Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report: Doors, Doorways, and Ladders

I have been on a family trip for the last couple of weeks, but in my last sprint report I finally got the door to render properly and turned it into an obstacle that blocks your path in The Dungeon Under My House, my second Freshly Squeezed Entertainment project.

I fleshed out the rest of the door implementations and then some in the time before and after my trip.

Sprints 22 & 23: Pre-production and initialization

Planned and complete:

  • Doors can be opened/closed

Unplanned and complete:

  • Put ladder back into dungeon

I realized that many similar games implement doors in a much simpler way. Instead of swinging open, they slide sideways into the wall, much like the doors in Star Trek.

Oh, well. I have doors that swing open and close, and now doors actually prevent movement through them.

The Dungeon Under My House - doors as obstacles

The code to handle doors as obstacles was a little messy. If you are facing a doorway, and the door is closed, it’s simple. You just can’t go through the doorway in either direction, either to leave the cell that the door is in or to enter it. If the door is open, then you can traverse between the two cells that were previously blocked from each other.

But if the door is open, the blocking behavior essentially gets turned to its side. A door on the north end of a cell that is opened is now blocking the west cell, and from the west cell you can’t enter the cell with the door in it. However, you should be able to enter the door’s cell from the east side.

But what happens if you are IN the cell that has a door, opened the door, and turned to the right? Should the door block you?

It was visible on the screen, and so it seemed intuitive that it would block you, but logically it made no sense.

I decided to not draw the door if it was too close to the camera, and it works out fine.

So now basic doors are more or less finished, and the game now has the ability to block or free access in a hallway by opening or closing a door.

At one point I had hardcoded a ladder to get back out of the dungeon and into the basement of the house, but that ladder disappeared as I worked on dungeon rendering.

So I decided to make it a full-fledged object in the game. I implemented it as a generic “portal”, with the idea that while doors allow you to move from one cell to another while providing a moving obstacle, portals teleport you to another location entirely.

So the ladder teleports you back to the house, but a different ladder or a stairway can take you to the next level of the dungeon.

The Dungeon Under My House - ladder

The Dungeon Under My House - ladder

The Dungeon Under My House - ladder

The Dungeon Under My House - ladder

I’m pleased with how the ladder looks from different angles, but clearly I need a new ceiling tile for locations with ladders to make it look like the ladder goes through somewhere.

For now, though, you can once again enter and exit the dungeon from the house.

I mentioned I was on a trip for a couple of weeks. I did not take my laptop, but I did want to spend some downtime thinking about and planning conversation systems. Since the game is meant to be non-violent, I need something to replace the typical hack & slash mechanics you would find in a 1st person dungeon crawler.

And I intend for that replacement to be as compelling and intricate. It won’t be enough to merely have a branching dialogue that let’s the player repeat conversations and try different options until they hit on the “correct” response.

That is, I want conversations to be meaningful and consequential.

But I am woefully ignorant of the state of the art in game dialogue and conversation design, and so I spent some time not only reading about the nature of dialogue and conversation but also trying to find examples of games that handle conversation differently.

I haven’t been terribly thorough, but so far it seems the state of the art is still just branching dialogue? With maybe some persistence of state to handle relationships or other consequences?

At least tabletop games have people performing improv.

My trip was good, but I hope I can dedicate a lot more time into figuring out how conversations should work.

But one of my goals for this quarter was to get a playable demo of my game into someone else’s hands, and to that end, making a mobile port is what I’ll focus on next.

Thanks for reading!

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