Level Breakdown: Great Siege

At last week’s GDC confernece, Unity Technologies revealed the latest version of their popular Unity game engine. I was pleased to see that not only could I use the personal version for free, but that Unity 5 gives all users full access to the engine and its features. I thought this would be a great opportunity to expand my experience with Unity, so I got to work building something new. For this level, I decided to use the Fire Emblem series as a template for this project. It does not fit perfectly within the mechanics of one game, but borrows ideas from more than one in the series. It is based heavily on the mechanics of the most recent title, Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Screenshot 1

The basic idea behind this level is that the player has to defend themself against multiple waves of enemies until a set number of turns has passed. Specifically, they have to protect an allied priest found on the ground floor of the fort. The enemy has a number of options to enter the fort, so it will be up to the player to decide how to deal with these impending threats and keep the enemy outside. The specifics of each unit’s class, equipment, level, and skills has been set, but I do not have icons in place to help distinguish one unit from another. I gave each enemy unit a number in Unity scene hierarchy, and that corresponds to their number in the text write-up of enemy unit data. The same as been done for spawn locations, treasure chests, and both player and allied units. This information will be included at the end of the level breakdown.

Screenshot 2

On the bridge opposite the front entrance to the fort is a group of paladins, with flying units over the river on both sides of the bridge. In the field in front the fort lie several warriors and heroes, grouped by class. There are a few odd enemy units (swordmaster, berserker, sorcerer, wyvern lord) placed here as well. These units generally move towards the main gate or towards the eastern wall, depending on where the player’s units are located and how many there are. The eastern wall will be touched on more later.

Screenshot 3

From here, the enemies along the western wall can be seen, along with the enemies to the southern plains at another angle. These units consist mostly of warriors and swordmasters, with a few snipers and heroes. Two assassins, a thief, along the stage boss and his bodyguards round out the units located here. Both assassins possess the Movement + 1 and Pass skills, making them big threats to the allied unit that needs protecting.

Screenshot 4

At this angle, the enemies scattered across the woods to the west can be better seen. The boss, a dark knight, can be found to the left of the center tree, along with his two guards, a great knight and bow knight. If the player defeats the boss, all further reinforcements will be cut off. Completing this task makes rest of the level very easy. However, defeating him is difficult. The boss and both of his guards are all powerful mounted units, and they carry weapons that are extremely effective against flying, beast, and dragon units. In addition, the boss is stationed in between both spawn points, meaning that the player could be surrounded and trapped from either side they could approach from.

Screenshot 5

This angle gives a clearer idea of where enemies hiding among the woods to the west. It shows the smaller clusters of enemies and how close they are to each entrance.

Screenshot 6

This angle shows the staircase leading into the rear entrance of the fort, one of the spawn points for enemy reinforcements, and the eastern wall of the fort. The eastern wall has the least enemies in the area, although this could change depending on how certain aspects of the battle play out.

Screenshot 7

This is what the field in front of the fort would look like in-game. I designed this level based on the art direction used in Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, where 3D models are used in the environment, as opposed to 2D sprites rendered over a 3D environment as seen in Awakening. The difference can be seen in the size of the environment, which is made to scale with the character models rather than designed so that the sprites look like they fit. There were a few liberties taken with the style to give it a personal flair, but for the most part it fits with the levels seen in the previously mentioned games.

Screenshot 8

Since this level is using a properly scaled environment, I can create scenes like this, where the enemies are using the trees as cover to ambush the fort. In games using 2D textures, the characters would simply be rendered over the forest tiles. In this level, the player would actually see enemy units moving through the treeline as the camera pans over this area. Since Fire Emblem allows the player to move to any unit’s location in the level and see their data, the player can use this feature to make sure there aren’t any enemies they lost track of beneath the trees. The drawback to using this art style is that terrain information is more easily conveyed when using tiles, such as what tile a unit needs to stand on to gain the avoid and defense points from being in the forest.

Screenshot 9

This shows how the environment looks with smaller details like lights and shadows added. The screenshots were taken from this angle because of technical issues with my grid rendering past certain distances. I believe the engine turns off small details, such as textures on small objects in the field, or my grid, by default to cut down on how much has to be processed. I’m sure this can be tweaked, but I decided not to bother with it and simply took screenshots at a steeper angle.

