The Return of Talking Time

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  #121  
Old 03-04-2018, 08:06 PM
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Gerad Gerad is offline
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So here Treehead is, on floor 14, with a sense of dťjŗ vu. Interesting!



As Treehead helpfully explains, this looks like tar. But itís red?



The scroll says otherwise. Itís mud!



And it seems Treehead canít cut into it!



Aha! Mud is like tar, except the exact opposite: you can only cut it on the corners, not on the sides. This makes isolated clumps of mud much easier to clear than tar, because you can always get to the corners and canít leave uncuttable blobs. But there are also some situations where mud can be a hindrance, especially when there are walls around; you canít cut a path straight through it, like you can with tar, and it can block if you if it stretches across an opening in the walls.



Like tar, it leaves babies when itís cut or grows such that there would be a single isolated square left. The babies behave the same as tar babies.



This room is just a playground to get used to mud, so Treehead cuts through to the orb and moves on to the north.



2N is a complicated-looking room. It has wraithwings, which return from DROD 1. Wraithwings have peculiar AI; theyíll close to about four squares, then stay at that distance, retreating if Treehead advances and vice versa. If they manage to approach Treehead on two different sides, though, theyíll start to close in for the kill. Theyíre like slightly dumber goblins. And, as the name implies, they can fly over the void, which can cause some issues for killing them.



This room is straightforward: kill the enemies, hit the two orbs. The only slightly tricky part is herding the wraithwings so they can be killed.



One way is to get them to close in a little, then strike quickly at one, causing the other one to be afraid and run away. Treehead does that to get rid of one of these. Then the other can be herded into a wall and killed.



Here Treehead encounters some of the difference between tar and mud. This patch would be easy to cut straight through if it were tar; but, as mud, heís got to go all the way over to the right side to make progress. Itís often easier to hug the walls to get through large piles of mud like this one.



The rest of the room is just drawing wraithwings in through gaps in the walls and then trapping them against walls. Treehead finishes it and continues north.



This has a big pile of mud and babies, with a mud mother in the middle. Mud mothers are the same as tar mothers, but with mud instead of tar. Obv. Solving this room is a matter of getting to the mother as quickly as possible, then cleaning up.



Thankfully, there are enough walls here that Treehead can get close in just a few moves. If this were a large rectangular block of mud, heíd have to keep cutting down one entire side of the mud until he finally got close enough to the middle to kill the mother.



Iíll never stop appreciating how the mothers get nervous when Treeheadís sword gets close. Such a nice touch!



2N would be impassible from this side if not for these convenient crumbled walls.



OK, to a new room. Hit all the orbs, let out the roach, kill it.



Due to the nature of mud, many (all?) of these orbs are really easy to get to. One wonders why thereís a bunch of extraneous area to this room.



Anyway, the freed roach isnít difficult to get to, and this branch off the main path is cleared.



Now this looks like a mess.
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  #122  
Old 03-04-2018, 08:07 PM
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Gerad Gerad is offline
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Indeed, it is. The room is all about killing all the mud babies that can get to Treehead, then advancing to a new safe spot before the mud grows again.



Could be worse, though, and itís not too hard to get to the middle, which makes the rest of the room trivial.



To the north is a room with a choice. Mud first, or roach queens first?



Treehead opts for convenience and takes out the lower-left roach queen on the way to the mud mother. Itís important not to leave the mud mother ahead too long, which would make cutting through the mud on each island very tedious, but as long as you get to it before it grows a couple times, youíre fine.



Further north is the exit, which will have to be saved for later.



Back down to the other path at the fork; itís more mud! What a shock!



Hit the orb, open the doors, dive to the mother. Tale as old as time, beauty and the beast.



Then clean up the babies and continue forward. This floor definitely gets a bit stale. Floors centered on mud or tar tend to do that!



To the west of that is another mud room, but this one looks pretty simple! The path to the mother is right there, and there arenít a million babies to deal with.



Well, thereís still some cleanup, but it is pretty simple! Wonder why thereís that orb and scroll over there in the corner?



Huh, even the game and Treehead donít think it helps any. OK then.

c

North of that, the floor continues its inexorable sprawl with a room thatís about diving into mud to kill a mud mother. But this time, you use a mimic! Crrrrrrrrrrazy!



Again, dive in, get the mother, clean up.



Yeah, you and me both, Treehead.



I guessÖ



OK, now this one actually looks like a pain. Drop the trapdoors to kill the wraithwingÖbut theyíre scattered all over the room, and some are even under the mud! *sigh*



Making matters worse, a lot of these long strips of mud canít be cut through without unraveling the lattice, so to speak, by going to the side of the room where they start and cutting them from there. It takes a while.



So letís fast-forward to the end. I think you can get a sense from the before and after here how this could take a while! I understand this floor is meant to introduce you to mud, and it does that, but it drags on for a long, long, time, and its mud-only nature makes it particularly tedious. Last floor had the much more interesting goblins, and about half the puzzles didnít involve any goblins at all!



Circling back, 2N2W is The Same As All The Other Rooms: This Time With Trapdoors!



