Nitpicking Lockpicking

As part of the Dredmor beta crunchening process we’ve been making executive decisions about various pieces of game content. Among these are the various abilities granted by the seven starting skills a player selects when beginning a game of Dredmor. These skills are roughly classified by the three traditional RPG archetypes: Warrior, Rogue, and Wizard.

Let us then enter the shadowy world of the Rogue.

The Rogue is a strange one in Dredmor and possibly my favorite for being a bit of an underdog. It’s ended up as the class that’s received all the skills that were not explicitly spell-casting (Wizard) or direct-combat related (Warrior) and therefore range from the obvious (“Stealth”) to utility (“Alchemy”) to the rather random (“Archaeology”). A player who chooses pure Rogue skills will be in for a session of Dredmor that shall often revolve around manipulating the more periphery systems at work in the game.

One such system is the concept of locked objects and the lockpicking skill: These are undergoing some big changes through our run up to the beta. The original implementation of locks has things pretty simple: Doors and chests may be locked and a player without the lockpicking skill or lockpicks may kick said door down causing slight damage to themself and possibly waking up sleeping monsters. Locked chests, on the other hand, can not be opened without lockpicking. From a game design perspective the point of this is that a player has to be able to get through doors in the dungeon to advance in the game lest they be stuck, while chests are just a bonus.

The problem here is that the lockpicking mechanic only adds annoyances to the game for players who don’t choose the skill (doors that take more clicks to get through and chests that taunt you with their unopenability). The lockpicking skill merely removes annoying things and doesn’t itself add anything interesting to the player’s experience. Not much fun, now is it?

We discussed this issue in a Gaslamp Super Important Meeting and came up with a few solutions to making Lockpicking an interesting skill and locks less irritating.

  1. Chests may be bashed in a similar manner to doors: bashing may wake monsters and hurt the player. (Metal chests may even be more difficult to bash than wooden chests; Maybe.)
  2. Lockpicking a chest rather than opening it may give greater rewards — more money? Better items? In-fiction finesse (read: choosing the Lockpicking skill) should be rewarded over brute force.
  3. Advancement in the Lockpicking skill will grant various ridiculous abilities that are even more ridiculous than before, see here:

Originally Lockpicking could grant “Lucky Pick”, which allows the player to pick locks without consuming a pick, “Sure Hands”, which … did something really similar, and “Saving One For Later”, which summoned a free lockpick out of thin air. Upon discussion, Daniel and I decided that these abilities all pretty much amounted to the same thing and what they amounted to was rather boring and not especially useful. It was like, well, you can lockpick more doors and chests, and what do you get? Some more loot? There really aren’t that many chests to make this all that worthwhile, and doors are quite easy to kick down. These need to be much more interesting.

So we came up with two new abilities:

1: “Lockdown” : Chains a monster to a tile, immobilizing them. Sure, upon reflection, it looks like this ability and its effect are straight out of Starcraft, but I was really thinking locks -> jail -> lockdown. Considering a renaming, if something better pops up.

2: “Blast Key” : Opens a locked object by making it explode; This ability can be used at a distance. It’s not unlike Diablo 2’s “Corpse Explosion”, but with chests and doors. The overwhelming thought with this ability was that exploding stuff is always a good thing. — To enhance this ability further, to make the skill more attractive, we may extend the exploding ability to any door, locked or not, and any breakable object (eg. vases, chests, crates).

These new abilities replace two of the old, redundant abilities and give the lockpicking Rogue some new combat tactics.

Finally, here are the placeholder/sketched ability icons of the old and new Lockpicking abilities:

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1 Comment

One Response to “Nitpicking Lockpicking”

  1. Nathan says:

    I loved when it would grant the Lucky Pick!

    { reply }

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