Untamed Tactics

Dev Diary #2 Untamed Tactics: What all the fuss is about

Milan dives into the core gameplay systems of Untamed Tactics, explaining the nature of Tactical TPGs, Rogue-lites and how they combine into a cool game.

Hey everyone!

For this week, I'd like to focus on something quite crucial to understanding what we're working on, and especially for comprehending the actual Dev Diaries™: the game. 

Well, obviously we're talking about the game, however for those that have only (or not even) read the Steam page blurb, I'd like to explain a bit more about the basic structure of the game before we dive deeper in the core mechanics. 

What is Untamed Tactics?

In short, Untamed Tactics is a rogue-lite tactical roleplaying game (RPG) with a strong focus on narrative.

That sentence contains a lot of big words, so let's dissect them a bit.

Rogue-lite refers to the structure of the game, where your character(s) being defeated resets your progress, with each 'run' through the game feeling like a new challenge due to procedurally generated level layouts, encounters and enemy placement. The 'lite' part means that not all your progress is reset. The game separates between per-run progress (such as hero levels and encounters cleared) and meta-progression systems (such as unlocking new characters). The former resets on death, while the latter is kept across multiple runs/playthroughs permanently.

Roleplaying games (RPGs) refer to certain traditions springing from early tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons. These traditionally include, but are not limited to, the ability to grow and improve the main characters as you see fit, experience a (character-focused) narrative and turn-based combat. 

'Tactical RPG' refers to a specific sub-genre of RPGs that focuses on positioning-based combat that emphasizes battles, and often removes the free-roaming overworld of many RPGs. 

The last part refers to the story, simply meaning the game has a story to uncover and lore to explore through various narrative systems.

OK I get the basics of Tactical RPGS and Rogue-lites, but what is Untamed Tactics actually about?

Untamed Tactics tells the story of Greycoat, a former rabbit general that recounts his tales of adventure to his grandchildren. As a player, you take the role of Greycoat and his allies as they experience his scrambled memories, reliving the partially true, half-imagined tales of his past.

And what do I actually DO in Untamed Tactics?

Each run, e.g. a game session, you will be tasked with completing 3 questlines in order to access the final encounter. These questlines consist of several procedurally generated battles that are required to be completed, and several hand-designed optional encounters that can include both battles and events. Events are short text-adventures with branching paths, in which your choices determine the outcomes, which can be positive or negative. 

Each questline takes place in one of three regions, which are randomly selected at the start of each run. Currently, there are three total regions in the game, so you will see all the regions in a single run, however we are looking to add more in the future. Regions each have their own distinct theme, visual style, obstacles, tiles with unique effects and enemy types.

The world map shows where you can go, and players are free to select their first region/questline from any of the three. 

Between each questline, you will visit the Camp. This is a safe haven where your party can rest, talk to characters and spend your Gold. Gold is earned by defeating enemies and completing encounters, and is used to purchase or upgrade the three types of loot: Items, Runes and Gems.

We’re working on adding more systems for spending Gold, such as hiring mercenaries and fusing Runes together into more powerful ones.

Completing encounters rewards experience (XP), which allows your party to gain levels. Each level, your characters are awarded random attribute gains based on their class, as well as a choice of three upgrades. These can be either Abilities, Passives or Reactions. Abilities are active, well, abilities you can use in combat. They can be used once per turn, and have a Power cost requirement. Passives are wide-ranging effects that are constantly active and require no activation on the player’s part. Finally, Reactions are a special type of ability that is triggered whenever a character is attacked. Players and non-player characters (NPCs) can have one or more ‘uses’ of their Reaction per turn.

The heart of the game is combat. After selecting a battle encounter from the world map, you will be transported to a new scene where the battle takes place. Each region has unique battles, with visually and mechanically distinct obstacles to interact with, as well as unique enemies to fight. Positioning and clever ability usage play a pivotal role. 

Many of the battle grid’s tiles have special effects, causing them to deal damage or increase your defenses when standing on them. Certain abilities can manipulate the enemies’ positions as well, pushing, teleporting or pulling them to new positions. Characters can also be smashed into obstacles and even into each other for additional damage!

Example of tile effects: The ooze in Murkfall will deal damage when characters stand on top if it

Players and the enemy take turns to move their units and spend Power to unleash their abilities. Characters recover 3 Power per turn and have a maximum of 5, allowing you to bank Power to allow for combos. During the player’s turn, characters can be switched freely, which allows character A to cast a buff on B, then switch to C to push an enemy in range, followed by a switch to B for a devastating blow.

Each battle has its own win condition, allowing for a surprising mix of objectives to complete, from the basic ‘defeat all enemies’, to interacting with magic shrines or collecting special items.

Isn’t this a rogue-lite?

Why yes, it is! Lose one of your party members three times and it’s game over. You earn Mementos at the end of your run based on how far you got, and with this currency you can permanently unlock new playable characters, upgrades for your Camp and even new maps and story content. 

We’re also working on several systems that procedurally generate new runs and quests for you to play through.

A main quest is chosen randomly, which always ends with one of several boss battles, and is filled with procedural stories called questlines. One questline is generated per Region for a total of 3 per run. Questlines are generated by combining two battle objectives (such as Defeat All Enemies and Escape), selecting battles based on those objectives, and wrapping partially handwritten and partially procedural dialogue together. This way, questline dialogue will adapt to your party members, as well as the current regions, objectives and bosses you have and will battle. 

The procedural generation systems shuffle around map layouts and enemy (com)positions based on the main quest and the three questlines, adjusting objective goals and dialogue accordingly.

Wow that sounds pretty sweet, how can I get it in on this?

.. or at least, that’s what I’m hoping you’re thinking right now. Join the discussion (and pre-alpha testing) on our Discord to tell me how to do my job better (and maybe just hang out with the devs!

~ Milan

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