“Even in a year with so many incredible games, Unexplored is a gem”
–Austin Walker, VICE.com
“One of my favourite games of the year”
–Adam Smith, RockPaperShotgun
“Even in a year packed with great games, Unexplored is still one of my favorites. Play it”
–Ray Porreca, DESTRUCTOID
Unexplored is not for everyone. You have to actually like the thrill of permadeath, the fear of not knowing what this potion might do to you, the unforgiving environments and unnatural hazards the dungeon throws at you. But for gamers who love these features, this is simply one of the best games of the year.
Unexplored is a roguelite that feels like a roguelike. If you are familiar with these genres, you will instantly understand its appeal. It’s an action rpg, a dungeon crawler featuring real-time, but not twitch based combat. Unexplored is all about exploration, solving multi-dungeon puzzles and finding clever ways to defeat increasingly large and menacing creatures.
The game’s look may be different to most games, but it is a very deliberate style. Every pixel on the screen is there to support the game’s design.
But the real star of Unexplored is its unique approach to procedural content generation. That innovative bit of tech is backed up by an extremely clever game design and an atmospheric and adaptive soundtrack.
Like most Dutch games, Unexplored is an indie production in every sense of the word. It’s designed and programmed almost entirely by one person over the course of a year and a half. Additional work was done by the composer and sound designer, a writer and some additional coders.
Unexplored managed to carve out a niche for itself on Steam and is considered by many as the roguelite cult hit of the year. Since release the game hasn’t stopped to attract more and more players.
Tldr; If you’re into roguelites, Unexplored delivers in spades
Best Technical Achievement: Cyclic Dungeon Generation We’re going to talk a bit about the star of Unexplored: our inhouse developed Cyclic Dungeon Generator. Before you continue, watch the creator explain the very basics in 47 seconds: http://bit.ly/UNEX-CDG-EXPLAINEDUnexplored sets a new standard for procedurally generated dungeons. The game creates levels that almost feel hand-crafted; the dungeons invoke a real sense of exploration and ooze personality. VICE.com explained it fantastically: “Unexplored generates its dungeons in a way that I have never seen before. The difference is immediately striking: Gone are the boxy layouts and predictable routes that so often define procedural levels; Unexplored's halls and caves and galleries twist around themselves and double back and lead you into blind alleys. A little building will open out into a warren of rocky tunnels, and then back into a building again. Thin rope bridges span sunken pools. Yesterday, I discovered for the first time a floor of the dungeon broken up by perilous chasms. Enchanted floor panels nearby allowed me to glide from rock to rock.” Renowned PC game site Rock Paper Shotgun, was so intrigued by the cyclic dungeon idea, they followed their glowing review with an in-depth interview on the technology: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/03/10/how-unexplored-generates-great-roguelike-dungeons/. PC Gamer called Unexplored “a real-time dungeon crawler, but with advanced procedural level generation that results in more interesting, well-designed environments than in your average, relatively rigid roguelike. There are even procedurally generated puzzles.” And it’s not just the press being enthusiastically about Unexplored’s technology. Almost half of the user reviews on Steam, specifically mention the procedural generation as a strong point. Some even going as far as calling it the best ever in its genre. The clever generator has so much content to choose from, it manages to surprise even the most experienced player. Because of this, we frequently see Steam players with north of 100 hours spent in the game. Still want to know more? Read the much shared Ctrl500 article (the site’s best read article of 2016): http://ctrl500.com/tech/handcrafted-feel-dungeon-generation-unexplored-explores-cyclic-dungeon-generation/ Watch Joris Dormans deliver a keynote for Proc Jam 2016 on this subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxMY6hsAzf8. Dormans also wrote a chapter in the recently released book ‘Procedural Generation in Game Design’ by renowned developers Tanya Short en Tarn Adams (of Dwarf Fortress fame): https://www.amazon.com/Procedural-Generation-Design-Tanya-Short/dp/1498799191 Tldr; Really? There’s this video which explains the very basics in 47 seconds: http://bit.ly/UNEX-CDG-EXPLAINED
Motivatie 2e categorie
