Dungeon Maker shortfalls.

Level 14
1 year ago (edited)

Ok so I feel I've had enough experience with the Release Dungeon Maker at this point I can start to go into some of the current shorfalls with designing, and express some needs outside of the common ones with for example, conversations, outdoor areas, and merchants. 

Its no secret that most of my modules are influenced by Classic D&D modules from 1st edition. For example:

Temple of Evil on Witch Mountain: Was designed using the 1st level of the Temple of Elemental Evil, based on encounter schemes, mood, and atmosphere. It creates a very authentic feeling substitute. 

Secret of the Black Flame: Was designed based on Balton's Beacon and the Cult of the Black Flame and creates a convincing substitute. 

Halls of the Ogre Lord: Obviously was based on the Against the Giants series of Classic Modules but redone with Ogres.

Expedition to the Grand Crevasse: Was based on Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Desert of Desolation series, and Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan,

Now, the good thing about designing like this is that in attempting to create certain moods/feels, styles of modules, you get to see what can and cannot be created currently in the toolset. I was not and did not attempt to create these as verbatim copies of those modules, only to give the same feel or mood or similarity of Play. 

So for example: 

I could not create any kind of magical flame, like the "Black Flame" from Baltron's Beacon because I could not tint the flame on a brazier black. I could not close secret doors either with a switch or floor panel. Could not create the Artificial Darkness cloud in the Hallway that disguised the Shrine. 

I could not design many boss mob fights so there is no "Ogre Lord" since I could not rename a normal Ogre or boost its levels or hit points. Instead I had to do something cheezy like use the Arrok Mob in the Dungeon Maker to "represent" him. 

I could not even rename Arrok to something different to at least give him the "Ogre Lord" title as this is a "Boss Mob" level bad guy in the toolset. Nor could I change the model to make him look like an ogre. 

I did not have an environment that looked like a large log cabin, so could not create a "Steading" for Ogre Lord which would have fit the use of Ogres much better, with or without the links to the Giant's series. 

Since there is no verticality I cannot create the area required for Expedition to the Grand Crevasse where the players are climbing up or down a sheer cliff face or have to to get to the other caves along the Crevasse. I got around this with creativity, but it is a shortfall. 

In Expedition to the Grand Crevasse I could not rename the "Soraks" to a different kind of monster that I had created, and the Lore of the Soraks from the official campaign is too advanced for the creatures I intended to portray. They are completely different. I intended to portray a genetically manipulated Lizard Man, who was too primative to have an advanced culture. Ergo I wanted to rename them to something that was not "Sorr Akath". 

There are no Demons or Devils in the Toolset, so when I had to make a "Demon" for the Final Encounter in Temple of Evil on Witch Mountain... I could not rename a Remorhaz Offspring to something different, even though the base creature itself would have easily sufficed to make a convincing demon or Abyssal Creature. 

There are no "Lit up Windows" other than the Elven Ruins tileset, so in the Stronghold tileset, I could not create a situation like you did in the Official Campaign with Light Beaming through the windows in the Akasha Fight. This type of placable is much needed for that, as is a "Light from the ceiling" placable like you see in the Orc Caverns area in the Official Campaign Tutorial. 

There are not enough high level mobs for creating a convincing Dungeon for a 9th-10th level adventure that would be challenging for that level of party. Most of the Human Mobs levels cannot be adjusted so even though I could create something believable with them, they are too low of level to challenge the party, I would be left without an actual hook or at least a convincing one not linked to the Official Campaign Lore the way the Sorr Akath are. 

No snow environment for the Remorhaz, since that is their actual habitat, so using the creature in a module means they're out of place under that name. 

Now obviously I've still been able to for the most part overcome these deficiencies as all those modules were very successful on their own right. But I did have to cut out large parts due to a lot of these deficiencies. 

Now I'll go into the New Things that have had me hitting brick walls. 

For the new one I'm trying to design an Against the Slavers series style module, but already ran into some stopping points. 

I was able to create a base level of "Slave Pits of the Undercity" with the Stronghold Tileset.... that was easy but... what the Dungeon Maker does not allow you to do is create a "courtyard" per se. Two areas in that require that. One is a small area where there is a small outdoor "courtyard" with a mauseleum in the middle of it that is actually hollowed out and has a stairway to the lower levels. 

