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KickStarter Monomyth - A first person action RPG/dungeon crawler - now in Beta

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/836367155/monomyth
Steam Greenlight: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=927720909


http://rattowersoftware.com





Hey codex,

I've been working on a dungeon crawler / first person action RPG for a while now and I thought instead of clogging up the game development thread I'd just go ahead and create a separate thread.


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So, some years ago, while I was waiting for Dark Souls 2, I had the idea "Why not take a look at the origin of that series?". So I looked into King's Field and - despite its awkward combat - I was thinking: "This is really cool! I wish there were more games like that". So I looked into Ultima Underworld (which I - despite being a long time Ultima fan - never really touched). And I also liked that a lot.
One thing led to another and soon I'd have finished System Shock and Thief and LG games in general - and also Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah. And I really enjoyed all of these a whole lot. But there was one thing that confused me: All of these games were at least 10-20 years old.

So I decided to take the least complex of these games (which is King's Field) and basically make a clone of that (trying to keep the project scale manageable and basically just making a game that I'd like to play). Since then the project has developed quite a bit however and Monomyth has grown into a first person action RPG with King's Field, Thief, Ultima Underworld and System Shock having a strong influence on it.

All in all this game has been in development for a bit more than a year (not counting the entire learning phase - being a programmer I had to learn 3D modelling and anything related to texturing, topology and animation from the ground up) and it's slowly but surely entering a stage where I'd like to put in on Steam Greenlight. There's still a lot of work to do, I'm fully aware of that - however the legal implications of Steam Direct force me to prepone this whole Steam thing a bit. So release will probably be somewhen Q4 2018 (or a bit later, you know how it is) 2019 for now - however I would like to release an alpha demo later this year (Edit: I didn't - but don't worry, it's coming).

Anyway, here are the key features:

  • Free Character Movement: No grid based movement. Monomyth is a free movement dungeon crawler like King's Field or Arx Fatalis.
  • Action oriented real-time combat: At the end of the day Monomyth is an RPG with character- and item-stats having a strong impact on how well you do in battle. However it is also strongly dependent on the player's skill. You have to actively swing your blade, cast spells, dodge, parry and block. Weapons have certain movesets, range and the combat is based around a stamina system the player has to keep an eye on. There are also optional lock-on mechanics. This is probably unusual for a first person RPG but during playtests it worked really well with melee combat. Ranged combat and spells will not allow lock-on however.
  • Blades, bows and spells: The game currently features the three basic RPG archetypes - Warrior, Thief & Mage. There are several melee weapons, certain stealth mechanics and obviously spell casting. I'm not sure how restrictively I will separate these three in the end though since there is....
  • Free character development: Means no classes. The character is developed by investing points into character stats. But, much like in Ultima Underworld, the player is not necessarily bound to a certain archetype/playstyle. However if you sprinkle your EXP all over your character sheet you will very likely end up as a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none.
  • Enemy Infighting: This is a nice detail I introduced in the AI a while ago. Enemies actually belong to "factions". Certain factions don't like each other much and as a result they'll fight each other whenever they meet (it's also the code base for a "Charm" spell - as seen in Dark Messiah).
  • Dynamic Encounters: Enemy spawns in Monomyth are bound to resting at certain checkpoints within the world. This activates the respawn mechanism, which is slowly (not necessarily all at once) replenishing monster spawns, spawning traps throughout the map and even unique monsters. The monster spawns themself will feature variations, so there might be a single monster spawning, several monsters, or maybe even a patrol.
  • (For the lack of a better word) Metroidvania-styled world layout: Of course this game is one big dungeon crawler and to a certain extent it is separated into different areas or "floors" if you will. However, areas are strongly interconnected and finding for example a passage in one area might lead you to an unexplored part of another area. It is definitely not the "clearing out all monsters and moving on" type of level design. I want the areas to be more creative than that. My main goal here is to marry the horseshoe level design principle of e.g. Dark Souls with the extensive level design of Thief. Which is quite a challenge, since the horseshoe principle is very much opposed to Looking Glass' more open design principle. The solution so far is to practice the horseshoe principle as a connector between areas, while the areas themself remain more open. So in a sense it is a lot like Ultima Underworld, except instead of stairs connecting areas you basically have a separate area that acts as a hub, which slowly opens more and more, the further you progress through the game.
  • Outdoor areas: While being a dungeon crawler, Monomyth will also feature outdoor areas. I thought that might be interesting.
  • High-tech medieval setting: This is probably the thing Thief had the biggest impact on. Monomyth is set in a medieval fantasy world. However primitive electronics and steam powered machines are very common. Dungeons are filled with pipes and electronic lights, castles are full with gears and mechanisms, enemies range from savage to what could be considered high-tech.
  • Deadly environments: This was a lot of "fun" in King's Field 4 (except for the invisible lava field right in the beginning). In Monomyth environments are quite hazardous. There is hot steam coming from leaking pipes, there are chambers filled with poisonous gas, electrical hazards, pitch black caves with steep cliffs and traps. Lot's of traps. So you always have to be on guard.
And lastly some screenshots:

