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Abstract Dungeon Crawl Discussion

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Hello all, I am new to this forum - and maybe its the wrong place - but: I tried to get some feedback on the design document of an abstract dungeon crawl game elsewhere and got almost flamed. Do you think this board is the right place to post some long and complicated ideas about abstract game development at all? If so, who is willing to work his way through 3 pages of badly written text that focuses on a game where a player simulates both a party of heroes and the dungeons they have to crawl? furthermore - is there someone interested in some kind of discussion and/or willing to give me some feedback on the topic? is this the right place to discuss the meta-game of a possible game that exists only in theory? [Edited by - BlackMage on November 28, 2008 12:26:18 PM]

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This forum is definitely for discussing game ideas, mechanics, and documentations [wink]

It helps, though, when you have a specific question. Asking a bunch of people to read 3 pages of rambling and then asking them what they think doesn't tend to go over very well. What specific parts of your idea are you wanting feedback on?

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thank you for the reply,

i will open a new thread soon and post my idea there (could be tomorrow or in two days because i have to prepare the document).

well, you are right - i dont have a specific question. i have a very general question concerning my idea:

"do you think this will be fun?".

its lots of stuff. after trying and failing about 3 dozen of game ideas - i focused on one single game and decided to plan it out in theory as much as possible. the result is a gigantic design document with every detail and niche covered. there is no single line of code yet. a completely different approach as anyhting i did until today.

currently i am ripping myself graphics from old video games to assemble some kind of gfx library (this will be freeware, as everything i do).

but - before i start coding, i would like to hear if the idea sounds interesting to some people.

well, as i said - its about 3 pages of text - should i just flood the forum with it?

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Original post by BlackMage
i will open a new thread soon and post my idea there (could be tomorrow or in two days because i have to prepare the document).
Probably no need to open a new thread, this one already gives useful background information.

well, as i said - its about 3 pages of text - should i just flood the forum with it?
No, preferably condense out the core ideas and gameplay mechanics - what makes you design stand out among all the games out there?

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Okay, this is the first part - just tell me when to stop as I dont know how to boil the already existing documents down any further (without getting flamed in either way):

Hello everyone,
I am new to this forum, but I always like to discuss somewhat abstract RPG ideas. Actually I got more or less flamed on another board because of a similar post (my game being repetitive, without story and background - the idea sucks and is just plain boring). So I try again on this board and hope some crazy rpg-freaks can give me a bit of feedback on the topic (and by crazy rpg-freaks I dont mean the 12 year old immature kids that lurk everywhere):

1. First of all - this is all about ideas. This is not a code/script/resource discussion, its all about the idea of a somewhat abstract dungeon crawl game. Personally I use PHP, Perl, MySQL, various Basic dialects, some C and Pascal and of course the good old RPGMaker Series. But - again: this is not a technical discussion. Its about creativity focusing on a very special game idea. Lots of thinking an planning went into this idea, and thus any valueable comment is welcome.

2. Second - I go to work and have a social life. When you enter adult state not only the dream of creating your own super complicated mmorpg vanishes, so is the amount of time you can spend on a project. After a while you reduce what you are able to achieve to a realistic level - this means cutting out anything that is unnessecary or boring in your oppinion. what remains is a project that is streamlined to both: the level of complexity you are able to master - and the features you like most in the videogames you have already played.

3. I already started a lot of games in my past life and never completed anything worth mentioning. Its the classical way of someone being carried away by real-life - not able to realise his dream. But, there are still projects going on in my spare-time, some of them - like this one - do not consist of a single line of code until today. they only exist in theory, like an unwritten book - a design document for an abstract dungeon crawl game.

4. This specific game was baptised "Dungeon Crawl Ex" or just DCX. Its a game my
brain boiled down over a very long time. I wanted to create a game that would be
fun to both work on and expand. I like repetitive games and multiply-able concepts. I like games that are easy in the core but look like something much more complex at first sight. I like diablo, yes - I like pure hack and slay, and character development. And items, tons of them - as well as spells. This means mass content generation using interpolation methods to create items.

But, the easiest way is to begin right at the start, and describe how my game
is supposed to work - i will try to describe the look and
feel of "Dungeon Crawl Ex" by telling you the story of a typical gameplay experience:

(more in the next post - if requested).

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5. Put yourself again into the time when Secret of Mana on the SNES console was
popular, the time everyone played the (old) Final Fantasy Series, Terranigma,
Chrono Trigger and Breath of Fire. Put yourself back into the time of eastern
RPGs swarming the market - imagine the good old hand cursor and blueish windows
with all the tiny item icons and an old-fashioned battle system.

6. As you begin the game, a screen with dark marble background shows up. In front appears a window in blue colors with white background. An all too familar
gloved, white/grey hand cursor appears and lets you choose your main characters class. The first thing that you realise is that every class is color coded to one specific element. and that there are five elements in total.

You can to choose from: hero, wizard, cleric, beastmaster, thief, amazon and the like. each of the classes is aligned to one of the five elements in the game, wich are (like in the trading card game magic the gathering): fire, water, nature, light and darkness. The element and character class defines your playing style and is the first step how your gameplay experience will develop.

