Roguelike. Simple interface. Hmmm... not really the first association that most players would make. Traditionally, roguelikes have presented deep, complex, and hazardous gameplay, through an equally deep, complex and hazardous interface. In recent years there have been attempts to streamline roguelike gameplay with titles like "Desktop Dungeons", "Hack-Slash-Loot", and "Dungeons of Dredmore" showing us what a user friendly roguelike might look like. Still, there are many unexplored possibilities, and Mysterious Castle is an attempt to find some of them. I'm especially interested in party based tactical gameplay, something that has been missing from the roguelike genre. I've been inspired by games such as "Tactics Ogre", "Avernum", and even the awfully buggy and terribly written "Temple of Elemental Evil", where great vistas of gameplay were opened up through the combinatorial explosion of possibilities offered by party based combat.
Some of you might be wondering if I'm confused over the term "roguelike". To say that the potential is unexplored might seem ridiculous to people who've participated in challenges like 7DRL, where some amazing and creative concepts have been introduced. These contributions to gaming have been immense, and inspired me to make Mysterious Castle, but I would say that their greatest contributions have been to game design, not gameplay. In most contemporary roguelikes (with exceptions of course), the way in which you play the game has not been innovated upon for a long time.
This is where Mysterious Castle comes in. A lot of effort was expended in creating an incredibly smooth interface, as well as tools which free me (and mod builders) to experiment and seek out new gameplay potentials. Tweaking a few scripts can create whole new scenarios, new environments and new challenges, all easily accessible to novices and challenging enough for hardcore powergamers. Here are a few of the possibilities I am interested in exploring:
- Destructible terrain. The scaffolding is set up to support completely destructible (and constructible) terrain. Now it's time to find a way of presenting it in a balanced way.
- Squad based combat. Something like the Warhammer tabletop wargame, where you control companies of warriors over a large battlefield. The engine allows a theoretically unlimited number of actors, making large scale conflict possible. Control individual warriors, companies, or let the AI take control of your army while you play the role of commander.
- Online play. While this is not in the immediate future, the engine is built to support a client-server model which could be scaled to support online battles.
Many other attractive possibilities tantalize me, and drive me to work hard on Mysterious Castle. First, however, I'd like to present to you the smooth and simple interface to a complex world, one which I hope will stimulate you to think about the many interesting variations on the roguelike genre that have yet to be explored.