19 March 2014

Trauma RL

Last Update: Apr 2014
Whats all this about? Our 7DRL 2014 entry with Flend. Surprising how we managed to complete it in time :)

also check out our 2015 entry... RoyaLe

Download (TraumaRL 1.11) or check for the latest version here
Mirror (TraumaRL 1.4)
7DRL 2014 results and other great roguelike entries can be found here



You wake up from a coma and find yourself in a trauma centre. As you slowly stumble towards the door you notice the maintenance bots in the corridor. Lights flicker as they run around mindlessly, bumping into each other while trying to repair a damaged segment of the wall with the body parts of the corpses lying on the floor. It doesn't take long before you to notice something has gone terribly wrong...
Trauma RL tells the story of a fellow who wakes up in the trauma centre of a space station. It involves running around collecting green computer tiles to read log files. These logs help you figure out what had happened while you were in a coma. They also give clues about why and how to reach specific items & areas.

You dont pop chests to collect loot (which somehow sounded like a cheap porn flick), you dont level up or spend points to skills etc. Instead you salvage weapons, shield shards and ammo packs to reload your weapons to battle swarms of enemies. There's enough shooting to satisfy the most gun ho - if you can find enough ammo. Just wait till they sound the alarm in later levels and watch endless amount of enemies pour from every direction, forcing you to fight or emp bomb and flee situations.

Trauma RL screenshot
Way to go down as angry cyborgs pour into the room after an alarm bot sounds the alarm

So what's unique about Trauma RL? I'd say its visuals are so bad that this game stands out :) Apart from that The levels are played in different orders each game, mostly you have to go back and forth among them after finding certain items to unlock different parts. Take the wrong elevator and find yourself in level 7 with a pistol and over 50 swarmers (mechanical spider thingies) to kill. Never forget to visit the armoury before you leave the first level.

Trauma RL screenshot
Which elevator to pick?

Flend claims the 'unique thing' about this roguelike is really the level generation. dead end detection, and pre-dead end detection; critical path analysis (stairs to stairs), cycle detection, arbitrary objectives (requiring multiple 'clues'), doors that can be locked and then unlocked by completing objectives or finding clues. You can check his development log about what's under the bonnet at http://ddrogue.livejournal.com/2014/03/11/


FEATURES

  • 10 interlinked station levels which are arranged in a tree-like structure (i.e. one level may link to multiple branches). The tree structure changes each play.
  • A main quest whereby the objectives and items will move each play but is guaranteed to be solvable.
  • Locked doors which require key cards that may be found on other levels.
  • Procedurally-generated message logs providing clues about the quest objective which can be guaranteed to be found before that objective is complete.
  • Multiple weapon types and upgrades
  • Wetware system that boosts characteristics for a limited time
  • Cover and movement-based effects on gunplay
  • If graphviz is installed, the game will produce graphical-representations of the level and quest graphs



VISUAL DIRECTION

Hard to call it visual direction as the visual limitations were more likely directing me. I'll say right away that everything was very limited. I had to work on pretty small mono colour sprites due to the limitation of the engine and the lack of time to focus on developing anything better. Again there were no animations or transparent layers. The lack of colour and transparency (one object per tile limit) forces you to make simple designs. You can try to add details but they mostly become even harder to read as tiles connect together so I had to use a 1px border around each object to make them stand out when placed next to each other. Spending 1 pixel on borders means lots when working on such small tiles. Lucky I enjoy limiting myself to such amounts, I had bit of a practice before with my Xcom sprites so I felt almost at home with Trauma RL's limitations and it was a good chance to actually test the stuff.

I may seem like complaining but I have to admit 14x14 retro looks has a charm to it so i tried to give as many details as possible.

Something else is colour. Even with the limitations of X11 colour palette its easy to get carried away and use different colours for each object. We tried to use darker tones for walls and lighter tones for objects such as pick-ups, enemies and log files while all "cover" items were kept same colour to help the player notice important stuff in the room.

Trauma RL screenshot


Trauma RL takes place in a space station which consists of a couple of different levels such as medical, storage, flight deck etc. Each of these levels required their own set of decorations to make them feel different among each other.. I made tons of stuff but distributed them in a foolish way as what I did was to ask myself "does this object suit this floor?" May seem sensible at first but we ended up with tons of computers and screens in every level. The levels still have their unique decorations, such as the medical and science levels having wheelchairs and healing devices while storage has strange lifting machines and crates but they all have tons of common decorations making the uniqueness of each level less noticeable. More or less every level looks like a prison with tv's and screens scattered around.

The only thing I felt sad about was the walls. I had made a couple of different connection parts for the walls but we had to keep them out due to engine and time limitations and used non connecting single tiles instead. Not like it was anything ground breaking or much different from the current tiles but still... There were also individual corpse tiles for every type of enemy and couple of two tile decorations such as beds, antennas and industrial equipment we had to leave out. Adding such multi part decorations would make the space station look more alive. 

Trauma RL screenshot
An example to the connected walls and 2 tile decorations we left out.

Trauma RL enemies


ITEMS    
 

Collectable items - These are dropped randomly by killing enemies or found inside armouries.

Ammo pack - These replenish the ammo of the equipped weapon so its wise to select an empty weapon before picking one up one of these. What sort of ammo is universal for handguns and rifles anyway? Who knows, maybe its not ammo but a cooling part for the futuristic weapons. 

Shield Shard - These replenish a small amount of shield.

Vibroblade - it may sound like a sex toy but this is what you use when you need to perform melee attacks. You will be using your fists until you find the vibroblade.

Pistol - weakest ranged weapon in the game, doesn't do much damage by itself but you can gain little amount of damage bonus by standing still and aiming for a few turns (pressing 5)

Shotgun - should been called flame thrower, very low ammo but ideal for sweeping rooms with a single shot due to range, scatter and damage. its my fav. weapon in the game

Assault Rifle - better than pistol, but less useful than a shotgun.

Laser - fires in a single line and puts a hole in anything it touches.

Frag Grenade - goes boom when you throw, try not to kill yourself in the blast

EMP Grenade - stuns machines but no effect on organics. ideal for escaping from tight situations or stunning enemies before a you perform a melee charge.

Siren Grenade - useful for distracting enemies

Medkit - Restores HP and shields 

Wetworks: These are various special powers you can activate. Each one is useful in different situations but can only be activated for a limited time depending on player's energy level.

Aimware - gives attack bonus to ranged weapons.

Shieldware - gives shield bonus.

Boostware - gives bonus to speed, dodge and melee attacks.

Stealthware - gives limited invisibility


IMPROVEMENTS

Couple of opinions on how to turn this into a better experience;
  • Better balancing
  • Animations and particle effects. (idle monster bounce, emp fields, stun etc)
  • Sounds (sound should set the atmosphere and aid the tiny visuals)
  • Destructible walls and cover. (careful not to spoil lock & key puzzles with destructible walls)
  • Better distribution and logic on decoration placement.(pre-made rooms?)
  • Bigger event log that gives detailed description of events, special rooms and levels to aid gameplay, story and atmosphere
  • A Score system for replay value
  • Implementing a variety of monsters and tiles we had to leave out. (mostly biologic enemies)
Trauma RL screenshot


CONCLUSION

Its rather enjoyable once you get used to the minimal visuals, controls and the few simple rules it has, which probably most RL veterans are used to anyway. Just needs bit more polish and maybe a real quick tutorial about keys, weapon types and how to use powers etc. to make things easier for players new to RL games.