Early in the development process we decided that we needed to have dungeons. This may sound a bit strange since we call our game Dungeon Runners, with the natural assumption being that at the very least there would be dungeons, you know, to run through. This decision didn’t come lightly as we spent weeks debating it in endless mind-numbing meetings. However, once the dissenting team members were properly subdued, we made this momentous decision and the rest, as they say, is history.
Okay, so there was a little more than that. Since we didn’t have a mind-blowing budget to work with and we were absolutely loaded with hard drives full of art from various unused or cancelled projects, it made sense to use as much pre-created art as possible for Dungeon Runners, repurposed to many dungeons, creature models, weapons, armor, and environmental/combat effects. This includes material spawned for us from the fertile mind of comic book artist Joe Madureira, where a lot of Dungeon Runners’ distinctive look and feel originally came from.
Now, one of our big notions behind Dungeon Runners is to offer fun variety. We find it quite uninteresting to run through the same dungeon or instance over and over again; you know where the creatures hang out, you know where the entrances and exits are, and you got the boss fights all mapped out to an exact science. Instead of following that well-worn-out path to utter boredom, we decided to randomize just about everything. The game randomizes each map (in other words, each specific dungeon level) each game session (the overall layout of each dungeon level, the boss locations, the exits, NPCs, you name it). The dungeons still make some amount of sense and have to follow guidelines—there aren’t any half-sized corridors, missing walls, miniature doors, stuff like that. However, you’ll pretty much have a different experience each time you go in. Also, unlessyou’re in a group, you won’t run into a gaggle of people all trying to get to the same piece of treasure or boss—each dungeon is instanced for you personally. Since these instances exist throughout your game session, if you’ve cleared it you don’t have to clear it again (until you log off).
Visually, of course, we try to make the larger dungeons and the connected mini-dungeons different and interesting, a type of cue that lets you know you’re advancing from one section to another in a very general sense. There are forests, dank caves, lava pits, libraries, hazy ember-filled halls and ice caverns, just for starters. The monsters you’ll encounter vary between the dungeons, mini-dungeons and environments, and there are all sorts of huge mobs and boss encounters.
We have also been adding new large-scale dungeons as well as mini-dungeons, but we wanted players to be able to experience each of the existing ones for an extended length of time, so there is a broad range of character levels for most of them. For instance, the first major dungeon players will run across after arriving in Townston is Algernon, which players level three through twenty can experience. We recommend The Horrific Dungeon of Legend for players of level twenty-five on up—there are no level boundaries here (except the level cap). Currently players can access eleven major multi-level dungeons (most are seven levels each), from Dew Valley to The Shadow’s Embrace, with dozens of mini-dungeons and one-map instances (such as The Tainted Grove, Clan of the Cave Yeti and The Cold Copse).
We’re not going to stop with just we have; lots of new dungeons, especially to accommodate our growing number of high-level players, are in the works. For instance, in Chunk #1 we added our newest high-level dungeon, Rasputin’s Gulag (accessible from fifth level of Shadow’s Embrace), which is intended for players level seventy-five and higher. We’re always looking for new visual themes and creatures to populate our dungeons with, and better ways to provide a fun experience for everyone to enjoy.