Adding momentum to the Momentum economy

Hey people! Been awhile since I’ve done a blog post, going to try to get better about getting these out again every so often. Best place to start will be focusing on all the various character revamps that I’ve already gotten into the game, since I do put a fair bit of thought into them, and well I like the sound of my own voice… Or at least the clacking of my keyboard when I get typing. Anyways, for backers this will only really discuss the ‘why’ behind all those various changes you might have noticed on the change log, but for you public users this will be a bit of a sneak peek into what’s to come!

So, to begin with I should probably explain why I chose to go with revamping the momentum economy this release instead of down the line with some other changes… well the reason is, Chimei. While most mages aren’t really on my list of ‘characters to revamp’ as they’re usually pretty solid, Chimei was on there because of the general difficulty there is to using her effectively. Between NoMoshing making evocations immune to deafen/censure and evocations getting to ignore the AoE revamp, Chimei’s skills and stats weren’t really a problem (aside from a few select cases I’ll talk about), but rather the difficulty was getting to use her effectively and this all comes down to how the momentum economy favored tanks and especially shunned mages. Given how she got her love quest this update, it felt fitting to address this issue.

If you’ve played Harem Collector quite a bit you’ve probably noticed that it’s almost impossible to get mages to ever use their ‘Focus’ skill to regain MP. Meanwhile Therese, Doll, and Raina will usually end up with more momentum than they know what to do with in any fight that poses a serious risk. This is because in base RPG Maker the math will work out that you gain momentum the fastest by taking damage, which favors tanks a lot, but squishier characters (which mages tend to be) will then suffer. Characters that rely on physical attacks will also typically won’t struggle too much with momentum as they will still use attack often and can usually take a few hits. Even if they drop by 50% of their max health (which would give them 25 momentum directly), they generally have the stats to take a hit or two before you heal them up, allowing you to play it a bit riskier with giving them higher threat values. Mages however have such weak attack values that they never use the standard attack, and their defences usually aren’t good enough to keep them alive if they drop to low health.

With that all in mind, you can begin to see why Chimei would feel pretty difficult to use. Even if you did know how to use her it took a fair bit of effort, because at the end of the day Chimei had the stats of a mage, and she can’t compete using evocations when she can only reliably get 2% momentum per turn. So the goal of the momentum revamp was to tackle how lopsided and slow the momentum economy was.

One of my first tasks was to make it so that using magic would still give you some momentum. After all, casting a spell is to a mage what a physical attack is to a melee character. The rate for this has been set to be 1/5th of the mana spent so that it’ll cap out at 8 momentum per turn, just as much as physical attacks will now give. This will help momentum be sped up more for physical attackers as well! The momentum from taking damage was reduced to be about 4/5ths of what it was before as well, to help even out the momentum gain while still keeping tanks relatively sustainable.

This goes a long way to help players get more use out of ‘Focus’ and physical attackers to be able to use their skills more often, but some of you who dive deeper into this sort of math might realize this would do very little to help Chimei specifically. Sure, she’ll be refunded 1/5th of the momentum she spent when using evocations, but evocations are a momentum glutton in order to have her stay competitive with typical mages, and if she can’t do that then you’ll just pick an actual mage. To address this problem Chimei was given two changes to improve her personal momentum growth. When you get Chimei she will gain momentum at a rate of 150%. Her relationship up bonus has also changed, before you would get 2 momentum per turn from her, but instead it now increases the rate she gains momentum even further, bringing her up to 200% the normal rate, so once you have that not only will she now be refunded 2/5ths of the momentum from using evocations, but Transfer Essence will also be twice as effective!

Speaking of that particular skill, before it just straight up gave Chimei momentum at the cost of MP and a turn, the problem however was that it was basically constant turn cost as she’d have to use it every other turn just to keep herself going. Now what Transfer Essence does is it gives you ‘Momentum Regeneration’, which means for 4 turns you’ll gain 8 momentum per turn, which will then be further multiplied by Chimei’s increased momentum generation effect. Now you effectively spend 1 “dead” turn to have 4 turns where you can use her easily, especially with the refund on momentum you use. Nerys was also given a slight momentum generation increase, since she falls in the same boat of being a momentum glutton with mage stats/skills, but the in-lore justification for Nerys is different than the one for Chimei. If you want to know what these are, well, ask me over in the backer’s lounge!

Now then, that’s a whole lot of talk about the upwards momentum, so now let’s talk about the downwards momentum. See, one thing that’s irritated me for awhile is how when you’re up against a boss that’s very momentum based, your best options to deal with them are to daze them to reduce their ability to hit you and get momentum off of attacks, slow down your damage so that they spend their momentum on lower cost skills that aren’t as dangerous, or kill them before they can do anything dangerous. NoMoshing gave Chimei a skill awhile ago, ‘Enervating Bolt’ that is designed to drain momentum, however he was limited by the base RPG Maker editor and using this skill had a good chance of giving the enemy more momentum with the damage they take than it reduced their momentum at the end of the turn. He’s also put in a few statuses that reduce it, but none of what he did just had the sort of oomph needed to counter a momentum heavy boss, so I decided to add in more ways to attack enemy momentum!

So the first thing that I did to fix the momentum damage options players had was I worked on fixing Enervating bolt, first by doing some scripting magic so that certain skills like Enervating bolt will not give enemies momentum when they do damage, and second I changed it so that it will directly drain their momentum by 80% instead of about 5. Now you might have noticed, that’s a pretty big difference, and that’s because of the basic RPG Maker editor, where it’s impossible to multiply Momentum specifically by a fraction, unlike every other stat. Now, if they’ve got 100 momentum it’ll be -80, but if they’ve only got 10? Well then it’ll be -8, by setting it this way we can high values like 80% to keep it significant while also not just always bringing them to 0 making shut down all skills instead of just stopping the big scary ones.