Screenshot 10

Screenshot 11

Earlier in this write-up, I briefly mentioned some aspect of the fort’s walls that could be changed. I was referring to these two points of the fort, marked by those thin blue bars. For most of the fort, the enemy has no choice but to go around. At these two points, however, the structure is weaker enough that the enemy can break open a hole and enter the fort. At the level’s beginning, the enemy  can only enter the fort from one or two points, both of which are easily fortified. However, if the enemy manages to break down one or both walls, protecting the allied priest unit suddenly becomes a more difficult task. How the player decides to deal with these weak points intact will be a key factor in the success or failure of the mission.

Screenshot 12

Now that the outside of the fort has been covered, next on the list is the interior. On the top floor, there are two treasure chests, one of which is located by western wall. On the top floor, there are seven points for the player to choose units to bring into battle. Two of them can be seen here.

Screenshot 13

By the rear staircase, there are four spawn points for player units (the bottom point was in the previous screenshot) and one of the allied units that is protecting the priest.

Screenshot 14

Screenshot 15

The remaining spawn points for player units are shown here, along with the staircase that leads to the lower level of the fort. There is a second chest on the upper floor that the player has to travel down a long hallway to reach. Because the player has to go around the long way to get this chest, it would prove very difficult to reach if the enemy breaks through rear staircase and takes over the top floor. A non-flying unit could also be trapped down this hallway, so the player must be aware of how the battle is going and decide if the chest is worth the risk.

Screenshot 17

On the ground floor, the other seven spawn points for the player units can be found, along with the rest of the allied units. Five of these points are near the fort’s main entrance, with one the sixth around the corner, and the final spawn point next to the allied priest.

Screenshot 18

The third chest can be found near the western wall on the ground floor.

Screenshot 19

This shot shows the location of the remaining allied units and spawn points. The priest will never move the point he starts at during a playthrough of the level. The allied unit next to him will only move to attack enemies who are close to the priest, returning to the priest’s side once he is out of danger.

Screenshot 20

The staircase connecting the upper and lower levels of the fort is in the southeastern corner of the fort. The weak point in the eastern wall is right behind this staircase when looked at from inside the fort.

Screenshot 21

Screenshot 22

Screenshot 23

Screenshot 24

There are four spawn points for enemy reinforcements, shown here as they are numbered. A predefined group of enemies will spawn from these points until either the turn limit has passed, or until the boss is defeated. These points are shown right now, but would not be visible while playing through this level. The same goes for player spawn points.

Screenshot 26

Screenshot 27

Character information will be listed in the format of [Class Name].[Unit Level].[Item(s) if any].[Skill(s) if any]. Stats will not be listed because Fire Emblem: Awakening does not predefine this data for enemy and allied units. It is generated procedurally based on the unit’s class and level. This is what leads to a degree of variance in unit stats when replaying a level. Bolded items can be obtained from the unit upon defeat.

Level Overview

  • Player: Up to 14 units
  • Allied: 6
  • Enemy: 38
  • Enemy Spawn Points: 4
  • Reinforcements: End of every odd-numbered enemy turn, starting turn 3.
  • Treasure Chests: 3
  • Success: Allied Priest unit must survive for 15 turns, or defeat all enemies.
  • Failure: Allied Priest, Chrom, or Avatar die before start of Turn 16.


Allied Units

  1. Priest. Level 10. Miracle
  2. Sniper. Level 12. Steel Bow.
  3. Sage. Level 12. Elthunder, Physic.
  4. General. Level 13. Steel Lance, Steel Axe.
  5. General. Level 13. Silver Lance, Javelin.
  6. War Cleric. Level 14. Tomahawk, Heal.
  7. Hero. Level 15. Silver Sword, Steel Axe, Concoction. Patience, Sol.

