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Caravel Forum : DROD Boards : Architecture : Secret of the Blank Dungeon (Longer, JtRH-flavored combat hold)
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azb
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icon Secret of the Blank Dungeon (+3)  
While the Blank Dungeon was nine levels long, this hold is fifteen levels long, not counting the postmastery level. I made sure to include plenty of checkpoints, and I know there is no backtracking problems between rooms, but leave a suggestion or comment if you find anything else you think I missed, as usual.

Just like the Blank Dungeon was pure puzzles as a tribute to KDD, this hold develops a story and although the majority of the rooms are combat-oriented, there are a few lynchpin-style puzzles here and there too. There are also secret rooms that help advance the plot and a postmastery area, just like JtRH.

Edit: Changed script in Fourteenth Level Entrance; originally "end on room exit" and "turn into monster" were mixed up.

Edit 2: Added extra checkpoints in rooms that were considered problematic.

Edit 3: Removed excess trapdoors in wubbas in certain rooms.

Edit 4: Reduced a handful of rooms.

Edit 5: Modified Eighth Level 1N2W and Ninth Level 2N.

Edit 6: Modified Levels 11-13.

Edit 7: Fixed slayers disappearing in Fifteenth Level.


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[Last edited by azb at 06-15-2018 09:24 PM]
03-24-2018 at 02:14 PM
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azb
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icon Re: Secret of the Blank Dungeon (+1)  
I have playtested outside the level editor, and have been able to use checkpoints easily. If you have specific rooms in mind (IE: 9 2N1W), I can fix them, otherwise I cannot see the problem - maybe because I find combat easier than others, and thus my playstyle is on a different wavelength than other people.

Are there widely agreed upon conventions for checkpoint placement, such as not placing them on mimic potions so the player is not stuck? That is reasonable and not dependent on playing style.

Perhaps another one is to avoid having checkpoints only on trapdoors to prevent "one use" checkpoints? In that case, I have added extra checkpoints to Second Level, Seventh Level, Eighth Level, and many other rooms in other levels that use trapdoors.

If there are no conventions, however, the reason I did not "fix" the checkpoints is because there were no specific situations given in the earlier hold except for the ones reported, which I fixed accordingly.

I know other testers, such as Chaco and Insoluble came up with specific examples which I fixed too, but are you perhaps more lynchpin focused personally?

I agree, however, that Ninth Level 2N1W and 1N1W are trouble spots, so I have fixed them accordingly. Thank you for pointing that out.


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[Last edited by azb at 03-24-2018 04:11 PM : Typo: "East" for "West"]
03-24-2018 at 04:09 PM
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icon Re: Secret of the Blank Dungeon (+1)  
I'm sorry I was out of line with my response. I was having a really bad day for reasons that had nothing to do with your hold.

Thanks for fixing Ninth Level 2N1W. I agree that the problem was mainly that room and not the hold as a whole.

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03-24-2018 at 04:57 PM
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No problem - I am always willing to take constructive criticism, regardless of the mood it is delivered in! :)

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03-24-2018 at 05:44 PM
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Okay, let's give this another try :)

First Level

Entrance: Beethro can take the passage to the eastern exit, but there's no room there. In the actual JtRH L1 Entrance, this was prevented with a door that starts closed separating Beethro's and Halph's exits.
1S: Nice linchpin of using the orbs as protection, but there are far more roaches than necessary to make the point.
2S1W, 2S2W: More roaches than necessary here too.
1S2W, 1S3W: These are good rooms (although 1S3W needs checkpoints). Roaches coming from all corners requires some thought, but the rooms are not hard with a good technique.
2W: This seemed way too dense on a first attempt, but wasn't at all hard when I realised that the centre is better for Beethro than a corner.
1N2W: Introduces the trick of standing on a door that Halph will close. Again more roaches than necessary, although maybe the sheer number helps the player find that solution rather than doing the room the slow way!
1N3W: Now this is a really good room -- you have to think about the order of operations to avoid an impossible tunnel situation, and good roach-smiting efficiency also helps. More like this, please!

