The DROD Killer

UPDATE: This was article was originally written as an April Fool’s prank targeted to the DROD community All of the content is technically true, but a few things are a little misleading.

You can keep playing DROD. That’s fine — play the same old game for decades, if it makes you happy. Have babies and teach them to play DROD — I don’t care! But if you ever wonder what comes after DROD, I will tell you…

The DROD Killer.

That’s right. I’m making a new game. DROD was something in its day, “the greatest puzzle game of all time” yeah, yeah… but I’ve moved beyond it. And while my new game has many similarities to DROD, it is definitely not DROD. It is The DROD Killer.

I may change the title of the game a little, but the name will at least be something similar.

Nothro is Not Beethro

So in my new game, which is not DROD, you control a character who is not Beethro. In this article, I’m just going to call him “Nothro” (short for “not-Beethro”).

Close-up on Nothro.

All graphics you see here are placeholder or early-stage artwork/assets. The game is under development. It’s like pre-pre-pre-alpha. (What comes before alpha?) Don’t ask me for a link to it — I’m busy building the thing.

Nothro’s Sword

You might notice in the above shot that Nothro isn’t holding a sword. But he actually does have a sword. And that sword is bigger than Beethro’s. Five times bigger!

Beethro’s Not-Really-So-Big Sword.

Pretty cool, huh? The sword is frigging large — substantially larger than Nothro himself. So there is no practical way for him to carry it. He just leaves it laying on the ground.

Nobody can pick up Nothro’s sword. Not even Nothro!

Nothro lures creatures to the general vicinity of his immense sword and sorta pushes the sword onto them, which kills them dead. But sometimes the creatures will push the sword onto Nothro instead, and that’s very frustrating.

For Nothro, I mean. Not the creatures. They are relatively content to kill Nothro and will do so frequently when given the opportunity.

Being Fair to the “Monsters”

In The DROD Killer we don’t call Nothro’s enemies “monsters”. They are “creatures”. Nothro is also a creature. The word “monster” makes a harsh and unfair judgment. Just because someone looks a little different from you and is trying to kill you… that’s no reason to call it, him, or her a “monster”. Let’s evolve ourselves, people!

I got to thinking about the other unfairnesses we have in DROD and sought to better the situation. In DROD, when Beethro dies, he gets to start over — again and again, as many times as you wish. It’s something we’ve come to demand for ourselves as players of modern electronic games.

Two seconds later, he’s back in action.

But what about the other creatures?

In The DROD Killer, I made it so that they also get to restart as many times as they want when they die. When you die, you’ll restart from your last checkpoint. And when they die, they’ll also restart from their last checkpoint. After all, they’re playing the game too!

DROD is very you-centric, but The DROD Killer is not all about your wants and whims. We take into account everybody — not just the player.

No More Movement Order Gaps

Tight formations. Finally!

The creatures will now move as a group with no gaps between them. It is the most advanced group movement algorithm used in any stepping game in existence. DROD does not have this, and probably never will. But The DROD Killer has it.

Also, the game is in 3D.

Omitted By Design

Got none of this dumbassitude.
  • There is no diagonal movement. I got rid of that. Needlessly complicated. Not console-friendly.
  • There is no wait key. You can just step back and forth if you want to wait. I mainly took this out to follow the Fairness Principle. The other creatures can’t wait, so why should you have that advantage?
  • There is no undo — unlimited or otherwise. And even if you restart from the last checkpoint, it doesn’t undo anything other than you being dead. You can restart from the beginning of the level, but that is heavily discouraged. It’s the wrong way to play the game. The philosophy of The DROD Killer is that you should live with your mistakes.
  • You never click on anything to get extra information, e.g. col/row coordinates, movement order, what doors are affected by an orb. What you see is what you get. I don’t want meta-commands cluttering up the game.
  • There are no doors that slide or pop open. All of my doors have hinges and rotate open and closed like proper real-world doors. It’s the hard way to make doors in games. But it’s the right way.
  • There are not fifty-million different ways to open doors/gates. There’s just one way, which I’ll get to in a moment. In DROD, it got so ridiculous. I don’t want some three-way, single-press, west-east-accessible pressure plate nonsense. I can’t even look at a DROD screen and remember what all those different things do anymore! It’s out of control, people. It’s so far gone.
  • No elevators. Instead, I have lots and lots of stairs — so many stairs you would not believe it. My fetish for stairs in this game is rivaled only by my love of spikes (see below). Other games like to use elevators because they are compact in the level design, easy to code, and maybe seem cool and science-fictiony to some. But they give me yawns.

