Sunken City's Major Rework

Do you like the idea of the rework?

  • I like the idea, proceed with it

  • I don't like it, I like the current model

  • I don't care. Whatever it is - I'll play it


Results are only viewable after voting.

SpasMaster

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Sunken City's Major Rework

Hello to anyone reading this. I have a huge announcement to make, but do keep in mind that nothing I say here is set in stone. I want to hear what everyone thinks about this new endeavor I have in mind. So... here we go:

Over the course of the last 7 years I have been working on Sunken City almost endlessly. It has become a hobby of mine, it's what I do in my free time. It has become a project that I am very proud of and one that has accomplished things that I wouldn't have even dreamed of when I first started.

That said, I have some issues with it.
Sunken City's first purpose and reason for its creation was basically for me to create a game for myself that I enjoy. I had this game inside my head and I couldn't find anything like it back in 2010. So I made it myself - I made it so I can enjoy it while playing it. But for the last year or so, I no longer do enjoy it like the way I used to before. It's important to make myself clear here: It's not like I don't like Sunken City, or that I don't like working on it - oh, hell no - I love that with a passion. But I don't enjoy playing it like I used to. I have been thinking about this for awhile and I think I have found the reason for why this is happening.

To understand however, let's talk about 2 thigns: 1) How Sunken City got started and 2) how how its genre impacts all of this:
1) When I started this project, it... wasn't really a project. I had a couple of friends and I wanted to create a Dungeon Crawler for us to play. The very first version of Sunken City was created in 4 hours. That's right. The map was laid out in only 4 hours. In fact, I didn't know if I'd update it ever again when I first made it. But then I did a couple of small changes, then a couple more, then some people helped me and I got hooked.

However I started building onto and updating something that was done in 4 hours by a 17yrs old guy who had absolutely no knowledge of game design and/or level design. If you look around the internet and find the first version of Sunken City, you can notice that while it may lack thousands of details, little touches and cool things all over the place, it had the same layout, the same structure...

2) By being a Dungeon Crawler, it's in the nature of the genre and therefore the map, to get you burned out. While I have put major emphasis on replayability in many ways (and I have achieved it to great extent), eventually people do get burned out. Now... do I consider my job done right if that moment of burn out comes after few months for an average player? Hell yeah... if I can make someone play the same Dungeon Crawler over and over and over again for months, I consider my task of delivering enough replayability for the players achieved. But the question here is: "Is the task achieved for myself?" Am I burned out of playing the same Dungeon Crawler for 7 years?! I recently started to get burned out, yes. And again, it's very important to understand that it's "playing" that I am burned out of - not "developing".

What is the solution, you'd ask? Well, I do have some great ideas to bring even more replayability! Problem is, that I simply can't deliver them, because of what I explained in (1) and (to some extent in 2). The map layout is old and was not made, knowing that the it would last that long and receive hundreds of updates. The most major hit to replayability is the map layout. You follow the same path every single time you play. You unlock each door the same way. You go into directions the same way.

I can change that. I can break free from this. But the result would no longer be the Sunken City you know and probably love.



So what's the idea?

Well, here is where it gets interesting. I plan to fundamentally rework Sunken City.

In the Rework, your heroes will be selected at a starting location, which is a safe zone. You can find the shops there, the Enchantress with all of her Reforging, Disenchanting, etc.. You can setup your heroes there, store items, whatever you like - it's your base. From that base you will have multiple portals that you can go into. You can choose any portal you like and that portal will lead you into a small dungeon which will take 15-30 mins to defeat. Each portal will lead into a different dungeon and each dungeon will have unique theme to it, like for example: Troll-themed Dungeon, Cemetery/Undead Dungeon, Demon-Infested Dungeon, or the regular Sunken Ruins, etc... there are many possibilities. You choose which Dungeon to engage and all enemies in all dungeons will scale dynamically with your heroes. When your heroes level up -> all enemies across all dungeons also level up. When you defeat a dungeon, you return to your base, buy new items and then go into a different dungeon until all are complete. What this offers is a sense of completion even if you don't necessarily complete all dungeons. If you end a game of Sunken City halfway through, it feels like you wasted your time - you didn't end the game. In the Rework, you can go ahead, beat several dungeons and you can end there, knowing that you did complete things. And next time you hop in, you can try different ones.

