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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
17 Grudnia, 2013 - 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

14 Sierpnia, 2013 - The Indie Forge

Hello Greenlight Users! It's been a very long time since I posted an update on Claustrophobia's progress over here, so I thought it would be good idea to create a post highlighting the best updates and additions to the game to show all the progress that's taken place over the last few months. Claustrophobia is going very well, and I want to thank everyone who has supported my project so far!

Terrain Generation Redesign

Over the last few patches, terrain generation has come on a long way from the original array of square rooms that made up the dungeon floors. However, while the last version of the terrain generation was one of the most advanced so far, it was lacking in design. Dead ends, corridors that looped back on themselves, rooms disconnected from the main dungeon, and illogically placed rooms made exploring increasingly difficult. Adding to that the massive size of the floors meant an awful lot of backtracking, and that is not what Claustrophobia should be about. Below, you can see a floor generated with the old system, compared to a floor generated with the new system. Both use the same parameters to generate. Black tiles are walls, white tiles rooms, pink tiles doors, and green tiles corridors.

As you can see, the size of the floors has been reduced (item and enemy spawning has been changed to reflect this), and corridors and rooms are now laid out in a logical connected fashion. Rooms now spawn right up to the edges of the map, which removes the outer corridor that bordered all old maps. Corridors will pretty much always lead you somewhere, and will not backtrack or curl inwards on themselves.

Skill Engine Redesign

I have redesigned the skill engine so as to encourage the player to make decisions and craft their own class as they play. Below is a description as to how this new system works (it’s actually super simple to use):

Potions and Scrolls

The next change/addition is to how potions and scrolls work. Sticking true to the original Rogue formula, all potions and scrolls now start out both randomized and unidentified, leaving the player to identify its use. This can be done either by using a Scroll of Identification (which initially, it is unlikely you will have a huge supply of) or by biting the bullet and using them. This can of course be very risky, as there are an equal number of good and bad effects, but once identified, you will know what that specific scroll or potion does for the rest of your current game. Once you die, all potion and scroll effects will be randomized again.

I will be adding to the number of potions and scrolls steadily each patch, and certain ones will be rarer than others. Health potions and Scrolls of Identification are more likely to be identified since they are more useful. You never know though. Since you will be needing scrolls and potions a lot more post 1.1.0, scrolls can now be crafted by using a bottle of Enchanted Ink on a sheet of Paper, and Empty Potion Bottles remain after the contents have been drunk. Alchemy remains the same, just with mushrooms corresponding to potion colour, as seen above.

UI and Graphic Redesign

A lot of polish has gone into making the UI and game screen more appealing and user friendly, as well as adding as much functionality as possible within a small space. Features like crafting and equipping have been streamlined to be as easy to use as possible.

Full Resolution and Audio Support

One of the most questioned things over here on Greenlight was how small the game/ui/text appeared, and why the game's window/resolution was so small. Well, now a full options menu has been implemented, which allows you to properly set your resolution, and scale the ui and game screen to a size which best suits you.

Closing Comment

So, once again, thank you for your support thus far. I've added a new, up to date batch of screenshots to the main page. You can check out all updates, buy into the on going alpha, and follow me on twitter for the most up to date development, and my general ramblings, here:

Dev Blog[claustrophobiagame.tumblr.com]
Buy Now![www.desura.com]

Thank you!

5 Stycznia, 2013 - The Indie Forge

Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle Alpha v0.1 is now live!

Play Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle on Desura[www.desura.com]

Head on over to Desura if you wish to both buy into the early alpha, and support the game's future development! And if you do, I thank you greatly in advance.


