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So I've been thinking on the new possibilities brought up by RPG Maker 2003's latest 1.12 patch, and with the new picture functionality (and better pictures in battle!) eventing suddenly became a breeze.

Makes me think about exploring new ways of doing dungeons and map exploration.
Which games you played have a distinctive form of exploring maps? Do you have any ideas of your own? Which do you like and dislike?
I'll start by citing some I remember.

Riviera: The Promised Land features an interesting system where each screen is a image, and you can interact with it in two ways by pressing the corresponding directional buttons:

In Move mode, you can move between maps, limited to the options the game assigns to the buttons.
In Object mode, you can interact with objects, sometimes expending a limited resource replenished in battles, TP. These interactions will often results in new paths opening up, especially in rooms where there were no paths beforehand. They may also result in finding treasure, triggering battles, traps and a Plethora of other effects.
I like this one and I can't quite point the fact why, but I was always on my toes while exploring new maps. It helps that the way maps are drawn without minding collision or tiles makes for very cinematic pieces.

Wizardry & other first person dungeon crawlers.
You explore the map in first person, more often than not moving tile by tile while triggering random encounters and revealing a map. The maps are very much tighter than average RPG maps and due to perspective you can only see so much in any given time, giving it a very noticeably different feel during exploration.

Pocket Quest

A delicious board game. I's been ages I played it but the way you explore the "dungeons" by rolling a die and wrestling the potentially dangerous results is really fun and makes each playthrough unique. I can only imagine mixing this up with customizable, semi-random equipment could be interesting too.

Sacred Earth: Promise (and other node-dungeons)
I didn't know this game had a download. I thought it was kinda vaporware lol. But everything Sacred Earth is awesome so I'm downloading it RIGHT NOW.
I'm sure there's lots of ways the gameplay on a node-based game could be really fun, although I can't quite conjure more ideas in my mind than Final Fantasy X.

Anyway that's what I know, plus Roguelikes and early Zeldas with their screenscrolling (which makes each screen a self contained mini-dungeon or battle with a specific objective, usually the role of a room as in regular rpg dungeons)

So, do you know of any other interesting exploration systems? : D
If you're interested in RM2K3 scripting for a custom dungeon system, you could try downloading the demo of my project The Legend of Zelda: Forgotten Gates and perusing the eventing in it. I created a system for generating a random dungeon layout of one-screen rooms and (fairly) seamlessly moving the player from one room to another. It also has a system for displaying a map of the dungeon, although I deactivated it for the demo because it's not really complete yet and the demo generates a small, usually entirely-linear dungeon anyway. X) It looks pretty similar to the Sacred Earth: Promise screenshot you showed.
Can't think of any 2k3 games off the top of my head, but I did stumble across a great "breakdown" video of A Link to the Past's dungeon design philosophy.

The video discusses alternating paths, dungeons having a "main hub room", linear vs. open-ended dungeons (all of these variants are in LTTP), using items for progress vs purpose, and more.

TBH if y'all aren't already following Game Maker's Toolkit y'all are missing out.
I was always fond of The Last Story's approach to dungeons. It relied heavily on clever tactics and stealth. You'd have to use the environment to your advantage and maneuver through waves of enemies and obstacles.

I've been thinking about dungeons with branching pathways. The scenario would have to be scripted, though. Like, say the character collects wood in a forest-themed dungeon. The wood could be used to either build a bridge, be used as a weapon, or used as a torch. Players will then have to decide if they want to build a pathway across a river, ambush a bandit's hideout or explore the cave. No matter what pathway they take, they'll clear the dungeon, giving players the incentive to replay it - because maybe there are different rewards or something idk lol
I think the topic is asking how a dungeon can be projected/perceived moreso than how they're designed sequence wise. The standard top down ingame movement that's shared in the towns/world and such is considered the default way to do it, but it is interesting to think outside the box. Granted this will probably mean a lot of dungeon crawler examples as they're usually the ones that don't mind presenting their dungeons in tabletop like depictions (which is what the OP images are indicative of anyway).

Never played this game, but I like how Darkest Dungeon never pulls focus away from the battles/characters and opts for the dungeon display to be in the lower right. The way the backgrounds are presented work regardless of how the actual dungeon itself is laid out which I imagine makes it more modular.

So Hands of Fate is cool because it's a choose your own adventure presented inside cards. The cards act as tiles but when you reveal them they depict locations or situations determined by the system. There's some fun RNG and pen and papery involved but there's also an action heavy arena style minigame that resolves the conflicts. To be honest the combat is way less interesting than the card based exploration it accomplishes. Def look at a gameplay video to see what I mean.

This is a really hard thing to convey even with gameplay footage. But for those who haven't played Odin Sphere, in most areas you basically appear on an endless sidescroller background that loops. You can go to different locations by entering/exiting certain points in the map which lead into the standard node base movement depicted above. One thing the circle loops provide is that the player can keep moving in a direction forever without any need for level design to accommodate such a thing. Again, like darkest dungeon, there's probably a lot of modular things you can get out of this art wise.

