This was my first 7DRL. I didn’t think I could finish and was about to chicken out, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s exciting that I made it in time. You can download the game here.
The game is about a person who decides to climb the tower that belongs to the dark lord who will ‘accept’ you once you reach the final floor. To make it to the next floor, you have to prove your strength(by surviving) and perform a ritual by walking on the ‘correct tiles’. You can discover the correct path by collecting a scroll that reveals them. There will be traps and enemies to hinder your path. Being a regular person, you don’t have any special skills that will help you through this. All you have is your own fist. You can move the character with arrow keys, and attack the enemy by walking in the direction of the enemy.
I managed to make something playable, but it has much room for features and polishing. Here are some highlights on what I think what went right and what went wrong.
What went right:
- Reduction of scope although the original idea is way cooler.
- First roguelike I played was ADOM and I was thinking of making something similar, where you crawl through dungeon floors of rooms and corridors, having to be careful of sudden deaths, except you have to look for a ‘key’ for the next floor, where the key shows a sigil you have to ‘draw’ in a room by walking over the correct tiles. Kind of like a ritual. You were going to have to find the right room where the key will shine bright. But because I didn’t have any assets or codes I could re-use, I thought maybe I will not have enough time to generate a huge dungeon floor and test it out. I reduced ‘the whole dungeon floor’ into two rooms, one with random walls between the player and the key scrolls and the other room for drawing out the right path. It turned out to be a great decision since I just made it in time to publish something playable with latter scope.
- Introduction of the Bouncer.
- Having just regular monsters attack you with melee wasn’t fun in the Ritual Room (the room where you have to walk only on certain tiles.) Unless there are so many of them, all you had to do was ignore them and walk the path. They will be busy following you and may not even be able to attack you. So I introduced an enemy which bounces you off to the next tile. Since the player is pushed off to another tile, I didn’t further punish the player with damage. However, if the Bouncer tries to push the player but if there is something blocking player from moving, the player will take stronger damage than he would get from the other enemy. To prevent the Bouncer from becoming the OP, I gave it a handicap where he has to rest one turn after attacking. I think the introduction of the Bouncer made players not play the game mindlessly and made the game more fun than how it would have been. While I still mourn at the lack of variety of enemies, I’m happy that I made the Bouncer into this game.
- Borrowing a third eye
- I’ve asked a friend to try playing the game while I was finishing up the audio part of the game. He caught several things to improve/fix, such as disappeared HELP text, a ‘hack’ where you could roam around the floor freely, allowing you to abuse and level up some more before proceeding, and some sound effect issue. He made my last hour busy and made the game more complete that it would have been.
What went wrong:
- Sprites should have been polished when I was importing them in the first place.
- It would have taken me maybe additional 5 minutes to at least remove the ‘background’ of the sprite I downloaded and make it transparent. I thought I’ll do them on the last day, but I had more work to do than I thought and eventually couldn’t polish them.
- Difficulty and Enemy power balance.
- I pushed this out to the last day thinking it will be straight forward, but this was a surprising challenge. I ended up with some formula through trial-and-error, but I was running out of time and couldn’t test out whether this is the best formula for the game. I worry that the game starts too easy then become too difficult.
- Disappoint result of one of the key features: the sigils in the ritual room.
- I should have had some manual drawings of the sigils along with my random generator. Instead of the paths you have to walk on shaping something cool looking or panning through the room, it looks like a lump of area most of the time. This kind of defies the challenge introduced by the Bouncer. The algorithm for generating the random path should have been better.
- Lots of features were abandoned, intro and outro texts were winged.
- Many of the abandoned features due to lack of time, ironically, wouldn’t have taken much time. These include camera shake, more variety of traps, more variety of enemies, more ‘cause of death’ descriptions, simple animation to indicate the direction of attack which was going to be even universal among all player & enemies. They are mostly more details to the game play, but since they don’t belong in ‘the core mechanics’, I pushed them for later and eventually didn’t have time to get them done. If I would have done some of them, little bit at a time, while I was working on the core gameplay, I could have had a little more polished game overall and wouldn’t have impacted the schedule by that much.
7DRL was an absolutely great experience. I’m seeing a lot of creative/visually appealing entries. Looking forward to trying them out.