Thursday, March 26, 2015

Daikaiju Spotlight: Fenrir

A ferocious beast ripped out of myth, built with science and given life through dark magic, Fenrir is not only a threat to mankind, but to other daikaiju alike! His insatiable appetite for destruction was instilled into his very essence by his neo-nazi techno-wizard creators. They summoned the Ur-Wolf's untamable spirit and bound it into a massive werewolf-like body that they had pieced together with genetic modification and profane surgical techniques. Using circuitry and magic to strengthen it into a worthy vessel and Dr Frankenstein's old methodology for animating dead tissue, this abomination is stronger than any natural creature this planet could produce. To further enhance Fenrir's capability to destroy, they sought out ancient god killing artifacts like the Spear of Longinus and even a fang from the original Fenrir of Norse mythology to create his claws and teeth. Now that two giant alien monsters have landed on Earth, the neo-nazi techno-wizards have unleashed this beast to not only save the planet, but conquer it too.

Fenrir, the "kaiju killer," has been a fan favorite since the beginning of Daikaiju Director. When I first started thinking about what different Daikaiju would be capable of in the game, I started a list of different archetypes and abilities that I thought were crucial to providing the most balanced and diverse gameplay possible. The first item on that list was a monster that dealt "increased damage vs. kaiju." When the time came to create the first monster for the game, I looked at that first item on the list and grabbed the meanest looking mini I had set aside for the Daikaiju Director prototype: a werewolf.

Fenrir seemed like a more than perfect name for a giant wolf-like armageddon-heralding daikaiju, so I borrowed the name from Norse Mythology and quickly drafted up his backstory. He got the Vicious ability, which made him deal extra damage to Daikaiju. This later got changed to just other actors in general when I decided to eventually add "extras" or smaller non-daikaiju units to the game. (More on that in a future installment!) Being combat oriented, I gave Fenrir the best attack modifier and more twist cards for modifying combat than any other daikaiju created thus far. I wanted him to be an unstoppable juggernaut when he got into a brawl with an adjacent daikaiju and these two things seemed like the most practical way of achieving this.

I was kind of wrong.

The extra combat modifying twist cards was later determined to be a boring idea. Even daikaiju with the normal amount of combat modifying twist cards drew them way too often. His original active ability, "Fight Dirty," allowed Fenrir to use a free extra Twist Card the turn it was activated. Either nobody used it because they never needed that extra boost in a fight, or they used it in conjunction with a particularly lucky hand to jump all over the set and make a bunch of attacks. The ability was either crap or way too good. There was no middle ground where it was just plain fun.

When something just isn't fun in your game, you've got to change it. Fenrir's Fight Dirty active ability got replaced by Pounce, an ability that let him use 1 action to move and attack. This turned out to be reminiscent of the lucky hand fueled, explosive uses of the old Dirty Fighting ability without being too powerful. Also, since Fenrir does not have an area of attack ability or twist, pounce functions as a way for this monster to hit more than one enemy on the set in a turn.

In the play tests I've run for family and friends as well as the ones open to the public at UD Con, Fenrir has consistently been a player favorite. His simple and ferocious play style is very appealing for players looking for a direct, straightforward win. There were initial concerns that dealing extra damage to other players on every hit was too strong since he could kill most other Daikaiju in 4 successful attacks or 2 turns if he is uninterrupted. However, it quickly became apparent that the amount of aggro his abilities attracted made him somewhat of a glass cannon if the player wasn't cautious. I foresee Fenrir being possibly too good in a 1 on 1 game, but I haven't done very extensive testing on that type of play as of yet.

Anyways, that's all for this round of Daikaiju Spotlight! Tune in next time for your first look at the explosive Vulcanus!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

From the Producer's Desk: Logo Change!?

That's right folks! If you haven't noticed already or if you're a Futurian looking back through time, Daikaiju Director has a new snazzy logo courtesy my graphic artist. Here's a comparison: 

The old familiar logo:

The old logo incorporated everything I thought I wanted: the red-white-black color scheme as well as the kanji for "Daikaiju." However, there was a resounding consensus that the kanji (my favorite part of the logo) obscured the name too much. Since a logo's main purpose is to bring recognition to your brand, I decided to work with my graphic artist to increase it's readability.

