Introducing: The Battle for Jotsway Canyon

Last September, I purchased the GameMaker: Studio Humble Bundle and since then I’ve been porting over my older project made with libGDX from the ground up. This new project finally has a name: The Battle for Jotsway Canyon!

Overview

Jotsway Canyon is a tactics game being developed for Widows, Linux, HTML5 and Android. The current test build is available for free on itch.io. I’m always looking for constructive comments and so far, feedback has been generally positive.

For the initial release, I’d like an endless Arena mode with a choice of classes, varied enemies and unexpected mechanics with later updates including a story mode and additional classes and enemies.

Jotsway Canyon 0.0.33

Arena

In the current build (0.0.33), you take on the role of the first class: the Sorcerer. The player battles enemies and levels up which allows the player to select random bonuses drawn from unique Class Deck. In this mode I hope the challenge will come from adapting to the environment and enemies with unique abilities rather than relying on inflating stats.

Class Decks

For 1.0.0, they’ll be 3 classes: the Sorcerer, the Barbarian and the Cleric. The player will choose which one to be at the start of every Arena game and each one will have a unique Class Deck to draw from.

Decks are made up of Cards with varying rarities: Common, Uncommon, Rare and Legendary. When the player levels up, 3 Cards are drawn from the Deck. Common Cards appear more often and Legendary Cards appear very rarely.

The player can choose to spend Gold they gather from enemies to mulligan and redraw their hand.

Players can mulligan cards

 

Previously, I had a talent tree system but I decided to move towards a this new system for several reasons. Firstly, having the player draw a random set of upgrades feels more exciting and adds a new decision every level which increases variety and replayability.

Additionally, the new system has better scalability than the previous iteration as I can add and swap cards to Class Decks very easily and don’t have to worry about redesigning the UI to accommodate these changes. This is especially important during this early stage of development where there are many rapid changes.

This old class tree took me longer to implement

Stat Squish

Another change I’ve made is how damage and stats work. I’ve simplified the stats to become Health and Power rather than Physical Power/ Defence and Magical Power / Defence etc. This is to improve readability and put more emphasis on positioning, movement and mechanics rather than having numbers scale linearly and arbitrarily.

Enemies grow in power a lot slower stat-wise. Difficulty instead will come from more interesting and complex abilities that the player will have to react to.

I’ve also removed random damage from skills because I want the player to be able to predict what will happen and be rewarded for reacting properly. Random elements still exist; Burns happen randomly and enemies are spawned randomly and move randomly but for the combat, I want to keep the randomness manageable.

Lessons Learnt

Building the game from the ground up again has allowed me to learn plenty. I’ve continued to experiment with pixel art and I try to tackle systems with a bit more thought first.

Learning more about pixel art

I generally use Inkscape to lay out ideas first and I’ve found this particularly useful when designing the Class Decks. Although I don’t use it for illustratios, I’ve become very quick at making outlines for ideas and it’s essential for my workflow!

I find Inkscape useful for planning ideas out

Moving Forward

I’m aiming for a late 2017 release for all platforms. You can follow the development of Jotsway Canyon via Twitter or on my website. I release all of the patch notes there! If you have any comments feel free to let me know. Thank you for reading!