Lands of Lorez – our 32×32 pixel dungeon crawler


The Low Rez Game Jam was a month long jam organised by Deviever, where the objective was simple – create a game that ran in 32×32 pixels only. You were allowed to upscale your game of course, but it had to be natively running in just 32×32 pixels in order to qualify. To put that into perspective you could fit 48 games of that size into the resolution of a ZX Spectrum.

Ilija and I decided early on to create a first-person perspective styled dungeon crawler. A homage to the old Westwood and SSI games like Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master. It wouldn’t be as advanced as any of those, but we hoped to still convey the same general feeling. Our game was called Lands of Lorez (puns on so many levels there) and here you can see it running in its native size:


and zoomed in to 256 x 256:


After a couple of nights work we had the basic ‘crawling’ routine in place. Naturally I coded the game using Phaser, but ended-up creating an entire Tilemap Walker plugin to handle the movement in a way that I needed for a game like this.

As is usual with our games we did the vast bulk of the work in the final day or two leading up to the deadline. Nearly all level design, the flickering torch intro sequence, the credits screen (32×32 retro demo scene ahoy!), all audio and even the game win state. But we managed to pull it off and what we ended-up with was a pretty solid 30 to 40 minutes worth of RPG adventuring in minuscule proportions.

In early builds of the game we struggled to get the ‘feel’ of the battles right. They just weren’t exciting enough and felt too random. After trying various combinations of settings I ripped it all out and effectively implemented the d20 combat system from an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game book I had on the shelf.

Those frogs, ducks and rabbits you see in the screen shots are actually backed-up by proper d20 stats. Battles start with initiative rolls, are based on damage rolls, modifiers, attack bonuses and armor classes. The frog enemy type for example actually has the same core stats as an AD&D werewolf 🙂

It ended-up working remarkably well and battles became a lot more interesting and deadly.

The levels were designed in the Tiled map editor and exported to JSON, here is Level 5:


The slightly purple looking locks are the ‘hidden doors’.

Had we had enough time we would have loved to include an over-world section, i.e. exploring a forest or grassland above ground before entering the dungeon. But alas we didn’t plan our time well enough and as usual “life” got in the way until the last moment 🙂

The back story to the game is that you’re rescuing your pet cat Jonesy from the dungeon. Those of you who know our work will of course recognise this theme from our previous game Cat Astro Phi.

We will most likely release the source code at some point, but in the meantime feel free to strap on your shield, grab your sword and head over to the Lands of Lorez – fame, fortune and felines await.

Posted on June 1st 2014 at 11:57 pm by .
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