It’s been quite some time from my last update but rest assured I’ve been working hard to make Grrbls…and its now at a point where I can update you with what I consider pretty “feature locked” game play updates.
My previous posts have showed off the Grrbl creator and the Quest details screens and various other things. All of those things are now gone. Yup. Literally years of work have been “tossed aside” in favor of cleaner mechanics, stream lined game play, and what I feel is exponentially better replay value with less fussy management. In fact one of the bed rock principles I wanted to make this game on, “being able to level up forever” has finally been removed. Removing the forever level system was literally physically painful for me as I thought I was betraying my core values so bad — but the game was being made worse by trying to force this upon it.
I wanted Grrbls to be a fresh fun challenge that is easy to pick up but also gives the player a forever sense of growing accomplishment. I found that by removing the “Create/Equip Grrbl” screen, and moving all gear and action finds into the dungeon run, that I removed a ton of micromanagement at 0 cost to game play. Further more, I removed the bloat of having to configure and plan ahead for quests by just having each run be unique on the fly — this lets the player get in faster without over analyzing useless information.
The forever level system, which I desperately wanted to keep, ultimately made no sense in the concept of Grrbls. The core loop of Grrbls is you jump into a dungeon, pick your team, and build your deck on the fly. By adding a level system (which was persistent) it made the game design and code more complex, and some effects had to be very weirdly worded and designed to accommodate leveling forever (because scaling effects can get out of control very fast breaking all semblance of balance and fun).
Instead of levels I have instead focused on the joy of finding rares. There is still rarity in the game, and rarer cards are more powerful versions of their less rare counterparts. I think this gives the joy of finding epic loot without having to worry about an experience system.
So how exactly does Grrbls work now? The game starts and you get to pick 3 Grrbls from a team of 5. From there you pick your starter deck which will have a few common cards. From there you move from a series of rooms and see how far you can get. Every few rooms there is a battle where Grrbls can really shine with its (what I think at least) unique battle system. There is 1 shared deck between all Grrbl but each Grrbl will have different stats and abilities which affect the card being played and what happens before or after. The Grrbls take turns going so part of the strategy will be playing the best card for each Grrbl to maximize how they affect it — but depending on the enemy you might not have the luxury. The battle is broken into rounds and you can go for as long as you have mana to play cards. Then its the monsters turn and each of the monsters take a turn (their actions are broadcast before can so you know what they are doing). Every time you kill a monster it will drop 1-3 chests and each chest will contain a set of cards for you to pick from. The cards might be action cards for you deck, gear, tools, or various other upgrades (like buffs for your Grrbls). These chests and the choices you make are how your Grrbls and your deck evolve together. Picking a synergy between your tools, gear and actions will be one of the core challenges to making a run work well.
I love how this game system allows for a 1 deck approach (as opposed to each Grrbl having their own, predetermined move set) as there can be lots of fun deck mechanics that can be done (like drawing, discarding, changing cards in the hand, the randomness of what you get and so on).
I am working on getting this demo-playable asap and I am making good progress. I will update you when I have more goodies to share.