So I was talking about Diablo, and building it within my game engine as a sort of progress check. As I said, Diablo cuts corners when it comes to gameplay. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun, just that good gameplay isn’t necessary for fun. Diablo is basically a game of “Press X To Not Die,” where “X” is the mouse button.

Not the most immersive combat system.

I’ve been working on this basic power system to represent a variety of straightforward, if somewhat abstract, tactics for creating interesting combat encounters. It’s inspired by games like Diablo, Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons, which are all games I’ve complained about a lot, the most recent being Diablo. (Obviously.)

The basic attack power deals damage to a target equal to your character’s Strength modifier. This is basically magic missile, or like clicking your mouse button on an enemy who’s within your character’s attack range. Hitting or missing isn’t even a factor at this stage, since it’s all about simply dealing damage.

It’s a single-target effect that uses the character’s most basic of actions, the Standard action. It’s really straightforward, easy to read, and easy to use. You could make a whole game out of this one game mechanic, like a “match three” game or something. Or one of those, uh, games-where-you-click-on-things-to-make-them-go-away.

Essentially, “Press X To Not Die.”

Diablo has some other factors involved though, like failing to deal damage. It’s just a matter of sometimes, when you press the X button, you don’t not die. It’s like losing the lottery, when your button presses don’t save you. They justify it by saying that your attack “missed.” It sort of subverts the game’s premise. If you’re being nice.

Right, so I made this other power, called “Engage.” What it does, in a nutshell, is say, “Your attacks can target the creature targeted by this power.” In a way, it’s redundant with the basic attack power, except that it can be used as a qualifier for other actions. It’s basically your “approach target” power. It also has a secondary effect.

I think I mentioned earlier that I rewrote the Evade defense so it doesn’t require the Block power anymore. Instead, it reduces all damage the character takes from enemies who don’t first use Engage, to zero. Really basic enemies (e.g. minions), don’t have the actions necessary to Engage, making an evasion hero untouchable.

But that nigh-invulnerability only lasts as long as the hero can remain out of the battle proper. If enemies bear down on a hero with Evade, they’ll cut the hero to ribbons in a few rounds. Now I want you to think about Diablo in these terms: Engage, Attack, and Evade. There are no dice rolls involved, just mouse clicks. Engage, Attack, Evade.

Everything beyond that is just a spreadsheet.