Sample Excel:Two Towers Project

The Two Towers Project was an early assignment during my Guildhall Stay. I'm including it as a sample work with Excel formatting The project required we design and balance a limited action game based on the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Our instructions were to create a basic moveset for the character or Aragorn, as well as 7 enemies for him to fight. 

Download

Game Design Document

Game Balance Table

Game Summary:

For the creation of this project, there were a couple of assumptions that we had to work under. First, whenever Aragorn fights an enemy, he and the enemy constantly interchange damage equally at a rate determined by the animation for the attacks and their damage. This means that neither combatant can block damage or perform dodges. Attacks must consider three values for their animation: Start Up Time, Attack Time, and Cooldown time. Damage is always calculated at the beginning of Attack Time. Both Aragorn and his foe cycle through the three animation times until one of them dies. 

Aragorn's moveset must be comprised of three attack strings, two of them must have three stages, one of them a single stage "execution" style move. 

Locked, Unlocked, and Neutral:

Core to the balancing of this project was the concept of "Locked, Unlocked, Neutral". This relates to how effective any given strategy (in this case, an attack) will be against a specific enemy. If a strategy is locked, it means that it will be very ineffective. For example, if a player uses the first Attack String against one of the tougher enemies, Aragorn takes a massive amount of damage. Conversely, an Unlocked strategy means that it is highly effective, and finally a Neutral strategy lies, as one would expect, somewhere in the middle.

For the purposes of the project, we had to create seven unique enemies. Three of these, however, had to be Unlocked exclusively by walking, running, and blocking, as these abilities were not being used for the other four "basic" enemies.

A large part of what made the project interesting was balancing Aragorn's three attacks to the basic enemies. What makes the first combo special, vs the second, vs the single hit attack? How does Aragorn exchange health with the enemies?

Aragorn's Moveset:

This is an example of one of the three attacks Aragorn has at his disposal. Note that only the first Stage has a unique Wind Up, as the first stage would be the Wind Up of the second stage.

Strider Dance

Stage 1

Description: Aragorn swings horizontally, at height with his own neck, from left to right, using both hands.

Wind-Down Animation: Aragorn must stabilize his body back into his neutral position, slowing down his spin.

Stage 2

Description: Aragorn spins in place, dealing another horizontal swing with only his right hand, this time at belly height.

Wind-Down: Aragorn must stabilize his body from the violent spin, as well as regain his footing.

Stage 3

Description: Aragorn lifts his left hand to meet his right hand above his head and to his right side, ending with a vertical swing downwards with both hands. 

Wind-Down: Aragorn lifts both hands up to his side.

Orc Stats:

These are the stats of the "basic" four enemies. They all have their own health values, and have their own damage per attack. Unlike Aragorn, they only have a single attack.

Balancing It All Out:

Once the enemies were decided upon, the focus turned into how to make it all fit within a fun experience. The first Orc turned to be the cannon fodder, the kind of enemy that,on their own, gets dispatched without much hassle. The second Orc, the Armored Goblin, was meant to be a heavy hitting type of enemy that succumbed to the execution move. Shelob Spawn, while technically not an Orc, were designed to have larger health pools but have slightly longer wind-up time on their attack. Finally, the Uruk Hai elite warrior were meant to always take a kick out of the player, having a consistent degree of high challenge. 

All of the data feeds into a master Lock/Unlock/Neutral Chart, shown below:

Orc 1 clearly gets destroyed by almost every stage of every attack. Orc 2 requires the third attack to be taken down safely, but can still be somewhat taken down with the two other attacks. Orc 3 requires the full use of either attack 1 or 2. Finally, Orc 4 is only effectively beaten by use of the third attack, but even then has to be approached cautiously by players because they're still very dangerous.

Post-Mortem

What Went Right?

  • Final project demonstrates ability to create detailed documentation.

  • Having to balance the stats on all of the characters and the attacks was a great test of systems skills.

What Went Wrong?

  • Balancing could always be improved. Still not entirely sure if Uruk Hai being that strong is the best way to implement an enemy players should always be terrified of.

What Was Learned?

  • Balancing combat and creating movesets requires more than just throwing numbers at the wall and seeing what sticks. Having a clear direction from the beginning allows for a much smoother experience. 

  • Being able to think of attacks in terms of animations/damage per second allows for full control of the gameplay experience, from designing attacks that are quick to execute to slower but more powerful ones..