03: Gameplay: what, how and why? (2/2)

Hello there, agents!

Welcome to the second post about our gameplay mechanics. What mechanics we selected, how do we use them in the game and why did we choose those and not others.

In this second post, we are going to go further into the description of the gameplay of the game, so by the end of this post you will understand fairly accurately what will the game be once it’s out.

Let’s continue!

Second: Game session description

I do reckon the best way to fully understand something is to describe it “in action”. The theory is good and all, but you don’t fathom every single detail because it lacks some context.

So, in order to help you understand how the game is played… what better than describing a game session?

“Control Room” gameplay

When the player starts the game, it will always land in the “hub” portion of the game. Not only the main menu (duh!), but the “pre-gaming” part when you actually load a game and take some decisions before actually playing.

In Lethal Honor: Essence we call this “The Control Room”.  This is common for a lot of games. The fantastic “Enter the gungeon” has “The breach”, “Dead cells” has the first room with all the hanging bottles with the unlocks you’ve achieved, and so on.

The Breach is the “hub” gameplay of “Enter the Gungeon”.

In LH:E this Control Room is used to pre-select some gameplay modifications. You will select which character to play with (it is, the main weapon and moveset), some difficulty options, the timeline in which you want to start, craft new unlockable gear… Most of these options will be added as we see fit, considering what the community demands.

In LH:E you can play as a “Lost agent” or a “Core agent”.  “Lost agents” are randomly generated agents that will have a random set of (synergizing) abilities and a selected main weapon (and moveset). They can unlock almost everything in the game: new weapons, runes, abilities, bosses, … And they add to the completion of the 100% of the game.

Lost agent ^^

Meanwhile, “Core agents” are agents that we will be releasing little by little (as we progress in the game development), that will radically change the game each time we update the game including a new Core Agent.

Firstly, they will be specific agents with their name, backstory, personality, and events. They will make (if the correct things are done) the game progress with customized events, conversations, texts, enemies… and unlock new zones, bosses, and story arcs. What they do “remains” in the game for the future.

The order in which the Core Agents will be released is not correlative in the game story, so we may release a new Core Agent in which timeline there are things that “have been done” by another Core Agent that will be released months later. This will lead to a lot of “Oohh!” moments.

A rough version of the timeline is this one: it spans six months in total of in-game time.  It is: since we play the tutorial until we finish the game with the 7th Core Agent six months will be passed in the game. We edited some “unlock order” (and some, or all,  may change!!). So first, we will patch the game with a new update with the Core Agent 1, which is actually the THIRD in the timeline. Further on we will release another patch with another new Core Agent, and later the third one, which will be just some time after the timeline of the first.

Each one will bring a new weapon, which means that the game will have a new way of playing it, because each weapon will bring a new moveset and actions. This new weapon may be selecte dto be used by the “Lost Agents” when the story arc of this Core Agent is finished. They will also have a determined set of abilities (not random).

So, to sum up: New patch with Core Agent = new playable character, new weapon type, lore, events, zones, traps, enemies, bosses…

This is the reason why we plan to unlock them little by little… to give us time to develop all that!!

Run description

As in any roguelike/roguelite, it is common knowledge to call a full game session a “run”. A “run” is the time between you start playing with a fresh new character and the moment you inevitably die in the most gruesome way.

I think the best way to understand how the game is played is to describe a “run”, so let’s do it!

First, you will wake up as a new random agent (if you select to play as a “Lost Agent”) or a predefined one (if you want to play as a “Core Agent”). Your moveset is determined by the weapon type you are wielding, and you have a single offensive ability, which is randomized (o predefined, if you are playing with a Core Agent).

The first map is the laboratory, which is swarmed with demons and other (so far) unknown creatures. Each map consists of a series of different “rooms”. When you finish all the rooms, you may proceed to the next map.

A “room” is an enclosed space in which there is “something to do” in order to pass. There are dozens of room types. The most simple to explain is the room in which you have to kill all enemies to unlock the doors and move to the next room. But there are many, many more room types: challenge, event, puzzle, store, safe, teleport, chest, minigame… And a lot of those may be combined.

A lot of roguelites has these different types of rooms, for example, the pioneer Binding of Isaac.

This gives the player a lot of variance in their game session: they never know what to expect.

In each run and map, there is always some fixed rooms that will always spawn in the map. There are always 1-2 chest rooms (with or without minigames to unlock them), some teleport rooms to other maps (if the player posseses the required items or have followed the required steps in this run)…

Besides, there is always some “event” rooms, which will give the player a challenge and, if succeeded, will tell more about the map/zone lore and help him understand what happened there. It may be a survivor to talk to, some data inside a computer or clues to look for. Each map will have a dozen of these events, and they are (almost) randomly spawned, so the player has to play over and over to unlock the all. Remember that the game is heavily story-based! We want to tell you an interesting, vast, dark story… and these events are part of it!

The most interesting fixed room is, obviously, the boss room.

The boss room is usually the last one and features a boss battle. Each map will have different bosses to fight with, and they will appear randomly or the player can “force” the game to spawn one by doing some specific things on the map.

