PROJECT. FERAL

Project. Feral is a hack-and-slash game with a deep combat system that lets players experiment and master their combat capabilities to create creative and powerful combos.

Team Size | Solo

Role | Game designer and programmer

Dev Time | 6 months

Software | Unreal Engine 4

During the development, I worked on the following aspects: 

- Design the player and enemy mechanics.

- Create the combat functionality with blueprints.

- Create the UI/UX of the game (HUD, camera, particles, and nearly every aspect of the game feel).

SYSTEMS FOR AGGRESSIVITY

The central mechanic of the game is the Feral Meter, a gauge similar to what we can see in other games of the genre - like the style meter in the Devil May Cry series. It can be filled more or less depending on the complexity of the combos realized and depletes slowly over time or immediately upon taking a hit. 

The distinctive aspect of the Feral Meter is that it doesn't represent the score in combat as it does in other games, but rather the player's Feral Level and how much is needed to reach the next level. Each Feral Level increases the player's attack speed and damage, encouraging the player to play aggressively, constantly attacking, and performing combos to level up in order to increase their damage and make it easier and faster to defeat enemies. To maintain this loop of constant attacking and leveling up, the Feral Level resets at the end of each combat. 

Furthermore, reaching the maximum Feral Level activates a temporary transformation that makes the player invulnerable to all types of damage and significantly increases the speed and damage of their attacks. During this transformation, the Feral Meter is depleted constantly with no possibility of replenishing it through attacks. When it empties completely, the transformation ends, and the player returns to the initial Feral Level. 

However, the transformation can be canceled at any time to revert to a lower level than the maximum. So, it's up to the player whether to use the entire duration of the transformation and return to the initial Feral Level or to use the transformation for a short period of time to be able to transform again more quickly. This encourages the player to attack constantly, either to increase their Feral Level or to maximize the temporary transformation's benefits.

In addition to the Feral Meter, there are also the Brutal Blows Charges. These are a series of charges that replenish when taking damage and defeating enemies (with a slight recharge from hitting them as well). They can be used to unleash a Brutal Blow: an unblockable, high-damage attack on a single enemy that turns the player invincible during its duration. 

Brutal Blows serve as a counterpart to the Feral Meter since they make taking damage less penalizing for the player (as it reduces both health and Feral Meter). This ensures that the power fantasy isn't abruptly broken by taking damage, as it can be an opportunity to turn the tide of battle and regain a favorable position

Rewarding the player for defeating enemies not only encourages aggressive gameplay, it also promotes a more strategic approach where damage isn't dealt indiscriminately. Instead, players must choose specific targets to defeat in order to gain Brutal Blow charges more quickly. Additionally, the slight recharge of the Brutal Blows charges upon attacking enemies serves to reinforce an aggressive playstyle, at the same time it prevents the need to finish off an enemy when only a small amount is required to gain a Brutal Blow charge. 

Furthermore, Brutal Blows are not reset after combat, giving players agency in deciding whether to use them whenever possible or save them for specific moments.

FERAL COMBAT FOR BEGINNERS AND EXPERTS

The game has three distinct attack inputs: Sword Attacks, Beast Slashes, and Power Shots. Each of them with the ability to perform highly distinct actions with different complexities to let beginners and experts enjoy the combat in their own ways.

The main purpose of sword attacks is to damage enemies, so simple attacks can achieve this function without any problems. However, it also serves as one of the tools that offer the most possibilities for advanced players, as it includes both special attacks and alternative combos.

Special attacks are executed by pressing the sword attack button while positioning the joystick in a specific position, or realizing a specific joystick move, which allows the player to perform more actions with fewer inputs at the same time. This also encourages players to constantly make decisions - because each one of these special attacks serves a specific purpose - and execute their intended actions rather than resorting to mindless button mashing to overcome enemies. 

The execution of alternative combos requires waiting a certain amount of time after throwing an attack to then attack again, which further promotes purposeful and intentional combo execution at the time it also reduces the number of buttons needed for these actions. 

Sword attacks also have the peculiarity of changing their special attacks and combos depending if the player is in the air or not. This makes the air basic combo more limited, which increases the difficulty for players to sustain aerial combat solely with basic attacks, encouraging them to experiment and utilize other actions to keep the enemies stunned in the air or themselves to evade grounded enemies' attacks

To enhance the player's control over their character's attacks the sword attacks rotate based on the input from the left stick. Additionally, the player's attacks automatically rotate towards the nearest enemy if they are within close proximity and the player is not actively moving in any direction to prevent missed hits that can disrupt the combat flow.  

Beast Slashes function as additional attacks that can be performed even while executing other attacks. Similar to sword attacks, they have special attacks that can be executed by positioning the joystick, but they lack alternative combos in order to make the Beast Slashes easier to mix with the sword attack's alternative combos. 

The ability to perform beast slashes and sword attacks seemingly contributes to making beginner players feel powerful by smashing both buttons, at the same time it also lets advanced players combine both special attacks to create longer and deadlier combos. 

The Power Shots serve as a supplementary attack to the previous two, which is why it's the simplest one - as it lacks the possibility to perform combos and special attacks to make it easier for the player to use all three attacks sustainably

Its main function is to damage enemies from a distance with its normal shot, and in the case of the charged shot, it works to launch enemies into the air easily, making it a vital tool for extending aerial combos and creating longer combos with the other attack inputs.

Héctor González

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hectorgonzalez.vg@gmail.com