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what makes a good dungeon crawler

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krone9
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I'm working on one at the mo, because its a genre I enjoy but I think I'm heavily influenced by the first one I played, Sorcerors Cave. I liked the suspense of exploration and the anticipation of threat or reward most of all

what aspects do other people like most about this genre?

questccg
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Me too!

I'm working on a Dungeon Delving game also... But my game uses Game Tiles to control how players (all Wizards) get XP (Experience Points) and allow them to customize their own Player Charts (Player Board) to be able to handle the encounters in the Dungeon.

Right now it's still in the "advanced" concept stages. I'm waiting for the Game Tiles to arrive from "The Game Crafter" (TGC) and I have already gotten the pouches for the Tiles.

This all dates back to D&D -- having the books but never actually playing.

As I have already mentioned the part I thought the COOLEST about D&D was your Character Generation. "SpellMasters" will have an amazing amount of character customization based on Experience (XP) you earn...

As of now, there is only ONE (1) Character -- one I can playtest with and he has HP, Mana, XP Track, 3 item slots, 3 "Basic" attacks, Spells and Abilities. Spells and Abilities are still TBD -- that's where I am at with the design.

But that aspect was always very enticing in wanting to play D&D.

I've since played multiple AD&D video games that use Character Generation and really enjoyed those experiences. So I am trying to design a co-opetive version that's TOUGH to WIN and will bring players back again to the table, to play another set of rounds!

Cheers.

Update: I've recently reached out to a few people to discuss how "Arkham Horror" was the best "original" co-op game. And I'd like more details on HOW that game "beats" the players.

And I've seen escalation mechanics in Pandemic and how outbreaks can get triggered more and more ... until they ruin the game.

But I'd just like to know more about how "Arkham" does it... Waiting for more information regarding this!

krone9
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Interesting. I am trying to

Interesting.

I am trying to keep mine super simple drawing from things like Gauntlet video game but I'm always a sucker for smallworld type race combinations so am going to try something like that here.

Mine is also tile based but much lighter than you describe - which is somewhat odd as I am a big fan of complex dungeon games. My aim is a cheap, component light game that is really replayable, expandable and still strategic in play. I did a first solo play thtough last night and theres a game there - just needs a lot of tweaking now!

ElKobold
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I think what makes a good

I think what makes a good dungeon crawler is release date before 2017 ;)

krone9
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ElKobold wrote:I think what

ElKobold wrote:
I think what makes a good dungeon crawler is release date before 2017 ;)

pah!

have I told you about my great idea for a property game based on London streets?

ssm
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Immersion & replayability. I

Immersion & replayability.
I feel immersion is the key for a dungeon crawler, without that, it is just another get from point to point and collect loot system.

questccg
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What do you mean?!

ssm wrote:
Immersion & replayability.
I feel immersion is the key for a dungeon crawler, without that, it is just another get from point to point and collect loot system.

@ssm immersion as in storyline or just the experience? You also mentioned "replayability" - but don't expand on the idea. You want multiple stories?! What do you consider good "replayability"??? What are key components to it?

If you look at MANY "Dungeon Delving" games, the board is usually DYNAMIC, so it is virtually different each time you play. That to me is one aspect of "replayability".

But I'm also thinking about the "Encounters", they should be varied too. And there should be enough "Side-Quests" to make the game richer too...

Anything else?!

krone9
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for me the immersion is

for me the immersion is important - but its predominantly about character immersion (and based on ssm's comments I've put a bit more into the character generation)

replayability is important to me - one of the things I liked about Descent was that there were enough maps in there to give a feel for a really big game. What I'm trying to do with my game is essentially distil that into a really light tight game that gives a similar feel.

I also really like the balance in something like 4th ed D&D and how it draws from MMOs so thats part of what I'm currently focusing on.

Agree around the dynamic maps but I'm trying to balance dynamic with a procedural generation system (more simple than that sounds tbh). The other aspect I want to pick up with this is decent AI for the monsters.

Most of the games I work on are done as learning exercises - this one is about learning dynamic maps, procedural maps, AI and focus on extremely tight mechanics.

