Friday, September 29, 2006

Game Idea: Alien Abduction

OK, today's idea is one that sort of blends elements from GTA and the sort of collect-a-thons I'm always going on about. You play as an alien (which is a pretty popular topic for me, since the concept of aliens is something which is highly variable and has a lot of scope for imagination) who has visited Earth to research the place for an invasion. Sounds pretty Invader Zim so far, so I'll quantify what exactly our alien friend is doing here and how he goes about doing it.

He has various objectives on the planet, which take place on locations all over Earth. His first and foremost is the research itself, which can be done by surreptitiously stealing and "beaming up" various samples of fauna and flora, before moving onto things like Earthling technology and valuable minerals. The alien is also interested in the culture of the planet, though without making it too educational, it plans to take as many examples from one fandom as possible (say the alien is interested in Sci-Fi, so it steals toy robots until it has upgraded the ship to be powerful enough to steal the 60ft long plastic UFO sign from a themed diner). Ideally, it should try to do this under the cover of darkness to avoid arousing suspicion with all these mysterious thefts for as long as possible.

He can choose to be discrete about his extra-terrestrial activities, or go nuts firing on the populance while fulfilling his goals, generally having a harder time of it but will ultimately having more fun. You'll be disguised as a human, though the disguise will be pretty poor to start with, so you'll be hiding in shadows a lot for the first half of the game. It'll be more sophisticated as you upgrade that element of your reconnaissance, allowing you to get into more places by fooling the Earthlings guarding the building. You'll still have a hard time avoiding UFO nuts and the local law enforcement and like GTA, repeated exposure brings up a sort of "sightings" star system which when filled up brings FBI and Black Ops types snooping around following up all these reports of an extra-terrestrial visitor. These stars show up whenever you're spotted doing something odd, such as beaming an item back to your ship while someone's watching or fluffing a conversation with an Earthling (sometimes amusingly) by saying something very wrong.

Again, similar to GTA, the world you'll be visiting will be several cities large with a lot of space between areas. Your "Flight of the Navigator"-like ship can transport you between cities quickly enough (good if you've been spotted one to many times in one area) but you can still explore the planet itself if you tire of the cities full of people. Of course the planet will be down in scale somewhat compared to the cities (the available cities will probably be whatever scale GTA:SA was, around 1:50 I think, with the planet being closer to 1:1000). I plan to make the cities a lot more explorable than most of these types of game allow, by actually letting you enter practically all the buildings and taking whatever's inside (though with stealth if possible).

Gameplay will flow in sorties to the planet, beaming a certain amount of objects per day (in a certain amount of total volume per day, based on your ship's cargo hold) from all over the planet and storing or selling them through your intergalactic contacts through interested parties. You may accept missions where a gourmet restaurant wants so many special food items (such as cows or sodas, or maybe even humans) or a rich citizen wants artifacts a certain color (so you'd be hunting around for purple objects, in a sort of homage to Bart Vs The Space Mutants). Selling goods and acquiring various rare specimens increases your funding and reputation, which go towards ship upgrades and equipment to assist you "on the job". The following list has the sort of upgrades I'm thinking of at the moment:

Disguise: Upgradeable from your original model. Currently, your disguise is only vaguely human and you can be easily spotted by any human as not being "local" if you're too close or in bright light. With upgrades, it'll be easier to convince Earthlings you're one of them and eventually convince them you're someone important enough that they would let into their homes or banks. Eventually, you may even be able to turn yourself invisible and avoid the humans altogether. A side-quest to acquire a better "human suit" may involve abducting a certain amount of test subjects to use for a convincing disguise, making the game slightly macabre as you walk around with pieces of people sewed on you trying to blend in.

Zapper: A weapon that discharges a certain amount of power can have all sorts of uses, ranging from shorting-out security devices to briefly stunning humans. Upgrades would allow you to charge things like generators or battery-operated gizmos with a sharper degree of accuracy (whereas normally you may end up frying electronic equipment with the wrong voltage).

Cargo Hold: A ship upgrade, you can use this to increase the size of the objects you'll be transporting from Earth. You can configure it to expand your capacity for biological specimens also. Initially, you'll only be able to beam certain sized objects a very limited amount of times, so in the early stages you'll want to beam worthwhile stuff only. Keep in mind a unique sample will be worth a lot more than the second and third pieces of that sample, so even the first piece of trash beamed off the planet will be valuable to start with (though you could probably avoid beaming up any more like it).

