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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
28. august - The Indie Forge



Make a note in your diaries, Claustrophobia will be launching into Alpha here and on Steam Early Access on September 9th! After a long gap between updates, I've decided it's finally time to bite the bullet and release the new build. Below is all the details you need to know!

Why Early Access?

From the very beginning, Claustrophobia has relied on the constant feedback of its community in order to shape the game. Now, with the release of the Redesigned build, I need player feedback more than ever before. Early Access is the best way to allow players to experience the game as it is built, while giving me the feedback I need to create the best possible experience. It's a win-win situation!

What Features does the new build have?

  • Unending Procedurally Generated content: Procedurally generated gear, enemies, and terrain makes for infinite progression and adventure.
  • Classless Character Development: Build the character you wish to play, and develop them through in-depth stat and ability customization.
  • Tons of Loot: Collect vast amounts of weapons, armour, and active items, whose powerful abilities, stats, and passive bonuses enhance your gameplay.
  • Fast-paced, Tactical Turn-Based Combat: Use positioning, clever skill use, and observation to best your enemies.
  • Face Hoards of Challenging Enemies: From simple critters to deadly Elite Units, face off against a variety of monsters, each with their own set of abilities. Enemy Modifiers such as Teleportation,
  • Invisibility, Lifesteal, and more, ensure that there’s always a new type of enemy to slaughter.
  • Traditional Roguelike Features: Permadeath, a little luck, and unforgiving gameplay means your hero’s life is firmly in your hands.
  • Scoring & Leaderboards: To remember all those poor souls who didn’t make it.
  • Simple, easy to use Interface: All the details and functionality you need, without the clutter.

What's Still to Come?

  • Multiple Dungeons: Featuring all new dungeon designs, enemies, rooms, loot, and more.
  • Story mode: Dungeons will chain together for longer, more varied gameplay, and progression towards a final, endgame goal.
  • More Character Development Options: More Class Roles, more Abilities, more talents.
  • Further Item & Enemy Development: A much greater range of Item Abilities and Enemy Modifiers.
  • Puzzles: More special room types will offer greater variation to exploration.
  • Gear Crafting: Collect materials and salvage old gear to craft powerful new items.
  • Achievements & Unlockables: New content unlocked for courageous feats of strength!

I Already Bought the game on Desura, how do I get my Steam Key?

Come September 9th, simply go to www.desura.com/collection and select Claustrophobia and then Keys to access your Steam Key.

Closing Comments

Screenshots, Gameplay Trailer, and more information will be coming next week! Stay tuned, and as ever, thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

8. august - The Indie Forge

Hello all, long time no see. As you may have noticed, it’s been three weeks since the last Dev Log. I fully intended to have one written for last Friday, but I completely ran out of time, and therefore decided to hold everything back for one big update this week. So, here goes!

A Discussion on Hunger & Health Regen



So firstly I’d like to discuss what is essentially quite a large change from V1, and a mechanic that I’ve been working on for a while in order to try to balance correctly. In V1, Health and Mana would regenerate once the player had been out of combat for 5 turns, and would regenerate a fixed amount on a per turn basis. This led to all sorts of problems and annoyances, mainly having to hammer the Skip Turn button every few turns to heal.

With that in mind, I’ve made a number of changes. Firstly, the addition of the option to Rest until fully healed. This will only be possible when there are no enemies with you in sight, and when you are completely rid of de-buffs. Whilst resting, enemies will continue to hunt you down, and if you are discovered, resting will be paused. Resting is not required to heal, you will still regenerate passively while moving, but not while in combat.

Secondly, Health and Mana regeneration amounts are now based on a percentage of you Wisdom. This gives a reason for all classes to have need of at least a little Wisdom.

Finally, a new system has been introduced in order to prevent constant healing by simply resting after every fight. This system is Hunger. Health will only regenerate (note: this does not effect Mana) while your player is adequately fed, and will regenerate at a greater rate the better fed you are. There are 4 states of Hunger:

  • Well Fed: Health Regeneration is Increased to 200%.
  • Sated: Health Regenerates at normal rate.
  • Hungry: No penalty, but a warning de-buff appears.
  • Starving: Health will no longer passively regenerate.

