Where Did the Dango Go?
Hello all! Welcome to Agon's game design blog! Or at least I figured I'd give it a shot . This post may or may not have been inspired by a recent opening at Riot . With that said, here's my take on my most yearned for TFT game mode, PVE/Campaign mode !
So why a Campaign mode? I enjoy campaigns and I believe a lot of players would highly enjoy a more casual game mode compared to the endless soloQ grind (especially since this isn't a highly competitive team game like League or Valorant). Furthermore in Grant's analysis on the future of RTS games, 77% of players describe themselves as a casual RTS player. This is further confirmed by a SC2 Designer mentioning that only 20% of players transition from the Campaign and Co-op game modes -> into multiplayer (ranked) gameplay.
We've seen China try out a casual puzzle mode where players can attempt to utilize good item combinations and strong positioning to beat a static opponent. I knew a lot of players in NA who were interested in trying it out (myself included), and it's that same interest that has brought this post to life.
So what does a good casual mode look like for me? As someone extremely interested in both preventing soloQ burnout and onboarding more players into TFT, here are some design goals that I believe can help aid both of my desires.
- Clearing a stage should feel rewarding, but losing shouldn't feel agonizing
- Despite the casual game mode, players should be learning transferrable skills for the ranked mode
- To achieve the best clear rate on difficult stages, different strategies will have to be utilized based on the situation
- Should be enjoyable by all players no matter their previous experience level
With those in mind, here's my take on what a Campaign version of TFT MIGHT look like!
It begins with an incident, Where Did the Dango Go? A Dango was last seen on the outskirts of Demacia next to a Gromp. In the search to find the missing Dango, your little legend will fight through 7 stages composing of 5 rounds each! Much like the normal game you will start off grabbing item and gold orbs, as well as picking an augment. In this version leveling won't be available, instead you will automatically level from 3 to 9 between stages (Level 3 on 2-1 to 2-6, Level 4 on 3-1 to 3-6, etc.). The amount of gold and items you pick up increases as you move up in stages.
For instance, if you were to play Stage 4 (Rounds 5-1 to 5-6), you might start off at Level 6 and get dropped between 25-35 gold and 5-7 item components. Each stage would be launched separately through the client, and you may have to beat various starter mobs (as you normally do on 1-2,1-3, and 1-4) before the real action begins. From there you would do your best to win each round while preparing yourself for the elite mob on round 5-6. Once it's defeated, you've successfully cleared the stage! You will then go back into the client to launch the next stage. All other TFT systems unmentioned will remain the same.
Three difficulties will be available, with only the easiest one accessible in the beginning. "Little" will comprise the ability to select 1 augment and play against an augment-less enemy. "Medium" will be the same except the enemy will have 1 augment. "Choncc" will grant opposing units 3 augments to work with. Whilst the easier 2 difficulties may be completed with high success rates. "Choncc" is designed to have a below 50% clear rate with even with optimal gameplay. A combination of a favorable augment, good items, and upgraded units may be necessary to complete a stage. It will be up to the player to craft winning boards despite being severely disadvantaged.
Although the opponents may be static, positioning and flexibility should be important to obtain the best chance of success. Imagine a situation with a dual elite mob where a tanky golem is positioned at front with a squishier ranged mob in the back. Or perhaps a certain stage only affords offensive ability power augments, what team compositions would a player have to be comfortable rolling for to beat this stage? All of these scenarios should take real ranked situations and provide a simple and enjoyable experience to improve (Rolling down at Level 7 for a board, figuring out which items work best on which champions, learning how to position against different types of boards, etc.).
If you still fail to clear, don't worry! Each loss is just another learning experience, and you can try again at ease. Since each stage creates a situation independent of another, there is no risk of being trapped in with bad items or a bad composition. You can always load up the stage again and try anew.
Finally at stage 7 you'll find the boss of the Act. You defeat the boss in hopes of finding the missing Dango, only to find that the clues you found across the journey paint a clearer picture. The extinguished fires, smell of rum, and uneven sand. The Gromp is innocent! Dango was kidnapped by little legend traders ! In Acts 2 and 3, across 14 new stages, perhaps the two Dangos will be reunited with the help of a few more friends.
Overall it should be a great casual experience; each stage is expected to last around 5 mins, allowing players to clear some content while on the move. Advanced difficulties allow players to test their knowledge of the game, practice roll downs, and experience highroll moments without the stress of losing LP.
That's really all I got! I think new game modes would make TFT more exciting and would love a chance to work on them!