Transporter Beam: Another ship upgrade, this will be handy for moving huge objects from the planet. To start with you'll have a severe size restriction as to the type of things you can transport, probably limiting you to things smaller than a soccerball. The beam will need to be upgraded in tandem with your cargo hold in order to hold the bigger items.

So instead of a just a regular "aliens take over the planet" game, many variations of which have already been made (from the perspective of the attacking aliens and the defending humans alike), the alien in this case is simply using the planet to get rich and achieve fame and power before taking the planet by force, using what it has learned to take us out. It'd be cool to sort of take on an Invader Zim sense of morbidness and the humor inherent in the major culture clash of a vicious imperial alien race and the otherwise backwoods inferior human race, but the chances are the game will need to veer away from that angle to avoid too many comparisons.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Design Genres #9: Zelda-esques

There are so many gameplay factors, not to mention a cynical allegation about how that game idea came to be, to define something as a Zelda-esque, so it's a little tough to explain exactly what I mean by one. In most cases, a Zelda-esque game is a game inspired by the Legend of Zelda series. However, sometimes a Zelda-esque can be so disparate from a Zelda game that I consider it too much of a separate entity to be thought of as a simple Zelda clone, but too similar fundamentally to be lumped in with the all-encompassing and way too vague "action adventure" genre.

Basically (I use that word way too often to start paragraphs), a Zelda-esque is a broad example of an "adventure" game, one that tends to have equal parts action and narrative-driven problems to solve. Action-Adventure titles try to distance themselves from regular "action" games (which would generally be things like rail-shooters or scrolling beat-em-ups, where the plot is minimal at best) with a rich narrative, often brought across with cut-scenes or strong characterisation (recurring bosses as "rivals" for instance). Zelda games are no exception, revealing more of the story with each dungeon completed and each new area discovered.

The criteria for Zelda-esques are where this genre definition sort of wobbles a tad: It must be able to blend puzzles, action (either shooty or stabby), possibly contain mini-games and have RPG elements, but very basic ones (money, HP and equipment tend to be all Zelda games really need). It also requires a story to follow, if only a very basic one to let you know where to go next. A Zelda-esque may be allowed to drop one of the above, since it's a very concise list, but you'd be surprised how many games follow the above criteria.

To rephrase in the manner of an equation: basic Action + basic RPG + Story + Exploration + Puzzle-Solving = Zelda-esque. A little crude, but those are the four necessary components.

Excepting the Zeldas themselves, I'll give you a few of examples of what I mean by Zelda-esques:

Alundra - an excellent Zelda-esque PSX game. Sony were obviously trying out the Zelda system and giving it their own unique spin for their console. Sort of like what Sonic the Hedgehog is to Mario: a similar genre blueprint for what was currently "in", taken in a completely different direction to give that game series its own personality. Alundra was considerably darker than most Zelda games, as it slowly killed off half of the village of friendly folk that the hero Alundra used as a resting hub. It's also considerably more difficult, especially when puzzles involving exact timing are concerned.

Alundra uses the standard Heart + Gold RPG features of the Zelda-esque, as well as an equipment system closely linked to the story - each time someone died, the local blacksmith is inspired by his mourning to make a new item for you to use, sometimes based on the personality of the deceased. In the same manner as Zelda, these items were required to reach the next area of the game.

Alundra is what I consider a "Zelda Clone" Zelda-esque despite its quality, meaning it borrows pretty heavily from the Zelda blueprint without really adding anything of its own. Even the basic story is the same (mysterious "chosen" hero saves medieval-era village from great evil).

My second Zelda-esque is Illusion of Time(Euro)/Gaia(US), an Enix game for the SNES. This is back when Enix was its own company that barely anyone outside Japan had heard about, despite being on equal-footing with their eventual partners Square in their homeland. Enix made several excellent SNES games which we were sometimes fortunate enough to see Euro/US releases of, such as Equinox and ActRaiser.

Illusion of Gaia (or IoG) was the second part of a trilogy of similarly-themed games (but pretty different gameplay-wise) that comprise of Soul Blazer (sort of an early frontrunner for the Dark Cloud games - descend into a dungeon to assist the town and townspeople above) and Terranigma (which is a little too complex to go into here, but is generally a "complete dungeons to follow the plot" affair).

