So I’ve been thinking about some core aspects of Boundless, and it came to me that dungeons would work very well with Boundless’ portal/warp system. So, I decided I’d do a bit of a writeup with some ideas and suggestions for how I think this would best work.
Knowing that Wonderstruck is an indie developer with a small team, I’m going to focus on this idea with a minimal amount of additional mechanics to make it as actionable and easy to implement as possible.
The Boundless Dungeon:
The Core Gameplay
- When a player (or players) want to enter a dungeon, they must craft portal conduits and the Dungeon Key. This is a new item that is required to open dungeon portals, and has bunch of types that can be made, which we will get into in a minute.
- Once these items are prepped, the player must open the dungeon portal from an appropriate location. These locations can be discovered by adding a portal conduit to the atlas, and they respawn regularly similarly to surface resources.
- The world that you decide to open a portal on is important. The tier and type of world that you open the portal on are what determine what type of resources you will acquire from succeeding at the dungeon and collecting your phat lootz. A tier 3 metal world will provide ore-type resources, and will be much easier than a tier 6 metal world.
- When the players enter the dungeon, they are portaled to a unique location that can be generated procedurally, similarly to how planets are generated. However, these locations are only temporary and the players cannot stay on them indefinitely. Eventually players will be forced out of the dungeon by a possible variety of mechanics:
- Dying will remove players from the dungeon. When a player has to return to the sanctuary, they are then returned to the location where the portal was initially created and must try again. Groups of players have an advantage here, where players can resurrect each other. I would add an additional layer here where deaths reduce the stability of the planet, so a certain number of player deaths would eventually result in players being kicked out entirely.
- Time is a factor. Over time, the stability of the planet falls and the corruption increases. At first, players will need atmospheric protection to survive based on the planet they created the portal on, but as time goes on, the required protection to survive will increase. Eventually, players will need the protection pies to survive at all, and finally the planet will be too unstable to survive on at all.
- The goals of the dungeon can also vary procedurally and be a few different types:
- Scavenger hunt dungeons would scatter loot chests across the map. These would be surrounded by powerful enemies and portals similar to meteors, and players would chase them down and loot as many as they can while trying to survive.
- Horde mode dungeons would create a single defensive point that players are to protect. Waves of enemies that become harder and harder come to attack, and if the core totem is destroyed, all is lost and players are kicked out of the dungeon. After every X waves, players can choose to unleash the totem to look the accumulated spoils.
- Stronghold dungeons create a single point that the players are attempting to attack and destroy the core of the stronghold to receive loot.
- Stealth dungeons have monsters that are incredibly strong, and the goal is to sneak around them and avoid their notice while collecting loot.
- Once the objective of a dungeon is complete, or the players die and return to the sanctum (or return to the sanctum via the menu), the dungeon is completed and players are able to return home. Objective-type dungeons can provide portals home for players, and players could use warp conduits to warp back to the exit point (but probably not anywhere else?).
The Dungeon Key
The key to entering a dungeon could be crafted in a variety of ways to provide players with a bunch of ways to play. Important to this is the scaling mechanic that exists currently for meteors; it could be co-opted to give players some important options.
- Personal keys would provide a single player a portal to the dungeon. These are the cheapest, and provide the lowest reward, but are scaled to allow a single player a chance at the loot. Requires 2 vertically placed portal conduits, as well as the key resources.
- Party Keys would provide a small portal, maybe 2x2 or 3x3 portal conduits and would allow 2-5 players to enter the dungeon.
- Guild Keys are even larger, probably 4x4-5x5 or so, but would allow 5-15 people into the portal to complete the dungeon.
- If rather than having the portals be planet-based, there could also be “tiers” and “types” of keys that determine the challenge and reward level of the dungeon.
I feel it’s important to separate the keys into tiers because a solo player won’t have the resources of a guild leader (Looking at you Aridhol) and it’s important to allow those players to be able to experience the dungeon content as well. I personally love doing solo stuff and don’t want a dungeon to be off limits for me if no one else is around who I play with.
Depending on the reward of the dungeons, spamming them could become an issue. As we saw with the Forgemasters mining op, players working together can create a huge strain on the system, but with dungeons there isn’t this limiting factor because they’re generated on-demand. These could work in a few different ways as well, but the one that makes the most sense to me is a per-planet lockout that will rate-limit players to keep them from just spamming dungeons all day every day.
This isn’t necessarily necessary, but might be important for balancing the economy of the game and would be an easy stopgap measure for first implementation.
Resources from dungeons shouldn’t be overwhelming or it defeats the purpose of beng a new way to play. If they are the absolute best way to get something, then they are all that people will do to get that item. We saw this with bomb mining, where it was SO much better to do that than any other way, no one mined using hammers.
The Role of Dungeons
It’s important to discuss the role of dungeons in the game. In many games, dungeons are the endless grindfest to get the top tier gear and whatnot, but that doesn’t fit into the way that boundless is set up. Rather than having it be a gear grind or have any actually unique content, I think the dungeons in Boundless should serve a different purpose: to provide players with an alternate way to play the game.
The are many ways to play in Boundless: You can be a builder, a miner, a forger, a gatherer, a hunter, or even a trader. Most players are a combination of these things, with a focus on some and a preference against another.
Dungeons can expand this system to provide players who don’t prefer one type of play with a way to get those resources and tools that they otherwise might have trouble attaining without resorting to one of their disliked forms of play.
And Much Much More
Dungeons could be used for so much more and add so many aspects of the game, this just scratches the surface.
- Creating the keys could be an “enchanting” mechanic akin to forging
- Would be an awesome way to introduce new worlds
- Could have interesting story implications
- All sorts of new item possibilities