I'm aiming to get my game down to 30-45 mins per game. Questccg what length are you aiming for? Your game sounds like exactly the sort of thing I like to play but its quite different from the sounds of things!

questccg
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Expansion = 1 Poker Tuck Box

krone9 wrote:
I'm aiming to get my game down to 30-45 mins per game. Questccg what length are you aiming for? Your game sounds like exactly the sort of thing I like to play but its quite different from the sounds of things!

Well I think 60 minutes at tops. But it's a co-opetive game. So players will collaborate together (cooperative) and then try to "outdo-" the other players when earning Experience Point (XPs).

My focus is on "Trimming the fat": I want expansions to be SIMPLE = 60 cards to an expansion deck. So each expansion is basically ONE (1) Poker Tuck Box with sixty (60) cards. The "core" stays the same, all you do is play a new adventure.

With that any Publisher can put out a TON of Expansions in just a couple years... By TON I mean something like maybe six (6) expansions in 2 years. Something like that. Maybe the game comes with two (2) and then four (4) more in the years that follow (so maybe like two (2) a year...)

But I want expansion to be "straight-forwards". If it's just changing a Poker Tuck Box -- that in my mind would be awesome. And the "core" component are used in the same way.

Who knows, maybe the Publisher may decide to tell some kind of STORY... With all these "expansion" decks. IDK - to be honest.

krone9
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Whats interesting is that I'm

Whats interesting is that I'm thinking along similar lines re expansion pack size (even down to the number 60! Thats now creeping up a bit though...) Will be interesting to see how each game turns out!

I see my game as having maybe 3-4 expansions at most to be honest but that may change.

ssm
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I am talking about the

I am talking about the experience playing needs to be immersive. Storylines help but don't hook all. I also feel that being able to see replayablity lends to immersion. It needs to be familiar but new at the same time. If it is the same experience each time, the immersion & replay take hits. I feel a big part of replayability is being able to make different decisions, or play in a different way, or face different creatures. I like to approach problems from different angles, even the same problem.

Many games are dynamic, in that each game is meant to be different each time, but most rarely are when it is really thought about. There is a delicate balance between setup time & what/how encounters work. If setup takes too long, or encounters are similar each time, replay takes a hit.

In most things I work on, I set out to make something simple to use, yet offer a lot of options.

As far as storyline goes, some love it & some dislike it. Personally I don't care much for it. I want a setting & I'll make up what I want to make it. Those that like storylines make storylines for others. One thing that makes me smile when I watch game reviews with more than one person, is that there is almost always one of the people that likes the game, but never looked at the storyline, so it is a constant reminder that I am not alone.

On one of my deices I recently downloaded Card Crawl, a solitary dungeon crawl card game. I was hooked and really looked at it to be a long-term play. It wasn't. I figured out how to win after about 5 play throughs. I found that if I varied much I lost. Where Pandemic is on every device & offers me endless replayablity because I can experiment in each game I play. If I lose, I try another way & learn something.

I guess for a dungeon crawl, don't have the end goal be 'kill the evil wizard' unless the game is called Kill the Evil Wizard. If I open a box called Awesome Dungeon Crawl & find that the only 'boss' is a wizard (or anything else) I don't know if I would even play it once, let alone multiple times.

questccg
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Not the same vision...

I picture my game having like TWENTY (20) Expansions with all kinds of Dungeon Delving or Outdoor Travelling (with "Quests" and "Encounters").

If you've played AD&D there used to be Game Modules that could allow a DM to work off, in order to tell the story.

I'd probably like a Publisher to take the "Basic" Game and EVOLVE it to having a story arc like the "DragonLance Saga"...

IDK - Yet. The game might be a little too simple. But then again, games are AGE APPROPRIATE. If it's a game for 9-13 year olds, well that's one thing. If it's for 18+ years that's something completely different.

Not sure -- will need to playtest the game once I get the Game Tiles. From there I should be able to see if the Game Tile mechanic works well and then how to balance XP too.

Since I'm not thinking about a KS -- I'd like to shop this to a couple publishers (maybe with the help of another Designer...) We'll see, if they like the vision or not.

