Thursday, September 10, 2015

Level Up Engine Gets Major Upgrades

In preparation for the upcoming release of Deimos 2 - End of the Earth, the Level Up RPG engine (which also currently powers Level Up, Deimos, and Ninja Level Up) has received some major capability upgrades which will soon be making their way into the entire Level Up franchise.  Some of the larger engine improvements include are detailed below.

Added support for belt items and a separate belt inventory

Players of the original Level Up have been requesting this feature for a long time, and it is finally coming.  There is a new class of equippable item called the Belt, which provides additional inventory to the player.  This inventory is always on-screen, so that items can be called up quick during battle.  Certain items (health potions, mana potions, and teleportation scrolls) can now be added to the belt inventory.

New belt inventory area on bottom of the screen
(from Deimos 2 - End of the Earth)

In addition, health and mana generating items are automatically added to the build when picked up, provided there is room available.

Equipped items no longer take up inventory space

Inventory space is valuable, and now gear that you have equipped will no longer take up room in the inventory.  The Gear screen from old builds of Level Up has been brought back, and now shows all equipped items and allows you to remove items you have equipped and send them back to inventory.

The new Gear screen
(from Deimos 2 - End of the Earth)

Gear can also be swapped out mid-battle, so that you can use different items for different situations.

HP/MP Regeneration Rates are now based on player stats

This is another big request that people have been asking for.  Traditionally, health and mana rates have regenerated at the rate of about 1 unit per second.  This is fine at lower levels, but towards the end of the games when players have a tremendous amount of total HP, you can sit there for several minutes waiting for your health to regenerate.  Now, regeneration rates are determined by the Intellect stat.  The higher the player intellect, the higher the rate of regeneration.  There is also another new way to improve regeneration rates:

Items can now have core stat modifiers

Five new properties have been made available to items in the Level Up engine, stat modifiers for Strength, Stamina, Intellect, Dexterity, and Regeneration.  For example, you may now be able to find the "Unholy Dagger of Dexterity" (fictional item) which will deal 3 damage and add +2 to player dexterity.  It can go both ways also, so there could be the "Timid Shield of Weakness" (another fictional item) which provides 2 shield defense and -4 to strength.  These new options potentially add a whole new level to the engine, as choosing items will no longer be just a simple case of "which one deals more damage/offers more defense?"

More Detailed Player Stats

The Player Stats screen has been revamped, and now displays a whole slew of information that is valuable to the player.

The new Status screen
(from Deimos 2 - End of the Earth)

The stats will update for you in real time as you level up stats and swap out gear and items, so you can see exactly how each item modifies your stats and impacts your attack power, magic attack power, regeneration rate, and defensive capabilities.  This will go a long way in explaining how each of the stats work, and help players roll the character of their choosing.

The Downside

The one downside to all of these updates under the hood is that old save-games will no longer be compatible with the new game engine, so players will have to start a new game when the new update rolls out.  This wont be a problem for Deimos 2 - End of the Earth, but it will impact the other games.  Ultimately though, these changes will have such an impact on the way the game is played, most people will probably want to start a new game anyway.  That said, the new engine upgrades and new save file format have been written in such a way that future upgrades will not break previous saves, so this issue should be a one-time thing.

The Future of Level Up

Currently, the goal with the Level Up franchise is to release one brand new title every year, with regular engine upgrades happening sporadically throughout the year.  Current titles in the franchise include (titles in italics are scheduled but not yet released):
  1. Level Up! (2012)
  2. Deimos (2013)
  3. Ninja Level Up (2014)
  4. Deimos 2 - End of the Earth (2015)
  5. Level Up Arena (2016)
With each new upgrade of the core Level Up engine, all prior titles will be updated with the latest engine and the latest features.  Additionally, no Level Up titles are considered complete at any time, and will all continue to receive new upgrades/features/content.  For instance, the arrival of Deimos 2 does not mean that Deimos 1 is done.  In fact, the original Level Up just recently received a content update, adding the new dinosaur themed Jurassic Jungle zone.  Furthermore, Ninja Level Up will be receiving the massive Act 2 update in early 2016.

So work on the Level Up engine and the various Level Up games is ongoing.  The ultimate goal is to make the Level Up games the best mobile RPG experience possible.  So many mobile RPG games out there get it wrong by trying to bring clunky and time consuming console style RPG gameplay down to handheld devices.  The Level Up concept takes a fast and easy pick-up-and-play approach to RPG's, which is perfectly suited for the mobile arena.

Along those lines, here are other improvements coming in the future to the Level Up engine and games, many of which will debut in next year's Level Up Arena:

  • Arena Style Game-play: Separate from the primary game story-lines, Arenas will be introduced, where players fight to the death through hordes of enemies, using only the items they bring with them.  There will be global leader boards to determine who the real champions of the arena are.  This will be the core style for Level Up Arena.
  • Custom Item Creation: With an upcoming blacksmithing mechanism, players will be able to craft their own items or modify existing ones.
  • Elemental Stats: Players, items, and enemies will have additional strengths and weaknesses based on fire, ice, electricity, and so on.
  • Auction Houses: There will be global online auction houses where people can buy or sell goods that they make or find in the game.  Prices will be entirely market based.
  • Quests: There will be new NPC characters in the games that can assign quests that players can fulfill.  Different quest types will be available, such as the classic "Go kill 20 boars" quests, or "Bring me back 10 boar pelts," or "Deliver this package to some other NPC."
  • Towns: In addition to the current system of shops, there will be towns now with multiple NPC's and shop owners.
  • Waypoints: Sort of like in Diablo, you will be able to unlock waypoints and then teleport between them.  This will be necessary for moving both forward and backwards with the new addition of quests.

Conclusion

So as you can see, there is a lot coming in the future for the Level Up franchise.  Both the engine and the games will continue to grow and improve as time goes on.  For the latest updates and information on the Level Up franchise and the engine, keep checking back here on the Ape Apps Blog, and at the official websites for the various Level Up games:

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