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Roguelike Design Thoughts

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A friend of mine, <lj user="xyzzysqrl">, is doing a playthrough of Chocobo Mystery Dungeon 2, which got me talking about Mystery Dungeon games and roguelike games, and further, got me thinking.

I think the roguelike game I enjoyed most, and got into the most was Azure Dreams for the PS1. I tried playing it again on an emulator about a year ago but it didn't have the magic I recalled. Still, it was a good game.

I think a lot of what I enjoyed about Azure Dreams actually came from what you did outside of the dungeon. With your dungeon treasures, you invested in the town surrounding the dungeon, and helped build it up. You had relationships with a host of girls, who would do chores around your steadily growing house in order to win your favor. Having done those things previously and somewhat spoiled the joy of exploration in finding out what you can do, but the first time I played it was absolutely magical.

It got me thinking about roguelike design. I've often thought about making one myself; they're one of the most common sorts of games for independant sorts like myself to make. I started spiraling off ideas in my head. What if you had a fortified town that you built up as you explored the dungeon? That would give meaning to the work you did in the dungeon, to keep things fresh. But, one of the problems with Azure Dreams was that there was a limit to what you could do. There was only so much you could build up the town, and so many girls to woo, and then it was over.

Trying to find a solution to that, I imagined that your town might be attacked. When you were attacked, your resources would be consumed, and if you couldn't replenish them fast enough, the town would shrink from the casualties and people leaving to escape the battle. So, the size of your settlement would depend on you farming the dungeon.

I was thinking that in addition to fighting monsters in the dungeon, occasionally you'd participate in attacks on your settlement personally, by fighting a general. The fight would happen like a fight in the dungeon, the same mechanics, but against a single powerful opponent instead of a dungeon full of individual monsters, where you have to conserve your resources.

At first I thought about this being a town at the base of a tower dungeon, or the entrance to a labyrinthine underworld, with roving armies wandering the world. But another idea that's been in my head lately is the multi-planar setting, with many interconnected themed worlds. Perhaps instead of the dungeons being a 'dungeon', they are other worlds you visit.

Spinning off of that, further ideas entered my mind. I've always been fond of the 'Dungeon Keeper' idea, where you manage and maintain your own dungeon. In my own ideal, it would be full of independant creatures living in their own lairs, perhaps a whole dungeon ecology. Tying that into a multi-dimensional roguelike, I thought of this; what if the settlement you built was itself a dungeon? And you filled it with creatures and people you met in the many worlds you visited? Or perhaps, rather than a 'dungeon', an interdimensional nexus where many varied creatures settled together, on the fringe of many worlds. Of course, such a jewel would be tempting for anyone with power, so it would be up to you not only to fill this world and keep the peace between disparate beings, but to defend your settlement against those who would invade it.

Oh this idea is just delightful. I'll definately have to save this one. What do you think?<br />
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Added: 5 years, 11 months ago
 
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