IoG followed a young boy called Will around as he went on an epic quest to save the world from evil yada yada yada and so forth. The plot, which was expertly presented but otherwise ridden with standard Japanese RPG cliches, closely tied in to whatever area Will had to go to next, all of which were based loosely on real-life ruins and Wonders of the World. Levels such as the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian Pyramids and even Angkor Wat regularly appeared as the next destination, full of interesting monsters and, of course, the Zelda-like problem solving. Tying in a bit closer to the RPG side of Zelda, Will was able to increase in stats (strength, defence and such), either by collecting the boosts from killing enemies (all enemies in an area needed to be killed for the upgrade, giving the player an extra incentive to search everywhere) or assuming the form of a powerful "Dark Knight" (and, later, a being made of shadow) to explore areas he alone couldn't reach.

IoG is what I consider to be a "Zelda Inspired" or "true" Zelda-esque, a game not too similar to the Zeldas themselves but still sharing those five defining bullet-points. For one thing, it's stylistically dissimilar, keeping a sort of 2(1/2)D platformer appearance similar to that of Crash Bandicoot or Double Dragon - The screen goes left to right but there's a small bit of room to go up and down in also. It also employs several of its own unique features, such as the aforementioned enemy-based stat boosts (which help out a lot with bosses).

The third and final example is Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, an excellent DS game I've been playing over the past couple of days (and the inspiration for this update, truth be told). While the game focuses equally on the regular dungeon-exploring and the very unique, very fun Tank Battle system (a little more on that in a later blog entry), I still count it as a Zelda-esque.

For one thing, the Heart and Gold system is still accounted for. So are the problem-solving dungeons, which usually require a story event to happen before you can proceed through them. However the aim is to rescue your fellow slime creatures, meaning you could be taken all over the level to find them as opposed to simply seeking a route to the boss room (though that is usually the main goal). There are also the alchemy and tank battle systems, which tend to give the player a lot of item-collecting to do in order to have the best ammo for your tank to use in battle.

I count this game as a "Zelda Diverse" Zelda-esque, a game almost too dissimilar to be counted as a Zelda-esque due to various additional modes or a completely different set of goals or combat system, for example. However, while it has many more besides, it still has the five required elements necessary for the Zelda-esque designation.

More Zelda-esques I can think of:

The Mystical Ninja/Ganbare Goemon games - All share various platformer/RPG elements, and has upgradable health, equipment and money features. The story is also very important (and usually very bizarre).

Castlevania/Metroid - Very controversial, but the modern Castlevanias and all Metroids share Zelda's emphasis on exploration, as well as an equipment-enabled progression (by which I mean you can only proceed through the game with the correct piece of equipment, usually found right after a boss). Both of these series started at the same time as the first Legend of Zelda, so I feel it would be equally fair to label some Zelda-esques as "Castlevania-esques" or "Metroid-esques". However, both of these series were very light on plot until recently.

Genres which are not Zelda-esque, but very similar:

Action RPGs - Diablo, Dungeon Siege, Kingdom Hearts, etc. share the story-driven dungeoneering sense, but relies too strongly on character progression and levelling up and often lacks the crucial puzzle-solving element. Likewise, Dungeon Crawls forgo the plot more often than not, another important factor.

This may be a controversial Design Genres topic, since it does suggest that all these games are just imitations of the Nintento classic, but there are so many of them these days and many try hard to be a game in of itself as opposed to Zelda's little brother that perhaps a new genre designation should be considered. After all, most samples of other genres aren't considered clones of the earliest game to fit the genre. No-one would think modern RTS games are Herzog Zwei clones or that the latest FPS is the newest bastard child of Castle Wolfenstein 3D. These games simply found a new niche to explore in terms of gameplay, and so other developers either directly imitate or try their own variations .

Ranting-aside, if a sufficient number of games take the unique genre blueprint of a popular series and do something new with it, it should be redefined as a genre in my book. Though maybe something a little less incendiary, like "Console Adventure" (to go with "Console RPG").

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Horror Hotel Dungeon Mode Part 3

First of all, I apologise for the hiatus. I've been playing through Lego Star Wars: The Original Trilogy a lot over the past week. Which is a wonderful game by the way, it makes perfect use of the Lego format and the gameplay is fun and intelligent (not to mention the hilarious cutscenes recreating parts of the movies) as opposed to painfully generic and simple like you'd expect licensed games directed towards the very youngest players to be. It's about time developers realised that 5 year olds can be pretty damn smart when they want to be. Devastatingly so.

