Skip to toolbar
Head over Heels - Dungeonalia entry

Head over Heels - Dungeonalia entry

Supported by (Turn Off)

Fewer different room sizes

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
No Comments

One of the things that keeps the original (computer game) Head over Heels interesting is the sense of progression throughout the game – it really does feel like a “proper” dungeon crawler, as you explore the different worlds.
And one clever way is does this – on a machine of such vastly limited memory and resource – is through the use of different sized rooms.

Fewer different room sizes

It’s much easier to keep a mental map of the game as you progress from “the thin corridor-y bit” into “the large room with three baddies in it” which in turn might lead to “the small corner cupboard room” which then takes you to “another corridor but running east-to-west this time”.

So one thing I wanted to retain in my tabletop remain was being able to have different sized rooms. But one thing I really, really didn’t want to have to do, was make a whole load of bases (complete with Fimo-clay tiles) of all the different room dimensions.

So I figured I could probably break most 7 x 7 rooms down into smaller sections.

Fewer different room sizes

The idea here is that if I wanted to create a large 7 x 7 room, I could just put all the pieces together. If I needed a 5×3 I could just use that one section.

If I needed a 3 x 7 corridor bit, I could just combine a couple of smaller sections. Likewise, for a 4 x 5 or a 4 x 7.

The pattern of As and Bs allows me to see which orientation pieces would need to be in, to make them fit, but also to allow me to use different patterened tiles, but keep a “seamless” visual going.

For example, if I wanted to use the “rounded cobbles” patterned tiles, so long as I placed them with the appropriate piece in either the A or B position, then when the pieces were placed together to make larger room sizes, the patterns would continue with their “seamless” layout.


Fewer different room sizes

But as I was creating my first few “room cards” for the game, something dawned on me…

Unlikes the video game, where you could just have different sized, empty rooms that the player has to just “pass through” to help them with their mental map of the game, a tabletop game requires effort to set up every room.

Each time the player enters a new room, they need to select the appropriate tiles, lay out the board, place the wall sections, apply any characters, then “play through” the room, to reach their new destination.

Which could get pretty tedious if, after laying out your room, you roll a dice a few times and simply walk through it – clearing the table when you reach the other side.

I felt like each room needed to be playable – it had to have something to keep the players interest; to make them want to lay out the room and actually play it (rather than simply say “I just walked through that room” and turn the next card because they couldn’t be bothered with all that layout, for little-to-no pay-off).

Fewer different room sizes

This looks like probably one of the smallest rooms I could get away with, that would still be playable. On entering the room (through either door) the player has to position their character, then try to avoid the baddie as they make their way to the other exit.

There’s a reason to go to the effort of laying this room out – something might happen as you play it out.

It also happens to look a bit like a corridor (it’s long and thin) and it doesn’t feel like it would work quite so well if it was any smaller than the current 7 x 3 grid squares. It might work on a 5 x 3 grid, but everything would already start to feel a bit cramped.

So I decided that instead of a whole load of different possible room sizes and shapes, I’m going to keep it simple – I’ll have just three floor tiles for each world, each will be 7 squares long, and then two and three squares wide (one 7 x 3 and two 7 x 2). This will allow me to create rooms that are 7 x 3 (corridor sized) or 7 x 5 (small room sized) or 7 x 7 (large room sized).

That should give enough variation to help with the mental mapping of the tabletop game (you’ll still go from “small room” to “corridor” to “large puzzle room” and so on) but without having to come up with lots of different ways of making each possible sized room enjoyable to play.

Fewer different room sizes

So with this in mind, it’s time to cut some mdf and make some terrain tiles!

Supported by (Turn Off)

Leave a Reply

Supported by (Turn Off)