Published July 14, 2015

Back again with more information on the powers we have been building for the archetypes!

As usual, the standard caveats apply: We are still building this system, so things are liable to change.  In fact, they are almost guaranteed to change! (Case in point: the Knight has already gained another passive power and a combo off of Shield Lunge since we talked about him in the previous update!)

Before we start, let’s review the basics from last week.

Our Approach: Minimum Viable Powers

We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat. This means that the current list isn’t final, and some of the powers might even jump to other archetypes (or be cut entirely!) as we continue development.

This is just our first iteration of the combat user interface (UI).  As such, we are leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e. the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages or class promotions). We also assume there will be another non-combat related power bar when we start building those systems.

In other words, don’t freak out about the interface!

This first round of powers was selected for a dual purpose: we wanted to use them as a trial set to prove that we can do something within our powers tool and the PhysX portion of Unity. Each power often had a set of new (and different) components that would be useful not only in the construction of that particular power, but that would also open up a new area of design discovery. The goal is to build reusable elements that we can repurpose in other powers.

Confessor Powers

The Confessor has a power base that is largely ranged-magical in nature. Her powers rely heavily on the use of projectiles, so our first step is to define how we want projectiles to work in the general case. Projectiles should:

  • Require/create a physics-based rigid body object that can be subject to all physics forces,
  • Have variable masses and velocities,
  • Be configurable to terminate when they hit an object, hit the ground, hit a player and or reach their maximum lifetime (in seconds),
  • Fire in the direction of the reticle (i.e. accounting for pitch, when fired at an upward or downward trajectory)
  • Deploy their Delivery Mechanisms and Game Effects upon termination (or reaching terminal location)
  • Be able to pulse their Game Effects, and lastly,
  • Use the Uncle Bob head for the projectile and, when it explodes, use a spray of particles that look like kitten faces.

(Yes, Eric and Tully really did set up all of the first round powers to fire off an Uncle Bob head that exploded kitten faces. Because no good deed can go unpunished. I did admit that it was pretty funny.)

That’s a lot of new features to make fancy fireballs! But remember: we are building these as components, so that we can reuse, mix and match all these features for other powers/disciplines/archetypes. Most of the above will be directly reused, or slightly modified, for ranged-physical archetypes, like the Ranger.

And, as we said last week: the payoff for this approach is that eventually our toolbox of features will become bigger and more varied, and it will become easier (and much cheaper) for us to build new powers.

Ranged Power Targeting!

The Confessor is our first ranged character. Currently all of her powers execute towards the camera reticle to some distance. Most of them are projectiles, which means they will continue to fly along their original trajectory even if the Confessor moves after firing them. Her instant powers use the target under the reticle when activated; if nothing is there, you simply burn mana and waste animation time.

Our primary concern with playability right now is targeting. How hard will it be to hit a (player) target with her powers? I know it’s shocking, but players don’t like to stand still in PvP. We’re still experimenting with targeting. If we find it is too difficult to play ranged, we have a few systems we may need to add or augment, like ‘sticky’ targets, ranged assist or some manner of soft locking system. We aren’t quite sure what the right mix will be yet, but we feel comfortable that we’ll eventually find a solution that works well.

On to the Confessor!

Mechanically, the Confessor uses mana to fuel any power in the 1-0 position. Her left click primary attacklaunches fireball projectiles which explode when they hit something (or their lifetime ends) and creates damage within a radial area of that end point. The radius of the explosion is pretty small, so in almost all cases it will only hit 1-2 characters. Each character who gets hit by a Confessor’s primary attack fireball also gets a stacking (timed) debuff called Sin. Sin stacks don’t do anything by themselves, but they are pre-requisites that can trigger effects in other powers.

(By the way, stacking buffs/debuffs was additional new tech we had to build for the Confessor powers. Not only were stacking effects required to make Sin work, but it was also necessary to enable damage-over-time [DoT] effects from multiple opponents in parallel.)

The third power in the primary chain shoots three fireballs instead of one, in a V-shaped formation. We’re still playing with this until we get a formation we like. Another option that we are considering is having the three fireballs firing in the same trajectory, each slightly delayed out of the Confessor’s hands, basically a quick burst rapid fire. This could give her more control and utility, as she could re-target the trajectory with her reticle during the burst.

Her right click power, Zealot Rush, is the mobility portion of the Confessor kit. This power very quickly slides her 10 meters in whatever input is direction provided, WASD-based. This power is fueled by stamina and she can perform it back-to-back in a jam if at full stamina.

iFrame Powers

I’m going to reiterate the definition of iFrame powers again this week in case anyone forgot or missed it:

iFrame powers, on activation, typically remove the player from the physics simulation and render them invulnerable to damage while performing the power (a very, very short duration, obviously!)

This means if you use a physics impulse on a character performing an iFrame power, they won’t get pushed around. We are putting all attacks we designate as iFrame powers on the C key for now.

We generally try to associate powers that use this property with those powers that send a player into the air. We are also limiting both use and availability of these powers, since they step outside the simulation. In other words, we only plan on giving some of the archetypes access to these powers.

In the case of the Confessor, her Immolation is an iFrame power that renders her invulnerable, removes her from physics, removes movement debuffs and lets her run about for five seconds continuing to cast other spells. (We are still playing with duration, look and feel on this one. It’s cool, although the short duration limits its utility dramatically.)

