Mazes in dungeons

robhr

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As a kid I was really in to drawing mazes. Got real good at it. I got to thinking that maybe I could design my dungeons as mazes and channel my old talents. Do you think that would get annoying? Like, what if maybe I set the encounter rate real low?

What do you think? Mazes and puzzles, I think I may be on to something. But I could also see people finding it annoying. What do you think?

[edit: Ack. I seem to have posting in the wrong forum problems. This may be better in game mechanics design.]
 

Skunk

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It depends on the style of the maze, if you make it artistic and engaging for the player then hell yes.
But if its literally just "get from here to here down these long corridors" then I dont think i'd enjoy it as much.
If you added content like puzzles and special encounters, that could be cool.
Only issue is that, you'd have to make sure your maze is different that the automatically generated ones from within the dungeon generator.
 

Kes

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You're right, 'Game Mechanics' it is. Bear on mind that G.M.D. is not for feedback on individual games, so be prepared for replies that are on topic (mazes in general) but which may not be applicable to your particular game.

I've moved this thread to Game Mechanics Design. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.

 

Andar

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One of the problems here is that most maze designs don't work in a RM-Game without a lot of thoughts.

The problem is that unless you use some fog-of-war-plugin or script, you can see the map easily. That means the riddle-part of the maze is usually not hidden.
And the way paper-printed-labyrinths work by looking over them and finding the dead ends before going in doesn't work either because you have only a minor part of the map visible on the screen - which also makes the walking through it rather tedious, especially if you don't know that you're entering a dead end.

It is possible to make maze-games in RM, but you need to put somethoughts into them to prevent some traps that would destroy all fun of them.
I also suggest the following test:
1) make a new map, as large as possible (100x100 minimum) with the cave tileset
2) right-click on the mapname in the mapwindow and select "generate dungeon"
3) select "Maze" and hit OK

The resulting maze is anything but good (it is randomly computer-generated after all), but it will give you something to experiment with for the effects of playing through a maze-map, without the hours of work you would need to make a manual one.

It will also show you what not to do, because if your labyrinths will look like that then most people will assume that you just hit generate dungeon until you liked it and think you're lazy instead of having the maze carefully designed.
 

acidhedz

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Depends.
I like to use the in game generator sometimes to make quick mazes. If I don't have any other ideas for spicing up an area, like a transition level in a dungeon. I figure if the main point is to get through it, then a maze is as good a way as any to make that harder.
Plus, depending on the settings it's good for making AD&D style dungeons with lots of connected rooms, or claustrophobic mazes.
Sometimes you just need a way to fill space after all.

I always use event encounters, so whether or not they have to fight, and how often, is mostly under my control.

I always think it's a good idea to play to your strengths, and use any skills you can.
My primary disciplines are writing, music production, graphic manipulation, and being crazy. So my games reflect that.

If you're good at mazes. Find ways to make it work. The more of YOU there is in your game, the better off you're always going to be.

Mechanics wise... Put in secrets. Puzzles. Maybe do some Zelda type stuff where you need a certain artifact equipped to light torches, jump gaps, etc. I like to put funny character interactions or messages on things they find.
One dungeon in my last game has graffiti all over the walls of the first level, grave goods they can open on the second, and graves with silly names on the third. Like "Here Lays Bea and Dea Majors."
 

robhr

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@Skunk Yeah, a lot of long corridors would be annoying. I won't do that. And yeah, a rule of thumb with me is to never use auto-generated stuff or defaults of any kind.

@Kes Thank you! I'll try and be more conscious of posting in the right forum.

@Andar Hm, interesting. I guess I'll have to find some kind of fog of war script. And, yeah, but I'm a bit of a perfectionist, I'm willing to put in the hours needed to make manual mazes.

@acidhedz Well put. I've recently decided that to make my art the most me it can be is to use all my talents, and fit all my ideas in somewhere. I mean, all my good ideas. And maybe I should do event encounters too. I was thinking in part of my mazes I would make it so you need a certain item to pass through, but the idea of being more Zelda-esque is intriguing.

Thank you, everybody.
 

Aoi Ninami

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I think the important thing here is to know your intended audience. If you're up-front about your game being puzzle- and maze-heavy, people who enjoy that kind of gameplay (and that includes me) will jump at it. People who don't will avoid it, but that's a lot better for you than if they tried it out, got turned off by it not being the kind of game they expected, and left a negative review.

So, a few thoughts on designing mazes.

* Give the player some control over encounters. If you fix the rate really low, I may not get to see all the monsters you've thought up (and hopefully, combat in your game is fun enough that I want to test myself against all of them, and find out what cool loot I can get from them). Consider starting with a normal or slightly below normal encounter rate, and giving the player the ability to reduce the rate once he's gotten bored of the monsters in this area. Have some touch encounters that wander around the maze, so the player can choose whether to fight or avoid them.

* Loot! Reward the player for seeking out different paths, and not just the path to the exit.

* Loops. Once the player realises there is loot in dead ends, he'll probably use right- (or left-) hand rule to fully traverse the maze. Frustrate this by having loops so there are sections it's easy to miss (and put some of the really cool loot in there). (There are algorithms that fully explore a multiply connected maze, but they are far less well known than right-hand rule.)

* Three-dimensionality. Complicate the maze by having ladders up and down to other levels, or doors to a "back side", or teleports between different areas, so you can see some cool loot but it's not obvious what path to take to get to it. Analysing the maze becomes more like a puzzle.

