotion, you can get The Temple of Elemental Evil for just $2.99.

I quickly realized that I have completely forgotten how unforgiving the D&D system is. My observations (rant) in bullet-format:

  • Missing – I am level 4 and I still miss a lot. I have missed continuously for four rounds of combat where all my 5 characters attacking a single enemy
  • Damage – your enemies miss a lot as well but when you get hit, you can be killed instantly (at low levels) with damage exceeding HP of the wizard well into levels 4+.
  • Prior knowledge – the game is designed around a lot of saving and loading. When I exited the first dungeon, I was half dead. I was greeted by 13 fresh new opponents!
  • No retreat – there is no way to retreat from a battle, so you have to know in advance what enemy you’ll be facing. There’s also no room for a lot of missing or high damage (see 1&2)

The game is extremely hardcore and I like that. At the same time, I feel that the D&D combat system creates a whole host of issues (above). The way to address the unpredictability of the results is to tweak the hit chance, the weapon damage and the hit points. It’s so basic, yet D&D continues to rely on arcane D20 concepts that produce extremely erratic results when samples are small.

These quirks force you to save and reload often (thank God for quicksave and load), which diminishes any sense of accomplishment. It also justifies you to abuse the AI any way you can find, from sleep to entanglement, to shooting through a door that’s too small to fit the ogre in the other room.

Apart from combat itself, the other major issue is the flexibility of the class system. As someone who haven’t played a D&D game in 10 years, I had to follow a step-by-step guide in order to generate a working “party”. It is extremely easy to gimp your characters with your stats in a way that is irreversible. The other reason to follow a guide is the added element of “surprise” when you realize you have leveled up pickpocket and there’s no one in this game worth pickpocketing!

In short, it front-loads 90% of class decisions. I know WotC have tried to address this by adding flexibility with all the multiclassing options. However, multi-classing quickly veers into gimping territory as there are only a few viable archetypes.