Friday, April 17, 2015

Daikaiju Spotlight: Vulcanus

Earth's explosive response to the recent, destructive arrival of two alien daikaiju, Vulcanus is lava made supernaturally sentient. Perplexed scientists are at a loss as to explain just how this impossible beast came into being, but leading theories point to Vulcanus being a previously unknown part of the planet's immune system. This destructive protector cares not for mankind or any living creatures in the animal kingdom. It's singular purpose seems to be eliminating the giant alien interlopers through brute force and it's mastery of geological phenomena. Since it's appearance, Vulcanus has ravaged city after city with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions chasing Eelian and Spacehunter X. Nothing can stand in his way!

The stage has been set for the clash of the kaiju! Vulcanus, Fenrir, Eelian, and Spacehunter X converge on the same battlefield and only one can be the victor! Will mankind survive their first contact with giant monsters?

Alright! We've finally got to Vulcanus in our Daikaiju Spotlight series. Remember when I said Fenrir was a fan favorite? Well this monster is THE fan favorite. Vulcanus has been picked first more often than any other daikaiju available at the various playtests I've ran.

But enough about his popularity, let me give you a breakdown of this lava master's -er I mean monster's evolution!

He started, as I've said before, with a mini. Here I was with a sentai looking robot, a space snake, a giant werewolf, and a lava guy. I knew I wanted a daikaiju that messed with the set and the lava guy seemed like a logical fit. So I created Igneous! Yeah, that's right, Vulcanus went through a name change just like Eelian, although his new name was picked by play testers and to this day I still sometimes call him Igneous by mistake.

Anyways, on to the mechanics. I had a lava monster who's shtick was going to be altering the terrain of the set. Obviously, I made him spew lava. The problem was, at least for the first Epic Games Contest playtest, that the rules for lava were not thought out very well. The player who played him sat down at the table and prophetically proclaimed "I'm going to break your game!" which is good and I'm glad he did. I just wish it would've been a bit more difficult. Vulcanus and his lava were Broken with a capital "B."

I hadn't given much thought to how lava actually worked in the game and my snap rulings on situations like "what happens when you 'Crack the Earth' in a space occupied by 3 building props" made it way too good. (Editor's Note: That ruling was that it destroyed all props instantly an awarded the player victory points for each prop.) I kept tweaking the rules for lava damage, but in all subsequent playtests players continued to state the obvious: Vulcanus was too good. His stats are perfect, but his lava ability along with Twist Cards like Earthquake and Burrow forced me to re-evaluate the way a lot of things worked in Daikaiju Director. A lot of play testers proposed a weakness to water as a way to balance out some of his advantages with an additional drawback besides his slow movement. These were all interesting ideas that have helped further the development of the game.

As the game continues to be tweaked and balanced, Vulcanus has been an immensely valuable indicator of just what need to be investigated or even changed.  He has a unique set-altering style of play that is a blast to experience, and I look forward to giving the fans the most fair and fun version of this problematic daikaiju. Vulcanus has truly been my greatest challenge in game development.

That covers the 4 daikaiju that you'll find in the game's first release, Daikaiju Director: First Contact. I'll be updating the "Meet the Monsters" portion of the site to include these terrific terrors! I've got an announcement to make in the next month or so, so stay tuned for more updates from your direct source for all things Daikaiju Director!

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