Sometimes I get something stuck in my head and I cannot dislodge it no matter how hard I try. You as my readers occasionally are forced to indulge in whatever this nonsense is… so that by hopefully sharing it I can move on with my life. This mornings post is one of those cases. Yesterday I talked about Radical Heights and how it would have been much more interesting were it to change the Battle Royale genre in some way rather than just attempt to hit all of the high points. This is when I went down a path leading to… Smash TV would be interesting to reboot as a Battle Royale game. What I mean by this actually is the concept of Smash TV which was a room based dungeon crawl with randomly spawning nonsense, big bullet sponge monsters and showers of cash and prizes. After finishing yesterdays post this idea clung onto the brain and I started piecing together what something like this would look like.
As a result you have the above nonsense which is my attempt at sketching out what the setup of the game would look like. In this configuration 48 players spawn into the game in little rooms off of a grid of battle chambers. There are four color based cohorts of players that are ultimately fighting to arrive at the purple central region. The sequence of play looks a little something like this….
- Exit Starting Room
- Make your Way to the Key Room
- Collect Key
- Make your Way to the Mini Boss Chamber for your Color
- Defeat Mini Boss
- Make your Way to the Final Boss Chamber
- Defeat Final Boss
Key Room and Grouping
The Key is a shared resource in that the first person who unlocks the Mini Boss Chamber unlocks it for their entire cohort. Where things get weird is that each cohort has the option of either grouping together or competing against each other. When a new player enters a room where an existing player is already at both are giving 5 seconds of invulnerability and are prompted to make a choice “Friend or Enemy”. If both players choose friend they are dynamically grouped together and from that point the victory condition is shared. If one player chooses Enemy both are flagged as targets to each other when the invulnerability shield drops and now they are officially competing. This continues as players move through their own cohort with the option to set a match default of either a sort of Carebear mode or Ganker mode. Important note… there is no way to group up after this flagging period so it is a fast decision that sets the fate of the rest of the match.
Now we move on to the battle chambers themselves… each of them spawns a semi-randomized encounter. It could be a spawner full of small easy to kill, but also easy to overwhelm you trash mobs. It could spawn in a single champion and with a couple of minions that requires some measure of tactics to take out. It could also be an agility room where you have to avoid a pattern of damage for a certain amount of time before the doors open again. Regardless of what type of room it is… it enters a lock down within 10 seconds of the first player arriving there and then prevents any new players from entering or exiting. After defeating the encounter you have 30 seconds to clear out before the room resets and signals that it has “reloaded” and will begin the cycle of a 10 second lockout and encounter spawn. As you move away from the starter rooms towards the key room the encounters increase in difficulty, and similarly as you move towards the final boss room in the central area.
The Mini Boss rooms are some sort of large bullet sponge juggernaut that requires you to hit some sort of a weak area to deal damage to it, all the while avoiding its attacks. I linked in an image of one of the Smash TV Bosses for reference but I wouldn’t necessarily say that these juggernauts look anything like this. Basically the idea is to have an encounter hard enough that it rewards players choosing to group up together to try and take it down. Similarly it needs to be largely avoiding a pattern so with enough skill and execution prowess you could solo the encounter if someone is feeling super murdery and decides to go it alone. That is a constant tug of war… incentivizing both solo and group play in different ways. After the mini boss room has been cleared the way to the central area opens for everyone in that cohort… with one caveat. There can only be one group alive… it is a dual condition of both boss down and only one active group… before moving into the central zone.
Boss Rush or Buffs
Once you enter the central purple area you have two main choices to make. Do you rush the boss and try and get it down before the other teams… or do you go collect one of the buffs scattered in the four corner rooms of this area. Each individual buff can be collected only once so there is a high likelihood that two teams may be going after the same buff given that there is no clear buff for each cohort to collect. You can only collect one buff and it is an aura applied to your entire team from that point forward. It scales based on the number of players you currently still have in the game… so the fewer players you have it attempts to give you a buffer to compete against larger teams by making each player a little more bullet-spongey. So if you clear your cohort with only five players alive… then chances are you are going to want to go for a buff. If you instead have all sixteen players alive and well… then you are probably going to want to rush the central chamber and attempt to take down the boss.
Essentially there are two possible win conditions… either every other player is eliminated or your cohort has taken down the Final Boss. The only way the elimination condition can be triggered is if you are playing in solo play… literally you have to be the last player standing and if you are grouped you are not the last player standing.