Screenshot 25

Enemy Units

  1. Paladin. Level 16. Steel Sword.
  2. Paladin. Level 15. Steel Lance.
  3. Paladin. Level 15. Steel Lance.
  4. Paladin. Level 16. Steel Sword.
  5. Paladin. Level 19. Spear. Outdoor Fighter, Aegis.
  6. Falcon Knight. Level 17. Steel Lance, Vulnerary. Speed + 2.
  7. Falcon Knight. Level 17. Steel Lance. Speed + 2.
  8. Wyvern Lord. Level 18. Silver Axe. Strength + 2, Tantivy, Lancebreaker.
  9. Warrior. Level 14. Steel Axe, Hand Axe. HP + 5, Zeal.
  10. Warrior. Level 14. Steel Axe. HP + 5, Zeal.
  11. Warrior. Level 14. Short Axe. HP + 5.
  12. Berserker. Level 15. Killer Axe. Gamble, Wrath.
  13. Warrior. Level 16. Steel Axe. Counter.
  14. Warrior. Level 15. Steel Axe, Steel Bow. HP + 5, Zeal.
  15. Swordmaster. Level 17. Silver Sword. Avoid + 10, Vantage, Swordfaire.
  16. Sorcerer. Level 16. Nosferatu, Mire. Hex, Vengeance, Tomebreaker.
  17. Wyvern Lord. Level 19. Spear, Hammer. Strength + 2, Quick Burn, Swordbreaker.
  18. Hero. Level 16. Steel Sword, Hand Axe. HP + 5, Zeal.
  19. Hero. Level 16. Steel Axe. HP + 5, Zeal.
  20. Hero. Level 16. Armorslayer, Steel Axe. HP + 5, Zeal.
  21. Hero. Level 16. Wyrmslayer. HP + 5, Zeal.
  22. Sniper. Level 17. Silver Bow, Long Bow. Hit Rate + 20.
  23. Assassin. Level 17. Steel Sword, Steel Bow. Movement + 1, Pass.
  24. Swordmaster. Level 14. Steel Sword. Avoid + 10, Vantage.
  25. Swordmaster. Level 15. Silver Sword. Avoid + 10, Vantage.
  26. Thief. Level 20. Steel Sword, Bullion (L). Locktouch, Movement + 1.
  27. (Boss) Dark Knight. Level 20. Excalibur, Silver Sword. Hex, Anathema, Slow Burn, Lifetaker.
  28. Great Knight. Level 19. Silver Sword, Beast Killer, Silver Axe. Defense + 2, Luna.
  29. Bow Knight. Level 19. Brave Bow, Wyrmslayer. Skill + 2, Prescience, Bowbreaker.
  30. Assassin. Level 17. Steel Sword, Steel Bow. Movement + 1, Pass.
  31. Swordmaster. Killing Edge. Avoid + 10, Vantage, Swordfaire.
  32. Hero. Level 17. Silver Sword.
  33. Hero. Level 17. Silver Sword.
  34. Valkyrie. Level 15. Arcthunder, Recover.
  35. Warrior. Level 16. Steel Axe, Steel Bow.
  36. Warrior. Level 16. Steel Axe, Steel Bow. Counter.
  37. Sniper. Level 15. Silver Bow, Long Bow. Skill + 2.
  38. Sniper. Level 15. Silver Bow, Long Bow. Skill + 2.

Enemy Spawn Point 1

  1. Paladin. Level 16. Steel Sword.
  2. Paladin. Level 16. Steel Sword.
  3. Paladin. Level 16. Steel Sword.
  4. Paladin. Level 17. Silver Sword, Short Spear. Outdoor Fighter, Aegis.

Enemy Spawn Point 2

  1. Falcon Knight. Level 17. Steel Lance. Speed + 2.
  2. Falcon Knight. Level 17. Steel Lance. Speed + 2.
  3. Falcon Knight. Level 17. Steel Lance. Speed + 2.
  4. Falcon Knight. Level 18. Spear. Speed + 2, Relief, Lancefaire.

Enemy Spawn Point 3

  1. Berserker. Level 15. Steel Axe. Wrath.
  2. Berserker. Level 15. Steel Axe. Wrath.
  3. Berserker. Level 15. Steel Axe. Wrath.
  4. Berserker. Level 17. Silver Axe. Gamble, Wrath, Axefaire.

Enemy Spawn Point 4

  1. Wyvern Lord. Level 16. Steel Axe. Strength + 2.
  2. Wyvern Lord. Level 16. Steel Axe. Strength + 2.
  3. Wyvern Lord. Level 16. Steel Axe. Strength + 2.
  4. Wyvern Lord. Level 17. Silver Axe, Spear. Strength + 2, Quick Burn, Swordbreaker.

Treasure Chests

  1. Elixer
  2. Superior Edge
  3. Boots

Because I was focused more on designing an interesting level than one that fits perfectly within the mechanics of a particular Fire Emblem game, there are two aspects of this level that would be problematic. The first, as I mentioned before, is the trees. Fire Emblem uses environment assets placed on tiles to represent the terrain. While the treeline in this level might be more interesting visually, it would be more difficult to convey which terrain effects apply to a particular tile.

The second is the upper floor of the fort. Now, there have been previous games in the series to deal with multiple levels of elevation on a single map. However, those levels always still fit on a single grid. This level has overlapping areas of elevation that would technically be the same point on a grid. My guess is that none of the games’ backends were designed to support something like this. The engine would need to be built with this in mind, rather than trying to force it in midway through development.

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