Rather than go into that previous statement in any detail, I shall continue describing Horror Hotel's (I still plan to rename it, don't worry) Dungeon Mode in an effort to get everything about it covered so I can move onto other topics and game ideas. I've covered Treasure, Exploration and the playable Golems themselves, so all that's left is..

Combat & Level Advancement: Combat will be in real-time, in a sort of opposite side of the mirror from the "hordes of creatures" approach in Diablo and closer to Pikmin, in that your Golems will tend to be smaller (being 3ft high robots most of the time) than the regular-sized enemies you'll fight under the mansion and will therefore need to take on a single enemy with a swarm of Golems. Tactics will vary with any given encounter depending on the enemy, though you may want to have several AI-controller defensive Golems take on the enemy creature directly while your player-controlled Fighter can do some damage from behind (getting a damage bonus) and keeping an eye on the other AI-controlled ranged units.

Alternatively, you could allow the fighters to do their thing and control one of the ranged units in order to keep them safe (and it'd be easier to keep an eye on the other ranged units if you're there with them). I already touched on AI in the last update, but I plan on keeping it fairly sharp and customizable in order to easily set up your preferred strategy on downing monsters.

To describe a typical enemy encounter: Your Golems are busy exploring a new room, allowing the Helper Golems to collect everything that isn't nailed down. Suddenly, a Warboar wanders into the room from the south exit, one you haven't been guarding. The game pauses (if you have auto-pause on for an enemy showing up in your visual range, which is probably a good idea).

First off, the natural AI will have any healthy Fighter units charging the Warboar, any ranged units keeping their distance until they can see the Warboar is occupied, and then firing at them. The Helpers will run for it in the safest direction available, as they're not built for combat. The fighting will continue, with various damage scores being given to and from the Warboar in timed increments (which are called "rounds" in D&D as you probably already know). If you have healing Golems, they'll be busy keeping any injured Fighter Golems alive, though you may need to step in if the Warboar is concentrating its attack on a single Golem, since it probably won't last long.

While this is going on, you can assume control of a magic-using Golem (provided you have one) and use all the powerful magic it has that is effective against the Warboar (which will probably be Earth-affiliated, so you'll need Wind magic). Once your heavy magic hitters are all out, you can assume one of the Ranged units and try and maneuver around it to attack its backside while the Fighters have it distracted. You could also assume one of the Fighters that isn't being targeted by the Warboar and do the same thing (back attacks to bring it down quicker) or you could assume whichever unlucky Golem is being targeted by the Warboar and try to get it to safety before it croaks. Moving around the battlefield Golem-to-Golem will allow you to direct the battle for the optimum damage against an opponent, hopefully defeating them before they can take out too many of your Golems.

Just to make this clear: When you start the game the enemies will be approximately the same size as your guys, since you'll only have a handful of Golems for the first few floors and need equal footing. As you explore deeper into the dungeon the enemies will get bigger (like, physically bigger on the screen) and more complex with their powers so you'll need to plan battles closer to a war campaign scenario as opposed to a regular RPG fight. You'll probably have several dozen Golems at this point to choose from.

Dead Golems will collapse into their respective parts and sometimes the parts will be too heavily damaged to be salvaged. Augmentations will always be safe, but as explained in the Items/Treasure blog entry, they'll be a heavy burden for other Golems to carry until the original is fixed. The Golem's central core - the one that has all the information the Golem has learned (experience, in other words) will also be OK (since it'll be built like the black boxes on aircraft), and can be transplanted into a new body of a similar (or completely different, if you wish) Golem model. Transplanting Golem cores into various different bodies will allow you to give that Golem some versatility if it dies again: If it was a Healer and then you turned it into a Fighter, it may be able to use some low level healing magic as well as its Fighter powers.

Killing the Warboar will make it collapse and give off various items it was carrying, as well as enemy-specific spoils such as a Warboar head or the tusks. These can be sold for cash, or used as Hotel decorations (the head can be displayed in your trophy room for example) or can be used as augmentations (the tusks might be fitted onto an Armour Golem's armour, giving it a boost to attack). If you have a Frankenstein/Monster Golem, it could "eat" the Warboar remains for a strength boost as well as a boost in the Earth element (however, if your Monster Golem has been Wind-affiliated up till now, it will decrease the Wind attribute instead since it's the opposite to Earth).

After collecting the spoils, you may decide that the casualties of the previous battle were too severe, or you may have run out of magic for the magic-users and feel you'll need to regenerate before another encounter. In either case, you can warp out of the dungeon after setting up a "point of return" (a standard item) and come back later. Maybe work on the Hotel section with your new finds before healing up the Golems, selecting your crew (you may change your line up to favour Golems which you found particularly effective against the Warboar) and continuing the dungeon where you left off.