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I hope I can get out the greenlight trailer till about the 15th of May (as you know the clock is ticking on that one). I'll use this thread to update you on the development, answer questions and take feedback.
You can also follow me on twitter if you want: https://twitter.com/rattower

Thanks for reading!
 
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Wayward Son

Fails to keep valuable team members alive
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Hmm. Sounds a little like Arena as well. Will definitely help the Greenlight along and will look into buying it. We can't have enough first person dungeon crawlers (as long as they are well-made).
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
Looking great! Will you prepare some gameplay footage ?

The greenlight trailer will probably just be a minute long, but a good part of it will feature gameplay material. Mostly combat and interaction. I'm currently working a little over some animations, which is the current weak spot of the project - but it is slowly turning into something I actually like doing, since I'm getting over Blender's "unconventional" approach towards animation and data management ("unconventional" is probably an understatement - especially with FBX exports and UE4 in mind). So I'm optimistic that animations will soon turn out much, much nicer.

From what I can tell, you're using marketplace assets. What happens when you run out of those? They're quite limited.

Your judgement deceives you, friend. All of these are original assets :obviously:

Well, except for some particle systems. I'm currently using the standard UE4 fire & atmospheric particles (then again even some AAA titles do that). I'm also using some infinity blade effects. I wanna replace those sometime but I only got into Fusion 8 a while ago and it isn't really the focus at the moment. Or I could just use Blender Cycles. So in any case you don't have to worry about that - I'm not dependent on any marketplace asset packs or even 3D artists. This is all done "in-house" so to say.
The only thing I'm currently lacking is sound design. I'll try to tackle this till the end of the year.
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
Story-wise mostly. Though that's a given one I suppose, considering what the Monomyth is supposed to describe.
I don't want to go into too much detail on that yet, partly for the obvious reason that I don't wanna spoil anything and partly because a lot of things in the story still have to be revised.
 

Bester

⚰️☠️⚱️
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Vatnik
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Your judgement deceives you, friend. All of these are original assets :obviously:

With a programmer's background, you made all this in a year? And you weren't any kind of artist before? Plus the programming? You're very productive.
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
Technically I started 3D modelling in November 2014.
What's in this project so far was all done within the last year though (roughly).
But the project has seen a couple of iterations with this one being the stable one (mostly because of proper design documents laying the foundation).

Somewhen in autumn 2015 it looked like this
http://imgur.com/a/px2w4

In late 2015/early 2016 it looked like this
http://imgur.com/a/J6HxY

The first version (2014/early 2015) even looked like this
http://imgur.com/a/sYfgC

The idea was always pretty much the same though.
 

SophosTheWise

Cipher
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
517
Great to hear.

For the last few days I've been feeling a craving for a game like Arx Fatalis. I tried playing Ultima Underworld, but gave up a few minutes into the game because, apparently, I'm a filthy casual (or the game doesn't work as intended on my machine). I've even resorted to playing Vermintide with my friends because I wanted to dungeon crawl a bit. I've googled around to see if I've missed anything - nothing, except Hellraid which has probably been cancelled. And, to be frank, Underworld Ascendant doesn't look too good. This, on the other hand, looks exactly like what I've been longing for. Excited to see more of it! And, hopefully a demo.

I know multiplayer is a dirty word around here, but do you have some sort of co-op mode in mind? I envision a dungeon crawling rpg with puzzles, riddles, traps and loads of enemies to fight. That would be even more fun with friends.
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
No co-op planned for this one. Not because of the technological aspect but because it requires twice the amount of animation and art assets for the players. Would probably blow up the project scale.
I have thought about various multiplayer concepts before, mostly though in the context of other projects, which I hope to do later (like a couple of years from now).