Here's the new and improved logo:

As you can see, the new logo is much easier on the eyes while still including all of the elements I originally wanted in the Daikaiju Director logo. It took a lot of communication back and forth and probably 30+ different versions, but I am extremely satisfied with the end result. I hope you all are too!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Daikaiju Spotlight: Eelian

A mysterious terror from the depths if space, Eelian has set her sights on Earth to be the beginning of her new cosmic empire! Many millennia ago, her species once ruled much the galaxy with their mind controlling siren song and monstrous size before they were slowly driven to extinction. Eelian, the most ruthless and cunning of her kind, escaped her species' fate by going into a long hibernation in the vast void of space. As the last of her kind, now it is up to Eelian to remind the galaxy of the utter terror her species once wrought across the cosmos. She has begun slowly bending the pathetic humans to her will and establishing her dominance in Earth's oceans, but her machinations will not go on unopposed. Space Hunter X has followed her to this backwater world! Whether it's through the brute force of a thunderous tsunami or the mind bending music of her siren song, the giant interstellar bounty hunter has to be eliminated before she can continue with her plans for galactic conquest and stardom!

The idea for Eelian started to take shape even before Daikaiju Director reached its current incarnation. Back when the game was going to be a specific monster movie simulator and I was working on stating out Legendary's 2014 Godzilla and the MUTOs, I knew that I wanted to make my own monsters and scenarios. I had recently watched some episode of Godzilla the Animated Series and I was really inspired by King Cobra. I jotted down some notes and pretty much forgot everything about the character except that I wanted him to have a constrict and burrow ability.

Fast forward a month and a half: I had just started to make the first four daikaiju and I found a serpent-like mini. I instantly began to make a Daikaiju based on my old notes. I decided to ditch the burrow ability in favor of giving her more mobility in water. I knew water was going to be a special type of terrain and I wanted a character that had an advantage in it or could manipulate it. Manda, from Toho's 1963 film Atragon, is an aquatic snake-like dragon kaiju so I figured there was a precedence for this type of giant monster. Her origin quickly took form and I began to fill out her abilities. I added that weird constriction ability from my notes and some poison, and BOOM! Viper was born... 

Wait- Viper?! I thought we were talking about Eelian! 

Well, we are, but she went through some significant changes since her first incarnation (including a name change). Viper sounded too generic so I changed it. It wanted something that highlighted her giant "space snake" origin so I took the words "eel" and "alien" and mashed them together to get the punny "Eelian." 

The name was one of the last things I changed so let me take a few steps back and discuss the evolution of Eelian's abilities. Leading up to the first FASFAC playtest, I just couldn't figure out how to make poison work. I tried a few different things, but every solution I came up with either didn't feel like poison or it was too convoluted to work smoothly with the rules. I had 4 decks of 40 cards to make for the meeting that evening and I really didn't have that much time to mull it over (I actually cut the deck size down to 30 because I spent so much time on Viper). Swiftly running out of time, I ditched the poison ability and created what would become Eelian's iconic ability: the Siren Song.

The first FASFAC playtest convinced me that my wording for constrict was way off. Not a single player interperated it like I intended. I took that as a sign that it just wasn't working and I removed it like the burrow and poison abilities. Being rushed and messing up her abilities made Eelian what she is today: a fun character who wins through indirect and clever means. Her abilities are deceptively powerful and the UD Con playtest proved. She can outmaneuver most other monsters and use water greatly to her advantage. Pushing two daikaiju together to fight, pulling gravely injured daikaiju away from the action to score the killing blow, and making monsters take lava baths with the help of Vulcanus are all cool things that only the player controlling Eelian can do.

That's all for this installment of Daikaiju Spotlight. Tune in next week for more information on the mythical kaiju killer, the ferocious Fenrir