View Full Version : Mutations

03-22-2018, 04:31 PM
In our next game, you play as one of the Mutated. They are closely related to the elves and a little to the dark orcs, but one of the main traits is that they mutate slowly over time. There are 3 main ways that this happens: randomly, mutation levels, and mutating with another character.

In rare cases, they can just mutate randomly. This is usually a direct consequence of things happening in the game. For example, if you are killed by a Scree, you might gain a fear of demons. If you kill a bunch of Orcs, you might gain an Orc killing bonus.

The player has a mutation level that goes up as they gain experience. This works similar to normal experience, except it has a high randomness component to it. When the player goes up a mutation level, they mutate in some way. This can give them a free skill level in any skill they have access to, give them a completely new random skill, add a new mutation, or mutate one of their skills.

A new mutation could be something good like Acid Blood where melee enemies take damage when they hit you. It could be something bad like Hemophilia where you receive deep wounds more often than normal. It could even be something in-between like Horns which increases your physical damage, but doesn't allow you to wear helmets.

Skill mutations affect a specific skill. There is a huge variety of ways that skills can mutate. Let's look at the fireball skill as an example (other skills work in a similar manner). Some possible mutations: splitting (extra projectiles), efficient (less mana used), quick (faster casting), blasting (larger blast radius), forking (splits into 2 when it hits an enemy), icy (adds cold damage), of lightning swarms (chance of adding balls of lightning when a fireball kills something), or armor melt (chance of adding an armor melt debuff on each enemy hit by a fireball), and many, many more.

For all of these mutations, you can go with the flow and accept them or you can fight against them. Essentially you can can spend skill points to remove the unwanted mutations. This is only a short term cost though, since you will regain these skill points when you go through a full mutation.

Every time you gain a mutation level, you also get a mutation point. For every mutation point, you can go through a full mutation with another character or a class specialty. During a full mutation, any skill that is not currently being used in some manner has a 45% chance of staying as it is, a 45% chance of being replaced by a random skill from the target character or specialty, and a 10% chance of being replaced by any random skill from ANY specialty. You will also regain any skill points used to remove unwanted mutations and your mutation level will readjust to how many mutations you still have.

Overall, while your character mutates randomly, you have a lot of control over the process.

Thoughts? Questions?

03-22-2018, 05:10 PM
It's hard for me to wrap my mind around without seeing it in action, but on paper it seems like it could be a lot of fun. I like the fact that there is a player control element combined with the randomness.

Since you have taken out permadeath, is the idea now that players will develop the same character over time (like we do in all your other games), but we will be battling randomness all the while? In other words, will players eventually have high level characters who they have guided through many mutations over the course of many levels (instead of many characters who don't last long, like it was in the earlier builds)?

03-22-2018, 05:39 PM
I'm actually hoping that different people play the game in different ways.

You could just play your character and however they mutate, you just go with the flow and your final character is whatever "destiny" decided.

You could, as you asked about, play one character up to high levels, remove everything that is unwanted, and mutate with different specialties to build the character you want.

You could also play a lot of lower level characters to find lots of cool mutations and then use those to mutate with each other or higher level characters to stack a bunch of mutations on a character.

03-23-2018, 08:00 AM
Sounds interesting to me.... unfortunately I'm not sure whether I'll be able to play it lol

The next Mac OS will lose my Adobe products so I may end up having to keep a machine on an older OS anyway. I refuse to pay a subscription to Adobe that's why I'm getting out of design. So hopefully you continue to release Mac versions even if they're for an older OS.

03-23-2018, 09:11 AM
I'm pretty sure we will support older Mac OS versions. It's the next one that worries me.

03-31-2018, 08:25 PM
so will the game be science fiction? it kind of sounds like it (and it would make not being permanently dead easy to explain).

if so, will it have guns and such?

if so again, could one mutate their ranged accuracy or do things like make it so a flame thrower seeks out targets (as it would work with the fireball spell)?

can a mutation be a pet that follows you around?

is this also implying that the characters will be generational??

it sounds like characters will share a base or something that has a machine that stores mutation data, is that correct? if so will that and other things in the base be upgradeable?

simulacrum mutation? added defense vs. slower move speed? slow time? kinetic energy guild up?

it is hard to fathom without details... super hero game with elves? or more like shadowrun?

04-02-2018, 12:43 PM
It is still fantasy. No guns. Skills can mutate in different ways (accuracy is one that is in the game, homing is a possibility). We don't have any pets that are mutations directly, but their are mutations and skills that can gain you pets. There was originally a generation mechanic, but I removed it a while back.