Stairs are badass. Stairs are the future. You’ll see what I mean.

The one thing that is kinda, sorta like an elevator.

Okay, I do have this floaty ascension point thing at the end of each level. And I admit it resembles an elevator to some extent. You step onto it and rise into the sky while the next level loads. But honestly, I’m thinking of yanking it and just making the player walk up steps to reach the next level. Players are getting lazy out there, and a little stair-climbing would do them good.

The New Way to Do Orbs

In DROD, all the orbs are on the floors. They have to be, because DROD is a two-dimensional game. But in The DROD Killer, we have three dimensions to play with. So what did I do?

I put all the orbs on the walls.

(mic drop)

Are you getting it yet?

No orbs on the floors. Just the walls.

The orbs are a lot harder to get to now, but they’re so damn cool! Once you see orbs on the walls, orbs on the floor is just yawns.

I also made it so that every orb is directly connected to the thing it controls, and orbs can only control one thing, e.g. open/close one door — not eight doors. That way we will never again have a stupid what-do-all-these-orbs-do puzzle like the Eight Gates of Bill. As I said previously, you will not click on an orb to figure out what it will do. And you will mos-def not read a frigging scroll.

Who is responsible for this crap?

But then I thought that since each orb can only control one thing, it makes it harder to open a bunch of doors at once. So in The DROD Killer, you can strike multiple orbs in a single step. You can literally hit one hundred orbs simultaneously. Can you do that with DROD?

Write it on my gravestone, “He Made Orbs Cool Again”.

Falling in Love with Spikes

In DROD, there are spikes. But yeah, big deal — they are just laying at the bottom of some pits, unreachable, vaguely threatening. You never interact with them. Yawns, yawns, yawns. So many yawns.

In The DROD Killer, I really developed spikes and spikiness. I put spikes on floors, walls, ceiling, everywhere!

Sometimes I put spikes in places you can’t get to or even see. They are just there being spiky. Why would I do this? I just love spikes!

And if something has spikes, then don’t touch it! You will die. Also, if creatures touch spikes, they will also die. (Fairness Principle) Every spike you see in the game is definitely fatal. I did not make any safe spikes.

How much spikes is too much spikes? No such thing!

I’m thinking about other things I can put spikes on. But really the question is: what can’t I put spikes on?

Spikes can go on spikes! An advanced prototype.

Slappy Hands

Maybe you don’t think those spikes will be a problem for you, because you just won’t touch them. In real life, if you saw some spikes, you wouldn’t mess with them when they’re clearly dangerous.

But I’m also going to have these giant slappy hands that knock you onto the spikes. You’ll be strutting along nonchalantly, then… SLAP! And it’s “spike city” for you.

Dude. You’re gonna slapped and you’re gonna get spiked. Count on it.

Time to get slapped!

Multi-Death!

Are you getting the idea that The DROD Killer is a dangerous game? Deadly spikes... Slappy hands… Creatures that move in well-disciplined, gap-less formations... An ability to strike over a hundred orbs in a single turn…

Yes, it will be deadlier than ever before. But you don’t know the half of it.

In DROD, when you die, there is always a single cause of death.

In The DROD Killer, I’ve introduced the concept of multi-death. You can die for several reasons simultaneously. It is possible to be pushed off a cliff, get fatally sliced by wall spikes as you fall down, get punctured again by floor spikes, drown, and then also get ceiling-spiked. All of these deaths can happen in a single turn as a result of just one command issued by you.