Here is a summary of the Rework:
[+] Rework brings more replayability.
[+] Rework can be played for much more varied durations.
[+] Rework offers many new and different themes to each dungeon.
[-] Rework will not have a cohesive storyline and lore like SC does.
[-] Many roleplaying elements of SC will be lost.

The old Sunken City will not be "lost". You will still be able to play it, but it will no longer receive updates. Atleast nothing major - only bugfixes.



That's about what I have as information for the time being. This is still at the "idea" stage, so obviously nothing is final here. What do you think? How do you feel about all of this? Leave your opinion in the poll and comment below.

Thank you for your support,
SpasMaster

^ Remember to vote ^
 
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I like the idea, although there are couple of questions for me.

Is it going to be possible for a solo play or party only map?
Is it going to lose the puzzles as we know them in SC?
Is it going to be SC 2 or a whole new project with the known heroes, etc?

Prolly gonna add more questions later.
 
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I can get the idea +/- . But it's like a complety different map and style. Like more puzzle/dungeon/challenger/stage/sole, no more adventure.
Well, the past it's always with us, and if you or us don't get fully enjoyed with the new proyect, ¿sunken will always there to reborn? xD
¡Go for it!
 

SpasMaster

Hosted Project: SC
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Is it going to be possible for a solo play or party only map?
Just as right now, it would be designed and balanced around having a party, but will be possible to solo.
Is it going to lose the puzzles as we know them in SC?
Puzzles will exist and would be of the exact same nature. Inspecting may very well make it through.
Is it going to be SC 2 or a whole new project with the known heroes, etc?
It will be the same map. Like an update for it.
no more adventure.
Not... exactly. This will still be Sunken City. You will just do sections/areas of it in whatever order you like, instead of following a linear path.
i can see this working but ye what about puzzles i want puzzles
Puzzles would still be a major thing.
Structure is the thing that changes. You get multiple areas of Sunken City, but with more unique and specific feel to them instead of linear-style progress.

It is definitely an option to do it the following way: You spawn on the shore, open the first gate and enter into an area that is your base. The base has multiple closed gates that lead into sections of Sunken City. You can open only one gate which leads you into a Dungeon. Defeating the Dungeon grants you a key for another gate and so on until you complete all of them.

The goal here is to break the linear model of the map.
 
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Given your answer we will get a Prison themed dungeon and an Armory one.
For those who don't know, those two were part of an old version of SC.
 
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When you said "It will be the same map. Like an update for it." , that was basically the first thing that popped up in my mind. It's an idea, isn't it?
Also, I believe that you can start something really new and exciting introducing this non-linear model of playing the map.
 
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Hello, i'd like to see the new Project my self included, but, to be sure you're doing it RIGHT, i'll "CRY" again, Make the Crowd Controls spells Legitimate and the Spells with Their base mana cost as it should be, like i said Purge 200 mana with 0 - 2 sec cd, not 25 mana and 5 sec cd for a creep with 600 mana, that should be enough especially since the REGEN is HUGE. but hey that's my opinion only.

A question though, is there gonna be Heroic mode for the dungeons? and i don't talk about the game STYLE like, Medium, Hard, Nightmare, Hell or Impossible, i do mean the Dungeon itself, if so make Heroic drops too, like in wow Frozen Orbs from last boss to buy or craft some Epic items, but instead of Frozen Orb, keep the Shadow Orbs :D

And the last thing, Change some talents/spells to Heroes for a ... better "new" quality, like Death Knight, give him Death and Decay instead Unholy strike, Shaman, Magma Totem with Aoe attack instead of single targeting mob or even Take our the Earth Shield and give him Thunderstruck with Aoe dmg + Slow for few sec as debuff in a 250 range around him and knock them back between 200 to 500 depends of your STR + AGI, + Bosses Immune to Knock Back.
(just some thoughts, if this Project will be released/accepted).

Thanks again for your hard work,

May the Elements of Conflux watch over you.
 
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So it would basically be like an entire new map? Or would you take certain areas of the SC map and make it a dungeon? Like the part up til the old main base?

As someone else pointed out, the old map wouldn't be gone. And it's already so long and soooo fking good, it's a lot harder to make that much better compared to making a "new" map.