* Interactivity. Have player actions affect the maze in some way: switches that open one door and close another; pushable blocks that become a platform when you go one level up; explosives to open cracked walls; doors and single-use keys. Now you can make it a moderate puzzle to reach the exit, and a much harder puzzle to fully solve the maze and get the best reward.
 

jonthefox

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So, I'm someone that really doesn't appreciate maze-like qualities to dungeons. I just find it tedious. I like knowing where I'm supposed to go to progress in the game. I DO like when games give me the *option* to wander off and explore. I once read somewhere that a welll-designed dungeon is one that is actually linear, but gives the illusion that it's not. I agree with that sentiment.
 

Tai_MT

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If you really want to complicate your maze some and give it a bit of flavor, I suggest also adding in rooms. With doors. It becomes less "wander the hallways" and more about learning to navigate a series of rooms and manage your memory on where each exit of each room goes.

You could even add more engaging elements to the rooms where they do certain things. Maybe this square room here smells of carrots and you tell the player that. Maybe that smell does something in combat... maybe it's a hint at a secret... Maybe there are just bunnies in the room as encounters. Or, maybe it means nothing. It's up to you to decide. But, adding a little flavor to the maze makes the idea of it a little more intriguing to the player.

After all, if there are rooms with odd text that displays upon entering them... The player is no longer just looking for the exit. Now, they're trying to solve the mystery of the room in the maze alongside that too. It's a puzzle within the maze. It piques curiosity. Moreover, it gives them a "checkpoint" to remember. "Okay, I went through the Carrot Room, so if I end up back in it, I've looped around. If I find a new room, I'm probably on the right track."

Things of that nature.

As for myself, I've never really seen "mazes" used much in video games outside of Hedge Mazes (which tended to be boring... except for in Zombies Ate My Neighbors where you could destroy most of the walls of the maze and cheat to get around... Or chainsaw wielding maniacs chased you through it and every dead end resulted in you taking a hit). I've used them in Dungeons and Dragons, however, but most of the class powers and spells and enemies... As well as explanations given to my players... Has resulted in a more fun and interesting experience for those players. I'm not sure that experience translates well to RM though.
 

velan235

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need to find the sweetspot between tedious and challenging. also you might want to play with fog / transition often , as 2D maze like RPG-maker has kind of top-view style.

Persona 5 has a good dungeon , although maybe its a bit far from maze in context. at shido cruiser dungeon, there are some puzzle that require player to transform into small chara to access switch, and back to normal size to open the door. at first you feel unnatural with the maze (feel lost) , but after 5 - 10 minutes, you actually figure it out how it works (introducing statue checkpoint to transform). even though the puzzle is figured in 5 - 10 minutes, player still need to get them together so the door finally open (like doing switch a -> switch b -> open door b -> open door a). the player didnt feel tedious because they figured it out early, and its challenging enough because after that they need to put their idea together (which feel rewarding).

another good point from shido dungeon is that the dungeon is linear-circular. you progress linear regularly, but the dungeon is designed so well that after one point of maze , there are doors that lead to starting point. this is really important, because not every player run dungeon in one-swipe. there are some that want to trackback to buy supplies, save point , or even do some side quest/grind. and this circular kind of dungeon is rarely found in JRPG, because commonly the trackback door only provided after you beat the dungeon boss
 

robhr

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@Aoi Ninami Okay, true that you may not see all the monsters if I turn the encounter rate way down, I just figured it may be annoying fighting battle after battle every time you get lost. Maybe I'll make controlled encounters in an event ala Chrono Trigger. But yeah maybe another option would be giving people a bunch of "repel" like items if they get sick of battles and feel they've already leveled an appropriate amount. And yeah, maybe some of the dead ends will hold treasure. Or maybe, like, go off the path slightly but it isn't exactly a dead end 'cause it leads to secrets. The rest of your advice is noted and appreciated.

@jonthefox Noted. But yeah I guess you're just not the target audience. I understand your position but, like I said, I just love mazes.

@Tai_MT Lots of different rooms, yeah. Certain rooms are landmarks if you get lost, I like that too.

@velan235 I've been meaning to get in to the Persona series. I have played Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, from the same people, and there's a dungeon kinda like that. I forget what it's name is but it's that temple place. Yeah, I may make them slightly circular sometimes, being able to open doors you couldn't the first time you went through.

Thanks guys.
 

rpgdreamer

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This is a really interesting topic, especially since one of the dungeons for the game I'm currently making is going to be a maze. I think that a lot of the above opinions are true; you shouldn't keep an auto-generated maze and try and make something a bit engaging, such as loot and checkpoints and things like that. It gets frustrating when you have to wander around lost for awhile. The enchantment goes away.
 

M.I.A.

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All's I'm going to say is:

Engaging Mazes = Fun
Frustrating Time Sink = No Fun

Be mindful of how engaging your mazes can be to keep the player entertained and traveling with purpose..
Not just get from A to B .. with random encounters that deplete supplies and lots of backtracking.

:)
-MIA
 

kirbwarrior

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Maybe I'll make controlled encounters in an event ala Chrono Trigger.
One thing I hear a lot is you don't put random encounters in puzzle rooms. Mazes are basically puzzle rooms. If there are event encounters (especially small amounts, such as just bosses), then the player won't get infuriated at trying to remember the puzzle, and can easily go back and check where they came from and keep their bearings when a battle does happen. Which leads into a second point; is the maze fun if there are no enemies in it whatsoever?
 

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