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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
8月8日 - 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

7月18日 - 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

7月4日 - 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

6月21日 - 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

5月24日 - The Indie Forge

Hey everyone! Welcome to the slightly shorter than normal Claustrophobia Dev Log #11! Since most of the last couple of weeks has been spent on polishing and finishing basic combat, turn movement, and world generation, I’m afraid I don’t have as much as normal to discuss. I do, however, still have some good stuff to show off!

Combat Effects

As I said on Twitter earlier this week, I spent a fair amount of time polishing combat animations. Since the new sprite system doesn’t have actual character animations and instead opts for static sprites (which is a decision I made early on with the redesign to save development time), I’ve been trying to come up with different techniques for conveying damage. My main goal was to make every hit feel like it had a nice amount of weight behind it. The outcome was this:



The final animation is comprised of a sprite manipulation to give a bounce effect, a colour tint for a white flash (not sure whether to keep it white or go with the older RPG style of red..?), a slight knockback in the opposite direction of the attacker, and the attack’s particle effect and unit’s individual blood splatter type. What do you think?

Ranged Combat

In addition to combat effects, I spent a lot of time working on ranged combat. This is actually a pretty significant improvement over Claustrophobia V1, which had extremely clunky ranged attacks. The attack would basically happen as soon as you clicked your target, and then the animation would catch up. Unfortunately this normally resulted in enemies moving before attack animations had actually completed, which just looked awful all round. The new version waits for the completion of whatever attack animation is in progress before the the target is actually effected and the attacking unit’s turn is declared complete.



While the gif only shows a normal bow shooting arrows, this system also works with any particle effect I want, which means when it comes to the skill engine, I can have all sorts of flashy spell effects act in the same way. Which is great news, because…

Ability Casting

…I also started work on the skill engine! It’s like I actually plan these things. The system is very basic at the moment, but it allows for various different target-able and cast-able areas, as well as different rules as to what should be hit in the selected area.



In this case we have a 5x5-cell targeting area and a 3x3-cell casting area. Anything inside the casting area would be hit by the spell, which in this case is an extremely cliché and boring Fireball of Testing. Which also hits like a wet kitten.

Once again this is a rather significant improvement over V1, which had a somewhat limited skill engine comprised almost entirely by single target instant cast abilities. Greater engine flexibility means much more room for creative and flashy effects.

Right, that’s about everything I have to show you! As I said earlier, I’ve also made a load of UI improvements and general optimizations, but I don’t want to bore you with that!

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share and comment!

Until next time,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

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