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Plans for 7DRL Challenge

Plans for 7DRL Challenge

Even though I’ve been working on nonroguelikes for the past year, I’ve been itching the entire time to return to my beloved roguelike and eventual tour-de-force Dance of Death; and what better way to springboard into roguelike development than the 8th Annual 7DRL Challenge on March 10th-18th?

In case you’re not familiar with the Seven Day Roguelike (7DRL) Challenge, it involves just what the name implies: developing a roguelike in 7 days. The rules are fairly loose, allowing the use of pre-existing libraries or ripping out code from other projects (both of which I will surely employ), as well as design work pre hoc.

I’ve attached evidence of such design preparation above: rough sketches of character portraits, inspired by the artwork in the TIGForum thread on ASCII Paint.

The basic idea is to build a party-based dungeon crawler. I was inspired by the relaunch (or, should I say, rehash) of the Jagged Alliance franchise to play with the party dynamic, a concept that is dear to my heart in RPGs at large, but of which I have seen little in roguelikes, other than perhaps Antoine‘s Guild.

The working title is The Adventurer’s Guild, which, while not horrendously imaginative, has managed to remain unused among roguelikes. My primary goals with this challenge are:

  1. Party management in combat.
  2. Party management out of combat.
  3. A clean presentation of the party members.
  4. A clean presentation of the current state of the battlefield (turn order, available actions, etc.).

Some secondary goals:

  1. A simple, elegant class-based system, in keeping with the tradition of oldschool party-based games.
  2. Experimenting with the fixed 16-ish color palette and 8×8 ASCII tileset I’ve come to love after using it in Chronophase.

The core gameplay of The Adventurer’s Guild will consist of maneuvering your party in combat to kill monsters for the gold needed to pay for your party members’ daily salaries. The game ends either when everyone in the party is dead, or when you can no longer afford to pay any of the characters’ salaries. In the spirit of the original Rogue‘s food consumption system, the need to pay salary should provide an interesting decision as to whether to clean out a level (running down the clock), or take a higher risk at lower levels for higher payout.

Finally, some nice-to-have, but low-priority goals:

  1. Ability to hire new adventurers every few floors, at Adventurer’s Guild “shops”.
  2. Caching the bitmaps upon loading into pre-cut bitmap objects, rather than cutting them on the fly from the sprite sheet when drawing, to asses potential efficiency increases.
  3. The ability to resize the screen or to go fullscreen easily.

Other than the first of these low-priority goals, the latter land more in the experimental realm and are items I can tackle after the challenge is completed. Nonetheless, I see the 7DRL challenge as a platform for both rapid prototyping and experimentation, and you can bet a number of the techniques that will come out of this game will be folded into Dance of Death, once I pick it back up.

I am quite excited to participate in my first 7DRL Challenge. I’ve tackled a 48-hour challenge at the 2011 Global Game Jam, with Petri Dish, as well as a 4-day challenge during 2010’s 4DRL Challenge, with Chronophase, but am yet to earn the classic 7DRL badge. Wish me luck!