Beyond Arkeia

April 6th, 2012

Now that Arkeia is finally nearing completion, I’ve spent some time thinking about what to do next. In a way it’s perhaps premature, as some things may change depending on how Arkeia does. For instance, if the iPhone version ends up performing way better than the flash one, I may end up exclusively on the iPhone for a while. And if the game as a whole is really successful, I might not be able to resist the urge to do a sequel right away. On the other hand, I do have a number of other ideas I’d like to get to and I’m getting a bit tired of lane-based combat.

For one thing, Scrap Metal Heroes really deserves a sequel of some kind. But definitely one without lanes. At the moment, I’m envisioning a small team (perhaps 4-5) of customized robots, which you can control in typical RTS fashion. Move them, tell them what to attack and trigger special abilities at the right time. There’s an iPhone game called BattleHeart that does this pretty well. The only thing I don’t much like in their system is having nothing more than individual cooldowns on abilities. It means there’s barely ever a reason not to use a ready ability, so you’re constantly clicking between units, just checking cooldown meters and spamming abilities. Either a character-specific or global resource would force you to make some actual choices there.

The robot building would remain pretty similar to SMH. One thing I would like to add is an ability to mix and match different arms, so that you could pair a right-side hammer arm with a left-side plasma cannon, for instance. Then you’d switch between the two in a fight, depending on circumstance. Not sure how useful such flexibility might be, compared to making more specialized bots. Would largely depend on how difficult it is to avoid melee.

Another thing I don’t care for in the original is the power scaling of parts, how so many choices became obsolete by the late game. Just in terms of designing objects and producing graphical assets, it’s quite a pain to make lots of power tiers, each with a healthy selection of parts. And it has a lot of drawbacks for the player as well. The number of parts creates a lot of need for inventory management, and forces players to abandon parts they might really like for aesthetic or thematic reasons. However, a sense of power progression is kinda important too, so I’m considering an upgrade system that lets you improve individual parts. Makes perfect sense given the DIY bot tinkerer setting. Just bolt a couple extra metal plates inside the head and your armor rating goes up. Install better electronics and more of your shots will hit. Lots of potential for customization there.

Another option is a point-buy system where more advanced parts might be more powerful but they’re also more expensive to maintain, so you’re not able to bring as many bots to a fight. Only kinda, sorta makes sense though, and has definite risks of overcomplicating things.

For the between battle bits, I’d love to have some kind of open overworld you can travel through. So much more characterful and immersive than just menus. Also appropriate, given the name of my company. Clear goals and sense of direction, but with a fair number of options on what to do between key story locations. It could be presented as a fairly simple map. Not too different from old-school final fantasy, back in the day when they were still relatively open. And relatively good.

An interesting option for the battle system would be having your bot-maker avatar personally on the battlefield, guiding his creations. He could have his own powerful abilities, but you’d lose the battle as soon as he fell. Pretty similar to a miniature game I’ve recently gotten into called Warmachine. In that your tactics very much revolve around protecting your warcaster leader from being assassinated. Right now I feel there’s too much danger of overcomplication in such a system, but it’s an idea.


I have a number of other ideas in the old drawer as well, though this is without doubt the strongest contender. I would still like to do something with the remains of Fortify the Border, my recently abandoned defense game. I’m not sold on the Rise of the Colony style mechanics, but I do like the interface and maps I produced for it. I think some kind of isometric, RTS-style castle building would be an interesting change of pace.

Another concept I have is a gladiator school management game. Buy slaves, recruit trainers, set up a training regimen, expand the school, advertise, equip gladiator teams and enter tournaments. Kinda like the Sims with a lot more blood and slavery. Perhaps not very politically correct, but it strikes me as a pretty original idea. Can’t remember ever seeing a business management game combined with a combat system. Of course there might be good reason for that too. Such a hybrid might end up being a rather small niche. Slavery might also be something of a PR minefield; I’m sure there are some unwritten rules about that. Certainly there are games that feature slaves, but I can’t remember any where you so directly own and control them. In at least some of the Civ games you can enslave foreign workers/populations, but that’s a very abstract representation.

I’ve also been pondering a strategy-RPG hybrid I’d like to make once I move beyond casual games. Unity might be a good place to start for that. Basically, you’re a mercenary captain in a low-magic fantasy world, travelling around the land with a small army, taking on quick contracts. Another overworld plus some Starcraft-scale battles, so a few individual heroes and a couple small squads under your command. Once again, Warmachine has greatly influenced my thinking on this idea. That game does a really good job of giving each unit and robot a unique role to play. It’s not so rock-paper-scissors dominated as Starcraft, nor so predictable as Total War. Warmachine has also gotten me intrigued by probability-based combat systems. Attack skill vs defense to determine chance of hitting, power vs armor to determine chance of causing damage. Makes a lot more sense to me than just hitpoint depletion. Sure, it is a little more complicated but I could see it working in a non-casual PC game.

I’ve actually done quite a lot of background lore on the setting for this game idea; I’ll have to write a bit more about that one day.

– Peace and great ideas



Posted in Project Previews, Random Musings | 4 Comments »


4 Responses to “Beyond Arkeia”

  1. Zebten Says:

    You just thought about the fact that we needed a sequel to scrap metal heroes?!?!?

  2. Sam Raski Says:

    No, it’s been at the back of my mind in various forms for a while. One of the reasons I’ve been shying away from it is because I promised one of the developers of the Scrap Metal auto combat game that I wouldn’t use the words Scrap and Metal in any further games. So, I’ve always known that any sequel would need a new name and would need to change quite a bit to go with that. The new visions I’ve had of a bot-building game are so different that I’d practically be starting from scratch. Which is fine, but it’s taken a while to work my way towards such a major project.

  3. Starshock Says:

    I’d like to see a swordfall sequel or at least a game like that. Maybe one based in a different time peroid. If possible a WWI or WWII game would be awesome. I like the gladiator schoolmanagement idea though. It could have potential. Good luck!

  4. Sam Raski Says:

    Thanks! Empires of Arkeia is somewhat similar to Swordfall. Not so much in the conquering territory aspect, but the battle system is closely related. If you’re interested, I could send you a link to the beta once it’s ready.