Gameplay mechanics reveal!

Back in June, we revealed that we were changing our battle system over to a dance battle system. One thing we didn’t go into was how it actually played…

We’ve been working really hard on the actual mechanics of the dance battles for a while and we’re finally ready to show you where we’re up to.

How battles used to work

This is how battles used to work. And no, it’s not LIVE despite indications otherwise…

Our original system had teams of 1 to 3 ooblets, each with their own moves. Each move had a cooldown period and you could only play one move per turn.

As we did playtesting, we started recognizing some problems— places where it was confusing or not fun— and we’ve been coming up with new ideas to improve it all.

We knew the battle system we came up with was probably going to go through a bunch of iterations, so we tried to make it easily modifiable for our evolving designs. That’s good because we changed a lot!

How dance battles work now

While most of the underlying concepts and types of moves have remained pretty similar, we’ve changed a lot. It’s moved a bit further from traditional RPG style battles to more card-like battles in the realm of Monster Slayers, Card Quest, and Slay the Spire. We’ll show you what we mean:

Beats

First, we got rid of cooldowns in favour of action point costs (which we call beats). The cooldowns were complicated and made the strategy require a lot of trying to remember when things would unlock. AP is a lot simpler and feels like you have more control over the action.

As part of using AP, we got rid of the one-move-per-turn limit which was making battles take way too long and instead let you play as many moves as you can fit into your AP (which we’re currently testing at 3 per turn).

No more drill-downs

One of the other big things we didn’t like was that each ooblet’s moveset was hidden until you selected that ooblet. We wanted all available moves to be visible on the screen at once, but with like 2-5 moves per ooblet, it would get pretty crowded, which brings us to the next big change:

Randomization

Instead of all ooblet moves being available all the time crowding up the screen, we thought it would be fun to only pick a few that you could play each turn. Each move is still associated with one of your ooblets, so which individual ooblets you pick are still important.

We’ve currently got it set to 3 moves chosen per turn but we may increase that as we playtest more. Also, some moves will let you draw more moves, so it won’t be totally static.

Cards

Fitting the randomization context, we decided to make the moves look and act more like cards. We’d been wanting to put in a collectable card mini/meta-game since the very beginning, but it kept getting pushed down the list until we thought it would never come to be. Making the main battle mechanic feel more like a card game fixes that!

Some moves take advantage of the new system by impacting your number of beats, how many cards you draw, add combo bonuses, etc.

Decks

With the randomization of available moves each turn, movesets act more like decks. To accommodate this, the main change we made is that each ooblet moveset is getting expanded from a maximum of 4 to 15.

During battles, all the moves your participating ooblets have are all mixed into one big deck and drawn randomly. Some turns you may not even get moves for certain ooblets.

Unlocks

Before, each ooblet started with 2 moves. Now they start with 5 moves and gain a new move each time they level up. We’re not 100% sure how we’ll do unlocks, but we’re leaning towards a preset unlock progression to keep things simple.

Upgrades

A big part of the original system was that you had to spend crops and other ingredients to unlock moves. Since we’re now just giving you a new move each time you level up, we decided to keep the crop payment concept and have it improve existing moves. We haven’t implemented this part yet but it’s coming soon!

Status effects

Our old buffs and debuffs were confusing because they lasted for a variable number of turns and were hard to strategize around and visualize. Now all the buffs and debuffs are permanent throughout a battle (like power increases or ego draining) or they only last for one turn (stun). This works because battles don’t take super long to finish, but some moves can still clear status effects.

Here are the status effects we’ve got so far:

  • Hype - Ego moves get more power
  • Fluster - Ego moves get less power
  • Lingering Doubt - Drains ego each turn
  • Stun - Prevents ooblet from playing any moves

Next steps

So far, the changes we’ve made have made the game feel way better but there’s still a lot to do to improve it.

We’re testing and changing all sorts of things to see what works and what doesn’t. Like right now 3v3 battles take waaay longer than 1v1 battles so we’re playing around with ways to improve that, as well as trying to make the sequence of events during battles a bit easier to understand and follow.