Hey rat punchers, happy new year!
I’m going be structuring this post a little differently than last year’s though, let’s start with a quick year in review!
2020 In Review
Despite 2020 being much rockier than anyone could have expected, Shattered still received five very significant updates. You can go to previous blog posts to read about them in more detail, I’m just going to go over how they relate to the list of priorities from Shattered Pixel Dungeon in 2020:
- Boss and Enemy Improvements, and Audio and Art Improvements were completed with no caveats!
- I’m in the middle of implementing that New Gameplay System, have implemented the environment half of Environment and Quest Improvements, and made several Item Improvements (though few improvements to alchemy specifically).
- I also made smaller scale improvements towards four other goals: Alternate Boss Behaviors, Challenge Improvements, Badge Improvements, and Improved New Player Experience.
There were also some Monetization Improvements in 2020! In-game supporter purchases got some UI improvements, and a lot has been going on over at my Patreon! Patrons get access to exclusive weekly mini blogs about upcoming updates, help determine content direction through community polls, and can ask questions in monthly Q&A livestreams!
Looking Forward to 2021
In 2021 my core focus is finishing up the major game system additions I started in 2020, fixing up out some of the game’s largest flaws, and delivering on some very old promises. Just like last year I’ve split my plans into three categories based on how highly I’m prioritizing them. Read on for more details!
Please note that this is not a specific plan or roadmap. I really try to avoid locking something down until I’m actually developing it directly. Everything I’m about to discuss is speculative and may change. These also aren’t necessarily the only things I could work on in 2021.
These are things I’m giving more immediate priority to because I have a fairly solid idea how they will all fit into the game. I’m going to try and get all of these done in 2021.
Finishing the Talent System
Over v0.9.2 and v0.9.3 I plan on continuing to fill in the talent system. Tier 3 will spans levels 13-20, while Tier 4 will span levels 21-30. I am currently planning for T3 talents to interact with subclasses, and T4 talents to interact with another existing lategame mechanic. I will also continue to evaluate and adjust existing talents. Expect more details about v0.9.3 to come in a blog post toward the end of this month.
After I finish up talents, improving alchemy is going to be a high priority. I want the system to be more rewarding, more straightforward, and better at letting players recycle consumables they don’t want. I’ll likely be implementing some of my plans toward this in v0.9.4. This will include changes to the system itself, changes to existing recipes, and hopefully a few new recipes as well!
I’m still fairly happy with the ghost and wandmaker quests, but the two later quests need work, and the demon halls might benefit from a quest as well. I would like each of the more lategame quests to act a bit like a minigame, taking over gameplay and putting the player in an interesting and unique situation until they either succeed or fail. Accomplishing this isn’t simple though, which is why I’ve waited so long to do quest improvements.
The game’s presentation has been greatly enhanced by new visuals, hero splash arts, and new sound effects, but new music is needed to round things out! That will hopefully be changing in 2021, as I am now working with a composer to bring some new music to Shattered! Our current plan is to overhaul the existing tracks, and add new tracks for each dungeon region and for boss battles! If you’re willing to give me some support in exchange for an early sneak peek, there’s actually already a post about this new music on Patreon!
I’m still not ready to commit to a specific timeline on this, but in the coming months I will be actively pursuing getting Shattered ready to release on platforms for desktop and iOS users! The Apple App Store and Steam are the biggest targets, but I will be looking to smaller-scale platforms as well. I’ll hopefully have more specifics to share on this a bit later into 2021.
These are things I want to do, but they have less of a priority. They may depend on other things being finished first, I may not have a complete idea of how they may work, or they may not be worth the time commitment versus other updates.
v1.0.0 won’t be a content drop in and of itself, but is important symbolically. v1.0.0 will mark when Shattered is officially out of beta/early access state! It’s possible that new platform releases will be v1.0.0, or maybe I’ll time it after new player experience improvements or when new classes are added. v1.0.0 won’t be the last update, but it will be when I’m ready to say that the game is ‘complete’.
Two new classes
As mentioned in 2020, I have two new heroes in concepting! One is a weapons specialist, the other is a divine magic user. I’m waiting until talents are all done and settled before fully designing these heroes, as I want them to benefit from the system as much as possible. So far we have 2 equipment-focused heroes (warrior, mage) and 2 environment-focused heroes (rogue, huntress), I wonder what these heroes will focus on?
The plan here is largely unchanged from 2020. I want to eventually expand the document system so that it can convey lore related text to the player, instead of just tutorial text. The player may find documents that are local to a particular region (e.g. the prison warden’s journal), or they might be specific to one of the heroes. This lets me give players another persistent reward and expand on the characters and the game’s world, without shoving it in the face of players who don’t care about story.
Improved new Player Experience
Shattered got a lot of new players in 2020, and their feedback has affected how I think Shattered’s tutorialization should work. The main issues I’ve seen crop up are that new players often don’t understand the game’s basic controls and mechanics. I’m very confident that the game should have a guided tutorial now, which focuses on giving players a baseline of information about how best to interact with the game. I definitely don’t want it to be overbearing though, and this will be a complement to the guidebook, not a replacement, and I may make it optional.
My ideas here are also largely unchanged from 2020. Firstly I’d like to overhaul how shops work by giving them a dedicated interface. Having shop items spread out on the floor has some charm, but an interface will be more convenient and will let me implement highly requested features like buyback. Interface shops also take up less game world space, which means I could add more of them! I feel like it would be neat to have semi-random shops that appear in the dungeon, with more specialized stock.
These ideas are lower priority due to some mixture of heavy dependency on other updates, high difficulty of implementation, or lack of any clear design direction. These are the sort of things I’m more likely to do after I’m otherwise finished with Shattered, certainly after v1.0.0.
Overhauled badges and challenges
As I’ve mentioned in previous long-term plans posts, I would like to overhaul the badge and challenge system. I’ve been starting to make good incremental improvements to both though, and don’t have a solid design in my head of how overhauled challenges would look. Because of that I’ll likely continue to make incremental additions or improvements, and so a big overhaul has become a lower priority.
New Item Type
I think there’s room for one more type of upgradeable item in the game. This would be a ‘modifier’ item, which is more about tweaking gameplay variables than giving direct power or utility. I am also considering tying these items into the alchemy system, as opposed to having them be upgraded with scrolls of upgrade. That heavily depends on how well alchemy improvements perform first, and so is just a thought for the moment.
It would be nice to make some more subclasses which take advantage of Shattered’s increased equipment and class diversity. This absolutely has to come after adding new classes though, and it’s important that I have enough good ideas to ensure that all of the new subclasses are interesting. This is the sort of place where I can fulfill some common user requests that aren’t quite enough to be a full class on their own, such as a minion master, alchemist, or a trapper.
In most roguelike games a ‘daily run’ lets players play with the same dungeon generation once a day, and then be ranked against each other based on score. Lots of people play Shattered in multiple short sittings, so I might like to be more flexible and offer ‘weekly runs’ instead. This is a big technical challenge, but it’s also staple feature of successful roguelikes and I’m sure one many players would be excited for.
It’s a common request for Shattered to have more dungeon floors, but I don’t really want to make the game longer. An alternate path solves that problem by offering a sort of ‘hard mode’, with new environments and enemies which tax the skills of experienced players. Of course, adding in such a path would be a gigantic time commitment, which is why this is at the bottom of the priority list.
And there we have it! Just as with the previous years, I’ve got lots of plans for 2021, but I’m going to do my best to make more of them a reality this time. Here’s hoping that life doesn’t do too much to get in the way, as it did in 2020! And of course, if you’d like to help me make these plans a reality, please take a look at my Patreon!