The Negative: Devlog #10: Skill Design

The Negative offers a lot of skills for players to experiment with: there are over 120 monsters to collect, and each one has 4 active skills and 4 passive skills. While some monsters might have a few skills that are borrowed from other monsters, the game still has over 400 active and 400 passive skills. And that’s not even counting exclusive skills that are granted to monsters via unique equipment!

It’s important that each active skill is versatile, satisfying, and fun to use:

Versatile: for most skills, it’ll be pretty easy to find at least a few other skills that synergize with it well. But the most powerful skill combinations will need to be obtained by fusing your monsters together. This provides players with a sort of “end-game meta-game” in which careful planning and strategy are rewarded.

Satisfying: each skill has unique art and sound effects. Most skills also utilize particle effects to make them feel more impactful and lively.

Fun: if a skill is cumbersome for players to use, or is particularly frustrating when an enemy uses that skill on the player, the skill should be redesigned.

And from a broader point of view, I also want battles to feel interactive and even-paced. One of the things I dislike about Siralim and Siralim 2 is that a lot of players ended up seeking out combinations that allowed them to mash the confirmation button over and over again without thinking about what they’re doing. In The Negative, each battle will hopefully be more difficult, interactive, and rewarding thanks to more balanced skills and back-end math.


I’ll leave you with a few examples of active skills. Note that the monsters you see in these GIFs aren’t the same monsters that will use the skills I’m showing off – they’re merely there as placeholders for now.

Blood Sword: deals a large amount of damage to the target, and deals a moderate amount of damage to the user.

 

Hellcry: deals a small amount of damage to the target, then deals a small amount of damage to 2 random enemies.

 

Blood Bolt: deals a small amount of damage to the target and heals the user for 50% of the damage dealt.

 

The Negative: Devlog #9: Monster Spotlight – Breeder

In The Negative, the Life class monsters aren’t quite how you might expect them. There are no frolicking unicorns, devout priests, or holy idols to be found here. In this world, there’s a fine line between Life and Death.

Today, we’ll take a look at the Breeder, a Life class monster that demonstrates my point rather well.

Pretty ugly, right?

As you might expect, this monster is a summoner… with a twist. The Breeder’s main goal is to give birth to a small army of explosive fetuses. Unfortunately, the Breeder must die during child birth if it’s carrying triplets.

Yeah, I don’t know. This is getting awkward. Let’s take a look at the Breeder’s skills.

 

Active Skills

Gore: Deals a small amount of damage and afflicts the target with a random debuff.

Birth: Summons a fetus bomb on the other side of the battlefield. If the fetus bomb is not destroyed in 2 turns, it explodes, dealing a moderate amount of damage to all enemies.

Foster: Summoned monsters recover a large amount of HP. (Keeps your fetus bombs alive if your enemies try to dispose of them!)

Last Word: Deals a massive amount of damage to enemies, then kills this monster.

 

Passive Skills

Final Sin: When this monster is killed, it explodes, releasing 3 fetuses bombs on the other side of the battlefield. If the fetus bombs are not destroyed in 2 turns, they explode, dealing a moderate amount of damage to all enemies.

Undeath: When this monster dies, it has a 35% chance to be resurrected with a moderate amount of HP.

Urgency: Summoned monsters gain Charge 30% more quickly. (Meaning the fetus bombs will explode more quickly!)

Living Nightmare: This monster takes damage over time. In addition, at the start of battle, if this monster’s HP is less than 50%, its HP is set to 50%. (Since HP doesn’t regenerate between battles, this monster’s other abilities would cause it to always be dead. This skill helps to alleviate this issue.)

 

The Cycle of Life

When the Breeder dies, it gives birth to three beautiful baby triplets.

These little guys don’t do much. You probably didn’t do much when you were born, either.

But give them a few moments, and if your opponents aren’t quick enough to dispose of them…

BOOM! Massive damage!

The Negative: Devlog #8: Monster Spotlight – Slitherwig

Today, we will reveal the Slitherwig, a monster from the Void class!

 

The Slitherwig is a monster that specializes in preventing enemies from using their skills by afflicting them with the Silence debuff, or by simply burning their MP. This monster also has a few support-oriented skills, similar to those of the Grimoire, to restore your monsters’ MP. Perhaps more importantly, however, the Slitherwig is capable of removing enemies’ buffs.

