Behind the Brutality – Bodycheck Developer Diary: Part II

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Structuring Anarchy

After taking some time to prepare their baby for this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC), David Thomson and Ludometrics are back to shine some light on their unorthodox and viscous football game Bodycheck

In Part I of our monthly Bodycheck Developer Diary series we went Behind the Brutality and were walked through the origins of their upcoming PlayStation Vita exclusive title, gaining an inside-look at a speculative concept became the studio’s reality. This time around Thomson dives into the proverbial “meat and potatoes” of the game, offering an exclusive preview of core elements such as gameplay, modes, obstacles and more. 

Straight from the mind of the developers, find out how Ludometrics plan to introduce structure into their near-structureless sport. Enjoy.

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The Rules of Engagement

It all boils down to scoring more points than your opponents – that simple! We’ve toyed with various complications, but it works well just keeping things very simple – throw the ball into the opposition goals to score points. You score 3 points if you’re in the ‘D’ around a goal, and 5 from outside the D. You also score 7 points for landing a knockout blow on an opposition player, which is harder than it sounds! That particular aspect has led to a few last second wins already, and it definitely keeps the tension high in close matches right to the death (pun intended, sorry).

A standard match lasts for 2 minutes (subject to bribery), which feels right to us in terms of quick blasts of action with respite between tournament rounds, but we’ll probably have modes where players can extend that.

One thing I’m not sure some people have picked up on with the game is that there can literally be 4-team matches – A vs B vs C vs D, in other words. Those matches are particularly chaotic and fast-moving, and having complicated rules doesn’t really add to the game – some of them just never even get the chance to kick in at all, so there’s no point having them.

That’s not to say we won’t go back and play around with some complications, but at the moment it keeps things easy for both explaining and playing, so we’re just following Occam’s Razor for now.

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Orchestrating Madness

The game is played traditionally, with the stick to steer the player under your control and the buttons to activate throws and punches. The d-pad is a key part of the system as well, since that’s you how select your magic spells and items prior to activation. At this stage, I very much doubt we’ll utilize the touchscreen to any great depth – the game is pretty fast-paced, so you need to keep your focus without being distracted.

The Ladder to Glory

We haven’t finalized everything yet, but we have some tournament modes in there already, and I’m currently playing around with ideas for a more extended campaign/career mode. We want the game to work well for people playing offline as much as for those who want to play online, so we’re trying to make sure there’s enough in there to keep people occupied.

Tournament modes have been particularly interesting to design, since we can’t do a simple bracket system for 3- or 4-team matches! So those tournaments have a combination of round-robin and knockout systems, which at least keeps it interesting in terms of formats. Hopefully they’ll make sense to people other than us too! 

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The Sorcery of Skills & Spells

This has been the trickiest thing to resolve, but the way it currently works is that each team has a captain (similar idea to the heroes of MOBA games) who is slightly more powerful than regular team players and can channel magic (whether spells or items) via the currently active player character. They have one fixed unique power, and you set them up with other spells prior to the start of a match. You then activate them when needed during play – some have a charge up period, some are instant (although they might have a delayed effect), and all of them have a cool-down before you’re able to use another spell. Some spells are about negating your opponents in some way, and of course we have buffs and healing spells in there for your own team too.

The other thing to note is that your captain is the source of power – if he or she gets knocked out, you lose those powers in the match.

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Biohazard

Generally speaking, hazards form part of the arena you play in and items are basically treated in the same way as magic spells. We don’t have a hard limit on anything at this stage, we’re just trying to make sure we have a good spread of different items and spells and so on. Not everything will be available from the start, of course – you’ll have to play the game to open more of it up, but we’re not tying that to explicit achievements in the game. Some of it will be of course, but some of it will just be as a thank you for playing the game in the first place.

The Mayhem of Multiplayer

We’re still figuring out exactly what form multiplayer will take, so I don’t want to make any promises at this stage. That said, there are lots of ways we can slice things, so hopefully we can include a few different variants. One that’s on our list is a form of ‘last man standing’, so rather than the match being time limited you just keep going until one team is down to its last player. No promises it will be in the final game, though, it will depend on how we get on with it during testing!

 

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For more on David Thomson, Ludometrics and Bodycheck head on over to their Official Website and make sure to follow them on Twitter.

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