Behind the scenes: Dungeon Creation


Dungeons are a fundamental element of MMX. Karsten, Lead Level Designer at Limbic Entertainment, explains how the little (and the big) dungeons are made and what's currently going on with the community dungeon.



When you decide to build a dungeon, which are the first steps?


First we define the setting and atmosphere we want for that dungeon. The story also plays a role in this, because all of this has to fit. Next, we make a layout plan, just like the ones that many fans did for the dungeon contest. The plan defines how many levels the dungeon will have, how big it is, where the walls and doors will be and so on.



What happens then?


Next, we build the general structure. That means walls, floor tiles, everything that is shown on the layout plan. Then we start adding the first details, like decoration, light, all the stuff that adds to the atmosphere. After that, we implement the interactive elements, like monsters, traps, secrets and dialogues.



dungeon geometry


This is what it looks like when Karsten is moving dungeon walls. 



But that's not all, right?


No indeed. We do a lot of testing, try different variations, and of course we add some sound, which is very important for the atmosphere.



How are the different work steps of dungeon creation shared among the team, and how long does it take to create a dungeon?


Basically, each dungeon is built by a single person. Certain elements, like for example the dungeon layout or the dialogue texts, can be done by someone else, but usually a dungeon is a one-person-project that takes between five and ten days, depending on the size and complexity of the dungeon.



dungeon monsters


Tiny monsters are being placed in the dungeon. They might look cute in the editor, but wait until they creep around the corner and jump you.



Which factors make dungeon creation complex?


Lots of small rooms and lots of game mechanical finesse make a dungeon complex, and that of course adds to the time we need to create it.



How do you make sure the different dungeons in the game don't resemble each other too much?


First, we have different tile sets, like for example Castle, Palace, and Ruins. The different assets have to be used differently, for example some types of dungeons need to be built with thicker walls than others, due to the way the tiles are designed. This makes the dungeons seem very different in the first place. But of course we also try using the assets we have creatively, doing unexpected things with them in order to make it beautiful.



dungeon lighting


Llight makes dungeons beautiful, for example.



By the way, what's going on with the community dungeon?


We are currently checking how to adapt the specifications we got from the community to what we can actually do with our engine. For example, the teleports Sandro has put in his layout make the party jump from one level to another quite often, which generates a lot of loading time. We're trying to change that, so it will be more fun to play.



That's it from Karsten, who also provided some nice screenshots of dungeon work. Thank you, Karsten! :)