Second Level

Entrance: On a first attempt, this was really tough, with the Slayer continually getting up close and it being very tricky to avoid him while making progress on the roaches. However, once I realised I should go for the three queens together first, it wasn't hard at all.
1E: Much more like what I'd expect for a first introduction to the Slayer. He is a constant threat, but the player can easily keep him at a distance to take a breather while tackling the next part of the room.
1W: Another really good room; the interesting trapdoor pattern gives the player a lot of choice in how to handle it, with possibilities for cutting off the Slayer that gradually decrease as the player gets towards the last few trapdoors.
2W: Rather nasty. Dropping the trapdoors is a lot of work with not much puzzle; it's not at all easy to work out where to finish to be in a good place for the roach swarm; and if you get to the end and things don't work out well, that can be a lot of work to redo. I would suggest simply cutting down the number of trapdoors here.
2E: This was extremely hard -- I think too hard for a required room at this stage. No matter what order you tackle the queens, the ones you leave for later will spawn a blockade of roaches that makes it very tricky to get in and kill the queens with the Slayer on your tail. The saving grace is that it's possible to trick the Slayer into stepping onto one of the force arrows where the south queens start. (Or was that the intended solution?)
1S: This wasn't too hard, especially once I got far enough in that the Slayer was cut off from me.

Third Level

Entrance: No problems here, simple introduction to wubbas.
1E: Also fairly simple; the roach cages are good places for getting wubbas stuck.
1N1E: Pretty good room, with the linchpin that the NE queen is particularly tricky so you should get to her as quickly as possible.
1N: Surprisingly tough in spite of only having a few wubbas. Again I wonder whether it's necessary to have this many trapdoors to make the room work.
1W, 2E: After a short while in this rooms I was just overwhelmed by the wubba hordes. Have to admit, this has never been my favourite room type. I'm going to leave it here, but I will give this another try when I have some more time.

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03-25-2018 at 12:34 AM
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azb
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The excess of roaches on the First Level is intentional, but the lack of checkpoints in certain rooms was not. Fixed!

I reduced the number of trapdoors in Second Level 2W, but left 2E as-is, as the trick is indeed getting the Slayer stuck - it would have been impossible for me otherwise.

I agree that Third Level had excessive wubbas, so I removed plenty in 1W and 2E, and also the last room which you haven't reached yet.


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03-25-2018 at 11:24 AM
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icon Re: Secret of the Blank Dungeon (+1)  
I played through about half of this. I mostly enjoyed it so far. There are some great rooms mixed in here. But some rooms are very similar to some of the rooms that brought the original Blank Dungeon down from what it could have been. One of the most important aspects of beta testing is to help identify tedious rooms that may have been overlooked by the architect. As you yourself said:
quote:
azb wrote: Also, the Architecture board has recently been ignored by some holds ... making tedious rooms overlookable because the select few do not find them tedious.
I want to reiterate that most of the rooms here were quite enjoyable, but I'd strongly recommend that you consider taking a close look at some of these and making them a bit more playable.

First Level This was a nice introduction to the hold. It did a great job paying respects to the original JtRH, and I liked little details like the alternate "Architect's Seal". 1N3W was the standout room here. I like how it had different interesting sections and seemed very thoughtfully laid out.

Second Level I don't much care for rooms in which the player has to do otherwise mundane and routine tasks while the slayer harasses. So I just ended up killing the slayer in most of these rooms. This is actually very similar to the original JtRH in which the slayer can just about always be killed. I'll also say that the rooms were laid out so that getting the slayer kill was actually distinct and interesting in each of these rooms. I would strongly encourage you to leave this in as a possibility; it's more fun than having the slayer constantly pester you. If you absolutely must prevent killing the slayer, I would encourage you to do it by completely redesigning the rooms so that the slayer is actually used as a crucial element for solving the room (i.e. slayer is necessary to help kill some monsters). Please do not just plop some widget down that requires keeping him alive until the end, or worse, force the player to keep him alive via scripting.

Third Level There were some very nice and fun rooms on this level. There were also some less enjoyable rooms with large wubba hordes. Large swarms of wubbas aren't very popular in the current DROD community. I'm inclined to agree with Nuntar that rooms like 2E and 1W (and possibly 2N) are a bit much. Those rooms felt like mostly trial and error. On the other hand, I really enjoyed rooms like 1E, 1N, and especially 2W, where strategy could be employed to get the wubbas out of the way. I would encourage you to consider replacing the large wubba horde trial and error rooms with rooms with either fewer wuabbas or rooms in which clever strategy can be used to block the wubbas.

