Jun 062013

Dungeons have traps, right? They have monsters, treasures, and traps. Some metaphor goes in here, about a three legged table or a peanut butter and jelly and marshmallow sandwich. Dungeons have traps! Except for the ones in Dungeonmans, right now. They don’t.

In a much earlier version of Dungeonmans, I was fortunate enough to have my dear friend Patrick Lipo (who, it seems, hasn’t updated his blog in nearly 3 years, come on man step it up) work with me on creating a really fluid and interesting trap system. He designed most of the traps, and built trap code off the Dungeonmans codebase. There were tons of traps in that early system:

* Spike traps
* Explosion traps
* Short range teleport traps
* Moving blade traps that whirled across the floor
* LOS-blocking smoke traps
* A Green Fist Bursts Through The Ground And Punches You In The Produce traps

Creative stuff that was also useful and fun. So why are they cut?!

Excuses Ahoy!

Assets: 95% of the art from old Dungeonmans has been updated, recreated, or just straight tossed. Each of the traps would need new sprites that matched the bar of the rest of the game, and there wasn’t time for that. Especially the smoke clouds and rolling fire traps. It’s not impossible but time and resources are finite things.

Intelligent Placement: Traps were kind of random in how they were placed. Sometimes that’s ok, but a good trap is better when it’s placed in a way that makes players have to think about the next move. Take a shortcut but risk setting off something that can knock you backwards, guard a treasure chest with a series of traps, a superstrong monster that can knock you into a spiked wall. You’d want monster AI to have some basic knowledge of active traps, and the more clever ones would send players in that direction.

Fun Interactions *Besides* Setting Them Off: With the trap system as is, there were three options: jump over it, power through it, or attempt to disarm it. The disarm system was a straight dice roll that used your stats and your ranks in a thievery skill to determine success or failure. It was subpar. The thievery skill had one real use: traps, and that made it way less appealing than everything else. You could put your skill point in leaping across the room, launching a ray of frost, oooor a 10% boost to trap discovery and disarming.

Should a player be able to…

* Disarm traps and scavenge for parts? Recover poison darts or blades to toss?
* Detect traps with a spell? Disarm them with a spell?
* Place their own traps?

All of those things fit nicely into the Kitchen Sink that haunts every roguelike developer. “This game will have everything!” I had to consider where features like that landed when compared to others, especially through the lens of the fancy title, Dungeonmans: The Heroic Adventure Roguelike. Indiana Jones is a heroic adventurer, and he dealt with traps all the time! Of course, he never had to face down the atonal dissonance of Dread Purpleonians either. Protip: whip proficiency is a poor choice there.


Here’s a shot of a Field Battle, a random encounter while moving across the plains. This is still early on, the foes aren’t terribly strong but you certainly don’t want to be surrounded.

Battle on the Open Field!


Here, the Lady Wizardmans Bluebelle is taking on a Punk Roadblock. These hooligans think they can just run wild and own the only roads between towns? You’ll notice a few things in this shot: there’s burning terrain from the vials thrown by Gutter Chemists, and that fire will damage anything, including the wooden barricade. Near the top of the screen is the Droog Captain in charge of the operation. The red glow indicates he is a Champion, a dangerous foe far stronger than the regular variants.

Lady Dungeonmans, Tear Down This Wall!

Finally, here’s a shot of a dungeon tileset I haven’t shown off much. Here our heroine is holding to the doorway, trapped between an encroaching Puppy Mold and “fearsome” Scrobold Jabroni. Not really much to worry about here, honestly.

Puppy Mold Inbound!

That’s it for this week. Crazy Dungeonmans development crunch continues, with the exception of the 3-4 hours next week I will spend with a bowl of popcorn watching E3 streams!



  One Response to “Dev Update 22: It’s Not A Trap!”

  1. Yeah, I wasn’t a big fan of the random-roll discovery/disarm thing because you could get screwed too easily by some bad luck. It seems you are working hard to maintain the hard-but-fair thing and that’s obviously the way to go. The stationary terrain features and some of the moving elements showed some promise, but they didn’t get far enough with the limited placement rules we got in place at the time. Cutting stuff that isn’t all the way awesome is cool wit’ me.

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