Earlier this week, Simon Loche briefly touched on Anne Bonny’s Buildables and what the thought process was when the Art team crafted the look of the Ballista. Today, Game Designer Chris Corey is going to share some insight into how those Buildables were created from a gameplay design perspective.
Her first Buildable is the Trampoline. It’s pretty straight forward, you jump on it and get launched into the sky. Her second Buildable is the Ballista, which is a turret that fires homing projectiles. It’s a staple in base defense, in my opinion.
In its earlier iterations, Breakaway had more platforming elements to the maps, and we tried to make Buildables that support, so her Trampoline seemed to be on the mark in that regard. We wanted something that could help players reach high positions that were inaccessible otherwise. As we iterated on the game, the maps got smaller, so now her Trampoline is used mostly for jumping over enemy Buildables, such as Thorgrim’s Wall or Black Knight’s Spike Trap. The Trampoline can also extend the reach of your Relic throw. So if you jump on it, fully charge, and throw at the apex of the jump, you can get pretty good distance on the throw. So that’s sort of the “new meta” for the Trampoline, build it near the enemy Relay and use it to score the Relic.
Since Anne Bonny is a ranged character, it made sense to give her a ranged Buildable, and the Ballista seemed like a good fit. Originally it didn’t home on enemies, it would just fire in the direction it was facing. Problem with that is you just had to move a bit and the projectile would miss, so it wasn’t very reliable. If you put it next to a teamfight and warriors were mostly static, sure, it could do some good damage. But it was basically useless until we adding the homing mechanic, so that it locked on if you were within range. Made it more useable, for sure.
With the Trampoline, you want to build it near the enemy Relay, so you can jump on it and throw the Relic. A lot of players like to build their Trampoline near their own Relay, but that’s a bad, bad idea. Never do that. Your enemies can use your Trampoline and score on you and that’s no good.
Placing a Ballista near your Relay is always a good idea. When opponents are rushing to score with the Relic, they’ll drop the Relic if they get hit by a Ballista projectile. And if you have multiple Ballistas, it’s just a world of hurt. It’s also a good idea to use it offensively. If there’s a teamfight and the enemy is distracted, you can flank them, deploy the Ballista, and watch the damage rack up. It is risky, since Anne Bonny has low health. You’re exposing yourself to getting singled out by a Spartacus or other damage dealers.
We went through a bunch of iterations to balance her Buildables. The Trampoline, for example, used to launch players up beyond the edge of the map, where you could reach places you weren’t supposed to. So it was important to coordinate with the level designers to decide what an acceptable height is.
For the Ballista, we didn’t want it to be an absolute area denial. So if it has too much of a radius and warriors can’t enter that radius without getting hit, it’s probably too strong. On the other hand, we don’t want the radius to be too small, otherwise it would be too easy to avoid. Testing it and finding a good middle ground is a good solution. To be clear, because the Ballista does damage in a radius, we consider it area denial, but it’s not absolute area denial. You can enter the radius of the Ballista, and if you use your defensive ability at the right time, you can avoid getting hit.
Area denial is essentially controlling an area of the map, where you can go through that area safely but your enemies can’t. It can be with a Buildable that deals damage over time, or deals damage to a single target. It’s really about map control. You want to deploy your Buildables in a strategic way to give you an advantage in these areas.
Anne Bonny is about verticality. When she’s on higher ground (or in the air), she’s at an advantage. The Trampoline gives her some mobility. The Ballista can shoot in every direction, she there’s an advantage when placing it atop the ziggurats on El Dorado. I think her Buildables are a staple right now, but we’ll have to see how things shake out as more warriors are introduced to the game.