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When the Light Dies » Project Update 4: Combat Mechanics, Weapons & Dark Magic Inspiration Spotlight

Welcome back, everybody!

Another month, another project update! Once again, we sat down with our publishing and development team and, this time around, we talked about When the Light Dies’ combat mechanics, weapons, and our inspiration for the dark magic abilities featured in the game.

As usual, Harrison, lead producer here at PQube, and Hugo, game designer and project manager at Electric Monkeys, have answered some of our burning questions below.

1. How did you go about picking the weapons for the game?

Harrison: The pistol and shotgun were easy choices both mechanically and thematically. A 19th-century Royal Navy vessel would contain officer’s pistols and royal marine shotguns. Starting with the pistol allowed us to create the player’s progression from easy-to-use weapons to more advanced ones, such as the shotgun – which consumes stamina when fired. Once we saw the enemy blood splatter, it was a natural step that people wanted a weapon with as much spread as possible. Hitting a crowd with that thing is super satisfying. The machine gun was less thematically fitting but gave us another playstyle. Like the shotgun, the machine gun is considered a heavy weapon and consumes stamina when fired but has a much faster fire rate. This gives better access to critical hit builds.

Hugo: As Harrison said, we had to choose something that made sense with the period the game is set, so we got inspired by classic models of pistols, shotguns, and sub-machineguns. Each of the three-game weapons was designed to fit a variety of gaming styles.

  • Pistol – The initial weapon is a reliable and well-balanced gun; it can carry 6 rounds in its barrel. The damage ranges from 20 to 30, and it can defeat 2 or 3 rats before reloading. It is a lightweight weapon, so players won’t suffer any penalty.

  • Machine Gun – A powerful weapon that shoots 10 bullets per second. Its low precision is compensated by a rain of bullets. Although each shot deals only 4-12 damage, when combining the right upgrades, it will quickly destroy all its opponents. But be careful, there are two downsides to this gun: 1. This is a heavy-weight weapon, and it will drain your stamina when shooting; 2. It takes longer to reload than any other gun.

  • Shotgun – This weapon can only fire twice, but each shot launches three bullets. The damage ranges from 20-30, which can instantly defeat some enemies. It is a short-range weapon, but the shotgun will dilacerate enemies nearby.

2. What was the inspiration behind the dark magic mechanics?

Harrison: The dark magic abilities were a nice side-effect when designing the sanity mechanic. We really liked the idea of tying powerful spells into the madness of the player character; sure, you can throw dark grenades and summon ghostly flames, but the mental strain of these otherworldly powers will eventually have adverse effects.

Hugo: As the name suggests, using magic in this universe means dealing with the Darkness. This kind of darkness is not just the absence of light, it is a corrupting force that consumes life until its last spark of light. We got heavily inspired by HP Lovecraft and its Cthulhu Mythos work, where dealing with these forces would drive the characters insane. The dark magic mechanics in When the Light Dies work in a similar way, the characters have a sanity meter that shows how much sanity they have left. Low sanity will increase the force of darkness over the enemies and make the player’s life miserable.

3. How did you decide upon the spells that the player can use?

Hugo: The player’s abilities (or spells) are divided into 2 different categories, “Dark Magic” which will diminish the player’s sanity, and the mundane abilities, which drain a variety of resources. The 4 different spells exist to support the players in different situations:

  • Blood Contract – Allows the players to restore HP but feeds the darkness with their sanity. The player can control when to stop using it.

  • Prominence Burn – The player will summon a corrupted green fire, fed with their sanity, to use as a flamethrower, which will not only burn enemies but also provide light and heat to the player. The players can control when to stop using it.

  • Dark Granade – Allows the players to throw a grenade from another world.

  • Attacking Boost – This is a mundane ability that improves damage and fire rate but won’t consume the player’s sanity, instead, it will use their stamina.

Harrison: They also just look really cool!

This concludes our monthly update. Wishlist When the Light Dies here on Steam and stay tuned for more exciting project updates!

PQube & Electric Monkeys