Passive Powers

Similar to the Knight, the Confessor has her archetype-specific Retaliate passive power that can only be used when she is knocked down. This power, when activated, will leap her back to her feet from a knocked-down state and will then deal damage to everyone in the area.

Retaliate is treated like a hidden combo, so the player never sees it on their bar… the button to activate it only appears when you are knocked down. The cooldown is lengthy, so you might have to eat a full knockdown in some cases, if crowd control immunity hasn’t kicked in on you yet.

The other passive on the Confessor is called Righteousness, a chance on damaging any target to restore a small amount of mana to the Confessor.

Sprint is technically a passive ability, but we don’t display it on the power bar. Depressing the shift key will increase the speed of the character (currently, by 40%) and rapidly drains the stamina bar.

The Powers Bar

Let’s look at the powers bar in detail.

The first power in the active power tray is Flames of Truth, this instant power applies a debuff to the target under the Confessor’s reticle, which does nothing for 10 seconds. When the debuff expires after 10 seconds it applies damage and stuns the target for three seconds. This power has a combo off of it that enables the Confessor to instantly detonate the Flames of Truth on the target which deals less damage than waiting out the 10 seconds but instantly stuns the target for two seconds. The Confessor only has a second or two to activate this combo and most of the time you would rather wait for it to detonate on its own, but the combo can be useful in a pinch if a target needs to be stunned RIGHT NOW!

The Hellfire combo is a five-part series. With this series, the Confessor is not allowed to branch and must dedicate to the A line or B line all the way through. (Or break the chain if you think you have gone deep enough. Sometimes all you need is the damage shield!

  • Hellfire: Surrounds your skin in a fiery shield for 30 seconds, damaging all who cause damage to you. (A basic damage shield effect.)
  • Hellfire 2a: Consumes the Confessor’s Hellfire Shield and turns it into a fiery wave from your location up to 20m in front of you, damaging all who get struck by it. (Turn that damage shield into a line of fire, characters who get hit will only suffer damage once.)
  • Hellfire 3a: Damages all players in front of you who were hit by the Hellfire Wave and knocks them into the air. (For bonus points, we eventually want to try making the final portion of the fire wave subside into a fire mine on the ground at the end of the fire wave that explodes if this portion of the combo is performed… we’ll see!)
  • Hellfire 2b: Consumes the Confessor’s Hellfire Shield and surrounds them in a pulsing Hellfire Aura that damages all players within 4m of you every second for 20 seconds. (This power opened up the Pulsing Game Effects feature for us, which can be tons of fun.)
  • Hellfire 3b: Consumes the Confessor’s Hellfire Aura and launches 4 slow-moving Hellfire Tornadoes forward which pulse a gravity well effect (pull nearby players/objects) into them which damages enemies in the pulse each second. Each tornado lasts 15 seconds. (Pulsing, Hovering, Projectiles, that also don’t explode when they touch an object. These are things that make any combat designer go, “Squeeee!!!” I foresee this power being used to breakup battlefield formations in interesting ways!)

We reused the tech for hold-to-charge powers from the Knight on the Confessor’s Meteor Purge power. Thematically, the Confessor is charging the creation of a meteor projectile in between her hands. The longer the Confessor charges this power, the more damage the meteor will do. The player can spin the camera as it’s charging up; we call this turret mode. At 66% charge-up, the meteor transforms into a larger meteor. This projectile is slower but deals more damage, has a bigger explosion radius and eventually we hope to enable it to wreak havoc on structure walls.

(FWIW, the mega-meteor looked hilarious when it shot an Uncle Bob face, complete with cigar and parade helmet!)

The next confessor power, Absolution, forcefully removes all Sin from up to three players in front of the Confessor… BY CONVERTING IT TO FIRE! The damage this power deals increases with more stacked Sin, and if more than 5 stacks of Sin are consumed that target will also be snared by 50% for 15 seconds. (Side note: the animation for this power is super sweet, the Confessor points her book forward and snaps it shut in the direction she is facing and the targets light up. Very cool!)

Condemnation. This power, similar to Knight’s Block, is a combination of a hold and a channeled power. As long as the Confessor is depressing the key, she fires a flamethrower-esque cone of fire directly in front of her. This cone pulses every second and extends 15 meters.  And remember, like a flame thrower, she can re-target this thing as she is using it. It deals extra damage to any targets with Sin on them. Condemnation doesn’t remove Sin stacks, it just punishes those sinners more.

The final tray power in the Confessor basic kit is Fervor. This power is the main method for the Confessor to gain her mana back. (It is also our first application of a click-and-release channeled power.) The Confessor rises up and begins ripping pages out of her book each second as she restores a large amount of mana. As she is ripping pages from her book, her physical mitigations are reduced by 15%.

Core to the Confessor gameplay at the moment, the Confessor fires off a bunch of powers then has to pause and use Fervor to gain her mana back. (I’ve used this in conjunction with Immolation and it has really saved me.)

TL;DR Summary

The current slate of Confessor’s basic power kit is heavily focused on ranged-magical attacks. She has a few physics-based powers, lots of projectiles, varied methods of dealing damage, methods to avoid damage, and some fun combos. Our goal is for the Confessor to be the canonical glass cannon, dealing heavy damage when left alone… but better have a Knight (or other similar companion) around to peel enemies off her or to block for her because she only has a couple chances to use her get-away mechanics.

We hope this gives the basic Confessor a good kit of potentially fun toys to play with and plenty of room left to customize!

As always, excited to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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