Don't know why I or someone else hasn't come to this one yet. But Valkyrie Profile and Alter AILA depict really faux sidescrollery sections where you are locked to going left or right. But the most abstract thing to me is when they decide to make it so you can go forward or back creating a sense of depth to these seemingly flat sections (basically when you press up at a door or down to go on a path towards the foreground). Interestingly I find whenever a sidescroller adopts RPG elements ala Zelda 2 or Castlevania 2 the whole forward/back things is present. It raises a lot of ideas of how 3D as possible exploration needs to be while action and combat need to be as straightforward and locked as posisble.

Alright im gonna go out on a limb here and mention a hypothetical: Basically a point and click adventure where you click through backgrounds and exhaust every option and item you find while likely talking to a character, then you get into a standard RPG battle. That's kind of it. I'm posting Phoenix Wright because I think it provides an example on how point and clicks sections can contrast with something else (conflict/court cases). It'sssss kind of simular to the Riveria example? Still presented a little differently I guess.

All I got, I'll try to think or remember more.
Ah, my fault!

This is a tough one. Can't really think of anything atm, but the node-based system is interesting. I think the only RPG i've played with experimental dungeons like this was Muramasa Demon Blade (successor to Odin Sphere).
yeah I'm referring specifically to different exploration systems / interfaces / logic / etc rather than dungeon design, although the links and tips on dungeon design were certainly welcome and useful!
also great mentions, Darken. Alter AILA is great for many reasons, with its exploration being one of them. Valkyrie Profile is totally one of my favourite games and I absolutely enjoy Odin Sphere's dungeon "worlds" layout.
I tried making something akin to VP on RM2k3 once but I didn't go urther since I was waiting for RM2k3's 1.12 update. Now I'm not sure I wanna go back to it; don't quite remember how I coded it and i'm not quite in its vibe anymore.

I had NEVER heard of Hands of Fate and I'm absolutely going to check it out.

Also gonna download your game @Audrey! I was thikning about doing something remotely similar to what you wrote by generating a dungeon structure though variables and then referring to them through teleport events on room instances but I never followed along~

also Sooz I just downloaded Game Maker AND did my first construct2 tutorial today XD
Hey JosephSeraph,

I don't mean to hijack this thread but, you should post what you shared in the screenshot thread here, just to show these guys what you came up with:

lovely work y'allo

RIP me, attempting a more versatile and code-optimal dungeon crawler on 2k3 using the new 1.12 version display picture functions
(notice the map refresh lag, which is totally an aesthetic choice COUGH)

I thought this was really cool! ❤
- This is wild! I don't really know much about this new picture in battles feature, but seeing you guys do stuff like this is excellent and gives me a better idea of what can actually be done with rpgmaker2003 now.

I can't think of any games that can be used with this new feature yet, but if I do, I'll post them.

Looking forward to what else you guys can come up with in this thread.
puking up frothing vitriolic sarcastic spittle
You could do that with RM2K/3 before, it just took a lot more "show picture" commands than it does now. I use a hyper-simplified analogue for some labyrinthine puzzles in one of my games.
Thanks LordBlueRouge! And yeah it has been done before! My logic was slightly different though, and that's because I was thinking about things that could be extremely simplified now with 1.12 -- the event i created for example uses RegionIDs just like this, but with picture pointers the routine of reading RegionIDS into variables, then assigning them into variables representing each possible block to be displayed is a lot easier through loops. (there's 7 rows of blocks in a cone in front of the player)

The minimap was achieved similarily with a single page loop, but its very ineficient and was just for testing purposes (it needs to load literally 300 versions of the same picture XD done super easily now with picture pointers <3)

Also @Sated that looks cool and simpler (in a positive way) !!!
the problem with my system is that although it runs in just 3 pages of code, it doesn't take in directions of things like doors _and_ it still takes about 90 pictures for each possible direction. Which means it's a pain to art, while something with a smaller depth of field would be more practical hehe

Here's a mish mash of perspectives, but in some parts (3:20) specifically there are neat dungeon crawler sections but you have an onscreen character you see and fights play sort of like a weird punch out or vertical shmup. This game is so bizzare in how it presents itself but idk, it's still just a variant on the semi-3D dungeon crawler thing.
I’d like to contribute more to this:

The only two I can think of right now, is similar to JosephSeraph’s prototype

The 3D animated Dungeons in Phantasy Star 1 for the Master System:

I thought it was interesting how, by adding a small bit of animation, they gave the illusion of movement and turning inside the dungeons. Having the monsters appear randomly in the field of the dungeon (and attack the player @6:50) sort of amplified this effect as well – like it was very simple, but it went a long way to help make the world a bit more immersive to the player.

The other one I can think of is something like Dragon Quest 1 or 5 where instead of transitioning to a battle,
the battle takes place on top of the field map.

(notice how in the battle, even the clouds move, in the battle background)

There’s a few more ideas I’d like to try, that I can’t remember at the moment.

But the last one I wanted to include, something I wanted to do years ago, was to try and implement these scenes from YS3 into rpgmaker2003. Being able to post pictures behind the hero sprite, finally makes this possible, so I’d like to return to this at some point. (Thanks Cherry ❤)

If you guys can think of any others, post them, I love hearing what you guys come up with.
Like I'll admit, most of what I mentioned are just variations of what Darken has already mentioned earlier
in this thread, but it's still interesting to see them work out in practice.

