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Friday, 19 August 2016

The Dungeons of Castle Madness

First person gridders, a type of dungeon crawler, are some of the most fun we at Third Impression have ever had while playing RPG's. The sense of exploration in the levels is really unmatched - you can even get lost! However, where they tend to fall down is in combat, which often becomes tedious and very slow as just a couple of enemies, or possibly even just one single foe, has to be worn down through many attacks before it finally gives up the ghost. I set out to solve that problem with the Dungeons of Castle Madness and create something, while inspired by games from the past, was a little more unique than many of the 'clones' currently on the market. Read on to find out more.

The Dungeons of Castle Madness brings fast paced combat to the table of first person dungeon crawlers by taking a tip from very old classic RPG's such as the original The Pool of Radiance or The Bard's Tale. These very old games would switch out to a different engine to handle combat. In the Pool of Radiance it was an isometric strategy turn based engine and in the original Bard's Tale it was a purely text based one. In both cases the number of foes in battles could go through the roof because the fights were not being handled in the first person mode. Taking a trick from these classics, the Dungeons of Castle Madness switches out to a different engine for its fights. Here I use a top down, fast paced, adrenalin fuelled battle engine. Suddenly positioning becomes important, area effect spells become highly useful and the number of foes faced can now ramp back up to where it should be for an epic RPG!

So how does it work? Enemies move around the dungeons just like in regular first person gridders such as the Legend of Grimrock or the venerable Dungeon Master. When the player moves onto a foe's square, similar to in the Pool of Radiance, this will trigger a battle and put the enemies at a disadvantage, essentially out in front of the player. If an enemy moves onto the player's square then the player has been ambushed and the player is now at a disadvantage and becomes surrounded by the foe. The exploration shows a single foe but almost always the enemy explode out into groups of varying sizes, while the enemy shown while exploring gives a general idea of what to expect in the fight. For example, seeing a skeleton means there will be skeletons in the enemy group and likely to be other undead as well. This lets the player prepare for the fight through item and spell selection if necessary (e.g. preparing the holy light spell which damages all forms of undead if active).

Available now

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Blood Rune Valhalla Rating, Transmutation and Slimes

Work continues at a steady pace on the development of Blood Rune. Here are the highlights:

A new dungeon location that can be found is the chasm. A strong wind blows the poor player towards his doom in this area...

*Valhalla Rating
All play throughs are now accompanied by a detailed breakdown of what the player did and this is scored up as his or her 'Valhalla Rating'. Contributing factors are all shown on the game over/won game screen and include how many rooms were explored, damage inflicted, damage taken and so forth. If the Valhalla Rating is pitiful, the game laughs and jeers at the player!

*New spell effects
I just wasn't happy with the existing spell effects (which were a bit weak in my opinion). They were adequate for the competition version of the game where time was tight and the whole engine was being built from scratch in just three weeks. Since then I have had more time to really redo these effects and add punch. The black hole spell has got a new almost full screen effect while the Boom spell is far more immediate and satisfying.

Evil slimes now populate the dungeons. They subdivide into more slimes either as time progresses or when struck by the player. The slimes are a hazard and they can eat the player! These are inspired by the gooey blob from the original Chaos game which I remember fondly from the 1980s.

*Transmutation spell
Turn unwanted equipment into gemstones with this spell. Be careful though, at low ranks you may just get dust back. Good to use on wrecked armour.


Blood Rune Spells

For the competition, the tight timescale meant that BloodRune had just four spells in it. These were Stormforce (a mass lightning zapper), Heal Shield (a health regenerator over time effect), Black Hole (sucks enemies into it and eats them) and Boom (big area effect blast). It may not sound like a lot but it did cover a lot of ground, especially when you consider that for the competition the game only had to provide an hours gameplay. Spells are also ranked from 1-12 which determines the relative power levels and so really there are 4*12=48 different spell scrolls to find. Spells are learned from scrolls and go into a spell book that can hold up to 9 different spell variations. Since the competition two more spells have been added:

* Bolt

Bolt fires a magical bolt out, initially forwards and is a low cost and fairly low damaging spell (per bolt). At higher ranks more bolts fan out around the player on casting until at rank 12 you get what you see in the screenshot. Bolt is particularly effective against multiple enemies and at later ranks, when surrounded. It also allows the player to put distance between himself and the enemy and maintain it if the player is fast enough and uses the run option (mapped to the shift key).