It's true though that it's really hard to find games similar to Arx Fatalis these days. There's basically nothing from the last 10 years, apart from a couple of indie games that struggle heavily with a lot of design issues.
All the first person RPGs are either open world survival games or grid-based dungeon crawlers. Arkane Studios went into a more streamlined direction with their work and other than that there's just UA. I'm still pretty excited for the next demo (I hope there is one).

Talking of which, there is going to be one for Monomyth. After Greenlight that's probably gonna be the focus. Not sure about the scale yet. I'd like to include as many mechanics as possible though.
 

SophosTheWise

Cipher
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
517
Voted, obviously. Though I wish you would've included some stuff that's on your Tumblr. For instance the valve-puzzle-mechanic. Can you tell us anything story-wise?
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
I posted this bit about Monomyth's writing approach on TIGSource

Monomyth will feature fewer characters than regular RPGs. However these characters will be well developed and heavily interwoven in the story. So in short: Much like King's Field but not quite. Same could be said story-wise.

Monomyth's writing is basically structured in four layers:
  • There's the cosmic layer, so basically the "theoretical" backbone of Monomyth's universe. This layer will be kept very vague throughout the game. However it still has a relatively strong impact on the story.

  • There's the mythological layer, which is technically a way to interpret the cosmic situation of the world. So religions, prophecies, sects, deities, etc. This is normally provided via lore dumps. However I'm greatly opposed to that idea, so it will mostly be provided via item descriptions, character motivations and notes.

  • Then there's the actual background story that has a direct effect on the world and the characters. So for example the background story of the locations in the world. Why are certain characters at a certain place? Why is that enemy attacking me? etc.

  • And then there's the character story. So basically your personal motivations and your view on all the layers above.
The story itself is the sum of all these layers. From the lowest to the highest layer the provided information becomes more and more vague. Your character's motivations directly affect you. However this does not mean, that the highest layer has a lower impact on the story, because practically the cosmic layer can have the greatest effects on the world.

This whole model for story writing could for example be applied to Dark Souls:
The character motivation is relatively clear. You are the chosen undead. You're on pilgrimage etc. etc.
The background story is what is mostly provided via dialogue and item descriptions. So for example: Why are there bodies lying around everywhere in New Londo? Why are there traps everywhere in Sen's Fortress? etc. etc.
The mythological layer deals with the prophecy, the first flame and how Gwynn is keeping it alive (which is not so much mythological since it's a simple fact) The interpretation of the cosmic situation however is mostly up to Frampt and Kaathe, who are both highly questionable.
And the cosmic layer is simply the information that the fire is dying, which is a factual thing of the world of Dark Souls. However nobody really know's why (to my knowledge at least).

Even in this example you can see again, how from the lowest (character) to the highest (cosmic) layer things get more and more speculative. This is also the reason why on the highest two there are tons of fan theories.
And again, while the player is mostly affected by the character layer (giving you actual motivation to go on your adventure) the really heavy stuff, which actually affects everyone, is coming from the cosmic layer - without much of an explanation, which is okay.

Not everything is always clear cut though. Some layers can technically overlap at some points.

So the story of Monomyth is built with the same theory in mind, taking notes from H.P. Lovecraft's advice on writing weird fiction.

I'll probably share bits of the actual story with the first demo release.
 

Wayward Son

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Sounds cool friend. I always liked vague stories that you piece together as you go.
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
The deed is done!
Thank you for your support Codex :salute:

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Voted for great justice.

Should I be concerned that the title sorta gives away how the story is gonna go down, broadly speaking?

It will conform to the theory but it won't just be a straightforward adaption. The nature of the entire concept fits for a lot of stories, but video games are a different beast than classic literature or movies.
The problem lies mostly with interactivity and one recuring behaviour within the hero's journey, which is "refusal".
For example, nobody really ever refuses the call to adventure in a video game if there's a choice.
So for this stage to actually work, it would require the player to give up some agency. I'm very much on the fence with that because agency is what game's like these are all about.
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
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Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
Not for the final game (apart from Q4 2018).
The alpha demo will probably be out somewhen around the end of this year though.
 

RatTower

Arcane
Developer
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
426
Nothing specific. Depends on the final scale and cost. At the moment Monomyth has cost me less than 500€ in total, counting all the tools, commissions and fees. Of course I'm completely ignoring living expenses here, which are paid for by my dayjob. So it also kinda depends on what I'm planning for the project after Monomyth. If I actually establish a business, going into full-time game development, the game would have to sell roughly 9k units at 10€ so I could develop another year. So I guess it's too early to make a clear statement on that.

Might take notes from Legend of Grimrock though.
 

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