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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
február 14. - The Indie Forge

Hello everybody, and welcome to Development Log #6! As you may have noticed, there was no Dev Log last week due to the amount of work I had at the time, so this week’s will include everything I was working on last week too. From this point on, these will probably become more bi-weekly rather than weekly, since I also have coursework for Uni that I need to work on. That doesn’t mean that I will be working less on Claustrophobia per say, just that I will write about it a little less. These things tend to be quite time consuming to put together!

Anyhow. Firstly I’d like to say thank you to everyone for the feedback on the new graphic style. I’d say that it has been received very positively by the vast majority. For those of you asking whether the new style will be optional, I’m afraid it will not be on launch. The game’s engine has been redesigned as much as the new graphics have been, and the old graphics would not fit back in very easily without a fair bit of editing. That’s not to say that it will never happen: the new engine will happily support lower resolution textures, but some time would be needed to convert the old graphics over, and that’s time I’m afraid I just don’t have at the moment.

Right, progress! The last couple of weeks have been spent on two main areas: saving game data, and building the user interface. Neither of these two areas are anywhere near done, but the first few building blocks are down. For those of you interested, the save files this time around will be saved in a binary format, rather than the XML implementation that I used for V1, and will be split into individual files for the player, and each level, which means there will no longer be a single massive file containing lines and lines of editable XML script. You will also be able to have multiple save files, which was a frequently requested feature last time.

Now on to the more interesting stuff! As many of you probably experienced, V1’s user interface was a bit of a mess, to say the least. Window’s priorities on screen were all over the place, there was no continuous window style, and the code for them was so messy that it took me hours to just change the layout of their contents. This time around I have spent a considerable amount of time building a fully functioning interface system from the ground up, and it looks something like this:

Windows are drawn based on their active priorities, and are resizable and repositionable. They also have a header with the window’s name and a close button. The close key (by default Escape) will close the currently active window, until no active windows remain, at which point it will bring up the pause menu.

The inventory as it currently stands has much the same functionality as before. Item rarity is also displayed by a coloured outline.

A very early version of the text log, which now has scrolling functionality, and saves up to 100 lines of text events. Text lines fade out after a while so they do not become too obtrusive.

I’ve also worked on a couple of other windows, but they’re not complete enough to show just yet. Hopefully I will have the main functionality of the UI nailed down within the next few weeks, and I can begin to work on content and gameplay. The engine is already much more stable than V1 ever was, and working on new features is now much easier. So everything’s still on track! Any suggestions or additions you would like to see to the user interface over V1, let me know, and I can begin building it in!

As ever, feedback is much appreciated, and thank you for reading. Next Dev Log in 1-2 weeks’ time!



január 31. - The Indie Forge

Hello to you all! I hope you’re well. Welcome to Development Log #5. Once again, I’ve managed to work on quite a few things this week, and I’m happy with the progress that we’re making so far. To put it simply: we’re on track, and that’s always a good place to be. This week I’ve been mainly working on three things. Firstly, the graphics for a lot of the game’s most basic objects; bookcases, crates, stairs, that sort of thing. Secondly, polishing interactive objects so that it is clear what they do and how they work. And finally, creating an object hierarchy that allows me to create brand new objects in the game world with relative ease.

But first, I’m sure many of you will be much more interested to see a little of what Claustrophobia v2 is actually looking like at the moment. I am not ready to release full screenshots, as the UI is currently still being designed (and nowhere near being actually programmed), but with the completion of much of the core spritework (and I do mean core, as you may notice from the distinct lack of enemies), I think I’m ready to share some micro-screenshots.