Since that gave Chimei a good option to countering high amounts of momentum, I also wanted good options for dealing with low amounts, and the ‘Stagger’ status seemed the best way to do this. Stagger already had a -2 momentum per turn effect to it. I bumped it up to -10 per turn to help make it be better for draining that last bit of momentum and helped give Therese a few more unique options compared to Doll and Raina. Then came the question of slowing down momentum gain as a whole to add in more strategic control over enemy momentum, so I gave the Nausea status an additional effect where it reduces your momentum gain to 50% of what it’d be otherwise, so now on top of all those stat downs your skills will also suffer if you’ve got it! Though, players have been able to inflict this status through stink bombs for awhile but not many people use those, so I decided that Bronwyn, since her basis is ‘an option for every situation’ (more on this when I talk about her revamp) seemed like she should also get some ways to deal momentum damage. Add in a new type of arrow equipment with a skill that can inflict nausea and do some momentum damage like Chimei’s thing, then move the arrows she can equip to be her ‘off-hand’ instead of accessory since now there’s multiple.

Now for the biggest problem that existed with the momentum system before, starting momentum! While all these ideas will go very far in helping momentum go up and down a lot more, a big problem can be that if you start a battle with 0 momentum it can really feel like a punishment for bringing a momentum heavy character as you can’t really use them. Conversely NoMoshing has made clear that stuff like carrying momentum from one fight to another (something RPG Maker allows by default) would run completely counter to the intention of how momentum vs mana is supposed to balance out. I had to think about this long and hard, but I believe I came up with a fair compromise. I chose to tie starting Momentum to your character level.

Levels may be an arbitrary gameplay mechanic, as Hero described, but they do represent the abstract idea of your characters getting stronger, which is why they learn new moves and have an easier time with old enemies. With this in mind, it struck me as odd that a level 50 character has the same chance as being caught completely unprepared for a fight as a level 1 character, which 0 momentum would represent. Under the new momentum revamp, the minimum amount of momentum you can start with will increase by 1 for every 3 levels, up until level 45 where you cap out at a 15 minimum. The maximum value that you can begin a battle with will always be 25, but this helps present each character’s growing familiarity with the challenges they face, it also goes a long way in also keeping it so that while you can always get 25, by the time that you’re level 15 and have a minimum of 5 that 5 momentum still won’t let you spam your best moves out the gate. This serves to ensure there’s always a chance to be caught relatively ‘unprepared’, but that your characters are learning and growing from their encounters along the way.

And there you have it! We’ve got a far more robust set of options here, both for your own growth and to counter enemy growth! There also might be one or two other surprises that I put in for the momentum revamp, but they aren’t exactly game changers, and it’s all probably not quite done yet as it was pointed out to me that since players have no real idea how much momentum enemies have or how much their moves cost it’s going to be very difficult for players to make perfect use of the various options, but I can always fix that down the line. Hope you all enjoyed my rambling!

Sunshine and Rainbows

Haaa, I don’t want to be too optimistic just yet, but it seems that, finally, the cloud of depression I’ve been under since last summer has finally gone away. I’m feeling good, I’m being productive, I’m getting more sleep, I’m cleaning things when they become dirty instead of when people come over…. All in all, I’m doing okay. I look forward to channelling some of this new energy into Harem Collector for you all!

I don’t mean to harp on my mental state so much, but I get very easily frustrated when it comes to my mental state. Obviously, it’s not impossible for me to be creative when I’m stuck in the fog, but it is very difficult for me to be creative in the specific way I want to be creative. Focus becomes very difficult.

But now I’m feeling a lot better, so hopefully I can focus even better and continue doing good work for everyone who follows my various projects.

I’m thinking of starting a Kofi account to support my writing, not for Harem Collector but so that I can (hopefully) get some artwork done for My Isekai Life in D&D. Art is expensive after all, and Patreon frowns on people who run separate accounts for different projects.

Things are looking good for the mini-release today. It might be a challenge to get in all the new sex scenes, but for that I’m just going to prioritize the stuff I currently have art for. Hilent’s been busy, but as of last night Apple Kid’s sexy a la carte scenes are all done. I might luck into getting the latest Doll stuff from her later, and then it’s on to some accelerated Therese art before returning to Doll.

Anyway, I’m going to get back to work. Happy fapping, and I’ll see some of your tonight for the mini-release!

HORTICULTURE Update

So, our next update is the HORTICULTURE (might end up picking a shorter subtitle because that would make for a massive filename), where our featured content is Doll and Chimei’s respective love quests. As usual, there will be other odds and ends in there- for example, a very generous pair of fans is accelerating all the remaining Therese images, which is fucking fantastic, but the focus on what we’re doing is the two love quests. Doll will be getting new art assets (as voted on by Patrons) although Chimei will have to wait a little bit longer. At the rate we’re going, Conash and I expect that $5+ patrons will have a completed (though not necessarily tested) love quest to enjoy next week.

I’m a little nervous about some of the art assets coming out though. My plan for Doll’s love quest sex scene was always going to involve the Hero just going all out on her with the sexual torture, and of course Therese’s dungeon scenes aren’t necessarily the tamest stuff around either. I suppose I could continue putting the preview pics to all backers like I did with the Apple Kid breathplay one. Not sure if that’s okay with backers- please let me know through the usual means.