After I invented multi-death, I thought to myself “maybe I’ve gone too far.” So I added maybe the most important feature of all…

Safety Rails

If a room is getting too deadly, I can just add more safety rails. There are times when I want to protect the player a little. I just slap some rails on the side of a path to keep the player out of trouble. Also, the safety rails help other creatures to be safe too. That goes along with The DROD Killer’s philosophy of being fair to all entities in the game world — not just the player-controlled ones.

The delicate balance between murdering the player repeatedly and keeping them safe.

Other Things I’m Strongly Considering

Everything I’ve mentioned up until this point in the article is implemented and 97% certain to be in the final game. Here is a collection of early stage features that may or may not make the cut:

  • An ability to appeal your death (or multi-death) before a court if you believe it was unfair.
  • Creatures remember all the times you’ve killed them and hold grudges. They also remember all the times you could have killed them, but decided not to. Relationships can be repaired with a history of benevolence.
  • Ray guns. Similar to the sword, it would be an extremely-large ray gun — too heavy to carry. This super-powerful gun could potentially kill every creature in the room in just one turn. That is ten times more butch than anything so far proposed by the DROD community. You gotta dare to dream, kids.
  • Boxes that you can move to target squares, but not by pushing. (Jeebus, enough with the Soko-ban puzzles already. Talking to you, Jonathan Blow!) You just pick boxes up and carry them to where you want them to go like any sensible person doing box-moving work. If you go help a friend move her stuff into a new apartment, do you shove her boxes around on the floor all day?
  • Guy made entirely out of spikes. I mean he’s just totally spikes.

Jumping

I kinda don’t want to talk about jumping because among all the features I’ve described, it truly is the killer. The game-definer, you could say. If there is anything I should keep a secret about my new game, it would be the jumping.

But screw it. I‘m taking you inside the chocolate factory so you can taste pure imagination.

From DROD: This situation will never, ever occur in The DROD Killer.

It goes without saying, Beethro can’t jump. But in The DROD Killer, I’ve done away with this limitation.

“A lot of games have jumping,” you’re thinking, unimpressed.

Trust me —this is a zero-yawns announcement. No yawns. All gapes. I’m bringing the gapes hard here.

I promise you, no game has jumping like The DROD Killer. Somebody go chisel this addendum onto my gravestone… “Reinvented jumping”.

How far can you jump in, say… Donkey Kong?

Mario at the peak of his jump.

You can jump about your own height — suitable for leaping over one, two, or possibly three barrels. Not bad for the dawn of video games.

As video games grew more sophisticated, players expected to be able to jump higher and further. Possibly, this was influenced by rising steroid use in professional sports, but I should stick to facts and not speculate. Anyhow, game developers toiled to keep up with players’ demands for more impressive jumping.

Decades later, we have more powerful jumps in games like N+.

I saw where this trend was going. So I devised the Infinity Leap. I removed all limitations on the distance of the jump. Nothro can travel any distance with the Infinity Leap in a single turn. Five meters, five miles, fifty thousand billion light-years.

Name another distance for me. Ask me how many steps it takes Nothro to traverse it.

Answer: One step.

You think I’m lying, but I’m not. Infinity Leap is in the game, 100% working. This is how we do it now. Get your ass ready.

DROD versus The DROD Killer

This article might seem a little adversarial, particularly since I am no longer a part of Caravel Games, and The DROD Killer is not planned as a Caravel release. But I promise I will take no direct actions against DROD or the DROD-playing community. If you want to play DROD, I will never prevent you from doing that. People should be free to make their own decisions — good or bad.

I imagine there will be a number of people that want to continue playing DROD after The DROD Killer is released. It would be tempting to call these people stubborn or ignorant, but that’s wrong. We should treat the remaining DROD players with respect. We should look after the DROD community, in the same way that we protect the culture of primitive tribes in the Amazon Rainforest that eschew modern technology and its conveniences.

Both games can simultaneously exist. If anyone says we need to retire DROD, unpublish DROD, remove DROD from the face of the planet… I will be the first to say, “Whoa, slow down! Let’s talk about this.”

And then after hearing people out, establishing a consensus, maybe we get rid of DROD. But by no means is that a foregone conclusion.

Comments are extremely welcome, here or on the Caravel forum.

-Erik