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Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
4 Lipca - 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 Czerwca - 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

24 Maja - 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

Hello to you all! Welcome to Claustrophobia Dev Log #10! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made a lot of progress in a number of different areas. I figured a screenshot would do a good job of portraying a few of the new features in action, so here goes!



Shops

Shops are back in, and will act in much the same way as they did in V1. Shops are special rooms that are placed around each level (normally no more than 1 per level, sometimes none), which offer a variety of items for purchase and also allow you to sell your collected wares. So pretty much what you need from a shop. For the time being, they only sell gear, but they’ll also supply you with potions and scrolls and keys all other wonderful dungeon related tools of the trade.

Character Customization and Tiered Gear

Basic Character Customization is in, which allows for face and hair customization. At the moment a randomly generated character appearance is chosen for you on starting a new game, but you’ll be able to chose specifics in the future. Skin tones and gender options will also be available in the finished game.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about visual equipment. This system has been expanded slightly. Item graphics are going to be tiered, in that a different graphical “set” will be used for items every few levels for each rarity type. That way you’ll continually find more and more visually appealing gear. Unfortunately this means a massive workload of spritework, but I’ll get there eventually. The first tier of equipment can be seen below.



The tier system does not apply to specific gear pieces or the stats they provide. The gear itself is completely randomly generated, but giving it a matching graphical set every couple of levels keeps things fresh. Of course, you can choose to just don a selection of completely random gear instead, if you wish.

UI Additions

The ingame UI has received two extremely helpful additions, which complete most of the main functionality. Firstly, the Details window, which gives an in-depth breakdown of all of your character’s statistics, their values, and what they do. The actual statistics themselves will more than likely change a lot during balancing, so don’t read too much into what’s pictured below. (Also, don’t mind my marvellous neon-pink mohican):



Secondly, the compare window, which allows you to compare a piece of gear to your current equivalent. At the moment I’m unsure whether or not to show the changes to stats should you make the change, or whether to leave it like this. While showing stat changes would make on the fly gear changes easier, it would also detract from making changes based on reading specific passive properties.



Turn Phases

Finally, one of the larger changes between V1 and the new version. In V1, the game would wait for input on the player’s turn before stepping through each consecutive enemy turn one after the other until it reached the player’s turn again. While this worked well to emphasise each unit’s action, when entering a large room full of enemies, the gameplay would crawl to a halt each turn as the game waited for every enemy to complete it’s turn before moving on to the next, and so on.

In the new version, turns will be handled in Phases, where all units in a phase will take their turns simultaneously. Once the player has chosen their turn action, all active enemies will take one consecutive turn and update at once, quickly returning to the player’s turn again. Not only does this speed up gameplay no end, but it also makes movement and combat much more fluid, with less pauses while other unit’s turns are calculated.

And that’s about it for this week. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share and comment!

Until next time,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

23 Kwietnia - 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:

[i.imgur.com]

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:

[i.imgur.com]

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:

[i.imgur.com]

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,

Dan
@TheIndieForge

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