[page=Treking through oblivion.]
Every once in a while, though, someone takes it upon themselves to just tear the games structure to pieces, and form something that is startlingly different to the norm. One of these games is the ever growing, ever changing and ever evolving Dungeon Doom.
Many a time in the mod community, said mods tend to follow the same artistic trends and game play mechanic as those within the game upon which they are based. Dungeon Doom, in the course of it's existence, has done the opposite, and grown from a small mod with a few 'neat touches', to a game world of its own.
Team lead and general mastermind behind the project Hellborg spared me a few minutes to go over the development and future of this mod.
1. Hi there, cheers for giving me your time! Would you mind please introducing yourself, and giving us a general overview on why you felt the need to develop this mod?
My name is Leif Dehmelt and I go as 'Hellborg' (which is actually the name of my favorite bass guitar player). I really enjoyed playing the Rogue-like Moria many years ago on the Amiga and later got hooked on the more modern Rogue-like Diablo. Although the goal of Rogue-likes is usually pretty clear - you just need to get deeper and deeper into the dungeon - the game play is not as linear as it seems. For me, the most interesting aspects of Rogue-likes are the choices: Will I buy this weapon or will I save the money? Am I prepared enough to descent further into deeper levels or will I get killed trying. I wanted to put these and other choices in the spotlight for DungeonDoom. I also tried to make DungeonDoom less predictable. These features are in contrast to the classic Doom 3 experience, which is presented nicely, but pretty linear and predictable.
2. What is the main storyline and incentive behind the mod?
The story is pretty straightforward and involves a fight between good and evil and your character arrives in the middle of this and basically starts of earning some basic money. During this time, it will become clear if your character is good or evil and this will influence if you are recruited by the good guys or the evil maniac. Actually, my original idea about a storyline was to make a random storyline generator... Well, seriously, I still want to include multiple storylines, from which one would be picked randomly. The interesting thing about this would be, that the story always starts the same, so it would take a while until you realize that something different and unpredictable is happening.
3. Whereas many other mod teams tend to focus their efforts on developing unique design and visual styles to their mods, it's clear that you have focused very much on creating new game play assets. Was there a particular reason you felt the Doom engine would be suitable for this?
It was clear from the beginning that the Doom 3 engine and included artwork would fit very nicely to the atmosphere of a dungeon crawl. I was also amazed by the ruby cube mod, which clearly showed how flexible the engine is. I really love the way how most aspects of the game can be modified using the script system without the need for using a standard programming language. It is just so quick to adjust the scripts and immediately seeing the result after restarting the game. And finally, Martin 'mwoody' Woodards made a random maze generator, which I extended to make the first version of DungeonDoom.
4. A very key feature is the character development system, which sees the player evolve in their Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Wisdom, Vitality and Alignment. How do these features really effect the game play?
For one part, the character development is about the choices I mentioned earlier. You usually cannot have everything, because certain abilities and certain types of equipment need some minimum amount of such characteristics. So, you will need to choose if you want to be able to heal yourself effectively or if you want to be more aggressive, etc. On the other hand, some characteristics also affect your character directly, for example a character with high dexterity will move quicker and a character with higher vitality will recover quicker from exhaustion.
5. As a result of the above features, are there many different game play strategies that the player can utilize to get through?
Yes. But some strategies will be more effective than others. If you try to be an all-rounder you might not have the edge to progress easily.
6. In relation to this there are also different character types available for choice. Could you please just give an overview of what these are, and how they effect the game play?
The simplest type is the fighter. It's classic doom style with all the standard weapons, but still with many choices, as to which weapon skills should be improved. One major strategic aspect of the fighter is the lack of ammo in the Dungeons, so you will need to have enough firepower to proceed to the next teleport point, which is often quite a challenge.
The supernatural is a pure magic user and therefore a bit more strategy oriented. There are plenty of attack spells that work similarly compared to usual weapons, however, they are generated by mana, which replenishes itself over time. Other spells are more subtle and include some of the classical Rogue-like spells such as pet monster summoning, polymorphing, etc.
The Psi-fighter is a mixture of the fighter and supernatural. These guys learn different spells and can also perform telekinesis (basically using a gravity gun without a gravity gun). They can also wield some of the standard weapons.
The card master is a very weird class. It includes strategic elements typically seen in collectible card games, such as Magic: the Gathering or Pokemon. I really liked Phantom Dust on the Xbox, which combines FPS action with collectible card strategy. I tried to include my own vision of a genre mix in DungeonDoom. You basically start with a randomly mixed set of resources and single use, multiple use or time-limited skills. You can buy more and you need to arrange them to produce a good mixture. Once in the dungeon, the skills and resources appear randomly over time and you will need the correct combinations of resources and skills to survive either lengthy maze runs or short but fierce boss battles.
