This is the second part of the story of the development of my 19th 7DRL: SpelunkyRL, a roguelike inspired by Spelunky. You can play it online at https://slash.itch.io/spelunkyrl
It has been some weeks already since I wrote the first part, and I’ve even done a release with improvements, but I feel like I should complete the tale.
The last time we left at the end of Day 5 of the 7DRL Challenge; there was a playable game being tested by friends already, what happened next?
As testing intensified and I was addressing feedback as it came, I also decided to start working on traps because what is Spelunky without the traps? I should have started with that before, but it had to be in so I jumped into it. Initially, I added some basic “arrow” traps, hoping to be able to put in some variety afterward. This also justified the passive ability/advantage of the Spelunker to find and evade traps.
The idea, of course, was to make interesting deaths possible. It’s always challenging to prevent traps from feeling frustrating in a turn-based game because good reflexes and dexterity are out of the equation to dodge them, so you gotta replace them with careful planning and being prepared for the worst, and yes there will still be luck involved.
Another important thing happened on Day 6: Simernio, the artist for many of Slashware projects including NovaMundi and FormulaProc, sent out the cover art for the game which was lovely and made my eyes teary. It was spot-on. Some days before I had discussed my idea with him: To bring together the box art from Epyx Rogue and the essence of Spelunky as a fantasy archeologist’s adventure game, and throw in a couple of non-sense things in an 80’s videogames cover fashion. And he did it perfectly.
In spite of a generally positive 7DRL process (i.e. having a playable ready early in the week, and keeping it playable all along) it was impossible to avoid the final push on day 7.
I decided to extend the data to 8 levels. However, I stuck to my own advice from 2021 and left it as ONLY 8 levels, to keep the focus on an interesting smaller set of content. Still, it was a lot of work to juggle with data and make each enemy feel unique.
Of course, for things to feel unique and not just orthogonal, I had to implement some changes in the engine, including the ability for enemies to “hurl” you (and vice versa!) not a simple change at all! but then I decided to take advantage of it and include another type of trap: the deadly spring floor which will shoot you forward with frequently fatal results.
I mentioned before the challenge of traps feeling frustrating in this kind of game, in the case of spring traps, for instance, they can be fatal if you walk in one of them some steps before a chasm. Permadeath. Pain. BUT, if you are an experienced player, you will walk cautiously when there are chasms around; well aware that you may be propelled forward on your next step. And if you HAVE to, you’ll know you waged against fate.
QuietGecko also did a big push for audio work on the final day since he couldn’t invest work on the project during the week; I naturally left some time to work on audio integration.
I spent the final hours playtesting and resisting the urge to add more; the biggest thing I missed including in the original submission was a tutorial level; but it was just too much to remain sane.
Some days after the challenge’s deadline, and having recovered some of the energy, I decided to go back to the project to fix some rough edges that had been reported.
The most important addition was adding a tutorial level with tips to learn how to play, and doing some tweaks on the help screen. All of this was to make the game more accessible to players.
Other than that, this version contained a critical crash fix and some minor bugs with sounds and game flow.
The initial reaction to the game was positive; people really liked our little idea and it was polished, stylish, and fun. As usual, people loved the sound effects and the music.
We even got noticed by Derek Yu, who mentioned “It’s come full circle”, just the reaction I was looking for 🙂
Another version was produced afterward, with even more usability and accessibility improvements.
And that’s where we are with SpelunkyRL! if you like it and/or have any ideas for improvement, please let me know! 🙂