Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dark Delve Character Classes

In Dark Delve, the player can create between 1-4 characters to tackle the adventure with. The game challenge is increased by using less than the full 4, but the player's end game score is increased greatly should they succeed. Each character is defined primarily through their assigned class, of which there are 3 options. Each class also has 3 different skill paths available to customize the character into their preferred role.


Masters of combat, Warriors complement their natural skill at arms with well timed strikes that can turn the tide of any battle. Their unmatched endurance and ability to wear the heaviest armor allow a warrior survive where others would fall.

Base Skills:

Cleave A sweeping attack that affects a group of enemies

Power Strike <BREAK>The warrior puts everything behind a single
powerful and accurate attack.

Skill Paths:

Barbarian An offensive specialization strong in self sufficiency

Knight This defensive specialization allows the warrior to shrug off even the mightiest of attacks and stay in control of the battlefield

Paladin A welcome addition to any adventuring party, a Paladin supplements the base abilities of the warrior with magical attacks and healing power


Steeped in Arcane traditions, Mages bring powerful magic to bear. Because of their intense study, Mages are able to use powerful skills more consistently and to greater effect than the other classes. This power does not come without a cost, as the Mage is unable to wear anything but the flimsiest cloth armor.

Base Skills:

Arcane Bolts The mage fires a pair of magical bolts at their target

Heal <BREAK>With the aid of healing energy, the mage repairs damage to a hurt ally

Skill Paths:

Druid Specializing in powers of Nature, the Druid is a powerful healer with great strength in both physical and magical realms

Warlock Those that choose the path of the Warlock gain the ability to sap the strength from their enemies while increasing their own

Sorcerer Mastery of the elements unlocks access to the most powerful magical attacks available


Dwelling in shadow and mystery, Rogues strike the balance between magical prowess and strength in arms. While lacking the raw strength and endurance of the warrior and focused spellpower of the mage, a rogue is equally skilled in both realms. Rogues are able to equip light
armor and have an uncanny knack for finding hidden traps and items.

Base Skills:

Hide By moving into the nearby shadows, the rogue becomes more difficult to hit and regains some lost strength and 2

Dirty Trick <BREAK>The rogue dazes their target with an unexpected maneuver

Skill Paths:

Assassin This specialization is the study of raw brutal power that can quickly punish and overcome the toughest of foes

Thief An opportunist, the Thief specializes in harassment and turning the enemy’s strength against them

Bard A support specialization that increases the survivability and confidence of allies while hindering their opponents

More detail on the different Skill Paths to come...

Friday, May 13, 2011


In my first post, I mentioned several classic games that were my inspiration and model. In this post, I want to talk about two areas in which Dark Delve deviates from its source inspirations.

Many computer RPGs, especially early games, combat encounters are frequent and randomly generated as a chance to occur with each step, or after a certain semi random number of steps. I wanted Dark Delve to feel closer to the most classic of RPG inspirations, Dungeons and Dragons. When a DM puts together an adventure, they typically build both a map and encounter key. Dark Delve is built the same way, when an encounter is defeated, it stays defeated. In fact you can even listen at doors to get hints to what might be found on the other side. This is a tactic that really becomes important on the more difficult game modes where the player is advised to seek out treasure to boost their strength with minimal exposure to encounters.

Dark Delve still features some random combats, but these are much more akin to the wandering monsters also seen in those early DnD adventures, and serve to keep the player tension up even in large cleared out sections. These encounters are much less frequent though, and typically not as dangerous as those found in the set encounters.

As far as the population of levels themselves, the encounter and treasure locations and specifics are randomized at the start of each game, allowing the game to retain higher replayability. What was the site of a desperate battle the last game might be a simple empty room in the next game.

Another area I wanted to address in Dark Delve was the mentality some Computer RPGs foster that you save all your SPs/Mana and consumables for the boss fight, and just auto attack your way through the rest. Encouragement to do otherwise comes in several forms.

Performance Awards
Your performance in each battle is graded based on your speed in defeating it, amount of damage taken, efficiency, and the encounter’s relative challenge for your characters. To receive high marks, you are going to have to use your spells and items. The amount of experience, gold, and quality of items found are all tied to the combat grade. The highest ranking is a rare accomplishment, and comes with the best rewards such as scrolls of teleportation or the ability to change the allocation of a character’s skill points.

Renewable Resources
A small amount of HP and SP are regenerated after each battle, the exact amount also tied to the combat grade. Also there is a renewable resource in the form of Chain Breaks. Each attack that lands in combat generates a chain point and Breaks are special abilities which spend a character’s accumulated chains (with increasing effects per point) and cost no SP to use. Each character can have up to 5 points, and as they reset with each battle, there is no reason not to use them. In fact, for the best combat grades you are going to want to pay close attention to your chains, as your combat grade improves if you can end the battle with as few unspent chains as possible.

Saved Progress
Running out of resources in Dark Delve is also more forgiving due to the nature of using set encounters rather than relying on random battles. Player progress is maintained, even if they retreat back to town to rest and restock.

One philosophy I tried to keep in mind while building Dark Delve, was to have less frequent, but more interesting combat encounters relative to most RPGs. As such I hope you will feel engaged and interested throughout your exploration of these dangerous halls.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Announcing Dark Delve

Welcome to Checkmark Games. It has been nearly a year since I started working on Dark Delve, and I can finally see the end in sight. Dark Delve is a throwback game of the likes of Wizardry, Bards Tale, and Might and Magic, games I loved as a kid, and continue to enjoy as an adult.

Create a party of adventurers and explore the lost halls of the cursed queen. Along the way you will find traps, secret doors, treasures, and all manner of foul beasts that stand in your way. Encounters and treasure are placed randomly when a new game is begun, such that no two games will be the same. Multiple difficulty options allow for a challenge for veterans, while staying fun for kids of all ages (my 8 year old son has been my enthusiastic tester to ensure the later).

I will be sharing more details regarding character customization, the various game systems, and perhaps one of the unique boss fight challenges that await you over the coming weeks on this blog.

Until then, sharpen your sword, study your spellbook, Dark Delve will be making its way onto XBLIG this summer!