Your player starts out at the top of Sated. Each turn that they regenerate health, their hunger decreases by 1 point until their hunger reaches 0, and they begin to starve. Starving does not reduce health, and you cannot die from it directly. But without finding and eating food, you will no longer regenerate over time. This means that if you have no food, and are low on health, you must choose to either heal for as much as your current hunger will allow you and stay in your current room, or risk it and venture out to find food.

Food itself can be found lying around the dungeon, dropped by monsters, or bought from shops. Different foods have different effects on top of just reducing hunger, and there are also potions which effect your hunger state.

It’s not my intention for this mechanic to become an annoyance itself. I don’t want people to feel like they’re constantly being held back by a lack of food, or that they are spending time worrying about eating when they could be adventuring. So I will be monitoring the balance of this mechanic extremely closely in order to find the perfect trade off.

Locked & Special Rooms

Still with me? That’s dedication right there! Or maybe you scrolled down looking for images? Either way, here’s a couple!



The new dungeon generator allows me to create all sorts of special rooms which exist alongside the randomly generated ones. In this case, the locked door, which can be opened by a Key, reveals:



A Treasury! There are already a number of different locked room types, including Butchers and Spell Rooms, with more to come. As well as locked rooms, I’m in the middle of designing trap and puzzle rooms that will appear randomly throughout the level.

Keys also work on Locked Chests. There are not always enough keys to open everything, so choose wisely. Locked rooms will never contain anything vital to progressing, but are always highly beneficial.

Enemy AI Changes

Enemies have got a whole lot smarter! Instead of just standing about waiting to be found, enemies will now roam the dungeon, patrolling corridors and pacing rooms. Once they spot the player, they will begin to chase. Doors will no longer hault enemies completely; instead, they will give you a 1 turn head start before they open them and continue chasing. If they lose sight of the player, they will head to the last place they saw them, search the area, and, if they find nothing, return to patrolling. An exclamation mark will appear above the head of an enemy that is alerted, and a question mark when they lose the scent.

Leaderboards

You can now track the misadventures of all your heroes. Scoring is based on the experience your character earned while they were alive. The leaderboard also shows where you character died, what level they were, and the amount of time they were alive for.



Other stats such as what you were killed by and how many turns you survived for are also recorded, but are not currently displayed.

Everything Else

So many changes and additions over the last couple of weeks, I just can’t write about them all! Here’s a quick summary!

  • Added Starting Abilities for the Juggernaut
  • Added 3 new enemies
  • Added Shields
  • Added 2 Misc skills
  • Added 6 new Potions
  • Added 5 new Scrolls
  • Added portals
  • Added object indicators to the minimap
  • Added floor tile variation
  • Added animated tiles
  • Added wall-mounted torches to corridors and large rooms
  • Switched from Monogame back to XNA due to compatibility issues
  • Added enemy spawning based on dungeon type
  • Added room spawning based on dungeon type
  • Added weighted spawning for items
  • Added the Magical Missile skill for Mages, and changed all staves to deal elemental damage
  • Added auto-sort option to Inventory
  • Added new item notifier to Inventory
  • Added menu toolbar to HUD
  • Fixed a gazillion bugs (most prominent of which was that the save system didn’t work past level 3, and lost one of my friends a really nice Bow, which he was not pleased about. Whoops)

That is all! Don’t forget to leave me your comments, and, as always, thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

18. juli - The Indie Forge

Hey everyone! Welcome to Claustrophobia Development Log #14! Some of you may remember that I predicted the earliest I would be able to release the Claustrophobia V2 Alpha was today, July 18th. Quite obviously, that date was hugely optimistic, and I’m afraid I am not yet ready to release anything. I am still hoping for Alpha to be released within the next couple of months, but I will not release until I am happy with the amount of content. So instead, here’s a load of new info and screenshots!

Character Creation

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I spent a large chunk of the last couple of weeks working on Character Creation. A big part of Claustrophobia has always been the ability to customize your character, and their skillset, to your playstyle. Therefore I felt it only fitting to dedicate a large amount of time to getting this right.

