Title: Dungeon Defenders: Eternity
Engine: Unreal Engine 3
Description: Dungeon Defenders: Eternity is a definitive version of the original Dungeon Defenders, and features a vast majority of content from the original game, a complete overhaul and rebalancing, and several new maps and features. Aside from gameplay improvements, it integrates with the alpha version of the PlayVerse service, providing a secure online environment to prevent the hacking that hampered the first game’s online play.
• Conversion of maps from previous Dungeon Defenders, including recreation of paths, scripting, and ensuring consistency with previous title. These include seven Campaign, eleven Challenge, five Bonus, and three PVP maps.
• Scripting on four completely new maps, including pathing, wave scripting, balancing, testing and iteration.
• Ensuring Kismet scripting on the above levels replicated correctly when played online via PlayVerse.
Parity When Appropriate The biggest challenge of this project was accomplishing a similar feel to the original in the new engine, while making as many quality of life improvements as possible. For example, in the original Dungeon Defenders, mana dropped from chests is not instanced – whoever grabs it first gets to use it. This led to slower players getting to build fewer towers and use fewer abilities at the start of combat, which was less fun. In Eternity, mana drops separately for each player – which means that each player gets a chance to build the towers they want, but overall mana needed to be adjusted such that players without a full group could still feasibly complete the mission. Additionally, the game underwent a complete rebalance, and we adjusted wave scaling to keep the game feeling fun and challenging.
Integrating New Maps Several new maps for this project fit into the original campaign, while one starts a new campaign arc. This meant things like enemy composition, mana values, and number of chokepoints were important considerations when scripting the map. We wanted to build on the waves of previous maps, while not making the later levels more challenging. We used this as a tool to smooth out the difficulty curve in places that the original game suffered, fitting new maps between old levels where difficulty spiked.
Pathing One of the large challenges with the move to PlayVerse was that, since the game runs on servers and not on clients’ machines, enemy pathfinding needed to be greatly simplified. This meant extensive testing and path tweaking across all maps, to ensure enemies took paths as close to the original as possible. Other pathing challenges presented themselves on the new maps in Dungeon Defenders Eternity. On one map in particular, Dread Dungeon, myself and the Level Designer wanted enemies to branch at a certain point in the map. This would incentivize and teach proper chokepoint placement and create a more dynamic scenario if enemies broke through. Because enemy paths functioned through pylons and no lanes were hand-created, each path needed careful tuning to present to the AI as equally valid. From there, the map needed information to tell the AI to try and diverge from paths that other enemies were taking. Combined, this split a little under half the enemies through a back lane, accomplishing the goal effectively.