You'll also get the experience rundown, which tells you which Golems did the most damage to the felled enemy and which was the "Golem of the Battle" (like "man of the match") in terms of relative inexperience compared to damage: New Golems who pulled their weight in the battle may end up getting "Golem of the Battle" and a big helpful bonus to XP. Golems who performed their tasks as expected will get an equal share (including the Helper Golems who should've run away). Player-controlled units will tend to get bonuses since the player would've tried to get more damage given from that unit than the usual AI would allow. Whoever dealt the finishing blow will also get a huge bonus.

Which leads us neatly onto the Golems' Level Advancement. As stated in both this and the Golem update, Golems can change models by moving their central core around. This central core gains experience no matter which Golem body it is in, as long as that Golem body is active in the battle. If you decided to Level a Fighter Golem to Level 5 and then transplant its core into a Healer Golem, that Healer Golem will learn its moves way before a regular Level 1 Healer Golem. For this reason, it is sometimes better to level up a Golem in something that gains a lot of XP (like a Fighter) before transferring it into the body of a Healer Golem, something that tends to level up slower. Alternatively, you may wish to level up a new Golem in a Healer body before turning it into a Fighter so that the Fighter will be able to heal itself. The system works kind of like the Job System in various Final Fantasy titles, only it makes slightly more sense than a buff fighter suddenly becoming a weak wizard, since you're switching the bodies around.

If you only have 8 cores, but several dozen different Golem bodies, then you can transplant those 8 cores into whichever bodies you feel are most advantageous for that floor. If you find you need a lot of Healers because of the floor's difficulty, or high number of traps, you can transplant one of the less required Golems into an additional Healer body.

Your best Golem (or your "favorite" - the one you assume control of as a player the most often) may start as a Fighter Golem for its first three levels, gaining a Charge attack. You could then turn it into a Healer Golem for one level to get the Simple Heal spell before turning it back into a Fighter. Once it hits Level 10 Fighter (with that Level 1 Healer) you can transplant the core into an advanced Fighter model. Or you may decide to change it into a Shield Golem with Charge and Heal powers.

As a final note, when calculating the floor level (the relative level of the treasure and monsters of that floor compared to that of your Golems), it will ignore your highest and lowest level Golems (so a single "uber"-Golem won't make the floor too hard for the rest of your party to deal with, and inversely the brand new Level 1 rookie Golem won't make it too easy for them) and use the average of the levels of the rest of the Golems for the final result.

I think that's everything to do with the Dungeon Mode for this game covered now. If I've left anything out, I probably have a clear image in my head about how it's going to work even if I haven't written it down. Additionally, and it pains me to realise this, but this game will probably never be made. It's simply a demonstration of my Design Documentation skills, such as they are, to describe a game in fuller detail than the usual basic overviews that the other Game Ideas in this blog have been given.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Horror Hotel Dungeon Mode Part 2

OK, so last week I covered only the inventory mode of Horror Hotel's much lauded (by me) Dungeon Mode, which comprises half of the game and most notably its "action" part. I'll cover all the other aspects eventually, but today I'll be concentrating on Exploration: Maps, floors of the dungeon, and exploring said floors.

Note: I'll be referring to the levels of the dungeon as "floors", even if some of the floors end up comprising of several, well, floors. This is so I won't confuse you later by talking about experience levels - one of many things you learn in an industry role is to avoid synonyms in your documentation. Common sense to everyone but me though, I suspect.

Exploration: After much deliberation, I've decided on a "random generation-lite" model for creating the layout and things you'll encounter in the floors of the dungeon. By which I mean something like Diablo, in that the floors are pre-created but the content is still mostly random (excepting a few floor-specific elements, e.g. a giant kickass throne that a boss was sitting on).

Enemies will also be randomly generated. I'm thinking of borrowing Oblivion's monster level system (though several games have used it previously, including tabletop D&D), in which monsters level as you do. So you can place any monsters on any floor provided you keep that floor at a level of experience your golems can survive in. Some monsters will have upper caps (little goblins will stop showing up after floor 3 or so for example) and likewise you won't be seeing Demon Lords or Chromatic Dragons until way into the game. But given the vast range of improvement some monsters could go through, the randomization could have you fighting, say, centaurs on floor 2 and again on floor 8 vastly improved with better armour and such. Certainly beats fighting the same type of creature again only with a new name and a colour palette change; at least I'm being honest with the repetition. One thing to keep in mind is that I'm only using these "classic" monsters as examples; I'll probably end up designing a bunch of game-specific adversaries to match this game's unique (well, unique-ish) style.