This replicates the effect of holding the torch in the offhand, without having to do that, freeing the offhand up for a shield or to be used with a two handed weapon. Higher ranks mean that the duration of the spell improves. Another way to improve the duration of the spell is to level up the hero's mana. This applies to the Heal Shield spell too.

*Black hole
Since the compeition version, the black hole has been upgraded to also swallow items. This is generally not good for the player but helps to balance out a powerful, potentially room clearing, spell.

There will be more spells to come in Blood Rune as the development continues.

Blood Rune Weapons, Levers and Doors

Since the initial entry into the competition, development on Blood Rune as a full game has continued at a good pace.

Some of the new features in my local build, which cannot be found in the competition entry, are:

* Shields. These sit in the off hand and have a percentage chance to block all damage from any incoming strike. When damaged is absorbed in this way the shield loses a point of durability; once it loses it all it becomes wrecked and no longer of any use.
* Two handed weapons. These prohibit the use of items in the off hand. The top end swords have become the two handed weapons, they tend to be the three inventory tile high weapons.
* Skeletons gain damage resistance to weapons, taking only half damage from strikes.
* Bone breakers. These inflict full damage to skeletons and other undead. The one handed bone breaker is a spiked club whereas the two handed is a huge mace.
* Critical hits which occur randomly with a 5% chance and cause double damage. These mechanics may seem familiar as they are inspired by D&D even though the rest of the system is not directly.
* Helms. These protect against critical hits, reducing their damage to normal levels and losing a point of durability in the process (until wrecked).
* Light. There is now a light radius around the player and so areas can be out of sight within the dungeon and thereby in darkness.
* Torch. This can be dragged to the offhand to replace a shield and boosts the light radius around the player to almost pre-light effect levels.

When a torch is not used, the light radius is a medium level in rooms and a short level in passages.
*Levers and doors. There are now doors that can appear in archways and block off exits from rooms and passages in the maze. These require levers to be found and pulled to open them. Levers may not be in the same room (or general area) of the doors they operate. These help to add interest to the exploration.

More information to come - I have added more than this but I think this will do for one post.

Now I do find that I have to restart Director 12 periodically because it crashes, saying it is out of memory and a fatal error has occured. Only once have I lost work through this as it normally will save the project just fine. I'm not sure why this is, but when I removed the videos I was using (a couple of swirling mists to use as backdrop to menus and a lightning strike) this has become a lot less frequent than before. If anyone knows why this might be then please let me know.

I encourage anyone who is interested in Director to download the game from the competition website and give it a go. If you like it, please create an account on the competition web site and give it an upvote. There is a people's choice award that is won by the most votes and a cash prize attached that would help fund the game. I am currently self-funding.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Blood Rune reinvented...

Blood Rune has been reinvented as an action RPG for the 2015 Indie Game Maker contest after three weeks of intensive development effort.

If you would like to download and try it, please use the following link:

Please bear in mind that this was created in only a few weeks for the competition. If you happen to like it, please create an account on the site and vote for the game. There is a people's choice award that is based on these votes and a cash prize attached, if I get some votes I may stand a chance of winning that and thereby getting some funds together to continue the development of the game.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Blood Rune Kickstarter campaign

"Blood Rune is a party based role-playing game where the player initially creates one hero, then soon after three more and is joined later by up two companions during the adventure. The role-playing system itself is name-based, where a character's name part determines his or her fate, and the system utilises multiple character classes and skills. There are five spell casting classes and all of which are available from the start, including the Necromancer."

Please back my kickstarter to create an SSI like game (think Pool of Radiance) on the computer: