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masail's Design thread 
 PostThu Oct 28, 2010 2:02 pm
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Since I seem to be making headway early on in my project, I don't mind talking about it now. My first game is called 'Dungeon Quest', the name being chosen mainly because it emphasizes various types of dungeons, puzzles, and exploration. The plot is fairly typical, I think, of the sword and sorcery fare. You have a party made up of mercenaries, who, while making their living through hiring to local lords to fight monsters and villains, end up setting off a chain of events that puts the world at risk. Not being callous sorts, they choose to fight for the people, and the remainder of the story has them questing to end the menace at large.
I'm no expert with sprites, so I chose to borrow from the best. I've downloaded Vikings of Midgard and Vampire's Curse to get the sprites I need to create heroes, npcs, monsters, and settings. Interestingly enough, Vampire's Curse provides me with a backdrop I need for my first dungeon crawl, which is a sewer in the town the player starts in. I'm not emphasizing puzzles on the first dungeon, although I plan to place some interesting hidden items to give the player a good start, if he/she can find them. All of my dungeons will be mazes of one sort or another.
My personal belief about the use of puzzles in this sort of game is that they shouldn't prevent the player from progressing. Rather they serve as containers for interesting rewards. Mazes, on the other hand, are fair game, so I do expect a player to be willing to explore to make progress.
The initial party starts with a Fighter (Garrod), and a Rogue (Radyn); but early on a cleric is recruited from the local temple (Erasmus), and elsewhere in town, a cat-person Wizard is available for hire as well (Jantha). The last sprite was created through a little bit of tinkering with the Hati sprite, which looked oddly like a cat to me. I don't know the name of the cat person from Vikings whose portrait I used, but she has the same hair as Hati so it ended up working rather well.
Once I get a workable version of the sewer done, I'll post a screen shot from it.
When you don't know what to do, be kind.
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 PostThu Oct 28, 2010 7:47 pm
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Your story, being a dungeon based game, and your stance on puzzles (I'm never good at puzzles in games) has me pretty interested.
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 PostThu Oct 28, 2010 8:17 pm
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In spite of the availability (and the awesomeness) of the Vikings of Midgard graphics for other people's games, we rarely see people actually base games on it. Looking forward to seeing what you have got.

Also, it is cool that you are doing some sprite tweaking. Editing the sprites of the pixel-masters is a great way to learn your own pixel skills. :)
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Re: masail's Design thread 
 PostThu Oct 28, 2010 8:21 pm
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masail wrote:
My first game is called 'Dungeon Quest', the name being chosen mainly because it emphasizes various types of dungeons, puzzles, and exploration.
Quote:
My personal belief about the use of puzzles in this sort of game is that they shouldn't prevent the player from progressing. Rather they serve as containers for interesting rewards. Mazes, on the other hand, are fair game, so I do expect a player to be willing to explore to make progress.

This does seem a bit contradictory.
I think he might have been implying that puzzles shouldn't be too difficult or frustrating, which can interrupt the flow of a game. I remember having to solve a rubik's cube-style puzzle in the first dungeon of some adventure game, which I could not for the life of me figure out, and I never touched the game again.

I could be way off though. Can you give us some examples of puzzles you're planning?
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 PostThu Oct 28, 2010 9:11 pm
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That's not contradictory. It just means that exploration is more of a focus than puzzles are.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 12:04 am
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Newbie Newtype wrote:
That's not contradictory. It just means that exploration is more of a focus than puzzles are.


That's exactly right. Exploring is more important than the puzzles, which simply let the player see more of the game and acquire more magic items. You don't have to be good at them to win.
When you don't know what to do, be kind.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 12:15 am
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By the way, from what I learned from working on my demo Hedgemaze in terms of dungeon layout:

1) OHR maps are a lot smaller than you think.

2) It's hard to make a map that isn't a straight line.

2a) Stairs are awesome to help this without being too convoluted (see Tales of the New World 2 for a great example.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 2:04 am
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Not to hijack the thread, but I feel like I should mention Crystal Chasers as an example of a game that also did the puzzle/dungeon integration. The puzzles were largely required, although there were also optional ones that yielded treasures. You might check it out if you're trying to do something similar.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 2:33 am
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I think a really good maze is one that makes me feel like I am exploring, and don't know what to expect around the corner.

