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Dev Blog #11 – Generating Genes

Cleb - January 12, 2017

DevBlog11Wide

As we said last week we are working on the genetic engineering mechanics for CURE. So far we have mainly been working on Genes. The easiest way to think of a ‘Gene’ is an item. In other games you can equip swords or armor to upgrade your character, but in CURE you will equip Genes. Genes in CURE are really unique and can allow for some really neat customization (the order in which you equip items, and which items you equip, and how items interact with each other all play a huge part in customizing your units), there will be a little more of a science to it than just equipping a sword, but it’s a good metaphor.

So how do we make these items?
To best explain how Genes work within CURE, it might be best to contrast and compare how items work in two of our favorite games with equippable items in them: Diablo 2 and World of Warcraft. In World of Warcraft (WoW), items are static, in the sense that they are all created by the developers prior to the games release. For instance, the Feeble Sword always does 4 maximum damage. Period. In contrast, Diablo 2 (D2) generates their items when they ‘drop’ (when they are found by the player). For instance, a Cruel Short Sword can have their max damage range between 14-31 damage — and what damage it does exactly is determined when the item is created. In D2, you can get a wimpy Cruel Short Sword that does 14 damage, or if you are really lucky, you can get one that does 31 damage — and most of the time you will get something between those two, like 22 damage. D2 allows for players to be disappointed and ecstatic in which items they have won, because the items are variable, and there is definitely good and bad versions of each item.

 

That is not to say that items in WoW are not as good as D2, there are some very real technical and performance benefits to having static items. The first example of which are balancing. In WoW, if an item is Over Powered (OP) or Under Powered (sucks) then the developers can simply update the item on the server, and each account with said item are referencing that item on the server, and the next time the player plays the game after an update, their item will automatically be the correct ‘fixed’ item. In contrast, in D2, there are STILL items that exist from earlier patches that most likely will never be taken out of circulation – for instance a WindForce from the 1.08 patch.

 

08wf
 

So, making items which uniquely roll stats, makes ‘fixing’ the existing items harder (not impossible… just hard). Another example of static items being a big benefit is bugs; If an item is generated/hacked and it has improper stats, finding those said items and taking them out of the game becomes pretty difficult. An example of this is Vita charms from D2, which were hacked items that gave impossibly good stats, that took years to be fully removed from the game.

 


vitacharmhack
 

However, with technical limitations aside, we feel that items in D2 are more compelling (both more frustrating and rewarding) to players, than more static and predictable items: and we like that dynamic. CURE’s items will be non-static (like D2), and they are going to be wildly variable and unique when they are generated when they ‘drop’.


We have been working on this generating process, and how best to create random Genes. What we found was, ‘fully random’ Genes were far too random; Sometimes you get Genes which were counterintuitive or even selfcontradicting. So, to combat the shortcomings of ‘purely random’ Genes, we have created a system of ‘guided random’. The ‘guided random’ process will allow us to control in what way Genes will be generated, so that Genes have a slightly more cohesive and meaningful feel. To achieve this, we have spent this week developing a tool that will allow us to influence how random Genes are generated, by enabling us to quickly create effect ‘profiles’ that the game can select from at random.

GeneProfileEditor

Genes will still be allowed to choose multiple profiles giving the game the potential to create some very interesting combinations of effects. Not only are these profiles catered and specially made to be engaging and build enabling, but moreso, there will be random elements within these profiles (like in D2) which will make each Gene fairly unique, giving players many choices in what Genes they wish to use, and how they wish to use them.


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