DevLog #5 – New content and improvements towards the alpha!

Hello everyone!

I’m very glad to share that I’m making good progress on my new game Destroy The Monoliths! I hope to release soon a free alpha version to get your feedback. So stay tuned for that!

But today, let’s talk about some of the many improvements and additions I worked on recently.

Leveling system rework

In a previous devlog, I showed that you can mine upgrade stones to obtain temporary upgrades and get stronger. After playtesting for a while, I actually don’t like some aspects of this system. I realized that I was often ignoring the upgrade stones to focus on getting resources and building turrets. Or on the contrary I was rushing all the upgrade stones and was never building anything. So I needed to make changes. I decided to opt for a more traditional XP system. I think it feels better to link the upgrades to the fighting instead of the mining. Let’s break it down.

Enemies now drop an XP orb on death and you have to get close to pick it up, just like with mining resources. When your XP bar fills up, you level up. Depending on the level index, the game offers either a temporary upgrade or a new permanent technology. This means I totally removed the upgrade stones from the game. Also, destroying a monolith does not give a new technology anymore since I regrouped both type of upgrades into the same XP system.

XP orbs waiting to be picked up

The HUD displays the XP bar at the top, and on the right what the next 3 levels will be (temporary or technology).

XP bar on the HUD

The further you go, the more XP you need to level up. But the amount of XP enemies drop is also proportional to their strength. I like this XP system because it gives an incentive to fight beside defending the core. It also adds one more strategical balance. The more you fight, the more powerful you become. But the more you wait to destroy the monoliths, the stronger enemies become and the greater the risk to lose. So you have to be thoughtful and attack before it becomes too late!

Map types and biomes

The game currently has 6 map types and 6 biomes. Types impact the terrain shape (i.e. the density of blocks and their disposition), the amount of resources, the starting core position. Biomes determine the visual look but they influence the gameplay too. They can have special effects for certain types of blocks (e.g. ice being sloppy or sand slowing down) or give access to special buildings (e.g. docks to move and build on water). I also hope to add biome-specific traps in the future.

Let’s look at some shapes and biomes with the screenshots below. Tell me in the comments your favorite!

Improvements to building placement

Because Destroy The Monoliths plays with twin-stick shooter-like inputs, building may not feel as intuitive as in a city builder game. You can only place a building around your character. Furthermore, there is a grid snap with 8 possible aiming directions so it may sometimes feel a bit tedious to place the building right where we want it. To address this issue, I now added an overlay on the ground that helps to show all the reachable locations around you.

Showing the possible building placements around the player

A new tool to craft and visualize the technology tree

Making tools to add more content efficiently is a huge part of gamedev. We often use tables to store data but they rarely look very readable as is. To help me craft the technology tree and visualize the unlock dependencies, I now use a mind map tool made in Godot by christinoleo (available here). I customized the tool to my own needs and here is a screenshot of the current tree below. Easy to use and nice to look at. I’m very happy with this new tool!

The tech tree is growing!

New content

As you may have notice on the tech tree screenshot above, the game now has way more content. There are currently 8 weapons, 21 buildings and 24 relics. But I will talk more about that in the next devlog, which will hopefully also be the alpha release!

For now, let’s end this post with a screenshot of the new title screen, and see you next time! 😉

New title screen! Alpha is getting really close!