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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
2014년 1월 24일 - 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!

Cheers,

Dan
@theindieforge

2014년 1월 17일 - 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!

Cheers,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

2014년 1월 10일 - 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!

Dan
@TheIndieForge

2014년 1월 3일 - The Indie Forge

Well hello, and a very happy new year to you all! Welcome to the first in a "hopefully-weekly-ish" series of development posts designed to keep you up to date with Claustrophobia's redesign and recoding process. I've not quite yet decided exactly how these are going to work, so for now, expect my normal design ramblings fleshed out with a few screenshots/graphics here and there. Maybe even a video from time to time. If I miss the deadlines now and again, I apologise, but University work will have to come first. I'll be trying my best to keep everyone up to date.

So firstly, I'll summarise my current plans for Claustrophobia. The original game will remain up for everyone who wishes to play it while I work on the new version. Once I reach a stable early alpha build which I am happy to release, the new version will be made available to all previous and new purchasers as a download alongside the original game. That version will then continue to be updated until I feel happy enough to release it as the main version, at which point original Claustrophobia will take a back seat and have a much deserved rest. Possibly a nice blanket too.

Anyway, that's the plan. On to the actual development status of the new version. Over the last couple of weeks I have worked on the new graphic style (which I am rather pleased with now, and will be showing soon), rebuilt the main terrain generation from the ground up, and begun work on the code for units (player and enemies). These new systems include a number of changes from the original version, including massive improvements on how the dungeon is actually built.

The original system placed rooms randomly in the dungeon until there was no more room, and then attempted to run corridors between all of the rooms until they were all connected. Of course, this resulted in a couple of issues, firstly that every possibly space was then full of half finished corridors, and secondly that some rooms were not connected to anything at all. The new system instead works like this:

  • If there is space, place a new room.
  • Choose a random wall of a random room, or the end wall of a corridor.
  • Attempt to build either a new room or a new corridor outwards from that wall, if there is space.
  • If a new corridor was placed, continue building the corridor until either another room is dug into, or there is space to place a new room.
  • Repeat from step 1 until there is not more space.

What this results in is a dungeon layout of rooms and corridors which are all logically connected: All corridors lead somewhere, and all rooms can be reached. This also allows me to lock or trap various rooms without the fear of creating unreachable content. And of course, means less backtracking, and more natural, fluid terrain to explore. I'm also currently working on different shaped rooms.

Here are some examples of the kind of dungeon layouts the new system is generating (doors are currently a brown square, I haven't finished their graphic yet):

[i.imgur.com]

Apologies for the resolution of the images, they're obviously too large to fit on screen to screenshot, so quite a bit of image compression has gone on. You get the idea though.

Until next Dev Log!

Dan
@TheIndieForge

2013년 12월 17일 - The Indie Forge



Hello there everyone! I hope you’re all well. Before I begin, I must apologise properly for my disappearance and the general lack of development of my project over the last two months. Being a one man development team is difficult enough, but when you also happen to be at university and work starts to pile up, it becomes even more difficult. Therefore Claustrophobia has recently had to take a bit of a back seat while I sorted everything out, but it was never abandoned. Of course, this doesn’t excuse me from not explaining this until now, so I am sorry for that. With that out of the way, I’d like to talk Claustrophobia! That’s what we’re here for after all. To warn you in advance, this is going to be quite a long post of everything I have been thinking about, so I will provide a tl;dr summary at the bottom for those who don’t wish to read all of my thoughts.

I have recently been reviewing the progress of the game, as well as re-reading the source code and original design documents from the beginning of the project, and while I’m happy with majority of the gameplay decisions that I - and you, the players - have made, I am unhappy with the overall execution. As you may have noticed over the past few patches, many of the updates have been to improve coding style or efficiency, rather than to add new mechanics or features. This mainly stems from the fact that Claustrophobia’s base systems were written a little over 2 years ago now, when I had very little programming experience. This has made almost every addition or change unnecessarily hard, and has recently caused development to grind to a halt.

So, what can be done about that? Originally, the plan was to work through the major components, rewriting and restructuring everything, which I have been doing in the last few patches. However, doing so has proven to be way too time consuming, as much of the logic of the low level systems is badly flawed, and getting new content out to the players should be the main priority over battling my own code. This, as far as I can see it, leaves me with only one option, and I’ve been told by friends that I’m a little mad for even considering it. You can be the judge of that. Starting soon, I will be rebuilding Claustrophobia from scratch.

Let me explain a little more about why this is a good idea. Claustrophobia originally started out as a small project that I would put together in my own time in order to practice programming and game design. Of course, after it was met by good feedback from everyone who tried it, I turned to a small funding campaign to raise a bit of money to further development. Of course, the project was received very well by the communities of Desura, Steam Greenlight, and GamersGate, which far exceeded my expectations. I now feel like the product that you have all been playing is just not up to the quality that it could be, and I know that I could improve on every aspect of the game now. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing. So, here’s a little bit of a breakdown on exactly what to expect from Claustrophobia (Alpha 2?):

  • Completely redesigned graphics, upped from 16 x 16px tiles to 32 x 32px tiles
  • Development switched from XNA to Monogame, for multi-platform support
  • Redesigned combat/stat system, with enemy skills, improved AI, and animations
  • Much deeper gear customization, encouraging actual gameplay changing choices
  • A much more comprehensive class/skill system
  • The same explore/fight/loot repeat gameplay you’ve come to expect, but greatly polished

Once I reach a point where I feel the first new build of Claustrophobia is ready for testing, it will become available to previous purchasers alongside the current build of the game, which will no longer be updated from this point. I realise that this will probably become a little confusing with version numbers and everything, but I will do my best to sort everything out. Treat the current build of Claustrophobia as a taster of what’s to come.

Of course, it will take some time to work on all of this, especially with university work. I cannot set any dates for anything to be ready any time soon. I hope you can all understand why I feel like this needs to be done, and can support the fact that the final product will be something that will be worth waiting for. As someone said to me the other day, you can either eat eggs, sugar, and flour now, or wait a bit and have glorious gooey cookies. I talk to some strange people.

tl;dr: I am unhappy with the current state of Claustrophobia, and will be rebuilding it from the ground up to create a much better game.

I hope you can all support me in this decision, and I will be updating you all as frequently as possible on progress. If you have any questions, just let me know, either here, on Twitter, or at my email address. Cheers!

Happy Holidays Everybody!

Dan Millward
@TheIndieForge

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