Rexcellent Games - Egor Dorichev makes games and writes about that

Burning Knight: the roadmap

It’s been a while since the last devlog of Burning Knight, and a lot of things changed in that time. I made a new site (well, plus a landing page for the game, yay!), and well let’s talk about it.

Game core

My big mistake with developing Burning Knight was not clear goal for the game and no clear game mechanics. Me and my team tried a lot of different ideas in the game, starting from growing plants in rooms for tower defense like gameplay, and up to using the Burning Knight as a weapon himself. We wasted a lot of time on that. But I learned a lot from spending my time, and our current idea will stay till the final.

Our basic gameplay loop currently looks like:

  • Clear some rooms on the level
  • Find the boss room and fight the Burning Knight
  • Clear rest of the rooms and then pick up the key he dropped (that opens the exit) or pick it up immediately
  • Run for your life and try to escape without getting hit by raging Burning Knight

I think that works out really well, it gives you some time for relaxed gameplay in the beginning, yet it forces you to act fast in the second half of the level.

Alpha

On December 12th, I finally reached the point with the game, when I was happy with the core and overall flow of the game, and it was ready for some testing (before we did testing just with my friends). The alpha build included the first 2 areas (castle and desert), for a total of 4 levels. Overall feedback was really positive, yet a lot of bugs were found by game breakers playtesters. Well, that’s what you do playtesting for, anyway…

What’s next

At this point, I’m working on fixing bugs, that were found by playtesters, as well as adding some life quality things. But really soon, a really exciting part of the development will start, the actual content development!

As I said, alpha build had 2 areas. The overall plan is to have 8 areas, with 4 areas per run. Basically, you won’t see all areas at once. First of all, some will be unlockable, and on each run 4 random areas from 8 will appear. Here are the planned areas, by the way:

  • Castle area (already done)
  • Desert area (requires some enemy ai updates)
  • Ice area
  • Forest area
  • Tech area
  • Library area
  • Bloody area
  • Creepy area

Each area has a few unique enemies, and that brings me to the next topic: enemies and items. Right now, I’ve implemented around 200 items into the game. A lot of them are really old, and most of them are broken by mechanic changes. So my plan with items is basically to remove all existing items from the game, and then start slowly adding them back, reviewing each one, making sure its unique enough and works as expected, as well as adding new items.

I really want to get at least 50 weapons for each class. Plus around 100 accessories. Plus 50 active items. That’s a total of 300 items. So yeah, that’s going take some time, but you know what? Adding items is fun. So expect me streaming some of that work.

But back to enemies. Ideally, each area should have 3 enemies unique to it. There are also enemies that can appear in multiple areas (or all areas). And these really save me a lot of time, because it appears everywhere. I’ve also been taking much more simple and predictable enemy ai approach recently, because first, it saves a lot of time, and second, its much more fun.

I’m still trying to master enemy ai, but I can say: just look at the Bindings of Isaac!!! Enemy design there is so great!

Roadmap (very inaccurate)

You never can predict what comes in the future. You can hope that all goes as you want, but you never can be sure. But here is how I hope the next few months go:

  • January (after 8th): Fix every known bug and finish life quality improvements. As well as finish tutorial mechanic introduction and start on the forest area enemies.

  • February: Finish tech, ice, library and bloody area (1 area / week). Start reworking items.

  • March: Finish creepy area, introduce loop mechanics. Finish reworking items. At this point, game content should be done.

  • April: Start active marketing, implement steam cloud storage and other important things, such as leaderboards, etc. Run beta.

  • May: Hopefully, release the game on steam and itch.io.

I’m also hoping to get the game on the Discord game store, as well as Epic Games store, if it goes live till that point. But again, probably, all of this will take twice the time planned, just because I will overscope or just I will find out that I forgot to include something huge in the list. Nervously checks Trello board

It’s really hard to explain, where my time goes. When looking at what currently the game is, I think that it should’ve taken 3 months of development time. Yet it took 10 months. It required a lot of work that is neither visible for the players nor I can describe here, but trust me, I’ve been working hard, almost every day. One of the huge issues for me, is that I always want lots of things fast and all at the same time. That’s called overscoping.

So right now I’m trying to throw everything away, that the game can work and be fun without. Even the 300 items dream is a huge scope, yet I think it’s one of the most important things in a roguelike to make it fun and replayable. But yeah, roguelikes overall are a huge time sink for players, but even more, for the developers. It still stays one of my favorite game genres, but I’m going to try and not make my next game a roguelike.

Anyway, I wish Merry Christmas to every one, and a happy new year! 2018 was a great year for me, and I hope to write about that a tiny bit more in the next post. Till then, take care, and don’t make time sinks :/

MAAAAGIC

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