Active Skills

Vertigo: Target takes a small amount of damage and is afflicted with Silence. (Silence prevents the afflicted monster from using skills)

Mana Burn: Target loses a moderate amount of MP.

Fray: Target takes a small amount of damage. The damage increases based on the amount of MP the enemy is missing.

Nullify: Removes a target’s buffs.

Passive Skills

Brain Fog: Enemy skills cost 10% more MP to use.

Leech Mana: When this monster decreases an enemy’s MP, your monster with the lowest MP gains that MP.

Interruption: When an enemy tries to use a skill, this monster has a 10% chance to interrupt it.

Feedback: When an enemy’s buffs are removed, the enemy takes a small amount of damage for each buff removed.

The Negative: Devlog #7: Monster Spotlight – Gallowbrute

Today, we’ll take a look at a monster called the “Gallowbrute”.

Can we agree that this guy looks awesome?

The Gallowbrute is a Death monster that is capable of dishing out a huge amount of damage on the front line of battle. This monster makes heavy use of the “Berserk” buff, which temporarily increases the amount of damage it takes and deals out to enemy monsters. While most of the Gallowbrute’s skills are generally selfish in nature (they don’t affect allies), this monster has one buffing skill that can be used to greatly increase your monsters’ Power and Speed in battle.

Active Skills

Slam: Deals a moderate amount of damage to the target.

Headcrack: Deals a small amount of damage to the target. If the target has less than 50% HP, it is afflicted with Stun. (Stun causes the afflicted monster’s next turn to be skipped)

Berserk: Monster becomes Berserk. (Berserk monsters take and deal increased damage)

Enrage: Your monsters gain a moderate amount of Power and Speed.

Passive Skills

Temper: When this monster attacks, it attacks an additional time for every 35% of its missing HP.

Embolden: When this monster takes damage, it gains a small amount of Defense.

Apoplectic: This monster does not take extra damage while it is Berserk.

Frenzy: This monster’s Charge regenerates 50% faster while it is Berserk. (Reminder: “Charge” refers to a meter that fills over time. When a monster’s Charge meter is full, it can take a turn)

 

Suggested Playstyle

The Gallowbrute’s primary concern is to maintain the “Berserk” buff at all times. Thanks to its passive skills, the Berserk buff is much more powerful when applied to this monster than others. The “Apoplectic” skill removes the negative side-effect of this buff, while “Frenzy” ensures that the Gallowbrute can dish out a large amount of attacks when coupled with “Temper”.

But the Gallowbrute isn’t just a one trick pony. It also possesses a way to Stun targets with the help of “Headcrack”, and if this monster can’t attack for some reason (such as if it’s afflicted with the “Scorn” debuff), it can use “Enrage” to buff and support its allies instead.

The Negative: Devlog #6: Monster Spotlight – Grimoire

Today, we’ll discuss a monster in The Negative called the “Grimoire”.

This monster belongs to the Mind (formerly called “Sorcery”) class, and serves as a supportive unit for other spellcasters. It accomplishes this by providing several buffs and MP-regenerating skills, while also being able to cast its own spells very efficiently.

Active Skills

Magic Missile: Deals a small amount of damage. Costs no MP.

Funnel Mana: Transfers a large amount of MP to the target.

Brilliance: Your monsters gain Arcane. (Arcane is a buff that allows monsters to regenerate MP over time)

Power Overwhelming: Your monsters gain a large amount of Power and lose a moderate amount of Defense.

 

Passive Skills

Specialization: Your monsters deal 15% more damage with skills and 30% less damage with attacks.

Stupify: When an enemy takes damage from this monster’s attacks or skills, this monster steals a small amount of MP from it.

Arcane Gift: When one of your monsters uses a Mana Draught, it gains Arcane.

Ley Lines: Surrounding monsters regenerate a small amount of MP at the start of their turn.