Following the new art assets this month, for the next two months we will be replacing old art assets for Doll. Probably her introductory scene will come first, as I always wanted that scene to be different than what Gurotaku was able to do at the time. I had initially imagined Hero just grabbing Doll and bending her over the anvil right there in the forge, with Kevin watching and trying not to look, establishing Hero’s sexual bullying of Kevin quite a bit earlier.

When v0.46 rolls around and we’re back into the swing of things for the main plot advancement, then we’ll be addressing Doll’s gangbang scene, and either Doll’s lesbian scene with Elaiya or doing Therese and Alina’s threesome with Hero. Not sure how I’m going to write the lesbian scene with no experience to turn to for inspiration, but I guess you’re all not here for hyper-realism.

Anyway, just wanted to communicate a bit about what’s upcoming in the update. Hope to see a lot of you on Saturday for the voiced stream!

Conash things in 0.44

Hey people, Conash here! Today I thought I’d talk about my contributions in the 0.44 release since I haven’t quite gotten my thoughts organized for one of my little mechanical analysis posts… Also because I haven’t quite talked about this yet!

So to start off with, I think that I should note there won’t be any major scripting changes. Between the holidays, family, a bunch of different games that I’ve got to play with different groups of people, but most importantly it taking about 2 weeks after the 0.43 release to finally narrow down what was causing all those game crashes in the Golden Tomb I didn’t quite have enough time to handle any big coding project, just a bunch of little ones added in over the course of this release. Always sad to not get to have a ton of fun with that, but it is what it is, let’s move onto the stuff that I did get in!

The first major thing that I got into was working on the reward for Gargan’s upcoming quest. Backers may already be aware as to what this new quest will unlock to some extent or another, and having been privileged to such information back when NoMoshing was talking about it on old backer streams (well before I was on the team), when NM outlined what quests we were handling this update it became my first priority to figure out a way to implement it in… Right, heck I think that I might have even made a blog post analyzing the sorts of things that I was worried about when designing it, but despite my concerns the solution came relatively quickly, and after some back and forth with testers I more or less knew everything that I needed for it before the 0.43.3 release (though none of it is in the base game yet, lots of little scripting things that I was worried about that may have caused problems). I’m also currently working on the enemies for Gargan’s quest, I’ve talked with NM and I know the theme of the enemies, I’ve theorized a few things that I think will be important for the boss battle, and gotten some feedback from fans about some of what they’re hoping the enemies bring to the table, but it’s still in the planning stages and subject to change so I’d rather not make promises that I have to go back on.

Next up, Kevin’s respect quest! This one I’m actually a lot farther along as once I was done with the reward for Gargan, I went immediately into trying to setup Kevin ‘right’. See I try to put in the time and effort to try to keep the ludo-narrative together when I can, and I’ll probably talk about this in more detail later but suffice to say there’s a reason why Nerys doesn’t leave you feeling like you want her as a permanent party member, and Kevin won’t give you that feeling either. With Kevin though, I wanted to capture more of a ‘random Joe’ feeling as I haven’t quite hit that with the more civilians that used magic like Nerys or Professor Ambitis (yet at least), so I had to very carefully craft both his stats, his growth, give him a custom exp curve, and create enemies specifically designed in a way to capture this feeling. Kevin inherently couldn’t be designed without also designing at least half of the enemies on his quest alongside him, so his quest ended up with it’s enemies done first. I still need to go back in and add the finishing touches to the boss, not to mention adjust some of the fights to have different enemy combinations now that I don’t need to test anymore, but based on the feedback I got from testers I’m very happy with how all the Kevin stuff turned out.

Now, with those big things out of the way, I mentioned that back in December I spent a lot of time working on fixing the crashes in the golden tomb, well I didn’t want that to be the only thing that I got done in December so I sat down for a bit and realized that I was in a good position to add in the 4th bonus boss into the game! It took some discussing with NM as my inherent focus on mechanics left quite a few holes that he ended up having to figure out how to resolve (resulting in more work for him than I had intended during a release that he was already facing a time crunch on >.>), we managed to get it in! I also decided to reach out to the fans for some suggestions for the reward here as I noticed that the other Bonus Bosses all had rather varied rewards. I’m quite happy with how both the boss and the reward turned out, so look forward to that!

The last thing that I’ve really got planned for this release I honestly didn’t think I’d have time for, yet another revamp! Originally I thought that between Gargan’s reward and making Kevin from scratch, there wouldn’t be any room in my head left to revamp a character, but after I had figured out what I wanted from Kevin and had finished testing Gargan’s reward I ended up getting into a discussion with some users about how the Damage over Time statuses aren’t very rewarding as you usually kill common enemies in 1-3 turns, so doing 1/20th of their HP per turn (at best) for 3 turns isn’t worth inflicting the status on those enemies, which is a fair assessment as when you have to fight 100 common enemies, spending an entire action to inflict 1/20th their health just isn’t worth it unless you’re in a challenge run. This got me thinking about what I could do to make poison and bleed fit in better against common enemies specifically, without making them over-powered against bosses, and well, by the time I had that figured out, I was basically half-way done to figuring out how to revamp Bronwyn, so look forward to a Bronwyn revamp in the 0.44 release! I’ve already got my ideas for it ready, but if I end up running short on time I may have to push this one back a bit.

And that’s about it for the 0.44 release. I could go into more detail about the Bronwyn revamp, but I don’t like talking about stuff that I haven’t gotten feedback from the testers yet. While I do generally trust my ability to play with numbers and take approaches that seem to typically be close to what we end up with, I just don’t like the idea that I might give you guys the wrong idea if I change gears, so maybe I’ll talk about it in more detail after the backer release is out! Bye!

