Today I wanted to go more in-depth in the design of the Dark Cave area. This is the second biome you can find in Vidar’s cave, and it plays very differently from the Ice Cave.
Both start from the initial premise that we can spawn a few puzzles in a single map. But if you’ve played the Ice Cave, you know that these spawn in almost uniformly a grid-like pattern. You come to a place, the camera snaps to the puzzle, and you’re confronted with an 11 x 13 board of switches, arrows, and rocks. And you can see an exit, and you slip and slide around hoping to finish this puzzle quickly because you only have so much time in the day. Critically, in almost all of the puzzles you have the information right in front of you at all times. Everything you need is on the screen, and you can survey it and try to logic your way to the other side.
The Dark Cave is about information deprivation. First, the screen is not fully revealed in the Dark Cave. Instead, you’ll only be able to see near you, as well as near any light sources – which are few and far between, and almost always temporary. Moreover, the range around you that you can see is constantly shrinking.
To get that light source back to full power, you need to find barrels of fuel throughout the puzzle. If your lantern goes out, you’ll be teleported back to the beginning of the entire biome! This is a much more acute time pressure than the 10-minutes-per-day you have.
Finally, the camera doesn’t typically snap to a puzzle in this area, and some of the puzzles can span massive rooms. All combined, this leads to a frantic darting through the Dark Cave. Whereas in the Ice Cave you were rewarded for stopping, considering the screen, analyzing, and moving only once you have the solution in mind, the Dark Cave punishes inaction. Better to dart into the fray, push things, pull things, light things, and collect as much information as you can before desperately breaking away from the puzzle to refuel your lantern.
I’ll probably talk more about this design approach in the future as well!
Developer’s Build 0.1.3
- The tops of pillars now correctly stand above the player when freestanding (and correctly block the player when against a wall)
- Fixed the transition back from Dark Cave 1 to the intro map
- Fixed tile passability issues in Dark Cave 2
- Fixed the new gate shortcut in Dark Cave 2
- Fixed the torch placement in the lightbridge shortcut in Dark Cave 2
- Fixed the transition back from Dark Cave 2 to Dark Cave 1
- Fixed the transition back from Dark Cave: Music Room to Dark Cave 2
- Fixed the entrance to Dark Cave 3
- Dark Cave 3a, b, and c are now correctly dark, puzzles will not crash the game
- Blocked off pathing for wolves in certain areas of Dark Cave 3b to prevent the scenario where the wolf “tags” the player even though they are on a higher level of the map
- Updated the tiles in the Library from the RTP – puzzle still isn’t accessible, but at least it’s not a sudden shocking change
- Entering Dark Cave 5 will no longer crash the game
- Replaced the rope shortcut with a door shortcut in Dark Cave 5
- Color coded shortcuts in Dark Cave 5
- Implemented color coded mirrors and mirror rotation animation
- Added a new color into the puzzle mix – it’s teal! I may go back to the Ice Cave at some point and incorporate it, but right now it’s not necessary, so it’s on my “hey maybe post-release?” list. It is, however, necessary for the Dark Cave.
- Continued tinkering with the wall switches – graphics have been updated to better position them on the wall; all colors can now spawn at heights of 1, 2 or 3
- Fixed switch positioning in Puzzles 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 48, 51, 52, 54, 55
- Color coded Puzzles 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 ,45, 47, 48, 51, 52, 54, 55
- Removed one of the wolves from Puzzle 44
- When the lantern runs out in the Dark Cave, the player is ported back to a point in the intro room closer to the exit
- More file cleanup