Not to mention, you do it for yourself, for you to enjoy the map. If you feel like this would be fun for you, that's all you need to know right there imo. Excited whichever you chose anyway!
 
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Ok, I have read your statement once again and I understand fully your position.
I will use critical thinking and be objective on the matter, cause I believe this is what you are looking for and it will help you in future. A wall of text incoming but take your time, please.

You, and probably most of the players, are kinda tired of doing/taking the same path every single game while playing SC.
You want to introduce this (new?) non-linear system of doing dungeons in a random order. A simple example of this:
you start your first game and you complete A, G, F, B, E, D, C dungeons in this particular order. Then, you start a second game and you complete D, B, F, A, C, E, G dungeons in this particular order. So on and so on. You get my point.
The problem is you will eventually "burn out" once again because no matter how randomized in order are the dungeons played, you are basically playing the same dungeons all over again. Especially if the number of them is a short one. And this is fundamental. It will become some sort of a "grind fest". Typical MMO feature.

But there are solutions for this fundamental problem.

1. You need to implement at least 40-50 or even more dungeons in order to achieve this kind of randomness and , once again, repeatability. The player will be like: oh, I've played 100 games and this is a completely new dungeon for me. You need to put puzzles, quests, traps in every single one of them to get that satisfaction feel of "freshness", so to speak.
In short, high number of dungeons, same quests every time.

2. You need to implement 20 dungeons, for the sake of the example. In every dungeon you put, let's say 25 quests in total but you actually put inside 5 quest giving NPC and the option that every time you enter a given dungeon, the NPCs will be randomly generated. Simple math: 5x5 = 25.
In short, low/average number of dungeons, different quests every time.

Both of these solutions are facing the technical issues - time of achieving such enormous work, size limit of the map (both file size and dimensional wise) and the limits of the code engine. Since, I'm no coder myself, you have a better understanding of what can be done and what can not.

On a side note, some time ago I have suggested to make the puzzles more random in a way and voala - you implemented the Inspect system. Although, it's not a new thing, it definitely brought a really nice and fresh touch to the map. I'm hoping that a new system related to the given solutions here is going to be figured out and presented to the public.

This is my point of view. Looking forward for your take on this matter.

Cheers.
 
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Sounds like it could be good. Would there be the possibility of a larger pool of heroes with the rework?

I know that we currently have 24, 8 for each role, and that's a lot. But part of what keeps me coming back to the game is playing different heroes. I know that you've constantly been updating, reworking and replacing heroes since day 1. But with a larger pool it'd feel like there was more to come back to, and instead of replacing old heroes you could just add new ones.

Regardless of what happens, I look forward to what's coming.
 
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I actually find this great. As i understand it will be a map with a lot of submaps (dungeons) , which brings more variety of boss fights, items and whatnot.I look forward on how this will pan out :). If you need any ideas feel free to ping me.

On a side note the restructuring will bring ease in adding new or removing old dungeons.

Q:
Will the hero pool be the same as in Sunken City ? (in the initial release )
 
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My main concern is with character development. Because the idea you came up with is so free form there is a very real concern of developing your characters build becoming unrewarding. I feel like a mix of a free form system and a bit more structure could fix this issue or a reworking of the entire idea of character development in sunken city, the former being much easier to accomplish I believe.

My idea involves using the free form selection and dividing dungeons in to tiers and completing 1 dungeon of each tier a run ending with a final boss maybe determined by what dungeons you did or maybe the mechanics can change slightly based on the finished dungeons. You could put in as many tiers as you like but if dungeons are 30 minutes long I would suggest trying to keep the map to 3 hours or less in this system to allow more time to explore the different tiers. Each tier would represent a level range that you would reach at the end of it. (1-4/4-7/7-10/10-13 ect.)

Along with this you could create a point system where the difficulty of what dungeons you do plus stuff like amount of deaths/achievements completed and tally it up at the end to give players a final score. You could build a leader board with top scores creating more replay-ability as trying to get a high score would be exciting and challenging.

If any of these ideas are interesting to you give me a shout and I can expand on them with more detail if you want. I love this map and I fell in love with it a long time ago back when storm warden was still a thing so I would love to watch the map grow and expand to be fun for a long time.
 