Direction in the New Year

Oh, wow, I didn’t realize I haven’t updated the blog since before Christmas. I hope you all managed to have a good holiday, nonetheless. I had a pretty good time, I think- Nekochan seemed to enjoy her gifts, and I received some nifty things. As you might recall from earlier posts, my mother in law is very sick, and so doing the holidays with her was very challenging. My mental health still has not super improved from the fall, but I’m trying to focus more on using my time effectively when I am in a fit state to work. Like everything else, it’s a process.

But, that’s enough about me. What you’d like to know is, what’s the plan now? Last year, Conash and I made a big push towards getting story progress done and spinning a more cohesive narrative from the scattered plot strands in Harem Collector. It was a huge success, and because of that I feel that we’re going to be taking it slow (in terms of plot development) for the first quarter this year.

Our January update will be the BROS update, featuring the final relationship quests for Kevin the blacksmith and Gargan. Kevin, a longtime supporter of the Hero, finally comes asking a favour, in order to earn a little adventuring cred with which to impress his childhood friend. As for Gargan, they find out about a witch rumoured to specialize in curses, and the removal thereof… and of course, a witch living in the middle of nowhere doesn’t trade in money.

And what could possible follow the BROS update? Why, only the HO… RTICULTURE update! March’s update will feature primarily new content for Doll and Chimei, the harem’s resident nature-themed slaves. Doll’s Love Quest will revolve around her origins, figuring out who she really is and how she ended up becoming a slave. As for Chimei, her Love Quest will… revolve around her origins, figuring out who she really is and how she ended up becoming a slave! Ooo, mysterious….

Seriously though, one of these quests will involve crossing swords with a pair of powerful dryads, and the other will involve dealing with a cult of assassins seeking to bring about a terrible prophecy using your harem girl… so please look forward to this new content coming soon!

And for those of you who are backers may remember, now that we’re done with most of Princess Quinta’s scenes, we will be moving on to all new art assets for Doll. Originally, we were going to do Chimei next in the art asset queue, but Nekochan wants to focus on getting her summer cosplay done, so we’re going to put that off until summer. Thus why I ran that poll where backers got to vote on which girl who has already had a redesign will get focused down on next. And the winner was Doll, which is great because I was planning on doing her love quest anyway!

So her art queue will include her introductory scene, her gangbang during the Manor Invasion, and her love quest sex scene. Unfortunately, her random scene, being that foursome with Chimei and Lilac, is going to have to wait just a scootch longer. And, following that, there are two very important and long requested scenes I want to get done before we resume….

Anyway, those are my plans, at least, for winter through to early spring 2020. I’ll see you all in just a few more weeks for the BROS update, and check back here every Wednesday for bloggo goodness!

My Favourite Things I Made This Year

I was going to use this week’s blog to moan some more about my depression, explain why the update to Quinta’s second sex scene took so long, and in general beg for forgiveness. While I do feel bad about those things, and I do ask for your forgiveness, I’m worried about this sort of thing becoming dull and rote. So, rather than that, I’m going to talk about some of the things I am most happy made it into Harem Collector this year.

These are presented in roughly chronological order, and just numbered for my convenience, but nonetheless please enjoy this semi-listicle.

#1- Officially Announced ILTSDK
I know it’s not the biggest, most exciting thing, but finally announcing I Live To Serve, Dungeon King!! to the public felt pretty good, like it was making the leap from theory into practice. I’m still slaving away at the pre-production, though, so it’ll be awhile yet before we have a functional build to show off.

#2- Introduced New Scenes and Dialogue for Lilac and Violet
The new content for the twin maids was very well received and I’m pretty proud of it, to be honest. Definitely looking forward to these two coming up in the art queue. Mission accomplished on helping define their divergent personalities more.

#3- Set Up A New Forum
I learned how to do a MySQL and now we have a fancy new forum we rarely use. But, hey, it’s there and I really feel it’s a worthwhile supplement to the Discord community, as a home for content like my erotic writing and the Iron Waifu contest.

#4- Epic April Fool’s Prank
The 90’s-style April Fools website update was a lot of fun to make, and I have no idea how I’m going to match it next year. 😀

#5- The Actual New Website Launch
It was a massive headache at the time, but it feels really good to have gotten rid of our amateurish, outdated old website designed by a certain someone I don’t particularly like, and replace it with our new, slick website filled with all sorts of art representative of what Harem Collector is all about!

#6- Kaguya
Solving the ominously growing PC issue here at the home office without having to impact the Patreon or art progress was a really huge boon. I know it had a lot to do with a random windfall I received from a relative, but still, very happy about that.

#7- Victory Barks
Time to tout something that Conash did! I am very pleased now that victory barks are implemented and in a final form that makes it so people can enjoy them without it disrupting the established flow of the game. Conash did a lot of great work this year but I really think the end of battle update from PRINCESS is among his slickest and nicest looking UI changes.

#8- Miri
Getting a new harem girl in the game is always something worthy of celebration

#9- The End of Demon Cult and Kellos Invasion Stories
Sort of partnered with #8, having Bell and Quinta get implemented and finally finishing off the Demon Cult and Kellos Invasion plotlines was a huge win this year! It finally feels like we’re getting close to the end of the game.

