An Indie Oldschool Role-Playing Game

Announcing DarkDale: Betrayal

Announcing DarkDale: Betrayal

on Apr 15, 2013 | 10 comments

Hey, Ho! Let’s Go!

Welcome to darkdale.net, home of DarkDale: Betrayal.

What is DarkDale? Well, here we are to announce it: an indie computer role-playing game developed by Montreal-based See Roman Play. Inspired by oldschool classics such as Dungeon Master, Might & Magic or Wizardry, as well as new reincarnations of the genre such as the formidable Legend of Grimrock, the game will feature a storyline/quest-driven gameplay set in an original medieval fantasy universe. While true to the tile-based spirit of the dungeon crawler genre, the game is developed in 3D with modern platforms in mind.

This is the first of many blog posts to come. We’ll say a few words about why we are here and what are our goals with this project… but don’t worry, many of the features mentioned here will merit their own full post in due time.

 

Think Square

Why tile based? Well, we fundamentally believe that restrictions stimulate creativity rather than impede it. Constrained movement allows gameplay to articulate itself around a set amount of easily comprehensible basic rules, yet opening near-infinite design space by the combinatorial possibilities of those basic building blocks. A system that is simple and complex at once, and which has proven its value in the past. We believe it still remains relevant today, and refreshing in a video-game world obsessed with the idea of giving the player more and more freedom. Do not forget that sometimes less is more, as they say.

LevelEditor 2013-04-15 01-08-30-48

Interior scene

Also, while the dungeon crawler genre has been frequently associated with an experience centered around exploration and puzzle-solving at the expense of a storyline, this is by no means a necessary design trade-off. Many games have shown that both are possible and we aim to be one more on the list. DarkDale will feature cities, NPCs, quests and role-playing decisions in a kingdom where – you’ve guessed it – betrayal has changed the nature of the game.

 

Modding First

Modding has become an essential component of modern video-game industry. At See Roman Play, we believe that playing games is fun, but making them is even more fun (that’s why we’re here after all…). As such, DarkDale is being designed from the ground up with modding capabilities in mind. We have developed an in-house level editor that will obviously be available for players to use – if it is powerful and flexible enough for us to build the entire game, it should we hope satisfy your creative needs.

LevelEditor 2013-04-15 01-10-13-28

This level editor may look familiar to some, but there’s more under the hood. The “Trigger” on this pressure plate is a standalone component and can be removed or placed on any object.

We obviously cannot pretend to ignore the existing Legend of Grimrock modding community, of which the people involved in the DarkDale project are themselves forefront members. Why then do a whole new game instead of another mod? Well, we found the Grimrock engine too limiting in terms of story design, role-playing and character development for our artistic vision. This, and then the fun of creating our own contribution to the revival of the vintage cRPG genre.

We announce this in a spirit of friendship, not competition, to offer the old-school aficionados another – different – adventure to chew on. In an effort to not eventually divide the existing community, the design of our modding architecture follows some basic (and good) principles laid down but the talented people at Almost Human. Of course, we will improve things where we can and change them where needed ! Core elements (such as using the Lua language for all scripting purposes) are maintained however, and modders introduced to either game should be able to switch to the other one with a minimal learning curve.

 

Touring the Country

DarkDale will feature both exterior and interior environments, in many different settings, from sewers to high towers, from forests to icy mountains, from caverns to towns. Level size is flexible, allowing either an 8 level 10 x 10 squares narrow tower, or a long 64×12 map following a road. The game itself will be made of numerous such “scenes” where only part of the world is loaded at a time, allowing us to build a large gaming environment while keeping performance requirements in check.

Exterior scene

A WIP exterior scene

So, what’s next? The project is still in early stages of development, but we hope to get it ready by the first quarter of 2014. We have a functional level editor, a component architecture set-up, the start of an interior and an exterior tilesets, a gui, many many ideas, and even more enthusiasm to implement them. For updates, follow our developer’s blog!

