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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackPlaytestingDungeonesque - A game I've just put on hiatus
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FinalSin
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« on: June 28, 2011, 09:14:22 AM »



Folks, welcome to Dungeonesque, a 2-5 player game about dungeons, swords and experience points. The idea came to me while making stuff for the Versus competition, but my netcode failed me (thanks, Lua) and I put the project on hold. Then I found Game Maker! Joy of joys. With my netcode problems solved, I started work in earnest, and it's going mightily fine. Let me tell you how the game works.

One player is the Dungeon Master or dungeon keeper, or 'dude', or 'boss man', or 'Mister D'. He is the manager of a branch of international dungeon locations. Probably. I dunno. Anyway, he controls the dungeon and all that is inside it:



The dungeon's layout is fixed at the start of the game, but he can spend mana to place enemies, items, traps and other things into the dungeon. He can also set the mood with some music selections, play creepy sound effects, change the visual theme of the dungeon and do all kinds of other evil-villain-esque stuff.

 Gentleman

One to four other players are the heroes of the piece! They're probably orphans or something like that, I don't know. The point is, they have decided to storm the dungeon and ransack it for delicious loot. If they can manage it, they'd like to kill the Dungeon Master while they're at it, too.



The heroes choose their classes, and push through the dungeon fighting off the monsters and picking up the treasure dropped by the DM. This all plays in real time, so as the DM gains back mana (from lost creatures, damaged heroes, or otherwise) he can lay down new ambushes and deadly traps in the rooms up ahead. If the heroes make it to the end, they face off against the DM himself! But if the DM is wily enough, who knows if they'll even make it that far...

I'm putting the game on hiatus as I'm feeling woefully inept at making hack and slash combat fun. Everything seems weak and I don't know if I can make it really compelling to play. However, I'd love to return to it in a month or so given some breathing time, and I would obviously love to hear suggestions from TIGS on the concept and design. I have a demo, but it's too lacking in function to offer up to people now, so this is all I'll put up at the moment.



Questions, thoughts and jokes welcome.
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2011, 01:08:28 PM »

I'm madly in love with concepts like these.
From the screenshots, I can't say much about it, nor can I give any recommendations without knowing what you'll be going for. Having maintained a RPG NWN Server for a couple of years as an active Admin and GM, I can warn you about a handful of pitfalls.

  • Players will rush the living hell right through dungeons. This is especially true when a) they know the layout already, b) there's little to do, c) They've got complete mapvision
  • Problem b) is a direct result of another problem: Settings things up as a GM takes time and is a rather dull yet stressful task.
  • Problem b) will spiral out of control when you've got a perfectionist overlord. Players will find empty dungeons, the Overlord will find himself raging madly because players are too fast.
  • Players will abuse the hell out of any mechanic they can. If your Pathfinding isn't top notch, they'll stuck the AI on the walls. If their attack patterns are predictable, they'll misuse that.

Things I would do when I'd were to make a game like this (which I'm not, thus it's pointless vapor babble by me):
Implement a way for the GM to pre-setup his own layouts, not including traps and monster placement. This could make it more interactive for the GM and give him some much needed time on actively controlling things.
I'd limit the vision of the players further, like having them wield torches with the rest pitch black, could leave some suspense as to what will happen where and what path they'd take.
I'd have some sort of random element for the GM too, like some sort of card system where his abilities are limited by what card he pulls from a stack.
I'd have a look at Realm of the Mad God for pointers about how to make Hack and Slash fun. I'd also try to get my hands on boardgames with a similiar theme, like Descent for example and see what makes those fun for the GM.
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FinalSin
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2011, 01:25:14 PM »

Wow. That's some great input. Thanks a lot, there's some great tips in there and I'll take another peek at ROTMG tomorrow too.

Your points about GM setup are so true, and amounted to one of my biggest worries. Thanks for taking the time to give me your thoughts!
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 03:32:18 AM »

i'm glad to see this is still being worked on (or was)

what you're kind of creating here is a strategy game version of left4dead rather than the standard pen and paper rpg. the dm is playing to win here instead of playing to ensure the other player feels challenged without feeling overwhelmed.
That's why the combat may not feel satisfying, the dm is spamming them with loads of the same units until they reach the end.

I think the trick to making the villain side fun and challenging (while also doing so for the player) is to make each monster incredibly one sided, each superzombie in left4dead has a very specific role but the right combination can cause cool ambushes. Maybe if you play into that a bit more, include health potions that take time to work so other heroes need to protect them until they're healed and maybe add a unit spawner that continually pumps out 1hit-kill enemies until it is destroyed by the heroes.

Maybe mana should be spent on soulshrines (or whatever) and each soulshrine allows you to have one of that unit in-game at one time, once a skeleton (for example) is killed you have a couple of turns before you can re-place it, I think it would push strategy for the dungeon player over spamming plus it would give the hero more reason to explore (destroy the shrine) over simply racing to the edge
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 03:57:08 AM by capn.lee » Logged
FinalSin
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 04:16:05 AM »

Quote
what you're kind of creating here is a strategy game version of left4dead rather than the standard pen and paper rpg. the dm is playing to win here instead of playing to ensure the other player feels challenged without feeling overwhelmed.
That's why the combat may not feel satisfying, the dm is spamming them with loads of the same units until they reach the end.

You're absolutely right, of course. One of my intentions behind this game was to see if game rules can be used to force a player into creating fun for other players. For instance, Loot will be placed by the DM. I hope to have robust enough rules that reward the DM for placing it in interesting places for the player to find/obtain.

Quote
I think the trick to making the villain side fun and challenging (while also doing so for the player) is to make each monster incredibly one sided, each superzombie in left4dead has a very specific role but the right combination can cause cool ambushes. Maybe if you play into that a bit more, include health potions that take time to work so other heroes need to protect them until they're healed and maybe add a unit spawner that continually pumps out 1hit-kill enemies until it is destroyed by the heroes.

This is gold. Particularly the unit spawner. Placing a dozen low-level enemies is repetitive and that's a neat workaround. I also like the L4D analogy.

Thanks for the feedback!
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2011, 09:08:56 AM »

I hope to have robust enough rules that reward the DM for placing it in interesting places for the player to find/obtain.

I really think having a look at Descent would help you in that regard. It's basically exactly what you're doing, except as a turnbased boardgame. It had to face the same issues that your game is facing now.

Maybe this might give you some inspiration:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhHNQCkchTE
Nevermind the guy, but he does a pretty good job at just showing the principles of Descent.

 
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FinalSin
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2011, 02:33:00 PM »

Holy crap. The similarities are amazing. That's a really useful video, thanks a lot.
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 02:58:33 PM »

fuck this, make descentesque!

i love this guy, he's charmingly geeky.
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FinalSin
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2011, 02:38:18 AM »

I know, right? I really warmed to him as well.

Descent has some nice mechanics. It's funny how similar the concepts are too. I wish I had people to play that sort of thing with; on the other hand, that's one reason I wanted to make it in videogame form.
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2011, 08:52:23 AM »

i'm pretty sure legally it's iffy, but there is probably a vassal plugin for the game somewhere, you could probably find a few people online to play the game with.
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2011, 05:34:22 PM »

I like the idea.  Instead of laying things out ahead of time I would suggest have a random base dungeon stocked with random monsters and then have the dungeon master be able to create additional monsters and traps on the fly.  I would have the characters on the slow side so this could all be done in real time without the players simply trying to run to the end.
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