Building On the Indivisible Prototype

Mike Z. here – if you’re not familiar with me, I’m the Design Director on Indivisible!

I’ve seen many people evaluating the Indivisible prototype as if the final game will be mostly the same thing just with more levels and extra characters. That’s totally not the case!

The prototype is the barest glimpse of our plan for Indivisible – for the full game, all the core systems will be getting massive updates, and absolutely nothing is final.

I’d compare it to playing Super Metroid for the first 15-20 minutes, only up until you get bombs, without the rest of the game. Or getting through an RPG’s first tutorial and expecting the battle mechanics not to evolve at all from that point on.

In the games industry, this type of thing would be what a team creates by themselves early on, to shop around to publishers in the hopes of signing the game. It is just enough to prove that the team can really make what they are pitching, but it is not any part of the final game. Skullgirls also had a prototype like this, which I brought to Evo and Family Fun Arcade for public playtests while we were pitching it to various publishers. In many cases this type of pitch would only be a Powerpoint presentation, but at Lab Zero we prefer to demonstrate rather than explain.

Since we view the backers of our crowdfunding projects as collaborators rather than just fans, we figured it was only fair to present to you what traditionally only publishers would see. As such, I’d like everyone to remember that although the prototype may be fun (^.^) and it was designed as a short-but-complete standalone game by itself, including a hidden boss… it is NOT a demo of the final game.

This is why we’ve gone to great efforts to describe it as a prototype – a “prototype” is the first step in an unfinished product, while a “demo” is one of the final steps of a finished product.

Of course the final game will have a story, cutscenes, party management, more weapons and abilities, and other things that aren’t in the prototype at all. As for what will change about what’s already IN the prototype, here’s a summary:

  • Three additional weapons for Ajna besides bare hands and Axe: bow, spear, and kusarigama (chain sickle).

    Each of Ajna’s weapons will have multiple upgrades, with at least two unique movement options planned per weapon. We’re serious when I say exploration is a major focus!

    And Ajna will be able to switch weapons in mid-battle, but it will probably require at least some resources to do it.

AjnaWeapons

  • Enemies that defend, dodge, and counter, plus guard breaks, different attack patterns, and even more combat intricacies.

    For example, breaking an enemy’s guard might require a few heavy attacks in a row, or could be more quickly accomplished with a closely-timed combination of high and low (Up and Down) attacks like in a fighting game.

    Having your attack get dodged might cost you an extra Action bar, or add a significant amount of cooldown to that character. Or dropping a combo may cause some enemies to block for a while, so it’s important not to mess up.

IndivisiblePrototype_11

  • Different types of combos will have different uses.

    Juggling might add extra Iddhi meter the more you keep them going, but possibly be  damage scaled more as a result.

    Hitting floored enemies (“off-the-ground” hits) might add a small bit of action bar, with rapidly diminishing returns to prevent exploits. Skillfully eliminate some Action penalties!
  • Buffs/debuffs, passive skills, more status effects… many useful choices beyond attack/defend/heal.

    Some things I’d like to experiment with include certain Incarnations being able to place traps that would interrupt enemy turns, rushing in to take damage in place of the target, delayed attacks that can be released later on in battle (think Peacock’s Shadow of Impending Doom), shifting their Action bar to another character, etc.

    We’d like to make every Incarnation completely unique, so team composition will make a huge difference.
  • Dual techs, learned based on certain party members’ affinities for each other.

    Using these will require some timing, more like the combined magic from FF Crystal Chronicles than a simple menu choice. As for what they’ll do, think triple-team supers from fighting games like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 or 3.
  • Extra timing-based things like perfect blocking taking no damage a-la Super Mario RPG, timing-based counter attacks at the cost of Action bar, or simultaneous hits dealing more damage.

    Right now I’m thinking these will most likely be upgrades you can select, each with a downside. For example, with Perfect Block Bonus any non-perfect blocks would take more damage than normal, or perhaps you’d only be able to block at all with correct timing. So if you want the game to further reward twitch skills you do that, but with added risk.
  • Major battle improvements and fixes, such as:
    • Better targeting, and being able to change targets after the current target dies.
    • Being able to attack or return to battle after getting knocked onto a platform.
    • Choosing the level of super you’d like to perform instead of using all the meter.

IndivisiblePrototype_20

  • Stat differentiation for each character.

    Currently in the prototype, everyone has the same HP, the same defense, and takes roughly the same amount of time to refill their Actions. This was a necessary shortcut for the prototype, but something that will be addressed in the final game.
  • An improved user interface, implemented and thoroughly tested across multiple rounds of public feedback. Just like on Skullgirls!
  • Improved backgrounds – we’re not completely happy with how the temple interior turned out, and will be working to give it and other modularly-constructed environments a more painterly quality, similar to the prototype’s three setpieces – the entrance, the lake, and the boss room.

There’s much more than that, but I really want people to understand that the Indivisible prototype is exactly what the word means: the very first early sample, to be improved upon and learned from, whose influence will clearly be visible in the final product but which is not itself the final product.

And for the latest Indivisible information, animated GIFs and concept art, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr!

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