Best Music & AudioFor an indie game, Unexplored features a huge and varied soundtrack, totalling 13 tracks, including six adaptive in-game pieces. All songs were composed and produced for a specific purpose in Unexplored:• Under the banner of ‘music makes you braver’ the main menu theme puts the player in the right state of mind, courageous enough to face the dangerous dungeon (listen: http://bit.ly/UNEX-MAIN-THEME). • When the player dies (which happens a lot), we didn’t want them to feel sad, but proud of their achievements (listen: http://bit.ly/UNEX-GAME-OVER). • While facing the main boss, we encouraged them with a cello put through guitar amplifiers (listen: http://bit.ly/UNEX-BOSS-FIGHT). • After beating the dragon, the game changes, which is reflected by the music (listen: http://bit.ly/UNEX-WAY-UP). Finally two examples of how the adaptive in-game tracks work. • First, an example of the flow between the layers: http://bit.ly/UNEX-INGAME-6. • Second: the same 30 seconds of an ingame track, representing three different game states: http://bit.ly/UNEX-INGAME-4. The music doesn’t play on every level. There is a system in place that silences the game at certain moments to increases the tension in some places and helps the impact of the music when it starts playing again. Regarding the sound effects: 80% of them are (pre)recorded sounds in a snowy forest. The door opening? That's a boot on fresh snow. When you throw a flask to the ground, you don't hear glass, that's ice. And some of the hits you hear are actually snowballs exploding onto a tree. The snow-sounds were chosen to provide all the sounds with a base coherence. As a player you may not know why, but you just feel that the sounds sort of belong together. The only sounds that we create really differently were the spells. Magic is unnatural and should sound as such. Therefore, we used synthesizers to create an otherworldly palette for spells. Finally: after release we introduced divine beings in the game. These were mainly voiced by the 9 year old son of the composer, who has a weird talent for, well, weird voices. Tldr; an extensive, really cool and adaptive soundtrack; and sound effects created in a surprising fashion
Motivatie 3e categorie
Best Game DesignWhen players talk about Unexplored, they oftentimes start telling stories. Stories about how they accidentally set fire to the room they were in, how they barely escaped with their live, only to be confronted by a giant orc. How they lured that orc into forest and set the trees on fire, this time on purpose. How they had to take a risk and drink that final unidentified potion. How that potion exploded in their face and killed the them...Unexplored’s game design doesn’t ‘design’ any of these adventures. It creates the opportunity for these stories, these gameplay moments to emerge. And they almost always do. The game offers a unique, fluid and plain fun-to-play translation of old roguelike-gameplay, while retaining the explorative nature and strategical depth of the original roguelikes. This is no small feat, and an elegant, accessible translation of a type of gameplay that is often considered cumbersome and obscured by complex interfaces. For this reason Unexplored has been called a spiritual successor of classic roguelikes such as Nethack, Brogue, and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, and compared to roguelite hits such as The Binding of Isaac, Enter the Gungeon, and Faster Than Light. The main interaction with the game is simple: the player moves around using the keyboard, activates two hand-held weapons with the left and right mouse buttons, and interacts with the environment simply by moving into objects. At the same time, the number of possible combinations of equipped weapons, environmental hazards, and enemies that require different strategies is endless. Although the combat can be quite frantic, Unexplored is no twitchy game. The timing of attacks, using the right equipment, and pausing to assess the situation are key to a good run. Many of the mechanics of the game support emergent effects: fires can spread, players can lure enemies into traps or strategically disadvantageous positions. Players can risk drowning in deep water search of secret short cuts, or use a combination of stealth and poisonous gas to get the better of a dangerous foe. And all these plans can back-fire, be thwarted by a wandering monster, or simply poorly executed, creating a constant need to improvise and make the best of a developing situation. By leaving out any mechanics that could result in grinding gameplay, the game foregrounds risk/reward structures. Avoiding danger can be just as rewarding as meeting every enemy head-on. In fact, the content generator is set up to throw curve balls and create overwhelming encounters that are best left untouched. The levels are generated in a way that either such encounters are optional, or are clearly foreshadowed and accompanied with at least some tools to reduce the danger. As a result successful players are constantly assessing the situation and are forced to pay attention to the opportunities offered by the generated environment. Oh, and people like our post-game sequence a lot, which we consider part of the game design: https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/ae5vg5/unexplored-is-a-rougelike-with-a-satisfying-ending Tldr; it’s a really clever and modern translation of the roguelikes of yore