Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is an original platforming IP coming to Wii later this year. With the game due out soon we'll be brining you a series of development diaries from key members of the Red Fly Studio dev team, highlighting certain areas of the game and some of the techniques that have been used. Second up is an article by lead programmer and combat designer Kain Shin, in which he discusses the Wii game's combat variety.
Input Variety with Combat:
Variety was another core aim of the combat system. Melee combat by itself would eventually feel repetitive and tiresome if the game offered nothing else to the user throughout the game. The combat design of Mushroom Men emphasises variety in the form of motion (melee), pointing (Spore Punisher), and a combination of the two (Telekinesis-Throw). Telekinesis-Throw allows the player to use the environment to make fights end quicker. It provides an opportunity for a gratifying tactile sensation related to picking something up and throwing it at an enemy. The physics objects in each level have been tuned to apply just enough damage to make medium-sized enemies bleed. Bleeding is an important part of the feedback in the game because it indicates the availability of the third and most lethal attack method in the game: Spore Punisher. Spore Punisher not only destroys the victim completely, but it also has an area of effect that damages nearby enemies. Because it is so powerful, it has to be presented as a finishing move available only after the enemy has been "softened up".
Strategic Weapon Choices:
In addition to three actions for use in combat, weapon variety also adds a reason for having four types of weapons in the game. Not all weapons are good for all situations and that will become apparent in specific situations:
Bashing Weapons: The player starts out with Bashing weapons, which have a vertical arc but can be a handicap when facing multiple opponents.
Slashing Weapons: Eventually, the player gets Slashing weapons, which do less damage, but can be useful against multiple opponents with its wide horizontal arc.
Piercing Weapons: Piercing weapons happen to be my favourite weapon category. The emphasis with piercing weapons is auto-aiming precision against a single enemy, but a master player can really feel like a ninja with its flying thrust. The piercing jump attack is especially useful against flying enemies.
Radical Weapons: The Radical Weapons use ammo and can run out, but the amount of damage they cause can be the difference between life and death when facing a gang of aggressive enemies.
Miscellaneous Combat Features:
There are three features in the game that are never taught to the user for various reasons and will probably be discovered by the more core players. These three features deserve more than just a mere mention in the instruction manual.
The first unmentioned feature is the passive co-op mode where anyone can pick up the second Wii remote and help out the first player by using reticle actions or mashing the A button to regenerate health on the hero. We call this the roommate feature.
The second unmentioned feature is batting non-physical projectiles back at the shooter. This is a fun thing to do against enemy sage characters that shoot unblockable projectiles at Pax.
The third unmentioned feature is the ability to flick the nunchuck to switch to the last equipped weapon. Switching back and forth between radical weapons and melee weapons can be very convenient in tight situations.
Mushroom Men - Rise of the Fungi for the DS will be available across North America & Europe from November, 2008. Mushroom Men - The Spore Wars for Wii will be available across North America & Europe from November 2008.