[i.imgur.com]

On the left, we have options for customizing your character’s appearance, and on the right, class options. To get you started, a number of Preset Classes will be available. These presets will load recommended character builds, as well as determine your starting gear set. Alpha will launch with 3 Presets (Juggernaut, Archer, and Warlock), but more classes will be added throughout development.

You can either play the game with a Preset Class, or edit a Preset to create your own class.

[i.imgur.com]

Clicking “Edit Class” will bring up the Abilities window, which will allow you to reassign Class Roles, Talents, and Starting Skills. Each Class Role will have three starting skills available. While you can chose more than 1 Role, you are limited with the amount of Skills you can learn by the amount of Skill Points you have available. You begin the game with 3 Skill Points, and gain 1 Point every 3 levels. Likewise, you start with 3 Ability Points, and gain 1 every 5 levels.

Please note that the Talents shown in the image above are placeholders. There will be more available on Launch.

Skills

As you can see from the screenshots above, I’ve begun work on class skills, and that’s taken up almost all of the rest of my time. There’s a lot planned. As I said, every class has 3 starting skills, and then approximately 6 more skills each. Which is about the minimum amount that will be needed for Alpha. Here’s the first 3 Archer Skills in action:



Skill leveling has been slightly reworked. For a number of reasons, the most important of which is balance, the ability to level up each individual skill has been removed. Instead, a skill’s effectiveness is tied to a percentage of your weapon damage + a percentage of the skill’s main stat. For example, The Archer skill Scatter Shot deals 50% weapon damage + 60% dexterity. This means that your abilities will level with you, and you will not have to worry about certain abilities becoming underpowered. It also means your most effective skills will be those that complement your stat build.

Skills can only be used once they have been learnt. When you read a Spellbook, you gain the skill, but you must spend a skill point in it to be able to use it. Since you only gain a Skill Point every few levels, this could lead to you having to “forget” certain skills in order to learn new ones. Once a skill is forgotten, you will need to find it’s corresponding Spellbook to re-learn it.

Everything Else

  • Added a new loot system which learns to prioritise gear stat roles based on the type of gear you choose to equip.
  • Added female character graphics.
  • Added a load more hair, eye, and mouth graphics.
  • Changed terrain generation: a greater variety of room sizes will now spawn. Small rooms tend to bunch together, or join the edges of larger ones. More corridors, more crossroads, and less space wasted.
  • Added support for skills which persist over turns, have multiple activation phases, or do not require a target to cast.
  • Rescaled all equipment stats so that each new gear piece always offers an upgrade.
  • Rescaled the hit rate on all unit’s attacks as Claustrophobia had become the Game of Misses (you hit or you die).
  • Fixed a massive bug in the UI refresh code which had been causing graphical glitches from the beginning.
  • Fixed a rare bug where two enemies would stack on top of each other.

That is all! Don’t forget to leave me your comments, and, as always, thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

4. juli - The Indie Forge

Hello to you all! Welcome to Claustrophobia Development Log #13. The last two weeks have marked some of the largest leaps forward in development yet, with the completion of a number of different systems and also some rather large changes to core game concepts. As such, a lot of this week's log is going to be words. Apologies!

New Status Effects

But first, something to look at. Here's some of the new status effects that I have been working on. From left to right; Bleeding, Asleep, Blind, Stunned, Frozen.



More of these to come! Off the top of my head, the major ones left are Fear, Silence, Confuse, and Charm. This time around, a lot more player and enemy abilities will cause status effects of some description.

Storyline & Game Structure

Those of you who have played V1, or, in fact, anyone who has followed development reasonably closely thus far, will have noticed a distinct lack of any sort of plot. You were simply plonked into a dungeon to fight your way downwards until you eventually met your demise. The name of the game itself was even partly based on that fact.

However, as Claustrophobia has grown, the lack of plot direction has become more and more of an issue in terms of designing interesting dungeon scenarios. The world just feels a little meaningless and without purpose. So, alongside development, I have also been working on writing a proper (all be it somewhat tounge-in-cheek) storyline, which also means some alteration to the overall structure of the game.

