2017 - Gems from January
Greetings, Delvers. We’re back again for a quick monthly recap of our progress and some interesting tidbits about the world of the Delvers.
We’re primarily hard at work on the full upgrade of gameplay code into uniformity with the recently completed engine changes. This involves revising many of our physics values and player stats, such as friction values, acceleration, top speed, and many of the other bits of data that determine how objects and characters move, and how the game feels. The “game feel” of Delver’s Drop is extremely important to us, and we believe that these improvements will be very well received by all concerned.
We had many comments from some of you, from forum users, and convention attendees concerning the “slippery” feel of several of the characters. While the natural-feeling physics of the game is important to us, we have been working to rein in the slip-and-slide nature of character movement (and in other cases, to intentionally retain it). We are doing this while keeping the other positive elements of fluidity and the impression of what we like to call “cartoon realism,” or the internal consistency and impression of realism within our otherwise invented world.
These updates are both improving the flexibility of our system (so that we can make characters feel even more unique), and improving the ability for you and the rest of our player base to mod the game. Previously many of the values were by necessity completely invented “magic numbers” with little to no real-world coherence — e.g. what does a friction setting of 5,000 mean anyway, and why does it feel so similar to 10,000 friction? These values are now much more comprehensible, both to our design team, and some day, to those of you who wish to edit our data files. And simultaneously, we are continuing to tune the feel of the game so that it controls much more responsively than before.
In other news, support for Mac OSX 10.12 Sierra is complete, tested, and fully functional. In the meantime, we’ve discovered some sporadic issues with Windows 10, where the game may randomly fail to load about 10% of the time. So this is next on the list of engine versus operating system fixes.
We’ve also been working on some much-needed improvements (and simplifications) to the weapon system. The goal has been too make them more understandable by players, manageable by our designers, and generally making it possible for us to complete the remaining weapon art that still needs to be done. Weapons will still be randomly dropped and feature randomized stats that change their look. But we are attempting to ensure that our effort in this system has the most payoff for players, while avoiding having to paint a few extra thousand unique-looking weapons that ultimately have very similar stats. Instead, we’re focusing on unique art where there is the most exciting ramifications in terms of play, such as unique damage types or movesets for one particular weapon within a category.
We’ve also been working on some improvements to the randomizable parts and graphical layers of the weapons, so that while the system is simpler, individual weapon types can actually have more unique-looking variants. In the below examples, we’re showing off some of the different layers and color tints that can be applied to weapons to make a single weapon category such as this Broadsword have a large variety of unique instances. The names of the weapons will be much more interesting once these updates are in game, and more layers may be included, such as crests and gemstones.
Have you wondered why the Delver’s faces are always in shadow? In our earliest sketches, this was partly inspired by other games (especially Final Fantasy black mages). But our primary motivation for this choice was to hide the characters’ identities so that the player could more easily imagine that these characters could be anyone — and could more easily imagine themselves in the role of that character. Ultimately, I enjoy RPGs that allow me to invest a bit of my own personality and play style into the roles of the playable characters. This often requires either a degree of player customization, or a playable character that is a bit of a blank slate or cipher designed to convey the player’s choices, or both.
The goal of Delver’s Drop was to allow the player to inhabit a fairly alien fantasy world, touched a bit of zaniness, especially in the fact that our main characters are all scoundrels. To make these characters customizable ciphers, while retaining a large degree of whimsy and eccentricity in their designs, we chose to hide their faces, and leave only mysterious glowing eyes. Our hope is that you could imagine that you could be a Delver if you lived in their imagined universe, regardless of your past or your experiences.
In the context of their world, the Delvers hide their faces for a few reasons. One may be obvious — since they are all criminals of one degree or another, and are persecuted (whether justly or not), they must go about in disguise. But this has a greater significance within the Guilds, the sects to which the Delvers belong. When one chooses to become a Delver, they have to leave their old life behind to varying degrees, in order to serve the cause of their Guild. The symbol they all bear to identify this choice is called the Grimcloak — a magical shadow that covers them. The Grimcloak hides their skin, and leaves only their glowing eyes and other faint features visible, as well as lending other supernatural properties. The average observer would identify an individual wearing a Grimcloak as a Delver, but through its magic the Grimcloak shifts and distorts the perceptions of the observer (like a glamour or veil, for those who read fantasy novels). In short, the observer would not be able to describe the Delver’s height, build, gender, hair color, clothing, or any other distinguishing features afterward. This makes it the perfect disguise in pursuit of the Delvers’ often less-than-upright goals.
So why would the city guards not simply round up every Delver that they find, assuming that if one is guilty then they all are? Well, for one, this is no easy task — it may often be simpler and safer for the guards to turn a blind eye, unless they directly observe a crime in progress, or are looking for a dangerous fight. On the other hand, could a guard recognize the same Delver again, if they later seemed to look like any ordinary citizen?
Again, thank you so much for your continued patience and support!
We hope you will drop your thoughts in the comments, or if you have more specific concerns and questions, please reach out through direct message, or via email at email@example.com
Thank you for reading!