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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsA Lode Runner Story
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Author Topic: A Lode Runner Story  (Read 3875 times)
psyguy
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« on: July 20, 2012, 11:53:10 AM »

Download v0.9.5 here:


If you have a problem running the game, please let me know and I will try to fix it.

Introduction:

Hi all!  I'm working on a small remake of the original Lode Runner game, but combined with a handful of RPG elements like quests, items, and things like that.

The aspect of the game I'm most excited about is the "reactive" dialogue system I've been working on.  It's actually inspired by games like the original Deus Ex (one of my favorites!)... the things you do in the game (whether it be the things you say to people, the things you do to them / for them, etc.) will have an effect on how they interact with you as you play the game.

The game also has an XP system.  As you level up your character, you'll have the ability to upgrade a number of skills... for example, you can level up a "remote bomb" skill that lets you control the exact moment a bomb will explode (useful for defeating bad guys).  Because I'm trying to make "player choice" play a big role in the game (like in the dialogue systems), each skill category has a pair of skills.  As an example, you can either choose to level up the "remote bomb" skill, or you can select the "mega bomb" skill instead, depending on which one works better for your playstyle.

I don't want to go on forever, so I'm going to take a moment here to share a couple of screenshots.  I also have a couple of youtube videos that demonstrate some of the game in a little more detail, if you're curious to see the game in action or learn a little more about it.

Here's the link to the last video I recorded:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRvLBfp3dJ4

And a couple of quick screenshots:


« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 09:52:07 AM by psyguy » Logged
happymonster
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2012, 01:16:02 AM »

Looks interesting, nice screenshots.
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ninja
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2012, 05:00:47 AM »

This looks and sounds cool.  I can't wait to see what you do to it in the future.
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Delver is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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SolarLune
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2012, 05:14:29 AM »

Yeah, I like the way this sounds. I loved to play Lode Runner - those co-op maps got inhumanly ridiculous after a little time, ha ha.
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psyguy
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2012, 10:53:01 AM »

Thanks guys!  I'd love to add some kind of co-op mode if I have the chance.  Right now I'm trying to be a "good programmer" and get the core stuff done first.  We'll see how that goes!  Smiley
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 02:30:52 AM »

I'm intrigued as well. It just so happens that I recently rediscovered my disc of Lode Runner: The Legend Returns Smiley.
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 04:18:30 AM »

nice concept and I like your ideas for the dialog system, I want to see how they translate in game.

are the levels going to be handmade or is there going to be some degree of procedural generation or a combination of designed and random elements?
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psyguy
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 08:11:12 AM »

I think all of the levels will be handmade.  It's possible that I'll try to add either a separate mode or area based on some kind of procedural generation, because it would definitely be neat.  It sounds pretty challenging, though, too.  Wink
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psyguy
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2012, 11:14:33 PM »

I finally finished off the latest batch of bugs and revisions.  With that, I put together another "dev diary" going over some new features.  Before I start, I'll post a quick link to the video.

Dev Diary 3:




I have several new screenshots that demonstrate some of the new and revised game components.  The video goes over most of these in more detail, but you can get a quick idea of the highlights below.

Digging under Bridges


I added this snow world not too long ago.  Earlier in the game's development I had a kind of icy blue snow world, but it didn't really have a very good contrast.  After a little experimenting, I found that the red brick actually works really nicely as a base for the snow textures.

When I made the bridge for this theme, I saw all of the whitespace under it and decided to set it up so that you can dig beneath the bridge, even though you can't walk under it.  It'll give me some opportunities to create some new puzzle variants that people who have played previous Lode Runner won't have seen before, while remaining true to the central concepts of the series.

Merchants


I'm really excited (and somewhat nervous!) about how I've done the logic for the merchants in the game.  Most of the merchants will have different items that you can't buy from any other merchant.  I wanted to randomize each merchant's inventory, though (within certain parameters relating to item quality / etc.).

