The Two Minute Rule

I have to confess something. It feels so silly to admit this, and as you read it you’ll probably agree that it really is silly. My greatest fear in life right now is simply picking up a pencil and drawing a picture.

I decided that for a handful of reasons that I’ll likely go into in a future blog post, that I want to produce all the art for my game myself. To that end, I need to level up my drawing ability and produce a lot of art. The game I’m making is very art heavy, with loads of monsters, characters, and other set pieces that populate the game. My skill level is such that I can produce everything I need, but it will almost always take quite a few more practice attempts, drafts, and touching up of my work than a seasoned pro would. That means that to be successful I really need to be drawing every day as much as I can. The problem is I’m terrified of picking up that pencil!

I think a lot of you will know what I’m talking about. You’ve want to start something new. You know you can do it. All you need to do is just start and you’re probably most of the way to completion of the thing from that point on. Yet, because your own mind can be your worst enemy you find it to be a terrible mental challenge to just start it. That is what I’ve been going through. I’m afraid to put pencil to paper, because what if that one drawing isn’t good enough. What if my drawing looks bad. The thing is, it probably will at this stage, but that doesn’t even matter. It shouldn’t bother me, but it does and it is very difficult to push past that.

To help with this problem I’ve decided to try to implement The Two Minute Rule. I won’t go into detail about how the two minute rule works since there is so much already written about it. I’ve linked a couple of articles on the topic below. My goal is to simply draw for a minimum of two minutes every day. I even put a reoccurring appointment on my calendar for 2pm to remind me each day.

I will update in the future to let you know how well this new strategy is going. So far I have felt really good about it. Not only are my drawing sessions generally a lot more than 2 minutes, I just don’t feel as much pressure from the sense of obligation to draw and it is easier just to start.

Orc or Ork?

After reading my last blog post, my wife asked me what was up with my spelling of ork. I really hadn’t actually thought about it. I’m not sure why I chose the ork spelling, I just needed to type out that word and it is the first that came to mind. It got me curious though, had I actually misspelled a simple 3 letter word like that?

Based on my 3 minutes of research, no, ork is a valid spelling. Although, it could easily be argued, and I wouldn’t put up a fight, that orc is more appropriate. Ork is most commonly used in the Warhammer 40k game for their sci-fi version of the orc. Orc is most commonly used everywhere else with only some exception. While there is no official convention, ork, is generally used in science fiction and orc for fantasy. Ork is also used in several european language spellings.

Because it is bothering me now, I’ll be switching to the use of orc as the spelling in my game code and everywhere else. The only place you’ll see ork from now on is in this and the previous blog post where I used it.

My Content is Procedural

I love procedural content generation! It allows you to add so much content to a game without too much extra effort. If you have been playing Dungeons of Lunaria for a while you may have noticed that the dungeon looks different each time you refresh the game, and if you revisit after destroying the dungeon orb. Monsters and other entities are also placed randomly throughout the dungeon. This allows for near infinite dungeons for the hero to explore.

My goal is to have as much of the content generated procedurally as possible in this game. My first monster subject for this process is the ork. Among the free assets I got from OpenGameArt.org are 5 different ork skin tones. By randomly choosing a skin tone while creating an ork for the game, I can have 5 different looking orks appear. I also have 24 different sleeveless shirts for the ork to wear. If I generate a random skin tone and a random shirt, that is 120 different orks! Now add in the 25 pants to the ork and you get 3,000 ork variations! All with very minimal programming.

What I just described is really only the beginning for the ork. In addition to other articles of clothing, I also plan to mix and match the ork stats too. Speed, hit points, attack damage, and probably a few other metrics can all be adjusted algorithmically. Orks and other enemies will all be stronger each time the dungeon orb is destroyed and a new dungeon is generated. This means that there are potentially hundreds of thousands of ork variants that can be found in this game. I don’t have an exact number yet, since I’m not sure which metrics I will decide to adjust among variants.

The game has more monsters than just orks though, the skeleton generator will also get the same upgrade as the orks, meaning thousands of skeleton variants will be in the game with very minimal new code. I will also be adding other monsters to the game which will have their own combinations of clothing, body parts, and stats. By the time I’ve added just a few more monsters there should be millions of monster variants to combat within the dungeon.

At some point I also plan to have equipment that the hero can pick up and use. These will also be varied in the same way. There will be millions of weapons the hero can equip, littered about the dungeon.

I do plan to have some static content in the game. Certain characters that populate the camp/village will not be procedurally generated. The map for the surface will also be statically created. I have plans for this part of the game that do not lend itself to procedural generation. You’ll have to keep playing to find out what!

Dungeons of Lunaria

Hey! A blog post! I must be up to something, right? I sure am. I’ve begun and have gotten a significant amount of work done on a new video game called Dungeons of Lunaria. The game is playable by visiting dungeonsoflunaria.com although it won’t work properly on mobile.

The game is meant to be an adventure dungeon crawl style game, with procedural generated dungeons and monsters. You delve into the dungeon to find the dungeon orb, destroying monsters along the way. Once the orb is destroyed you’ll need to escape the dungeon, quickly, or die trying to find your way out.

Right now a majority of the planned features are still missing. I have some fun game-play coded, but there is a long way to go. Right now I have a placeholder map put in for the surface of the dungeon. It just has a campfire the read me sign and the entrance to the dungeon. I’m using free images from opengameart.com as a stand in until I can get my own images produced. It is possible to find some pretty high quality images for free on there, but it is my goal to have a unique consistent look for the game, but that is expensive and there is a lot of code for me to write before I think it’ll make sense to upgrade the look.

Once I flesh out the core features of the dungeon, I plan to work on creating a city builder above ground. Dungeon heroes will need someplace to spend all that gold they find in the dungeon below ground. They’ll be able to spend it upgrading their camp, which can eventually grow into a small town, and eventually perhaps a thriving metropolis. I’m not really sure how far I’ll take that. I like the idea, but as a solo dev it might take some time to create.

Making this game is going to take a lot of time. I so far have only spent a short amount of time each day working on the game in between my day job, taking care of the kids, and everything else I need to do before I can start on my hobbies. I’ve gotten pretty good however, at making the most out of short intervals of time. So keep checking back for more progress. Dungeonsoflunaria.com will always link to the newest version of the game and I will try to keep this blog updated with what’s new.