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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:49 pm 



Joined: 25 Sep 2019
Posts: 148
BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Roguelikes and Diablo-style top-down action RPG games did get mentioned here too despite feeling fairly distinct from what's usually classified as a dungeon crawler, so obviously it's not about being opposed to discussing games that straddle the boundaries of genres or give similar vibes

Yeah this was also my understanding. But I just went one step further. Maybe one step too far, it seems.

As you said, obviously perspective isn't the discriminator, as we've discussed roguelikes. I myself discussed Labyrinth of Touhou 2, and no one complained.

And having space and time divided discretely into squares and turns isn't important either, cause also as you mentioned, we've talked about Diablo.

So rather than going with something wishy washy like "give similar vibes" as you say, I went with a hard discriminator, and the definition I mentioned earlier is what I came up with.

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
Their controls and movement are simply too different to be categorized as the same genre. There are plenty of great 2D action adventure platforming games like this such as Legend of Zelda II and Battle of Olympus with varying degrees of RPG/puzzle elements
...
But the importance of how everything handles such as player movement, environment physics, spacing in attacks, etc, in something like La Mulana make 2D action adventure games very different I think

Sure, but Maze of Galious and La Mulana are a step closer to the acceptable Rogue format than Zelda 2 and Battle of Olympus.

Let's look at it historically, cause I think it might be fruitful to the discussion:

In the first Dragon Slayer (1984), your locus of control is exactly one tile in size, and you move tile by tile in world composed of tiles you can or cannot occupy. Spatially it's exactly the same as Rogue. Temporally it's different, because if you sit still other things will still move.

In Dragon Slayer 2 (1985), you also move tile by tile, and the world scrolls tile by tile, but now you will fall through some tiles. You can also "jump" ~3 tiles into these before you begin to fall. This makes it feel like a side scroller, but really it's just the addition of special tiles your character will fall through. There's also various one way tiles without the "falling". The tile world and its rules play a big part in navigating the game.

By 1987 you have Dragon Slayer 4, which is still a distinctly tile world, but now your character can straddle a state between tiles. Nevertheless your character is still exactly one tile in size, and it's really just a more granular variant of Dragon Slayer 2's rules.

This is where contemporary Maze of Galious (also 1987) fits in. It's exactly the same as Dragon Slayer 4 as far as the basics of movement and navigation are concerned - a granular Dragon Slayer 2.

Note that in none of these games do you ever die from falling. The world either scrolls down or flips. At worst, e.g. in Maze of Galious, you wind up in a water tile that may initially start to do damage over time, but by default you can completely mitigate that with 2 button clicks. Also note the presence of "ladders" that facilitate vertical movement. Sometimes the ladders are even right next to each other, and you can move left and right and up and down completely freely, blurring the line between "top down" and "side view" - it's all just tile world and tile rules.

Zelda 2 (again 1987) also obviously takes after Dragon Slayer 2, even the towns look similar. But, IMO, it's a more radical departure marked by two key differences. First, Link occupies 2 tiles, not 1, like Simon Belmont, and secondly, also like Simon Belmont, if he falls down a pit the world doesn't simply scroll down (or flip screens), he dies.

Now as for La Mulana, the game just is Maze of Galious. It started out as a straight up clone of Maze of Galious, but then they just decided to add more puzzles and make a more organic graph of "worlds" (20 screen maps) rather than the strict star topology of Galious. Those are really the biggest difference. I detail more differences in the post that started this discussion, and they add up, but they are still almost the exact same game.

So, my question to you is, where do you draw the line?

Is it simply the first Dragon Slayer? (can't imagine it would be!) Is 2 already too far removed? Maybe it's exactly at Maze of Galious and Dragon Slayer 4 (AKA Legacy of the Wizard)? Or maybe Zelda 2, due to the addition of platforming (I would say this is fair).

BryanM wrote:
I've grown to loathe that term, "Metroidvania". Omits stuff like Cadash and Zelda 2. Both of which deserve more popularity

Strongly agree. It's a horrible term. Very ignorant, very biased.


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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:44 am 


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Yeah, I ain't getting baited into responding to this like the poor shmucks in the other "Dark Souls is a JRPG" thread.
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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:28 am 



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Prffft. You wrote that it's about "how it controls" in addition to what you called "elements". So, keeping the elements constant, I pointed out a spectrum of different controls from the first Dragon Slayer to Zelda 2 and simply asked where you drew the line.

Now you might think this is a stupid discussion and that people should just be able to "feel the vibes" or whatever to determine the genre (problem is, to me La Mulana and Labyrinth of Touhou 2 vibe much the same, hence why I discussed both here), and that's your perogative, but it's a bit annoying you used the word "baited" as if I was trolling, because I'm not.