I COULD in theory create something like that IF the Placables or Props were not unique to each Tileset, as I could use a Mauseleum from the Crypt Tileset... AND I would need that "Overhead Outdoors Light Beam" from above Prop like you see in the Official Campaign Tutorial Orc Cave Portion. AND IF there were Props like an outdoor plants WITH say a "Carpet" style Prop that looks like dirt or earth based. And I could make it look pretty convincing like its an outdoor courtyard in the middle of the Stronghold Tileset. 

There is no Sewers Tileset... 

I COULD in theory create something like that if I used either the Stronghold Tileset OR the Necropolis tileset.... WITH say "water placables" or props. I could put along the side and create a situation with other placables where players could not walk on them. It could create a convincing "Sewer" style environment. 

Obviously I don't expect an Aspis Monster or a Sundew. But If I wanted to create a similar style to that with the similar theme I could at least attempt it with Spiders, and the egg placables in the caverns. It would just look out of place and would not be akin to the Aspis who are an intelligent insect style monster the Slavers are working with. I could in theory rename a Remorhaz Offspring monster to give an "Insect like" monster and use the egg props for the spiders to recreate a similar theme... but... that would require renaming the Remorhaz... which is why renaming the Monsters is really crucial as it extends the totality of what you can do. 


Because there are no actual NPCs in the game, I cannot create a "Rescue the Prisoners/Slaves" scenario in any meaningful way, EVEN though at this time the Devs HAVE left us with actual Cage/Prison style props that can be set up... unfortunately there's nothing to put in them to rescue. 

Level 7
1 year ago

It'd be nice if the deactivate feature reliably closed doors.

1 year ago (edited)

Awesome work on these modules Silverquick. I only hope Solasta continues to do well and gets developed further especially the dungeon maker

Level 14
1 year ago

Me too Triple Strength, and thanks. 

I not only am glad you guys like them, but I also thoroughly enjoy making them. 

Level 2
1 year ago

Good points Silverquick.  It's amazing how well you've done with your modules considering all the things you currently can't do.  The ability to make custom creatures would help a lot in making modules, especially for those of us that would like to recreate old favorites as best we can. In game merchants would be very nice as well.  Sucks having all this gold and nothing to spend it on. 

It's probably not a big deal for many but I like the personality function they added in the base game for the characters, although it's not used nearly as well as it could be. It'd be nice if they added that function for creators to add dialogue options based on background/personality. Of course adding NPC's would be nice too.

Anyway, can't wait to see how much they're able to improve on this dungeon maker so talented people like Silverquick can make some even better modules from it. It'd be even better if they make it easy for players to add their own content to it for people to share.

1 year ago

Totally agreed with the custom enemies. With this feature they could maybe also have a semi-random set of stats for enemy types. (ie - some have 1 die more HP or 1 higher strength. I've always liked the games where you come across a group of enemies of the same type but they aren't all exactly the same. So instead of all orcs having 19 HP and 16 AC (or whatever), maybe it's 17-21 and 15-17 AC. (some have better or worse armor/weapons/stats).

But priority #1 should be ability to customize and rename enemies. 

Level 14
1 year ago

Well the good thing is, 

After everyone has seen just how far I could stretch the toolset and get creative to still make those modules anyway... It does highlight things that need improvement. 

I could not create the Slave Pits as they're intended because there's no NPCs, I could for example have created a "type" of Slave Pit fight that's supposed to happen using the Walkways but there's supposed to be NPCs in the actual Pits. 

And that fight entails this... 


Its a fight on these narrow walk paths with the Aspis over the actual Slave Pits that are sunken into the ground.
I could as an example, use the Sewers tileset with the little walkpaths, and block off the individual cells... but there's no actual NPCs for "Slaves". It could be a pretty cool fight with you knocking the monsters into the pits (or off the walkpaths), but I'd be missing the actual Slaves for the Pits. 

So because of that, I had to hide the fact there were none, by creating an optical illusion using the Grate Dooways that turn whatever is behind them black... and create normal cells that are too dark to see behind, and leave only a Lore Style description of what's behind the darkness. 

But... that also meant... no actual slave pit fight. 

Level 14
1 year ago (edited)

Now here's the original map of the Lower Levels where I had to alter it greatly due to no possible substitute style of creatures for the Aspis. 


The areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 in the caverns on the right side of the map are the actual Aspis areas. They had to be cut down to a small cavern area with only some Remorhazes and another encounter with Spiders and "bats". 

Problem being... that area is what is directly below the actual Temple. Room number 1 is where the Floor trapdoor from the Shrine Area on the upper level is. The Stairs up/down you see in the caverns are where those stairs down in my module are supposed to lead. You can see all 3 of them... But because I had to cut out the Caverns almost entirely... I altered them to lead into the Sewer Portions instead and made the Caverns side areas. 

