Earthquakes and systems working together
Friday, 20 November 2009

So yesterday I added in an earthquake event. It's a pretty simple thing, every once in a while there will be an earthquake that shakes things up and will damage things nearby. However because there are so many systems that work together it has a bigger impact than you'd expect.

Everything in the area getting damaged a little bit will probably be minor to the player, except when they are foolishly running around with low health. It will usually flatten fragile things like barrels and crates. Really unstable things are going to cause problems, like exploding barrels and energy vortexes will go boom. Of course this can set off a chain reaction of other unstable things.

The damage will also wake up any monsters in the area. Any monster hiding and waiting to ambush the player will likely come out and be a little bit upset. I guess this could be a good or bad thing for the player. It will screw up their ambush, but you might have more monsters to deal with than you would have otherwise. This will also effect any monsters scared of pain who have low morale.

Next, if close enough to the player, it will shake their screen around. This doesn't really change any gameplay but it does feel pretty cool.

If the earthquake hits near a weak area in the dungeon (cracks, leaks, etc) it might very well bring down the ceiling on any poor sucker below it. Hopefully for your sake, that's the monsters and not you. Even if it doesn't cause cave-ins, it will likely weaken the area around you making it more susceptible to further damage.

World modifiers are impacted because the Unstable, Explosion Hazard, and Chaos world modifiers now have more earthquakes than usual.

I'm even thinking of adding a quest involving earthquakes. :)

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Preorder and beta thoughts
Tuesday, 10 November 2009

So I'm thinking of having a preorder beta type thing for Din's Curse. How it would work is that when we get to beta, you would be able to buy the game for a reduced price and also be able to download and play the beta. There seems to be a lot of advantages for a system like this for you guys and for Soldak. A bunch of other indies have used a process like this very successfully.

I think this will be a good thing for you guys. This will allow you to buy the game for a cheaper price (right now I'm thinking 20% off). It also gives you a good chance to be more involved with the creation of the game if you are into that kind of thing. You wouldn't have to participate though, you could just play the beta or simply wait for the game to be finished and then download the release version and play that.

This should be good for Soldak also. It gives us a bit more freedom to release the game when it is done. The more preorders we get, the longer we could polish the game. This would also get us a lot of feedback from you guys before it was too late. We will certainly update the game after the full release like we usually do, but when a game ships there is only so much tweaking you can do. When you are in beta, you have a lot more freedom to change things without annoying everyone. There is also the possibility that this would get us more word of mouth and forum traffic which would be nice.

So what do you guys think?

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Treasure chests, locks, traps and the warrior way
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

For Din's Curse, I have expanded the gameplay around chests, and given the player some actual choices. All of this post applies to doors also, but I'm just going to reference chests for simplicity. In most RPGs, especially action RPGs, opening a chest is not a choice. It is something you automatically do every time you find a chest. In Din's Curse, I expect a few chests here and there to be left alone, at least for a little while.

When you get close to a chest, you get a good bit of information about it- whether or not it's locked, your chance to pick the lock, what kind of trap you think it has, what's your chance of being right about the trap, and your chance to disarm it. That sounds like a lot, but it really boils down to is it locked and/or trapped.

First off, what if the chest is locked? Well if you have a skeleton key, you are good to go. Just use the door, you will use up one key, and the door will open (it might set off a trap though). However, skeleton keys are fairly rare and expensive (at least to new characters). Rogues or a hybrid character with the thief specialty has a pick locks skill. Picking a lock takes a bit of time and uses up some of your mana. The chance that you are actually successful depends on your skill level compared to the level of the lock.

What if you don't have a key and aren't a rogue? You simply bash open the chest or if you are a wizard, blast it into little pieces. There is a catch- bashing open chests is really noisy. You are going to alert any nearby monsters and on top of that, you get a surprise penalty for a period of time. Bashing on things can simply be dangerous to your health.

Next: traps. First off, the display only tells you what you think the trap is, not what it really is. It does give you a percent chance that the guess is correct though. This guess is based on your perception stat which is based on intelligence, but does get a bonus from both the pick lock and disarm trap skills. So in general, mage types and rogues will have good perception. Assuming there actually is a trap and you trip it, that's where your disarm skill comes in to play. Once again only a rogue or thief specialty has this skill and it is your skill compared to the trap skill level with a bit of randomness that determines you success chance. There are a lot of really nasty traps so we'll just hope you're successful.

That's how it functions, but how does it play out in the game? Well mage types come up to chests and with their high intelligence and thus high perception notice traps fairly easily. They have no way to deal with them directly though. So when there is a really nasty trap, they either leave them alone or blast the chest from a distance depending on the trap type. A rogue will see the trap, unlock the chest, and disarm the trap. As for the warrior way, keys are for wimps. Something is locked? Smash it to smithereens. Of course this is where playing co-op with friends is nice, just make the rogue open all of the chests.

The choices can get harder though. What if you are deep in the dungeon, your health is low, you have no more supplies, you are playing a hardcore character, the current level is fairly hard, and your perception tells you that the chest in front of you has a pit trap that will drop you to the next dungeon level? What do you do? Do you risk it?

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Cave ins
Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Even without monsters and traps, the caves and dungeons in Din's Curse are dangerous. This is because you can interact with the environment in many ways. Today I'm going to talk about cave-ins because they're a great example of engaging the environment, but cave-ins also work with many other systems I've previously discussed.

A cave-in is exactly what you expect, large forces like explosions can break weakened areas of the cave or dungeon causing large rocks to fall down, crushing whatever is below them. Falling rocks do a good bit of damage, can temporarily block areas, and can cause further cave ins. Be careful with those powerful spells. They might kill your intended victims, but they also might rain down boulders on you or block your escape route.

While a powerful explosion can cause cave-ins just about anywhere, they are much more likely when the surrounding stone is already weak. Water drips and cracks show a slight weakness, while steam and gas leaks show more. Either way, be careful when visible signs of weakness are present. Gas leaks are even worse since they're flammable and tend to explode themselves. Also if there are support beams in the area, try not to break them.

Of course, in Din's Curse, not causing explosions isn't always easy. Many monsters in the game can use spells that explode. The Chaos Lords with their earthquake creating stomps are particularly dangerous. There are also numerous traps on the ground, on chests, and on many other objects. Even obvious explosion dangers like exploding barrels and energy vortexes can cause cave-ins. These circumstances will generate interesting decisions. Should you break that barrel hoping for loot when it is right next to the gas leak? What if it is near a gas leak, 4 cracks, and an energy vortex? What if you are playing a hardcore character?

The world modifiers can even impact cave-ins. One modifier increases the chances of natural earthquakes. Another modifier makes the entire dungeon or cave more likely to have weak areas.

I'm also planning on having some quests that are earthquake related.

Comments are welcome as usual.

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The little things that every RPG should have
Tuesday, 13 October 2009

There is an article over on Destructoid about the little things that every RPG should have. It has a pretty decent list, although it is a little jRPG centric. I won't go into all of the specifics since you can just read the original article, but Din's Curse does all of them but two and those don't really apply to our type of game. Apparently we are doing pretty good on the little things.

Off the top of my head I can think of two more I would add to the list : a map and being able to save whenever I want. I like being able to see where I have explored already and detest save points.

What do you guys think?

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