 

Suggested Playstyle

As you can see, the Grimoire ensures that your monsters won’t be running out of MP any time soon – and that’s a good thing, since MP doesn’t regenerate between battles. The Grimoire also enhances damage dealt by skill-users, but punishes monsters for attacking. For that reason, you’ll need your Grimoire to manage your monsters’ MP correctly in order to ensure they never run out of MP since attacking isn’t exactly effective when this monster is around. Lastly, the Grimoire can use Power Overwhelming to significantly increase its allies’ Power at the cost of Defense. Power Overwhelming should only be used after your other monsters have ensured their defenses are stabilized – otherwise, they’ll take a lot of damage.

The Negative: Devlog #5: Monster Spotlight – Redcap

I’m relieved to announce that we’ve added a new member to our graphics team for The Negative! Well, more like re-added. JC has been working with us for the last 4 years and was mostly responsible for drawing the spell effects for Siralim and Siralim 2. I’m happy to announce that he’ll now be working on all the skill effects for The Negative! Unlike the spell effects in the Siralim series, the skill effects in The Negative will be more visually complex and will sometimes even include particle effects.

Meanwhile, Maarten has been busy drawing new monsters for the game, many of which we’ve been showing off on social media. This means that we don’t have a lot of screenshots to showcase for new features and environments in The Negative, so for that reason, the next several blog posts will be dedicated to revealing new monsters and discussing their skills. Since these posts won’t be as long as normal ones, you should sometimes expect an additional post each week!

Keep an eye on our social media accounts to get a glimpse of new monsters before they’re discussed in these blog posts!
Thylacine Studios’ Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ThylaStudios
Thylacine Studios’ Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ThylacineStudios/
Maarten Boot’s Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MaartnBoot


Redcap (Balance)

In today’s post, we’re going to discuss the Redcap.

Redcaps belong to the Balance (formerly called “Nature”) class. Redcaps are designed around the emotional concepts of anger and rage. While they’re very frail on their own, they can summon their inner hatred in the form of a Maniac – a wild berserker with no inhibitions. Maniacs can not only dish out a lot of damage, they also protect the Redcap and keep it safe from harm.

Let’s take a look at all the Redcap’s active and passive skills.

Active Skills

Slash: Deals a small amount of damage to the target and decreases its Defense by a small amount.

Tantrum: Deals a moderate amount of damage to the target. This skill has a chance to deal critical damage based on how much HP this monster is missing.

Bolster: Your monsters gain a moderate amount of Power.

Hellions: Summons 3 Maniacs. Maniacs have the same stats and skills as this monster, but have 10% HP.

Passive Skills

Fury: When this monster attacks, it has a 50% chance to attack again. This effect can only occur once per turn.

Inner Turmoil: After this monster attacks, summon a Maniac. Maniacs have the same stats and skills as this monster, but have 10% HP.

Bodyguard: When this monster takes damage, a random summoned monster in front of it takes the damage instead, then dies.

Mimicry: After this monster attacks or uses a damaging skill, each of your summoned monsters have a 20% chance to use the same attack or skill on the same targets.

Suggested Playstyle

As you might have guessed, the Redcap’s first priority is to amass an army of Maniacs to help defend it, or simply to dish out some extra damage. While using Slash and Tantrum can each be used to summon a Maniac, it might sometimes be beneficial to start some battles (such as boss battles) using Hellions in order to save a couple turns. Next, the Redcap can either buff up its army using Bolster, or simply continue Slashing or throwing Tantrums – after all, the Maniacs will do whatever the Redcap does!

The Negative, Devlog #4: Equipment, How To Upgrade It, And Its Role In End-Game Content

Your monsters can each equip up to 4 pieces of gear. Each monster can only equip gear that belongs to certain “slots” – for example, the Ashen Witch can only equip rings, necklaces, leg armor, and chest armor, while another monster may be able to equip only weapons, shields, rings, and helmets.

Each type of equipment has exclusive properties that are available only to that specific slot. For example, weapons can give a percentage-based boost to Power, while shields do the same for Defense.

Acquisition

Equipment is obtained by defeating monsters, looting treasure chests, and completing quests. Unlike in a lot of other games, you will not be able to craft your own equipment. My hope is that, as you find new equipment, it will naturally and dynamically change the way you approach the game. You can, however, upgrade and slightly modify equipment to suit your needs.

