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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
April 23 - 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,


March 21 - 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!


March 7 - The Indie Forge

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.


February 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!



January 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!



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