I also need to work with the AI. It's pretty simple -- but I want to make the AI "meaty" enough to prove to be a challenge. And therefore players need to "cooperate" together to defeat the minions they encounter!

krone9
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I'm with ssm on the storyline

I'm with ssm on the storyline side of things. I need about 2 sentences and I'm good - and I think my game (Caverns of Doooooom) will likely start with a very brief "adventure brief" but not be tied to a specific plotline/story.

I've played a lot of RPG modules so I know what you mean - certainly there's a big market for that sort of thing but I know I used to buy them for the handouts rather than the story. Often I'd change it to use my own campaign instead but - there's plenty of people who don't do that.

with "the big boss" I'm thinking that each expansion would be 1-2 new big bosses, so you buy the core pack and you get 1-2 bosses, then each expansion adds to that. I'm toying with the idea of having experience and character levels but I quite like the idea of not having them as well.

questccg
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Customization

krone9 wrote:
I've played a lot of RPG modules so I know what you mean - certainly there's a big market for that sort of thing but I know I used to buy them for the handouts rather than the story. Often I'd change it to use my own campaign instead but - there's plenty of people who don't do that...

Actually that's one of the things that I am THINKING about: custom designed games, where you can mix and match "scenario" decks.

So while you could play with an Expansion deck AS NORMAL. You could also create your OWN "Lore" Cards and match them with "Encounter" cards. It's pretty simple to do this, it's mostly a challenge to design the "Lore" cards as you want...

But I don't know what will be MORE popular: Playing Crossword Puzzles or Designing your OWN Puzzles?!?! I think MOST people prefer PLAYING as opposed to designing. But of course that remains to be seen.

I don't SEE many people trying to make their own Puzzles. Mostly I see all kinds of Books with Puzzles to solve. So my guess from what I see in the world, is most people prefer to PLAY, than design.

On some grandeur level, maybe this is TRUE (as a whole). IDK!

ssm
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I want to add this- A big hit

I want to add this-
A big hit that any game fantasy related has taken, whether true for that game or not, is the cookie-cutter aspect that has taken over.

If a poll were done on this forum and users were asked 'what would you expect to do in a fantasy setting dungeon crawler?'
I think a good portion of answers would be 'I don't play them much because I don't want to fight a rat, then a spider, skeleton, ghost, move 'up' to a goblin, etc.'

Things need change. Same creatures but in different order, or things like that. One of the great things about DnD, with a good DM, is that the DM can inject whatever creatures they want. So even though you are going into a goblin mine, you may not encounter a goblin; maybe crazed dwarves & things that live in the shadows.

One of my all-time favorite video games id Elder Scrolls Oblivion. One of the biggest reasons is that when I get out into the world (after knowing how to start a new game at the end of tutorial area) I get to decide what I go after. I can stick to the story & progress 'naturally' or I can go into the woods and fight creatures, or get the gates to oblivion to start opening all over, or go fight bad guys....

questccg
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Hmm... not sure if that helps

@ssm comparing TableTop games such as Board and Card Games to the immersive play of Video Games -- is well something "gamers" who haven't played any TableTop Games do.

I'm not trying to say that you are wrong (but you are) -- when you compare MOST TableTop Games to a video game like Elder Scrolls Oblivion. For heaven's sake even older games such as the Might & Magic series of Video Games can't be compared to Board Game (for example).

Have you played "Ticket To Ride"??? It's Ranker is 108 on BGG, has a rating of 7.48 and has over 49,000 Voters. If you have played -- you'll understand how such a SIMPLE game can be enthralling to many gamers from all different ages.

I'm sorry but you can't COMPARE "Video Games" to TableTop Games. Again not to be too cajoling, but you need to understand what kind of immersion there is TableTop Games. And for most part, games like "Ticket To Ride" (a euro) has NO STORY at all... It's purely components, mechanics and a board.

Now if we were talking about AmeriTrash like "Summoner Wars" or "Arkham Horror", you'll notice that it's mostly about STORY. The game brings you along and players play an ever evolving story...