#10- Pandemonium Fortress
My personal winner for Dungeon of the Year is the Pandemonium Fortress from Hell to Pay. It’s a really big, meaty dungeon with it’s own story to tell, a lot of really unique looking areas, homages to multiple games on my all-time favourites list (including Resident Evil, Super Mario RPG and Silent Hill 3), and just really felt like an epic way to send off the Demon Cult questline in style. And then, while we were working on it, the whole lootbox scandal happened, inspiring a whole extra section of dungeon, with it’s own mechanics and stuff going on. Sometimes our chaotic, inefficient, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants style of game design really gets to pay off dividends.

Anyway, those were my favourites bits of the year. Please feel free to share your own highlights as a comment, Discord message, forum post- whatever form of interact floats your boat!

Harem Collector v0.43.1 PRINCESS Public Release

You can find it in the usual place.

Changes in 43.1 include:
-Princess Quinta’s Love Quest is now available for your playing enjoyment. If you need to cheat your way into enjoying it, use the code “Ojou-Sama” to set Quinta’s affection to 101.
-The fourth tournament is now available for your solo run dueling pleasure!
-Several new vacation events: Meet Yeon’s dad, go seashell hunting with Quinta and Ino, and go drinking with Gargan and the boys!
-Quinta’s post-recruitment sex scene is fully implemented. Her love quest sex scene will be out around this time tomorrow due to a (small) further delay in art assets.
-New text-only vacation sex scenes for Yeon, Gargan and Quinta.
-Hard mode has been implement with stronger enemies, less experience, limited grinding, and some more difficult puzzles and challenges. However, progress in hard mode will occasionally unlock some new goodies in the Replay Menu under the new “Unlockables” heading.
-Easy mode has been updated with a new item that lets you change your party at any time and weaker enemies.
-Yamamaya has seen some revisions- she is now partially controllable during rages, all her rages and techniques have been rebalanced,, and Meiriona will begin teachiung her new skills earlier.
-“Dual” elements have been added- it is now possible to combine the effects of the “Anti-creature” damage types with regular elemental damage. Magic using party members who have natural “Anti-creature” element types built into their weapons will now have that damage type modify their spells (ie, when Larelle is equipped with the Black Truth, all her spells will do additional damage to Angels).
-“Collectible” quests now have their own category in the Quest Log, and quests have been colour coded based on their current status.
-The Victory screen at the end of every battle has been give a general quality of life update.

Updates with Conash!

Hey everyone! Next week is going to be the start of Tester’s Week for the upcoming PRINCESS update, and since I’m more or less entering the home stretch with what I’m doing I thought that I’d get you all up to date on the various things that I’ve either been working on or keeping my eye on.

First and most importantly, I’ll have to tip my hat to RomeoPapa, lostone, and everyone else who’s been helping out with the new wiki (found here)! It was really disheartening when we were given the two week notice of being shut down, but thanks to their efforts the new wiki had finished a complete transfer with about a week to spare! Which we promptly decided to get it taken down early it seems.

See, turns out that even if you move somewhere new you’re not allowed to turn any pages (especially the main one) into just redirect links to the new wiki over at Fandom, so they weren’t too happy to wake up one day and find out that the entire wiki was replaced with redirect pages. I have no regrets, as there were still a few people visiting the old wiki and making changes or leaving comments even after there was nothing but redirect links left, so I think that even though it hastened the deletion of the old wiki, it was important to try to get as many people over to the new wiki that we could.

By the way, feel free to let us know what you think of it over there or in the discord, and if you’ve got some new things you’d like see added we might be able to accommodate since we now have full control over it!

Now in terms of game development stuff, let’s have a little talk about a new feature I’m excited to add- dual-elements! You see, there’s been several issues in Harem Collector that have irked the mini-perfectionist in me ranging from how the mages with various ‘Anti-‘ elements on their weapons had no effective use for that element to being able to being able to equip a demon slaying charge and all of a sudden even though you’re attacking an enemy with a shield, their piercing resistance isn’t reducing the damage on your arrows! Not to mention with how useless using magic with the Newts is due to how they only have good damage thanks to their unique ‘Newt’ element….

So, that’s why I thought to basically take our current ‘one element’ system, and turn it into a ‘dual-element’ system, where not only attacks but even magic can have both a ‘physical’ element and a ‘racial’ element. It’d work basically how the current system works, but if you say give Felix the Necronomicon and Manhunter Poison, his attacks will do both necrotic and anti-human damage, multiplying the effectiveness of both (so still be careful of immunities). I’m even going through and making a lot of attacks like Therese’s Smite with a hardset ‘physical’ element still able to take into account whatever her current ‘anti-‘ element would be!

As for the magic end of this system, it will only consider the element of your weapon, so even if you throw Manhunter Poison or the Beastslayer Ring on someone their magic will not gain the ‘Anti-human’ or ‘Anti-beast’ properties, and I think this is fair because if your mages didn’t use their weapons to help channel their magic in some way, then they wouldn’t have a reason to hold a weapon in their hand instead of a buckler or something and mechanically speaking this helps create a bit more uniqueness as now you can use, say, Chimei’s Anti-Demon element to it’s full effect! Newts during the ‘Send Newts’ quest will have their unique Newt element moved over to their weapons so that spell-casting newts can benefit from this too.

Oh, this will only apply to magic that targets enemies though, so you won’t be able to use Yeon’s Anti-Mage element to boost her healing!

Next, let’s see… Well we’re working on getting the 4th solo tournament into this release! The enemies are coming along quite nicely, and I’d like to take a moment to thank our testers for putting up with my nonsense with all the test releases I’ve been putting out this past month, hope you all have been enjoying it!

