The combat in Grail Guards was extremely simplistic and mainly consisted of the player running into an enemy in order to defeat it. For our new game project, we decided to expand on the combat mechanic and make the attack input/button-bound instead of automatic. On top of that, the player’s melee attacks became more specified: initially, the character would perform a 3-chain attack if they pressed the corresponding button within a specified time window. During the later course of the game this mechanic was expanded and now included a critical hit with double damage if the player would press a different button for the 3rd attack. This idea was mainly developed to prevent the player from spamming the attack button (something that had been criticized in feedback talks) and give them a reward for non-spammy behavior. Another small change that made a big difference was the addition of a sprint function that gave the player a speed-boost, thereby allowing them to cross the bridge between the lanes faster or preemptively run into approaching enemies.
In order to further encourage player coop but also make the game more challenging we decided to create a map topography that divided the area into two symmetrical segments. Each segment possessed its own coolant tank (the equivalent to the holy grail) with a shared health-pool that the player had to defend - but the two tanks were positioned on different vertical lanes and in order to reach the other tank a player had to traverse a bridge that connected the two parts. Furthermore, the enemies no longer spawned from random positions outside of the map. Instead, there were four horizontal lanes (two on each side) from which the enemies would spawn. Said enemy lanes were of different length with the upper ones leading directly to the coolant tank while the lower lanes were bent, meaning that enemies coming from this lane would take much longer until they reached to tanks. This created an implied but distinct priority for which lane the player had to focus on once the waves started spawning.
This field has become the biggest expansion compared to our original idea. The intention to add different enemy variants had been part of our Grail Guards project as well, but unfortunately, it could not be included due to the game jam’s time constraints. For our new project, five weeks were more than enough to add other types of enemies and while we had to cut a ranged variant that would have shot projectiles we were able to create three distinct enemies by simply scaling the values for speed, damage, and health. While this idea is hardly a new one (after all a strong and a fast enemy variant are the most common version in many games) I still liked how such simple tweaking not only changed the gameplay but also required the players to apply different tactics against each enemy type.
The pink slurperslugs with the polka dot pattern are our standard enemies and possess medium stats for speed, health, and damage. Since they are so average in each regard the players are free to decide if they would team up dispose of the slugs faster or just whack them each on their own.
Those little ones with the arrow pattern are the fast but weak variants. With their high speed stats, they can move faster than the player and reach the coolant tank within seconds. Once they arrived at the tank they would switch to an attack pattern that did low damage but had a very rapid attack frequency, so despite their low strength a swarm of Sprinters can become dangerous if left unattended for too long. Luckily, those variants only take one hit to be killed, and due to their small size, a player can take out many of those enemies with only one strike.
In terms of tactic, it is not recommended to chase after the Sprinters since they can outrun (outslither?) the player. Instead, the player can wait until a cluster of Sprinters has gathered around the coolant tank and therefore stopped moving. Now one player is sufficient to take out the whole bunch of them with a single strike.
With its huge size and the spiky design, the Moloch looks imposing and that for good reason: not only can they do massive damage to the tank with a single hit, they also have a large pool of health that takes its time until it is depleted.
In terms of gameplay, the Moloch serves two different functions: the most obvious one is the addition of an elite enemy that is stronger and tougher to kill but on top of that I also created this variant to “encourage” teamwork between the two players. Sure, a Moloch could be taken out by a single player before it reaches the tank since this variant is extremely slow. But this beast can take more than 20 hits, meaning the player will be occupied for quite a while. If is far more recommendable to team up and take out the Moloch as soon as possible before it can even come close to the tanks and do its devastating damage.
Additionally to those different variants Don’t drink the Coolant also introduced a wave system with a specific combination of enemies compared to Grail Guards’ randomized spawning. Once again, this modification was intended to strengthen the game’s coop aspect, in this case to add a bit more tactic to it. The waves were specifically designed to direct the player between the two lanes: a major onslaught of numerous enemies or had them spawn in high frequency was usually focussed on one side of the level and designed to make both players join forces to defend this side. Whereas a smaller, more balanced amount of enemies on both sides of the level map was intended to split up the two players so everybody could defend their own side.