The Name of the Game

I’m calling the game “Shadows of Worlds Below”. I settled on this name because it evokes the primary motivating feature of the game and because happily, the domain was available.

I’m working on setting up a dedicated website. That’s probably very premature, but it’s fun to feel like an indie, even if it only lasts a week : )

I will no longer be referring to the game as a MUD or roguelike – I prefer to develop it in a more organic nature and would like to avoid pinning it down by premature stereotypes or expectations. I would like to see it take on the characteristics that makes sense for it and see what it turns in to.

I spent some time this evening working on a website, but I also felt it was necessary to make a little progress on the game. I put in place a full 256 character ASCII font so I have more tiles to work with. I also decide to switch to square tiles for improved spatial navigation and aesthetic.

I’m experimenting with 80×40 characters which gives more of a terminal feel, but I am also trying out 40×20. If I got that large with the tiles then I might still go small with the text font. Below are some comparison screenshots.

I have some interesting ideas and it’s fun to think about all of the possibilities. I was thinking about permadeath, and how you might take on the life of a random NPC somewhere in the world. Then when you die natural processes dictate what happens with your body and loot that you had. You might find that you engrave a sword, die, and later as another character you find the sword on a grave robber by chance. You might even find that your body has been laid to rest in some town near the place you had fallen – that is assuming the locals discover the remains.

Anyway, that’s very ambitious, but it’s a fun thought. Here are the resolution comparisons.

MUD Idea #1

So I spent the weekend plus President’s Day working on this idea for a MUD / Rogue-like and I’m very happy with how it has turned out.

The concept is to take the styling of the old ASCII RPGs and sprinkle in a few modern amenities like improved color depth and bitmap layering / blending. Then add to that the idea of a “stack” of maps where lower levels are partially visible through the ground.

I envision the game taking place in large part on the world’s surface. As you explore the overworld you see “shadows” of complex dungeons below. Then you set out to find an entrance leading inside and see what is in store for you.

This idea was inspired in part by Flow, and also by my idea for a node graph viewing system where different depths of a graph hierarchy would be visible in the background with seamless navigation.

There’s a video below along with the features so-far.


  • Bitmapped ASCII tile set.
  • Independent ground and object stack.
  • Scrollable map with edge bounds.
  • Flood-filled map (eventually randomized) with place-able dungeon components.
  • Perlin noise tile colorization.
  • Interactive tiles (doors and stairs).
  • Many-depth map (0 – 128 in video).
  • Map layers accumulation algorithm to single layer via manual per-tile alpha blend.
  • 1st layer below player is 66% visible, 2nd layer 33%, all other layers 15%.

My scripting system is still in place so I think next I should add an NPC pacing around in a house that gives you a quest to retrieve some item that is in the dungeon.

MUD Map & Movement

I have non-scrolling map drawing, moveable characters, and obstacle collision. I love how easy this is :P

Here’s a quick screenshot, but it doesn’t show the main feature I’m intending to test yet.

What I find entertaining about this is that it’s using a 3D engine to achieve one of the simplest rendering tasks.

Experimental MUD

I have a couple of unique (or at least uncommon) technical ideas for a MUD or roguelike game. I’m going to spend a little time this weekend experimenting with one of them, and I’ll keep the other under wraps for now.

The first idea is to display the world in the classic manner – as an ASCII grid – but render many depths both above and below the depth of the player. Then make it so that those depths can be traversed seamlessly as long as they are within a “stoppable” threshold.

The average level of a dungeon might still exist primarily on a given XY plane, but would not be restricted to that.

I’m thinking of using white ASCII on black as usual, but applying different levels of alpha or gamma to indicate depth.

One trick will be how to indicate the player’s XY plane if further (deeper) planes need to be more black and nearer planes more white. Maybe the player’s plane gets a unique hue applied.

Alternatively, I could use a combination of alpha and perspective.

I’ll post the results once I have an initial test running.