New Pledge Tier, DoomRL stream, Arena Mode, Tactics and Strategy
This Sunday at 6pm UTC he’s doing a special stream where he’ll play his most well-known game, Doom the Roguelike! Kornel will be showing off his skills at the game, talking about the design decisions that went into it, and about how mechanics and features of DoomRL will feed into the creation of Jupiter Hell.
Plus we will have a special announcement to make live on stream!
Getting Jupiter Hell’s gameplay polished to a high shine is vital to our aims of making a fun and replayable roguelike. Our first priority after the Kickstarter concludes is getting to work on ‘Arena Mode’ to help achieve that.
Imagine Quake III as a roguelike. Equally powerful characters, random item/weapon/health drops, and skills assigned on a rotation. The player will get to fight an array of like-powered enemies in a vast experimentation of different gameplay elements. This will be done with the help of the Inner Circle members (pledge or upgrade now! :) ) who will get immediate access and will provide core feedback on the Arena Mode. We will grind the design of this mode until it in itself is fun. Weapon types, dodge and cover mechanics, AI behaviour, environment obstacles and more will all be tested extensively.
The Arena Mode will be an important tool in shaping our base gameplay. But later on we actually want Arena Mode to be a fully supported mode in the game, both deathmatch and team-based. As an added bonus, the Lua-based AI scripts for Arena Mode will be external, so anyone will be able to tinker with them and try to come up with the ultimate bot. To make that more fun, automated bot-only matches will be possible. Back-alley gambling is optional.
Game Design: Tactics
Jupiter Hell has a core tactical layer which is all about immediate player choices. We could rely on basic combat (fire, reload, kill) and hope the game stays engaging across multiple runs. But our aim is to make every encounter, including the "easy" ones, tactically interesting.
So what goes into the tactical layer? There will be a rich variety of consumables, including different grenades, medkits, scent bombs, tools for bypassing electronics, computer spikes for hacking, spare parts for weapon and armor modding, and fixing environment elements. Conserving these resources will be an important part of optimal play.
The environment itself will play an important role in tactics, be it by the cover it provides, the mandatory exploding barrels, hazardous areas with electricity, fluids, gases, rifts that you can shove enemies onto, delicate machinery, machinery that can be controlled, walls with different sound and scent propagating properties. When playing you’ll have to take into account how much the environment affects both you and the enemies. Importantly we’ll have this communicated clearly, so that you can make intuitive decisions without constant stopping and re-analysing.
A big part of both environment and enemy interaction will be hacking. At the base level you'll be able to bypass the occasional weakly secured door, or access some poorly protected log files. With higher perks however you can access a randomized hacking mini-game that will allow you to bypass or lock most doors, broken elevators, manipulate the lighting and level machinery, access remote cameras, and most importantly disable (or even take over!) robotic enemies in the game.
On the easier difficulty levels a decent player can muscle through some of these hazards, making the odd mistake but still managing to survive. On higher difficulties mistakes are more readily punished, and taking advantage of every tactical trick available will be necessary to survive the most brutal areas.
Game Design: Strategy
The strategic layer of the game is about longer term decision-making - things which have impact beyond the current battle. A big element of the strategic decision-making for the player will be in their character upgrades. These will be chunky changes to how you play, giving you more options or adding more details to how you already interact with the game. We’ll have more information on that in future updates.
But beyond strategic decisions that alter your abilities, there are bigger effects from the routes you choose through the game. Each time you start a run in Jupiter Hell the procedural generation system will prepare the episode layout for that particular game. This doesn’t just add replayability, it adds extra depth to the decisions you make on the paths you take.
One time you might find out that your Callisto base is made up of two mining sections, three levels of civilian facilities and a medical level. Other times you might find the civilian facilities inaccessible due to tunnel collapse, and instead two levels of engineering and Massdriver access. Depending on the layout, the missions generated will be different, and some mission sets might prove more challenging than others.
The player will be able to learn more about what lies ahead using visual cues, info hacked from terminals and experience built over multiple plays. With this comes the opportunity to plan, weighing path difficulty against the potential benefits. Want to struggle through a military zone in hope of finding fun toys, or carefully plod through a dark storage sector and grab abundant consumables on the way? There will also be objectives and story unlocks to consider, which the player can choose to ignore if they want an easier time. Finally, some objectives might not gain the player much, except for an extra feeling of satisfaction - like blowing the Callisto base sky-high just before leaving. Decisions made across the game will have impact in the end, and the post-victory screens will remember what you’ve done.
If we hit our stretch goals (stay tuned for info on those very soon!) we will have bases that are optional or fully bypassable. These would present very different sets of challenges, enemies, items to be gathered, and their own set of missions and achievements.
More experienced players will be able to more quickly assess the potential paths they might take. Players will have to take into account what information they have about the routes, what equipment upgrades and resources they’ve acquired, what character upgrades will affect their course through the game, and what potential rewards are on offer. No path will be the clear "optimal" one, requiring deeper strategic thought to master the game.
Have more questions about any of this? Then ask in the comments or come join us on the Jupiter Hell development livestream :)