While I'm not ready to reveal the overall plot just yet (which is entirely optional and can be ignored if all you want is a dungeon crawling experience), I can talk about the plans for the new structure.

Instead of one massive dungeon, Claustrophobia will soon be split into a certain number of different dungeons, each with their own enemies, rooms, and design themes. Each dungeon will have a number of floors, and feature a couple of mini bosses and one final boss. On completing a dungeon (assuming you didn't perish horribly), you will be given a choice of two different dungeons to enter next. Dungeons will be tiered in levels of difficulty, with a selection of dungeons which can be randomly selected for each tier. On completing a Tier 1 dungeon, you will move on to a Tier 2 dungeon, and so on.

After fighting your way through a number of dungeons, which varies depending on the length of game you wish to play, you will be presented with the last dungeon, the lair of the final boss. If you succeed in bringing him down, then not only have you completed the core game, but you unlock New Game+, and the ability to continue journeying through increasingly more challenging content.

Stat Changes & Balancing

Two weeks ago I discussed my plans to have armour and weapons require a certain mastery stat before that type of gear could be used. Partially through testing and partially through feedback, this feature has now been removed. All gear now requires a certain amount of points in their Primary Stat: Heavy Armour requires Strength, Bows require Dexterity, Cloth Armour requires Intelligence, etc. The requirement values are fairly low, meaning a hybrid class can use a range of different equipment, providing his/her stats are well balanced.

For this reason, and a few others relating to balance, I've altered a lot of stats' uses, as well as how they effect your character. The Primary Stats are now as follows:

  • Strength: Increases Physical and Critical Damage
  • Dexterity: Increases Ranged Damage, Hit Rating, Defence Rating, and Critical Chance
  • Intelligence: Increases Magical Damage, and Magic Resist
  • Wisdom: Increases Max Mana, Mana Regen, and Resist Efficiency
  • Constitution: Increases Max Health, Health Regen, and Armour Efficiency

The changes made to Secondary Stats are as follows:

Armour and Magic Resist now represent exact values of damage that can be mitigated. The amount of damage that they actually negate is capped at a percentage of damage shown by your Armour/Resist Efficiency, which can be increased by putting points into Constitution/Wisdom.
The chance a unit has to hit and be hit is now calculated as a ratio between the attacker's Hit Rating and the defender's Defence Rating. Both values are effected by Dexterity, but Defence Rating less so.
Since Armour negates damage taken, and Defence reduces the chance to be hit in the first place, squishy units such as mages benefit greater from Defence than they do Armour. As such, Light Armour gives high Defence Rating, but little to no Armour Rating. Medium Armour gives more Armour but less Defence, and Heavy Armour gives large amounts of Armour, and small amounts of Defence.
Luck has been introduced as a secondary stat, which offers small bonuses to Hit Rating and Critical Rating, as well as increased Gold & Rare Item Drop.

Game Options

One of the things that I have been asked the most about since first discussing V2's turn based mechanics, is how long each unit takes to have a turn. A lot of people were concerned that the new mechanics would make gameplay too slow in comparison to V1, and yet more people wanted instant, high speed gameplay, akin to non-graphical roguelikes. Instead of choosing one way or the other, the choice is now yours. With the addition of a Turn Mode option, you can choose to play:

  • Sequential (Default): Each unit takes their turns one after the other.
  • Instantaneous: Every unit takes their turn at the same time as the player.
  • True Instantaneous: Every turn is taken at the same time, regardless of graphical effects.

Full key rebinding is also supported, along with a host of other gameplay options.

Everything Else

Finally, alongside everything else, I've also:

  • Added Options menu.
  • Added all of Chris' current music to the game.
  • Started adding sound effects for all major actions.
  • Added Line of Sight detection to enemies, and rewrote path finding so that enemies who lose sight of you search the area that you were last seen.
  • Rewrote enemy AI to enter formation on entering a bottleneck.
  • Added Spellbooks.
  • Added skill targeting for line-based abilities.
  • Fixed a number of bugs.
  • ...and then fixed yet more bugs.

And I believe that's just about everything. As always, all your comments are greatly appreciated!

