For our 2020 holiday game, we developed and released Modite Adventure, a combination action/adventure dungeon crawler. This game is the most complex video game we’ve ever made and was the work of countless hours of some heroes in our organization.
In this article, we’ll go into some detail as to the whats, whys and explain how we built it.
Enter the Adventure
In Modite Adventure you play the character of Daniel, a fictional team member of Modus Create (a Modite) who found himself teleported to another world after picking up a mysterious amulet while walking in the woods nearby his home. This world is controlled by the grand wizard Droganos and his collection of evil elemental wizards. Your mission is to locate and destroy Droganos to free this world. Droganos and his henchmen have built a collection of dungeons for you to explore and have hidden various items for you to wear or equip, giving Daniel the speed, strength and magic capabilities needed to prevail.
I mentioned a bit earlier that this is the most complex video game we’ve ever made to date. To give you some context, here are some stats and features of this game:
- There are 9 free-roam overworld areas to explore
- The game has 37 dungeons to discover and solve
- Each dungeon contains up to nine levels
- Each level has doors that can be unlocked in one of four ways
- There are a total of 9 bosses to locate and defeat
- 10 General enemy types are scattered throughout the dungeons
- You have up to 19 total power-ups to discover, use and deploy
- There are 3 ways to attack your enemies
- This game’s soundtrack consists of 19 Songs
- There are 50 Sound effects used
- Your hero can target lock on to enemies
- Secret areas for you to discover
- This title has a cinematic credits sequence
To give you a further understanding of the scope of this game, we’ve included a map of the entire overworld.
The goal of Modite Adventure is to defeat Droganos, the final Boss. To do this, you are required to earn the four spell books that are guarded by the four Wizards scattered throughout dungeons in the overworld.
Modite Adventure’s presentation is that of the typical ¾ RPG (Role Playing Game) perspective and its gameplay design’s inspiration was taken from a few video games decades past, with the basic mechanics of the run, attack, and receiving damage taking cues from games like the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Here’s an example of the slash attack mechanic slaying an enemy
Dungeons are puzzles to be solved and have doors blocking pathways. Some doors are locked and can be opened with keys, while others are unlocked via button presses or by finding the right combination of switches on the ground.
General enemies have distinct behavior patterns and will either walk around aimlessly, explore their world, or attack from afar. Some might even directly confront our hero and depending on how the enemy behaves, you might want to have our hero “lock on” to it to ensure it doesn’t get the best of you!
Sometimes our hero will find himself surrounded and depending on if he’s located a spellbook he can unleash a spell of epic proportions to vanquish those evil monsters.
There is no doubt that we recognize that our hero’s quest is difficult, with every enemy he slays, he earns Experience points to level up his abilities. Each time he levels up, all of his basic stats increase, including his overall health and magic points along with his attack and defense. Details about our hero can be viewed on the inventory screen.
It likely wouldn’t surprise you to learn that this game took a little over a year to develop by a relatively small team of 4 core developers. I’ll caution that using the time dimension to project the level of effort is extremely misleading because the majority of this game was developed nights and weekends. We made this possible by coupling our love for video games with our passion for creativity.
Here’s how we did it.
Development of this game began with the traditional approach by starting with a game design document. We used this to hash out basic game goals, gameplay mechanics, level design ideas and screen flows.
From there, we went to work on getting the project bootstrapped and within a few weeks, got to a point where we had a crude working prototype that had our hero walking around a dungeon and the slash animation.
Soon thereafter, we added basic enemies to the mix and deployed our prototype to the ODROID GO. At this point, we had designed the gameplay around one of the largest limitations of the device (screen tearing), forcing our hero to transport between rooms using doorways.
After testing this gameplay model, we realized that this one screen per room was slow, clunky and not fun at all. We knew we couldn’t fix the ODROID GO, so we went on the hunt for a more capable device.
Enter the Little Dragon King!
We’re in the middle of a portable-console wave of innovation, which means that new devices arrive every nearly quarter from many non-traditional game manufacturers. This made our research really easy and we landed on the Little Dragon King — or LDK Game for short.
Before we even ordered our first device, we looked into the homebrew development scene and scoped out the level of effort to modify our build process so that we could deploy software to this device effortlessly. Given that this little beast runs Linux and supports a lot of open source libraries, It took less than a full workday to make the necessary changes to enable us to install and execute software on this device.
Once we honed our build processes, we were off to the races, adding additional enemies, bosses, power-ups, audio, and levels. Along the way, we used our game design as a guide, but in true Agile fashion, our team leveraged their creative superpowers to generate ideas that enhanced the gameplay and make Modite Adventure even more special.
Fun All Around
Development of this title garnered the largest support of volunteers from our global team, welcoming a lot of new minds across a multitude of disciplines. Along with programming help, we saw our team members join in other creative efforts, such as level design and even music development. Some of our development team had always wanted to work on a video game and clamored at the opportunity to do something special.
I will be honest and tell you that creating Modite Adventure was rather difficult, and like our previous titles, there were challenges at every corner. Conquering those challenges were fantastic learning opportunities and were full of learning moments.
I believe we achieved our mission to produce a game that was fun, fast paced, and challenging. In so many ways, we pushed the boundaries of what we could do as a nights-and-weekends development team. It was such a pleasure to see how our global team banded together to make something that is truly awesome and this project exemplifies our Open Source Mindset.
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