Once the boss is finished, you get to choose a new ability until you have all three: offensive, defensive and ultimate. Then, you can move to the next map, which is defined by the current map and “exit zone”.

This goes on and on and on until you die or you kill the last (available) boss 😉

There are in total 14 designed zones/maps, each one with different visual aspect, enemies, bosses, events, traps, minigames, chests… These will be developed and patches along with the new Core Agents during the development process.

Very early zone progression example. This may (and WILL) change!

Between Runs

There are a LOT of things that “remain” in between runs or give any run some meaning, even if we are defeated by the third small, simple and easiest enemy.

Firstly, there are “materials” to collect.

Each enemy will drop a defined set of items. Some of these items are “useless” in the run, but will play a huge role in the whole scheme of things. These items are called “materials”, and are used in the “Control Room” (remember, our own ‘hub’) to craft new items, weapons or runes, or to improve the current ones. This will unlock them and make them available to future runs (they will appear in chests, drops and such).

There are also quests that persist between runs. These quests involve killing enemies, unlock items, or do some specific deeds. If we cannot finish some quest in a single run, we can continue them in another run.

A lot of other things may give a single, failed run some meaning: new unlocks (weapons, runes, items, …), “money”, general score… and insight and experience for future runs!

 

This is all for the third post. I hope these explanations are enough for you to get a fairly full picture of how the game is played! We are excited to share this information with you all!

The next posts will start explaining more technical things: game engine, project organization, design pattern, assets, classes…

Thanks for reading!!

 

02: Gameplay: what, how and why? (1/2)

Hello there, agents! Welcome to the second post about Lethal Honor: Essence video game development!

In this second post, we will talk about gameplay. We will describe the general gameplay,  how it is played and why we chose it.

I have split this post into two different ones: the first one talking about the genre, and the second one resuming the general gameplay and a play session summary.

First: the Genre

The game is an action-adventure hack & slash roguelite.

Yeah, baby! There are a lot of words there! 🙂 Let’s break them down piece by piece:

Action:

Well… the word speaks for itself.

https://dead-cells.com/
Dead cells is a game by Motion Twin. It is a fantastic game with a lot of similarities with Lethal Honor: Essence. Or, should we say, WE have a lot of similarities with them, though our game is being in the ‘cooking’ for 20 years 🙁

WHAT: It has a meaning both in gameplay and in the story narration: the game has a lot of combat, dangerous situations, difficult encounters and the story is told so the player is in constant tension.
HOW: Lethal Honor will revolve around the combat, so it IS an action game! We will be battling against dozens of enemies and bosses, dodging traps, getting new loot, solving puzzles and successfully face challenges.
WHY: Lethal Honor is an agency that INVESTIGATES paranormal entities and usually takes a non-aggressive approach, gathering clues, talking with the local folks and performing rituals to banish the creatures. In this game we will be playing as a new agent that only wants to survive while understanding what happened there and, if possible, end it to help other people. So this is an “action” game, but there is a LOT of focus on the story and plot, of course!

Adventure:

Zelda Breath Of the Wild: Nintendo. All rights reserved.

WHAT: It is a video game subgenre that focuses on player (and gameplay) incremental development: the game will be adding new gameplay mechanics in the form of items, new accesses, storylines… that opens up the world to new zones/puzzles/enemies that were previously locked and will be unfolded as the player progresses through the game.
HOW: In LH:E, the player will unlock new items that allow future runs to access new zones, create shortcuts or battle new exciting bosses. For example, a “level 3 access card” in the laboratory that opens high-security areas, with new enemies and loot. Or, for example, a rune that allows the player to use shrines to instantly teleport to new zones. Besides, the game will have 7 different playable characters that will unlock new combat styles, zones, bosses and gameplay elements. Even those characters are unlocked gradually!!
WHY: Adventure genre is incredibly satisfying to the player: not only they improve their personal skill in every run, but they are rewarded with new ways and paths that were previously blocked. This means seeing a locked door in several runs and wonder what is behind it, and two hours later, being able to open it and actually see it!! That is utterly rewarding. Also, it gives us a way of creating shortcuts to advanced zones and bosses. Besides, giving the player new combat styles (with each new character) step by step let them master the game little by little, instead of overwhelming them with all available content at the same time!

Hack & slash:

God of War is one of the best examples in the hack & slash genre: melee combat, a lot of different strategies and enemies to kill

WHAT: This is an action subgenre, that describes how the action is faced: real-time combat using melee weapons with a strategical approach.
HOW: In LH:E the combat will be slow and tactical, in contrast with those games with ultra-quick button smashing against tons of enemies.
LH:E will have a precise, tactical combat against few enemies at the same time, focusing on crowd control, defending, parrying and waiting for a window of opportunity to strike back and kill the enemies.
WHY: It is a genre that perfectly suits the agent combat style: they usually wield swords, axes and the like to kill enemies (because ranged weapons are not optimal to non-living creatures). The enemies (demons, zombies, …) are incredibly strong: a human wouldn’t stand a chance against even ONE of them. So the agent, which is WAY stronger and tougher, must master the defense, parry and deflect to survive. And they use special abilities to control the enemies (freeze, stop, snare)  to face them one by one.