Treasure, equally, will also work on a "what's expected for players reaching this floor" randomization, though treasure that's well hidden may have their "Treasure Expectancy Level" artificially increased as an incentive for players to search everywhere (or bring along a golem who can detect it). This system will also allow for replaying the game at a higher level, as the floors can just restock with higher level monsters and treasure. There will also be the option to revisit any floor for new stuff after finishing the game once, so you can miss out a floor that ends up being very annoying for you what with the traps or lava or something (I so badly wanted to skip certain levels of X-Men Legends on the second playthrough because of this kind of thing).

Each floor's layout will probably be pre-made and not random. This will be so I can have a greater level of control over what the floors have in terms of puzzles to solve and story events to stage, as well as creating various floor features that wouldn't work with randomization (like lots of stairs and open areas and boss rooms, etc.). The upside to this system is that players will have better, highly-defined playing areas to get through, the obvious downside therefore being replayability of these areas. And the fact I'd have more work to do.

A little more about the dungeon floors itself: Because the game doesn't take itself at all seriously (the first half of the intro story in an earlier blog entry can attest to that), it'll be explained in-game that the mansion is situated on a very peculiar maelstrom of magical energy that allows things like Golems to exist. Because of this, civilisations in the past have attempted to build temples and shrines on top of the same hill. These unfortunately sank into the earth because of the unpredictable nature of the magic energy, creating this layered effect of various time eras/civilisations. This plot device handily explains both why there's both an Egyptian temple and a Medieval dungeon in the same place and also gives the player another problem to deal with as they come up with solutions to stop the mansion becoming the newest addition to the subterranean world.

The map-making utilities in the game will be fairly standard in some respects: it'll automatically fill-in blank spots as you explore them, and the ever-present "mini-map" will give you a very basic view of the immediate surroundings as well as acting as a compass to help you get to where you need to go (as well as pointing out the exits). However, and I will admit to this being entirely based on watching too many Crystal Maze shows as a kid, the main map (which you access like the inventory or status pages) will be a big 3D map of the area which zooms out when you open it and flashes the particular area you're in going "blip, blip, blip". Reason 1: Because it's neat. Reason 2: The floors will get a little complicated with stairways and secret panels and such, so a 3D map will be necessary for an overview of the entire floor. Reason 3: I can put more blips in there for secret treasure sources or enemies depending on if you have a Golem that can detect either (these powers will usually come from an augmentation, incidentally). This 3D map can be spun around and similarly manipulated for a better appraisal of where you are.

Finally, I thought I'd end this update on the actual gameplay as a tie-in to the combat update coming up next in this series. As your golems explore the dungeon (I have yet to designate a limit to how many golems you can bring with you), they won't always follow the leader closely like they do in other party-based dungeon crawlers (such as Dungeon Siege for example). You can give golems standing orders to search the rooms as they come to them or leave Helper golems behind picking up everything in a furniture-heavy room. If a golem you've left behind fills up with stuff, a prompt will come up asking you if you want to make room by getting rid of less valuable items. If everything's OK that filled-up golem will then transport itself out of the dungeon and be waiting for you once you've finished up with the main group.

The AI of the golems will mean most of them can work independently provided there are no problems (such as nearby enemies). If a problem does arise, you'll see a color-coded message at the top of the screen (maybe one of those picture-in-picture head-ups of the golem in distress) so you can rescue it in time. Likewise, the sprightly Jester golems will go off and do their own thing by setting off traps and finding secret passages on their own. Your battle party will follow the leader still, though magic-user and archer golems may hang back away from dangerous (unexplored) areas just in case, and will always do their best to stay a ranged distance from enemies because of how generally weak they are hand-to-hand.

I really want the AI to not be stupid in this game as it can often be a problem, what with instances of magic users who decide to go hit the ogre with the pointy end of their staff. The same staff that could easily incinerate said ogre from a safe distance with its magic. That'll unfortunately mean getting programmers who know what they're doing, which sort of leaves me out of making this game solo.

Long update again. I just can't help myself. Come back again soon for the next Dungeon Mode update. Or just sign me up to make it for you now if you have a lot of money or work for Sony or something. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?