...There's like a whole bunch of ideas, I came across throughout the years, but I just can't remember them at the moment.
I had no idea Phantasy Star 1 moved that good. I thought it would just look like a scrappier version of Phantasy Star 2. But I guess the popularity of other console RPGs made the team consider more top down views for later in the series.

I find that the japanese computer games tend to have a lot of interesting dungeon crawler implementation. This is probably the only instance of "2nd Person" view I've seen. If that even counts.

Starring the Puyo Puyo girl.
Darken, buddy, what you posted earlier this week in the picture thread:

Messing with the picture features from the new cherry patch, most notably the tint isolating.

This was wild ❤. Can't wait to see more of your work.

Anyways, I wanted to suggested 3 more games with weird "dungeons" I remember now that might be cool to try out in rpgmaker2003, that I wanted to add to this thread. (which i'm going to edit into this post later on...)
EDIT: (Want to added two more to this thread, but super sick at the moment)

Years ago I wanted to make a hockey rpg – in theory, it kind of worked similar to Final Fantasy X’s blitz ball I guess, but then years later while watching Game Center CX and the flash animated movie Micheal Quest 3, I came across Captain Tsubasa/Tecmo Soccer it pretty much did the whole idea first.

Now this isn’t really a dungeon per sa. But I thought it was really interesting how, even though, it’s highly cinematic and a sports title, it still kind of works fundamentally as an RPG: You’re a soccer player on the field with a limited amount of stamina that depletes as you move. As you run into other players, they act as random encounters with their own set of stats, but you have a choice to dribble, pass, or shoot. But the main objective is to survive or avoid these encounters, long enough so you can keep the ball with just enough stamina, as you travel across the field and shoot the winning goal – similar to blitz ball.

…The reality is, its just soccer with unnecessary cinematic fluff – but it’s also really fun, over-the-top cinematic fluff. So people out there are either going to really like it, or they’re going to really hate it. But with careful planning, as long as you understand it’s just a soccer game strung together through cinematic events, this could be a really cool idea to see pulled off in rpgmaker2003.

But for now, ever since I saw this:

I always wanted to try throwing this together in rpgmaker2003, just to see if it'd work.

...With Cherry's update, it's like we're like half way there now.

But I'm not quite sure if I'm doing this right - Picture sequences seem to behave differently in battle, than they do in field - Whenever wait commands are used in battle, they tend to freeze everything else (I can't remember if there was a way around this) but I can't seem to get the picture animation to behave by itself in battle.

Would you guys know how to do this? Would I have turn this entire picture sequence into a sprite sheet?

If that's the case, would you guys know of a good paint/photoshop program I could use to turn 409 320x240 pictures into a sprite sheet quickly?

But yeah, lemme know and I'll keep you posted.

I have been waiting for this day since the newest changes were first announced, and built some utilities specifically to support the sprite sheets and reference picture by number options. Check them out! I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Sprite Sheet Creator
Tool to convert your mass of individual images into the new sprite sheet format for rm2k3. If the finished sprite sheet has fewer than 256 colors, you can export into a valid rm2k3 format directly from the program. Otherwise, you can export as full color and use another program to generate a "closest match" approximation for each color.

Picture Text Creator
Helps with creation of custom picture-based menus by allowing creation, editing, and saving of text to images. For example, you can type out all of your item names, select a font, and export to get rm2k3 compatible images named with prefix and numbers (such as Item_0001.png, Item_0002.png, etc). Saving the list also allows you to go back, fix a typo, and export again using the same naming convention (essentially allowing you to edit existing images by simply typing in the new letters). It also supports background images, glyphs, and custom fonts, giving you significant control over the output. I haven't gotten around to writing proper documentation for this program yet, but it's seriously pretty cool and designed specifically for use with what Cherry's done here, so I encourage you to push past the initial learning hurdle.

This totally worked!

Thank you hedge1 ❤

(Note for future ref: Add Night of the Bashee gif and Famicom Detective 2)
...I kind of want to kickstart this thread again, cause it was really interesting to see all the different dungeon possibilities
rpgmaker2003 is now capable of, with cherry's new picture in battles feature.

Unrelated, but it'd be really cool to see, visual novel effects done in rpgmaker2003 like the ones seen in Bashee's Last Cry/Night of the Sickle:

As someone who FUCKING HATES MAPPING (incidentally, I never did work up the guts to check that thread after the OP, I was afraid that I was going to get torn apart after my initial rant)...I am very attracted to the idea of using backdrops as unique locations and a "node-map", a la Sacred Earth: Promise, so a sort of quasi first-person dungeon crawler approach which could be more or less Wizardry like as desired. I first saw this kind of approach (not very Wizardry but my main point is, no maps) in a game LouisCyphre was working on many years ago, can't remember the name.

I'm also experimenting with quasi-side-scroller like maps creating linearity. I'm not going as far as restricting the player to only moving left or right, but the maps should have the feel of a side scroller if I can get them right.
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