Progress on SotX Chapter 6

After finishing the update on Lord of the Clans, I continued work on my StarCraft 2 campaign Shadow of the Xel'Naga.

Features for Chapter 6:
- Indoor mission with several corridors. Corridors will include the typical offensive/defensive situations you see in many indoor missions by Blizzard.
- Boss fight at the end of each corridor
- Co-op gameplay for two players: Each player controls a bunch of standard units (marines, ghosts, firebats, medics)
- Units gain experience, level up and automatically gain new abilities. At level 8 a unit can be promoted to a hero for additional stats and damage. Only one hero per unit-type can exist
- Players are accompanied by an AI-controlled hero unit that works much like Raynor in HotS mission 2 (basic meatshield and attacker)
- As with each map in the campaign, players can't really lose*. When all units die and the AI hero is incapacitated the corridor is reset. All enemy units are revived, traps are reset and the players' units start at the beginning of the corridor
- When a player unit is killed it is replaced by a fresh unit that starts at level 1 at the beginning of a corridor
- Four difficulty levels
- I want to add some light puzzles elements (e.g. step on beacons in the correct order), but I don't know if I have space for them.

Chapter 6 gameplay is now 70% finished. The map already needs 40 minutes ingame time to be completed. I expect to start working on the terrain within the following 10-14 days. I want to show you the current state via a screenshot and give frequent updates over the next 2-3 weeks to show you in detail how the map evolves.
The plan for the next 7-10 days is to:
- add the remaining 30% of the level/encounters
- add basic balancing for all four difficulty levels
- do frequent playthroughs, fix bugs, improve balance and level design

The plan for days 8-21:
- Finish the story-script
- Make the terrain
- Add cinematics, tranmissions and hints

If all goes well the map will be in beta before March. After that I'll make some plans for the final Chapter 7 and decide if it's going to be small enough to finish withing a few weeks or sometime during summer.
Compared to Chapters 2 - 5 the Chapters 6 & 7 don't need much work with the Data Editor, which has always been the reason why this campaign takes so long to make. Kinda surprised myself how quickly Chapter 6 is progressing.
When all maps are in beta I'll have to put some work into some of the old maps but it shouldn't take too long. Release of the campaign could be as early as Fall 2015. If shit really hits the fan it will be Summer 2016 at the latest. The release of LotV will also be a deciding factor (maybe there will be new features I'd like to take advantage of).

*No map in the campaign can be failed entirely. This made made mostly because of the lack of a save feature on, and I have no plans to release the maps on a website (yet), to further promote the co-op feature. Also: Losing ISN'T fun. The fun is in the progress you make. BUT: I know some gamers don't like it and I am considering adding permanent losing at the highest difficulty level. As each map is so different from one another, each map handles hero deaths and mission failures differently:
- Chapter 1: (a bit like GTA): Heroes don't die. They become incapacitated for a while. A hero in this state can be awakened instantly by another hero. No mission progress is lost. Mission critical units (the vehicles) are revived at their starting location
- Chapter 2: Point and Click adventure with almost no combat. Heroes can't really engage enemies unless it's sure they'll win. Their HP-regeneration is ultra fast. There is a boss fight. It will reset when all mission critical units die
- Chapter 3: Tug of War: Heroes can be revived at the closest Shield Battery. No cost. Reviving takes a while
- Chapter 4: Tower Defense: Enemy AI doesn't attack heroes. If all player towers are killed the area is restarted
- Chapter 5: Stealth (Commandos): Map has no combat. Enemies pursue and "catch" player heroes. when a hero is caught he is instantly moved to the beginning of the area
- Chapter 6: Units can die and are replaced with level 1 units after a while. If all units die (or moved too far away from the follower) and the follower is incapacitated the area (corridor) is reset

An area/corridor etc. usually consists of 5-15 minutes of play time. Usually not all progrss is lost. Gained experience, items or completed optional objectives are kept.
Again, this was done so people don't have to go through the annoying process of restoring a save game through a replay on Area restarts are simply my way of loading a quicksave for you. All maps take longer than the average Blizzard campaign map, clocking at 30-60 minutes. Losing the the end fight and having to start all over could be very frustrasting.


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