{Tactical Gothicism}

{Game Idea}

Thesis:
A gothic horror+tactical combat role-playing game taking place entirely within a dark, gigantic, sentiently vampyric castle. The player controls a team of hunters or hybrids, in the midst of their eternal war, as they battle their way through the castle in an effort to take control of it. The battles take both strategy and heart — as the relationships between your characters plays just as much of a role as your minute tactical choices.

Setting:
Gothic castle / night / mist / thunderstorm. Dozens of levels / environments / aesthetics ranging from the inside and outside of the structure. Within, the gothic architecture is on display in a variety of havens for monsters, living and dead. Without, there are natural environments housing spirits of the damned and unknown realms of experience.

Playable Character(s):
A collection of heroes & monsters fitted for battling; hunters and hybrids featuring a bit from both of these categories of hero and monster. Each character is unique in their skills and their personalities. Each character has a specific sprite and collection of animations to make up their movements and actions. The characters can interact with one another on and off the battlefield — both helping one another fight and learning about one another’s lives. The relationships between characters develop their tactical prowess together on the field, while at the same time open up dialogue and exposition unique to their specific interaction. Every character is capable of developing a deep relationship with any other character — even across armies, i.e. Hunters with Hybrids.

Gameplay & Story Premise:

  • Turn-based tactical battler taking place on a gridded battlefield. Complex, dungeon-crawl-esque level design ala Castlevania. Each map is a necessarily a battlefield upon which tactical battles take place.
  • Each character is warrior / archer / mage variant with special attacks and differing movement speeds and styles {flying, mounts, sprinting}.
  • Each side takes turns maneuvering throughout the battlefield. The player develops a strategy based on positioning and engaging in quick battles, repetitively.
  • Each character moves around the grid, and attacks enemies. Attacks go into Fire Emblem-esque battle sequence animations. Alongside this are the amalgamation of character abilities and synergies in tandem, which produces many diverse combat experiences over time.
  • At the beginning of the game, the player takes control of one side of the eternal war between Hunters {hyper-skilled humans, the proverbial “hunters” of monsters} and Hybrids {sentient, monstrous rebels, hybridizing the line between Man and Beast}.
  • After the battles within different areas of the castle, each faction takes control and then must defend it from subsequent attacks as the game progresses and the armies move about.

Endgame:
Defeat the other side of the eternal battle and attain control of the castle… only to unlock the power of its true originator…

Inspired by ~
Castlevania

Fire Emblem

Final Fantasy Tactics

Concept & Story

The Castle

~ {Extra-dimensional Gothic-themed, seemingly infinite in its capacity, housing monstrosities such as undead, vampires, werewolves, spirits, among other things. The Caste makes up the setting for the entire game.}

~ Castlevania (2017) cover art
~ art by Carlos NCT
~ Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia art

The Castle houses a terrible power and a darker secret. Its former ruler is mysteriously absent… Thus, the race to gain control of it, and its immeasurable power, begins. Both the Hunters and Hybrids fill its dark halls and commence their war. This is the start of the game’s events.

art by source
Roanna Peroz
Illy Nazarov
Illy Nazarov
AM BANKMAN
Paolo Puggioni

Hunters & Hybrids

Both the Hunters and the Hybrids feature of a variety of unique character classes and personalities. The player can take control of either force in their quest to dominate The Castle.

DonoMX
Genzoman

The Hunters

~ {human variants; highly skilled monster slayers wielding a diverse set of strategies and weaponry}

Hunter concepts:

~ art by Matthew Sellers

~ Additional art: source // Art of Assassin’s Creed // Qissus

~ The Hunters are a faction loosely organized, ambitious, and adventurous individuals seeking glory and power.

~ art source: Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

{See sprites and additional art here}

~ art source: Duelyst game

~ Additional art by: YamaOrce / Todor Hristov / Ayafun91 / nebezial / JeeHyungLee

~ Hunters are at their best when they are working together, synergizing their versatile combat talents — melee, ranged, & magic.

~ Additional art by source // Super Castlevania IV cover art // Morbid Fantasy // Lu Hua // Eric Belisle

~ art by Yoshitaka Amino
~ art by Yoshitaka Amino

The Hybrids

~ {A diverse cast of monsters from the wilds of the world, drawn to the dark power lying within the castle; range from savage beasts to cunning stalkers of shadow and seekers of blood; their power lies within their bodies and their instincts}

Hybrid concepts:

~ art by Bruno Biazotto
~ art source
art by source
Brom
kiddo428

~ The Hybrids are monstrous outcasts spawned from the unnatural joining of man & beast, and a little dark magic. They are unconsciously and viciously drawn to The Castle’s beating heart… Each of them believes it is there that their destiny lies…

~ art source
~ art by totorrl
~ art by darkcloud013

{see sprites here}

~ art source: Duelyst game

~ Hybrids have been forced into alliances despite their mutual animosity, in order to give them the best collective opportunity to defeat the Hunters and reign within The Castle.