Oh, players should also expect hard mode in this release, the only real update that’s been made to it is that now when you are in the save menu, your save files will now put a bronze star on any saves in Easy Mode, silver for Normal Mode, and gold for Hard Mode, to help keep track of what mode each save file is in. Oh! Easy Mode! I’ve also added in a new item so that if you’re in Easy Mode you can change your party anywhere while you’re outside of battle! Don’t worry about starting a new game to get it, when you load your save file the game will automatically detect if you’re on Easy Mode and don’t have the item, and if that’s the case one will just show up in your item list!

Hmm… The only other thing that I really have to talk about would be the Yamamaya revamp, and while everything is looking good so far, I’d rather wait a few weeks and then give that it’s own blog post, no matter how much I like to talk I do like to keep secrets sometimes! So I’ll wrap things up here, see you all later!

Let’s talk Hard Mode

Conash again! This time I’m here to talk about a new feature I plan to introduce in the 0.43 release that I’ve been talking about for awhile, hard mode! So for anyone who’s interested in hearing about it, and why it’s coming up so suddenly, this is the post for you!

So to start this off with I would like to give a bit of a brief (hopefully) background to why Harem Collector will be getting a hard mode. The short of it is, that the difficulty of Harem Collector has been very important to me. See, while I’ve got nothing against the people who don’t care to sit down and potentially spend hours focusing on how to make a perfect route or setup your equipment or whatever, with how my brain is I regularly get this kind of ‘build up’ of mental energy that if I don’t get regular outlets for actually brings me pain, and well the best that doctors and therapists have been able to figure out thus far is that it’s the result of my ADHD.

Normally I can deal with this sort of constant mental energy with like puzzles, or listening to podcasts while I play games, but when it starts to get really bad I feel that I need huge problems to solve that require me to consider variables from all directions that play into one another, and well, Harem Collector was one of the few games that could accomplish this to make it so that I wouldn’t end up in pain from not having something to thing about. Just planning routes to find the optimal route for collecting the girls while getting all love quests (not really the biggest concern with how many days there are), managing all the grinding spots in order to maximize my money and experience keeping in mind that if I killed a bear too early that many of the girls would miss out on some experience (though now they respawn every day), figuring out good ways to handle some of the higher level quests early on with weaker teams that way I could get Gargan, Yeon, and Kyrie earlier to begin working on them sooner, along with figuring out the optimal way to invest my money and save some sil here or there with the items you could get.

It was great, though I don’t need that anymore since I can also deal with the issue now by just working on more complex scripting projects or enemy designs for HC, but given the dozens of times that HC served effectively as medication for me I can’t help but look back on those challenges I had to overcome fondly, several of which have become non-issues as the game has progressed. That’s why ever since NoMoshing added in Easy Mode, I’ve wanted to make my own Hard Mode, to capture all of those challenges for anyone who wished to experience them without putting a burden on players who don’t want to put in that much time and effort.

Now, I’ve been talking about Hard Mode for awhile, but I kept putting it onto the back burner until I could implement the entire thing… Except it’s been a few years and so far it’s all concepts. It’s been eating at me to tell some of the people who’ve been looking forward to Hard Mode that it’s coming soon(tm), so a couple weeks ago I said fuck it, let’s put in what I can and expand it as we go. Worst case scenario? Some people might avoid playing it until it’s more fleshed out.

So what does this Hard Mode skeleton entail? Mostly combat stuff, like for starters all those dungeons that you can clear out every day for more experience and loot? First priority was to go back to the original system where if you kill them once they’re dead forever as that was a part of balancing experience that has since been lost even in the challenge runs that some people who share in my insanity engage in. If you’re worried about having no options if you don’t have enough experience, I did make sure to leave the daily dungeons and vacations untouched by this, as I felt that the unique equipment from the daily dungeons was too important to cut out, and you should be allowed to trade money for experience in the form of vacations.

Next on the plate? Well that’d be the main problem with challenge modes, the fact that with how much experience HC gives you that once you complete one challenge, you’re usually too high level find anything of similar ‘difficulty’ challenging so you’d have to start a new playthrough to be challenged by everything, so to fix that I cut down all experience gained in Hard Mode by 30% (so enemies give 70% of their normal experience). You can potentially still end up a bit on the higher end of levels with this, but thanks to extensive testing from RomeoPapa I can safely say that unless you get a lot of vacations you won’t be getting much higher than the level recommendation for quests in general.

Finally, a common thing that I’ve found based on the information from the players who do seek out combat difficulty from Harem Collector is that you can just about do any quest safely at 5 levels below the recommended level, and the ‘challenge’ comes from pushing things lower, so in order to try to turn this into the ‘standard’ difficulty without further reducing experience (and thus risking players not having the skills needed to win some quests), I opted to give all enemies a passive +20% to all their stats, we have also made sure that the most challenging tests did not reach a point where this felt unreasonable. So yeah, players looking for a combat based challenge look forward to all of that!

That said, I don’t intend to stop there but it may be awhile before I come back and touch up on Hard Mode again. See, one of my biggest priorities when I revisit and touch it up some more is that I plan to add some more skills for bosses or changes to the fight or something so that when you’re in hard mode every fight feels a bit more unique (to an extent the boss fight at the end of “Princess Bride” has gotten this, but it’s more that the boss was taking too long which slipped past our testing due to a bug, as such the length of the fight will be shorter in normal mode, and even shorter in easy mode, while Hard Mode will retain the original length), because while giving the enemies a statistical advantage will require that you think on your feet if that’s the only difference then each quest is going to eventually end up feeling the same. Adding in some new moves, new mechanics, changing up the existing mechanics to better reflect ‘hard mode’ for the bosses will help shake things up and add in a more nuanced difficulty that I know I at least appreciate.

