Thread: Engine thoughts
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:02 AM
ScrObot ScrObot is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 252

(Well apparently tonight was essay writing night.)

We obviously love the dynamic worlds, relationships and randomness that make a Soldak game a Soldak game. But the graphics and asset reuse is killing you at this point.

Yes, you've made a lot of progress on the engine and systems since Depths of Peril... but you can take screenshots from DoP, Din's Curse, and Zombasite and they are so very close, especially with the reused and reworked monsters, environments, town setup, map system, inventory, etc. -- to the point that you'd think one was a base game and the other two were expansions.

I think one of the reasons Drox Operative is favored by a lot of us is because it didn't reuse assets, and it gave us a whole new feel -- even if the underpinnings were very much rooted in its predecessors.

One more reason I really like Drox is that it "feels" smoother and more responsive. Running your character around in DoP/DC/Z has always been kind of clunky feeling. A simple speed boost and stamina removal isn't going to fix that.

The older engine (and again, we do see the improvements made over the years, not trying to dump on the work you've put in) and art and asset reuse is sinking you, and I am worried about the Din's Legacy not selling well, because it's sounding like more of the same -- yes, with the skill mutation twist, but that sounds like it could just be an expansion to an existing game.

We know it's a ton of money and time to create new assets, and we also know it's a ton of money and time to switch engines. But with Zombasite not selling well, I can't imagine Din's Legacy is going to somehow become a breakout hit, with the majority of gamers seeing it compared to the previous non-Drox titles. Every review is going to harp on the fact that it's a not-too-extensive rejigger of the previous games with some new systems laid on top of it.

I think you're going to have to cut the old code loose and start over to get something that looks fresh -- even if you get it to a point where the systems work similar to how they do in your current engine. But you're not starting from scratch, because you have years of honing and optimizing the existing engine and systems, you'll be able to bang them out much faster this time around.

I'm far from a graphics snob, so don't assume I'm overly biased in that direction -- but there's a limit, and IMO you fall in an unfortunate valley where the graphics are good, but just not "good enough" for the style for 2018.

Being a one man show is extremely difficult in today's landscape, which is one of the reasons 8-bit (or less) art style is prolific in the indie scene -- it's far easier and cheaper than 3D models with an eye towards realism.

I was trying to think of other series to compare... Diablo isn't a great example because they were bigger teams and longer timelines. Elder Scrolls and Fallout as well. But even in those game, where there is a few common elements (Fallout's Super Mutants, for example), everything else feels pretty fresh -- it doesn't look like they took the prior game, beefed up some enemies, added a couple new biomes, added a few new systems and released it. Plus, those games are much more story-heavy than any Soldak game, which counts for something. They could release a sequel to Skyrim with the same engine and assets, just with a new map a a few new enemies and factions, and if the story aspect was solid, it'd still be good. But that's a crutch that Soldak games don't have.

Torchlight to Torchlight 2 was the best thing I could come up with -- and again, they're totally different. It's an iteration, but it's not just an optimization pass and a new system or two; it's an entirely different game from the ground up.

One solid example in the indie world would be Arcen Games, and they have quite a few parallels with Soldak, IMO. They run on a skeleton crew, and have churned out quite a few different feeling games across a disparate genres over the years. They've also gone through the engine switch dance successfully. Bionic Dues is a really fun roguelike, Starward Rogue is a procedural bullet hell/roguelike mashup. A Valley Without Wind 1/2 were procedural metroidvanias with base building (1) and strategy (2) elements. They're most known for AI War which is a massive space RTS. Add a couple more (unique, not iterative) strategy type titles, a light Zelda 1-ish game, and even a puzzle game in the vein of Tetris... they've been all over the place.

We love you and want to see you succeed. <3

Last edited by ScrObot : 08-08-2018 at 03:09 AM.
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