Fireworks -- DQ2 Progress Report for June 2022

New levels, new cannons, new abilities, new bosses, multiple things that catch on fire, and more!

Fireworks -- DQ2 Progress Report for June 2022
CC-BY-2.0 by bayasaa

Howdy Defender's Quest fans!

Here's what's new since last time. Forgive me for the lack of illustrations in this post, I'm travelling and typing this progress report up on a Steam Deck.

More level progress
Levels are now designed out to battle 36 at "near final balance" state. ("Near final balance" as always means levels that are close to their final shape but that we might tweak before the game ships.)

Story progress
We've got a lock on all of our main characters and major plot points and have started cranking way on the script. The first 8 levels are now fully scripted in our private build. For the build available to our backers/testers we've subbed out the actual text with lorem ipsum for now, but it should give you a sense of our progress.

Art progress
Internally we've now got art in from our artists for most of the game's UI screens. I still have a lot of work to do to integrate it all, which I'll focus on in the coming months. I'll also do a quick cleanup pass on the placeholder UI in the public builds so that it isn't quite so hideous.

New Cannons
We've got two new cannons in the game engine – a "heal+cleanse" cannon for the white hats, that will allow you to heal a single character to full as well as remove all negative status effects, and a "protect" cannon for the black hats, which will grant the "protect" status that reduces incoming damage for a while. Yes, we're giving the player these tools because we are building horrible monsters and boss battles that will require you to get good at using them.

New assassin ability
You've seen how the bouncer has a "taunt" ability that is essentially always on. We're adding a special ability like this for the Assassin – "stealth." Stealth status is a lot like the "phased out" enemies from DQ1. It means you cannot be targeted. This has nothing to do with dodge, or damage reduction, it just means enemies never choose to attack you directly. The only way a stealth'ed creature can be hurt is if it is attacked by an Area of Effect attack or some other form of indirect fire. This lets us turn the assassin into a special glass cannon unit that can avoid detection on the front lines, but if an AOE enemy happens to blast it unawares, it'll get hosed. Of course, you'll have various options to try to prop it up with e.g. a protect status or healer support, but under no circumstances can it survive sustained fire.

Shop Indicators
Ever since we overhauled shops to be an always-on button you can access, we realized we needed better indicators. Now you have a "new" indicator that pops up whenever there's new stuff at the store you haven't seen since your last visit. Stores themselves still need a lot of work – tutorial support, as well as like, actually well designed and paced items. We'll get to it.

Tar patches that catch on fire
We had a bug with tar patches where if a burning enemy were to touch the tar patch, it would create an infinite feedback loop of explosions. The simplest solution we thought of turned out to also be a cool new feature – if a tar patch comes into contact with a burning enemy, the tar patch is instantly converted to a flaming tar patch, which instead of granting tar status, will grant burning status (and of course, reduce the lifespan of the tar patch).

New Boss Designs
We've got some major new boss designs. For one, the first boss, the Black Hat Ship, has been redesigned a bit. Instead of just spawning a bunch of guys, now we have a two-lane fight, one with enemies coming at you, and one dedicated just to the boss ship. The boss ship itself now attacks you with the firebomb cannon that you later get to use in the black hat phase of the game. This is also our first introduction of negative statuses that can affect defenders, something that is new to the Defender's Quest series.

Next, we've got a "cannoneer" type boss. This enemy will first "paint" a targeted defender with a status effect that looks like a targeting reticle. Then after a bit of a wind-up phase, will blast out a giant laser cannon on that defender. The delay gives you time to intervene with a protect cannon, back them up with a healer, or--if it's the Jumper being attacked– jump him out of there while you still can.

Finally, we've got a "tornado" type boss. This new boss type travels in a loop forever rather than advancing towards the player's ship. Meanwhile, it spits out enemies (see our "artillery spawner" enemy type work from previous progress reports). We went ahead and hooked this into the wave bar system, so the wave bars display a "?" for the spawn point, with the spawn point being the "tornado" boss itself, which spews them out in all directions. This should make for an interesting and chaotic battle, as the tornado circles around and spawns escalating baddies forever as your characters try to take it out before it overwhelms you.

We've also done some prep work on a "worm" type boss that acts as a series of interconnected individual segments. This one isn't finished yet, but if you charge forward far enough in the build you'll see some messy prototypes of it.

Cutscene work
We've started working on the cutscenes, not a lot to say about this other than that we've added rich text support, which is currently a bit buggy (bold works, italic doesn't for some dumb reason, and sometimes everything freaks out and bolds the entire page). We'll fix it.

Also note that the tiny little picture boxes are not our final format for the game's cutscenes, that's just placeholder. We won't be having the full-body portraits from DQ1, but we will have something more like what you've seen in games like Hades – a large character portrait from the waist up, taking up at least half of the vertical screen space, and not framed by a tiny box. This will also be paired with larger text.

Design tweaks to various defenders
Particularly the AOE minion and the Medium-Shot minion for the white hats. Making progress, they're not accessible in the current build but I'll be adding them in properly soon.

And that's it for this month! We'll keep plugging along until this game is fully playable, and all the art and story is in. Then we're ready to make our first impression for the internet at large, we'll flip the switch that shows our real assets to the world, which should be around the same time we also put out the game's first public demo – that's still a ways off, but we're closer than ever before.