Designing a Dungeon, Part 3

Quick Warning: These posts will feature details on what the Temple of Seasons could (and probably will) look like. If you want to experience the dungeon without knowing the layout beforehand, you should probably only read this post after it has been implemented and you've actually had a chance to play it!

This is where the fun begins, at least if you're me! It's time to take the first step of actually creating art for the dungeon. But we're not instantly jumping into spriting - no, first we have to go through a series of steps to ensure the rooms are the 'right' size. 

So what is the right size? Well, obviously, it's when a room isn't too big nor too small! Easy, right? .....Perhaps not so much. 

What we do to make sure the rooms in our dungeon work well is to make a quick sketch of the room, including the kind of decorations and props we'd like to see in it, and put that sketch directly into the game. Here's an example of how I took one of the rooms from yesterdays very basic map, gave it some more realistic proportions and sketched the kind of environment we'd like to see in it: 

The basic "map" version (left) translated into a sketch w/ more detail. 

When I make these rooms sketches, I use a 'camera template' which shows exactly how big the camera is and where your character is in the middle. It also indicates where the GUI appears in the game, so I know exactly how much space I need to have above the walls and doors to make sure the HUD won't cover anything important:

The Camera mockup-thingy helps a lot!

Since there's quite a bunch of rooms, sketching out all of them can take a long time, and I believe it should! Even if I'm not making any final art at this stage, I try to think hard about what kind of set pieces and random props I want to use in the room. Some other, quite important questions to consider are: Is there enough space for my character to run around? Where can I battle enemies? Is there too much space that has no real use?

A couple of different room sketches.

I'm sure glad we take a break for dinner in the middle of the day, because after too many hours of trying to come up with interesting designs, my creative juices tend to run dry! Especially when it's a dungeon such as this, where I have to stop sketching every once in a while to discuss what kind of obstacles we want to use for each change of season, and how the rooms should change depending on what season it is. There's a lot to think about, so it has to take some time. 

In the end, it took almost the entire day to finish sketching the rooms and their decorations. Once they were done I handed them over to Teddy, so he could connect them and put them into the game. The next step is to run through the dungeon alone and in multiplayer, with only the sketches and our imagination to guide us. Then we'll ask the same questions I asked myself when sketching and adjust the rooms accordingly. 

But that will be tomorrow's post... :) 
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