Friday, August 26, 2011

Highborn Chapter 3: The Audacity!

It occurred to me today that I was so worried about the blog artwork that I never did a post about Highborn chapter 3: The Audacity, which has been out for iPhone and iPad since late June. I really think it is the best Highborn chapter so far and you'd be a fool to miss it. Remember, Mr. T still pities fools, you wouldn't want Mr. T to pity you, would you?

When brainstorming the backstory Joe, my co-designer and the head of our playtest department, it started with, well Floyd the Arch-Lich has been defeated. Well, what does that mean? We didn’t even get halfway through that sentence when we realized we had hook for chapter 3. You play as Floyd and the forces of Decay as they predictably escape from prison. This also meant interior missions which we thought would be a cool change up. After a round of high-fives, Joe and I set out to plot the missions. We quickly came to the conclusion that the escape from prison plot would start to wear thin very quickly. What would Floyd do once he got out? Would get spend the rest of the missions on the lam or would he have another wild scheme for taking over the world? That is when the second thunderbolt stuck and I realized what the plot would be. He would run for President, which I later changed to Imperial President just to be loopy.

First we needed a new boss. Although we did want to use the old Highborn gang, we didn’t want to make Archie the big bad guy that you had to defeat. We needed somebody that was on the good guy's side, but could still be the bad guy of the story. It took me awhile to figure out who the incumbent Imperial President would be. I have no idea what reminded me of the term “foozle,” which we old-school gamers used to use to describe the generic evil guy you had to defeat in all early role-playing games. Anyway, Foozle became his name he was initially going to be the love interest for Trillian. The reason Floyd was going to run for office was that he had a secret crush on Trillian and was jealous. After awhile I realized we had overdone the lovey-dovey stuff in Chapter 2, so I dropped that storyline. Danny came up with the concept that Foozle was just a punk, emo kid with a big crown, cape and chest full of dubious medals.

Rade had already expressed desire to have a unit that had combat support like the towers and forts, so we created the siege towers. They are basically mobile combat support for your units, though they can still attack like other units.

We also wanted to close out the Enzo and Jessica story with regards to their kids, and I thought it would be great to have Floyd trying to get back home only to have to chase those damn kids of his lawn. This lead to the Worgons, half wizard and half gorgon.

The third new unit came about when we were creating map spells for the Decay Heroes (anti-heroes?). All the Highborn Heroes you’ve played before have had maps spells, Archie can heal all units for 2 points, Trillian can stealth out, Enzo has his Freeze spell that slows down all enemies by one movement point, and even Floyd the Dragon has his Fear spell (which he had even when he was a Decay Hero in chapter one.) Cabus was given a spell to summon Dire Wolves, which means we had to create those as a unit.

Oh, we also set the Horrors on fire which kinda makes them a new unit too, but man the smell is bad.

The other Hero spells are Mind Control for Floyd which allows him to turn any non-hero or mechanical unit into a decay unit. Icky got Sacrifice which allows him to heal like Archie, only the player has to sacrifice the life of another Decay unit to do so. We were a little stuck on iB until I got the bright idea to match the random behavior of his combat spell. iB's map spell is Random which literally randomly casts one of the other hero’s map spells.

There was some initial worry about how we would do interior mission map artwork with our off-set grid, but it wasn’t a problem and Danny’s maps look great! It appears to be really hafd for me to write parody stuff without including more Star Wars jokes. This time we went all out and even drew one level of the highborn dungeons, the kitchen, with Star Wars themed art. It's all Star Wars parody wrapped around Foglio cooking humor; he is trying to cook iB who is in the Princess Leia role. Don't worry, no gold bikini.

This was also about the time Portal 2 came out so we turned the Highborn vault into a portal parody where you go up against MaDOS. Danny really nailed this nailed a retro, steampunk inspired version of the Aperture science labs.

On top of the maps themselves, Brad spearheaded an effort to make new 3D combat backgrounds that match those interior maps like we did for the moon in Chapter 2. He’s right that it would have looked silly to have the outdoor 3D environments when you were indoors, and doing them to match the theme of the map was more than I hoped for.

We always try to do something really cool for the final level and we had several ideas for Chapter 3. We tried to do something where you had to battle the Highborn for delegates to win the election but that didn’t work. We tried one scenario where both sides had nothing but Mad Wizards and Milita without their buildings to spawn from. The idea was to have a giant battle where you had to plan your moves really carefully because all those guys are one-shot kills. That didn’t work either, it just wasn’t fun. I’ll let you play through yourself to see what we went with.

Remember to follow Jet Set Games on Facebook and Twitter for up to the "whenever we remember to post something" news!

P.S. Jet Set Games is not responsible for the numerous grammar and spelling mistakes in the post that I'm too lazy to go back and fix.

No comments: