One of my overriding design principles of Hardpointe is to keep the number small. Originally the rule was “nothing over 3.”
- The player has a maximum of 3 hit points. The player can cheat a bit here and add 3 shield points temporarily using the shield power.
- All regular enemies have a maximum of 3 hit points. For some enemies, this is a combination of health and shields, the later of which are usually temporary and also vulnerable to EMP grenades.
- All attacks do 1 damage. There are no enemies that do over 1 damage. The player can add +1 to their damage by using a wall-smash, surprise attack, or the `hulk` effect.
I really enjoy the tactical decisions that these design choices enforce on the player. But they also force some tough decisions on me, the developer.
When the player only is only ever 3 hits away from death, there is no room for taking easy (or “cheap”) hits at the player. Part of this is making information about battlefield as clear as possible. Another part is toning down the usual brutal mechanics that power my favorite roguelikes.
For example, in Hardpointe there are tiny nanites that effect the player when you step on them. You will see them, and you can use the HUD to find out what they do. But, there is always the chance of a player stepping on them accidentally. So, for that reason, there are no cases of ‘instant’ damage in the game.
|Corrosive nanites (orange dots)|
Right now, the closest we get are ‘Corrosive’ nanites, which make the player (or any enemy) weak enough to kill in one hit – temporarily. This is a great advantage to the player if they can make use of them, but also not instant death if they are forced to step on a square, or they trigger the effect inadvertently while not paying attention.
There are other nanites that will make the player temporarily invulnerable, or temporarily do +1 damage. Again, great advantages for the player, but getting terribly close to an instant-death situation if an enemy steps on them and the player does not notice.
|Enemy changes color as a warning*|
In this case we turn the monster a different color when they are either invulnerable (as the player is in this gif above after stepping on the neon green nanites on the left) or `Hulked Up`, after stepping on strengthening nanites (dark green on the right). There’s also a HULK power that the player can use but I think it is a bit overpowered.
(* don’t worry, I made the color change more dramatic once I saw this in GIF form)
A long-dormant chunk of code in Hardpointe deals with radiation and fire as features. Since in most games fire does damage, I’ve not yet come up with a good way to add it that does not seem unfair. Radiation is a bit different – it will not kill you instantly, but will start a timer on the player. If you don’t get out of the irradiated zone before the timer ends, you will take 1 damage. This seems like a good trade-off. There’s also a HAZMAT suit power coded up that I can make use of some day and add specialized rooms or levels where the player will need to sacrifice a power to make it through unscathed.
In summary – I can’t promise not to kill you. But I can promise that you will see it coming.