Types of Equipment

There are 7 different types of equipment for you to collect: Helmets, Chest Armor, Leg Armor, Weapons, Shields, Rings, and Necklaces. As I mentioned before, each monster is restricted to being able to equip only 4 of these types of equipment. One monster might be able to equip weapons, while another cannot. This means that, when deciding which monsters to add to your party, you should also consider the type of equipment they can use.

Unique Equipment

The rarest (and most powerful) equipment in the game is called “unique” equipment. While most equipment is randomly generated, I’ve designed the unique equipment by hand. Each piece of unique equipment has a predetermined name, and typically has properties that you won’t find anywhere else. Some of this equipment even grant exclusive skills to your monsters that you won’t find anywhere else. Each monster can only equip one piece of unique equipment.

Upgrading

You can upgrade your equipment by collecting ore and taking it to a blacksmith. Each piece of equipment can be upgraded up to 10 times, with each level making the equipment more powerful than before.

Unique equipment requires a special type of ore called “Godstones”. This ore is much harder to find than normal ore, so you should save it only for when you find a piece of equipment you plan to use for a long time.

Salvaging

The blacksmith can also salvage unwanted equipment, yielding a small amount of ore. This feature is especially useful for when your monsters have out-leveled the usefulness of the equipment in your inventory. You can re-invest the resulting ore into upgrades for new equipment.

Role In End-Game Content

One of the many end-game activities in The Negative revolves around a “loot hunt”, much like ARPGs such as Diablo. After completing the game’s main storyline quests, you’ll be able to challenge ultra-powerful bosses that drop exclusive unique equipment.

Other end-game activities grant you the opportunity to imbue your favorite equipment with new properties. However, since this post isn’t really meant to discuss all of The Negative’s end-game content, I’ll save the details about this for a future post.

The Negative, Devlog #3: Consumable Items And How To Craft Them

As you journey across the infinite world of The Negative, you’ll encounter two different types of nodes that can be harvested: herbs and ore. Herbs are used to craft various potions and other consumable items, while ore is used to upgrade your monsters’ equipment. Today, we’ll discuss herbs and how they can be used to craft consumable items.

 

All About Herbs

There are 6 types of herbs in the game: Bruiseroot, Cinderleaf, Dragonvine, Fadegrass, Shimmerblossom, and Sorrowseed. While all of these herbs can be found in any environment, some have a better chance to grow in certain areas than others.

To harvest an herb, simply walk up to it and interact with it. Your character will cut down the herb, which will then appear in your inventory.

 

The Alchemist

Each town you visit will have an Alchemist. Alchemists can use your herbs (along with some Zeal) to craft consumable items such as health potions, battle elixirs, and other various tools to aid you in your travels.

 

Potions

The Alchemist allows you to craft several different potions. As you might expect, you can craft healing potions, mana potions, debuff curing potions, elixirs to boost your monsters’ stats in battle, and even Ankhs to bring your monsters back to life when they die. However, herbs aren’t very common in The Negative world, so you should carefully plan which potions you need the most, as well as when to use them.

 

Dungeoneering Tools

Most RPGs offer players maps of the world to help them find their way around. Some games even display an on-screen minimap so players always know their exact location, as well as those of the enemies and even hidden treasure. However, I don’t think maps and minimaps belong in The Negative. The problem with these features is that they take away a lot of a game’s mystery and excitement, and make the game world feel much smaller and less dangerous.

In place of maps, in The Negative you’ll be given various tools to help you find your way around. One of the most basic tools you’ll find is called a Glowstone. Glowstones can be placed on the ground to emit light, illuminating the area and also serving as a trail marker for you when you return to a certain area later on. Glowstones are available in several different colors: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, fuchsia, purple, and white. Note that the art for these is not final, nor is the lighting style itself – the following image is just a proof of concept.

Glowstones are as basic in concept as they are versatile, and will hopefully allow players to devise their own means of navigating around the world.

Glowstones are just one of the many dungeoneering tools you can find or craft in The Negative. For example, Bell of the Lost allows you to instantly teleport to the entrance of a dungeon, while the Homeward Wing allows you to teleport to the nearest town you’ve discovered. Other items focus more on your own survival, such as the Plume of Whispers, which temporarily prevents enemies from being able to see you in the overworld.

