When we first began working on this game I figured that there would be an enormous bestiary of monsters. After all, it’s a Roguelike and one of things I’ve always best liked about those is the variety of beasties. You thoughtfully build the rules of your simple gridded world and then you can populate it with all these creatures who are differentiated principally by their varying stats. A goblin has a high Speed but a low Attack whereas an Ogre may be slow but strong – and so forth. I wanted to have hundreds of different monsters of differing rarity – enough so that even a veteran player sometimes sees an unknown enemy.
So as soon as the basics of movement and combat were coded I sat down and made up 5 or 6 monsters. My first move was always to draw until I saw something interesting – then I would refine it a bit and think about how it might be to meet it coming around the corner in the dungeon. When I had something I liked I would build it into the game. But each time I made a monster I thought “Oh – wouldn’t it be cool if this one broke this rule?” Like with the Popper Bob – it can only attack by killing itself. Or with the Bollgrr – it quadruples its speed when charging.
Each monster was sufficiently different in its behavior/abilities that it essentially needed its own little decision making algorithm… which had surprisingly little overlap with that of any of the other monsters. Each one took maybe 2 hours to implement.
I realized that as a 2-person dev team we wouldn’t really be able to create the multitudinous menagerie that I had figured on…. so I mentally shifted direction. Instead of creating hundreds of largely similar monsters, we would make a dozen or so very distinct monsters. This new goal immediately appealed to me – maybe because it was backed up by a GameMaker’s Toolkit video I’d recently watched. Here I’ll embed it here for you:
Basically it asserts that one of the things that was so damn compelling about Doom was that there were a few different enemies who each had a distinct and recognizable behavior. Enemies are not just stronger/weaker or faster/slower versions of one another. Each one is a very different animal (or hellspawn) – and because there are so few of them the player can remember them all. Then they can take a look at a room and come up with a plan that makes sense given the different behaviors and abilities of that particular grouping of adversaries..
I don’t know how differently this may apply to a turn-based genre… but I guess we’ll find out!