Journal – Wicked Lair – Magical Incantations

Posted by – August 29, 2014

I finished all the spell icon graphics this week, making the spell casting system probably the most completed part of my game so far, so i figured now is a good time to talk about it.


Another tactical layer

When planning out the game it became clear to me fairly quickly that in addition to the core creature / tower defense / dungeon building gameplay i wanted another layer to spice it up a little.

In many tower defense games you get sometimes rare/not so rare items / abilities you can use to help turn the battle in your favor (such as bombs, mines, dynamite)

I liked the idea of that but wanted something a bit more in depth and tactical and also more fitting with the RPG / Fantasy theme i was going for.

Spellcasting  was the obvious way to go. It gave me two more resources to add to the resource game and allowed me to give the player one more choice in setting up their game by making them – over the course of the game as they level up – select 4 spells out of a spell pool of 12.

Looking towards Azeroth

The player’s level is tied to how deep their dungeon is +1 (for the lair), so a dungeon with 1 constructed floors would put the player at level 2.

New spells are then chosen at level 2, 4, 8 and 10.

As i mentioned he selects from a pool of 12 spells total, 3 spells at each spell tier with each of the 3 spells belonging to a distinct spell group.

The 3 distinct spell groups are

  1. Alteration – Heals, Buffs, Debuffs
  2. Destruction – Damage
  3. Summoning – Summon lair guardians and raise spells

This system is fairly identical to the revamped talent system in World of Warcraft (as it was at the launch of MoP – i havent played in a while so it might have changed again).

Ironically i wasn’t the biggest fan of how much they simplified it for WoW, but i think doing it that way works rather nicely here in a casually targeted mobile game.

Spawn More Overlords

In Wicked Lair casting a spell costs mana and chaos crystals. Depending on the spell it might cost either mana or N crystals or a combination of both.

Mana is earned by gatherer creatures that collect mana and deliver it to the lair.

Crystals are dropped by slain high level heroes and your boss creatures should they perish.

Only the most powerful tier spells cost crystals to cast. This was done simply to add another tactical element to the game. Crystals will be rare, so you will want to consider whether you want to cast that powerful AE spells now or later.

Nifty Spells

I worked on the spell system fairly early in the game (2 weeks in maybe?) and all the spells are already implemented by now – they need some polishing, but the logic and behaviours are all there. Obviously things can still change, game being in alpha and what not.

Let’s take a look of what kind of spells there are available at your cruel fingertips.


Alterations spells are your buff / debuff line of spells, a good example here is the Infuse Power spell. Infuse Power targets an entire floor and buffs the attack rating of all of your creatures on that floor for 1 minute. It costs 20 mana and you can stack its effect meaning if you are full (100) mana you can cast it 5 times giving every creature on the targeted floor +5 ATK for 1 minute, which is fairly significant.


Destruction spells are single-target and area-of-effect based spells. There is Fireball which is a powerful projectile spell that hits up to two heroes for a fair amount of damage. In this case i want to showcase the Thunderclap.

Thunderclap is an AoE spell, targeting an entire floor that cast lightning strikes down on any heroes on the floor that do some damage and stun each target for 6 seconds. I like how the lightning strike effect came out in the end which is why i am going to parade it in front of you here :).


Finally, the summoning spell group. It is not possible for the player to create creatures on the Lair floor (Thats the floor where your main bad guy resides) with the exception of summoning spells.  You may, for example, summon a Lidless Guardian who is a ranged defender that looks gross, and is fairly strong.

This is getting to be a rather long post, so i will end it here, as i think this should be enough to paint you a picture, thanks for reading!

Journal – Wicked Lair – Creatures and Stats

Posted by – August 26, 2014

Let’s talk about creatures and creature types shall we.

In the beginning i set myself a goal to keep the overarching design of the creatures very streamlined, their core behaviour being defined by the major creature archetype they belong to. Then under that i felt ok to give each creature its own unique feel / behaviour.

That was another thing i wanted to make sure of, each creature in the game should be able to do something unique.

To keep it simple on the surface that meant maybe a handful of different creature archetypes and a set of simplified stats to describe their strengths and weaknesses.

