Look at that! It's the first screenshot from Legend of Grimrock 2 and it's one of the worst pictures of a dungeon I've ever seen, right up there with the Mona Lisa and Magritte's not-a-pipe-nor-a-dungeon. After creating some top notch dank dungeons for their first RPG, Almost Human appear to have slipped up and the dungeons in Grimrock 2 will apparently contain some trees and blue skies, and crenellated turrets peering from on high, just around the next bend in the path. Of course, it's entirely possible that the picture isn't a dungeon at all and that the game is undergoing a design overhaul. Let's consult the development blog.
I raised more than a brow (a glass, you rascal) when I saw the word Grimrogue in a recent Almost Human blog entry discussing two abandoned prototypes.
Everybody loves a good roguelike, right? Antti and I are big fans of roguelike games here at the office, so it was only natural that this idea, the amalgamation of a roguelike game with Grimrock, has popped up every now and then in our discussions. After all, the tile-based nature of Grimrock seems to be a perfect match with roguelike game design.
With this design levels would be procedurally generated, with some custom made levels here and there. Turn-based combat would probably work better than pure realtime. We even made a quick prototype entitled Grimrogue with turn-based combat and a minimap in one corner of the screen.
The problems were twofold - turn-based combat reduced the number and impact of tactical decisions in the first-person perspective, and the mini-map became the most important visual in the game, reducing the 3d world to a gimmick. Also, even if the game worked well, "it wouldn’t have been Grimrock".
Back to the drawing board then.
Another concept which we tried to make work really hard was travelling in many locations around the Northern Realms, the world of Grimrock. We were initially really excited about this idea, and we made a prototype of the world map, with towns, villages and adventuring locations. There would have been a storyline that ties the main locations together much like the main quest in many RPGs.
In the prototype, the party could travel between the map nodes and choose where to go next. Towns and other encounters were menu based “resource management nodes” and adventuring locations were dungeons with puzzles and monsters. We were so happy about this design that we were about to write a lengthy blog post about it, when doubts began to haunt our heads.
For the rest, the entire post is here, including the details about that second concept. The good news, Almost Human say, is that they've settled on a design now and that first screenshot above is part of the plan. Outdoor areas then, which I seem to remember Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder also explored in their first sequels. As for the rest, we'll have to wait and see.