Forth Level This level was great! Easily my favorite in the hold so far. The slayer was totally unnecessary in most of these rooms though. I didn't even bother to kill him for the most part since he could usually just be easily stuck on force arrows. I'd recomend actually just removing the slayer from some of these rooms and maybe leaving him in the entrance and exit rooms for plot reasons. 1N was a real standout room here. The various tricks required for getting the queens were super fun. I also really enjoyed figuring out the patter to get the eyes in 1S1E. The only room that I would recommend making any changes to is 1S1W There are at least twice as many rock golems as you really need here and the room just gets tedious with the cleanup after a while. Otherwise this was a very nice level.

Fifth Level: The secret room is a nice touch. This level had a bit of a mix of straightforward shorter rooms to the east, interesting rooms to the north and south, and somewhat excessive horde rooms to the west. My favorites here were 1S and 2N. 2N in particular does a great job of actually using the slayer for something interesting. I would love to see more of the slayer rooms be like this. 1N2W felt very excessive though. First of all, there's absolutely no reason to have so many trapdoors when all the trapdoors are is an opening mechanism for the red door. It creates unnecessary mindless busy work for the player. One trapdoor (or four if you want to have different optional locations for the player to release the golems) would do the exact same thing. The number of golems here is also excessive. The idea behind the room is sound, but cleanup is long and tedious. I would encourage you to consider cutting down on the number of golems, but keeping the difficulty level by reducing the size of the room accordingly.

Sixth Level Mazes under tar were generally not well liked, but thankfully the latest DROD engine lets you play with transparent tar. If you are planning to release this under the 2.0 engine you can't include vision tokens unfortunately, but if you are releasing it in a newer engine it would be nice to include those. At any rate, transparent tar makes tar mazes somewhat valid again. It also makes some of these tar mazes somewhat trivial. The mazes in 2N were interesting though, as you need to consider how you cut the tar fairly carefully. 1N not so much. The entrance has much more tar that it really needs to to get the idea across. Consider making each tar blob maybe 3 tiles thick instead of 9. I really enjoyed the double stab rooms 1W and especially 2W. In 1W, you could have probably gotten the same idea across with just one tar blob in each corner, but the room as it is is not too excessive and still fun. Most of the other rooms were fairly straightforward, but still enjoyable. I believe you may get a lot of negative feedback about 2E Large wraithwing hordes are another one of those things that is just fairly unpopular in the current DROD community (though this particular room was not too bad.)

Seventh Level There were quite a few long horde rooms in this level. There is definitely a place for rooms like this, but playing a lot of them sequentially can get exhausting. 2W, the entrance, 1S, and 1E were fun and pretty forgiving. 1N was fun too, but the timer is actually a bit too long, it could be made more strict and still be fairly forgiving. 1W wasn't too difficult, but the fuse went on for a few more growth cycles than it really needed to. I was basically repeating the same pattern throughout. I would recommend halving the length of the fuse in that room. I didn't find 2E all that bad, but I suspect it won't be received all that well. 1N1W and especially 1N1E are just way too long. Again, it's not the room concept or difficulty, it's just that these rooms drag on towards the end. They would be much more enjoyable if they were about half the size with half the monsters.

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05-05-2018 at 07:55 AM
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azb
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A warning in advance: Eighth Level is a recycling of Blank Dungeon Sixth Level and the level you left on (Seventh Level). I cut back on both Seventh and that level, however.

Also, Halph will appear even though he doesn't have a use for plot/thematic purposes.

Second Level: It is intentional that you can trap and kill the Slayer in certain rooms, but remember that this is more of a combat hold than a lynchpin hold, thus the Slayer is less of a puzzle element and more of a harasser.

Third Level: 1W and 2E were already toned down, but I decided to tone them down further as well as 2N.

Fourth Level: 1S1W has been toned down as well.

Fifth Level: 1N1W: the golems, trapdoors, and room size have been reduced.

Most of Sixth Level stays as-is, because as you said transparency is built-in on DROD 5.0, which most players use. However, I reduced the tar to 3 tiles wide in the Entrance.

Seventh Level 1N1E: golems reduced a la Fifth Level 1N1W.

Seventh Level 1N1W: middle tar mother and roach queens removed. Remember, however, the trick to this room is to utilize the trapdoors next to each spawn in order to prevent being swamped. Any further reduction will make the point of this room invalid, when the tedium can easily be remedied.

