Dice meets deck builder in Fuzz Force: Spook Squad, a casual rogue-lite. Create powerful builds with dice, navigate a table top board game and capture those troublesome ghosts. This solo developer indie effort is full of fantastic visuals, and is now in early access on steam.
Q: What is a shortcut you love taking (any aspect of development)?
A lot of my game is centered around a few mechanics and everything is mostly art swaps. Since I can't animate well, I've gone for a board game style so all the enemies can be static. I wanted the characters to animate however, so instead of minis, they're more like weebles with hands. From there each character has slots for the head/hands/body/tail and I can place the models into those. It's quick to make new characters as I can put the new character's meshes into an existing one and they'll have functioning animations. But even from a base level, characters are just a collection of stats, so I'd planned out all the enemies before creating their models.
Q: Looking back, how has your project changed/evolved since the idea was first conceived?
At the very start, the game was about collecting dice and throwing them to lower a ghosts HP in real time. Whilst I liked the dice idea, the battles weren't interactive as throwing the dice was all you did. I sweated for a while over it and put in a simple turn based rpg system that used the dice to decide your skills effectiveness, like in D&D. You attacked and blocked damage and recharged your battery to keep using the first 2 actions. But recharging the battery was boring on it's own so it charged up a Special skill too. At the very beginning you had 3 attack dice, 1 Shield and 1 Charge as I didn't want people to have Shield and Charge actions where they rolled 0 and wasted their turn. This is where the Stat Dice came from, so you can roll 0 and still get something. Dice were changed to 2 each as inconsistency was less of an issue. From there people didn't understand why they needed 2 Attack,Shield and Charge dice. Removing the second dice brought in the Chip system which apply Status Effects to your equipped dice, instead of finding dice with effects on them. This solved another issue of making a poison build, then having to get rid of your Poison dice as it got too weak. Finally the Special skill can be filled by all actions as it made more sense to people. So now by using Charge your next Action becomes more powerful to keep it from being a battery filler.
Q: What is something that makes your game unique?
I've gone a different direction from the regular deckbuilder to use dice instead and make it much easier to get into. You'll find dice and be able to see if it's good for you now, without worrying too much if it'll be good later, then get right back to the game. There's less commitment to a specific build as you progress so it's very easy to swap parts out when you find better equipment. The whole game is also colourful and cartoony, too many roguelite deckbuilders are dark and trying to be edgy, I think. So I upped the colours and had cartoony design to create a low stress game.
Q: How did you design the gameplay mechanics of your game?
My mechanics have come from my limitations as a programmer. I'm learning how to program as I go with this game so everything is kept within my abilities. You move one tile at a time because I was too stupid to roll a dice and move multiple tiles. But that brought in the idea that you pick your way through the area with only rough information on what each tile hides. The dice, whilst bringing their own physics problems, open up further board game style. Rolling dice for your battle actions is similar to D&D. And from there some random events can be solved with the roll of dice in the same way. Instead of enemies randomly choosing an attack or showing an intent, they roll a dice so you can see how it's decided. I've avoided directly modifying dice rolls and instead added extra dice as throwing them around is where the fun is. A big pillar of my Module design is 'Keep it transparent and use an extra dice', so you could get 2 Shield every turn, or you can roll a dice that gives 2 Shield every turn. It's more interactive and transparent.
Q: What advice would you share with other prospective indie developers looking to start their journey?
You've just got to do it. If you spend all your time fretting that you can't do X or Y then that's just more time wasted. It's also important to not do your dream game first if you're still learning things as you could spend years doing it when your first game should take 6-18 months. You need to finish a game to know the process, you'll have built up an audience and contacts. You'll know how to do things better next time and how to avoid pitfalls like feature creep. It's ok to drop prototypes and restart if they aren't fun but if you find something fun, you just have to do it and follow all the way through. You'll be in a much stronger place to start the next game. Also to Keep It Simple, Stupid (Kiss). If a new mechanic doesn't benefit your core systems or if it adds a bunch of time to the project, just cut it.
Wishlist IWOCon 2020 here.