Submissions open from 2024-03-22 17:00:00 to 2024-03-31 16:00:00
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Welcome to the 4th annual Dungeon Crawler Jam!

A game development challenge to make a first person grid based dungeon crawler!


In this context a dungeon crawler is a grid based RPG viewed in first person and with 90 degree turning.

Examples of classic dungeon crawlers are Dungeon MasterEye of the BeholderPool of Radiance and Bard's Tale etc.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this jam or the dungeon crawler genre take a look at previous jams and their entries:

Kordanor has made an introductory video explaining the jam concept and the dungeon crawler definition. It is strongly recommended that you watch this.

You might also want to check out Kordanor's review videos of last year's entries on YouTube.

This jam is hosted by dungeoncrawlers.org.

Goal

A finished and reasonably polished dungeon crawler; not a prototype, proof of concept or tech demo, but a small game you can play from beginning to end.

Theme

There will be four themes to choose from this time, and all four will be suggested and voted on by the community on the Discord server.

You are not required to incorporate all themes into your game but you must at least incorporate one of them in a clear and visible way.

When you submit your entry you are asked to provide a brief explanation of your theme implementation.

Entries that does not incorporate at least one of the four themes will be disqualified. 

The themes will be announced when the jam starts.

Rules

Be sure to read the rules carefully before you start outlining your game idea. I advise you to remember that there will be a theme. It's important to take that into consideration when you plan and prepare. It might stir things up quite a bit if you lay down a lot of work in advance.
  • The game must have first-person exploration at all times. (See the above GIF). Exceptions are point to point overworld map movement (fast travel), combat screens, cut scenes, town screen, inventory screen other relevant screens.
  • The game must have explorable locations. It doesn't have to be a dungeon in the traditional sense. It can be urban environments, outdoors, spaceship interiors, planetary surfaces etc. (depending on the jam theme). Whichever environment the game has it must be viewed and explored in first-person.
  • The game must feature step movement on a square grid (no hexagons, octagons, etc.). Smooth transitions between grid squares are allowed. Half-steps or dividing a logical grid square into smaller squares are NOT accepted. The size of a square should equal the size of the wall segments it is connected to. Consider a grid square as a cube with a ground, four walls, and a ceiling. Enemies must also move on the same grid as the player.
  • The game must feature 90-degree turns in the four cardinal directions: North, East, South, and West. Smooth transitions between 90-degree angles are allowed. Turning must be invoked by keyboard (or gamepad) control. Mouse-look is permitted as a temporary way to look around, but it should snap to 90 degrees when not in use. Games that allow 90-degree turns up and down are also acceptable.
  • The game must have a player controlled character (or party of characters), or the abstraction of a character or persona.
  • The game must at the very least have some basic stats. (Minimum a single health/power bar)
  • The game must have a win condition.
  • The game must have a death/perish/fail condition, or some other end-of-game mechanic. Roguelite mechanics where you restart game upon death but retain some progress is allowed.
  • The game must have at least one way to affect character stat(s). Examples are resting, potions, items with bonuses, food, water, powerups etc.
  • The game must have combat or a similar mechanic for determining outcome of certain situations, enemy encounters and events.
  • The game must include a clearly visible interpretation of at least one of the four themes. Only entries with a clear and visible theme interpretation will be eligible for ranking and prizes.

Frequently asked questions

  • Will there be a theme? Yes, there will be a theme. It will be announced when the jam starts.
  • What game engine can I use? You may use any game engine like Unity, Unreal Engine, Godot, Love2D etc.
  • Can I use my own game engine? Yes, you may use your own home-brew game engine.
  • Can I re-use any old source code? You may re-use helper libraries and classes that makes little sense to write again from scratch.
  • Can I start working on the game before the jam starts? No. The game must be a new game project started and finished within the jam time frame, not just another week of work on an existing one.
  • Can I put a price tag on my game? The game must be free to download and play to the end. A commercial version of the game may of course be released after the jam ends, perhaps with added content and features.
  • Can I use AI generated content? Yes, provided you are not including any illegal or copyright infringing content.
  • Can I use pre-made assets or asset packs? You may use 3rd party asset packs, stock music or sound effects but must attribute them according to their licenses. If you have assets or asset packs you've made yourself that is also accepted.