A number of things can be observed in these micro-screens, and a lot more cannot be shown due to lack of animation and full screenshots. I’ll leave that to the imagination for now. Of course, the units on display here are just using a quick texture thrown together out of current armour and body combinations. Enemies will soon have graphics of their own, and of course, the player’s armour will portray a representation of the gear (s)he is currently wearing. But it gives an idea of the new style I’m going with. I hope it’s to most people liking. If not, feel free to let me know what you would like to see different.
I think the micro-screens do a pretty good job of displaying my week’s work. To summarise everything else:

  • Object spawning (items, enemies, etc) is now unique to each individual room. This makes unique room types such as throne rooms or lairs rather simple to implement, thus making exploration a lot more interesting.
  • Added unit animation for attacking, walking, being hit, and dying.
  • All interactive objects are outlined when hovering the cursor over them, in a colour which indicates the action you can perform. Yellow – interact, Red – attack.
  • Added crates, bookcases, chests, and a couple of other core game objects.
  • All objects now have a depth on screen that they are drawn. While this may seem trivial, it allows objects that are graphically larger than their cell to be displayed on top of those in the cells above them. The lack of this was why Claustrophobia v1 was so confined to 1 tile per object.

Thanks for reading! Until next week!



január 24. - The Indie Forge

Hello everybody! Welcome to Development Log #4! I’m afraid I’m running very late today (it’s 1:00am here as I’m writing this), and as such, this will have to be short and to the point. First of all, the most important news. As you may have seen, Claustrophobia has been Greenlit! A massive thank you to you all for your continued support throughout the campaign. I still can’t quite believe that we made it.

Secondly, I’d like to talk about my release plans. Now that we’re Greenlit, the new version of Claustrophobia will be hopefully heading to Steam Early Access around July 2014. While this may seem like quite a while away, please bare in mind that this is just an estimate, and is based on both when I consider the new alpha presentable, and on how much time I have to work on the project while I am at University. The current version of Claustrophobia will not be made available on Steam at all - instead it will remain on Desura until the new version, at which point it will be made available as a free download from our site. Please note: any purchases on Desura, including those made after today will be guaranteed the new version on both Desura and Steam, once it launches.

Finally, I’ll quickly sum up what I’ve been working on this week. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything to hand that I can show right now. I know I said I would have some new graphics, but nothing’s really in a presentable state. We’ll hold out for next week! This week has comprised of:

  • Stairs and multiple level generation
  • Hair styles with colour sliders
  • Stat level scaling
  • Wood textures. Everywhere. I now see wood textures in everything. Help me.
  • Sorting out a lot of the pre-Steam requirements (today particularly)

And that’s that. Just like last week, a lot of work is going into the code structure. I won’t be making the same mistakes as last time. It’s now 2:00am. Goodnight everyone. Until next week!



január 17. - The Indie Forge

Hello there, and welcome to Development Log #3! The good news: This week has been one of the most productive weeks since I restarted the project! Hooray! The bad news: Ironically, this will probably be one of the shortest Dev Logs so far. Boo! You see, majority of the things I have been working on are very behind the scenes - mainly ordering the structure of the item database, programming collectable objects, and working on interactive objects such as doors and crates. Of course, these are integral to Claustrophobia's gameplay, but leave very little to actually show. Except for pictures of empty rooms filled with dodgy placeholder textures.

One of the major things I have been working on is more comprehensive user interaction. Claustrophobia v1 suffered from multiple small issues in that department, such as being unsure whether you were attempting to pick up an item in a door, or close the door ontop of it, and inconsistancies between the functions of left and right click. This time around, tooltips are labled with the functions that you can perform, and your action will always apply to the item with the highest priority on that tile. The priority order generally goes Enemy > Item > Interactive Object > Movement.

Of course, this brings up a few design decisions, and while we're on the subject, I'd like to hear people's preferences. Would you rather left click controlled all primary actions (movement, pickup item, attack, open door, etc), and right click secondary actions (close door, place item, etc), or would you rather left click controlled only movement, and right click all interaction? Or any better ideas?

To demonstrate an example of tooltips and interactive objects, here's an in-game gif of everything working together, in the form of doors:

Well I did tell you that there was very little to show... Hopefully next week I'll be able to show some more of the new art style, beyond blank walls and floors. Maybe some characters.

