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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle

Hey everyone! Welcome to the slightly shorter than normal Claustrophobia Dev Log #11! Since most of the last couple of weeks has been spent on polishing and finishing basic combat, turn movement, and world generation, I’m afraid I don’t have as much as normal to discuss. I do, however, still have some good stuff to show off!

Combat Effects

As I said on Twitter earlier this week, I spent a fair amount of time polishing combat animations. Since the new sprite system doesn’t have actual character animations and instead opts for static sprites (which is a decision I made early on with the redesign to save development time), I’ve been trying to come up with different techniques for conveying damage. My main goal was to make every hit feel like it had a nice amount of weight behind it. The outcome was this:

The final animation is comprised of a sprite manipulation to give a bounce effect, a colour tint for a white flash (not sure whether to keep it white or go with the older RPG style of red..?), a slight knockback in the opposite direction of the attacker, and the attack’s particle effect and unit’s individual blood splatter type. What do you think?

Ranged Combat

In addition to combat effects, I spent a lot of time working on ranged combat. This is actually a pretty significant improvement over Claustrophobia V1, which had extremely clunky ranged attacks. The attack would basically happen as soon as you clicked your target, and then the animation would catch up. Unfortunately this normally resulted in enemies moving before attack animations had actually completed, which just looked awful all round. The new version waits for the completion of whatever attack animation is in progress before the the target is actually effected and the attacking unit’s turn is declared complete.

While the gif only shows a normal bow shooting arrows, this system also works with any particle effect I want, which means when it comes to the skill engine, I can have all sorts of flashy spell effects act in the same way. Which is great news, because…

Ability Casting

…I also started work on the skill engine! It’s like I actually plan these things. The system is very basic at the moment, but it allows for various different target-able and cast-able areas, as well as different rules as to what should be hit in the selected area.

In this case we have a 5x5-cell targeting area and a 3x3-cell casting area. Anything inside the casting area would be hit by the spell, which in this case is an extremely cliché and boring Fireball of Testing. Which also hits like a wet kitten.

Once again this is a rather significant improvement over V1, which had a somewhat limited skill engine comprised almost entirely by single target instant cast abilities. Greater engine flexibility means much more room for creative and flashy effects.

Right, that’s about everything I have to show you! As I said earlier, I’ve also made a load of UI improvements and general optimizations, but I don’t want to bore you with that!

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share and comment!

Until next time,


Hello to you all! Welcome to Claustrophobia Dev Log #10! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made a lot of progress in a number of different areas. I figured a screenshot would do a good job of portraying a few of the new features in action, so here goes!


Shops are back in, and will act in much the same way as they did in V1. Shops are special rooms that are placed around each level (normally no more than 1 per level, sometimes none), which offer a variety of items for purchase and also allow you to sell your collected wares. So pretty much what you need from a shop. For the time being, they only sell gear, but they’ll also supply you with potions and scrolls and keys all other wonderful dungeon related tools of the trade.

Character Customization and Tiered Gear

Basic Character Customization is in, which allows for face and hair customization. At the moment a randomly generated character appearance is chosen for you on starting a new game, but you’ll be able to chose specifics in the future. Skin tones and gender options will also be available in the finished game.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about visual equipment. This system has been expanded slightly. Item graphics are going to be tiered, in that a different graphical “set” will be used for items every few levels for each rarity type. That way you’ll continually find more and more visually appealing gear. Unfortunately this means a massive workload of spritework, but I’ll get there eventually. The first tier of equipment can be seen below.

The tier system does not apply to specific gear pieces or the stats they provide. The gear itself is completely randomly generated, but giving it a matching graphical set every couple of levels keeps things fresh. Of course, you can choose to just don a selection of completely random gear instead, if you wish.

UI Additions

The ingame UI has received two extremely helpful additions, which complete most of the main functionality. Firstly, the Details window, which gives an in-depth breakdown of all of your character’s statistics, their values, and what they do. The actual statistics themselves will more than likely change a lot during balancing, so don’t read too much into what’s pictured below. (Also, don’t mind my marvellous neon-pink mohican):

Secondly, the compare window, which allows you to compare a piece of gear to your current equivalent. At the moment I’m unsure whether or not to show the changes to stats should you make the change, or whether to leave it like this. While showing stat changes would make on the fly gear changes easier, it would also detract from making changes based on reading specific passive properties.

