Quarries Of Scred, Seas of Scred

Of course, not every developer seeks to fund their game through Kickstarter and the like. Many simply make the game and distribute it through itch.io or similar hosting sites. Although we devoted a third of a page to Quarries of Scred in the PAX special towards the end of last year, Noble Kale has since also released Seas of Scred.

This time, you manage air and minerals as you navigate dynamic and treacherous waters, hoping to earn enough credits to buy a new research vessel.

Both games are very simple yet really well balanced, leaving me with an intense curiosity about how one might create such systems. Is it through experimentation, mathematics or pure luck?

We asked Kale to share some of his secrets. One way or another, games which don’t have to prove themselves in order to gain alpha funding are often among the most creative. Both Quarries of Scred, which is probably best described as a very punishing Boulder Dash, and Seas of Scred are finished and ready for you to explore.

Designer Noble Kale Discusses The Development Of Quarries Of Scred.

How did you decide on the game’s elements (dirt, gems etc?)

I like games with simple elements, but where people need to figure out how they interact. Some assumptions can be made about how rocks or dirt might work, but there are also a few surprises. When something behaves in an unexpected way that still suits the setting, like mushrooms spreading or falling gems killing you, it adds a lot to the experience.

Why did you add items to purchase from shops, and these items specifically?

The addition of shops and items seemed like a natural progression; it gives the player the nice little feedback loop of earning money and then spending it, while opening up more play options. Also, landmines/lasers are there to fix potentially ‘broken’ levels.

What kind of formula is used to generate new levels?

I start with an empty grid for each ‘screen’, then fill each square randomly with the different elements (though some have stronger chances of being selected). Then, I cut out things like the exit/entry points and add in shops. Finally, on some screens there’s a chance for special items like stalagmites & stalactites, little ‘shelves’ of rock, and more exotic things like Rankler nests.

How do you ensure a given level isn’t immediately impossible?

I don’t. Mostly, I rely on the chances being excessively favorable. You don’t get the two arrangements that will completely block off the quarry entries. The odds are really high for that (millions:one) so we’re ok. Even if you get the odd ‘impossible’ one, though, players don’t really mind. So long as I don’t waste their time. Again, landmines fix everything.

Improving at the game, gradually, is a really satisfying process. How does design support this?

One thing makes it a lot easier: I’ve never actually ‘balanced’ the game. There are useless tech items, there are things that are harder than others. I try to just add what I think will be fun and let the players handle it.

What is the most useful thing you learned about procedural generation while making Quarries of Scred?

The joy of watching the complexity it can spit out with just a few steps. I’m not doing anything near as complex as what I see from folks like Tom Coxon & Michael Cook, but QoS makes some really fun levels.

Post a Comment