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Freshly Squeezed Progress Report: Grabbing the Flashlight from Under the Bed

In my last report from three weeks ago, I created inventory slots visible on the screen for the player’s party and created furniture with its own inventory for The Dungeon Under My House, my second Freshly Squeezed Entertainment project.

Since then, I have not been terribly productive. Between preparing for my tax appointment, grieving over my cat Gizmo passing away, producing updated versions of my leaf-raking business game Toytles: Leaf Raking for the Spring Sale, dealing with a minor cold, and participating in various family outings and obligations, forward motion on this project took a pause.

But I am slowly getting back into the game dev habit.

Sprints 2024-8 and 2024-9: Intro sequence game play

Planned and complete:

  • Allow player to search objects in room

Unplanned and incomplete:

  • Flashlight automatically lights up dark dungeon

As I predicted, viewing the furniture’s inventory was straightforward, but interacting with it took some effort.

I did some fun math to dynamically create the grid for a furniture’s inventory. The bed has 4 inventory slots, and other furniture might have a different number. The more slots available, the smaller they can be, but with fewer slots, the slots themselves can take up more real estate on the screen.

The Dungeon Under My House - furniture inventory view

I liked the way it becomes obvious that it is the focus of the current screen’s interaction.

As for actually interacting with the furniture’s inventory slots, what I decided to do was allow the player to select two different inventory slots to swap them.

This decision nicely solves the problem of what to do when a character’s inventory is full, as the act of dropping something to make room for it becomes a natural part of the interaction.

At least, it does for individual items such as a Flashlight. I haven’t addressed what should happen if the item has a quantity, but that’s for Future Me to worry about.

Also, Future Me, when you read this, don’t forget that we’ll need to figure out how the player should interact with the party’s inventory when not actively viewing furniture inventory. Thanks, you’re the best!

The Dungeon Under My House - furniture inventory interaction

The Dungeon Under My House - furniture inventory interaction

Once I had the ability to acquire items from furniture, another key part of the intro game play was completed: the party can get a Flashlight to illuminate the darkest parts of the newly discovered dungeon.

An obvious game play thing to do is to allow the player to interact with the item, and in this case, toggle the flashlight on and off at will. Then I can introduce the need to conserve the flashlight’s batteries and provide a means of replenishment of those batteries, either by recharging or replacement.

But while those mechanics sound kind of neat, and maybe in a different game they would be interesting to play with, in this game? I think requiring the player to manually turn the flashlight on and off would be tedious.

Instead, I’d like the flashlight to turn on and off based on the current light conditions. So if the player is entering an area that is getting darker, then the portable light source turns on automatically, and once the player enters an area with getting brighter, the portable light source turns off automatically.

And to avoid the tedium of having the light flicker on and off when crossing over a single light boundary, I think it would make sense to have two different thresholds. So the light turns on when entering a dungeon cell that is starting to become quite dark, but if you immediately leave that cell, the light doesn’t turn back off right away. You have to enter into a slightly brighter area before that light turns off.

But I’ll playtest it to see if it feels weird.

And naturally, the biggest concern is that if the flashlight is on, then the player should be able to advance into the darkest areas of the dungeon because they won’t be dark anymore. Which means rendering the dungeon by incorporating this temporary light level.

While the regular light levels spread out to adjacent cells, I think the effect of the flashlight on the light levels of the dungeon grid cells should mimic what a flashlight does. It will be a directional light, so the only cells affected are directly in front of the party.

Of course, what happens when the player turns to the left or right? I am sure I can mimic the arc of light that would occur naturally, but it might be a bit tricky.

But by the end of the week, most of this work was only on paper, so expect to see how I actually implemented it in my next sprint report.

Thanks for reading!

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