May 302013
 

That’s right! This June, a playable preview of Dungeonmans will be available for download right here, for you. Here’s the general idea:

- A fully playable adventure representing about 25% of the full game
- The Dungeonmans Academy which grows as your heroes recover improvements
- Freeform Class Creation- choose skills from over 15 masteries to suit your playstyle
- One secret unloackable class with its own unique masteries
- Dungeons to explore, villages and towns to visit, and tons of awesome loot
- Reach level 12 with as many Dungeonmens as you like
- Beautiful sprite work from a collection of excellent artists led by Bobby Frye.
- Sweeping, heroic music from Andrew Aversa.

There’s much more planned for Dungeonmans. Here are some of the things that aren’t in the preview build that will be added over time:

- More gear slots (like hats)
- More classes containing their own masteries
- Desert and swamp environments
- Other playable races! Honest!
- Greater variety in towns and villages
- More art, more sound!
- More monsters to crush, and more treasures to loot
- Ironmans challenges and alternate endings

Before you read any further, get this playing in the background. This is the theme for the Dungeonmans Academy, the starting area for all new characters and one of the bright lights of civilization in a wild and untamed lands. I love this track.

Field Testing

I’ve been working on Dungeonmans, on and off, for a long time now. It wasn’t until fall of 2012 that I decided to make this my full time job and work toward making Dungeonmans a viable commercial release. Like any good dev, I’ve got a head full of crazy ideas and I’ve put plenty of money, sweat and time into it, but Dungeonmans won’t be near its best until it gets into the hands of players.

I need players to kick the tires, crush some monsters, see what works and what doesn’t. What’s fun, what isn’t, and everything in between. I want Dungeonmans to grow along with a community of players who love the genre as much as I do and want to see it expand.

It’s not an alpha, or a beta, or any one of those silly greek letters. Everyone will call it a beta and that’s fine, but there’s a difference. The game is far from being either content or feature complete; there are entire systems that won’t be in play for the preview. It’s a sample of the core gameplay: go adventure in the wild, build up the academy, try out new combinations of powers, crush monsters and get loots. I still have months of work planned for the game, but those months will be better and more productive with the feedback from players like you.

I’ve been working like mad to get to the point where I feel confident enough to say anything. June is the month! While I’m not ready to give an exact date, you can imagine it will be after E3, probably because I’ll spend plenty of that time just watching E3 streams like a little kid again.

Back To Work!

Hopefully this explains why recent Dev Updates have had less flash and screenshots than usual. I’ll continue to update the site weekly with development wrap ups, but I’ll also be posting on Facebook more frequently with little bits and pieces of update information. As always post here or on FB if you have any questions or thoughts; I genuinely enjoy the conversation.

May 232013
 

Roguelike nerd talk incoming!

A great number of RPG combat systems, be they tabletop or video games, have two core defensive ideas in combat. When someone tries to hit you, you can A) Not get hit (Dodge) B) Take the hit and reduce the damage dealt (Armor). That’s a simplification but it applies quite well.

Here’s how combat math works in Dungeonmans:

1) Attacker rolls a d100 and adds Hit Value (AR)
2) Defender compares the AR against Dodge. If Dodge > AR, the attack is dodged.
3) Subtract Dodge from the AR
4) Defender compares the AR against Parry, if Parry > AR, the attack is parried
5) Subtract Parry from AR.
6) Defender compares Block yada yada etc

Basic attacks then have four results: Dodged, Parried, Blocked, Hit. If it is a hit,

1) Roll the damage.
2) Subtract the Defender’s Armor Value (AV) from the damage.
3) Whatever is left gets through.

At a quick glance, it seems like the best way to not get hurt is to Dodge all the attacks. In other words, stack DV to the ceiling and laugh at clumsy monsters. AV is great but the massive blows from an Orc Hosshammer still hurt if they connect, right? Who wants to deal with that?

Style and Substance

The problem I have with that is both mechanical and thematic. Mechanically, what’s the point of putting heavy armor in the game if nobody cares to wear it? There needs to be a choice there and it should matter. Thematically, there’s something awesome, one might even say metal about a hero covered head to toe in glistening plate mail, wading through the feeble attacks of the soon to be crushed and laughing the whole time. Go on and hit me, I’ll even let you swing first.

How to solve this!? Here’s some ideas that I’m implementing:

1) AV matters, it can stack pretty high and with the right gear and masteries, you can shrug off many attacks.
2) Some enemy special attacks have very high hit chances or don’t miss at all. These aren’t bread and butter attacks but they happen.
3) Heavy Armor won’t ruin your DV. It will reduce it, but not make enemy missing impossible.
4) AV will still protect against some magic attacks. Force based attacks (like your typical Magic Missile) are absorbed the same as regular blows.
5) Heavy Armor pieces are slightly more likely to have better magical bonuses on them

There’s concern that this might be swinging too far in the other direction, which I’ll have to keep an eye on. Balance balance balance. The ultimate goal is for players to have a choice and have multiple avenues to succeed. It’s true that there will be one mathematically superior build, above all others, my hope is that the other builds are close enough to not make it a big deal.

Pretty Pictures

Here’s some screenshots! First, my pass at in-dungeon mapping, I’ve had this look in my head for a while now and I’m happy to see it. Second, a Necromanser is caught in a Road Battle, bravely breaking up a barricade set by filthy punks who want to shake down poor travelers. Man, that dog is big.

But where are the secret doors?

But where are the secret doors?

 

It's not Arathi Basin, you can fight on the road.

It’s not Arathi Basin, you can fight on the road.

