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DataQueen – 7DRL Success

March 23rd, 2014
DataQueen screenshot

Destroy the gridbugs, protect the data!

Last week I completed DataQueen, my 4th successful 7DRL. It’s a hex-based roguelike with a number of unique mechanics that makes it very tight and tactical without ever feeling too overwhelming. The feedback I’ve received has been immensely positive, so I may work on polishing this more (and have had the generous offer of someone drawing a tileset for the game). You can download the game here:

[Edit: Note there’s currently a little bug when you first run it that might make the game hang. If you restart the bug disappears forever. Yes, I’m confused too…]

The big concept I wanted to try in the game was from the board game Hive, where you only die if you get surrounded. This seemed like a cool idea to port to roguelikes! So enemies can’t attack you directly, and movement is very important.

DataQueen combat screenshot

You can set up several attacks to trigger at once.

At the same time you have a wheel of special abilities called the “hex wheel”. For each hex direction you move in you have a special attack that hits in that direction. You can gain new hexes and place them on the wheel as the game progresses. This gives a range of tactical options all tied to just the movement keys. Every turn the wheel spins, meaning you have to plan moves and positioning if you want to chain attacks together. The abilities have all been designed to combine in interesting ways, encouraging the player to make multi-turn attacks.

Movement itself is made more interesting by giving you free movement on green grids. This lets you reposition yourself for different attack directions very easily. Moving onto blue grids converts them to to green, but enemies will do the opposite, quickly eating up your useful tactical space. This cuts across all the mechanics in the game and adds a lot of tactical depth. To progress you need to connect pink grids up with green grids, so the war with enemies is mostly one of terrain (and not dying).

DataQueen upgrades screenshot

Upgrades! The UI artwork was done by daftigod.

The base enemies all have unique abilities which can challenge the player. Most enemies die in one hit, but they can be a huge problem in mass numbers. Each level there is a boss, and each of these requires special tactics to overcome. It makes for a challenging game that hopefully never feels unfair.

I’ll be doing a developer Let’s Play video of it soon, talking about some of the design choices and how the game operates. For now you can hear me discuss the game a bit on the latest episode of Roguelike Radio, alongside discussion of lots of other cool 7DRLs! Let me know if you have any comments about the game, and anything you’d like to see changed – feedback is hugely appreciated.

  1. September 23rd, 2014 at 12:57 | #1

    @JamesEdSmith You have a certain amount of control over the rotation with the green squares. When you move on green squares the wheel doesn’t spin, so you can reposition yourself to attack from the direction you want. Having alternate rotations and such would make things a bit too confusing, I think – at the moment you can become familiar enough with the system that thinking several turns ahead isn’t too taxing.

  2. September 19th, 2014 at 14:48 | #2

    I sort of wish that instead of the wheel rotating by itself that there was some way the player could influence when it spun and/or which direction it spins. Perhaps the different attacks could affect the wheel in a different way. One of them making it spin clockwise/counter-clockwise, one makes it flip, one makes it randomly reassemble, one makes the attack swap positions with the previous attack used, etc. Maybe this would be too complicated/unintuitive for anyone to realistically strategize around though.

  3. April 2nd, 2014 at 09:49 | #3

    Thanks, mike! Freeze++ is rather on the powerful side. I need to add a few tougher enemies to the late game so the balance is a little better.

    Everyone who has reached the last boss seems confused by her. I need to be less subtle with how she operates… There is a clue in her description, “I am the same as you … I share your strengths and weaknesses.”

  4. April 2nd, 2014 at 08:46 | #4

    I saw this on indiegames.com, and enjoyed it a lot; the free movement played really nicely with the directional attacks, even if freeze++-then-break cheesed my way through a lot of it. (I’d feel worse about it if not for those damned butterflies.) I never did figure out the trick to the last boss.

  5. Jo
    March 25th, 2014 at 01:42 | #5

    Several overlapping game systems all interacting. Makes it hard to grok the game, which is a good feature. Like chess, easy to learn but understanding takes a lot of time.

  6. erdraug
    March 24th, 2014 at 14:00 | #6

    Sounds like the Unlimited SaGa level-up system except, instead of adding the new skills to a quick-time event, you bind them directly to movement.

    Obviously the directions have to rotate otherwise you’d end up with blind spots.

    Seems ingenious, will give it a try.

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