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Sneak Peek: Loonyland: Titan Tunnels09:55 PM -- Fri March 9, 2007

Back again, with Grappling updates. Here's a list of all the Grappling skills planned (10, of course).
  • Grappling - The key skill. Like Throwing, you need this skill to be able to use Grappling at all. When you hold a guy, your stamina drains (faster depending on how much life the enemy has), and you move very slowly. Raising this skill increases the movement speed, and decreases the rate that your stamina drains.

  • Badguy Toss - Having the Grappling skill allows you to throw badguys once you lift them (since it's pretty useless, otherwise!), but this skill improves throwing them. Raising this level boosts the damage done by throwing, and decreases the stamina cost of throwing. Both the cost and damage are based on the enemy's current life, just like the cost of holding it. So as you meet tougher enemies, they become harder to lift and throw, but make more effective weapons when thrown. That makes it quite a bit different from other attack skills. Of course, you are limited to smaller enemies. No lifting Ice Titans, Gorkas, or any bosses (or immobile enemies, like Roses).

  • Tickling - This is a nice passive ability. As long as you are holding an enemy, there's a small chance every half second that he'll take a small amount of damage. Not only is that a fun way to kill monsters (or will be once I had a "heehee" sound effect), but it also makes the cost of holding the monster decrease, as his life gets sucked away.

  • Conversion - I've implemented this, but am in no situation to test it just yet. The concept is simple: if you hold a guy long enough, you lose some magic, and he converts to your team permanently. Leveling it up makes the required time shorter, and decreases the magic cost of converting. This skill has some great built-in limitations that make it interesting. You need a lot of Stamina to hold an enemy for a long time, and the tougher the enemy, the more quickly you lose Stamina. And most importantly of all, since you can't pick up any big monsters, I don't have to set any limits on who you can convert or how many or anything. Make yourself an army, if you have a whole lot of spare time, magic, and stamina.

  • Atomic Drop - This is not implemented yet (and none of the below skills are either). Press Jump while holding a guy to slam him into the ground. It causes an explosion which does damage over a radius. It does lots of damage to the victim, and half that much over the radius. What's really interesting about this skill, and you'll see this concept come up several times in the new skills, is that it drains all your Stamina when you do it. You can do it with as much or as little Stamina as you want. The damage it does depends on how much Stamina you used (leveling the skill gets you more damage per point of Stamina, as well as a bigger radius). I like that idea a lot. Like Conversion, it makes its own unique and interesting balance elements.

  • Badguy Bonk - This skill is debatable. I may need to replace it with something. If you tap Attack without pushing a direction (as opposed to holding a direction to throw the badguy), this smashes your badguy onto the ground in front of you, like a club. It does smallish damage to the guy used as a club, and lots of damage to enemies in a small radius. You of course get to keep holding the badguy (it just costs some stamina), so this is a fun way to use up your limited holding strength, clubbing monsters. The big problem with this skill is that there are no special "get thrown" animations for monsters, so when you "swing" the monster, he'll stay in his standing position, rather than tilt to be laying down. I think that will look very weird and wrong.

  • Atomic Quake - A passive upgrade to the Atomic Drop. Just adds Stone Spikes shooting out in random directions whenever you do it. I haven't really detailed this skill idea (and it's an awfully basic idea anyway), but I guess it would either add a certain fixed stamina cost to Atomic Drop, or a magic cost. Maybe instead of launching spikes, it should shake the screen, stunning all enemies onscreen for a short moment every time you do an Atomic Drop. That doesn't sound bad at all.

  • Badguy Bomb - A passive upgrade to Badguy Toss. Makes a radius explosion where the badguy hits. This is an important upgrade, because without it, throwing an enemy can never hurt more than 2 enemies at once (the throwee, and the guy he lands on). The radius is small, increasing with levels, because it spreads the full throw damage over the radius, which could be hefty.

  • Hoover Hands - Increases the range at which you can grab enemies, sucking them in from further away. That's not such an amazing upgrade, so it comes with a side bonus: you suck in nearby coins and items any time you are holding down Attack to do your grabbing. Still, this skill isn't blowing me away (no pun desired).

  • Magic Hands - Another rather boring one, this decreases the cost of Grab Spells by 1 per level. Remember, there is one Grab Spell in each school of magic, and they can only be cast while you are holding a monster.
So there are the ten Grappling skills! However, some of them aren't very exciting. Do you have ideas to replace them? I can't really have a variety of throws (nevermind that Loony has no throwing animation, and the monsters have no getting-thrown animation), since the 3 'moves' in the list above use up all the reasonable button combinations. I guess there could be a 4th, by having just Jump versus Jump+direction. But probably even the 3 I have is a little more Street Fighter than it should be. That's another reason I'm unsure about including the Badguy Bonk. The Toss and Drop are good, because that's just one to each button (and the Jump one makes a lot of sense, since you jump up when you do it), but beyond that, it starts getting a little tricky. It might be nice to have more skills that modify the existing throws, much like how there are a stack of skills that upgrade Throwing and Axe Mastery.

Incidentally, this throwing stuff is partly inspired by Murray, from the Sly Cooper games! Right down to having an upgrade that makes thrown guys explode.
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