From the beginning, I've been at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to design philosophy and RetroQuest. I have two basic approaches to the game that I can see. One emphasizes the "campaign"... quests, story arcs, pre-defined locations, etc., like 8-bit era console RPGs. The other is more of a dynamic world/sandbox type game.
From the beginning, I've never been about making it all of one or the other, but I can't go all out in both directions. Having quests and storylines like I've envisaged depends on having a certain amount of immutability in the world, right?
But then I think about Terraria's procedurally generated world, and the way that it weaves locations, bosses, and even quests of a sort into what is almost entirely a sandbox world.
And because it does it this way, you can totally remake the world. You can break it. You can reshape it.
And I think that I could do something a lot like this in RetroQuest. Not make the world such a complete tabula rasa as in Terraria, because this is supposed to be a tile CRPG in the mold of Ultima games... I want towns and dungeons, plural, and a progression through levels.
But what I'm thinking now is: make static maps of one town for each level. Make the parameters for matching dungeons/adventure locations. Make the game start in the center of a procedurally generated world map. Make incrementally increasing levels (in terms of the encounters that are generated within them) in concentric squares radiating outwards. Each level-square will have its own town, plus dungeons/adventure locations/special things appropriate to it. Encounters will be generated by a cross-reference of the level of your location to the surroundings... be near a level 1 forest and you get bandits, level 1 plains will be overrun with slimes, etc. The actual level of the encounters you get will happen on a continuum... when you're halfway "out" through level 2, you'll start getting level 3 encounters mixed in and stop seeing the level 1 ones.
Each progressive level of the overworld will be larger... in the early levels you'll just be moving back and forth in the center region of the map, but the level 10 town might be in the southwest corner of the map and send you to dungeons on the other side of it. Of course by that point you'll have more travel options than walking.
Key to this idea is that the specific terrain on the overworld doesn't particularly matter, which means that letting players create and destroy forests, tunnel through mountains, bridge rivers, etc. won't break anything.
In some ways this will actually make the game more consistent, as this is pretty much how dungeons have worked from the beginning.
I have to think about the specifics. This will add some more programming challenges, but simplify a lot of aspects of the game design, like content. There will still be quests, but they will be less of a major driver of the game than in a typical MMO.
Not having a single stable world would also go well with one of my other plans, which is to have individually run/hosted games rather than a single centrally hosted server. I enjoy game making as a hobby, but I got burnt out on running a massive persistent world server back during my Hedgerow Hall days.
Nov 30 2011, 6:45 pm