Another thing that I want to add into hard mode down the line is changing up the day end process, see one of the important things about the old HC meta is that you had to plan out your days very meticulously in order to make sure that you got all the character’s love quests at the right time, but with all the content Harem Collector has now, planning such things out is a bit silly, so once I’ve got a firm grasp on how many days will be possible along with all pitfalls that a player may run into, I’m going to want to change things up so that instead of the day passing as often as it does currently that you’ll need to finish anywhere from 3-5 quests to get a proper day end in it, thus helping bring back yet another element that was critical to the former meta but has long since been made irrelevant.

The final thing that will be important for me to consider ties a bit into the last one, see a big reason that I’m not yet comfortable lowering how often a day ‘ends’ in Hard Mode is because if you only got your daily income at 20-33% of the time as before it’d harshly impact the economy as you go through items and get new ways to spend your money without getting the same amount of money as before, but as things stand I don’t have a comfortable grasp over the HC economy, and with every quest we add into the game my grasp gets looser. Currently we do have plans to revamp the HC economy down the line, and well I’d like to go through the numbers for that and get some play-testing on how it works out before I make any big changes to the economy in Hard-Mode, though I do have a few ideas for what I might do like either stopping the loan or changing it along with making a few of the special vendors not buy your vendor trash.

That said, I may also try finding a way to have more customizable difficulty, such as if I can think of a menu or something for determining difficulty, I might allow players to be able to create experiences where the combat is the same as normal mode, but they get the economy of Easy Mode (like those gold and silver bars), and the time passage of Hard Mode, or something like that so that players who enjoy combat challenges don’t feel like they must decide if they want the stress of a more challenging economy or give up on their dreams of taking on Slenderman at his strongest… Hmm… You know a menu system does sound a bit fun…

Anyways, that’s more or less all that I’ve got to say on hard mode. Squires, look forward to the mini-release next week, we’ve got several things in the words other than just the bare bones Hard Mode that I put together! For those of you who are looking forward to it though, please send a Thanks to RomeoPapa for all his hard work going through the entire game in a week and giving me the feedback I needed to fine-tune the experience! If you’ve got any comments, questions, or concerns feel free to contact me, I’m most active over on the BKG discord found here: https://discord.gg/3eEnXpT

Character Revamps

Conash here to once again ramble on about mechanical design stuff as I understand it. For those of you who haven’t been keeping a close eye in the BKG discord, the 0.42 release includes a revamp to a lot of Gargan’s skills, and I’m hoping to give Yamamaya a revamp for 0.43, so I thought that I’d take the time to try to dissect the mindset that’s gone into all of this, maybe it’ll be useful for some of you!

So let’s start with Gargan, the intention behind Gargan’s moveset is to mimic that of the Arkham games, aim for trying to manage and switching between enemies but getting in big damage in-between. If you examine Gargan’s original move set you can really see this in play, cape-stun to setup an enemy for a lot of damage, the ability to counter incoming physical attacks, and an ability that has a chance to stun two enemies at once. The problem with these skills however comes down to cost vs pay-off, consider for a moment using cape-stun followed by Stun-break which should be Gargan’s bread and butter at lower levels, originally you had to spend 5 momentum to use cape-stun and then 10 momentum to use stun-break which removes the stun status and does about twice as much damage as a regular attack. This means that you first have to build up 15 momentum with 3 attacks first, then you spend 2 turns to do the same damage as two attacks? From a damage point of view it’s not worth it, now stunning the enemy could be worth it on it’s own but then you have to consider that stun-break ends it at least one turn, if not two, earlier than it would otherwise be so if you just want to stun the enemy you’re better off just using cape-stun. Later on though Gargan gets ‘Throw’ which has a smaller chance of stun but hits two enemies and does 2 attacks worth of damage in one action, even if you don’t get the stuns you it’s worth it to use two attacks instead of one, the 20 momentum cost makes it not that great but as long as you don’t use momentum for 4 cape-stuns you’ll get there. Coup De Grace on the other hand cost 30 momentum, did about as much damage as 2 attacks if the target was knocked over, oh and it also removed stun, when you compare these skills side by side and consider how players can typically rely on 5 momentum per turn and you win battles by doing damage, it’s no wonder that Throw was Gargan’s only offensive move that got used consistently. Cape-stun was nice for stuns but when players could bring Raina to use her knockdowns instead while still doing good damage even if a lower chance of knockdown it’s easy to see why Gargan wasn’t considered as stun king/queen in parties. Counter wasn’t a ton better, as it cost 15 momentum (so 3 turns work to build up to it) and only lasted until Gargan’s next action, which meant that if you didn’t have a good way to guarantee an attack by Gargan’s next action you could easily feel you wasted that momentum, and in many cases you may only get 1 free counter attack from Gargan meaning you spent 15 momentum to negate damage from 1 attack. Back to Back, the unity force skill, was very useful with it’s 5 momentum cost and 3 turn duration on top of hitting both Gargan and Hero, but it required Unity Force so it’s not something players could rely on in battle. You may have noticed that I was trying to compare things to using a regular attack, and that’s important because that’s your bread and butter, if the skills aren’t more valuable than a regular attack or aren’t worth the time it takes to get enough momentum to use them, then there’s no reason for players to think about the skill rather than use an attack, whether players actively think about it or not they notice how these numbers turn out and it impacts their decision making.

