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suliman

Adventure/roguelike campaign mechanics

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Hi

Im planning a roguelike dungeon-crawler similar to darkest dungeon. Dungeons are seen as 2d from above when exploring them and when encountering fights those are played out in a turnbased group vs group manner. The tactical fights and managing the party of heroes are the main part of the gameplay.

 

Heroes do level up, but gold is also an important resource that goes into equipment (items loose condition and needs to be replaced), healing, recruits, upgrading party skills (such as max size) and other stuff. The player will need to choose what to spend gold on.

 

 

This is how dungeons (the actual game) are linked together:

 

1. A new game is a new "campaign". You set out for adventure and try to make it to the "end" of the campaign. If you fail you can start a new campaign (it is highly randomized anyway so it will not be the same). You set difficulty, maybe lenght and if hardcore or not (single save slot).

2. Player starts with 2 heroes but can control up to 6 by the end of the campaign (with recruits and upgrades). If heroes dies they stay dead. But recruits can be picked up at towns. You need a good mix of heroes so they cover different roles.

3. The adventure works like this: the party "travels". Basically events pops up and the player takes actions such as "try to avoid/engage" for an enemy encounter or stay and mine (at cost of energy) or skip for a "found a silver deposit". There is no "travel-map".

4. A campaign consists of 5-10 chapters. Each containing some smaller events and 2 larger dungeons. Each chapter is ended with the party finding a town/camp where they can heal, restock on items and recruit (some/sometimes) new heroes.

5. After the last chapter there is a final large dungeon with extra challenges. If this is completed, the player wins the campaign!

6. If you fail to much you might not make it and need to give up and start a new campaign, especially on higher difficulties. You can only save in towns not during travels but each town is maybe 15 min of gameplay apart. (In hardcore mode your save is deleted when you die).

 

Could this work? Does it seem both fun and challenging?

Could randomizing encounters feel unfair to the player? I can offset it by offering 2 positive and 2 negative (or whatever) encounters per chapter but still.

Erik

Edited by suliman

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Some players like random event mechanisms, some hate them. Some want to win every campaign, others want to be smacked down for every little mistake or just because the RNG is in a bad mood. I don't think there's a right or wrong design choice here, just make sure it meshes with the rest of the game.

 

I'd advise against "only save in town" if you can avoid it. It's better to let the player come and go on there own schedule. If you want to force the player to complete chapters in one attempt, you could just reset the save to the last town on death in soft mode. Essentially just make the game always save and build the failure recovery state in.

 

It's not necessary, but modern rougelike's often have a meta progression tying the playthrough's together: either unlocking new classes or buying bonuses for the next playthrough. Something to consider, it seems to lessen the blow of failing if you still get something out of the attempt (besides just practice).

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Definitely allow saving at any time!!!

Personally, I don't like the choice of permadeath or not. Either, it's a save the game type game and have as many saves as you want, or, it's permadeath. Just my opinion on that matter though.

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I agree,  some bonuses/unlocks for the next playthrough would be nice. Have to think about it.

 

Yeah it might work to have a save (checkpoint) before each event. It makes it easier to save scam though... I'll need to generate all events at campaign start so save scumming doesnt give you another event (so you cannot reload until you get the one you want). Maybe even save a bunch of random seeds (instead of just event type) so each event will be the same (including rewards etc).

 

The other idea is to save "all the time" after each hit in combat etc. This might be harder to do for me technically but maybe possible. That pretty much makes it permadeath as even if you leave the game or alt-f4 out you will still get back to the same point.

This would also make it possible to put down the game (and go and eat pie and sleep) at any point and dont loose progress.

 

@Mats1

Games such as xcom/xcom2 allow choice at start of new game to do this and i think it works ok to give the player the choice. Typically you can get around the hardcore feature with file backups anyway.

Edited by suliman

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It's a pretty narrow line working both permadeath and forgiving repetition so the possibility of it working depends entirely on how you implement it. You could have entirely expendable heros like Desktop Dungeons but using permanent town developments as a substitute for character progression on one hand, and on the other you could have a Xcom style team who becomes OP over time but will cripple the player possibly beyond repair if one of them dies. Somewhere in the middle you have RTS games that allow the town and troops to be upgraded and gain experience through battle but that are all fairly expendable and replaceable.

 

A couple of things that change how things feel are can you go backwards and do an easier level again or does training lower level troops become impossible? If impossible it's requires that the player give up on an impossible task rather than being definitively beaten, which is a more satisfying way to lose. You would be better off being able to resurrect your team members in the town, perhaps with brain damage (exp loss), in a moment of running away with their tails between their legs but but having the option go re-prepare and go back into the fray. Of course that's only if any party members are left alive to pull the defeated members out, otherwise game over. It sucks to have to give up because you've been ground down into a uselessly crippled party, it's a lot better to solidly defeat them fair and square and put the player out of their misery.

 

The thing is that a party as a has a similar psychological feel to a single character in other games. Instead of being a character, you're all four characters, but in the sense that you're now a single hive-mind character in four bodies. A character geting hit hard for 1/4 of their total HP in a single character game just means you need healing, but if that happened to a party they could lose a character permanently and be crippled for the rest of the game. It feels like too great a setback for too small an injury. Maybe that's exactly what you want, but the player isn't going to have the same attachment to their characters as they would if they have the option to get all the way to the end, and realistically if there's no rolling back the difficulty then replacing players isn't really a feasible option.

 

As for your idea about chapters, that could work in a single character rougelike as it does in spelunky, but group rouguelikes are too fragile to last that long, you're better off making the player start a new character at the start of each chapter so they don't feel like they're starting a new chapter crippled by an early mistake. Maybe you could have the player design one character completely but make all the rest premade characters who wouldn't be a great loss if they had to be replaced and who level up automatically so they're still kind of cookie-cutter The game only ends if the custom avatar dies. While the player needs a clear goal, the player also needs to understand the computer's goal clearly too, in this case "kill the player's avatar". If you allow a situation where the player feels they have to give up now because they no longer have any viable moves, that feels like calling the game a draw, which is the least satisfying way to end any game. You want the player yelling "Nooooo!" not begrudgingly quitting after combing over their options for 10 minutes.

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Hmm good point.

I always felt the problem with xcom was that either you loose no guy and you go inte a positive feedback loop - everyone gets stronger and you have no injury time meaning you will do better in next mission as well. And if you get unlucky and loose one guy others will panic and you will loose more.

It ends up being:

Complete sucess OR cathastrophy.

 

I want to avoid that of course. The idea is to buff the party when there is a loss (sort of "fight for the memory of X" or "rally to his/her corpse!") instead of punishing the survivors with panic debuffs. The party is already much weaker from loosing a member...

 

Maybe i can have replacement heroes in towns that somewhat follow the levels of the party (or slightly under the current level) so getting a "recruit" is not optimal but not a worthless newbie meaning you actually lost the campaign.

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items loose condition and needs to be replaced

I would advise against this, or limit this to hardcore mode. Except for the fallout series, which allows the player to repair their equipment with similar equipment, this feature is usually looked at scornfully by players (and even in fallout, it can be a pain sometimes). Why force the player to leave a dungeon prematurely to fix or replace their equipment? ESPECIALLY with randomly spawned fights, randomly spawned loot, and randomly generated dungeons?

Another idea I'd like to put out there is to have an extremely rare (and unpurchasable) item that will revive a fallen player character. Or have a primary player character that survives everything, but at a resource loss, but leave other characters with permadeath. That way you don't need to totally restart if you royally screw up, it just sucks.

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