The Negative, Devlog #1: An Overview of the Game

Today marks the start of a weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly) series of development updates for The Negative! Each post will give you an in-depth look at a certain feature associated with the game. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the general flow of the game (that is, a brief overview of how the game is played), and also reveal a unique game mechanic called “Positivity”.

Please note that any visuals shared in these posts are simply meant to serve as proofs of concept. A lot of the game’s art isn’t finalized, and we’re still using a lot of placeholders. In particular, the tileset we’re using to show off today’s features is a placeholder and probably won’t make it into the final game.

General Gameplay

Players will start their journey in an environment modeled after the concept of “Depression”. This environment takes place in a giant set of ruins that have been long ago abandoned, and consumed by snow and ice. Many of the objects and quests in this environment are related to snowfall (yes, The Negative has dynamic weather effects), and some objects can be used to manipulate the severity of the snow. Each environment has a “gimmick” similar to this one. The goal is for each environment to cause players to play the game in different ways.

The Negative features dynamic weather effects, such as snow, rain, wind, and even ashfall.

Players must seek out towns (which are also procedurally generated) to complete a series of quests related to Depression, ultimately culminating to a major boss fight. In total, the player will travel through all seven of the branches of negativity as discussed in my last post: depression, rage, guilt, jealousy, pessimism, anxiety, and grief. The game’s story concludes with one final boss fight.

Each environment also contains several “sub-environments” that players can enter. You might stumble upon a cave or an abandoned tower that you can explore. At the end of this sub-environment will be a powerful enemy that you can kill, rewarding you with a large treasure chest. These sub-environments are generally optional, although some main story quests and side-quests might require you to defeat a boss contained within. Be warned: these areas tend to be much more challenging than anything you’ll find outside!

In order to give players the feeling of an open world, you might encounter dynamic quests during your travels. Maybe an NPC is being harassed by a pack of enemies, or a totem is being channeled by a powerful foe to empower enemies in the area. These quests are entirely optional but are intended to make the world feel more alive.

One of the many different types of treasure chests you’ll encounter during your travels. This is a rare one, and probably contains something powerful!

After you visit a world for the first time, you can visit it again any time you want – it’s permanent. This means that the more you play the game, the larger your world will become. At any point in time, you can go back and visit the same NPCs and explore the same dungeons that you’ve encountered before. There are also a few items you can use to manipulate these worlds after you’ve conquered them.

After completing the main story quests, you can progress to the post-game content, which will be discussed in greater detail in a later blog post.

Battles

Later on, I’ll dedicate at least one full blog post to discussing battles, but I’ll also give you a brief overview of them right now.

During your travels, you’ll come across a wide array of enemies. Some will chase you, while others will flee when they see you, depending on the monsters’ behavior. Others will simply patrol an area, stay in place, or ignore you altogether. Some are fast, some are slow. Enemies can be caught in traps to hinder their movement. They are even affected by the weather – they’ll move more slowly when it’s snowing, and won’t be able to see you as easily when it’s foggy. When you make contact with an enemy, a battle will begin.

Enemies take the form of “The Negative” in the overworld. When you touch them, a battle begins, and the enemy monsters contained within The Negative are revealed.

Battles are turn-based, and you can use up to four of the monsters you capture to fight for you. Monsters can attack, defend, use a skill, use an item, or move to a different area on the battlefield. After you defeat the enemies, your monsters will gain some experience points, and your character will gain the game’s currency: Zeal.

Zeal and Positivity

Zeal is used for just about everything. It is used to buy items, craft items, enhance your equipment, fuse your monsters into new ones, and much more. But Zeal’s most important use is to level up your character. Unlike your monsters, who gain experience points after each battle, your character can only level up by spending Zeal. In addition, your monsters’ levels cannot exceed that of your character. Of course, your monsters can continue to earn experience points even while your character’s level is inhibiting their growth, so the experience points your monsters gain will never go to waste.

The amount of Zeal your character has also affects its level of “Positivity”. In The Negative, your character emits a small amount of light all around it, and you can’t see very well outside of that light radius. Enemies can ambush you very easily, and it’s more difficult to see useful objects such as treasure chests and ore nodes when your light radius is short. You can expand this light radius by holding more Zeal. This means that players will sometimes need to make difficult decisions about which items to buy, when to level up, and when to explore the world. Should you buy that health potion to ensure your survival, or hold on to your Zeal so you can see farther into the distance? Some items can only be seen when your character is 100% “Positive”, which causes the light around your character to become golden.