I think a really bad maze is one that tries to maximize the number of tiles I have to walk in order to get anywhere, and that makes me feel like I am probably missing out on something if I fail to explore every single possible path.

Unfortunately I am not all that great at creating mazes, so my input probably can't go much further than that :)
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 3:02 am
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Just look at FF1 (yes, FF1) or DQ2-4 dungeons, as I find those to be the best balance for creating explorable dungeons.

Phantasy Star 2 is probably the one game I would avoid using as reference, and this is coming from someone that loves "archaic" RPGs.

Quote:
I think a really bad maze is one that tries to maximize the number of tiles I have to walk in order to get anywhere, and that makes me feel like I am probably missing out on something if I fail to explore every single possible path.
Me saying "OHR maps are a lot smaller than you think" isn't the same as saying you should only go for longest distance.
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Re: masail's Design thread 
 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 3:08 am
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masail wrote:
The last sprite was created through a little bit of tinkering with the Hati sprite, which looked oddly like a cat to me. I don't know the name of the cat person from Vikings whose portrait I used, but she has the same hair as Hati so it ended up working rather well.


...Freki?

The only Cats in Vikings are Good/Bad Kitty (Arfenhouse), Leo (playtester), and Delvire.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 3:31 am
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Newbie Newtype wrote:
Quote:
I think a really bad maze is one that tries to maximize the number of tiles I have to walk in order to get anywhere, and that makes me feel like I am probably missing out on something if I fail to explore every single possible path.
Me saying "OHR maps are a lot smaller than you think" isn't the same as saying you should only go for longest distance.


I know, that wasn't directed at you... it was actually directed at Phantasy Star III. I haven't played II, but I assume they suffered from similar issues.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 3:40 am
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I think this may have been said before, but if you're looking for good examples of puzzles and mazes, the Zelda dungeons are a good place to start.

Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that the actual mazes that are remembered most are the ones that are smallish, elegant, and not the ones that sprawl on endlessly. This should carry onto maze design in RPGs - at the very least give them structure that fits the area that said maze is in.
If the type of dungeon you're making allows it, make the path cross over itself and come close to earlier or later portions of the dungeon. Even if the dungeon ends up being more or less linear due to this, it helps hide this fact and gives a sense of progress when the player actually reaches these hinted at sections. Some types of areas work better at this than others - Zeldaesque dungeons work particularly well, doubly so when you get the ability to actually get to new places with your new item. Places with bits that cross over each other work fantastically; caves and mountains could use this if one chooses; forests and flat plains areas, not so much.
That 'missing out on something' problem can be mitigated somewhat if there's some sort of system in place that tells you how many treasure chests or whatnot are in a given area.
Posting that above map makes me realize that I haven't really worked on my ZC stuff significantly since 2 years back. Also I need to actually make something and in doing so actually follow my examples. Also rambling. Eh.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 4:38 am
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My two bits about dungeon design here is that you must be careful with random battles taking place in a dungeon, if you decide to include them.
I can remember some games like Earthbound Zero and Final Fantasy having enormous worlds to explore, along with the occasional sprawling dungeon, and neither were terribly fun to explore since I kept getting interrupted by monsters.
I could even cite Pokemon on this one. Gigantic caves like Mt. Moon, Dark Cave, and Meteor Falls were quite fun to explore until I lost count of how many of these things I killed.

Admittedly, I've grown fond of having enemies I can see (and possibly avoid) on the map (a la Chrono Trigger or any Mario RPG,) but if you do decide to stick with random battles, Vikings of Midgard is one of the best examples to learn from.
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 PostFri Oct 29, 2010 5:14 am
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There's a quote from an IF game designer about how mazes are usually more fun for the designer than they are for the player. This is a common pitfall; to see it in action, try Puzzle's game, which I think is called "Quest for Color." Mercifully, it doesn't have random encounters.

So my best advice regarding mazes is to avoid making your dungeon look like one. Any dungeon with any branching is going to be a maze of some sort, but it's much nicer to feel like you're exploring an open area instead of figuring out the "right path" to the exit.
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