Monster Roller is a monster strategy game with a hybrid slot machine combat system for mobile by Boomzap Entertainment. Hatch, raise and train monsters to fight against your friends in online PVP or explore solo adventures offline!

All posts by Monster Roller

Monster Roller is a monster strategy game with a hybrid slot machine combat system for mobile by Boomzap Entertainment. Hatch, raise and train monsters to fight against your friends in online PVP or explore solo adventures offline!

Monster Roller @ ESGS Indie Arena

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Hey rollers!

This weekend (October 24 – 25), we will be at the E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) at the SMX Convention Center, Philippines as one of the finalists at the Indie Arena Showcase.

ESGS2015_mr

We’ll be doing a demo of Monster Roller, as well as other Boomzap games such as Super Awesome RPG and Legends of Fire & Steel.

Hope we can count on your support! Please vote for us through this app:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wilshireaxon.android.esgs

We’re also giving away Monster Roller posters so please drop by if you’re around. See ya!

P. S. Sorry for the hiatus on weekly dev progress updates. We’re busy working on our beta build, which you can sign up for here.


Communicating Progression

We’ve spent a lot of posts talking about the battle mechanic and the refinement of it from an unstructured mess to a set of actions that can be built on for strategy. We’ll be going what features are implemented for progression, and importantly, how this is communicated to the player.

SampleLoop

Instant game loop, just skin it a thousand ways.

What Features Are Involved?

Each battle brings the player closer to understanding the way their fellow players strategize or expands on their knowledge of slots (abilities). This is knowledge (metagame) progression. The Player is also rewarded with gold, which allows them to buy more monsters – progression in their collection.

For Monster Roller, the following features work together in the loop:

  • Battle. This is the start of the loop.
  • Stages (for Offline Play). The player progresses each time s/he completes a level. This appeals to players who want to complete every level. Offline play also builds confidence for online play, because the player is learning about the monsters and their different abilities.
  • Leaderboards (for PVP). The player can see how they stack up against their fellow players.
  • Level Up System. The monster levels up based on role, with additional bonuses.
  • Evolution System. Monsters can evolve, and adult monsters can help gain more monsters through egg-laying rather than relying on the store. Evolutions have different stats & different abilities.
  • Store & Incubation. Earning gold gets spent here.

Some Examples!

 

(1) It has to be obvious.

mr 2015-08-27 15-21-28-38

A basic example: indicators show which level difficulties the player has beaten.

1

There are also clear indicators showing how hard a stage will be.

(2) It has to be rewarding.

3

People like seeing bars fill up.

(3) Player control is good.

LevelupBonusesPlayers get to choose in what way additional bonuses are distributed to a monster. While these bonuses are not large enough to turn a defensive tank into an offensive tank, the reward is in the addition of the points themselves and  getting to choose where those bonus points are spent.

 

 


What is Monster Roller, Anyway?

logo_600x600

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.

ASDFASDF

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,
  • buffs/debuffs,

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:

coin-toss

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:

bite

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:


crit

Critical hit!

drain

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:

28127-176580-OTBhZwEpQtjGd8M-3-of-a-kind-combo

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:

party-defense

Here’s what healing looks like:

group-heal

A big group heal from Fernadon.
solo-heal

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.

28127-176580-ddraH5WVEWozMFu-buff3

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.


Monster Roles and Strategy

Monster Roller was conceived during a pitch meeting. After seeing a couple of suggestions for games, the boss made his choice and said:

“We’re making a slot machine game.”

I was about to make this face:

my-face

But quickly remembered I was a mature adult and so slapped on a smile. A professional smile.

face2

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

I too had my ideas during that pitch meeting, which were all tossed in the bin. That was fine. The bigger problem, to me, was that I was making a slot machine game. ‘What the fuck,’ I thought. ‘A slot machine game. I was not put on this god damned planet to make a slot machine game.’

A more elegant way to phrase it:

Where was the user agency?

That was my number one, eloquent, professional concern.

The boss kept on saying ‘make it random.’ No. Fucking. Way. I tried that. It was a mess. How the hell can anyone play a random game? Why would anyone play a random game? I preferred skill and strategy with a side of RNG. Not RNG with a side of skill and strategy. Obviously I was not building this game for me but for others (games are product, guys) but I could not see how anyone would play… something… entirely… random.

That being said, after my initial shock wore off (and I tried most of the ideas that turned out not to work), I started to see the logic behind the choice of a slot machine game.

Number One: No one had ever successfully made a slot machine game with a strategy element.

Design is about solving problems of interaction, communication, and game mechanics. This was, from a certain point of view, a fascinating exercise in making the mechanics associated with slot machines (such as jackpots, holding, etc.) work within a battle framework.

Number Two: Everyone gets the idea of a slot machine and the additional depth keeps them hooked.

