Devlog February 2021

Hello everyone, here is the news from the front!

6 years!

It’s been six years since I started this adventure, time flies so fast! The pessimists will say “six years and still no game, what a failure!”, the optimists will say “awesome, six years, what perseverance!”, the choice is yours.

Anyway, happy six years to Wild Mage Games, 2021 will be the release year of Neverlooted Dungeon, I hope the first of a long series of games!

Steam Game Festival Review

In October 2020 took place the Steam Game Festival. It was an opportunity to show Neverlooted Dungeon to the world with a public demo.

Lots of people have played the game, I got quite a bit of positive feedback, a few streamers even posted videos of the game, I got a few new followers and people on the Discord which is really cool. I also did my first streams, showed some secrets and did some live speedruns.

Despite this, the results of this festival are rather mixed. There were about 500 downloads, 355 people completed the first level, and only 137 the second level. It’s both extremely exciting to have had so many players and positive feedback, and at the same time that number is rather low for a demo launched on Steam during this festival.

On the one hand, the game was immediately “buried” in the RPG page, at the bottom in the “Dungeon Crawler” part, which meant that it was hardly visible. Since my community is still very small, there was no significant discovery phenomenon as I had hoped and the game has remained invisible. This aspect will have to be greatly improved before the game’s release, because under these conditions the release would be a failure, regardless of the quality of the game.

Then there might be a little something missing from this demo (and the game), or something to improve, to make people playing it so excited that they talk about it and create an organic community growth.

Demo Feedback Analysis

I am analyzing the user feedback I received, to understand what works and what does not, to define the priorities, in order to make the best possible game.

I also analyzed the game’s stats, especially the deadliest traps, to try to understand if these first two levels had any major flaws. I think after analysis that the very first trap of the first level is a bit hard for new players and has led to a lot of misunderstanding and frustration, I’ve lost quite a few people here.

The first trap of the second level is even harder (the plank that breaks and throws you into a pit) and seems to have created a lot of “quit rage”, for the frustration of losing the accumulated inventory from the start. It is possible to retrieve your inventory but few people have understood it. Over forty people died in this trap and then left the game:

I also watched the majority of streams to analyze what was working and what was not. For some who directly understand the concept, the game seemed to be really enjoyable, I enjoyed seeing them avoiding traps, playing with physics, trying original solutions, etc. For others it didn’t seem to be so obvious.

The difficulty in creating a game based on treacherous deadly traps therefore remains to take into account beginners to give them time to grasp the concepts, but without degrading the experience of more accustomed players and offer them an interesting challenge. I’ve already added a difficulty mode that makes traps more or less visible, but it hasn’t been used a lot. I have idas for improvements that I will try for the next demo version.

Give me your feedback!

Did you play the demo? Don’t forget to give me your opinion, on what you liked but also on what you didn’t like!

The demo is private again until the next version, but if you want to play it now, ask me and I’ll give you a key!

Graphic Work

One of the things I’m working on right now is improving the graphic style. After a few tests, it seems important that I rework the textures of the floors and walls, to break up the monotony a little. Obviously, it’s not that easy because I also need these textures to work with the hidden traps and not make them too easy to detect.

The first visual tests look rather promising, here are some previews. On those pictures I added a texture to walls and grounds, what do you think ?

Monster Prototype

I am also working on a prototype with monsters!

When I started Neverlooted Dungeon, I had set myself the constraint “no monsters or non-player characters”, to avoid exploding the development time. Despite this, I had already felt the need to add a few characters to talk to, while limiting interactions to dialogues, to bring more storytelling, more humor, and take short breaks between stressful phases of traps. I’ve been thinking about adding a few monsters for a while, and user feedback on Steam has confirmed that it might be worth it to add that little something that would make the game unforgettable.

The idea is not at all to make a “classic” rpg where monster combat is the main activity, the deadly traps remain the heart of the game. The idea is rather to add a few treacherous monsters, used as living traps, a bit like certain monsters in Dark Souls, which add tension to the player, who must in addition to paying attention to the traps, watch out for monsters and prepare to flee or to fight. For example, a monster that attacks from the back while you are examining a treasure, a monster that falls from the ceiling while you observe the ground a little too much, etc.

Currently, the player is mostly in control of the situation and the rhythm, he can calmly observe the situation and avoid the traps, a bit like in a puzzle game. Over the entire duration of the game, this creates a rhythm that is a little too monotonous. Adding a few monsters provides short phases of tension when the player gets caught. It also adds new trap triggers, “visibility” or “proximity”, which add variety to the triggers that are mostly activated by the player (by stepping on them, opening a chest, door, etc.).

Plus, there are lots of cool things to do with monsters, including their interaction with physics, items, traps, and even with other monsters. For example, luring a monster into a trap, getting trapped by a monster, getting pushed into a trap, etc.

The monster prototype is well advanced and I can’t wait to have you try it all out. The aims of this prototype are to test the concept of deceitful monsters, to determine their production cost to see whether or not I can make them in a reasonable time, to test if they degrade the unique concept of dungeon based on traps, or on the contrary make it possible to enrich it by adding variety and interaction between the different systems. After makeing you test the prototype I will decide if I continue or not working on them.

Below are some images of the prototype (the 3D models of the rats are temporary, just for testing).

Combat System

Since monsters bring combat as well, I also spent some time reworking the game’s combat system, especially the weapons variety (speed, range, damage), and animations.

My idea is to provide a simple combat system that is little more interesting than simply doing the same attack without moving. This system will make the fights with the monsters more interesting, in the event that the player is surprised and must fight for his life. Without going into a complex combat system, and without focusing on combat because the priority remains the traps, I reworked the combat system. Each weapon now has a fast attack, which can be chained, and a slow attack. Swords slice quickly, maces slam slowly, spears attack from afar, knives cut fast and stab, crossbows fire from a distance. Attacks consume stamina and you have to manage it correctly, you have to choose your weapon, your attack, predict and avoid the attacks of the monster.

We will test this on the next demo, and feedback will help me chose the best system for Neverlooted.

Here is a small video preview of this new system in the dungeon training room:

Roadmap

That was a long devlog. So, I’m going to finish this new demo with monsters and let you test it soon. I will also continue to improve the demo, to offer a new version that will be really appreciated, and hopefully help to increase the community.

See you soon,

Arnaud.

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