The Ninja is the newest class. It is again very distinct from anything else found in Doom 3. The Ninja has very limited ability to perform ranged attacks. Most of the action is hands on up close using various swords with various abilities or damage. To compensate for the difficulty of fighting pinkies or hell knights melee style, the Ninja can perform a number of combos. These include quick evasive side or back step maneuvers and fierce combo attacks, such as the force jump. The combos are performed by keystroke combinations that need the proper timing to be successful. The Ninja is also featured in a spin-off project called Ninja Tournament, which explores more direct sword control using mouse movements.
7. Is there an alignment system in the mod (such as with games like Fable or Knights of the Old Republic)? If so, does this influence what goes on in the mod?
Yes, your deeds influence your alignment and certain types of armor also adjust your alignment. The storyline and the boss enemies are different depending on the path you choose. Also, some quests are only offered to good or evil characters. It is also not advisable to change alignment in the middle of the game. The guys you work for might not be very happy with such sudden changes in your behavior.
8. An interesting feature mentioned in the mods overview, is the use of randomly generated maps. How exactly do these work?
In classic Rogue-likes, the mazes were always different every time you re-entered them. I really disliked this "feature" because it just does not make sense. In Diablo, the mazes were generated randomly once at the start of a new game, but were constant afterwards, so you could start to memorize their layout for future walks. I took the same approach in DungeonDoom. From a technical point of view, these are just generated by a modified recursive maze generation algorithm. Then, torches are not added everywhere giving further variability in appearance. Finally, podests are raised or removed and the ceiling height is adjusted to add further complexity. In the newest version 8XP, an additional randomly generated wilderness is included. Here you find tree-like foliage generated by randomly placed and rotated branches. The wilderness is also effectively endless (it is basically procedurally generated). Still, if you come back to the same "tree" during one game play round, it will always look exactly the same.
9. Was the Doom engine able to accommodate to something like this or did many changes have to be made for it to work properly?
The randomly generated maps and endless wilderness were done entirely using doom3 script and did not need any modification of the SDK code. For performance and AI compatibility, TinMan adjusted the AI orientation system (AAS) and visportal systems, which just took only about 5 lines of code in the SDK but some major tweaking of the map.
[page=Lord of the Dungeon Crawls]
10. Everyone knows that Doom 3 didn't really boast the best AI on the planet. Was the AI suitable for the mod or were changes made that better suited the style of game play you wanted?
After fixing the AI orientation system in the map, we were surprised that the monsters were able to perfectly navigate any maze to track down the player! Doom 3 itself uses relatively simple (probably for nostalgic reasons) AI behaviors such as monster cabinets and scripted paths. But under the hood, the routing system and AI scripting capabilities are very powerful. Still, the enemies in DungeonDoom would generally just attack the player without hesitation or interruption. One of the coolest experiences I had when playing Diablo was when I first entered the dungeon and the first small monsters called the "Fallen Ones" were very carefully and fearfully running around me. I thought these guys really can't hurt me much so I nearly ignored them. But then suddenly they all attacked me at once and killed me! I tried to add such behavior with flocking maggots and I also tried to recreate the experience of the AI in FEAR by adding tough Zsecs that toss grenades, evade your attacks and kill you instantaneously if they get too near to you. All this was done using the script system and the engine did not need any specific tweaks to accommodate these more lifelike AI behaviors.
11. While it's clear that you've gone through a lot of work on the scripting, many of the enemies and general characters in Dungeon Doom are the same as those available in Doom 3. Are there any plans to create new monsters?
In the first versions of DungeonDoom I added typical Rogue-like special monster behaviors, such as teleporting, blinding, paralysis etc. I thought that it would be more useful to add something that is game play relevant instead of including a new monster mesh that is controlled by a recycled AI script and known behaviors. In version 7XP I started to add simple monsters by using a particle effect as the model. I then would reuse part of an AI script, add some tweaks and generate a new type of monster with a distinct look and feel. I think that there are about three of these in DungeonDoom. For 8XP, I also recycled a skeleton model which usually does not appear as a full featured monster in Doom 3. I also made a new - very simple mesh based monster from scratch, the gelatinous cube, which has only one animation. I recently saw a number of monsters popping up in the Doom 3 scene, so it appears that finally a significant amount of people get together their skills to make new animated monsters. I will include anything for which I get the permission and tweak it's abilities to make it unique in DungeonDoom.
12. What does the future hold for Dungeon Doom? Are there any particular new features you plan on implementing?
For now, I think that all basic goals of implementing the most important features of Rogue-likes are included. I will now focus on getting some of the details improved, so the next versions will probably be 8.1, 8.2 etc. Some areas that need some work are the sword models, more variety in the wilderness, improved texturing in dungeons and wilderness, custom animations for monsters and the player character - especially for Ninja special moves, improvements in the quest and story department and more, more, more variety in dungeons, boss rooms, equipment, card master cards, monsters, abilities, behaviors etc.
13. Anything else you'd like to add?
Just a little comment on an often read criticism that DungeonDoom is not balanced: I do not want to make DungeonDoom much easier, because then the whole character development and the importance of choices would become irrelevant. The Dungeons of DungeonDoom need to be dangerous, deadly and unpredictable, so that you think twice, if you are prepared to make the descent into a deeper level.