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Death Blade

Slash, dash, and shoot your way through randomly generated floors of a heavily guarded tower and upgrade your player character into different builds on the way.

CONTENT

 
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ENEMY BEHAVIOR

In general, the enemies are divided into two different types - melee and ranged - which have their own behavioral patterns:

Melee enemies are marked by black clothing. They will run towards the player and attack the player with a baseball bat in close combat. Also, their frequency of attack is high while having a low damage input, so they become more dangerous in groups.

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Ranged enemies are marked by white clothing. Contrary to their melee counterparts they will move away and try to keep a distance from the player. They fire a projectile towards the player’s current position, therefore forcing the player to stay in movement. While their projectile attacks cause more damage than their melee counterparts the attack rate of a ranged enemy is slower.

Design Notes - the basic Grunt Enemy

Our game was based all around fast aggressive combat so the basic Grunt enemy was designed around this goal: they are practically cannon fodder and easy to kill (two hits, only one hit with the Strength upgrade). Still, they do enough damage to force the player to stay mobile and take them out in order to avoid being swarmed by melee forces or hit by a projectile. Additionally, the basic Grunt makes up the main source of health regeneration for the player, since he is numerous and dies easily.

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ELITE VARIANTS

On top of the normal Yakuza footmen who only show this kind of strategy, there are different types of elite enemies (so-called Variants) who display a specific moveset on top of this behavior. Like the regular enemies, those variants exist as both melee and ranged types.

Variants from left to right: the Specter, the Firestarter, and the Hacker.

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Design Notes - Scrapped Variant

Initially, there was supposed to be an additional Elite Variant called the Splitter who was supposed to split into multiple regular enemies on his death. He had to be cut because of time problems and also because the additional enemies would be a potential risk for memory strains on higher floors.

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Design Notes - Elite Variants

Just like the basic Grunts, the Elite Variants were supposed to follow the main framework of the game and incentivize the player to move fast and play aggressively. Since our aim as designers was to reuse as many assets as possible - be they art or code - the Variants use the same behavioral pattern as the Grunt enemies but possess more health and strength. To make them more distinct and add more gameplay variety, the Variants also have another skill on top of the regular enemy behavior.

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Specter

This swift and nimble variant has a higher movement speed than the other enemies and performs a dash after each of his attacks. A melee Specter will dash backward, out of the player’s range to evade their counter-attack while a ranged Specter dashes left and right after he shoots his projectile, making it more difficult to hit him with a ranged attack.

Firestarter

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His weapon of choice - explosives - make the Firestarter a dangerous enemy who can cause devastating damage. But his tendency to explode once he is killed can also be used to the player’s advantage since the explosion hits friend and foe alike. In comparison to a normal melee enemy, the melee version of the firestarter does not wield any weapon but charges towards the player to perform a kamikaze attack on contact. The ranged version of this variant hurls projectiles at the player which cause small explosions on impact.

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Hacker

As the tech-expert of the Yakuza this variant shares the same attack pattern as the regular enemies… with a little extra: if the player is hit by either a melee attack or a projectile from the Hacker their vision will be completely obstructed by a static image until the player has moved enough to make it fade away.

PLAYER UPGRADES

While the rooms of the level floor are randomly generated each floor will have two lobbies, one where the player starts from and the other as each floor’s destination point to reach the next level. Each time the player enters the elevator that is found in the lobby they will be shown the upgrade menu where they can select either an Augmentation (each uneven floor) or a Status Upgrade (each uneven floor). Normally, the player can choose between two randomly selected options, however, if they managed to kill more than 95% of enemies on the corresponding floor, they will be rewarded with a third option to pick from.

Augmentations:

Augmentations will empower the player’s skillset (e.g. dash, melee attacks, or the ranged projectile) and can be selected in the elevator of floors 1, 3, and 5, meaning that the player can have three Augmentations in total. 

Overall, there are nine different Augmentations:

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Design Notes - Augmentation Tiers and Synergies

Since their selection is randomized, the different Augmentations are designed in a way that they can both synergize with one another but also stand on their own as they have three different tiers.

Split Shot + Split Shot:

  • 2 additional projectiles

  • 2 additional projectiles

> The player fires 5 projectiles in a cone.

Split Shot + Ricochet:

  • 2 additional projectiles

  • projectiles bounce from enemies

> The player fires 3 projectiles, each of them will bounce off to the next enemy.

 
  • Split Shot: shoot 2 additional projectiles per level
     

  • Fast Verdict: dashing through enemies will deal an additional 75% of the player’s total strength
     

  • Doomdasher:  chance to fire a projectile after a dash
     

  • Harvester: chance to double strength and dexterity for 2 or more seconds after a kill
     

  • Patient Sniper: each wide slash adds more damage to the next projectile fired
     

  • Jack of all Trades: a dash adds more damage to the next projectile while a projectile adds more damage to the next dash
     

  • Power House: regenerates energy each time an enemy is hit by a player projectile
     

  • Ricochet: a projectile bounces off to hit the next enemy
     

  • Adrenaline: the player will take reduced damage after hitting an enemy with a wide slash

Status Upgrades:

Compared to an Augmentation a Status Upgrade does not introduce a new mechanic but increases the player’s values in certain fields:

Strength

Increases the player's attack damage

Dexterity

Increases the player's attack speed

Endurance

Increases the player's energy and reduces cost of projectile attack.

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MENU UI

Upgrade Screen:

If the player enters the elevator in the second lobby they will be shown the Upgrade Screen which consists of three cards with randomized Augmentations or Status Upgrades. Each card consists of an icon, the upgrade title, and a brief description of what the upgrade does. A light-blue highlight shows which of the cards is currently selected while the unlockable third choice is hidden behind a half-transparent grey box if the player didn’t kill enough enemies.

Design Notes - UI Design

Since the female main character had a cherry blossom theme (as seen on the character’s arms and 2D art where she is depicted) I wanted to follow up with this design in the game’s UI which is why the background of the in-game menus has cherry blossoms as well. 

To further fit the cyberpunk theme, I decided on a cyan blue color scheme to make it seem holographic and therefore more futuristic. Furthermore, the icons for Augmentations and Status Upgrades have a different color coding: Augmentations are displayed in cyan with magenta-colored highlights while the Status upgrades only use a single color for each player stat. This color corresponds with the information shown on the Status Screen.

 
 
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