Seventh Level: 2E: Wubbas reduced.

I also reduced and changed a few rooms in later levels due to the point being made with a reduced number, as in Twelfth Level 3N, Eleventh Level 1S, and Ninth Level 2N1W.

Also, remember that the excessive combat, though it may be considered tedious, is the main shtick of both the Blank Dungeon and this hold. This is why I intentionally left Sixth Level in that hold and Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh and Twelfth level in this hold as continuous-horde themed levels.

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[Last edited by azb at 05-05-2018 01:59 PM]
05-05-2018 at 01:54 PM
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icon Re: Secret of the Blank Dungeon (0)  
quote:
azb wrote: Also, remember that the excessive combat, though it may be considered tedious, is the main shtick of both the Blank Dungeon and this hold. This is why I intentionally left Sixth Level in that hold and Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh and Twelfth level in this hold as continuous-horde themed levels.


Fair enough. There's nothing wrong with a good horde room and I'm not trying to complain about horde rooms in this hold. I'm mostly trying to point out places in which having a lot of certain elements does not really add to the difficulty or interest of a room and mostly ends up feeling like busy work (for example large blocks of trapdoors that need to be dropped before monsters are released.) It sounds like you are going through to adjust some of those details.

I played through the eight level and some of the ninth. Demos are attached. Eight level looks good, though the checkpoint in 1N2W is a bit useless where it is. Maybe place checkpoints between the mud blobs? Ninth level looks good so far. I don't have a clue what to do in 2N though. I tried a couple of strategies but none seem to work.

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05-13-2018 at 03:29 AM
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azb
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Okay, I tried Ninth Level 2N myself and found it too difficult in comparison to the rest of the level, so I modified it greatly (more bombs and a few walls to pinpoint goblins against).

I also fixed the checkpoint in Eighth Level 1N2W as mentioned.

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05-13-2018 at 11:02 AM
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Ninth level 2N seems more in line with the rest of the level in terms of difficulty now. It's still tricky, but that's to be expected this far into the hold. I've attached demos of everything up to the fourteenth level. I'll try to finish up the last two levels soon.

Ninth Level
I really enjoyed 2N1E, this was a fun and interesting goblin maze. In 1N1E I didn't end up needing the little alcove with the green doors for anything. It seems like I was maybe supposed to try to heard the goblins in there? Extra goblins in 1N1W don't really add any difficulty to the room since you can basically just pick them off one at a time using the same sequence of moves for each one.

Tenth Level
This was short, but very fun. The difficulty was a bit lighter than the previous couple of levels, but not so easy as to feel out of place.

Eleventh Level
Another level I enjoyed quite a bit. The horde rooms are getting more intense. There was a nice mix of difficulty though, with some less intense rooms mixed in for a bit of a break. Again, I mostly killed the slayer or got him caught on force arrows early on so that he didn't get in the way. That's similar to how rooms were in JtRH though, so probably not anything to worry about. In 1S1E it looks like there should be a force arrow at (34,4). In 1N the slayer does not appear if you use the southern entrance. In 1S extra goblins do not really add difficulty since you can just pick them off one at a time using the same sequence of moves.

Twelfth Level
The tarstuff hordes here were pretty serious, reminding me of some of the late game JtRH rooms. The timing was tight enough in a few rooms to make killing the slayer less appealing as a first target, but I still ended up killing him early on in a few rooms. I also got lazy and solved a few rooms by just staying in the entrance and letting the room flood with tar. This strategy prevents the slayer from getting in and takes away the horde aspect of the room allowing for a much more leisurely solution. Most people will probably avoid this though as it will lead to a worse score in the room, so it's not necessarily something you need to prevent. Even though 1S is a fairly easy room (you can kill the slayer with a bomb at the start) it would be good to have a checkpoint in the middle or southern half of the room. Right now the only checkpoint is pretty far out of the way. In 1S1E and in 2N, maybe have at least one checkpoint that is not on a trapdoor so that it can be reused. In 1N1W and 1N1E maybe have a checkpoint in the middle of the tarstuff since that's the half of the room the player will spend most of their time.