So you are immediately thinking now… sure there is one central path that you need to take to cross the least number of rooms possible to get to each objective and that is obviously the golden path. Well that gets complicated in the fact that every time you take down a battle chamber you are getting loot and that loot is ultimately what is going to make you strong. Each player enters the arena with a single six shot sidearm with unlimited reserve, giving them a fairly low damage but always available option. As you traverse the map you start picking up weapon drops and buffs that make you stronger as you zero in on the objectives. Since the rooms get harder as you go… there may be some benefit in farming a few of those early rooms to get kitted out before trying the harder encounters. Loot starts as instanced to a specific player, but if for some reason they discard an item it becomes essentially free for all… showing up for all players regardless of cohort. Here is a quick rundown of the sorts of things I thought would be drops.
- Weapons – very obviously different types of weapons that have different damage to rate of fire mixtures. There are no ammo drops but picking up the same weapon twice will refresh its ammunition back to full. Players can carry three weapons at once and have to discard a weapon if they choose to pick something new up.
- Auras – these items when picked up apply a short term buff to the entire cohort. You can have three auras at a time and attempting to pick up a fourth aura item will simply fail and leave the drop on the ground.
- Consumables – these are items that can be held in reserve and used on demand. Each player can hold three of these and they range from granting auras to med packs to providing some additional effect to your weapon.
- Cold Hard Cash – Since this is a game show when you kill anything it erupts in a shower of cash upon death, and this serves as both a scoring mechanism and a spendable resource. Occasionally when a room clears a vending machine will appear allowing you to spend a bit of your cash to buy some of the things you could get as drops. Each machine has six items for sale… three weapons and three consumables… which are randomly pulled from the total number of those available in the game. At the end of the game any cash you have still in your inventory gets converted to a sort of savings bond currency that can then be spent outside of game…. but there is a pretty hefty tax at the conversion.
- Favor Chests – if you do particularly well in a specific encounter there is a chance of the viewers watching you fight… providing a favor chest showing how much they appreciate your prowess. These are by nature fairly rare but directly reward some of the cosmetic nonsense that you can collect like outfits and weapon skins.
Changing the Genre
Ultimately this is all I was talking about with Radical Heights… is that they could have taken that Battle Royale formula and changed it significantly. This concept of “Smash Royale” still feels like Smash TV, but is also still very much a Battle Royale genre game in that the playing field slowly funnels players towards a central showdown. This one however throws in a heavy PVE encounter focus in that killing things rewards loot… which then makes you stronger as you make your way to the final boss showdown. Once opened that Final Boss chamber remains open with no lockdown period… so as you start the fight you could have the other cohorts showing up in the middle of it sniping you as you attempt to finish off the boss and collect the loot. I also feel like maybe I have not given enough concrete reasons why you might want to go that final boss encounter solo… ultimately it is greed. The final boss might drop 2 items per player in a maximum sized cohort and this is a fixed point…. so the final boss will always drop 32 items in this scenario.
That means if you go into that final encounter with fewer players… then each individual player serves to benefit significantly more from the win condition. It becomes a balancing act… how many players do you really need in your group in order to be effective in the final encounter. Only one group can emerge from the cohort area… but while in that area you could for example form 8 individual 2 player teams… or 3 4 player teams. Ultimately you as a player need to determine what your best course is when it comes to the Friend/Enemy decisions and how many additional players you need to make the final push. There is no betrayal, but also no second chances… from the moment you make that first binary decision you are locked into a specific path. This is my idea for a Battle Royale game… and I think it would ultimately play extremely well given that there are a bunch of points where a meta could develop.
I think to add pressure… there would be global callouts when an event has happened… for example Red Mini Boss Down would tell every other cohort how much progress that they had made, or if Green picks up the buff. I think even something like a “Blue Team Finalized” might be interesting because it could be one of two things… either all of blue team decided to band together or one group managed to eliminate all of the other players in their cohort. Since monetization is so damned important in a game like this right now… I think the best option is a mix of limited time direct purchase cosmetics along with the ability to purchase directly the savings bond currency allowing players to buy anything currently “not on sale”. The savings bond currency also serves as something that players can gradually save up over a large number of matches and be able to purchase the same “cash shop” cosmetics through copious amounts of grinding in game.
Those are my thoughts on how to tweak the genre and make it more interesting while also wallowing heavily in nostalgia in the process. If you have actually made it this far down in the post… I thank you. Mostly I just needed to get this out of my head and onto paper.