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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:46 am 


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I always thought it was cool how it's possible to create new games using the same engine. Tower Defense from Starcraft, dungeon crawler/shooter/puzzle levels in Mario Maker.

It's kind of an interesting exercise to see how irreducible a control interface is - roguelikes and Grand Theft Auto clones can do a ton of things, their generic freedom of movement is huge, but how much can you change a golf game?

Mortificator wrote:
It's more conductive to literal role-playing than many other tabletop games, though. What would you act out in Monopoly? You're all the same capitalist vampire.


As real life demonstrates, being the exact same vampire takes a lot of elaborate anime-style personality gimmicks and tons of kayfabe : D


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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:05 am 


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Licorice wrote:
Now you might think this is a stupid discussion


It is. Genre definitions are used for their function and to facilitate easy communication. You just shit all over that with your personally curated game histories.

Symphony of the Night is my favourite dungeon crawler.
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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:42 am 


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I don't think Licorice means any harm with the genealogy posts. Then again I dig that stuff too. :wink:

RE "Metroidvania." IDGAF what the mainstream does or thinks. As a fan of the latter series, though, the label does rankle me a bit - as SOTN's action (while I am very fond of it) has sweet fuck-all to do with its series' preceding decade. And no, it's nothing to do with free jump arcs! X68k and even goofy IV are no less traditional for theirs! It's the lack of perilous footing, or any consistent need to watch your step while battling. As immortally addictive as SOTN's smooth, hard-hitting action is, it plays nearer Spartan X than trad CV.

Which brings me to another free jumper, the TRVE & HONEST Metroidvania: Holy Diver. Now, sadly, its controls are bugged to fuck. And it has godawful sprite dropout. But pardoning those, it's a categorically truer hybrid: Metroid's search-driven upgrades and projectile combat with CV's discrete Treachery Platformer stage design.

I can't recommend it unreservedly, because irl IREM body-horror - the muscle memory workarounds rewired my neurosystem to the point I temporarily forgot how to play Castlevania - but even at safe distance, it's worth a look. Someone should fix the control and graphical issues, so it'd be merely tougher than the average console action game, as opposed to fucking Videodrome.

Then again, casual shitbirds would bitch anyway! L2P you fuckin noobs! Image

(I suspect IREM wanted to make an arcade-compact Zelda II, with Samus swapped in for Link - HD even blags Zelda II's HUD, and 1UP design, and Fairy spell, albeit metallised into DARGON Image Plus, a few of its heavies behave rather like the Great Palace's feared Fokker knights. However, Zelda II doesn't play all that differently from trad CV, when it comes to treacherous battling, so the comparison still holds)
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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:13 pm 


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Licorice wrote:
but it's a bit annoying you used the word "baited" as if I was trolling, because I'm not.


I fully believe in your sincerity when asserting your rejection of the gaming community's existing labels. It's still not an argument I want to get drawn into deeply and thus potentially derail the thread with.

Personally, I think the thread title ought to have been "First person dungeon crawler recommendations". All of the titles mentioned in the first post were first person perspective. Of course, first person turn-based RPGs like Wizardry are different enough from real-time tile-based RPGs like Dungeon Master/Grimrock or first person action RPGs like Ultima Underworld or King's Field, that they're technically three separate subgenres, but they're nevertheless related by their perspective and unique enough to merit dedicated discussion.

2D platformers and top-down action games with dungeon crawling/rpg elements are fine, but they are distinct genres in terms of how they play, how much of the playfield is visible, and what skills mechanically are required to succeed (traditional roguelikes also feel a bit too distinct to be in the same category, IMO). However, I suppose if the thread wants to expand the games discussed to anything involving dungeon crawling/exploration elements including these kinds of 2D platformers (which are very distinct from arcade-style platformers), it'd be petty of me to argue against it given, as I mentioned previously, there's not really a dedicated thread elsewhere on the forum for these sort of games. And there probably ought to be as they're cool games worth discussing.

tl;dr: you win, La Mulana is nifty, carry on
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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:33 pm 


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I love the Japanese label for Metroidvanias: "search action". It really explains the whole genre. You search for a little bit of action, and then you find some, and then it's back to searching again :mrgreen: And isn't searching the exact opposite of action, anyway? Maybe the "sleep action" genre would go even further, and I hear some of the newer Metroidvanias are even pioneering it, but you get my point.

