Jan, 22
Z-levels and other new goodies coming in Alpha 27

I’ve been back to work in the last few weeks, after a longer-than-usual Christmas and New Years break, and I’d like to share all the cool stuff that I worked on!

Z-levels, which essentially mean building your dungeon over multiple floors, are probably the most requested feature in KeeperRL of all time. I’ve been resisting them mostly due to lack of a good vision on how they would work with the rest of the game. They obviously increase dungeon building possibilities, but also make the game more complex. KeeperRL already features a decently sized world to explore horizontally, so how would vertical expansion complement it?

I gave it some more consideration recently, and realized that Z-levels could solve a lot of the mining progression problems:

  • It’s easy to place “guarding” enemies on a subterranean level, and the player will easily understand that these enemies will attack if you mine there. No more confusion why you got attacked by ants or adamantine golems.
  • It’s common sense that enemies get more difficult as you dig deeper and deeper, and you can’t accidentally engage an enemy that’s way too strong for you.
  • New Z-levels can be added as you dig, which means an unlimited supply of minerals, at the cost of having to fight stronger and stronger enemies.

The great thing about KeeperRL’s source code architecture is that it has supported multiple levels since the very beginning, just that your dungeon could only be built on one level. A basic implementation that allowed multiple-level dungeons took me only a few hours!

After all that, there has to be bad news of course, and it’s that there are some limitations. First of all, right now, the game only supports up to one staircase between two levels. This is limited by the current pathfinding algorithm. Secondly, due to memory usage, the subterranean levels will be significantly smaller than the ground level. These are not set in stone, of course, so depending on your feedback, I can work on removing these limitations in future updates.

There were also other, smaller features that I worked on. I’ve committed to advancing the AI in this update, and the first improvement is that creatures will try to organize, and attack enemies in formations to avoid being picked out one-by-one. Healers will attempt to stay in the second line and tend the wounded.

To further improve combat tactics, I replaced 8-directional aiming with free aiming, so you can fire missiles and cast spells at anyone, as long as nothing is in the way. This should make archers and spell-casters more relevant in open area battles, especially when they’re controlled by AI. Elves are going to be very deadly! (and the interface is also prettier and more clear)

I don’t have any plans or promises for you yet as to when Alpha 27 will be out, and if you are interested in hearing more about day-to-day development, I invite you to join the official discord server, where I’m very happy to talk to players and share updates almost every day.

COMMENTS

Home Forums Z-levels and other new goodies coming in Alpha 27

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  • #9949

    Naur
    Participant

    I like the Z level as it adds a lot of potential organic/reactive mechanics to the game: floods, pits, traps related to those things, more advantages to flying units and ofc the things 7advantages that the dev already wrote about.

    The problem is that most of those interactions do need taking out the actual limitations. Communication between levels for those things to work would need to be multiple (by pits & stairs) and the size of each map should mach the ground level.

    The memory problem could be lessened by limiting how many underground levels you can go down, as I think it probably will be more fun to have those level interactions in 3 or 4 levels than 100 levels of repetitive randomization.

    So to live up to that potential it needs work and to align to the devs intentions for the game.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  Naur.
    #9951

    The things you mention are much harder to implement, that’s one issue. Plus I know that not all players want to have them. The nice thing about the current state of things is that it doesn’t make the game more complicated (both from the player’s and dev’s point of view). But you have a good point, thanks.

    #9958

    Naur
    Participant

    No problem man, as much as I love interacting systems for their chaotic randomization and unique situations they provide for each play-trough (similar to dwarven fortress). I know that part of the appeal of KeeperRL is its FAR easier to understand design. I agree 100% to keep things simpler if you think they wont add enough fun to the game. Thnx for the reply!

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by  Naur.
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