04-16-2018, 01:38 PM
Do you have a specific categorisation of the mutations in terms of power level and if they are considered end-positive, end-negative or mixed? You mention they tend to randomly change from time to time, though the player could fight it, but I worry if the end results might be a large fluctuation in player power level if you don't actively fight the negative mutations. If you enter a dungeon with 5 positive mutations active that you built around and they change into 5 negative ones, then suddenly your power level drops significantly and it might be that your build gets broken in the process. If this causes a death, then some cursing on part of the player might follow ;-)

The concept of mixed up/downside mutations might be interesting to dig into as a possible strategy for mitigating this. You mention acid blood as a positive mutation that gives you some retaliation damage when you get hit, and you mention hemophilia as a negative mutation which makes you take deep wounds more often, but couldn't they actually be combined into a new acid blood mutation that gives you both the upside and the downside? For example, due to your acidic blood your wounds close more slowly and you're more likely to take deep wounds, but when you do take a wound, you get the acid blood spray that damages nearby foes and has a chance to blind them. A bit more extreme: growing an extra arm (or two?) makes you able to wield more weapons, but you can only wear light armour (which you can easily rip a hole in for those extra arms). Similarly for skill mutations: end-positive would be split fireballs without extra cost or downsides, but more interesing would be multiple projectiles that either simply cost more (to compensate) or each projectile would be weaker individually or have less range or have a smaller explosion on impact or a combination of these factors. Highly flammable fireballs could be a mutation that decreased the hit damage, but then sets the target and surrounding foes on fire for a short duration. Useful against groups of weak enemies, but less useful against a single strong foe.

04-16-2018, 04:34 PM
There are many positive, negative, and mutations that could go either way depending on the circumstances. However, in general there are more positive mutations than the other two I believe.

Except when you choose to do a full mutation or you choose to suppress a mutation, you can't lose mutations or skills. Also, in general you can only gain 1 mutation at a time, so mutations can greatly affect your power level over time, it won't happen all at once though.

There are lots of interesting ideas in your second paragraph. :)

04-25-2019, 11:07 AM
We've been discussing this on discord. My personal feeling is that there are too many mutation points being given out:

a. It devalues them, and makes it feel like major mutations are a chore you need to go through.
b. It allows you to basically get whatever skills you want rather than this game being a more rogue-lite thing of reacting to what you're given, but it seems like that's what you're going for.
c. The explanation in-game isn't good because it's too technical.

In regards to a, one solution is to make it that you don't 'collect' mutation points. Instead, you have one binary variable: mutation available or not. If you go through a mutation level without mutating, that opportunity is lost. So you could mutate every mutation level if you want to, but you don't build up this endless stock of points sitting around, and it still feels like something grand.

In regards to b, this does seem to be your vision of the game though I personally think a stronger design (and one that differentiates itself more from the previous games) would push towards the rogue-lite side and give as a character option the ability to have more control. Given that this isn't the case, would it be possible to have a character option that gives fewer opportunities for major mutations? As in, once every 4-5 levels you get a point or get the option to mutate (following the advice of part a above).

And with regard to c, the percentages make the explanation too heavy. It should be something like 'When you choose to mutate, every skill that has no points in it has a chance of changing to one from the target tree, or even changing to one from a random tree!'.

04-25-2019, 11:13 AM
Adding to my previous post, let me quote from discord to explain more of my reasoning:

The thing is, the main hook of this game relative to the previous games is the rogue-lite aspect.
The hardcore thing didn't happen.
But now, the main thing is dealing with randomness, and getting negative traits and having to deal with them, similar to a character out of Crusader Kings who develops negative traits. The game hands you cards and you try to make the best of them. This has never been done in an ARPG AFAIK, whereas a fine-grained build of a character has been done by many ARPGs.
If you neutralize these aspects by giving back a ton of player control by default, you're getting a bland design that doesn't really innovate over previous games.
It's fine to have those things as options, similar to the way hardcore rogue-lite games (FTL etc) have easier modes. But the default design should strive for the thing it's pushing towards IMO.
So my preference would be to see the rogue-lite stuff be the default, and the ability to control your character be the extra options. This includes not allowing you to mutate to whatever you want with a ton of mutation points, and also not easily undoing any negative traits you may get (they should at least require investing a lot of skill points).

As an aside, I also don't really understand why major mutations give you back skill points you used to undo negative mutations. Is it a get out of jail free card, or something else?