  • Left Click: Move
  • Right Click: Interact / Attack
  • Tab: Skill Tree
  • Q,W,E,R,T,Y: Skill Keys (Press in Skill Tree to assign)
  • Shift + Right Click: Sell (In Shop)
  • Shift + Right Click: Pick up (From Floor)
  • Esc: Pause Menu

The alpha includes (despite what I said in the last update):

  • Fully randomly generated content for the whole first level
  • 10 enemy types
  • Randomly generated gear and gear progression
  • Visual Equipment
  • Full Strength and Agility Skill Trees
  • No Level Cap

From this point on, all game content will be added in the form of (hopefully) monthly Major Patches, and smaller, more regular Minor Patches, until all the planned content is added. This includes:

  • 50+ Enemy types
  • 5 Dungeon levels
  • 10 bosses
  • Intelligence Skill Tree
  • Visual Character Customization
  • Difficulty and Spawning Controls

Of course, I would like majority of the new features to be suggested by you, the players. So whatever criticism or ideas you have for the game, please, send my way, either on the Forums, or by email to theindieforge@gmail.com

Happy Playing!

(and please try not to break it, it's delicate)


27 Grudnia, 2012 - The Indie Forge

Oops, so it’s been almost a month since the last update, and not to mention I missed the deadline I was aiming for for the alpha release. Apologies. I blame Christmas, work, (*cough* the Steam Winter sale *cough*), and all sorts of other things that are all probably my fault in the long run. Sigh.

Anyway, time for a much needed update I think. And it is rather a large update really.

Skill Tree Progress

So yes, this is the big progress. As I said weeks ago, the skill tree is the most complicated and time consuming part of the game so far, so I’m pleased to say that 2/3 of it is now complete! I give you, the agility and strength trees:

The agility tree took much longer than anticipated, mostly down to the addition of a number of utility skills (like traps and invisibility), which were not originally programmed into the main engine, and required a rework of the whole skill system. But the game definitely benefits from them.

Due to the time it took to complete the agility tree, and the fact that I missed the alpha deadline, I’ve decided that the alpha will be launching without the Intelligence Tree, in order to not delay any further. It is, after all, an alpha, and is meant to give a taste of how the game will be running once it is complete. There is more than enough content already to keep agility and strength builds interesting. Intelligence will be making an appearance in the first major patch after launch.

Alpha Release Info

The alpha will hopefully now be launching in the first week of January, over on Desura. The alpha will include:

  • The first randomly generating level of the dungeon, including 15 enemy types, and over 100 pieces of loot (these numbers will increase massively with the introduction of randomly generated enemies and gear, which isn’t quite ready for the initial release)
  • The strength and agility skill trees shown above.
  • Content up to around level 10 (the game will not end at level 10, but gear stops around that level for now)
  • Lairs (only 1 boss is currently implemented)
  • Client-side leaderboards (online leaderboards will be making an appearance later in development, but for now highscores are personal)
  • Majority of the Official Soundtrack.

After launch, major patches will be released hopefully once a month, possibly more frequently. I will be looking to you guys (the players), for what you want to see changed, added, removed, or amended each patch on the forums for the game, which will also launch at the same time as the alpha.

Official Soundtrack

Claustrophobia’s composer, Chris, has now completed two of the main tracks for the game, which are sounding brilliant. Both pieces fit the atmosphere of the game extremely well, so keep an ear out for music as you venture through the dungeon.


It’s getting very close to alpha release now. Everything is now falling into place nicely, so keep an eye on my Blog, Steam, and Desura for more information leading up to the launch. I’m looking forward to sharing Claustrophobia with everyone.


29 Listopada, 2012 - The Indie Forge

Hey guys. Since posting the Skill tree design a week or so back, I have begun the massive task of creating, testing, and balancing all of the skills. Since there happen to be a fair few skills planned for the game, this process is taking quite a while. So, after a week and a bit of work, I present, the Strength Tree!

And that is pretty much everything I’ve been working on. Every skill there is fully functional, and quite a few of them actually change your style of play rather than just giving you new abilities.

You should know now that the planned release date of the paid Alpha is 20th December. Make a note, and a quiet prayer that I make that deadline.

And with that, I return to skill coding. To the Agility Tree!


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