Introducing Torgar’s Quest (roguelike)

Torgar's Quest (alpha)For several months now, I have been working on a 2D village building game, Founder, using the Gamesalad engine. Since Gamesalad runs on Mac and mine started randomly rebooting several times a day, I could no longer reliably work on my village builder.

Bummer. Doubly so because I have limited time, so a trip to the Apple Store will have to wait until after the holidays.

They say you should make lemonade, when Life gives you lemons, so I fired up my PC instead, and GameMaker Studio, which I have been using more and more anyway, and started a project I had wanted to try for a long time: building a roguelike dungeon crawler.

Thus Torgar’s Quest was born!

For those not in the know, a roguelike is a turn-based game inspired by the classic game, Rogue, in which you run around fighting things on a randomly generated map. Oh yeah, and there’s no saving the game, so if you die, you have to start over. Read more about roguelikes elsewhere (I will be following up with a post on how I went about it later).

I was initially thinking of this project as an exercise in coding the procedural level generation, just a bit of fun while I wait to get my Mac fixed. But as it sometimes happens, the side project took on a life of its own, and I let it, because I love roguelikes.

Within a few days, and with the use of a fantastic, free tileset, I had a working alpha build. From here, it’s a matter of tweaking the balance, adding a few more features and audio. It’s still a work-in-progress, but I am going to keep Torgar’s Quest pretty small.

Right now, a playthrough takes just a few minutes to play, unless you get really lucky or play better than usual (read: me), and that is pretty much perfect for what I am looking for.

Eventually, the finished game will be available for sale, but while it’s still in alpha, it is absolutely free to download and play (at the time of writing, it’s Windows only). The game even has its own website, where you can play a web-based version as well.

Presenting: Alien Attack Armada

Alien Attack Armada

Play Alien Attack Armada (opens in a pop up window)

This was written after 22 straight hours of gaming and/or developing Alien Attack Armada, as part of my participation in this year’s Extra Life event. I made this game from scratch during the event, right down to the sound effects and, um, artwork.

A huge thank you to everyone who donated, watched my Twitch feed, on Twitter, or provided support and encouragement elsewhere along the way. More detail will undoubtedly follow later. For now, I still have 2 more hours left of Extra Life…

The Building of a Village Builder

What started a few weeks ago, as a pure experiment, evolved into a prototype of a village builder game. To clarify, it’s a video game, where you build a village by acquiring and investing resources, attracting settlers, traveling merchants and eventually even barbarian raiders to your settlement.

You begin as one person with a camp. From there, you can start gathering wood, food, stone or gold. You’ll need these, to add buildings to your settlement, starting with a hut. Each building serves a purpose. The hut, for instance, houses your villagers and thus sets the maximum people that can settle with you.

The goal is simply to get through 365 in-game days, and see how much you have accomplished in that time. It is possible to end the game before then. If you mismanage your village, starvation might get you, or villagers may even rise against you. And of course there were those barbarians, I mentioned.

The game scales with your village. Visiting merchants have bigger, better offers, the stronger your village economy is. Likewise, hoarding gold will increase chances of getting raided. Besides buildings and resource gathering, the player can invest gold in technology, thus improving on the village in a slightly different way. For example, increase the technology for housing, and each hut can hold additional villagers. Increase farming technology for additional food yields, and so on.

The experiment that started it all, was to prove myself wrong. A while back, I experimented with making a similar type of game using Gamesalad. I fairly quickly got stuck, however, and decided that the engine was to blame, for not being well suited for this type of game in the first place. Since then, I have learned a lot about designing the relevant mechanics, and so I wanted to see if I could do it now. The result, while still very primitive, is already both more sophisticated and better balanced than my first attempt ever was.

There is still far to go, before I would even call this an “early release”. It’s a prototype evolving into a pre-alpha. For one, the game has no art or sound at all. It’s just buttons and text in black and white boxes. There are many bugs and things that need tweaking and rebalancing, and I really want to integrate some sort of procedural storytelling device, which I will likely tie in with the villagers themselves, somehow. I haven’t fully developed that layer yet.

Working in layers has been my approach all along. The resources you gather is one layer, buildings add another, the technology and trading represent new layers as well, and so on. I try to design each layer to be as independent from the others as possible, to make things easier to balance and change, as the game evolves. This is where I felt that Gamesalad fell short before, and though it does have its limits, working within them adds a challenge and structure too. I often find inspiration from having to work within a limited space, regardless of whether that space is technical or creative in nature.

Along the way, I tweet updates and occasional screenshots (I’ve included a few examples in this post), both as a log of how things progress, but also to put it out there for early feedback, support and a feeling of having committed to the project. Last time, I gave up when things got tough. This time, things just seem to be get more fun as I go…