Initially i started out with 4 Creature Types:

  1. Defender: Melee – a stationary defender that waits for the hero to walk into them before attacking
  2. Defender: Range – a stationary defender that waits for the hero to walk into their range and then plinks away at them
  3. Plunderer – a creature that walks into town , does some damage, and then delivers some loot to the lair
  4. Gatherer – a creature that gathers some mana/gold/health and delivers it to the lair

During first month of development, two more types managed to sneak in

  1. Invader – a creature that walks into town and does a significant amount of damage
  2. Patrol – a creature that patrols the dungeon between its spawn point and the top floor and will attack any heroes it runs into – it can be ranged attacker or melee

So that left me with 6 major creature types, and i am happy with that list, i dont think i want to add any more to it.

Mmmm, Math.

So in order to describe their strengths and weaknesses some stats needed to be defined. Again the goal here was to keep it simple. Stats that every gamer is already aware of and keep the numbers small.

As of right now these are the creature stats

  1. ATTACK – defines melee / range attack base damage (1 = weak, 20 = epic)
  2. HEALTH – defines how much damage the creature can take (1 = weak, 40 = epic)
  3. SPEED – defines the movement speed of the creature (1 = slow, 5 = super fast)
  4. RANGE – only relevant for ranged attackers, defines their attack range (1=close, 3=far)
  5. CAPACITY – only relevant for creatures that carry stuff, defines how much they can carry (1=little,5=a lot)

The health and attack stats scale with the creature level, but will always be displayed to the player as their base values.

So for example a creature with 5 base hp spawned on the first level floor has a total health value of 5

A creature with 5 base hp spawned at the fifth level floor has a value of 25.

Some Variety

So taking the 6 archetypes and mixing them with unique creature abilities i am able to do some cool stuff. For example the Skeleton Warrior creature is a melee defender, and he has a unique shield block ability that blocks the next melee attack.

Or the Skeleton archer which is a ranged defender that at the highest upgrade level starts shooting fire arrows that may set the target on fire.

Or the Succubus of the Pit floor who is a ranged defender, that casts a magic missile that has a chance to seduce the target it hits making it temporarily fight for you.

And that’s just the start, i am super excited for the possibilities.

If you like checking WIP screenshots and videos and follow development as it happens go check out the game’s twitter and facebook, as i post to those daily!


Journal – Wicked Lair – To Lay a Trap

Posted by – August 22, 2014

Since i’ve been actively developing Wicked Lair for 1 and a half months now it seems like i have some catching up to do on the dev journaling part of it.

I want to start by discussing one of the core mechanics of the game: Traps.

In Wicked Lair traps are sort of like static creatures, and in that sense they also take up one creature spawn plot.

Once a trap is built it is ready to spring on the next unsuspecting hero to pass by it.

Traps are triggered – unsurprisingly – by heroes walking over/into them, right now this always happens, but i have plans to mix it up a little, more on that further down.

When a trap is sprung it sets in motion an event or a series of events. That could be as simple as dealing damage to the hero or something much more intricate.

After that, the trap is deactivated until it resets, how long a trap takes to reset depends on it’s strength. Right now traps cannot be destroyed, but are expensive to build and there is a limit of 1 trap per floor. All of this is of course subject to change as balance demands.

Trap Memory

I intend Traps to be fairly strong, they are expensive and they should be fun to use/see in action. For example on the catacombs floor we have the “Swinging Axe” trap that swings from the ceiling and pretty much gibs the hero that triggered it.

It has a reset time of 2 minutes, but even with that fairly long cooldown in place it still seems a bit overpowered.

In order to combat this issue i’ve been playing with the idea of having the heroes develop a trap-memory of sorts. Meaning over time they will start to remember traps they or their companions (as long as in line of sight) have triggered.

When a hero then remembers a trap that they walked into before, they will sneak around it.

Furthermore, they could even communicate it to the other heroes, which then may or may not heed their warning.

Ok maybe i am going a bit over top here, but its definitely something thats been on my mind!

Support Structures – Or Friendly “Traps”

Based on the same system as the trap system i plan to make friendly mechanisms as well. For example the floor theme i am currently working on – Growth, a deep forest – has a support structure called Tree of Life. As with traps, it’s effect is triggered by an actor moving past it, just that in this case it responds to friendly creatures instead of enemies (heroes).