Legend of Dungeon by RobotLovesKitty
Published: November 7. 2013
Developer RobotLovesKitty brings forth its procedurally-generated pixel opus, Legend of Dungeon
It might be a rare thing in the world of videogames, but sometimes it’s the deep, loving connection between a man and his wife that effectively kickstarts the creative process behind a project. “I’m fond of old school arcade beat-em-ups, and my wife is a fan of classic Rogue,” says RobotLovesKitty founder Calvin Goble. “We wanted to make a game that we could both play together and really enjoy, so, Legend of Dungeon is our mash up of those two genres.” And thus, a game was born.
The team calls its game a “four player co-op roguelike-like beat-'em-up.” The goal is to descend 26 floors, acquire the treasure and return with as much gold as possible. One thing is guaranteed: You will die a lot, as evidenced by the fact that even the developers themselves haven't even beaten it. The team at RobotLovesKitty is comprised of Goble and his wife, Alex Stolzer; the latter creates art and handles PR duties, while Goble codes and helps out with the art. “We both work together to come up with awesome game ideas,” says Goble of the partnership.
The game is yet another product of crowdfunding success, having raised $32,999 of its modest $5,000 Kickstarter goal last year. But that kind of money is still not a ton when considering the entirety of developing a game. “I suppose we’ve learned to live outside the box, and find solutions that let us do a lot with very little,” says Goble. “That, and we work hard to stay away from feature creep.” He recalls, for instance, having far too many colliders loaded up at once at one point during development—one for each box in the dungeon, and then some. He ended up having to make single colliders for walls and floors, which helped immensely.
The visual style came about shortly into development, when Goble was browsing r/PixelArt on reddit one day, and came across the work of Sebastiaan Van Hijfte. Van Hijfte’s fantastic, pixilated characters were a perfect fit for the kind of game Goble had in mind; he instantly wanted to put them into a game, and contacted Van Hijfte, who said yes. “I’d also been toying with the idea of putting bump maps onto sprites so that they would be shaded by the lighting in the scene,” recalls Goble. “I tried it on Sebastiaan's art, and it was a perfect fit. We’re definitely proud of the look of the game, every day I look at it I am blown away by how great the visuals turned out.”
Legend of Dungeon is RobotLovesKitty ’s third game built in Unity. “It has been a joy to work with,” says Goble of the middleware. “Unity is our first choice for any project.” The duo had test characters running around and attacking each other within the first two days of development, and it was around a month and they had a playable demo. “I think of everything, the coolest thing is being able to write code to modify the editor,” says Goble of working in Unity. “It's helped automate a lot of the item/level creation process.” He recalls one day when he created a crate-summoning book, filled the Tavern with crates and tried to spawn explosive powder kegs to blow everything up…when this happned. “I think it was the first time I have ever crashed the editor,” he says. “I wasn't even mad.”
Unity Asset Store plugins like cInput 2.0, On Screen Keyboard and NGUI have proven particularly useful, and they plan on getting [Ludosity's Steamworks Wrapper] (https://ludosity.com/tag/steamworks/) to take full advantage of being accepted onto Steam Greenlight. When in doubt, Goble uses his mind; when that doesn’t work, he fires off the Bat Signal. “I just kinda brute force problems until they do what I want,” he says. “The best trick I use is Google and the Scripting Reference.” Goble has no immediate plans to sell any of his own creations on the store, mainly because he’s not sure if they’d be useful to anyone else. “Right now we've only built things specific to the game we’re working on, such as a hat generator, which “builds all the pickup/hold/wear objects after you assign names and textures.”
Before going out on his own to make games, Goble. worked in IT fixing computers and setting up networks. He has never worked as part of a large team, but say he’d love to gather more coders and artists eventually. “We have so many ideas we want to make that it only makes sense to expand our team to do more. I have no idea how to work with other people on projects like this, but I expect we'll deal with it like we do everything else: jump in, bite off more then we can chew, problem-solve, and do amazing stuff.”
As mentioned, Rogue—the classic game developed by Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman around 1980, which popularized dungeon crawling as a videogame trope, and led to the development of the class of games called roguelikes—served as a primary influence. “We've tried to capture as much of the magic of that game as possible, even down to the number of floors in the dungeon,” says Goble. He says the combat comes from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, and cites “pretty much every game I owned on the C64 as a kid” as influencing not only the development of Legend of Dungeon, but his decision to make games generally.
Now, he’s happy to have a fanbase and community that help propel his small studio forward. “I really like taking part in the indie game dev community, [where] everyone is so awesome to each other,” he says. “I have no idea what its like out there in the AAA industry, but indie developers all have one thing in common: we all fight against obscurity. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by helping each other get our games seen by gamers.”
The Game Name Game
Legend of Dungeon’s uniquely generic title was the result of some general mucking about. “We were joking around about all these Legend of Blabla/ Dungeon of Blabla generic fantasy games, and we thought Legend of Dungeon was hilarious,” recalls RobotLovesKitty founder Calvin Goble. The title helps set a tone right off the bat, but for those who miss the intent there are plenty of other nods: “You'll know Legend of Dungeon doesn't take itself too seriously after you've picked up your first Turbo Shatner 2000,” says Goble.