Nothing much to contribute on the actual topic of this thread, I know almost nothing about dungeon crawlers. I will say that I don't think La Mulana or Maze of Galious count, except in the most superficial way... if these games are only categorized as "dungeon crawlers" because they take place in a dungeon, then what if I edit La Mulana to take place on, say, an alien planet (like Super Metroid)? It's no longer a dungeon crawler because you can see some green sky pixels? Genres aren't supposed to work this way, they're based on mechanics and feel not theme. (A zebra is just a horse with tertiary tiger elements, and so on.)


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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:48 pm 


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Licorice there's probably enough interest in your genre definitions to warrant their own separate thread and discussion.

Licorice No Yabou: Gaming Genealogy Part 3 The Refining.
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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:55 pm 


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i don't think 'dungeon crawler' is really a game genre, it's a much broader term and certainly doesn't just refer to first person turn based rpgs like wizardry or etrian odyssey. all of these game with the one town -> one big dungeon set up definitely have a lot of shared heritage and i don't have a problem with loosely grouping them together as 'dungeon crawlers', despite their differences of perspective or whatever else.

-edit- i also agree that 'search action' is a great label for metroidvania type games.


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 Post subject: Re: Dungeon crawler recomendations
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:03 am 


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Found an interesting game called Ruina - Fairy Tale of the Forgotten Ruins.

Image

Ruina is a doujin RPG about exploring ancient ruins that seems to take heavy inspiration from tabletop roleplaying games. You don't directly move your party around. Instead you control a cursor which you can use to interact with various points of interest on the map. Click on a room in a dungeon and your party will travel there, click on an NPC to talk to him. Since you're always looking at a map, the game makes heavy use of descriptive text to set the atmosphere and it works really well. The tone feels closer to dark fairy tales than modern high fantasy stories, which I appreciate. Most rooms have some sort of unique event and it never feels like you're wasting your time with filler content. Traveling long distances is quick too since you just click on the edge of one map to move to the next one. It's a good system.

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You can use tools to aid in your exploration in various ways. Use a lantern and you can see better, which might help your character spot things they'd otherwise miss, but carrying a lit lantern makes you easier to spot, meaning you have a higher random encounter rate. A pickaxe can help you unearth treasures, find crafting materials, and access new rooms. Your party members also have useful exploration abilities, such as the lockpicking skill or the ability to read ancient languages. There are also times when having a specific character around will change the outcome of an event.

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You're allowed to save freely in town, and once per day you can save inside the dungeon with a reusable item called the forgotten stone. Your HP and MP don't regenerate over time and to recover you'll need to find a safe place to sleep. While you have the option to constantly return to town so you can savescum and rest, the game discourages this through two interesting systems. First, certain story events, like defeating a boss, are considered "checkpoints," though the term doesn't mean here what it usually means in gaming. When you reach a checkpoint you are awarded SP which you can spend to train your protagonist in various classes. The game keeps track of how many days it has been since you last reached a checkpoint, and if you reach another soon enough - within 3 days is a common limit - you're awarded more SP. The second system is that the game tracks how many experience points you've gained during the current trip into the dungeon. Earn enough in one shot and you get SP. This doesn't really encourage you to grind because fighting awards very little experience. The real experience comes from exploring and solving events, so you'll want to bring plenty of supplies, carefully conserve your resources, and get as much done at once as you possibly can.

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Ruina's combat uses the usual JRPG system, but its focus on attrition makes it a bit more interesting than it otherwise would be. You're still alternating between attacking and healing, but because you want to stretch every bit of MP as far as it can go, there are a lot of choices and risks you otherwise wouldn't have to think about. You want to end fights quickly so you don't have to heal too much, but you also don't want to blow all your MP on your biggest attacks. Maybe you'll be better off not spending resources on healing minor damage after a fight, and maybe that thinking will get you killed. Buffs are very very strong. They're both a good way to punch above your weight class and they tend to be underpriced compared to their benefits. An attack buff followed by regular attacks is a lot more efficient than using attack skills every round.

Many events have multiple outcomes based on your abilities and choices. I'm told that the game remembers a lot more about your choices than it lets on and it uses that to influence various things. Having done only one playthrough I couldn't say how far that goes. Your background choice at the beginning of the game seems to affect a lot too. I went with fighter but I'm told that the thief background has the most unique content. I'll have to try that next time.

It's a cool game, I recommend it.

Ruina is freeware and you can pick up the English version here. To play the game, go into the game folder and run player.exe rather than start.exe or start_window.exe in the main folder. If there are missing graphics or sounds or any problems like that, install the missing assets by running rpg2000_rtp_installer.exe, which is included in the download.


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