Turn Phases

Finally, one of the larger changes between V1 and the new version. In V1, the game would wait for input on the player’s turn before stepping through each consecutive enemy turn one after the other until it reached the player’s turn again. While this worked well to emphasise each unit’s action, when entering a large room full of enemies, the gameplay would crawl to a halt each turn as the game waited for every enemy to complete it’s turn before moving on to the next, and so on.

In the new version, turns will be handled in Phases, where all units in a phase will take their turns simultaneously. Once the player has chosen their turn action, all active enemies will take one consecutive turn and update at once, quickly returning to the player’s turn again. Not only does this speed up gameplay no end, but it also makes movement and combat much more fluid, with less pauses while other unit’s turns are calculated.

And that’s about it for this week. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share and comment!

Until next time,


23 avril - The Indie Forge

Hello all! Welcome to Claustrophobia Dev Log #9! Once again, apologies for the month of absence. My University work is finally done (hooray!), which means Claustrophobia now has my full attention. Since the last update was so long ago, I have a lot to talk about. So I’ll keep this bit short, and here goes!

Gear Generation

Randomly generated gear was a massive part of V1, but it lacked much of the item depth that I really wanted to get into the game. An item was only considered “better” than another piece if it had a higher value for your character’s single base stat, which not only made gear progression fairly boring, but also made Plate armour almost always the best choice, due to the high Armour Rating.

This time, gear generation is much deeper, partly due to the changes and additions to base stats, but mostly due to item properties. Item properties modify all sorts of things, from elemental damage, critical strike chance, increased gold find, lifesteal, chance to cause status effects, etc. The finished game will have a large number of different item properties, ranging from common stat modifiers, to unique passive abilities, such as summons and spell effects. The generator has an already massive selection of rules on how items should be created, based on the item type, spawn level, rarity, and base stat type. Here is an example of a selection of level 10 items:


Stat values are yet to be balanced (that staff for example, has waaaay too much damage. Then again, it is “The Devourer”…), but this gives you an example of the sort of thing to expect. I’ve seen some absolutely ridiculous level 50+ legendaries generated with 10 or more properties, which just made me happy. I have some great ideas for new properties too.

Visual Equipment

Of course, tonnes of gear would not be fun unless your character is running around wearing it! So of course, visual equipment returns:


Once again, graphics pictured here subject to change! While working on this system, I also decided to trial something that was not possible in V1 due to the limitation of the sprite size: visual weapons. While they would not be animated due to lack of time and artistic skill on my behalf, they do, in my opinion, look pretty cool, and they just add a little bit more to character customization as a whole.

I do have one issue however - how they should be displayed. Due to the nature of Claustrophobia’s sprites, the player will always be locked in the “standing” stance pictured above. This causes a couple of problems when it comes to lining the weapons up to the player’s hands. For example:


In option 1, a natural position is used, which unfortunately covers the player’s face when facing right or dual wielding. In option 2, the weapons are kept away from the face, but the positioning is unnatural. So, I’d like to know everyone’s opinion on this. Should I:

  • Not show weapons (easiest, but no weapon graphics :’( )
  • Use Option 1 (natural, obscures face)
  • Use Option 2 (no obstruction, unnatural)
  • Angle the weapons vertically (I also tried this, but I felt the weapons were to close to the body. Also wouldn’t really work with bows…)
  • Something else? (any better ideas?)

Saving and Loading

Finally, the majority of the code for saving and loading the game has been written. Since the new engine is structured in a much nicer way, there shouldn’t be any of the weird loading oddities that V1 suffered (I’m looking at you teleporting doors). Once again I’m using XML, but I’ll need to look into encrypting everything this time. The new system will also allow multiple save files.

Next Steps!

As I said before, these two systems in place represent half of the major systems left to do. Of course, both of these need finalizing (generated items don’t currently save, for example), but they’re in place. Which just leaves the skill system and character creation before I can move on to working on content!

Thanks for reading! Until next time,


21 mars - The Indie Forge

Greetings everyone! Welcome to Claustrophobia Dev Log #8! You'll be pleased to hear I've made a lot of progress over the last few weeks. I'm getting pretty close to a fully featured (all be it a tad simplistic for now) engine. This means I'm that bit nearer to being able to throw some content in and start messing about with some proper gameplay! At which point we can start talking about videos, demos, and dare I say it, Early Access.

