This Dungeon Is Alive – Post Mortem

Posted by
April 18th, 2016 1:21 pm
In “This Dungeon Is Alive” you are an occultist in a quest to get the coveted Necronomicon from the heart of a labyrinthine dungeon… a dungeon that is alive. The corridors breathe, the rooms move… the dungeon shapeshifts while you explore its most deep secrets.
logo
 What went right?
  • Setting on a simple, focused idea from the very beginning, and forcing me to stick to it and don’t go big (as I always tend to do) allowed me to have time to polish the map and carefully design the room-shifting behaviour. “Simple” was the best strategy.
  • The room shapeshifts are well communicated to the player using visual and audio clues. In the initial prototype (day 1), all rooms in the dungeon were very similar (only sizes and shapes differed from one another), and it wasn’t obvious if rooms had switched places unless you payed very careful attention. Using audio, lightning, objects and different textures on the walls and floor to make rooms more unique allowed the player to easily recognize them and notice whether they had moved. Additionally, I made sure to make some of the room shapeshifts while the player is looking directly at them. I wanted it to be obvious from the very beginning.
  • The mood. The art style and music both work together to get that creepy-cute atmosphere that I was going for. I like how the gameplay can get tense sometimes, as if you are being watched (you are, actually, by the dungeon) but keeps being playful and cute at the same time.
  • The lipstick mechanic was pretty cool. It helped them (or it made them think it helped them) to avoid getting lost inside the dungeon and proved to be quite useful when, after finding the book, they had to run and find the exit.
screenshot2
What went wrong?
  • There is no sense of progress towards the final goal until you actually complete it. Hence, the player may eventually get bored. I should have seen this earlier. There should be secondary tiny tasks/quests that bring you closer to the ultimate goal – finding the book. The player needs to know if he is doing OK. He needs small achievements that give him some sense of progress, and that also feel rewarding. Players won’t wait until the end to feel accomplished.
  • I (unintentionally) biased the few playtesting sessions that I was able to perform with family/friends. If I’d been a little bit more aware and a little bit more experienced, I would have probably been able to catch the above point and fix it before submitting the game. Maybe I was too participatory on their playtesting sessions. If I had left them all by themselves, I would have probably been able to observe that the game was not being rewarding until the very end.
Things I’ll work on for my post-LD version
  • Introduce mini quests/secondary tasks that help to build towards the main goal.
    Some ideas from the top of my head:

    • using child’s game hot & cold mechanics to communicate to the player if he is close/far from the book, and encourage him to keep moving while getting closer and closer;
    • introducing some kind of resource management (maybe the lipstick?) so that the player has to stay focused on optimizing his resources while looking for the book;
    • allow the player to find and use some of the scattered Necronomicon’s pages to his advantage, by executing the rituals written on them?
  • Introduce some kind of interactivity between the player and the rooms themselves (or objects inside them). Maybe introduce more story elements, besides the short dialogue that the player and the dungeon have, such as notes/scattered book pages or even other characters/creatures. It could be interesting to let the player dig into why this dungeon is alive. I’ll have to explore this.
I’d be more than happy to read any thoughts or comments you may have about this post-mortem or the game itself.
And I’d be extremely happy if you can give it a go and rate it!
Thanks for reading!! :)
GL & HF!

Tags: ,


2 Responses to “This Dungeon Is Alive – Post Mortem”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]