Orcs & Elves Developer Diary #4

Orcs_n_Elves_DS.JPGYep, here we are again with the latest Orcs & Elves Dev Diary. This time out, Foundation’s Katherine Kang talks about sharp objects, potions and spells in the game world (and how to use them) along with some thoughts on game design and a few other choice topics. Only a few more weeks until the DS game hits stores and it’s looking to be a potential Game of the Year contender for the handheld thus far in my eyes. Enjoy the read!

Dev Diary #4: Weapons, Potions, Combat and Game Design
By Katherine Anna Kang

In my early childhood I wasted countless hours, and quarters, on the classic arcade game Pac-Man, but my favorite games were always Centipede, Galaga, Frogger and Joust – the player-to-player combat is what I liked most about Joust. I missed out on the early consoles because, well, I didn’t have any so, the rare console gaming that I did consisted of Mario at a friend’s house. Though some of my friends dabbled in making PC text games, I just didn’t get into those… I preferred to play D&D. Until Doom and Quake obliterated any free time that I had as a young adult, the only games that seemed to keep me coming back for more, no matter how many times I had played them, were the classic arcade games – easy to get into, highly addictive, simple fun. That’s how I like my games, and with the exception of multiplayer gaming, that’s how I like making games.

There’s a strange dynamic that happens when we make games at our company. It’s probably due to the fact that while everyone else is a hard-core gamer, I’m not. I’m much less willing to give a game time to win me over and I’m much less willing to plod through boring or impossible areas simply to get to the next level. It’s extremely rare for me to finish single player games and I hardly ever get 100% of secrets, monsters, or whatever else in a game. I play games the way a child plays in a playground – run to the first thing
that looks fun, if it’s fun, play as long as possible and repeat as needed. The games I enjoy playing tend to be fast-paced, fun to play from start to finish, and have almost no learning curve – add a dash of highly addictive gameplay and up the replay ability factor and you have me hooked. Well, Orcs & Elves is that game. Considering that I have to play the game
hundreds of times, it better be fun enough for me to want to go back to play it again and again and again.


For me, the key to enjoying Orcs & Elves is being able to get in and cause havoc right away. While the simple, fast paced fun allows me to play and enjoy the game quickly, the ability to experiment with the varied non-critical elements of the game becomes addictive as I get engrossed with the characters and mission of the game. I found that everyone on the team has very different ways of playing the game. For instance, while I live by the Haste potion, a few of the other team members hardly ever use it. I’m a potion hound while one of our programmers foregoes purchasing any potions at all. The arsenal provided by the many combinations of weapons, potions, and other items results a myriad of different ways to attack your enemies. The ability to mix and match the potions, weapons, rings and other goodies keeps the game fresh. So, here’s an inventory of the items available in the game and I’ll give you some hints on how to use them.


The Wand Ellon: Its most basic attack is a lighting strike but as it regains strength and energy, it is able to cast four powerful spells (Power Lighting, Fire, Stun, and Force).

Power Lightning – Blasts supercharged lightning (best on Shadows & Slimes).

Fire – Burns target & nearby enemies (if enemy is not dead at first strike, it will continue to burn them).

Force – Damages and knocks back target & nearby enemies (best on Shadows).

Stun – Temporarily stuns target while inflicting serious damage.


Though the spells are strong and will deal critical hits, it seriously drains the wand’s power after each use. Give Ellon time to regenerate.


The Warhammer Abraxas: It has two attacks, a devastating over-hand strike on a single opponent who is directly in front of you and a spin attack that assaults all enemies surrounding you. Abraxas shares energy with the wand so you have to keep an eye on energy levels.

Basic Sword: A good sword that does the job in cutting down enemies, but you definitely want to upgrade as tougher monsters beat you up.

Flaming Sword: This sword is particularly effective against foes weak to fire. It’s a really great weapon – powerful but reasonably priced. This weapon is a must-have for most players.

Vorpal Sword: This is my favorite sword but it’s expensive. If the monster is solid, this sword will most likely obliterate it.

Medusa Scroll: The image of Medusa turns flesh-and-bone creatures to stone… most of the time. WARNING: unpredictable while under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering umm… items.

Dragons Breath: Powerful artifact that spews dragon’s breath at close targets (bad long range weapon).

Basic Crossbow: It’s good in a pinch, especially if you don’t have another long-range weapon.

Heavy Crossbow: Pretty good bow to have if you don’t like close hand-to-hand combat. Though the Warbow is a more powerful weapon, I prefer the Heavy Crossbow over the Warbow.

Warbow: This is the most powerful bow in the Orcs & Elves arsenal. It’s some people’s favorite because it’s powerful and knocks back enemies, but the way I play the game, I prefer the Heavy Crossbow.

Phoenix Eggs: These eggs spew, what else, fire blasts when shattered against enemies. It has a splash damage effect so it’s not a good idea to use it when the enemy is right in front of you. The Phoenix eggs need space to fly!



Health: Restores 40 health instantly.

Large Health: Restores 80 health instantly.

Strength: Increases attack damage by 10 for 30 turns.

Accuracy: Increases odds of hitting and inflicting critical strikes (+10 accuracy) for 30 turns.

Defense: Decreases damage received (+10 defense) for 30 turns.

Haste: Enables you to perform two actions in one turn, but certain monsters can match your speed (one of my favorite potions when surrounded by monsters).

Remedy: Cleanses you from poisons and other negative effects and provides additional immunity for 5 turns.

Troll’s Blood: Steadily regenerates health, +5 health per turn for 30 turns (another one of my favorite potions).

Champion’s Brew: Brewed for champions of the King. Very expensive but several of our dev team members find it awesome to use. It gives you an added +15 strength, +15 accuracy +15 defense for 30 turns.

Avoidance: Nullifies the next 4 attacks directed at you for 30 turns (another favorite).

Invisibility: Conceals you from most enemies until you attack or receive injury. Invisible for 10 turns.

Parasitic Brew: Restores your health for the damage you deal a foe. Drain your enemy’s life for 20 turns (this is my favorite new potion).



Family Ring: A family heirloom (sentimental value)

Ring of Regeneration: Regenerates health while you wear it (my all time favorite ring – once I get it, I never take it off).

Sarbok’s Ring: Keeps its wearer eternally intoxicated (being intoxicated in this game has its values, but it has a downside too – strength +10, defense +10, accuracy -15)

Ring of Fortitude: Wearing this ring increases your physical endurance.

Ring of Strength: Wearing this ring increases your physical attack damage.

Ring of Defense: Wearing this ring reduces damage received.

Ring of Force: Wearing this ring can knock back your opponent when attacked.


Ring of Intimidation: Increases the chance that your opponent will flee with fear.

Ring of Accuracy: Wearing this ring increases your chance to land critical strikes.


Ale: 3 different kinds (you’ll have to check them out and compare)

Gaya’s Egg: Instantly restores all health and armor, provides resistance to fire and strengthens all attacks.

Leather Armor: What you start out with (you didn’t come prepared for battle, so tough luck).

Chainmail Armor: Flexible armor made of interlinked metal rings.

Elven Mail: Finely crafted chainmail imbued with Elven magic.

Dragonscale Armor: Made of densely riveted dragon scales providing unparalleled protection (love this armor).


I found that most everyone who has played this game has a unique style. My usual playing style consists of getting drunk and stacking up potions… what I call “Ale and the 3 P’s”. 🙂

Here’s the philosophy of “Ale and the 3 P’s”:

1). ALE: Get as much ale as you possibly can (you can stock up in the Great Hall where you can brew ale to your heart’s content… till monsters find you camping out and decide to use you as target practice). Use your ale strategically. If you encounter a tough battle, you can use ale to increase your strength and defense while healing yourself slightly. Since the downside of being drunk is that your aim is worth diddly-squat, use your accuracy potions to improve your accuracy (one accuracy potion will usually suffice). Accuracy potions are common and cheap so I’ve never found a reason to be shy about using them… humm, all this talk about drinking and “using” common and cheap things is starting to make me sound insensitive!

2). Potion – Accuracy: Common and cheap. Use it when drunk!

3). Potion – Troll’s Blood: This is a worthy potion to invest in and hoard. During tough battles, when your stock of healing potions are low, and/or when you’re surrounded, this is a great potion to use.

4). Potion – Haste: I horde my potions so that I can use them in boss fights but this is a potion that I use frequently. It gives me such an edge over most monsters that the rare times that I play the game without it, I feel crippled. I absolutely love this potion. I use this potion to run away, to stack potions, to ambush an enemy or simply to bash my enemies more times that they bash me (two hits for every one of theirs… most of the time).

The philosophy of Ale and the 3 P’s has worked very well for me… but not in Nightmare Mode. Well, I hope this philosophy has enlightened you. If not, find your own style and see if you can beat it in Nightmare Mode. So far, only one man has beat the game in Nightmare Mode.

For next week’s blog, John Carmack will be posting some technical thoughts on Orcs & Elves and a bunch of other technical stuff that I cannot comprehend. Thanks for reading my blogs. I hope those of you willing to give Orcs & Elves a chance enjoy it immensely.

-Katherine Anna Kang

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