I could treat the simplicity of the game as a gateway drug to the heavier gameplay aspects of deck building, targeting, betting, elemental strengths and weaknesses, and so on.

Number three: People love monsters, which was the chosen theme.

For today, the reason why I brought up my bitching over the lack of player agency is because I want to show one part of the solution to mixing strategy with the slot machine.

 

Building Plays

Each monster in the game has a role. In a role-playing game, you wouldn’t use an all-fighter party, especially if none of them could heal. Naturally they’d all be dead at some point without a healer. The same principle applies to Monster Roller. The idea here is that pairing monsters produces better results. This party building, according to how the monsters synergize is called building a play.

We have four basic types of roles:

Types

Whatever role a monster has, all monsters have two modes. The first mode, by default, is the attack mode. Then the second mode is the ability mode. Different roles have different abilities.

  1. Fighters
    1. Mode 1: Attacking
    2. Mode 2: Defending / some self-healing
  2. Healers
    1. Mode 1: Attacking
    2. Mode 2: Healing / Shielding / Protecting / Removing Debuffs for other party members
  3. Disruptors
    1. Mode 1: Attacking / Inflicting Status Effects
    2. Mode 2: Mostly defending itself, similar to Fighters
  4. Modifiers
    1. Mode 1: Attacking
    2. Mode 2: Various Buffs (affects an ally’s next move)

We’ll go over them in the next section.

 

Fighters

Fighters usually have a high attack and low HP, though sub-types (that we won’t get into this time) vary in the degree of attack/hp and in slot (ability) composition. They can only attack in varying methods and defend. You won’t win a fight fast without these guys.

The very first fighter we made was Magmus, and he has a low HP/high ATK combination (this sub-type is known as a Glass Cannon.)

Magmus-Card

His low HP makes him heavily dependent on healers or supporters. Below are his slots:

Attack Mode:

Magmus-Attack

The top row is simply different art for the same basic attack value. (Get 3 of a kind for a huge jackpot!) Then the other slots are the weak attack, critical, and special ability (2x attack). Lastly, they can also mug for gold.

 Defend Mode:

Magmus-Defend

Various kinds of defense: immunity (with wings) means no damage taken at all. There’s a long shield (with the 2), a short shield (plain shield), a shield that also nets money, and a resist shield (with the paw) — it resists negative status effects.

Then there’s also a self-heal, though that happens rarely.

Other fighters, like Snapplant, have a higher HP but lower ATK, but sometimes have very cool abilities. Snapplant in particular, is somewhat harder to get than Magmus because of its Party Drain ability.

mr 2015-07-30 14-52-56-77

asdfasdfa

The half-full heart means a party drain attack. It’s pretty powerful.

 

Supporters and Healers

These guys usually have the ability to attack and heal, shield or protect. Protecting is separate from shielding — it’s a skill where the monster protecting takes the damage instead. The shield is your typical defense up spell.

Some supporters can also remove bad status effects (debuffs), give the regenerate buff, and even attack well (at the expense of HP).

Totoduck is an example of a monster with a decent attack stat, low HP, and useful abilities (though it cannot defend itself.)

Totoduck

Totoducks can shield the party, heal the party, or heal an ally (icons, top to bottom). Their attack stat grows similar to that of a Fighter.

 

Debuffers

Monsters that cause various status effects. Their abilities aren’t so great (it’s hard to make jackpot combinations with them) and they can’t heal themselves. However, all debuff abilities stack. If you get stunned twice, the values of both stun abilities are counted — which means a world of pain when you get stunned for four turns twice.

A good example of a monster in this class is Flurriken. Flurriken can stun the entire party for a single turn, or shrink other monsters, halving their stats.

Flurriken

To counter these, Totoducks are usually added to a team to provide support. Another tactic is to wait it out and counter with buffs like regen.

 

Modifiers

Modifiers are fascinating, high-HP, low-ATK support-types. Their abilities are subdivided into rate, duration, and area of effect modifiers. Basically: they buff the person next in line.

Nattilus-Back

All the slots on the far right affect the monster next in line.

A rate modifier, like Nattilus, makes adds a bonus range from 1.5 to 3x on whatever is rolled by the next monster.
mr-2015-07-30-16-55-21-00

In this example, Nattilus is adding 1.75x to Pyropup’s party attack. If Pyropup’s attack value is 8, that means it will deal 14 damage to EVERYONE. 

Some Common Plays We’ve Noticed:

Hoopip + Any Low HP Character (typically Magmus)

mr 2015-07-30 17-04-28-49

Hoopip can regenerate itself and protect other monsters; that way you don’t have to heal anyone and it just soaks up damage.

Zenzird + Gillbane

All of Zenzird’s abilities either turn single-target abilities into PARTY attacks or lengthen the duration of a debuff (by 1, 2, or 3 turns).

Nearly all of Gillbane’s abilities are single-target debuffs (stunning, poisoning, or both).