I also had to alter the Sewers to connect directly to the Boss Fight room at 21 rather than going through the caverns area first. 

The Orc fights in the Sewers are on the Left Side. Those I combined into one single Sewer Fight on the left of My Map. Technically number 12 is the actual encounter you see in My module (Assault on the Slave Lords) with the Ogres and Orcs together. 

Then because there's no smooth transition from Sewers to Caverns in the Sewers tileset I had to create a separate Caverns area for encounters 14, 15, and 16 which you see in my actual module.  

BUT... despite ALL of that, the Slavers series actually passing some of my previous modules in both Downloads and Ratings. 

EDIT: That said... I did leave space in the actual Sewers map to alter it later to put that actual slave pits fight back in there once the Devs have those assets added to the toolset. So I can alter it once its added. 

Level 1
1 year ago (edited)

Adding this to Silverquick's thread in order to avoid creating a duplicate thread about Editor niggles - not in any way trying to steal Silverquick's (considerable) thunder!

A while ago I tried creating a campaign and got frustrated with the lack of options, so wandered off for a bit. Then the new dungeon maker functionality was released and the COTM2 competition was announced, and I eagerly rushed back to look at the tools again. And as I'm between contracts work-wise I found myself spending what would usually be my work hours creating simultaneously a murder-mystery module (Heir to the Harkening, which I've just put on to Steam) and a CODM2 submission. So, having worked on two quite different modules over the last couple of weeks, some thoughts....

The main impediment that I'm seeing at the moment is a lack of continuity in the functionality that is available. By this I mean there seems to be an underlying set of possibilities which have been constrained somewhat randomly, rather than being universally accessible.

1) Some Activators can do some things, some can do others. Some can only Activate, while others can Enable, Activate Symmetrical, etc., and all can only do one thing. Thus, when wanting multiple effects (e.g. door opens, Destroy NPC, spawn "same" NPC with different banter, award XP, etc) the creator has to lay a sequence of Activators, some of which Activate and some of which Enable, etc., and in some cases has to find a way to use an unintuitive Activator because the obvious choice doesn't support the required functionality. This can be a little frustrating for the creator, and clunky for the player, with the potentially module-breaking possibility that in some edge-cases the user will  not trigger all activators (imagine a sequence of 3, where the player "turns back" after 2...) which could create bugs.

2) The monster, banter NPCs and decorative NPCs use different lists. This seems odd. Why not be able to set any NPC as any one of those types? If the Monsters have to be a special subset (because not all NPCs have combat stats) then that's fair, but it is weird that the lists are so different. Why, for example, can we not set a bandit or necromancer (or giant spider, for that matter!) as a banter NPC in one scene and as a combat NPC / Monster in the next? Actually talking with people before you have to / choose to fight them would seem to have obvious narrative advantages, and at the moment is is almost impossible to interact with someone who you will later fight; as the models and code to support this already exist, why block off this functionality?

3) There are a very limited number of ways to close doors (they can be closed - but only in really contrived situations), items can be added to but not removed from inventories, a Hard Lock option exists but only for some items (why, for example, can we not Hard Lock hidden doors - allowing players to see them but not (yet) open them?), etc.

There are some related gripes - e.g. it seems to be possible to fly over Area Activators without triggering them, which means that Fly can break the flow of a module - I think? And it does seem odd that most items can't be overlapped (though some can) - and allowing that would be another way to address some of the Activator problems. But overall, the majority of constraints that I felt while designing simply come down to the existing functionality being unevenly implemented. Make the Activator functionality consistent (and flexible), let any monster become an NPC, allow functions like Hard Lock to be more broadly applied, etc., and, without creating any actual new functionality, the tools would become way more flexible.

Of course, I'd also love some more functionality ;-)

For completeness, feature that I would have used in these modules if they had existed included...

  • Patrol paths
  • Dialogue trees
  • Banter and/or lore dependent upon language skill
  • Ability checks in dialogue
  • State changes (e.g. Banter NPC transitions to combat monster without the need to contrive a way to conceal destroy/spawn)
  • Triggering / associating mp4s for activated events
  • Exportable/unique rewards/items
  • More flexible customisation for monster powers/stats

... but I'm guessing everyone has huge (unrealistic) wishlists, so probably no point delving into mine ;-)

What's more significant than that I'd like the-moon-on-a-stick-please ;-) is that it seems that the editor would be massively improved just by rationalising what is already present.