Entry 49 - Interaction Between Builder and Other Players

For start, let's clarify some terminology: we'll refer to the combat heroes who stand on the lane and fight each other as champions, while the heroes who focus on gathering resources and building will be called builders.


Let's take a closer look at the main gameplay issues using the video from the previous post as an example. At first glance, everything seems quite decent. We see a rather intense and dynamic duel between two champions (an archer and a mage) throughout the game. Meanwhile, the background decorations for this duel, namely the minions and towers, become increasingly interesting, vibrant, and colorful. It looks great; however, the problem is that from the champion's perspective, the game remains a duel from start to finish. There is absolutely no sense of teamwork with the builder.


From the builder's perspective, things are even worse. Although the player is actively engaged in various tasks, and the effectiveness of their actions does impact the game's outcome, they barely feel the presence of other players on their own team, let alone notice the enemy team. For the builder, the game becomes less of a team battle and more of a competition against the opposing builder: who can earn more gold, hire stronger minions, and fortify towers faster. The one who contributes the most to their team wins.


This happens because the builder doesn't interact with anyone in the game. Let's delve into this further. What types of interactions could they theoretically have? Perhaps the following:

  • builder to allied champion
  • builder to enemy champion
  • builder to builder
  • builder to minions and towers
  • builder to location.


Interaction: Builder – Location, Minions, Towers

First, let's examine the simpler connections. Regarding the "Builder – Location" interaction, there are no issues. The builder runs around the location, gathers resources, and interacts with neutral towers. The connection between the character and the location is strong and persists throughout the game. Now, let's look at the builder's interaction with allied minions and towers. Here, everything is also in order, as this was initially designed to be their primary area of responsibility. The interaction between the builder and enemy minions/towers is more complicated – it is practically nonexistent. The builder cannot personally attack them due to their low damage. To enable the builder to attack minions and towers personally, without turning them into a powerful fighter and rendering champions useless, we decided to give the builder the ability to craft a new weapon – a sling. The sling has a long attack animation, and the stone it launches travels very slowly. As a result, hitting a moving target with it is nearly impossible. However, its damage is quite substantial, making the sling an effective weapon against stationary objects such as enemy towers.


Interaction: Builder – Allied Champion

This is the primary interaction that ensures a sense of team play, and it currently has major issues. The champion has little to offer the builder. Even for gathering obsidian, it was much easier for the builder to enlist the help of a minion rather than distract the champion from the lane, as this could risk losing their own tower. The builder couldn't help the champion either. One might say the builder helps the champion by sending stronger minions to the lane, but in reality, this is more of an influence than direct assistance. Strong minions do help the lane overall, but they aren't flexible enough to adapt to specific situations. Imagine the situation where the opponent has developed faster, and their side has stronger minions than ours. In such a scenario, our champion would face a tough challenge because besides battling the enemy champion, they would also have to deal with the remnants of minions left after each wave. This critical situation prompts our champion to ask the builder for help. But what can the builder do? They cannot send support in the form of strong minions because they are lagging behind in development, and these minions simply do not exist yet. Essentially, all the champion can ask of the builder is to play better!


A more realistic approach seemed to be the builder's assistance through setting up gnome totems. For example, in a critical situation, the builder could come to the lane and place a bunch of archer gnomes who would shoot down enemy minions. Yes, it would require some of the builder's time and resources, but it could effectively help in specific situations. However, a problem arose here as well – the archer gnomes proved to be the most useful, but they were very difficult to balance. If we give them high damage and a lot of health, these gnome totems would become too imbalanced against the enemy builder – just a few of them strategically placed in key points of the enemy forest could make gathering resources practically impossible. On the other hand, with low damage and few health points, these gnome totems became ineffective on the lane – they could be destroyed by a champion in just one or two hits. To try to influence this situation, we decided to change the damage system for gnomes. Each gnome had 3 lives, and any attack against them, regardless of the amount of damage it dealt, would take away one life. This way, a gnome would be destroyed after three attacks, regardless of whether it was attacked by a minion, builder, or champion.


Interaction: Builder – Enemy Champion

It was assumed that champions, when they had some free time, could roam into the forest and try to kill the enemy builder. However, even this did not work out.


The first reason was that it was extremely difficult for the champion and the builder to meet in the forest. It turned out that the builder spent most of the time at the base – constructing dens, processing resources, and researching upgrades for minions. From the beginning of the game, the builder already had a strategy in place for early-game development, so he knew well which resources and how much of them he would need. To avoid wasting time on frequent visits to the forest, the builder would gather all the necessary resources in one trip and spend the rest of the time at the base. To encourage him to go to the forest more often, we significantly limited the size of his inventory, and the initial pickaxe collected resources very slowly. To allow for personal growth, the builder could craft a stronger pickaxe and a more capacious bag for himself. Fortunately, all the necessary mechanics for this were already available in FoN.


But there was a second reason why it was ineffective for the champion to attempt to chase down the builder – they had significantly different running speeds. Even if the champion encountered the builder in the forest, the builder could easily escape. Gathering resources required the builder to constantly cover large distances, so his running speed was much higher than that of the champion, who spent most of his time on the lane. To address this issue, we adjusted the builder's running speed to match the champion's, but we added a passive ability that needed to be upgraded through the skill window – Speed Boost. This skill provided a significant speed boost if no enemies were nearby the builder for the last few seconds. This meant that the builder could still run quickly through the forest to gather resources, but encountering an enemy champion (or even a minion) would instantly deactivate his speed boost ability, giving the champion a chance to catch up.


Since we started adding skills that needed to be leveled up for the builder, we also decided to introduce an ability that significantly sped up the resource gathering process for a few seconds. The ability to control minions was also made into a skill – the builder couldn't control minions right from the start; he needed to first upgrade the corresponding skill.


Interaction: Builder – Builder

Builders from opposing teams also did not intersect with each other. The reason was simple – they each had their own forest for gathering resources. Initially, we designed the location based on the standard MOBA genre map (like in DOTA and League of Legends), reducing the number of lanes from three to one. In MOBAs, each team has its own jungle, and there are heroes who level up not on the lane, but in the jungle – they are called junglers. They are somewhat similar to our builders. The idea of having two separate forests worked perfectly in DOTA and LoL because junglers had a specific role within the team – they leveled up in the jungle and provided assistance on lanes where needed, using the element of surprise. This is how they interacted with other players, and meeting the enemy jungler in the jungle was unnecessary. In our game, however, this division of forests resulted in the builder remaining isolated. Having separate forests made it less effective to influence another builder's strategy through gnomes – placing a gnome in the enemy's forest required spending a significant amount of time just to enter it.


As a result, the map was completely redesigned so that there was only one forest on it, shared by two builders.




That's all for now. In the next post, I'll detail how effective all our gameplay changes turned out to be.

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