In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the procedural system we use to create the enchanted forests that serve as your proving ground in Road Not Taken. That system is what makes Road Not Taken a fun game to play repeatedly, and as with any good roguelike you’ll need to play RNT many times before you’ve stumbled upon every interesting object and creature lurking in the forest.
But a purely random system, even a very rich one, can start to feel repetitive over time. Every snowflake might be unique, but after you’ve looked at a thousand snowflakes it’s easy to stop appreciating them! Our roguelike developer ancestors have invented a few solutions to this problem, one of which is to change the look and feel of the environment to signal when something new/important/dangerous is happening. Sewers transition into dungeons, dungeons become underground caverns, etc. And in Road Not Taken, peaceful glades might lead to blizzard-ravaged woods, haunted glades and dangerous ice caverns! The changing terrain is both a marker of your progress as well as a warning of new challenges to come.
Another classic component of roguelikes (and other procedurally-generated games) are hand-crafted encounters and setpieces. These uncommon encounters stick out like a sore thumb precisely because they’re not 100% randomly generated. They’re specialized, memorable moments that punctuate the gameplay experience. The Chess Biome in Don’t Starve is an example of a setpiece. The major boss encounters in Diablo are another example.
In Road Not Taken, pretty much all of the setpieces that we’ve recently created are hand-crafted puzzles that demand careful planning if you want to solve them efficiently (and remember, in this game, inefficiency equals death!) They aren’t completely non-random puzzles, since that would limit their replay value, but they’re non-random enough to be very distinctive.
We’re hoping to launch with a healthy variety of these setpieces. Some might have that good-old “boss encounter” feeling to them. And more often than not, those bosses won’t just be coming after you — they’ll be hunting the children you’re sworn to rescue. Protecting others from harm can often feel more intense than just trying to save yourself.
We’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about and testing new setpiece ideas over the past couple weeks. It’s been a lot of fun, and we have way more ideas than we’ll ever have time to implement! But even so, it’s worth noting that all of this stuff is just icing on our procedurally-generated cake. The hand-crafted content won’t be the defining feature of your many journeys through Road Not Taken, but we really hope it’ll provide some memorable moments along the way. 🙂
And hey, I saved the best for last. Here’s a new video showing lots of cool new, never-seen-before stuff from the game, including one of our new setpiece puzzles!