To do this, I set up a system of virtual "warehouses" behind the scenes.  It works kind of like a tag system; for each item in the game, I "tag" the item with one or more warehouse locations.  An item called "running shoes," for example, could belong to "warehouse1" and "warehouse5."  On the other end of the spectrum, I specify which warehouse each merchant has access to.  The merchant in the screenshot above might have access to warehouse1 and warehouse3.  Because he has access to warehouse1 and the running shoes also appear within warehouse1, you will have a chance of seeing that item in that merchant's inventory.  Also, I can adjust an NPC's warehouse access on-the-fly, adding and removing warehouses as necessary.  With this system, I can adjust any merchant's inventory, possibly unlocking better items as a quest reward, for instance.

Quest Indicators


Whenever the player has a chance to complete a quest, I want to make my best effort to make them aware of that.  If you need to collect X pieces of gold in a room for a quest, an indicator at the bottom of the screen will list that you have collected # / X pieces of gold in that room.  In the picture on top, the status message lets you know how many enemies remain in a "survival" wave, which requires you to survive a small number of enemies.

Moving Platforms


I actually added these very early in the development of this game, but they have been on ice for some time while I worked on some of the other features and UI elements.  When you enter special puzle rooms in the game, you will often have to manipulate one or more platforms, sections of the level that can move as you hit levers.

A platform's movement will depend on the current shape of the level.  If you dig part of the level away, you can free some extra room for the platform to move; moving it just one space farther up or down might put it in the perfect position to solve the puzzle!

Gratuitous UI shot


I redesigned the load/save game screens to feature a 2-column listing with a thumbnail always visible for each entry.  (I previously showed only the "currently highlighted" thumbnail off to the side of the screen.)  Each of the boxed sections is actually rendered as its own self-contained menu (i.e. a menu within the menu for every saved game), just without utilizing actual user input.

Skill Trees


When you complete quests and other goals in the game, you earn XP.  Leveling up unlocks skill points that you can spend on a variety of skills.  However, you must decide on one of two skills within eacha tree.  In the image above, you can select either the Remote Bomb or the Mega Bomb.  Each one offers its own unique strengths; you can decide which one fits in better with the way you're trying to play through the game.  You can continue to upgrade each skill you choose, unlocking new side effects and making it more powerful overall!
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tacograveyard
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2012, 05:21:53 AM »

Oh wow, I spent hours playing lode running on my Tandy 2000 and it was one of the games that inspired me to learn how program. There is pretty much no way I can avoid playing this. Please include the level editor!
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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2012, 06:39:33 AM »

This is looking better and better, and it's clear you're putting a lot of thought into the gameplay design!

Quote
When I made the bridge for this theme, I saw all of the whitespace under it and decided to set it up so that you can dig beneath the bridge, even though you can't walk under it.  It'll give me some opportunities to create some new puzzle variants that people who have played previous Lode Runner won't have seen before, while remaining true to the central concepts of the series.
Hmm... speaking of this, I don't know if you're planning on including a tutorial (might be good idea - it's a fairly old game after all), but if you do, maybe you should make two versions:

- n00b, what the hell is going on?
- Lode Runner veteran, show me what's different!

Quote
<concept of virtual warehouse system explained>
Does that also mean that not all items are guaranteed to be in a game?

Quote
Whenever the player has a chance to complete a quest, I want to make my best effort to make them aware of that.  If you need to collect X pieces of gold in a room for a quest, an indicator at the bottom of the screen will list that you have collected # / X pieces of gold in that room.  In the picture on top, the status message lets you know how many enemies remain in a "survival" wave, which requires you to survive a small number of enemies.
Seems like a good consensus between giving the player hints without complete hand holding.

About the skills, aren't you worried that it will interfere with the handmade puzzles?

I am really, really looking forward to this. Puzzle platformers are getting quite rare.
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psyguy
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2012, 03:35:49 PM »

Please include the level editor!

I'm thinking of including the level editor.  It's more "developer friendly" than "user friendly," but many people who edit levels are good at using tools like that.

Quote
Does that also mean that not all items are guaranteed to be in a game?

I think so, although I haven't finalized everything yet.  So far, I'm planning to try to incorporate a wide enough variety of items that you could play through a second time and see a fair amount of variety in the items the second time through.  The minimum goal, though, is to make sure that any one merchant (say a guy called "Sam") does not constantly offer the same thing for sale every time, so you look forward to visiting him more than once and having the potential to see a new list of goods.

Quote
About the skills, aren't you worried that it will interfere with the handmade puzzles?