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For I mostly played this map as a single player, i would say this rework might take away some of the elements that gave me such pleasure playing it.
I love how the progression takes place in the current map, when you start as a basic hero (aka non modified abilities) and choose your own path forward with different items, talents and runes. But not only your character goes forward in terms of power and customization, the map also opens up and starts to reveals its secrets. I like how we learn more and more about the story of the place and its inhabitants. I enjoyed retracing the story of the king to reforge the scepter and so on. At first the place seem so hostile, and as you go further in the labyrinth you start to understand more and more about the traps, riddles and so on. To me following a linear route adds so much more charm to the story since the developper can implement the atmosphere he likes without strange "jumps" between places or eras.
As an example, I played WoW for more than ten years and I found what I dislike most in the current content is the dungeon research engine and instantaneous teleportation. I find it obliviates any kind of lore you would like to put behind it and turns an epic adventure into a detached gaming experience.
And I am afraid this rework might change SC the same way WoW changed from its origins.

Now, since I also had the chance to play SC multiple times with friends, I have to admit it would greatly benefit a multiplayer experience. We don't have 5 to 8 hours straight in front of us every day, let alone finding a common schedule. (I know some might suggest the save engine, but I would never enjoy SC as much if it wasn't for a complete immersion, which requires a certain commitment)
Here comes the great aspect of this rework, enter the game, pick a random character for testing and play through few dungeons. You would have a better replayability assuming there are enough dungeons, and actually decide to avoid some monsters (if they are dungeon specific) that you find the most annoying to deal with. More than that, depending on your character and your playstyle the difficulty of the dungeons would change rather drastically (eg : one strong enemy beats summons for it kills them in one shot, while multiple enemies are harder to deal with if you are movement dependent).

I can understand why some people would prefer the new version, but I don't think I would be one of them. What is for sure though is that I would nonetheless jump at the release and try out everything you made for us.


Non related : I have no idea what are the limits of the character creation engine, but having a spec choice for heroes and allowing them to chose 3-5 moves from a movepool of say 6-9 would multiply the replayability even more.
 
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I like the idea of a rework.

My opinion on solving the "linear" problem though is to say that I don't think it is a problem. One of the best parts of this game is to approach the same situation on a different character/difficulty and be able to feel the difference in what happens and how you play. It is very satisfying to find portions of the playthrough that you find the most fun or where you get the "big power spike". To use WOW as an example, leveling gets to feel extra satisfying when you hit a big payout like completing ring of blood, amphitheater of anguish, Nessingway hunting quests, and the like. I very very very much dislike the current leveling zone for Legion because it feels like that system where no matter which zone you choose to level or which quests your are doing, the speed of leveling and payouts remain so constant across the board that it as boring as watching a loading bar fill up at a steady pace.

For SC I think just a different map that follows the same design ideas as the current map and, with the addition of some class/talent/item changes, will provide a fresh and ever evolving experience similar to what the current SC provides. From my experience the "doesn't matter which path you take because everything scales" design philosophy usually results in mind-numbing experience where the sense of progression is lost. A quick last example to illustrate what I am saying is Gauntlet on N64/PS1. If right at the start I could walk into any of the Zones(Mountain, Plague, Castle,...) or could enter the sub-zones in any order(small portals prior to boss) I would feel little to no sense of story/progression.


No matter what you pursue next I'm sure I will love it. SC is an experience that I have not felt with any other game; and the CO-OP "small party of adventurers" feel stands apart from all other similar experiences as being great.

Thank you for your time and efforts, they are greatly appreciated at the very least by me and my small group of friends.
 

SpasMaster

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Thanks to everyone for the detailed and constructive feedback. I appreciate it very, very much. Your passion for the map is what keeps me going after all these years.

I want to bring update on the situation:
Based on the feedback I have received from all of my sources, I probably will not be going for the Dungeons approach. Yet, replayability is still something that I want to put emphasis on. I am aware that the map already contains a huge dose of that, but it's important to understand which part of the playerbase benefits most from the type of replyability the map currently provides. Currently, the biggest source of replayability are the many heroes paired with all of their different build paths (talents, items, glyphs, etc..), the randomized enemy camps and drops and the rare bosses. This type of content works the following way: the newer you are to this map, the more affected you are by it. We've got this covered - when a new player comes, he/she will have tons of new things to explore over and over again. What happens to the map veterans though? Those that have tried all heroes, know the shop like the palm of their right hand and have seen over 90% of the content that the map offers?

