Here's a super secret preview of Dragondell, a cute stealth adventure game. Code and art are by me, music and sound design are by Gruber -- grubermusic.com. The main page for this game is now on its itch.io page -- feel free to continue leaving comments here as well, but I may be slower to see them, and the version here may lag behind that version if I make further updates.
Note: There's a brief flashing effect when you go through the portal. You can disable it in the pause menu.
GOALS AND CONTROLS
- Collect loot by bringing keys to chests
- Befriend royals with O (z), then return them to the castle of the proper color (match robes to flags and lead them all the way to the door)
- Don't get spotted by knights; you can breathe fire at them by holding X (x), but it takes a couple seconds
- Once all the royals are returned, use the portal to end the game
Overall it was pretty good, it felt original both in concept and graphics. I think I've understood most of it, except how to return king to castles when there are less than 3. The game length and the scoring are both ok.
I wished I could burn the kings, but the fact that they dodges the flames makes it easier to understand that they are not meant to be burned, so I'm fine with it.
Small fun game, has the potential to envolve into a big fun game :)
PS : Just saw the part of your post on kings and castles. So that's how it works ! Will check it.
Thanks firefly! I'm glad the fireball-dodging made it clear that royals are friends, not firewood. ;) Can you say more about what you meant by "when there are less than 3"? What did you see or try that didn't make sense?
I would love to evolve this into a bigger fun game (there's plenty more ideas in my file) but I don't think it's going to happen within one pico-8 cartridge, sadly. :)
Sure : what happened is that I had 5 kings following me, but when I got in from of a castle, only the last 2 entered it. So I mistakenly assumed that you need more than 3 kings to use the castle.
Then I read your post. Then I tried again and noticed the colors.
On my last session, I only had 2 rooms to explore because the third was blocked by 2 trees.
Yes to music! Assuming I can find space in the cart for it, haha. I'm currently stymied by compressed size problems, which is keeping me from exporting a version with some small improvements.
Sorry about the blocked map. :( I know how I'm going to prevent that from happening but I've been putting off implementing it, heh. It's the last big thing that needs to happen (in addition to sound).
If I can find the space I'll also be throwing in an instructions screen too. If not, I'll just ship it with a manual. :P
Thanks for the feedback!
Thanks for the kind words!
I totally agree about powerups. I don't think I'll have space in the cart for it, but it's on my list to squeeze in if I can.
And for everyone who's been appreciating this: I'm currently targeting an unsecret official release on April 13. If you're on Twitter and into this kind of thing, I'd love it very much if you'd give this announcement a boost!
I couldn't manage to complete it but nonetheless it becomes a bit boring quickly.
Guards should randomly make a 180° turn around (else it's easy to kill them)
There should be more variety in gameplay too.
About a one time power up (found in chests), I'd say a push away spell that pushes back the knight when you activate it at the right moment
Oh, a push would be neat! I'll throw that on the powerup ideas list. :) One tricky thing about that is how to activate it, what with having only two buttons, but I bet it's doable.
Agreed about guard behavior -- ideally I'd like to have more different guards, we'll see if I have space in the cart for it.
Thanks for trying it out!
Wonderful game... a bit of stealth formula in Metal Gear style ;)
Is nice that there's a delay to breath fire so the game doesn't get dead easy by killing the guards on sight... but personally i prefer going Pacifist and stealth all the way through without killing... more challenging but more fun for me, it's still nice to have both options anyway.
If you have some spare card space to waste add a how to play with illustrations or text (boring!) to guide the player of what to do... something simple, make it accessible in the title screen by pressing a certain key ... that's the only major thing I believe the game is lacking for being feature complete... major players don't RTFM, specially if they downloaded your game from splore... considering the restrictions of pico-8 is understandable if this can't be implemented.
Kinda disagree with "randomly make a 180° turn" suggestion, specially if he turns around out of the blue (without halting or reaching obstacle), this makes guard AI seems chaotic and unpredictable as if it didn't had an AI at all (like the programmer just random() a direction to cheap out lack of proper AI behavior)... besides as a player studying the guard's pattern and figuring out the right time to cross is what makes a stealth game great (at least for me).
Some suggestion for new types of guards (or dogs!), some may be available in higher difficulties:
- A stronger equipped but slower guard with probably narrower field of vision (due to his heavy helmet which restricts him), because of his stronger armor you can't kill him.
- A dog can sense you in 360º circle by "smell" but has short range, obstacles won't conceal you.
- The dog mechanic can be used on guards by even smaller range, of course they can't "smell" but they can "hear", walking on different terrains may influence the amount of noise(!?)
- Based on above idea, befriending royals may generate considerable noise.
- A unarmed "scout" which is faster and/or see better, he can't attack you but when he sees you all enemies on screen will chase you at your position as long you're in his field of vision.
- A stationary "scout" in a tower (same functionality as above), he will look around either clockwise or anti-clockwise.
- ... more? Check out a game called "Volume" for inspiration or a few ideas.
Lastly, you can place the change-log in a hidden tag.
You're exactly right about why there's a chargeup on the fireball -- I had it the other way first but this is both more challenging and more fun. That said, I also prefer stealthing to using them ;) I think just out of laziness, haha. It took me a while to figure out how to set up scoring for that but I'm happy with where it's at now (pacifism bonus == point value of fireballing all guards, so either one's fine as long as you commit).
Yeah I totally agree in principle about instructions. I've been going back and forth on whether I want to use the tokens on that or something more mechanical. My plan in part is to tempt itch.io players (when I release it up there next week) with a cool retro manual that includes detailed instructions and lore and scoring tips and stuff, but it's still absolutely true that people won't read it, haha.
The guards were actually a lot more random in earlier versions, similar to the way royals wander (maybe actually the same code, I forget), and as you suppose, it makes stealth much harder and less rewarding. The predictability is important. (Besides, at this point I've spent a lot of time and tokens reducing the likelihood of guards insta-killing you on room entry!) It's still true that they could use more variety for sure though.
Ooh, I'd thought about having a guard that was harder to kill, but not one that you couldn't kill at all. That's an interesting thought. I wonder if that would bug more extermination-heavy players.
Some of your other guard ideas I'd also thought of, but dog with a circular smell radius and stationary rotating guard I had not! Really clever. Positioning the stationary one randomly but in a way that's likely to be interesting might be tricky -- maybe only in the middle of bigger gaps (3x3 open spaces). Otherwise not too interesting if it's stuck in a corner.
I'll check out Tower, thanks. :)
... definitely forgot that hidden tags existed, haha. Good call.
Thanks so much for playing and for the ideas! Really flattered by the Metal Gear comparison. :) I'm at ... checks ... 8085 tokens right now, so there's not gonna be much more. But I'm sure there's still some tokens I can squeeze out of the existing code, so I'll see what I can do! (This is also why I'm on the fence about spending them on in-game instructions.)
Found some tokens, and to no one's surprise more than mine, managed to squeeze in two important things I didn't think I'd have room for: an extra enemy type, and a difficulty setting. It's not much, I know, but I'm interested to hear if that helps at all with the challenge and variety. :)
I discovered this recently on the BBS and genuinely enjoyed it. If you ever do a sequel or some kind of follow up one day that would be really cool.
I also did a let's play video of it recently where I play it through:
@inphanta Awesome, thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed. :) I'm not sure if I'm going to do a followup, but I agree with your thoughts about some of the directions that could go.
If you're still puzzled by the stubborn royals not going into castles, it's because they were the wrong color. ;) Royals in red robes go to the castle with red flags, and so on.
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