Combining them results in either party-wide stuns or poisons or poisons / stuns that don’t end.

gllbale

Five of Gillbane’s attacks deal a debuff.

 

zenzird

Zenzird is a duration / Area of Effect modifier.

There you have it! Hope this guide explained how to build plays and teams.

If you are interested in fighting a live PVP match against the designer, get in touch!


Improved Art Icons

 

We recently had a playtest and are working on changes to improve the game. The bossman mentioned that the icons look “boring” so we’ve been working on that.

 

Here’s how the battle screen looked before:

mr 2015-07-02 16-42-07-35

 

Here’s what it looks like now:

ScreenHunter_239 Jul. 02 15.36

 

It’s a pretty big change. It’s lost its more ‘iconlike’ properties and now looks like a cross between icon and illustration.

Here’s how the icons evolved:

temp

 

Some points of interest:

  • We’ve made the background bigger.
  • We’ve simplified the colors and the patterns. Note how the Poison is now green and black whereas it used to have purple. The Stun (blue swirly at the end) also changed following this principle.
  • The top four icons (Wingslap, Tailthrash, Bite, and Claw) changed from being abstract and two-color to having less lines, a simple gradient background, and fewer colors overall.

There’s a lone outlier here — we’re still thinking about the Single Target Heal, which has three wolf-like monsters with a heart on only one. We’re not sold (well, I’m not sold quite yet) on whether the wolf-like look is a good idea or not.  Also, there are some differences in rendering style, which we will be refining as development rolls on.


Upcoming Features

Hey everyone,

Things have been busy for these past two weeks.  In this week’s update, we’ll be showing some upcoming features that build on the core loop of the game. So here’s your first ‘top level’ view of what the rest of the game’s features are, apart from battle:

It looks like Dragon Ball, somehow. This is our ‘egg capsule’ dispenser.  We’re still working on how we want it to look like and how the egg will be animated.

pvp_arena select

This is what our PVP tab looks like. We’ll have leaderboards and daily challenges where users can win more gold.

PvP_tap_hold

A small new feature: you can find out skill the enemy bopped you with! We recently had a playtest, and most people wanted to know what the enemy did to them. So now we have a tap hold feature where they can see what the last rolled ability was.

thumbnail

Incremental change: Monsters now have roles to make it easier to figure out what they’re doing. It helps people make teams and decide which enemy monster to kill first (Do I hit the healer first? Or the glass cannon?)

teambuilder2

New feature: Teambuilder now shows monsters, which can be filtered based on the icons above. Currently the red icons show roles such as Fighters, Healers, Modifiers, and Disruptors.  It can also be sorted by HP and attack.

You’ll be seeing these in action, through a video, in a few weeks.

Till next time!

 

 


Production Buffet

This week’s post delves a little into the technical challenges needed to make a game and the kind of problem solving that goes behind the scenes.

Monster Roller is made to be a game under fifty megabytes with no additional downloads. It’s also supposed to be made fast, but the game industry is secretly made of timelords. We’ll take a short look at both.

For build size, there are several variables that we try to control.

There’s our compression method, for one, and also how frequently we reuse assets. In a way it’s like balancing an equation. There are aspects we could polish in, or invest resources in, and the ‘mix’ of where to splurge on polish or cut corners is what makes the game a viable product given its requirements. I know that sounded really heavy. Just think of it as being in a banquet. Eventually you will get full. So you have to choose what food you’re gonna focus on with the right amount of variety.

Buffet

Your writer is just hungry. That’s the real reason I talked about a buffet.

For today we’ll be going over our rigging template. And although the previous paragraph went over compression and build size, the actual subject of today is about managing time. Rigging is not an issue for compression — we compress vertex animation data very well. But what I’d like to point out this week is that any feature requires integration and testing. You have to code it right, script it right, and test it right. The more unique animations for unique rigs, the more code, script, and testing resources comes in — and these are all part of the ‘weight of assets’ — the issue isn’t just build size, but time.

So in Monster Roller, we sometimes share ‘rigs’ so that we save time in making a new rig. This makes it easier to SCRIPT and TEST for.

The end effect looks something like this:

flurrikenadult_001

You might be wondering how we know to have these kinds of templates.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Sketch out monsters.
  2. Arrange those similar in form.
  3. Construct a rough block shape.
  4. As you make the rough art into final, be aware of the correct pose and adjust your art to fit the rig.
  5. Save time and energy!

Here’s a segment of our rigging template list:

rig-template2

 

rig-template1

rig-template3

Overall, Monster Roller actually has a lot more templates than these. We’re just showing these for reference.

Till next time :)


New FX on Monster Roller

Check out some of these new FX we are adding to Monster Roller! Let us know what you think in the comments.

[Claw and Bite]

[Pillar of light]

[Stun]

[Poison]