The key to this room is to get to the orb, then the mother, as quickly as possible, but to make sure to leave a way back to kill any babies that have formed. Has Treehead accomplished that here? That bottom-left corner looks dodgy!
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  #123  
Old 03-04-2018, 08:09 PM
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I failed to take any pictures of tackling that corner! Thankfully, though, there is just enough room for Treehead to dive down into that area, clear some mud, kill the babies, and make it back out. If there were only one trapdoor connecting the main floor to that little island, Treehead wouldnít be able to do it.



Even getting out could be an issue if you arenít careful! Always think before you trapdoor.



Finally, Treehead reaches 2W, which thoughtfully replaces mud mother diving with roach diving. At least the mud isnít growing!



Hug the walls, kill the roaches, you get how all this works at this point.



Even the one roach closest to the middle that looks like it might be difficult to reach isnít bad. Has Treehead at last cleared the floor?



Yes! Back to the stairs, and letís say goodbye to floor 14 forever!



Where did these guys come from?

Quote:
ORANGE: Like I said, mud is better than tar.

PURPLE: You upstart muddies are all the same. Tar has been and always will be the superior substance.

ORANGE: Comrade tar technician, I respectfully disagree.

PURPLE: Your work skills are lacking! It seems someone even had the map upside-down when they built this place!

ORANGE: Why do you keep bringing that up?
These guys hint once more at something thatís been hinted at a few times: this floor is very similar to one that Treehead has seen before! In fact, itís very similar to floor 8 of King Duganís Dungeon, from DROD 1.0, which had the same exact floor, but vertically mirrored, and with tar instead of mud:



I encourage you to go back through this update and look at how these rooms would have been more difficult with tar. Most would; some would be far more difficult! But a couple would be similar, or more easy. Itís kind of a neat conceit; but it makes this floor far too long, and frankly, not inspired enough, as general puzzling standards improved greatly from DROD 1.0 to 2.0. 1.0 had an entire (large) floor that was just a labyrinth! It was horrible!



But I digress. When Treehead gets close, our friendly tar and mud fanbois quit the level, and Treehead can too. He wonít waste any time at all doing so.



This doesnít sound good!



At least the exit is close to the beginning!

NEXT TIME: Iím seeing double! Two Treeheads!
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  #124  
Old 03-05-2018, 08:14 AM
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Mud sounds a little easier than tar. I'm surprised they introduced tar first.
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  #125  
Old 03-05-2018, 08:29 AM
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Tar is carried over from DROD 1.0 and mud isn't; I think that's the entire reason for the order of introduction here. That said, they seem similarly complex to me, I don't know. You cut straight through tar and around the outside of mud, and otherwise they're the same. I guess it's easier to make tar uncuttable, but trust me, they've got some puzzles centered around mud becoming uncuttable coming up!

If mud and tar weren't enough, in DROD 4.0 or something like that they add gel! I'll leave it to you to wonder how that could possibly differ from the others. Maybe I'll get to LPing it one day.
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  #126  
Old 03-05-2018, 08:53 AM
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They both seem tedious, and I don't know why they thought it was a good idea to revisit the concept.
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  #127  
Old 03-05-2018, 11:32 AM
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Yeah, agreed. It's a lot better when mud/tar are used as components of larger puzzles, rather than trying to carry an entire floor on their own. As is, it's just the same puzzle over and over again.

Later games get better about not re-introducing old concepts quite so much.
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  #128  
Old 03-29-2018, 02:33 AM
Merus Merus is offline
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Holy crap, this is a blast from the past. So here's what happened with mud, because I have a story about how this level came about:

I disliked mud when it was first implemented. I thought it was a dead end, it was a lazy behaviour swap, it was trivial to clear unlike tar, and I didn't think it was worth putting into the game, and made a level demonstrating my distaste for it to try and say 'this is all you can do with this'. It backfired spectacularly.

However, that conversation inspired this level, where mud is introduced as a literal ripoff of tar, including ripping off its introduction level from King Dugan's Dungeon. Because mud's behaviour is quite different, the level plays very differently (and, hopefully, fairly trivially - we deliberately built levels like this mud one that were a bit easier than you'd expect given the progression, so that after particularly taxing levels you'd get a bit of a breather). It also let us hit the theme of the dungeon being made by people who are so caught up in their own structures they don't really notice how they're affecting the world, which becomes much more obvious later and is a big part of the wider setting.
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  #129  
Old 03-29-2018, 06:41 AM
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JBear JBear is offline
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Neat!

Thanks for the cool insight!
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  #130  
Old 03-29-2018, 10:59 AM
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Gerad Gerad is offline
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Agree, that's really cool to know! I didn't know you worked on this. Please feel free to share more insight as we move on through the game.
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  #131  
Old 03-31-2018, 07:46 AM
Merus Merus is offline
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I actually mentioned it in the first post when I started this thread long, long ago.

I'll try and remember to pop in; I wrote dialogue, helped with narrative, and I also designed a bunch of level 8, and you can tell I hadn't really designed levels before because they were very much 'here is a cool idea, I did not playtest this'. I have since learned that my game designs get way better after the first playtest.

I don't know what DROD would look like had it been made today (other than having an actual artist); it's a definite flaw in the design that you can essentially 'defeat' a roach horde by getting them in two columns, but then you have to press 30 alternating buttons to actually clear them (or in later engines, the same button, thank Christ). I don't know how you fix that without cutting roach queens.
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