Roguelite:

WHAT: This is more a “set of gameplay mechanics” than a “genre” itself, at least within LH:E. In LH:E it should be called “roguelite”, which is a different genre, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll use the first.

Roguelite is a genre in which each game (usually called ‘run’) starts with a fresh new character, that involves advancing throughout different maps that are randomly generated (so each map layout is different from any other), and ends with the player dying (permadeath), thus ending the ‘run’ and starting all over. “Roguelike” means slightly different mechanics: turn-based combat, tile-based movement, simpler gameplay, …

HOW:  Lethal Honor: Essence is a roguelite game because in each run we will play as a new, fresh agent, called “Lost Agent”. He or she will have random abilities that synergize between them. He will progress through different zones killing enemies and bosses, looting items, watching events and unlocking new things (items, abilities, accesses…), and finally dying (or finishing the game).

WHY:  To be honest, we decided to go “roguelite” because it provides more hours of gameplay for less development time. We are only two persons working on the game, so we wanted the most efficient way of using our time. Lethal Honor is a VAST universe with a lot of different stories to tell. But telling a story is a huge work: script, character, story, events… it needs a lot of work, and we simply cannot develop such a game in our maximum time of development. So we chose this genre so we can still tell a complex, appealing story using Dark Souls fantastic style: through events, enemies, item description and world structure narration style. More of this on its dedicated post in the next few weeks!

 

So this is it for today’s post!! More of “gameplay” in the next one!

Then, we will start talking about the development process itself: game engine, general structure, design patterns, …

Stay tuned! And thanks for reading!

 

01: What is “Lethal Honor: Essence”?

Hello agents! Welcome to the first post about “Lethal Honor: Essence” video game development.

My name is Carlos Rubiales and I am the Lead Game Designer & Lead Game Programmer. I’ve been developing video games for 8 years now, mostly minigames and interactives for malls. I am a Unity certified developer since 2016, and I’ve been using this Game Engine for more than 5 years 😉

Well. about “Lethal Honor: Essence”. What is LH:E?

For starters… Lethal Honor is the achievement of my lifelong dream: to become a video game developer and tell the world the story I’ve been working for almost 20 years.

Lethal Honor is MUCH, MUCH more than a video game. It’s an universe, a story that has been in the making since I was 13 years old. And I am 33 right now!! It spans dozens of stories, hundreds of characters, arcs, present, past, future, other planes of existence… But WHAT is it?

Lethal Honor is based on a version of the real world in which every possible paranormal entity is (o can be) be real. Demons, zombies, werewolves, ghosts, vampires, fairies… threatens mankind every day, since biblical times.

Some sketches from our Lead Artist, Nunoh, for different visual styles for werewolves or zombies

 

The only way shield to protect humanity is Lethal Honor, an agency in charge of finding, investigating and destroying them. The executor arm of LH are the agents: modified humans with improved strength, dexterity and intelligence, which use advanced technological gadgets and have supernatural capabilities: telekinesis, pyrokinesis, instant transmission, invisibility, dissapear…

Some concept art about one of the agents: Raven, that is the main character of Lethal Honor: Chronicles, the main game of the franchise

LH was created in the mid 90, but since the dawn of times there have been people that served the same purpose: to save humanity from demons and any other eldritch entities.

LH:Essence is the first video game of the franchise. It is only ONE of dozens of stories, and it serves as a first approach to the universe.

It is an action hack & slash roguelite in 2.5D, with characters and enemies will beautiful, hand drawing art, similar to comics and graphic novels, and 3D scenary with handpainted textures. It will have a dark, obscure atmosphere, with a deep and well-forged story to unravel as the player discovers new events, conversations, bosses and items.

First idle animation. Beware the red eyes!!

Focuses on tactical, slow-paced combat, that combines physical combos and dozens of abilities to deal damage, stun or control the enemies.

Traps, relics, runes, challenges, quests… are some of the secondary mechanics that will be present in the game.

The game is currently at the end of the pre-production phase after 3 months of development, on our way to our first closed preAlpha, a small technical prototype that will feature all main and some secondary mechanics , for the developer team to test 🙂

In 2-3 months we want to have an open PreAlpha, so everyone can play the basics of the game and get a feeling of what it may become. The development will continue for at least 1 more year before publishing the game on Steam.

And that’s all for now!!!

We will be posting again next thursday, and start talking about the game development itself: game engine, assets used, general configuration… and tell you more about the team.

 

Stay tuned!!
Thanks for reading!

 

 

Welcome to Lethal Honor: Essence Developer’s log

Welcome to the first post about Lethal Honor: Essence development !! This is the first installment of the Lethal Honor universe, a vast, dark and mature story about the real world, in which every possible supernatural entity may exist… and the only shield against them is Lethal Honor, an agency that investigates and destroys them using its own agents, modified humans with state-of-the-art technology and supernatural abilities.

We will be posting our advances in the game, all focused on the developer side: how we do things here, why do we take gameplay decisions and such!

We will be posting twice a month. So stay tuned!

Thanks!