Your character’s light radius grows as you gain more Zeal, allowing you to see farther into the distance, and sometimes even reveal hidden secrets.

If your party is wiped out, you’ll drop all your Zeal on the ground. You’ll have one opportunity to find and retrieve it, but if you die again before retrieving your lost Zeal, it’s gone forever. That’s what I meant in my last post when I mentioned that The Negative feels a lot like taking one step forward and two steps back. Your character’s Positivity is cyclical, and will come and go countless times as you progress through the game. You’ll be forced to make difficult decisions and will sometimes suffer unavoidable hardships as you’re forced to sacrifice one boon for another.

When you use Zeal to buy items or level up your character, your light radius also decreases. In that way, positivity and negativity are cyclical.


I hope you enjoyed our first devlog for The Negative! See you soon.

Announcing Our New Game, “The Negative”!

 

I am pleased to announce Thylacine Studios’ next game: The Negative!

 

A mockup image containing a few objects and NPCs you might find during your travels.

 

The Negative is an evocative RPG with a dark, gritty, and gothic undertone. Players take the role of a nameless plague doctor as they wander across an infinite, procedurally generated open world in an attempt to conquer an evil force known as The Negative. Along the way, players must capture and employ the skills of enemy monsters to fight for them.

 

Battles are turn-based. You can take up to 4 monsters with you to fight your enemies.

 

Thematically, The Negative is all about conveying emotion; not only through its storytelling methods, but also in the environments and enemies themselves. I’ve broken down the concept of negativity into 7 main categories: depression, rage, jealousy, pessimism, guilt, anxiety, and grief. Almost every aspect of the game relates to one of these emotions in some way – there are 7 different environments to explore (and re-explore), each of which is modeled after one of these seven emotions. This means that, with a few exceptions, we won’t be using any generic environment types you might find in other games, such as a “fire world” or “forest area”.

 

You can move your monsters around the battlefield to gain various advantages and exploit your enemies’ weaknesses.

 

The Negative definitely isn’t a happy game, and it’s unapologetic in the way it casts players into a lonely, desolate world where all hope feels lost. In most cases, players will often find their efforts feeling like they’re taking an allegorical “one step forward, two steps back”. In that way, it feels a lot like real life. Happiness is cyclical, and The Negative honors that fact in every way it can.

 

This is the inventory screen. You can heal your monsters, resurrect them, and much more here.

 

I have plenty more information to share with you, but it’ll have to wait. Check back next week to learn more about The Negative! I’ll leave you with a small FAQ.

Q. When will The Negative be released?
A. It’s too soon to tell. I have probably 70% of the game coded already, but there’s a lot more work to be done, especially in the art/music department. My best guess is an early 2018 beta release on Steam Early Access. While we’re waiting, I’ll possibly release at least one smaller game to sate your appetite.

Q. What platforms will The Negative be released on?
A. Definitely Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and Playstation 4. I’d also like to release this game on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but it’s too soon to tell if we can make this happen. If any other major platforms enter the market between now and the end of The Negative’s development cycle, I’ll gladly consider those as well.

Q. What about Playstation Vita?
A. I’m developing The Negative using GameMaker Studio 2, which no longer supports Playstation Vita, so there’s no way this is going to happen. Sorry!

Q. How much will it cost?
A. Right now, I’m thinking $19.99 USD is a fair price, but that’s not final. The mobile (Android/iOS) version will likely use a different payment model.

Q. What are the controls like?
A. The game supports keyboards, gamepads, and mice. You can play the entire game with just your mouse, which actually works really well!

Q. Will there be any post-release content? Expansions? Sequels?
A. Yes, probably. If it happens, this content will be delivered and priced in a way that no other game has done so before. I’m excited to experiment with my own payment model, but it’s too soon to announce any specifics on that!

Q. Does The Negative have multiplayer?
A. No, there are no plans to add multiplayer content for now. There might be some online-only events, but nothing like trading or PvP battling.

Q. How does The Negative compare to Siralim?
A. It’s completely different in almost every way. You still capture monsters and fight with them, but everything else is completely different.