I definitely have thought about that.  I did take the step to disable skills within the isolated "puzzle rooms" with the thought that those rooms should require dedicated puzzle solving, but it can still have an impact on how you approach many of the built-in digging puzzles throughout all of the overworld levels.

So far I've been planning to allow each player to decide on their own how much they want to use certain skills to get tricky gold pieces versus how often they want to play it "straight up" and get the gold with pure digging.  Hearing you mention it, though, makes me wonder if I could consider adding some sort of a "hardcore" mode, challenging you to play through the game without the ability to use skills.  I'll have to think about it a little bit.  Wink
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SolarLune
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2012, 08:27:28 PM »

Wow, this is looking pretty in-depth. Nice work. I think the hardcore mode sounds like a good addition, as well, so that you can't use skills to pass by harder puzzles.

Also, will there be any co-op, possibly online? That was an awesome part of Lode Runner!
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2012, 05:41:57 AM »

The minimum goal, though, is to make sure that any one merchant (say a guy called "Sam") does not constantly offer the same thing for sale every time, so you look forward to visiting him more than once and having the potential to see a new list of goods.
Oh, I didn't get that part. I thought you only shuffled once when you started the game...  Durr...?
Quote
I did take the step to disable skills within the isolated "puzzle rooms" with the thought that those rooms should require dedicated puzzle solving, but it can still have an impact on how you approach many of the built-in digging puzzles throughout all of the overworld levels.
Ah, a variant on the Metroid approach. That sounds like a good solution.

Quote
Hearing you mention it, though, makes me wonder if I could consider adding some sort of a "hardcore" mode, challenging you to play through the game without the ability to use skills.  I'll have to think about it a little bit.  Wink
I'm sure there are some people who would like that challenge Smiley
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psyguy
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2012, 12:42:55 PM »

Also, will there be any co-op, possibly online? That was an awesome part of Lode Runner!

I have thought about it, but so far I haven't done any work on implementing it (aside from trying to keep it in mind while coding the game).  I would love to include it.  I'm not sure how easy it would be to incorporate two players into the main story levels (with all of the dialogue and quest tracking), but I've thought about creating a standalone set of levels designed for 2 players, with a more traditional "one level at a time" style of gameplay.  That would simplify some of the challenges of accounting for 2 players, I think.
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psyguy
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« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2013, 04:20:39 PM »

It's been a long time since I updated this thread!  The last time I posted, I had recently completed implementing the quest system and special puzzle rooms.  Shortly after that, I started tinkering around with adding an online cooperative mode to the game.  And shortly after that, I burned out a little bit and took some time off.  I think it's just a coincidence.  Smiley

Honestly, the project by that point had gotten "large" enough that I was starting to have a little bit of trouble maintaining it.  I made a few bad judgment calls when I was putting together the UI systems, among other things, and it was catching up to me.  Sad  Instead of trying to stubbornly make it work, I decided to take the time to revise some of the systems to make them easier to maintain, and easier to use.  This included things like completely externalizing the UI, implementing a CSS styling mechanism, and other somewhat rote tasks.

The good part is that all of the work I put into that process has helped me clean up a lot of the problem areas.  Somehow, I just feel a little better running around the game knowing that things behind the scenes are working better!  Smiley

Along the way, I've finally had the time to add in some other fun new features.  I reached one of my milestones earlier this week, and I created another dev diary to give everyone a look at where the game stands at the moment.

Dev Diary 4:




The video is pretty detailed (a nice euphemism for "long" I think Smiley, so I'll also add in a quick overview of some of the highlights.  The video goes over each of these in more depth.

Challenge Rooms


In the last update, I showed the "puzzle rooms," which don't have bad guys in them, instead requiring you to solve tricky puzzles.  The challenge rooms work in the opposite way.

A challenge room consists of some set number of waves.  Each wave will give you a different set of requirements you must complete to finish the wave.  I added a variety of requirements:  sometimes you'll have straightforward requirements like "collect 5 bars of gold," but other times you'll see requirements like "destroy 3 enemies with a bomb and 2 enemies by trapping them in the ground."