These players were my target with this "rework" idea, because I, along with my developers and oldest players are part of that playerbase. Sure, updating the map, reworking heroes and items have done it until now. But for those "veteran" players it takes 1-3 games to try out the new stuff and then go into waiting for the new version again.

Another issue I have mentioned in the main post is the game duration. It's not easy to find 2 more players who can dedicate atleast 4 hours at the same time as you can. And when they finally do, suddenly someone disconnects midway through and you get this horrible feeling of dread which can lead you into not wanting to play again, cause you have to go through the same things you just went through. I pictured that dungeons would fix that, because if such a scenario occurs, you can try a different order of progression that would make the second attempt just as unique as your previous one. That, of course, leads into different set of issues. Primarily that different dungeons take away from the exploration and lore of the map.

I have been thinking about a mix between the two models.
There is currently an area in Sunken City, right after the Far Seer quest where you have to press 4 switches to open the door to Lord Balthas. This area is basically a hub where you can try many different routes that will eventually lead you to the same door. It offers the ability to choose different paths, without taking away from the story or overall feel of the map.

Perhaps the best idea would be to apply this model to larger chunk of the map. Perhaps the players should choose which door in the Twin Corridors to open first? That way you'd have two different zones to do in whatever order you like.

It once more comes down to: "How long will it take to those veterans that I am trying to please, to get over this new content aswell?"

I will continue to try and come up with solutions to this. In the meantime you are welcome to offer suggestions that would address everything I have just talked about and I will update you again when I have news to share regarding this topic.
 
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I've just read your update on the matter.

What I've found is that you want to give almost limitless freedom of the players. Decision, path-taking, quest-doing related freedom.

Why not use the branch system then?

Rough example would be: you open door 1 that leads you to door 2 and door 3. You open door 2 (door 3 is automatically closed after choosing to open door 2 and vice versa) and it leads you to door 4 and door 5. So on and so on.

I guess, you can mix this system with, lets name it, "4 switches path freedom" you mentioned above.
 
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@Burndead
Considering your idea of branch system, do you intend the door 3 to remain locked for the remaining of the map ? If I understand correctly, I presume this type of progression would largely reduce the map length considering the intersection would then divide it into two separate parts. And furthermore if you divide the path again.
But it is to be noted that reducing the map length might be a legitimate choice, solving the game duration issue. Spasmaster could then delight us with alternate endings and whatnot.

In terms of replayability, I doubt there is an easy solution. I am 100% sure the veterans would explore and memorize every detail once again. No matter the game, those who love it enough to explore every possibility will eventually be burnt out.
As you said, the heroes and their different build paths are what currently give the map its replayability. I appreciate the rarity of some bosses, legendaries or artifact items but I doubt many veterans are willing to do 20 playthrough on the same hero to see the Heart of the Wyrmest.

Now, what if you could make the whole map a different dungeon by a diceroll at the start ? Let's say, you either face the nagas and their queen or the legion and gul'dan ? What if there were gobelin looters and their machines ?
(You could keep the actual dungeons as they are, being timeless zones)

Might be a crazy idea, but a random bestiary could do the trick
 
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An account exp save/load system with some super minute small unnecessary bonuses that appeals to Veterans and is not necessary to complete thee map in any difficulty.

There can even be achievements that you can only earn WITHOUT using account exp bonuses and vice versa. Things that encourage you to play without bonuses but you can load your account if u wanna play/make a fast run with ur bonuses and all.
 
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Ayreon said:
An account exp save/load system with some super minute small unnecessary bonuses that appeals to Veterans and is not necessary to complete thee map in any difficulty.

There can even be achievements that you can only earn WITHOUT using account exp bonuses and vice versa. Things that encourage you to play without bonuses but you can load your account if u wanna play/make a fast run with ur bonuses and all.

SpasMaster said:
Perhaps the best idea would be to apply this model to larger chunk of the map. Perhaps the players should choose which door in the Twin Corridors to open first? That way you'd have two different zones to do in whatever order you like.
Love the ideas <3

Other thing to improve that system could be use more the sea with floors (or change the style map to one type labyrinth, btw you can keep the actual sea dung and puzzle, but eliminate the surronding sea)
 
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