14 Jul 11
Nandrew

Gods, Part 2: The new Pactmaker

Finally, altars that can be identified at a glance!

 

The Pactmaker has always been a point of interest among the gods. His/her (its?) boons are extremely powerful, universally applicable and pretty much game-deciding in just about any dungeon. Most veterans in the Desktop Dungeons alpha will go Pactmaker or go bust, leaving other gods as situational carriers or consolation prizes.

As with any overpowered game element, the Pactmaker is acknowledged as being a little too potent but is nonetheless quite well loved, so we knew that simply weakening him/her/it would leave a sour taste in many people’s mouths (and maybe some sternly-worded condemnations on our forums!).

Instead, we changed the god completely, giving it a playstyle that is boldly unique within the DD pantheon. Here’s how we did it:

Emphasis on the “pact” bit

The Pactmaker was originally envisioned as a “contract” god, redeeming a bunch of cool little rewards in return for consistent worship. The only problem: pretty much ALL religions are contract-based already! On top of that, the Pactmaker’s terms aren’t even particularly interesting, making this both the blandest AND the most powerful option for worship — not good if we want to discourage players from boring themselves.

Since DD alpha, the Pactmaker has undergone several revisions (more work than any of the other gods, in fact) and now truly embodies its title. Instead of boons, the player gets to choose among several “pacts” that will stay on the character for the rest of the dungeon run. These pacts are distinct from boons in the following ways:

- There’s no piety cost. Simply find the Pactmaker and choose your desired pact.

- Only one pact (out of a possible six) can be activated. Your decision cannot be changed.

- All pacts have the distinction of GIVING piety to the player for performing certain services. For example, Pact of the Warrior gives players some piety every time they kill an enemy.

- All pacts have a drawback that’s triggered whenever piety is gained. For example, Pact of the Scholar awards piety every time the player levels up, but it ALSO reduces their maximum mana each time (taking this particular pact early on can result in a loss of 8 or 9 mana points by the end of the game).

What does this mean?

In the new version of DD, the Pactmaker has basically become a “support god”: players never worship it directly, but instead use its pacts to earn extra piety for the gods that they DO choose to worship. The Pactmaker can never be angered and is fully co-operative with every other deity, making it useful in a variety of situations:

- Emphasising another god’s strengths. For example, dedicated Taurog worshippers can grab Pact of the Scholar for its level-up piety boost without worrying too much about the mana loss (most of his boons drain mana anyway).

- Shoring up a god’s weaknesses. Among stricter gods like Binlor or the Glowing Guardian, maintaining piety levels and avoiding punishment is a priority. A well-chosen pact can make the difference between affording your next boon and suffering divine wrath.

- Last-minute panic. Even if you only discover the Pactmaker just before engaging the dungeon boss, one or two pacts are primed for late-game situations. Sometimes, accepting the correct pact will let you squeeze out a little extra piety for one more boon at a lower-than normal stat penalty.

In summary …

We hope that the Pactmaker ends up being the most interesting god to play in Unity DD: by making it “different” instead of simply “rebalanced”, we hope that players will take full advantage of its presence in a dungeon without depending too heavily on it spawning.

The gods, in general, have been a startling amount of work in refocus and redesign. Being one of the weaker elements of the alpha game’s design, we really want to make them shine by the time the DD beta rolls out, and any feedback on how they perform then will be greatly appreciated!


7 Responses to “Gods, Part 2: The new Pactmaker”

  1. Michał Lewtak Says:

    CAN’T. FUCKING. WAIT.

  2. BFBeast666 Says:

    Amen to that, I say!

  3. Michał Lewtak Says:

    I have a suggestion.
    An option to play a super-size version of a dungeon, one that’s twice or four times as big as a regular one. Just tell your level generator to make something bigger, make the boss a level 20 character, etc.

  4. Artemus Harper Says:

    @Michał Lewtak
    That sounds kind of hard to balance, as many aspects of the game don’t scale that well; I don’t think it’s worth doing. Best to stick with doing multiple dungeons in a row for a challenge.

  5. shaf Says:

    Currently Pactmaster and Tikki Tooki seem to be the only useful gods. It will be interesting to see how the other gods work when rebalanced.

  6. redcap Says:

    @shaf

    I must politely disagree. Glowing Guardian rocks, and so do some of the others. If I find Glowing Guardian from the start, I usually pick him up because 100 piety isn’t to hard to achieve by level 5 or so; and the rewards are amazing. I have only used Tikki Tooki once; with marginal success.

  7. Jimmy Says:

    I’ve found Dracul to be immensely useful for all levels except (obviously) crypt, although I only have the alpha. Taurog is a decent substitute for Dracul if nothing else can be found, with the advantage that you can take him earlier.

    In the alpha, I find Pactmaker, Tikki Tooki and Glowing Guardian fairly meh. Binlor’s quite fun. I think the only god I’ve not been able to crack is Mystera Annur.


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