Entering a Challenge Room


Challenge rooms can also utilize "allowances" and "limits."  You can start a wave with an allowance of 5 bombs, for example, and you might have to complete a wave while killing no more than 3 enemies in the process.  All of these settings can mix and match, although of course having too many active on any single wave would get a little crazy.  Wink

I haven't completely decided on what I will offer as a reward for completing a challenge room.  Rewarding the player with the choice of a new item, like I do in the puzzle rooms, is certainly an option.  I might like to think of a slightly different reward, but I don't want to force something that doesn't fit / doesn't matter as much just to make it in some way different.

Parallax Layer


This quick shot gives you a good look at the new parallax layer I put into the game.  The game doesn't put much emphasis on scrolling:  many levels fit on a single screen, with perhaps a little scrolling to center the camera as you move to the edges of the screen.  All the same, I think it adds to the game.

On a technical level, I decided to prerender the parallax layer each time you enter a new level.  Because you never interact with it (it's completely in the background), its contents never change, making it a good candidate for a prerendering approach.  For the occasional level that might span 2 screens wide, you'll trigger "refreshes" to the prerender as you scroll far enough over to run out of prerender data.

Item Upgrades


While you play the game, you can either buy or earn items that can help you along the way.  Each item has a set of base attributes, such as "enemies move a little slower."  On top of these base settings, though, you can customize the item to make it more useful.

An item will generally give you 2 choices of upgrade, allowing you to select one or the other.  The game will randomly (to an extent) select the upgrades you can choose from at the time you pick up the item.  I say "to an extent" only because each item has a certain subset of upgrades it can pick from; the earliest items in the game will give you "early" upgrades, and the more powerful items you find later in the game will start to give you access to more varied and advanced upgrade selections.

I think I've gone over most of the recent additions I've made to the game.  I'm still working on the cooperative mode... it's really cool, but it's also really a work in progress!  Smiley  Hopefully I can round it into shape and demonstrate it soon.  With the addition of the challenge rooms and the item upgrades, I think I have implemented most of the major features I have planned for the game.  Moving forward, I should be focusing more on refining the things that are already in the game and shifting into content mode a little bit more.

Thanks for reading!  Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2013, 04:43:21 AM »

 Hand Thumbs Up Left

Glad to see this project is still alive and making progress!
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SolarLune
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2013, 05:18:39 AM »

Indeed. I know the feeling when you don't want to work on a game because of the way you designed it - going back and fixing things really makes finishing the game feel more possible.

Challenge rooms sound like a great idea, and item upgrades sound cool, too. Nice work!
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2014, 04:26:23 AM »

Hey Psyguy, I guess you're no longer working on it?
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psyguy
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« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2015, 08:52:47 AM »

Hey Psyguy, I guess you're no longer working on it?

Sorry for missing this post, JobLeonard!  I have been very on again, off again with this project and completely missed it!

I want to drop a link to what I'm calling the "release candidate" for the final game.  This is a full version of the game with all of the features I want it to have, with both the singleplayer and multiplayer working 100%.  I have only had a small number of people play the game, and there may be issues I do not know about (compatibility, lurking bugs I couldn't find, etc.), so I don't want to call it an official release.

Download Links:


Notes:

  • If you cannot successfully run the game, please reply with your OS and any other information you can provide.  (If possible, try to run the game from a command line and see if it gives you a meaningful error response.)
  • I have one downloadable level set ready at the moment.  If you do not have it, you will see "new!" next to it.  If I updated it, it will offer a similar advisory.  You can repeat download it at any time, though (does not disappear from the list).
  • I have a little bit of work to do on the translations (a few missing strings here and there), but the feature 95% works correctly.  If you know one or more of the languages included and can give it a cursory test, that can help me.  I do not expect the translated text to retain all of the original context, and I expect in some cases it will completely lose that context.
  • In the windows download, the root directory contains a number of DLL files the game requires.  It looks messy.  I tried to clean it up, but I couldn't get py2exe to cooperate with me.  I will figure it out before public release.

The game supports gamepads/joysticks, if you have one that you like to use.  (I don't know if it will work with Xbox controllers as I haven't tried, but most anything else should work!)  The readme.html file offers a simple overview of the game's main features, but you can probably figure things out pretty quickly jumping right into the game.  Smiley
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