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Monday, January 22, 2007

Dev Diary: Let There Be (Or Not Be) Light

I had some pretty optimistic success recently with the web roguelike. I've kicked the performance problem (by logically working around the need to re-draw the map every cycle) and I've smoothed out the code for actually drawing the map in an online editor and then loading it into the game (although currently it supports only one map - so there's a whole file subsystem which needs to be created). So many of the main hooks - create a map, load a map, play a map - have the basics down. Combat is a mess, but there is in fact combat. Probably the next major system to at least get the groundwork working is character creation and management. Problem there is that I haven't defined the fundamentals of the actual game enivronment. Are stats number or die based? Will there be any classes or just skills? Etc.

I'm probably going to work on a list of desires before defining too clearly. I don't want the player to be constatnly working on item management. I want the player to be in control of the character design. That kind of thing. I'm considering using an "age" system to determine learning as opposed to outright experience, but that has a lot of details which conflict with the norm. So we'll see. I also have some notes on location based damage, but I can't tell if it's feasible or not.

In the meantime, I hope to figure out two major factors of a dungeon crawler: lighting and field of view. What can be seen and what can't isn't just an ambience issue - it's a strategy one as well. Fog of war, what's hiding behind that corner, is that beast still following me - these are factors which define your average roguelike as more than just a game of Pac-man with swords.

I'm kinda out on my own, too, because a lot of these systems that exists today are written in C with proper data structures. My data structure is JavaScript mirrored with HTML. Plus, I'd like to give quest designers the option of building something other than just rooms and halls - so I'd like more lighting options other than just "dark" and "not dark". Is this outside? Inside? Lit sparsely or evenly? Etc.

Of course, all of this is related to that ever present object in any dungeon - a door. If I can get a door to open and the contents behind to render as expected - that's probably my smoke test.


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