    10 Comments

  1. Looking good! Certainly something I would love to have a go with. 🙂

    Daniel King

    April 16, 2013

  2. It looks quite promising. I particularly liked where you say “we found the Grimrock engine too limiting in terms of story design, role-playing and character development for our artistic vision.”. Indeed, Playing Grimrock, I think too that story was the its main “flaw”. Hope you can manage a more eye of the beholder like game, with npcs, in game animations and think like that, that can add a lot to the story.

    Greco

    April 16, 2013

  3. Indeed Eye of the Beholder 1 and 2, rank as some of my all time favourite games, the interaction makes such a difference.

    Daniel King

    April 16, 2013

    • I grew up with all those games, and have a clear enough idea of what makes their spirit unique, and will try to stay true to that. Dungeon Master/CSB, EoB (particularly the second one), M&M3-5, Wizardry 7, Lands of Lore & Betrayal at Krondor were my favorites and are my main sources of inspiration.

      I’ve also been a follower and regular commenter of http://crpgaddict.blogspot.ca/ for the last few years, completing my cRPG knowledge and discovering games I missed at the time such as Pool of Radiance for example.

      Georges Dimitrov

      April 17, 2013

  4. Hi there,

    I don’t know how far you are already, but if there’s still room for change, I’d recommend a look at the level editor from Dark Disciples II (dodgysoft com). The use of the same kind of status flag for each event in this game (from doors to treasures to monsters) means you can start incredibly complex event chains without a lot of scripting. Apart from that, it is probably the editor with the best effort to effect ratio I’ve ever used. Give it a try!

    Anthony Xue

    April 17, 2013

    • I will check it out, thanks for the link. I’ll make a full post about the editor next time, but here is a quick answer. The game logic is built around a Entity-Component model, and in the editor you can add or remove components freely from any object. Each component exposes to the inspector a number of “actions” to which the Connector component can react or call. You can thus chain connectors easily to create any logic you want.

      For example, you could create “relay” objects, by placing a dummy object (essentially just an invisible container for components) adding a Trigger component to it (which can send/receive Activate & Deactivate actions) and then Connectors targeting other objects. Editor uses dynamic drop-down menus, so that you can only select (and easily see) actions that exist in the compomnents on the targeted object.

      There will also be a Script component that you can place directly on an object to control its behavior.

      Georges Dimitrov

      April 17, 2013

  5. Hi there. I am really liking the concept of the game. We definitely need more games like these, and I wish you the best in creating it. I really love games similar to Wizardy 8 and Legend of Grimrock.

    I am a professional video editor with a small but growing YouTube channel. Feel free to reach out to me if you need a game trailer or an indie spotlight done on the game later in production.

    For indie developers, my work is free. It’s all about helping each other reach our goals.

    James Muia

    May 7, 2013

    • Thanks for the encouragment and kind proposal! I’ll post an update tonight on how things are progressing with the game.

      Georges Dimitrov

      May 7, 2013

  6. I wish you would go with turn-based combat. The real-time combat in Grimrock was its weakest point, as it lead to totally boring combat where you have to step back or to the sides all the time. Guido Henkel of Realms of Arkania and Planescape fame is also working on a Grimrock clone called Deathfire and he decided to go with a “proper turn-based combat”.

    Alexander

    May 26, 2013

    • Yes, I’m aware of Guido Henkel’s project, which I’m looking forward to, and from what I heard the new Might & Magic will also be turn-based. I personaly enjoy both turn-based and real-time combat, and would probably even say I generally prefer the tactical aspects of turn-based combat.

      Why settle for real-time then? Well, I think that it suits the first-person view dungeon crawler better, as it creates a smoother and more integrated experience without creating an artificial interruption between combat and exploration modes. It also allows the player to dynamically use the dungeon architecture (pits, fireball launchers, etc.) in combat, flee/rest & heal/re-engage and allows monsters to be used beyond combat purposes, like puzzles for example.

      Turn-based combat is best I think when you can work a strategy with characters acting individuallly rather than as a party “blob”, usually in top-down mode, like in classic Gold Box series (Pool of Radiance), Infifity engine games, more recently the first Dragon Age…

      Either way, there really is more to Grimrock or Dungeon Master combat that the plain “two-step dance”. I’m actively thinking about how to address the shortcomings/exploitable part of it, and have a few ideas.

      Georges Dimitrov

      May 27, 2013

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