Suggested Gameplay mode: Meta-Terasology Dungeons


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When Niruandaleth started posting these module dependency diagrams, I first thought "we should make an in-game renderer for these, so you can see them in 3-D!"


At first I was thinking they'd be rendered medium size so you could look at the whole thing at once like we do here. The third dimension would be helpful for laying out the graph without so many overlapping lines, which become a problem for Lost:

But then I realized there was another option: Feed these graphs to a dungeon generator, so you can walk around inside them.

That's where it gets meta, you have a Terasology game about the way Terasology is implemented.

You start the game someplace pretty small. When you start getting bored and flipping levers or walk through a sensor field or something, more lights come on and a friendly quest-giver Gooey appears.

Thank goodness you're here!

Gooey explains that this instance of Terasology has fallen in to decay and they're no longer able to make contact with the Maintainers. It's up to you, intrepid hero, to repair this Terasology build and get the world running again.

You've entered here near the Engine. For tutorializing purposes, Gooey shows you how only the Core Blocks and Core Assets are online, and coaches you through repairing the Inventory module in the next room. That gives you some idea of the basic mechanics, an inventory, and once you get Biomes reconnected you can go outside.

Gooey directs you to a nearby dungeon that represents a slightly larger module system. The dungeon entrance is the Engine node on the graph, and your task is to connect that Engine to the new module you're trying to unlock, e.g. Light and Shadow or whatever.

The level designer (whether they're human-designed or it's a roguelike procedural generator) will make sure it's not too easy, you can't just walk straight from Engine through Dialogs to your goal every time. Maybe the decay has caused something that bars your way. Maybe there are some passages you can get through, but whatever thing it is you need to reconnect the Engine can't use that path. Or you could set it up Metroidvania style: it'll only be possible to travel that way once you get double-jump, or the Wand of Reformatting that lets you cut through Checkstyle Errors.

Repairing a module's dungeon makes a couple things happen:
  1. some aspects of that module's functionality come online. Maybe in this world, or if it's not really compatible with what's going on here, it could unlock some other world or game mode.
  2. You unlock other dungeons that depend on that module.
This could be set up as one giant Omega Dungeon, and you're unlocking more pieces of it as you go, but the way I'm imagining is that each of these dungeons is separate. But as you go through them you'll start to recognize some familiar features. "Oh, this is the Cities part, there should be Structures nearby." There could be some fun theming opportunities here, so the Cities parts feel recognizably different from the Plants parts. That way each of these dungeons is different, but familiar, and it helps to build a sense of familiarity with which things tend to be connected.

If a dungeon has Crafting dependencies and also Combat dependencies, maybe those make different possible paths through the dungeon, with different kinds of challenges along the way. (Combat or puzzle rooms or mini-games or whatever we're putting in the dungeons to liven them up a little.)

There are a variety of ways you could go with the art style here. Since it's about repairing the game engine, you could go very cyber in the dungeons, lots of bright lines and wireframes. But it would also be fun to see the concepts rendered in the chunky wood-and-stone sorts of styles we use so much of.

So yeah, that's the idea.

I'm not sure how far it makes sense to build out the primary questline in this. I expect you could keep things interesting for a little bit, but nobody would really want to go through a separate dungeon for each of however-many modules are in Omega. Not all of them have fun loot. ("You have unlocked Behaviors! But there are no creatures.") And I have a hunch that in trying to tune the dungeon generator, you'll discover that module-dependency-design does not necessarily make good dungeon-gameplay-design.

But even a version with just a handful of levels could be a fun way to introduce the concepts of building modules or gameplay templates!