Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January RPG: Randomly Generated Dungeons

It is a test of game design. I will probably fail it.
As mentioned in my previous post, my new year's resolution for 2013 is to make one RPG prototype each month of the year with RPG Maker VX Ace. Each month I'll focus on a different aspect or idea and hopefully come out of the year with a handful of prototypes and a lot more experience with game design. To further solidify my commitment, I've signed up with a website I found this morning: www.onegameamonth.com It seems like I'm not the only person crazy enough to do this! Without further adieu, my topic for this month will be rather uninspiring: randomly generated dungeons.

I should come clean: I'm already going to cheat a bit here and not have completely random dungeons. Completely random dungeons would likely end up not being playable. There's no guarantee that I'd be able to walk from point A to point B! So I need to have some method of ensuring that I have a allowable path from any two points on the map. Then there's the problem of ending up with something more like a maze than a dungeon. A random generator wouldn't care much about room aesthetics, decor, etc. Such a thing would likely end up feeling very haphazard.

So I'm shamelessly stealing how I think Dungeons of Dredmor's generator works. I'll specify a number of room layouts, then I'll specify some events that I want on each floor, and then upon entry to the map, the game will plop random rooms down on the map, ensuring that there's a allowable path between the exit, entrance and all events on the map.

At the start, I'm just going to shoot for one randomly generated floor with static events, encounters and entrance/exit points. Depending on how easily the dungeon generation slides into place, I'd like to add randomly placed treasures, events, encounters, exits and entrances. The problem here is that I both cannot find a lot of encouraging information on randomly generating a map in RPG Maker and also that I am not terribly familiar with Ruby as a programming language. These things will slow me down, but I am sure that I'll reach my goal by the month's end.

Entire games have been based around just the notion of a dungeon that changes each time you enter it, and I'm certain that if things go very well I can just spend all month making better and better dungeons. So what about everything else that goes into a game? Well, this is where RPG Maker shines because I'm not going to do a damn thing about anything else. I'll be making a simple hub area for the single player character to return to in order to upgrade equipment, heal, etc. But things like story, custom assets or a custom combat system will fall by the wayside this month. These things are not directly related to the dungeon generation I want to focus on this month so I'll just ignore them where I can and let RPG Maker's default assets sort out the rest.

I'll post more here later about how this is coming along and the things I'm trying and how horribly they blow up in my face. For now though, here's a screenshot of the hub area I've created. It's probably going to be the easiest bit of the prototype this month:
So romantic.

Well, time to get started!

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