Hello everyone, here is the news from the front.
Several months have passed since the last newsletter, it’s time to take a look at the progress of Neverlooted Dungeon. I’ve been pretty tired lately and my work rate has dropped a bit, but I’ve still done a lot of interesting things that I’ll show you:
First of all, the demo has just received an update to stay as close as possible to the final game experience. It includes, among other things, the changes described below. Feel free to relaunch it and let me know what you think of these changes.
For a long time, I’ve wanted to add the ability to fire rope arrows inspired by Thief: The Dark Project. It’s a new tool that allows you to fire special arrows on walls or ceilings, which upon impact release a rope that can be used for climbing.
In the past, I had already made several attempts and given up for various technical reasons, but I tried again recently, and this time it’s the right one!
After testing this feature in all the levels, I must say that it’s really amazing. It unlocks a lot of possibilities to explore the level vertically, and also a lot of possibilities to avoid traps.
There are no limitations on arrows, they work anywhere, you can shoot them into a stone wall or ceiling. I didn’t want to offer such a creative tool and limit it only to places where I myself would have planned to use them. Besides, I would not have liked to have to manually add “wooden beams” everywhere in the levels so that we can plant an arrow there.
Some could ask me: but, these arrows must totally break the game and the exploration? And I would answer that there are already magic items allowing vertical traversal (like the great jump boots, the wand of rock) and that the levels were designed to be explored freely. On the contrary, the experience that I want is precisely to make the player feel that he is smarter than me because he has used the ropes in an intelligent way, perhaps even unintended. The vertical exploration aspect is just reinforced, and I should just be careful to balance the availability of arrows.
Here’s a little WIP video showcasing some possibilities:
There are still a few design and technical issues to solve, but adding them is so positive that I’ll take the time to make it right. And I have to tell you, these arrows will be especially useful for the grand finale.
Full gamepad support
In order to avoid having certain critical tasks left for the end of development, I worked on gamepad support and accessibility features, so that the critical features are all in place and only content and polish are missing.
I implemented full gamepad support. A lot of work was needed, especially on the redesign of the menus and of the inventory, so that everything could only work with a gamepad.
Although I’m more of a keyboard-mouse player, I find the game very enjoyable to play on the gamepad, and the default controls very easy to pick up and satisfying. All control keys are obviously configurable to play as you prefer.
I also added control and interface options (detailed below), such as interaction assistance and object highlighting, which are more suited to gamepad control.
If you like playing with a gamepad, I invite you to try the new version of the demo and give me your feedback. Above all, if you have the slightest gamepad detection problem, remember to report it to me, on Discord or via the bug report form included in the game.
Accessibility and interface options
I’ve implemented a lot of control and interface options to make the game as customizable and accessible as possible, and to better suit gamers who prefer playing with a gamepad:
– Interaction assistance with a customizable action radius that allows you to interact with objects even when you are not quite focused on them.
– Highlighting targeted objects with a colored outline.
– Adjustment of the size of texts and interfaces.
– Choice of an OpenDyslexia font as well as a more readable font.
– Adjustment of background transparency in texts.
– Reminders of the controls displayed during the game.
– Actions crouch, run, lean, carry, can be set to “hold button” or “press once”.
– I tested the game quite a bit with a color blindness filter to check that the game was playable for everyone. I took the opportunity to rework the potions and magic items to differentiate them more easily by their shape and not just by their color.
Here is a small preview of these features, where the game detects a gamepad for the first time and sets the default gamepad settings.
I decided to reinforce the loot aspect of the game (after all, it’s in the title!) by varying more the treasures found and the way to find them. For example, you don’t find only hidden gold coins, but also valuable items, like golden chalices, golden candlesticks, jewels, precious stones, relics, etc.
I wanted to reinforce the immersion with coherent objects, but above all the “investigation” aspect. When you enter a room, you will look more for what objects could have value. “Those gold candlesticks on that tombstone look well made.” Some additional interactions (and traps) are to be expected, such as detaching a precious jewel from a statue… watch out for the statues… I would have warned you.
To recognize valuable objects, first of all there is their golden / precious appearance which contrasts with common objects and allows them to be spotted. Then, next to the name of the precious object is displayed an estimate of its value (“precious”, “very precious”, “extremely precious”, etc.). There is also the sound emitted during the collection which clearly indicates that it is a precious object. I’ve also added an optional option in the difficulty mode that allows you to add some eye-catching light effects, to make them easier to identify at first glance.
When you complete the level, there is now a small loot report animation. Will you be a “Bredrouille Explorer” or a “Legendary Pillager”?
Last level soon completed
In terms of content, I’m finalizing most of the work on the last level. There will follow a playtest phase, followed by several iterations to arrive at a well-constructed level.
I can’t talk much about it because this level has to be kept secret, but it’s an extremely interesting and unique level, but oh so hard to complete. The advantage of making the levels by hand and not procedurally is that you can create very rich and complex conceptual levels. But here, I really did something complex. When you discover it, I hope you will appreciate it at the height of the energy that it will have required of me!
Get ready for a mind-bending finale.
After several tests, it seems that the game works perfectly on SteamDeck. I do not have the official certification yet, it will only be done at the time of the release. If you have one, don’t hesitate to try the demo and tell me if everything works. If there are any problems, don’t forget to let me know.
Members of the community are already having fun making and redoing the demo to see who will be the fastest, and have recorded their records on www.speedrun.com. Congratulation to Gatorraid for the fastest run! Several records have been broken and you can watch the latest, and why not enter the competition by posting your own video:
Thanks to the alpha playtesters
Thank you to the few alpha playtesters who continue to play regularly and give me feedback. In particular, thanks this month to Siegfried who recorded a complete walkthrough and talked to me about his experience.
I haven’t given out new test keys in a long time, and I know many people are eagerly waiting for one; but I currently do not have enough time available to process all the feedback that may be made to me; moreover, I have not yet been able to correct the biggest issues that have already been reported to me. Rather than hearing the same thing again, I prefer to wait until I have completed the last level and made a first pass of correction, to finally start giving keys. Don’t worry, there will be!
Thanks to those who talk about the game!
I would like to say a big thank you to Nilme from Discord, who told one of his favorite streamers about Neverlooted Dungeon, and he was convinced to try it out, and loved it! He did a full live demo which generated a lot of views.
These kinds of videos are essential to raise awareness of the game and increase wishlists, so if you have a favorite youtuber/streamer, don’t hesitate to whisper the sweet name of Neverlooted Dungeon in their ear to encourage them to discover the game and make a video.
There is still a lot of work planned, not that much compared to all that has been done in all those years, and nothing very complicated, but with the accumulated fatigue I am progressing more slowly than I would like.
I’m going to complete the last level first, it’s my big priority, because I will finally have a “complete” game. Then, I will start successive passes of improvement, each focused on a particular aspect of the game (narration, level design, graphics, balancing, etc.).
I’m still planning some small additions, for example a few more monsters, some very unique traps, an improvement of the inventory, etc. I will also have to make an intro and ending sequence. For the intro, I think I’ll do a cool image animation with a voiceover, for the ending sequence I’m experimenting semi-interactive cutscene.
That’s it, thank you for reading, and see you soon!