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Road Not Taken: Hand-crafted Randomness

David Edery's Avatar + Posted by David Edery on Mar 14, 2014 // CEO, Spry Fox

Road Not Taken on PS4 & PS Vita

In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the procedural system we use to create the enchanted forests that serve as your proving ground in Road Not Taken. This system is what makes Road Not Taken a fun game to play repeatedly, and — as with any good roguelike — you’ll need to play Road Not Taken many times before you’ve stumbled upon every interesting object and creature lurking in the forest.

Road Not Taken on PS4 & PS Vita

But a purely random system, even a very rich one, can start to feel repetitive over time. Every snowflake might be unique, but after you’ve looked at a thousand snowflakes it’s easy to stop appreciating them!

Our roguelike developer ancestors have invented a few solutions to this problem, one of which is to change the look and feel of the environment to signal when something new/important/dangerous is happening.Sewers transition into dungeons, dungeons become underground caverns, etc. And in Road Not Taken, peaceful glades might lead to blizzard-ravaged woods, haunted groves, and dangerous ice caverns! The changing terrain is both a marker of your progress as well as a warning of new challenges to come.

Road Not Taken on PS4 & PS Vita

Another classic component of roguelikes (and other procedurally-generated games) is the hand-crafted encounter and setpiece. These uncommon encounters stick out like a sore thumb precisely because they’re not 100% randomly generated. They’re specialized, memorable moments that punctuate the gameplay experience. The Chess Biome in Don’t Starve is an example of a setpiece. The major boss encounters in Diablo are another example.

In Road Not Taken, pretty much all of the setpieces that we’ve recently created are hand-crafted puzzles that demand careful planning if you want to solve them efficiently (And remember, in this game, inefficiency equals death!) They aren’t completely non-random puzzles, since that would limit their replay value, but they’re non-random enough to be very distinctive.

Road Not Taken on PS4 & PS Vita

We’re hoping to launch with a healthy variety of these setpieces. Some might have that good-old “boss encounter” feeling to them. And more often than not, those bosses won’t just be coming after you — they’ll be hunting the children you’re sworn to rescue. Protecting others from harm can often feel more intense than just trying to save yourself.

Road Not Taken

We’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about and testing new setpiece ideas over the past couple weeks. It’s been a lot of fun, and we have way more ideas than we’ll ever have time to implement! But even so, it’s worth noting that all of this stuff is just icing on our procedurally-generated cake. The hand-crafted content won’t be the defining feature of your many journeys through Road Not Taken… but we really hope it’ll provide some memorable moments along the way.

And hey, I saved the best for last. Here’s a new video showing lots of cool new, never-seen-before stuff from the game, including one of our new setpiece puzzles!

//Add Your Own

14 Comments

1

+ GranpireV on March 14th, 2014 at 10:26 am said:

Keep these blog posts coming!

More devs should have blog updates like Road Not Taken. I’m loving the openness, and it really allows the people who know their game best to explain what makes it special.


2

+ Sum-Mischief on March 14th, 2014 at 10:49 am said:

Man, just let me know when I can get it ….! Looking forward to playing this …


3

+ LURKING_WOLF on March 14th, 2014 at 11:34 am said:

is this more crap on ps4?


4

+ oOVerbalTechOo on March 14th, 2014 at 11:38 am said:

Road Not Taken has my attention for a while now, the game is shaping up to be as intriguing the poem it shares it’s title with.
I have to second post number 1, while openness around the development process of a game isn’t new Spryfox definitly gets it right.

The frequent updates explain what to expect very well without spoiling the game (or so I assume)

Good job, Dave and co!


5

+ c0d3m0nk3ynz on March 14th, 2014 at 1:12 pm said:

There’s more info on SpryFox’s own blog: http://spryfox.com/blog/

Looking forward to this one, love Triple Town and the art style looks great.


6

+ luvtoseek on March 14th, 2014 at 2:27 pm said:

@ 3, Lurk- no, & 2nd Son is out soon so get a grip.

Monster design is a terrible mix of danger + those expensive plush toys @ FAO. Who’s responsible? It’s both creepy & adorable! Thanks for the update, David! ;)


7

+ shadow15972 on March 14th, 2014 at 3:09 pm said:

@5 Don’t reply to trolls. They seem to like it.

Game looks amazing! Can’t wait for this and HLD. :D Keep these awesome games coming.


8

+ tusunami on March 14th, 2014 at 4:22 pm said:

And to think people keep complaining about indie games. They are some of the best games around compared to the triple AAA games that take 2 to 3 yrs to come out. We need indie games to come out to fill the void while waiting for the triple AAA games. But on another note this will be a stellar game that I can’t wait to play.


9

+ Drew_Croft on March 14th, 2014 at 4:27 pm said:

Dang Sony sure is pushing the PS4 power with all these indies. So glad I paid 400 dollars!
Basement Crawl sequel please!?


10

+ XFRod on March 14th, 2014 at 5:30 pm said:

@Drew_Croft – I’m going to guess that nobody held a gun to your head and, forced you to be an early adopter of the PS4. Personally, I enjoy the parade of ingenious inie games we get to experience between AAA titles. However, if someone did actually force you at gunpoint into buying your PS4, I’d feel really bad. It must have been tramatic.


11

+ GeoDarky on March 15th, 2014 at 4:22 am said:

Beautiful art-style looking forward to play it


12

+ Elvick_ on March 15th, 2014 at 11:30 am said:

Looks beautiful. Is the game native res on PS Vita?


13

+ PrinceofXIII on March 15th, 2014 at 8:11 pm said:

Great!!


14

+ brownlantern on March 15th, 2014 at 10:13 pm said:

Cool, they remind me of POP figures.


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