Then there are Abstract games. Like Jenga or Backgammon, etc. No story at all, this unique type of game that is component driven like Go or Majhong.

You need to be FAIR in comparisons... Comparing ANY "Video Game" no matter HOW SIMPLE, is "unfair". And you just can't say "Well because I loved this video game -- it was totally immersive for me..." and then add "we're designing a TableTop Game here..." The two don't mix: like oil and water...

So there is NO WAY any "TableTop" game will ever live up to your expectation concerning "immersion" because you're comparing it to "Video Games". Can you cite some kind of "TableTop" game you enjoyed playing that was either a "Dungeon Delve" or had some immersive story you actually enjoyed... And remember don't cite RPGs either -- because that too is ANOTHER "genre" of game. One that doesn't fit with Board or Card Games.

And don't be offended, I'm just seeing something "unfair"/biased which to me appears to be wrong. Please compare "Apples to Apples"...

questccg
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And not to be offensive

That's also part of the reason that I really ENJOY "TableTop" Games, especially "Card-driven" or some other more rare component...

Yeah some Euros can be a bit self-explanatory like "Metro" where if you don't stop the cute girl who is playing by messing up her metro lines -- will ultimately win the game hands down -- because no one wanted to ruin her routes...

"TableTop" Games are fundamentally SIMPLE. The goal is to keep it simple with enough variability that players want to play the game AGAIN. Of course not all fall into this category, like "Arkham Horror" which has a TON of little bits, dice, tokens, markers, money, etc.

The complexity of AmeriTrash games varies. But the focus on THEME or STORY is usually very high. These game offer the most in "immersion" BECAUSE of their story -- not the absence of one...

So our "Dungeon Delve" games border between RPGs, Euros and AmeriTrash ... some with MORE story others with LESS (which focus more on mechanics). And trying to make the most with the least amount of components. Basically trying to keep the game SIMPLE -- but FUN enough gamers will want to play again.

Thoughts/Comments/Feedback/Questions???

krone9
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I think you are right. In CoD

I think you are right. In CoD I am aiming for ameritrash with the joy being in the cooperative interaction.

I'm deliberately avoiding character development at the moment - but theres no denying that people like it. MMOs have built on the grind for years. So if I remove it, I have to replace it with something (for example collecting skills or items)

My other challenge is replayability of the core game - varying the monsters and items is one way (at the moment I am only varying the order). Any other suggestions?

questccg
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In SpellMasters...

It's a bit of a blend of "Abstract" and "RPG". The Abstract element comes from the Game Tiles and the "Lore" cards. The Character Sheet (or Player Mat) lines up with RPG side of the game.

Although I would consider having some kind of "evolving" Story Arc across multiple expansions, I not really going to introduce much story into the game itself, aside from "Quest" cards which will have a short blurb about the Quest being undertaken.

I am going to "vary" the order of "Lore" cards instead of having them in order which would reduce replayability. "Quest" cards are already RANDOM and so are "Loot" cards...

And I'm thinking about HOW I can create YOUR OWN "template" for "Lore" cards such that someone could define NEW "Dungeon Delves" using various Expansion sets by combining cards together. This is something I am still working on.

Last night, I focused on writing out (so far) nine (9) Abilities that will be made available in a subset (I think three per player should be fine)... But more thinking has to go into those Abilities and then move forwards to the Combat Spells each Wizard may have. I am also thinking about three (3) to four (4) spells each... We shall see!

Cheers.

krone9
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questccg wrote: Last night, I

questccg wrote:

Last night, I focused on writing out (so far) nine (9) Abilities that will be made available in a subset (I think three per player should be fine)... But more thinking has to go into those Abilities and then move forwards to the Combat Spells each Wizard may have. I am also thinking about three (3) to four (4) spells each... We shall see!
.

Quite intrigued by that. At the moment I'm torn between the idea of having standard character tropes (wizard, warrior etc) or having abilities that players can choose to define their own trope.

