Troglobytes Games have announced that the next iteration of their in-house, procedural dungeon creation engine that is formative of Tenebrae's Metroidvania experience is now fully functional.
Called Vania, the engine not only serves as a successor to Daedalus — a random Maze & Dungeon generator plugin for Unity3D, that the team had previously developed under the moniker of ArtskillZ — but also overcomes several of its pitfalls.
While Daedalus' Unreal Engine port was initially used to develop Tenebrae's environments, it was revealed earlier this year that the plugin's tile-based nature was preventing the team from achieving visually stunning level design.
The development of an all-new dungeon generator — alongside Daedalus co-creator Michele Pirovano — to circumvent the issue was further hinted at at the time.
'Yes, we're talking about the same 'engine' we were referring to back in February,' clarifies Tenebrae's Lead Developer Luciano Iurino. 'The new iteration though is game-specific, it's been written 'ad hoc' for Tenebrae to support its gameplay needs. '
For one, Vania intelligently handles the development of lock/key systems and the generation of rooms fundamental to player progress by itself.
'If the designer decides that the player must acquire the Double Jump skill to progress within a level, Vania will place a room where the player can find such skill,' the team elaborates.
'It will further generate a guaranteed, subsequent room where this skill will be put to the test before you can go on and complete the level successfully.'
Additionally, features such as Filters and Variation Sets/Groups also play a significant role in ensuring seamless visual design; environments such as Castles may now be automatically generated, with Vania placing tower-like rooms in the higher zones of maps, while spreading dungeons, cellars and sewers in the lower parts.
This is of course supplemented by the intricate and complex design of dungeon rooms themselves, each of which generates doors, loot, enemies and other populace according to player status and RPG values.
Attached are images of Vania's height based Filters in action; purple areas represent tower-like rooms, while light-blue regions correspond to dungeons.
While the new engine iteration was admittedly well-within development during the course of the game's various event appearances this year, it is now being prepared for full-fledged testing.
The public unveiling of Vania is Troglobytes' first demonstration of progress, since previously announcing the indefinite delay of Tenebrae's public demo launch in favour of quality.
Also being worked upon at this time is the game's AI and combat mechanics, the latter of which has involved the extensive study of older generation Metroidvania titles on the team's part.
'Here at Troglobytes, we have plenty of old gaming consoles and even an old arcade cabinet,' divulges Iurino.
'We've been firing up older games, altering their speed to better study actions, animations and their relationship with the controls, frame by frame. We've decided to focus on a couple of specific titles, the most useful being an old Castlevania game which kind of drifts away from the standards of its legacy mostly because of its combat mechanics. '
'We think it's the perfect title to draw inspiration from, so we've started working from there. We've kept what we think is interesting, and changed what we've felt is 'wrong' or, in some cases, 'outdated' for a modern game scenario.'
Stay tuned for illustrations of the refactored AI and Combat in action over the forthcoming weeks.