First off, a little bit of social news: Claustrophobia now has both a Facebook page, and a TIGSource Forums Dev Log. The TIGSource forums log if the place to go if you want updates as they happen; I'll be documenting all progress as it happens there, then summing up the week/biweek's news in these Development Logs. If you want development gifs, design chat, and other general musings, go there. If you just want tl;dr news that's been written out cleanly, stick with these Dev Logs. Or, you know, both, if you're awesome like that!

Particle & Status Effects

Moving on! Firstly, progress! The 4 frame spell and combat animations that were used in Claustrophobia v1 are gone, replaced instead by a new particle effect engine that I've written. I think you'll agree, it looks just a tiny bit better:

Of course, having poison and fire particle effects has very little point without status effects to go with them. So luckily, we now have those too. Status effects apply either positive or negative effects to the effected unit, and last a certain number of turns. I'm sure you're all familiar with how they work!

Turn Loop Optimization

Next! A lot of work has been done to optimise the main game loop. Claustrophobia v1 always started to struggle as soon as more than about 5 enemies had been discovered. This was due to the fact that the engine updated every enemy separately after the player's turn, one after the other. This meant that with more enemies discovered, the longer it took for the player's next turn.

This time, enemies all calculate their turn logic as one, right after the player has ended their turn. I'm still undecided as to whether or not the enemies will actually all carry out their turn as one, or whether they will carry them out in sequence. There are arguments for both methods.

So what's next?

Good question! Once status effects have been completed properly, there are only a few major engine features that need to be added before I can begin to call Claustrophobia a working game. These are:

  • Saving and Loading
  • Gear Generation (most of the logic here will carry over from v1)
  • Skills and Class Creation
  • Character Creation

Once they are all in, I can really start working on the massive list of content and features that I want to see in Claustrophobia. It's a daunting list, but there's so much stuff on there that I know you're going to love just as much as I'm going to enjoy working on it!

Don't forget to Facebook, Twitter, TIGSource, YouTube, carrier pigeon... And as always, thanks for reading!


Hello all! Welcome to Claustrophobia Dev Log #7. Sorry for the couple of weeks delay! While I’ve got plenty of work done on the game, the last two Fridays were extremely busy, and as such I did not have the time to get this written up. I’m actually still a little bit pushed for time, so I’ll be keeping things brief!

As I said on twitter earlier this week, Claustrophobia’s main in game UI is almost complete. This means that the inventory, equipment, stats, and map screen are all functional, as well as the collection of skill and stat bars that appear at the bottom of the screen. The main UI’s functionality is pretty much identical to Claustrophobia V1’s, but hopefully much neater and easier to use. Larger changes have been made to some core mechanics, however, including:

  • Each level the player will receive a number of attribute points which they can assign to the five Base Stats: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Constitution. These stats have been carefully designed as to have specific needs and uses - the simplest of which is dictating what gear you can wear. Which means…
  • Loads more gear types! Specifically, weapons. V1 only ever had support for three weapon types; swords, bows, and staves. These were all tied down to the specific skill tree they belonged to, and really dumbed down any choice you had. Now however, we have support for single handed, two handed, main and off hand weapons, not limited to swords, daggers, maces, crossbows, shields, wands, spears... You name it, we can support it!
  • Elements. Yup, that’s a thing too. Another issue with V1’s simplicity was that every attack was physical. No matter whether you were being attacked by a Possessed Armour or you were throwing a fireball at a Squishy, the damage was still physical, and as such, there was no variety in what did more damage to what. Now, as well as Physical Damage, we have Fire, Ice, Earth, Lightning, Venom, and Shadow, all of which have separate attack and resistance values. There’s never been a better time to be a mage.

As well as these larger changes, there have been a number of small improvements, many of which are from V1 feedback I received:

  • Items can be picked up by either dragging into an inventory slot, dropped on your character, or by shift + clicking.
  • Holding the mouse over an enemy will display a popup element which breaks down exact health numbers, as well as the unit’s level and any specific abilities it may possess.
  • The minimap now displays icons for important features such as staircases and altars, rather than coloured dots.

So with a lot of the base UI and game mechanic work done, we’re one step closer to starting to build some proper content, and to getting a playable version out there! Let’s just say I have some ideas for some really cool enemy mechanics, and a plethora of ghastly traps for you to curse at!

And with that… gaze upon the new face of evil.

Let’s face it. You’re screwed.


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