Thirteenth Level
Another very short level. Most of the rooms where very straightforward. But 1W was quite difficult. I have a suspicion that I was not supposed to try to clear out the roach queens on my first pass though now that I look back at it. Though if I am doing it as intended, I'm a bit sad that the room will have a trivial high score since you actually only clear it on the second pass. In 1N most optimizers will try to exit on the southwest side of the room (where you originally enter). Unfortunately if you reenter the room after it is clear, the yellow doors will remain up and you will be forced to re-load. Could you add a script that has the yellow doors drop if the rooms tarts off as clear?

I've started the fourteenth level now and will try to have comments and demos for the last two levels for you soon.

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05-14-2018 at 08:21 AM
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Okay, I left Ninth Level and Tenth Level as-is, but:

Eleventh Level 1S1E: Fixed missing force arrow.

Eleventh Level 1N: Fixed missing slayer entrance.

Twelfth Level trapdoor rooms and 1N1E/1N1W: Added extra checkpoints.

The intended solution to Thirteenth Level 1W was to use Halph to block the middle passage, kill all the roach queens between you and Halph, and then order Halph to get the door while fending off the roach horde he blocked off before returning and clearing the room for good. Is there some other way you did that?

I fixed 1N of Thirteenth Level by blocking off the passage the Goblin King enters (you're not supposed to follow him) and adding an orb surrounded by green doors to reopen the yellow doors after the king leaves.

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05-18-2018 at 09:42 PM
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azb
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Okay, after watching the video for 13 1W, I can see how you can do it without Halph blocking, but I will leave it in for those who wish to clear it in their own way, although using Halph does make the process slightly easier.

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05-18-2018 at 10:20 PM
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I finished the last two levels. Demos are attached as always.

Fourteenth Level This was very reminiscent of the final level of JtRH. Having some experience with guard manipulation helps a lot here. There are some rooms that are a bit on the fiddly side, but thankfully none are nearly as bad as JtRH Level 25 1N4E (one of my least favorite rooms in the official holds). I expect you'll hear a bit of grumbling about 2N1E as the wraithwing movement is pretty erratic and hard to predict. You essentially have to brute force that one. It's fairly short at least. 1E is probably the trickiest, but after recently experiencing a similar room in TinyTall Tower most of the guard on ormite tricks were fresh in my mind. I really enjoyed 1N1E, it was fun finding a nice trapdoor setup that kept me safe.

I killed the slayer in a few rooms that were nicely set up for it, but in most of these rooms it was easier to just trap him (say behind tar in 1N or on an arrow in 1W, or just by dropping a line of trap doors around him in 1N1E. I'm not great with checkpoint placement, but having a checkpoint at maybe (14,15) in 1N would be nice since all the others are out of the way in places you would never go.

Fifteenth Level Yikes! That many slayers in a room gets pretty chaotic. The Entrance was manageable, but still I mostly guessed my way through. I still have no idea how I stumbled through 1N. Once I did though, I noticed that when I entered 1N1W for the second time to reorient my sword that the scripted slayers do not show up the second time you enter the room. It looks like you have an "End on Room Exit" command for all of them. I'll be honest, I think the rooms will be less fun with that many slayers in each one. But if you really want to keep them you probably want to change the scripting to have an "if" clause checking to see if the room is clear.

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06-12-2018 at 08:28 AM
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azb
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Okay, I fixed the problem by making the slayers not activate until you cross the force arrows in each room. I have tested the rooms and they are all functional/solvable with multiple slayers in pursuit.

I will wait for someone to post commentary on the Postmastery Level before submitting the hold officially, although those rooms are just remixes of earlier rooms and arena-style fights.


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06-16-2018 at 12:34 AM
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Okay, since no one commented on the postmastery level I supposed that they didn't have any problems with it, so I put the hold in HA rotation.

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07-28-2018 at 02:54 PM
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I realize it can be hard to wait for feedback, but it's better to make another request for feedback than to assume there are no issues. People just might not have gotten around to testing, and if enough time passes they might forget they were testing a particular hold.
07-28-2018 at 04:56 PM
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I know that's what you normally do (I did that requesting on King Azb's Arena Development Thread and waited then), but since all of the required rooms have been tested and the postmastery rooms are just remakes of earlier rooms and "guard massacre" rooms, I knew I could make an exception in this case (not to mention it is the postmastery area, which is really just a bonus so things like backtracking issues or very tedious rooms do not matter, as they can easily be skipped in favor of other rooms).

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