~ Additional art by Kim Myatt // WesTalbott // shimhaq 98 // Denys Tsiperko // source

~ gif from Berserk
~ art by Yoshitaka Amino
~ art by Yoshitaka Amino

Both the Hunters and the Hybrids feature a unique set of archetypes and abilities. Each side has a mind to employ strategy within the battles, use the environment around them, and synergize for devastating attacks. The Hunters are more likely to use weaponry and magic to win. The Hybrids are more likely to use their brute strength and their superior speed to win.

Design / Systems / Mechanics:

Tactical Grid Combat — The primary form of gameplay in {Tactical Gothicism} is that of ‘tactics’ genre, turn-based combat [e.g. Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, Tactics Ogre, Advance Wars, etc.]. Each side takes turns moving their units about the chosen battlefield, positioning them and engaging in melee and ranged attacks against enemy forces. When an enemy is engaged, there is a short animation — showcasing pixel anime art for each of the combatant characters’ attacks and defenses — ala Fire Emblem.

~ the wonderful style of Fire Emblem

Gothic Horror — The style & setting of these repeated battles within the limitless Castle is that of the Gothic horror-themed beats of Castlevania; These are powerful heroes fighting against the monstrous & intelligent forces of darkness.

~ Castlevania (2017)

Campaign — The primary game mode is the Campaign story mode. It’s relatively simple at the start — you pick a side in the eternal conflict — Hunters or Hybrids — and then you appear within The Castle, with the beginning of your battle-force. From there, you begin to explore the interior and exterior of The Castle (on a map not unlike the Mario or Final Fantasy overworld map) and begin your conquest, repeatedly battling against your adversaries. In between battles, you are given the opportunity to engage in social interactions with your characters. The more you progress throughout the game, the more of the overmap of the Castle you discover, and the more complex and deep the storylines between the characters go.

Characters & Progression — Each army you can battle with — Hunter or Hybrid — features a roster of individually-named characters. Each character — for example, Malus the Warrior {Hunter} or Marius the werewolf {Hybrid}, is equipped with certain skills and abilities, as well as a personality. There are a limited number of deployments per battle; once a character is killed, they are permanently dead and unable to be deployed again. Naturally, the more you fight with certain characters, the more experience they will gain and the more levels they will gain and become stronger. Every single character is also capable of progressing socially and their entire backstory can be revealed through consistent social interactions with their comrades.

Synergy & Combos & Relationships — Each character on your roster, depending on both their combat style and their personality, can more or less effectively team up with other characters that are a part of your battle-force. These synergies are realized the more the characters flank common opponents, fight adjacent to one another, come to one another’s aid in a fight, and interact outside of battles. Over time, when two characters have synergized enough, it will become more common to join together for combo attacks ala Chrono Trigger — in which they take their turns together, engaging a super-attack utilizing both character’s unique traits. Additionally, for story and dialogue purposes, in between games, the characters develop a stronger relationship and can get to know one another more intimately ala Fire Emblem: Awakening. The forces of the armies of the Hunters and Hybrids are not foot soldiers but vibrant characters with dreams and friendships and tragic backstories to forge and discover within The Castle.

~ Chrono Trigger

~ Fire Emblem: Awakening

Game AI & Math — The tactics battles are balanced around three primary types of attacks, for which there are better and worse defenses. Melee, Ranged, and Magic. Melee is effective against Ranged / Ranged is effective against Magic / Magic is effective against Melee. As a result, the positioning of your characters, based on their category — of which they can belong to multiple in some % proportion — becomes paramount to avoid them being killed. Additionally, it becomes more advantageous to develop relationships between Hunters or Hybrids which complement each other’s skill set. The Game AI takes these advantages and disadvantages into account, and depending on the difficulty setting (Easy, Normal, Hard) — the AI units will target the most vulnerable or out-of-position characters more frequently.

Map Design — The Castle features include a large variety of aesthetic and topographical maps of all sizes for use with the tactical battles. The gridded battlefields make use of verticality and environmental dangers — such as cliffs, falling trees, precarious walkways, droppable chandeliers, etc. The master tactician will fully utilize the opportunities and note the risks within the confines of the map in play.

~ Tactics Ogre

~ Fire Emblem maps

Convergence & Endgame — As you play through the campaign story mode — controlling the forces of either the Hunters of the Hybrids — the complexity and difficulty of the fights increases progressively. The enemies faced will become more capable and more numerous and the likelihood of losing characters during battles increases. Eventually, the game progresses into its endgame — in which both the Hunters and Hybrids converge in their continuous battles to discover the darkest corner of the interior of The Castle where they face their true foe…

~ art by sandara

Ultimately, the thesis of {Tactical Gothicism} is to create an experience combining the Gothic aesthetic of Castlevania with the strategically satisfying tactical battler formula of the Tactics genre games, all tied together by a story that takes into account the individual characters fighting in the war and brings their little sprites to life. ~

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