I just realized the other day that while this blog has shown a lot of the features, I haven’t really talked about what the game is, or how it’s played (from the point of view of those playtest users).
Monster Roller is a battle strategy game, fought with real-time PVP. Players choose a mode for each active monster, then roll to see what move the monster performs. Strategies might be attacking (the reel will have a small number of critical hits, weak hits, normal hits and maybe a party attack), defending, healing, and so on.
It uses a slot machine mechanic to visualize randomness in how powerful an ability is, similar to how RPG players might use a dice (or die, most likely). In most games, the chance to get a critical hit is usually buried in a page of stats. Meanwhile, Monster Roller puts this information to the front because being aware of these probabilities factors into strategy. The flip side to showing stats like that means that there’s a bigger cognitive load when a player has to remember them all in his/her head, which is why Monster Roller uses a simplified system (everyone can attack, but different monsters can do only one other thing — some of them can defend, others can heal, and others can buff or debuff an enemy).
In addition, Monster Roller makes use of all the usual features expected in a monster battling game:
- there are element strengths and weaknesses,
- status effects,
- the ability to switch out an active team with a substitute,
and so on. The game also features jackpots (there’s a big bonus if you get a three of a kind) — which is why you’d pay attention (hopefully) to your team, your deck composition.
For the past eight months, we’ve been focusing on balancing all the variables we’ve just mentioned above, making each mechanic shine just enough such that winning depends on strategy and meta game. (Yes, we did this along with the crazy idea of using a slot machine with a limited range of randomness.) Although Monster Roller looks like a JRPG, that’s just the appearance of it; it’s balanced closer to a card game. Each battle is roughly ten minutes where deciding all these tiny things like order and mode and targeting really matters.
What’s a battle like?
All battles start with a coin flip:
If the player goes first, the enemy shields itself. The player is also forbidden to switch out, since the common meta tactic would be to use tanks in front (and most of the tanks in Monster Roller are defensive tanks, not offensive ones). On the other hand, the enemy is allowed to switch out as soon as their first turn comes around.
Here are some of the possible things to do in battle:
Here’s a single (common) attack:
Most monsters will have 3 or 4 of these (or more even), which allows them to synergize with other monsters for a 3 of a kind jackpot combo.
Here are some stronger attacks, such as a critical hit and a party drain attack:
Party drain attack! It’s not yet noticeable, but Snapplant (the green monster) gets 10HP!
Here’s what a 3-of-a-kind jackpot looks like:
And the lights go wild…
There are two ways to get a jackpot. You can get a jackpot either with 3-of-a-kind or by having the same jackpot. Here’s a smaller defensive jackpot:
Here’s what healing looks like:
A single heal this time.
Lastly, we can set up ‘combo plays’ by pairing buff-givers (called Modifiers) with other monsters. Below, the Nattilus (on the far left) adds a 2.5x attack buff to the monster next-in-line. Sadly the buff is wasted on a 7HP monster. Lack of attack optimization hurts like a bitch in Monster Roller, which is why ordering and targeting matter.
Wew, that’s quite a lot to digest! We’re hoping that the midcore crowd cottons onto the idea. As always, feedback is appreciated! Let us know what you think in the comments.