Rating

All who submit a game, along with the contributors, will be able to rate entries based on a single criteria: "Overall fun and playability".

Note: In case of tied rankings the theme implementation will be the deciding factor.

Additionally, all games will be played and evaluated by the host of this jam. Games which stand out or excel within certain areas will be rewarded with bonus prizes and honorable mentions. 

  • Movement
  • Proper first person perspective view
  • Controls and interaction
  • Combat (or similar conflict resolving)
  • Exploration (Puzzles, secrets, traps etc.)
  • Character progression
  • Narrative
  • Replayability
  • Theme
  • etc.

Prizes

Only entries with a clear and present theme implementation are eligible for ranking and winning prizes.

1st, 2nd and 3rd place of the community ranking will receive exclusive Dungeon Crawler Jam 2024 prizes.

Special prizes will be given to entries which excel or stand out and are hand picked by the host of this jam. 

More information (and pictures) regarding the prizes will be available later.

If you want to sponsor this jam by adding to the prize pool you may do so over at ko-fi.com

Hints & tips
  • Avoid creating a game with high difficulty. It's in your best interest to ensure that as many players as possible can successfully enjoy your game for an extended period. It's preferable to receive comments such as "The game was too easy" rather than "The game was too hard; I couldn't play it."
  • Plan small, finish big! Define a narrow scope that is realistically achievable, and consider having stretch goals if time permits.
  • Try to avoid incorporating complex and confusing mechanics that might cause players to give up early. If you decide to include complex and potentially confusing mechanics, please provide a detailed explanation either in-game or on the itch.io project page.
  • The pace of the game is crucial. Excessively slow movement and turning might strain the player's patience beyond their breaking point.
  • Include skippable intros and dialogues. Many players have limited time and attention spans for playing and testing games, and they might quickly lose interest if there is too much (unskippable) narration and dialogue.
  • When uploading your game to your itch.io project page, please indicate the platform(s) it runs on. By doing this, players can use the itch.io client to install and launch your game.
  • It is advisable to be prepared with your tools and have at least a rough design idea for your project before starting. Creating a game in such a short time can be a daunting task, so plan well and keep the scope narrow. It is infinitely better to submit a visually simple but feature-complete game that can be played from start to finish, rather than a single-level "demo" with eye-catching graphics but many absent or unfinished gameplay mechanics.
Recommendations

We strongly recommend that you have a strong focus on adding a solid implementation of movement and turning. If you add transitional movement between grid squares and transitional turning there are some things you should consider:

  • Too slow transition speed will make the player wait unnecessarily and it slows down the overall pace of the game.
  • Make sure your game respond well to input while moving. Queuing the input allow the player to initiate a turn or a move before the current transition has ended. This prevent full stops and allow for a fluid movement and turning.
  • Perspective (field of view) is a very important part of crawling a dungeon. If the field of view is so narrow that the player can't see parts of the floor square he/she are standing on but instead is facing a wall which fills the whole viewport, orientation will be extremely difficult. It is highly recommended to show parts of the current floor square and also side corners. This enables the player to easily see if there is an exit to the left or right. See the above GIF for a good example of proper field of view. Often this is done by adjusting field of view and/or pulling the eye-position back a little bit.

When possible you should consider adding an option to toggle between instant and transitional movement and turning. Some players prefer one over the other.

Support both left and right handed players. This typically means adding keyboard controls beyond the usual WASD/QE scheme. Adding support for Arrow keys and Num Pad will allow more people to be able to comfortably play your game. This can greatly impact final rating.

We recommend that do some research on existing games and discover for yourself what works and what doesn't.

Finally, You should avoid using content (especially music) which will create claims on youtube, if you want your content to be streamed (even if you have permission to use a music track, make sure it doesnt generate any claims).

Community

Join our Discord server for discussions, feedback, brainstorming and recommendations for engines, tools, assets etc. to use when developing a dungeon crawler.

If you want to team up with someone let it be known in the discussion board or in our Discord server. There might already be someone there to team up with.

Use #dcjam2024 to share progress or tweet about this jam or your game :)