Should be playtesting mine with my codesigner on Tuesday - where it likely will get ripped apart :D

questccg
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Only Wizards

There will be only three (3) races for the "core" product. But through expansion, there will be a total of nine (9) races each race with it's very own "Wizard".

For example, "Humans" are "Holy" and have "Mages". They will have three (3) abilities which are related to the Game Tiles. I'm not yet sure about the mix -- but for the sake of this example they are:

1. Wildcard: Play one tile upside down to score 0 points.
2. Dispel: Discard one tile.
3. Mana Tap: Transfer 3 Mana to another Wizard.

So what does this mean for the "Mage"??? Each of these abilities is important in some specific way with the game itself.

Take Wildcard: IF you have three (3) tiles you can play on your turn - but you are BLOCKED by one tile, you can pay 3 Mana and play one tile upside down, scoring 0 points AND then you can play those three tiles and score XP for each one of them.

Remember I said the game is co-opetive. This is an example of blowing a tile from one of the other players and earning yourself MORE XP. A bit cunning ... but that's sort of the style of play I want from the game.

If we look at "Dispel"... What this means is that for 2 Mana, you can place one tile in your discard pile.

Normally tiles are put back into your bag so that they may be drawn again. Now normal game play "forces" players to discard tiles... but another Wizard can use the "Restore" Ability to play a tile from your discard pile. Which is good -- because as you lose tiles, some of the more common tiles become more rare.

But this depends on your game style. You may not risk Dispelling too many tiles since you cannot directly get them. If another player uses the "Restore" ability ... by using one of YOUR tiles, you score the XP! Again very co-petive too!

Last ability is "Mana Tap": Transfer 3 Mana to another Wizard. This means that you can "share" Mana with another player. Something "nice" you are doing and only costs 1 Mana to perform.

Why would you do this? Maybe a fellow Wizard is going into Battle and you want him to have more Mana to deal with the enemy...

So the game is very cooperative and also has a competitive side to it too.

Sorta get the feeling for the type of game it will be?!

Note: I guess to me it is boiling down to tough decisions and working together. Not all your decisions will make everyone happy... sometime you're going to focus on the XP YOU will gain.

On other occasions it will be you helping or preparing for a battle that is going to be hard fought.

And sometimes it will mean you BEATING your opponents to complete the "Quest" FIRST -- so that you may earn the "Loot"/Reward yourself (and only you!)

krone9
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sounds very backstabby in a

sounds very backstabby in a nice way! I like games like that

My game is based around hex tiles - almost 100% deliberately by design - so at the moment my character generation is based on 7 hexes (6 surrounding a central hex to make a sort of player board):

Hex 1 (central) - portrait and name
Hex 2 - race
Hex 3 - origin
Hex 4 - skill 1
Hex 5 - skill 2
Hex 6 - skill 3

Each level up gains a new skill (start at level 1, progress to level 3)

Pure cooperative - I'm designing to avoid conflict over loot or xp. How are you avoiding a runaway effect if one character gets ahead of the others?

Still conflicted over pure character tropes vs flexible modular design eg Bob the Barbarian can take extra damage, wild swing, multiple attacks, Charles the Cleric can take heal touch, extra heal, shield, and Sid the Sorceror can take ranged fireball, maximum fireball, teleport. However, do I allow Marvin the Multiclasser to take extra damage, heal touch and ranged fireball (for example). Still making my mind up.

Mosker
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You touched on the answer before your followup question.

You mentioned core experience of Sorcerer's Cave (a game I had and loved decades ago). It was the surprise of the next tile, the exploration.

There is no GM, no implied contract with the players that everyone's styles, the rules, and the situation will adjust for maximum enjoyment.

Is the game a lower intensity/higher survival game about character development and loot acquisition with a greater expectation of player survival? A game where players want to engage the traps and monsters. (Something often happening in the deckbuilders such as Pathfinder ACG or Thunderstone)

Is it about getting out and surviving against heavy odds? Is it about getting out? (Maybe D&D adventures and anything with zombies or aliens)

Is it the sheer joy of exploration? Pushing one's luck? One more encounter, one more tile...

Is it about story?

Is it about tactical combat?

Think about tone, pacing.

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