Everything else I have been working on is either too small, or doesn't really have anything extra to talk about. So here's a summary for those interested:

  • Added unit health bars and floating combat text.
  • Completed the main work on item tooltips.
  • Added the stats that were discussed last week into the combat engine.
  • Created collectable objects which can be picked up and placed, and put in the players inventory by placing them on the player's tile. They also sparkle when on the floor.
  • Completed the main work on object cleanup. Now when an enemy dies or an object is picked up, it completes all its final processed and is then removed from memory.
  • Also messed around a bit with the map generator, which now lets me add objects during generation, which means I can make specific enemys/items/interactive objects appear in certain locations and formations (excuse the ryhme).

And that my friends, is that. Stay tuned!



január 10. - The Indie Forge

Hello to you all! Welcome to Development Log #2 (version 2, since I kind of accidentally deleted the finished post, and had to write it again... :( ). Over the last week I've been working on a number of things, from making unit movement as smooth and responsive as possible, to designing hair styles and armour. As you may have noticed by now, I tend to hop about between various different things during development. While I have been working on being slightly more organised, I tend to find swapping about keeps me refreshed, and I always seem to have ideas on how to improve things that I'm not currently working on.

Anyway. Today I'm going to be talking about statistics, the changes I'm going to be making this time around, and how they effect gameplay. One of the major issues I always found with the first iteration of Claustrophobia was that the three main stats (Strength, Agility, and Intelligence) never really had much effect on your character. Also, by their very nature, players were forced to build the single stat that corresponded with their class, to the point where there was just no variation in the gear that you chose to wear. The only thing that effected that choice was which piece had the higher number.

Of course, in a game primarily designed around glorious loot, I feel like that system could have been designed much better. So, this time around, I'll be doing things a little differently. For a start, the three main stats have been split into five, and the player will recieve a number of points each level to place into these five areas. The five main stats in turn will effect minor stats, such as hit chance, critical strike chance, and spell power. These minor stats will also be effected directly by pieces of gear, which will also feature hit chances, such as chance to knockback, chance to burn, or cooler things like chance to summon a demon or an increase in sight range.

These changes will mean that classes will have both multiple stats to build into, and individual gear pieces will actually effect your play style. Hybrid classes will also be possible, with stats split three or more ways. The five major stats will effect minor stats as followed:

Strength: Increases Physical Damage, Crit Damage, Encumbrance
Dexterity: Increases Crit Chance, Hit Chance, Dodge Chance
Intelligence: Increases Spell Power, Elemental Damage, Elemental Resist
Wisdom: Increases Max Mana, Mana Regen, Magic Resist
Constitution: Increases Max Health, Armour

This is subject to change, and anybody who has opinions on stats that could be switched about, I will be pleased to hear from you. The idea behind this design was that each class would be encouraged to split their points into at least two stats, and that those stats could be shared so that they don't only benefit one class. For example, if you are a melee fighter who simply requires more mana, you could build Wisdom without wasting points on Intelligence.

I haven't quite yet decided on how exactly classes will work this time around. I love the idea of allowing the player to create their own skill set as they go along, but I think that having some sort of starting point in any RPG is useful. I'm toying with the idea of having something akin to a job system, where you start as a base class and then specialise further into the game. Or something similar to the old system, but instead of allowing every class to be built at once, maybe splitting them into parts and then allowing the player to choose a number of those parts to build a skill tree. If you have any preferences, leave them in the comments below.

Right, with all that done (twice now, I've learnt an important lesson about saving things), I think it's time for a coffee. I leave you with an ingame shot of the new tooltip system, which I personally think is quite pretty, as far as tooltips go.

The item database hasn't actually been written yet, so the content of the tooltip is purely placeholder, but the layout and design is pretty much finished. Damage Per Turn is an average from the combination of damage types shown below, while the blue stats are changes to both minor and major stats. Gear will also require either a level or a certain amount of base stats.

Until next week!


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