Entry 48 - Evolution of Builder

At this stage, we had established a solid foundation for the MOBA+Builder concept. It was possible to play matches with a builder and a hero on one team against another team with a builder and a hero. Based on our impressions, we iteratively improved the game. To facilitate this, my testers and I would gather at a cozy café, order three large pizzas (thanks to a permanent deal – order two pizzas and get the third one for free), and discuss the matches we had played the previous day. We shared our emotions, talked about what we liked and what we didn't, and voiced our ideas and suggestions. We discussed these proposals, refined them, and compiled a list of fixes and new features we wanted to try in the next test. Once all the adjustments were made, we played several more matches and gathered at the café again. The whole process repeated itself.



The first thing we changed was the minimap in the corner of the screen. In Force of Nature, the minimap was attached to the main hero, as only the events happening directly around him mattered. In a team game, important events occur in multiple locations simultaneously, so it's crucial to be able to quickly assess the situation. To address this, we had already implemented a free camera that was not tied to the main hero and could move freely across the entire map. However, this was still not enough – it was still quite easy to miss the beginning of an important battle on the main lane, as the builder was focused on a specific task rather than endlessly scanning the area for interesting events.


Therefore, the minimap was redesigned to display the entire location. This allowed players to understand what was happening at a glance. Besides being fixed and showing the whole area, the minimap also needed to integrate with the fog of war. Since fog of war wasn't initially present in Force of Nature, it wasn't shown on the minimap. In Force of Nature, there was no fog of war but rather a display of explored territory. This logic wasn't suitable for a MOBA, as players need to know the topology of the map from the beginning. Only the actions of opponents should be hidden, which is why the fog of war exists. Changing the minimap's logic might seem insignificant, but once it was adjusted, playing as the builder became significantly easier!


Gnome Totems

As another way for the builder to invest resources, we decided to give him the ability to place totems at various locations on the map. To avoid creating special models for them, we used existing gnome decoration models from Force of Nature. We had the Observer Gnome, Shooter Gnome, Defender Gnome, and Berserker Gnome:



The Observer Gnome simply revealed the map around him at a considerable distance. The Shooter Gnome attacked any targets within his line of sight. The Defender Gnome provided an aura to all nearby allies (including minions and heroes) that reduced incoming damage. The Berserker Gnome provided an aura that increased attack speed.


Rat Minions

New minion races were also added, which became available upon constructing special dens – rats and mages. To remind you, in order to summon particularly strong minion units for the next wave, you first need to build a den for that race. Dens are built using resources that the hero gathers in the forest or crafts himself. However, even after constructing a den, its units are not provided for free. For each summoning of a unit, it was necessary to pay with gold. Gold was obtained by killing any enemy minion. The initial minions, goblins, were completely free of charge. If the builder did not have enough gold to summon the next wave consisting of strong units, a wave of goblins was automatically sent instead. As an alternative to goblins, the rat race was added – these units were stronger than goblins and were also provided free of charge.


Here is how the rat den looks:

And here are the rats available for summoning. Like for all other races, there's a tank, melee, and ranged unit:


As you can see, for the ranged unit, we chose the porcupine from the second location of FoN. It shoots three quills simultaneously – one quill flies straight towards the target, while the other two veer slightly to the sides. This feature makes them quite interesting units because with proper positioning, they can collectively deal significantly more damage to the enemy team.


Mage Minions

Another den added to the game was the Mage den. Unlike other races, these units were not divided into tank/melee/ranged categories. All three mages had ranged attacks and differed in their elemental magic – fire mage, frost mage, and lightning mage. For their appearance, I used models of mages from the last location of FoN, but modified the appearance of their staffs to more vividly represent their respective elements.



Magic minions were the most powerful, but their den was not easy to build - it required obsidian. In each forest, there was only one obsidian deposit, guarded by a tower - similar to the towers on the lane, but belonging to neither team and firing indiscriminately at everyone. These towers inflicted less damage than those on the lane, but it was still significant enough to prevent peaceful obsidian mining. Destroying the tower was also difficult, as the builder was extremely weak in combat.


Despite this, there were three different strategies to obtain obsidian:

  1. Distract the Tower: This was the simplest method. The builder could mine obsidian while the tower was attacking someone else. A hero ally could also be used as a tank. However, using a minion was more effective because the builder could command it to attack the tower. The best strategy was to develop quickly to the rats, snatch a tank rat from the wave of minions, and send it to attack the tower. Meanwhile, the builder would be prepared, ready to start collecting obsidian as soon as the tower began attacking the minion.
  2. Destroy the Tower: Despite the tower being quite strong, it could still be destroyed. Again, the hero's assistance could be used, but using a minion proved more effective once more. The skeleton archer minion had a greater attack radius than the obsidian-defending tower, allowing it to be sent to attack the tower. Once the skeleton archer completely destroyed it, the builder could then safely begin harvesting the resources. However, the skeleton required quite a bit of time to single-handedly destroy the tower, and the builder could only control one minion at a time, unable to multitask. Therefore, this method took longer. Additionally, it allowed the enemy builder to potentially utilize the third method of obtaining obsidian.
  3. Steal Obsidian from the Enemy: Using the observer gnome, it was possible to catch the moment when the enemy builder went to mine obsidian and take advantage of the situation – either by disrupting their efforts or using their distraction to gather obsidian oneself. If the enemy builder was busy destroying a tower, it provided a window to freely gather their resources.


All these new features seemed intriguing to us, but it was equally important to evaluate how the presence of a builder affects the gameplay of a regular hero holding the lane. Here, I will provide an example of an archer hero standing against a mage hero on the lane, while the builders on both teams are busy with their tasks.



Don't pay attention to the bugs and lags. Various issues frequently appeared during testing, but they were promptly fixed as soon as they were noticed. In the video, at the 15-minute and 18-second mark, you can see the allied builder sending a shielded rat to distract the tower while he mines obsidian. Unfortunately, this attempt was unsuccessful. Destroying an obsidian stone yields more resources than mining it, and the stone had very little health left. The builder thought he could destroy it in time, but this turned out to be a fatal mistake. Additionally, the builder lost all his resources in the process. At the end of the 20th minute, the builder made another attempt, this time successfully. Around the 6:45 mark, you can see the archer heading into the enemy forest in an attempt to gank the enemy builder, but this attempt also failed. Naturally, there were still many issues in the current gameplay, which I will discuss next time.

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