May 162013
 

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week:

  • Building a better Mastery UI: the one that lets you spend your points on level up. This has taken most of my time!
  • Polishing up Books as a consumable item.
  • Building the Cartography and Advanced Delving masteries.
  • Rebuilt starting class loadouts.
  • Worked on the camera some more :(
  • Started on a simple layout for overland encounters.
  • Bugs bugs bugs

The starting majors (Fightermans, Rangermans, and Wizardmans) are arrangements of 5 mastery points, along with some simple starting gear. A player can also start without picking a major, you get 5 points to spend as you please to build whatever flavor of hero you like. You’re not pinned down to anything, you can put points all over the place!

Not all masteries can be completed right away. Most of them allow you to put in one point at 1st level, another at 3rd, and the final at 5th. For the first few levels at least, you’ll have to weave between masteries, but that will create a more well rounded character.

UI work isn’t my forte, and I’ve had trouble pinning down a contractor to help out with the interface. No excuses though: here’s a look at the Mastery UI in it’s current state. The little sword bounces– I’m very proud of that bounce. Less proud of the gradient for the Master’s Programs label. That’s gotta go.

I’ve been putting in some long hours over the last week, I’m really driven to hit my upcoming personal milestone. I can’t wait to share the results!

May 092013
 

Hello! This week is pretty straightforward as I’ve been racing through tasks and don’t have too much time to blow hot air about my theories on Roguelikes. What’s been going on?

* Bartenders in towns can mark rumored new dungeons on your map that you have to seek out.
* Multiple town layouts.
* Town shops will pick from a wide list of specific shop tables. Find the greatest boot store in the land!
* Fixing some bugs with NPC chatter and idle movement that I introduced recently, whoops.
* Added some animation support for Containers like barrels, chests, bookstands, etc.
* Fixed some bugs blending background music between areas.
* Added fade in / fade out for area transitions.
* Added a new item shop UI
* SOUND EFFECTS zomg.
* Added a Soft-ID feature, will explain below.
* Got the Academy Library working!

The Library is another room in the Academy that grows with a player’s effort. You’ll find plenty of books in the wild, which are designed to give you an increase in skills. If you read the book, you’ll gain one point in a skill based on the book, and then the book is gone. You can also sell the book, if you’re hard up for coin, OR you could bring them back to the Academy and donate them. Donating to the Library means you can’t use the book on your current hero, however there are benefits!

Future heroes can start with knowledge of scrolls, and will be able to identify some of them on sight. The more impressive the library, the higher power this will be able to reach. Dungeonmens who take advantage of a fully stocked library will have knowledge of nearly every scroll in the game, right at level 1.

Finally, there’s Dungeon Sense, a sort of sixth sense about dangerous items and situations. The more books in a library, the better your odds of getting a proper gut feeling about the world’s surprises. You have no way of knowing if the water in that pool is safe to drink, but something tells you it will be of great benefit. You may not have this new wand fully identified, but you just have this feeling that it is quite powerful and probably dangerous. Knowledge is power, and even the sword-swinginest Fightermans is better off knowing more about the dangerous mysteries of the world at large.

Finally, here’s a large image showing various stages of Library development. Check out that last one! Very fancy carpets. Alright, enough jibba jabba, back to work!

May 022013
 

The Quest! Is there a more noble or traditional mark of heroism? The Holy Grail, the Golden Fleece, the Sword in the Stone, Gilgamesh, Ponce de Leon: great stories of bold heroes setting out into the unknown to risk everything in pursuit of a distant goal. A great quest has been the bedrock beneath countless pieces of literature throughout human history.

Then, there’s quests in video games.


Most roleplaying games need structure. Go here, do this, execute steps A, B and C in order. The plan being that along the way you’ll learn something, find unique challenges, maybe even have a laugh or two. Tutorial quests, lore quests, epic endgame boss quests, there’s a pile of them everywhere. From themepark MMOs to sandboxes like Skyrim, you’ve got quests. So how about roguelikes?

Procedural content is usually anathema to quality quests. An early build of Dungeonmans in 2010 used a simple questing system to give extra motivation to heroes heading down into the dungeon to crush monsters. I had thought a splash of humor would help, and since players were going to be killing scrobolds and bandits anyway, what’s the harm in giving them more coin when they return to the surface with a fistful of Scrobold Palps? The harm was: it’s boring. It didn’t add anything. Unless I was going to find a way to make procedural quests truly interesting, why have them? So they’re gone.

Not to say that roguelikes can’t have quests. Elona, for all its wackiness, has a quest system that encourages travel, crafting, and fighting small packs of monsters. ADOM is full of quests, though you can’t really call them procedural as they mainly focus on killing specific, named monsters that are the same each playthrough. However, even in those games, the quests become a sort of background noise, just a series of steps to take and hurdles that need jumping. The real fun seems to come from the crazy situations players end up in, the terrible foes they faced and their clever escapes– real roguelike magic.

A couple of screenshots ahead. The first is an early look at the Cave art style. I’m quite a fan of Bobby’s floors and walls, I think this is another great example. Caves in Dungeonmans contain large areas (one might say… cavernous!) connected by winding tunnels with forks and branches along the way. This particular one might be a little bare, but there’s always room for stalagmites!

 

 

This here is an early pass at mapping the overworld. There’s a great many locations generated by the game and I figured a map would need some sort of legend, generated based on the location you’re in. The legend will have more information eventually: whether or not a dungeon has been cleared, or specific interesting buildings in a given town. This is a good start.

 

That’s all for this week! I’d love to hear your thoughts on quests, procedural content, the screenshots, whatever! Conversations both here and on the Dungeonmans Facebook page are always a delight!