Until next time,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

21. juni - The Indie Forge

Hello all! Long time no see. Apologies for the delay in this Dev Log, I’ve been rather busy, and just when I was about to write about progress yesterday, I managed to break a fairly significant chunk of the game and ended up spending all day fixing it. But such is life, and I’m not here to moan about that! So, onwards with progress!

Skills and Abilities

The majority of my work these past few weeks has gone into designing and implementing one of the last major engine features: skills. No RPG would be complete without them, and since Claustrophobia has always had an emphasis on custom classes and play-styles, I felt it deserved a large chunk of development time.

While V1’s Skill system was meant to offer a variety of skill sets which you could tailor together to create your own class, it’s largest failing was that these classes had little synergy and there was not much incentive to branch out once you had chosen your “starting class”. The new system should hopefully change all that.



Pictured above is the Abilities window (as it currently stands - obviously class abilities and skills pictured are placeholder). On the left are your character’s Talents, while on the right is your Spellbook. When beginning a new game, and on reaching certain levels, you will be given a number of Ability & Spell points. Ability points can be spent to determine what weapons, armour, and class skills your character will be able to use, while Spell points will be used to improve the spells you have learnt.

Spells themselves will each have a class and a class level that they are associated with. In the example above, the spell “Fireball” is a Level 1 Test Class Ability, and therefore would require 1 point in “Test Class” to learn and use. Putting another point into “Test Class” will allow you to learn level 2 abilities in that class. There will be no limit to the amount of classes you can put points into, but you will only have a certain amount of points to spend. Spread yourself too thin, and you will not have enough points to learn more powerful spells. You will, however, have access to a wider range of lower level spells. At least 1 point in each category (weapon, armour, class) is required, but after that, it’s your choice. I am also looking into having a fourth category which comprises of passive buffs, such as increased sight, arrow retrieval, etc.

After choosing 1 or 2 starting classes, you will be given a choice of (potentially) 3 starting spells, which will be determined by the class(es) you’ve picked. After that, new spells can be learnt by reading Spellbooks which can either be bought in special shops, found lying around, or found in Skill rooms, which will appear every now and again. You can only read Spellbooks which match your Class and Class level.

Active Items

Alongside the main Skill system, I’ve also added Active Items. These are anything that you can use to give an effect, such as potions and scrolls (which will both return in the same way as V1). Their implementation however is completely different. An active item’s use is now considered a spell in it’s own right, which means not only can items now have cooldowns, mana costs, and most importantly, targeting, but they can also be dragged onto and used from your skill bar.



This means that I can add all sorts of items that simply wouldn’t have been possible before, such as scrolls with damaging effects, wands, lockpicks, etc. It’s also a nice little quality of life improvement (and I literally broke 90% of the engine getting it working, ohgodistillhavenightmares…)

Targetting & Enemy Abilities

As well as getting the design and UI up to speed, I’ve also spent some time working on skills themselves. V1’s player skills were fairly black and white: either they were instant self-casts, or they were single target ranged spells. Enemy skills were even bleaker, they were always single target (the player) damage/crowd control. So, considering I was going on about how flexible the new engine is a couple of weeks ago, I decided to jump in and start fleshing out skill types. We now have support for self casts, single target, multiple target, area of effect, and toggleable skills. And those go for both player and enemies. In fact, it’s entirely feasible to give enemies their own inventories of items to use. But that might be getting ahead of myself.

Oh, and did I mention friendly fire? Yeah that’s a thing now. You can thank me later.

Everything Else

That’s about everything I’m going to talk about in depth. Along with all that, I’ve also:

  • Added unidentified objects, which take on a random appearance for each playthrough (pretty much as before).
  • Started adding in the old scrolls and potions.
  • Added the title menu and almost instant saving and loading between screens.
  • Added clicking & dragging support for items and skills in menus.
  • Added XP and Gold rewards and recognition for double, triple, and super kills!
  • Fixed a load of bugs, then broke everything and had to fix it all over again.

And that, my friends, is that. I’m really excited about the potential for the new skill engine, which I will be working on now for the next few weeks. Please let me know what you think about everything, and leave me a comment in the internet location of your choice!

Until next time,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

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