About this game


๐Ÿ‘‰ Form a patrons-only post:

...This year my entry is a roguelike game "Dark Clues" and I submitted it as "Incomplete" (this used to be called more straightforwardly "Failure"). Honestly, the game is rather a proof of concept than a real game. I tried a couple of ideas there which seem interesting to me, but I am still not sure how good they are.

Clues

When I started making this, the only plan I had was to make a "mystery-solving game". Like "The family lived here gone mad and killed each other. Why? What really happened here?". To solve a mystery of any kind you need clues, pieces of information which give an answer only if you have enough of them.

In tabletop games there are several approaches to the concept of clues. Sometimes they are abstract tokens and you just need to collect a specific number of them to "solve" a specific mystery. Sometimes they are actual pieces of information which you really need to link together to get the "solution". In Dark Clues each of them is a piece of text which you can ignore or you can try to build a whole picture of them. This is somewhat similar to how clues work in Brindlewood Bay and Lovecraftesque in the sense that they are open for interpretation. 

Does it work? It sort of does, but it would work better if:

  • There was a description of the mystery itself, preferably a procedurally generated one, not a fixed one.
  • There were more clues, preferably related to the description of the mystery.
  • More game mechanics were involved. For example, you can summon the Curse if you have 3 clues, but it is weaker if you have 4 clues.

Combat

The combat system in Dark Clues is a little unusual. The attack strength of the hero is not constant, it fluctuates. As a result, sometimes you may want to retreat instead of attacking to minimize the number of chances to attack you an enemy gets before you kill it. This is similar to how combat works in Myst where it is enemies' attack strength which fluctuates.

Does it work? I'm not sure. It does create the need for some kind of tactical planning, but probably this is a too strong word for it. Initially the hero was planned to get different abilities each turn, not the same ability "attack" of different power. Some abilities would provide additional effects such as pushing enemies back, damaging several enemies at the same time etc. Probably it would make the tactics more interesting, but maybe it would just turn everything into chaos. Also I don't know how I would implement it UI-wise.

Other notes

  • I worked on the game away from home, without my large display and drawing tablet. So I chose to make it look closer to the purists' idea of how roguelikes are meant to look. I tried to add animations and stuff, but with ASCII symbols instead of proper graphics it looks pretty boring for my taste.
  • I've implemented a simple system which generates unique three-note "melodies" for each clue collected. It was very disappointing to discover that it doesn't work in HTML. Maybe I'll upload the native versions of the game later to demonstrate how it was supposed to sound.

Comments

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(+2)

Very cool. Is the code open source on GitHub or somewhere? I am trying to learn to write games similar to the one above.

Thanks! It is not and I am not planning to open it because it's too messy, sorry. Not a good example to follow anyway :)