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  • Reimagining Battle Network: A Classic Game Boy RPG

    - Andreas Kuni
  • Gang of Paws (GOPaws) is a game that I have worked on for years. You go through several worlds. Each is packed with battle encounters and upgrades. The goal is to make it to the final world and defeat the big bad boss. It is a reimagining of Megaman Battle Network (MMBN). In the very likely event that you have not heard of MMBN here's a short summary:

    Megaman Battle Network (MMBN) is a deck building RPG series from 2001 where you play as MegaMan.exe. The plot is weird, but just imagine that your antivirus program became alive and went on to save the world from hackers and computer viruses. You go through the main storyline like a traditional JRPG with an overworld map, interrupted by the occasional uninvited random encounter. The hybrid battle system is where everything shines with the power of a thousand light bulbs. First, combat is paused and you pick cards from a hand you are dealt. Then combat is unpaused and you get to move around and use the selected cards to damage the enemy while dodging their attacks until a timer runs out and you repeat step one.

    Watch the first 5 minutes of this video to get a better idea how MMBN looks in play.

    These games are absolutely  awesome! If there was a cult dedicated to spreading the word of MMBN, then I would be the high priest, shouting binary computer code from a podium until the very moment where the nerd police kicks down the door and hands out tickets.

    This post is about the great design of MMBN and how GOPaws either kept, removed or changed that design.

    Reimagining Story

    MMBN is set in a ridiculously over-technologized future. The main characters are spunky kids and their anti-virus programs. The enemy are hackers, viruses and an evil mustache that says "mwahaha" a lot. The battleground is cyberspace. The plot revolves around preventing cybergeddon and saving the internet.

    For GOPaws, most of my design decisions are pragmatic. The theme became "Wizard Pets" because the pose for casting one spell can easily be recycled for casting others. Literally anything can happen with the wave of a hand when magic is involved.

    My favorite part of MMBN's story were the side characters! The game was rated E for Everyone but still had shocking side characters such as:

    • A rich old woman who is bored but gets really "stimulated" whenever you duel her.

    • An old lesbian perv who admits that she only goes to the jewellery store to look at girls.

    • A black kid from the hood who acts like a gang-banger.

    • A blonde haired guy who tries to gas a kid to death unless her parents didn't pay a ransom.

    • A white kid that blows up the blonde haired guy because he failed his mission.

    I wanted every monster and boss in Gang of Paws to also have surprising personalities that would be revealed to the player during conversations. But it was more than I could carry as a solo developer so the feature was dropped. Since for me, the most important thing was getting the combat system right.

    Reimagining Deck Building

    In MMBN, you have a deck of 30 cards including duplicates. It is built before battle from a reserve of cards. The problem was that you accumulated hundreds of cards in your reserve. It is very time consuming and breaks the flow when making changes to the deck. 

    GOPaws removes the reserve entirely. So new cards are instantly added to the deck when picked up. The player chooses which old card to discard when the deck limit is reached. This change also has the benefit of adding more interesting choices to the game. Example: Should you bloat your deck with the weak half of a combo card, just in case you pick up the other half later?


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