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Author Topic: Making Dungeons  (Read 1127 times)

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Making Dungeons
« on: November 26, 2013, 11:39:49 pm »
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Hello all, ive got a question that will hopefully spark a discussion on. I am making a zelda game, and have the need to start on some of the actual dungeons now. the game is LTTP styled but theres more to it then the basic LTTP stuff. But what im asking is..
what makes a dungeon a zelda dungeon? what makes them good? how would you go about designing some of these?

ive been looking at maps of the dungeons of LTTP and MC and im seeing somewhat of a trend. They all seem to have a sort of chart.
DUNGEON 6
   Theme: Icy Dungeon
   Item Gotten: Wizzrobe Wand
   Boss:
   Extra: Multifloor, Ice puzzles, decently hard enemies. Swimming and Icy manuvers cover the dungeon, not as much fighting and more puzzle solving. Multifloor but small.

^^ Thats how ive been organizing my dungeons as of now, and so it gives some freedom. but back to the main question, is what do you think makes a dungeon a well thought out dungeon?
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Re: Making Dungeons
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2013, 05:12:41 pm »
  • Minalien
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The primary component of any good dungeon, not just for a Zelda game, is having engaging, interesting, fun and appropriately challenging puzzles. At its heart, Zelda is more of a puzzle game than anything else -- sure, there's monsters to fight and bosses to defeat and fish to... fish, but the primary mechanic is solving puzzles in various themed dungeons in order to get more items so you can solve more puzzles as you progress. Effective dungeon design is a practiced skill and takes a long while to master, but you can start by researching the types of puzzles used in Zelda games, paying particular attention to their strengths and weaknesses for the player's viewpoint.

The most important thing though is to keep the difficulty curve consistent - don't have some dungeons be incredibly hard, while others are pathetically simple, and definitely don't have them in that order -- players feel progression through overcoming increasingly more challenging and thoughtful puzzles in a Zelda game.
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Re: Making Dungeons
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2013, 08:56:46 pm »
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Thank you for the response, i have been looking into the dungeon designs but mine are far from good, and many drafts have been thrown away. the difficulty curve is probably the biggest issue of them all. But thanks for the reply, some of the stuff you said i had not even thought about yet.
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Re: Making Dungeons
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2013, 01:52:27 am »
  • It's just Max.
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You're definitely onto something with your chart about theme, item, boss, etc, but I think a lot of that is encompassed in "theme". For example, an ice dungeon inherently contains ice, which automatically lends itself to puzzles over combat, so being puzzle-heavy is part of the theme too. In many games, the item also goes with the theme (WW's Deku leaf, the lantern in MC, etc), and then the boss is usually based on the theme (icy) and the item to use for its battle mechanics.


I dunno if you've read this article yet if you're researching dungeon design, but it has a lot of interesting points:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134949/

One of the biggest things I saw there was the notion of a "critical path" - that is, the simplest and most direct way through a dungeon. If a player follows this path, they will get what they need in the order they need it, and most importantly, this path is basically linear.

That's one way to approach a big component of dungeon design- which is making sure a player doesn't take a lengthy path that they can't finish. If something is a dead-end, even temporarily (ie you can't progress without finding an item elsewhere), then you obviously don't want a player wasting a bunch of time to get to the dead end, when they should have gone down a different path. That's pretty obvious, but the critical path idea from that article is a way of approaching it I hadn't thought of.

Something else that might help you is dusting off your SNES or GBA or emulator and playing through ALTTP and maybe some other 2D Zeldas and literally writing down each puzzle in a dungeon. I did this just for puzzle categories, but later realized  I should have gotten more specific with different ways to execute the category.

For example, I played through the oracle games, and ended up with a few pages of these puzzle categories and variation thingies:

Sliding Block puzzle: manipulate blocks to achieve goal
Goals: physically pass through area, trip switch, reach destination within puzzle, alter room conditions
- blocks can only be moved 1 space
- blocks can be moved infinitely
- blocks can only be moved one direction
- only some blocks can be moved
- blocks can only be moved within a certain region
- blocks must depress a switch or multiple switches
- blocks must be manipulated into one configuration, a task done, then manipulated into another configuration
*I also wrote down specific puzzle arrangements and solutions that I liked


Enemy-Key puzzle: fulfill enemy destruction conditions for solution
-kill all enemies
-kill specific enemy
-kill certain type of enemy
opens door, enemy drops key, causes bridge to appear, etc.


Hookshot-key puzzle: Use the hookshot to solve
- Hit something with the hookshot to activate a switch
- Hit inaccessible enemies
- Bring inaccessible enemies to an accessible area
- Move Link to an inaccessible area
- move across falling/damage tiles
- move across lower elevation parts of the room
- etc.
- etc.


What I did then was I could make a layout for the dungeon and just write "x-type" puzzle in this room, "difficulty: Y", and then go through and fill in the specifics later to accommodate things like the dungeon's theme, and adjust the variations of the puzzle to alter the difficulty. That's what really helped me just get started, what not getting caught up in the details of what puzzle went where, but rather getting the overall layout and sense before I filled in blanks with appropriate puzzles and difficulties.



On a side note, I really like that a question like this is coming up for discussion. Considering this forum is about making Zelda games, I've hardly ever seen much about the theory of how to actually make a Zelda game.
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Re: Making Dungeons
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2013, 05:12:55 am »
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Damn. Thats an idea i never thought of. Thats actually a really really good idea on how you wrote down the puzzles and such, and im probably going to make a chart like that to help with some. So basically it gives an item, or a set of enemies or something broad and labels everything that can be done with them. I never thought of going specific like that, so thank you that will be cool. Also at first i had the mindset of okay i have this item and this theme i need to build a dungeon in this theme blah blah and never thought i could do it the other way around. Also, i havent seen that article, so ill check it out now and tell you what i think. Thanks for the post though! Dungeon designing never seemed that big of a deal until i actually tried to make true ones.

EDIT: wow was that not what i was expecting. That was actually really helpful on something, because the design does seem very random and this basically said hey you are wrong heres how it works. But the most interesting in that article was the enemy difficulty, because i honestly thought it was random. This will help me alot, as my new 5 minute draft beats all the others already. Im thinking of doing what he did(finding enemy chart and critical path) for some LTTP, mc, and maybe even some oot dungeons to see what else i can find. Thanks so much for all the info!
« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 05:27:57 am by Whitay »
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Re: Making Dungeons
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2013, 04:25:09 am »
  • It's just Max.
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Quote
Also at first i had the mindset of okay i have this item and this theme i need to build a dungeon in this theme blah blah and never thought i could do it the other way around.

I mean, you've still often got the theme and probably most of the time you've already got the item decided before designing the dungeon, but you can draw from a pool of ideas about what to do with certain items, and some puzle types are obviously dictated by theme (ice puzzles, for example) while the rest can just be altered based on the dungeon theme, which for me at least is often a good way to spark creativity. We can have a puzzle where you've gotta throw a bomb to activate a switch- how would this fit in a water dungeon? Maybe you can have a current and you've gotta land the bomb on debris to float it to the target, or maybe in a mountain dungeon, the "switch" is you've gotta cause a rockslide to bridge a gap.

Pretty much everything in zelda is: here is a "lock", I use a "key" to get past it. Maybe the lock is a puzzle or some enemies or an obstacle and then the key is a certain weapon, or a strategy, or the solution to the puzzle, or even a literal key in the case of locked doors ;)

I'm interested to see what some other people who've actually been working on Zelda games have done about dungeon design too, 'cause that's just what I've thought of.
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