7. after you choice, the blue menu disappears and leaves a dark marble background behind. next appears a simple landscape map that looks like a screen filling scroll in sepia tone. in the middle of the map spawns your character - who looks like a godamn trading card (still reading? get prepared).

8. Your character is represented by a simple trading card that spins two or three times around itself and then stops. after that - another trading card appears right next to him - spinning a few times and then stopping - representing your characters guild. the guild is also color coded, there are Fire guilds, water guilds and so on. both trading cards look similar to magic the gathering cards - they are framed and color coded and show a picture of the location or character - but they dont have any text or stats on them.

9. The familiar cursor appears again, together with another menu. You are thrown right into the game without any further explanation and have to choose:

* Buy dungeon card
* buy skill card
* buy character card
* disband character
* obtain quest card
* upgrade guild card

For the sake of simplicity of this introduction we leave all the options as they are and choose: "buy dungeon card". another menu opens and gives you the choice between a darkness dungeon, a water dungeon, a forest dungeon and so on. you choose the "Darkness Dungeon" and are prompted to pay 300 kudos points. as you have 1.000 of them you pay the amount and another trading card appears spinning on the gameplay surface, representing a deep, dark cavern.

(its weird i told you - and again - there is more until someone shouts "stop it!")

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Woah, way too much detail. Do the GUI theme, cursor design and menu transitions have anything to do with the whether the game is fun?

What you have here is excellent if you want to hand it to a development team, as they will understand every detail. It isn't very good for a discussion of whether the gameplay is fun.

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You're going WAY too fast here.

You say that each of the classes relate to one of the five elements in the game. How do they relate? What are the implications of the relationship with these elements? How are these elements pertinent to the game?

The whole trading card aspect can be detailed and discussed entirely on its own.

You're mixing a rough amount of gameplay with GUI elements and screen flow. Separate these. What are the core mechanics? How do these function? How do they interrelate?

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Okay, understood that sir!

I try to write a short summary by hand instead of posting my novel like introduction to the game:

* In this oldschool dungeon crawl simulation the player controls a party of 1 to 4 characters of his choice.
* There are many character classes to choose from in total, but only a few to begin with.
* Each character class comes with a guild that lets the player buy skills, hire characters and obtain quests.

* the players aim is to explore and conquer all dungeons in the game
* the player will build a city around his guild consisting of more guilds, shops, curches, temples and so on.
* the player will also buy and place dungeons of different elements and size.

* the game is therefore divided into two parts: the dungeon part and the city simulation.

* there are two currencies in the game: gold and kudos.
* gold is for buying weapons, armor and hiring characters
* kudos is for unlocking new dungeons, enemies and all the other gameplay features
* all gameplay features are represented by trading cards

* more shops and guilds enable the player to expand and equip his party
* the bigger the city is - the broader are the players possibilities
* all investments in the city and player equipment are paid using gold

* the player also buys and designs the dungeons his party will be exploring
* the player populates the dungeon with monsters, traps and bosses (and more features once coding the basics is done).
* all investments in the dungeon, monsters, traps and quests are paid using kudos

* fighting monsters, completing quests and clearing dungeons grants your more gold and kudos

* the gameplay itself is a constant cycling between the city and the dungeons
* gameplay inside the dungeons is reduced to tactical combat and randomly appearing events
* you cant move inside dungeons, you can only battle - simple
* each dungeon level features one or more battles
* you can only advance into deeper levels if you master all battles on the current level
* by moving between one dungeon level and the next, random events like traps and encounters can take place

(EDIT: know oregon trail? it was basically a survival game that was defined by the various events taking place. I mean events like theese - the player cant do anything against them - except he has the right skill or items to avoid them. this is just to spice up the time between battles. as the game will be 90% battles only).

* beating the last dungeon level clears the dungeon - gives you extra kudos and money and seals the dungeon

* combat is similar to final fantasy, but maybe more tactical
* elements interact by dealing more or less damage
* once deep inside a dungeon you have to use a telepipe to return to the surface, or you must walk and encounter even more monsters on your way back

* the trick about dungeon design is - that you can choose the monsters you will encounter
* monsters scale with difficulty, so you cant choose the easiest monsters all the time
* monsters are also color coded - this is the central mechanic: all gameplay objects (cards) are color coded.

* you fight a constant battle against the engine:
1. optimising your party for success
2. optimising the dungeon to be as easy to beat as possible.

* you can save all the time
* your characters will most likely gain one level in each dungeon
* you will be able to buy new equipment after each fight if you are able to reach a store
* upgrading the city and your party will be an ongoing process
* you find new cards in the dungeon that you can implement in your city later on.

* this is supposed to be some kind of mini-game that fills your downtime. the whole concept is a mixture of hack and slay and a trading card game. you can save your game all the time. this is like: "well, it got 5 minutes to go - lets clear another level." or: "just this single upgrade and then lets see how many items i have unlocked".
* this will be a abstract game without a story, your goal is to build and beat all dungeons available. quick, fast and dirty. there is no content other than the trading cards.
* there will be a s***load of cards to discover, like the item/monster database in diablo - and you can decice wich one to face during the game.

again: this is supposed to be a realise-able time killer game. its developed by one single person. its old-school, features retro-graphics and shall be easy, expandable and maintainable withouth adding new features all the time.

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