So then the question becomes how do you fix these issues if most of Gargan’s skills aren’t worth the time it takes to attack? Well, since it’s important to make sure that you stay creatively in line with what’s intended you want to take your time and examine how to approach things. For Cape Stun, the problem is largely that it’s the first move in one of Gargan’s two combos but it makes the total combo more expensive while not doing damage, not to mention it runs the traditional risks of hit rage, evasion chance, or even enemy counters. To combat the problem of it making combos more expensive I took some inspiration from Raina, players who use her a lot never have a problem with using Phalanx because even though it doesn’t do damage and only lasts one turn, it gives Raina momentum just like if she used guard allowing players to feel comfortable using it as a bread and butter instead of regular attacks, as the utility it brings (not to mention increases damage on some of her skills) outweighs the marginal damage you’d get from a regular attack, so if Cape-stun was set to generate more momentum than it required it would help further set players up for a combo by making it easier to continue the combo afterwards instead of having to work have the entire combo ready up front. On top of that, I remembered that common enemies were basically unable to do anything about your cape stun in the Arkham games, so in addition I gave it some utility that would allow it to be competitive with ‘Throw’ by making it so that enemy evasion, taunts, counters, or reduced player accuracy wouldn’t impact it by turning it instead into a certain hit instead of a physical hit, allowing it to always have a place in the player’s arsenal even if they are able to inflict stun through other means. Stun-break got some changes to the damage formula to make it more rewarding, but the biggest problem it had was that it removed stun, making it so that a lot of times players would rather not use it to keep the enemy stunned, this however was fixed by giving it a base 100% knockdown chance if the enemy you hit was stunned, now you’re just trading Stun for Knockdown while doing better than 2 attacks worth of damage, it still has the 10 momentum cost to it but when combined with Cape Stun giving you more momentum this combo is very easy to pull off, making it worth the net loss of momentum (which prevents you from using other skills). For Coup De Grace I could have done the same thing as Stun Break, but I instead thought to handle one thing that felt kinda funny with Gargan, see Gargan is based largely on inflicting stuns then doing big damage off of stunned enemy, but every other character with similar abilities use knockdown, and well it just feels odd that Gargan can benefit from stunned enemies but not enemies on the ground, this left Gargan feeling like Gargan’s core loop existed on another planet and couldn’t synergize with other party members, so for this I took more inspiration from DnD and Pathfinder, instead making Coup De Grace be based off of ‘helpless’ enemies in the sense that they had the ‘knockdown’ status and gave it a 60% crit chance on top of Gargan’s base crit chance, along with some tweaking of the numbers here and there and now Gargan has a fantastic 1-2-3 combo, it’s hard to maintain the full combo but if you wanted to jump around from enemy to enemy with a 1-2 combo or just cape-stun everyone, well, that bit is very easy. Counter was also retouched to last 2 actions instead of 1, so it’s still not as good as ‘Back to Back’ but many players are reporting that it still lasts long enough to more than justify it especially as it allows Gargan to do some pseudo-tanking.

Well, I probably got a bit ahead of myself there going into the specifics, but general point is that when you want to give players abilities you should try to keep in mind first what is their bread and butter, what does it give them, how does it contribute to the ‘win’ condition, and then any special ability needs to be able to have a reason to use it instead of that bread and butter. If an enemy is knocked down and Gargan has 60 momentum, sure you could use a regular attack, but Coup De Grace will probably do 6-10x the damage so unless you’re saving up momentum to use throw 4 times in a row when some more enemies show up, there’s no reason not to. Sure players could just leave an enemy stunned and go for a regular attack that gives them 5 more momentum, but Stun-break will probably do 2-4x as much damage and set them up for Coup De Grace, that 5 momentum won’t help me win the battle unless I use it to do more damage but that’s exactly what Stun-break is for. Players may not be aware of the the details or heck they may even come to wrong conclusions, but when they’re looking at 400 damage for a regular attack and 800 damage for stun-break, they know which one will win the fight faster.

Yamamaya’s issues however are a bit different, see many players already know how to get damage out of Yamamaya to keep her competitive, and while some of her skills also need to be made worth the cost (like Shockwave) I strongly believe that her biggest problem is that her skills are competing with each other to be the ‘best’ skill instead of working together to give her a good ‘arsenal’. Now, not everyone should be based around setting up a 1-2-3 combo or anything, but with Yamamaya you’re looking at using Strong Attack, Mountain Lion Rage, or Polar Bear rage, not all three. The nature of the rages are going to make them be competing with one another as she won’t ever be able to use more than one at a time just like Diadira with her songs, but well, we’ve got some plans to help her Techniques stand out as a lot more valuable than they currently are so that they don’t need to be better than Yamamaya’s best rage. We’ve also talked with fans some and liked some of the ideas that we got, so do expect to see Yamamaya’s rages changing up once her revamp is done. I can’t promise that Mountain Lion rage is going to be as good as it currently is, but my main intention is to try to make her other rages feel a lot more useful and like there is the right place and time for them, even if it doesn’t come up too often. It may get a bit tricky at times since ‘Mountain Lion Rage’ makes Yama do a lot more damage which contributes directly to winning a fight so other rages like ‘Polar Bear Rage’ may struggle to find as much usage, but we’ve got idea and I trust in the tester’s we have to give me effective feedback on how well we hit things like this! So you have that to look forward to!

I hope that my talk this time was useful to some of you! My intention here was to try to explain the process of how you figure out what to do, identify problems and try to solve them, though looking back I think that’s going to be a bit hard for me since my process is largely finding new ideas and connecting them together, but you never know when talking about your own problems and solutions may end up giving someone else the idea they needed to solve their own! Feel free to ask any questions or share your comments wherever you find me!