Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hero Development: Midas

Although he’s being released this Friday, Midas was actually the first hero I designed and scripted at S2. Interestingly enough, he’s perhaps one of the least thematically different from his original concept, the “Alchemist”, which can still be found here on the suggestions forums.
I never actually scripted the version of the Alchemist found at the above link; it became immediately clear to me that mana manipulation was not the way to go for a cohesive, fun experience. Instead, I set out to take the original concept of spell combinations, then go from there. At the time, I’d had no programming, scripting, or otherwise technical knowledge, so the Alchemist provided a unique challenge with his state detection and complex mechanics. To tackle the concept of “hitting two spells at the same time”, I created the Reagent mechanic, which was simply a lingering state that was applied after being impacted by one of the Alchemist’s spells. Each of his spells applied a different Reagent, and when one Reagent detected the presence of a separate Reagent, they would combine to create the golden Transmuted state.
The first working iteration of the Alchemist featured a different skillset than what’s featured in the spotlight, as well as what’s found in the Suggestions thread. His abilities were as follows:
  • Upheaval: The Alchemist throws a flask, raising a line of flesh-eating Mandrakes and creating an impassible wall. This was effectively a vector wall that would attack nearby enemies.
  • Restoration Wave: A wave of volatile energy springs forward, healing allies before combusting violently. This spell is almost identical to the final “Lion’s Pride”.
  • Mandala: This alchemical circle is imbued with harmful seals that punish the aggressive. Enemies standing on the mandala will receive an attack and movement speed slow.
  • Transmute: Enemies affected by more than one of the Alchemist’s spells at once are temporarily cast into soft, malleable gold. Transmute also provides a bevy of passive bonuses, including cooldown reduction and a cast speed increase.
The Alchemist sat in the hero pool for quite a while, and ultimately his skillset was made obsolete when Empath was given a vector wall, perhaps for the better. In terms of feel, the design lacked the distinct snappiness that Midas now provides–that is, both Upheaval and Mandala featured lingering gadgets that were unbecoming for applying the Reagents. This posed a conceptual, mental problem in that it was difficult to convey to the end user when exactly the Reagents applied–did they apply on initial spell impact, or were they continuously applied throughout the span of contact with the gadgets? I initially chose the latter, but it became abundantly clear to me that neither option, given the skillset, would be intuitive.
Roughly a year ago, we decided to do the Alchemist as one of the upcoming heroes (this plan was obviously deferred for quite some time), and so we needed to record his announcer sound. We do them in batches, and usually in advance. After compiling a list of potential hero names, we send them off to Don Morrow to do his epic announcer thing. That’s why we don’t have announcer sounds for some new heroes sometimes–they weren’t in the previous batch. I wanted to just go with “Alchemist”, since that’s quite the perfect description of his concept, but obviously the DotA hero of the same name provided opposition to the thought. DivA came up with “Midas” on the fly to resolve the problem and we ran with it. I took this opportunity to redesign the Alchemist based on the Midas theme.
Readers may remember this picture, which I posted a while ago. This was the working model for Midas.
His new skillset was as follows:
  • Solvent Salvo: Midas throws five flasks in a line, coating enemies in an armor-eating solvent. Compared to the final “Golden Salvo”, this ability had an additional armor-reduction effect.
  • Unstable Remedy: Effectively identical to the previous “Restoration Wave”, save for minor differences. Largely identical to the final “Lion’s Pride”.
  • Black Powder Blast: This alchemical powder is imbued with harmful seals that create an intense flash of fire. This ability was the basis for Amun-Ra’s Ignite, except it lacked a delay.
  • Transmute: Identical to the previous transmute, but without the cast speed increase.
With this redesign, Midas became a snappy, instant-feedback hero. The previous design issues were resolved. Before I was able to show off this concept to the other designers, I was asked to complete another hero concept–the Gravekeeper, now known as Amun-Ra. During Amun-Ra’s development, I felt that Midas’s Black Powder Blast suited Amun-Ra more, as it synergized with his tendency to be in the middle of a battle. So again, Midas was put on hold as Black Powder Blast was converted to Ignite for Amun-Ra. When time came to resume progress on Midas, he was given the new ability “Elemental Warp” to reduce redundancy between heroes. The delayed blink would facilitate the positioning for his other two skillshots, so it made perfect sense on him. Finally, he was complete.
Midas will arrive in Newerth this Friday after a very long wait–I hope you guys will enjoy him!

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