Dev Diary #2: Expeditions

Jan 10, 2021

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Adventure Time!

As far back as our original concept for Duple Dragon, going to a variety of places has always been high on the list of features we want in the game.

For those of you who played Test 1 you’ll know that we didn’t have clearly separated levels or stages to the game. You simply pressed Play and a random stage was generated for you. This basic version of the game was never intended to stick around for the long haul, and Expeditions are the first step along the path to a more fleshed out system.

For Test 2, there will be a single Expedition to explore, but we have plans to add more later in development.

What are Expeditions?

Please note, while the version of this system you’re about to see is further along than Test 1 was, we still have many plans to flesh it out and the final version may be quite different than this.

You can think of an Expedition as a single location in the Duple Dragon world. Beyond a shared look, each Expedition consists of a series of stages with increasing difficulty. These stages are unlocked by beating the previous stage, and each stage is randomized for replayability.

Even though all stages of an Expedition take place in the same locale, there is quite a lot of variation stage to stage.

Easing Into the Deep End

A major deficiency in Test 1 was the lack of any kind of ramp up in difficulty to help learn the game as you go. We made the single stage available as difficult as it was on purpose — we didn’t want anyone to get bored after one play-through — but getting a smoother ramp is a big priority for Test 2. Expeditions to the rescue!

While a formal tutorial is not likely to be in the cards until the end of development, with Test 2 there will now be a smooth ramp up in difficulty as you play through the Lunar New Year Expedition.

For the Techni-Curious

Now that we’ve touched on the broad strokes for Expeditions, it’s time to talk about the tech that makes our system work. If you’re interested in the technical side of game development, this section is for you.


Stages in Duple Dragon are made up of a curated set of Item Templates and Terrain Templates. Templates in our case refer to pre-built sets of objects that can be easily strung together in any combination to form a stage.

Terrain Templates are the scenery flying by as you play. Templates like the one above are strung together one after another as you play to form the scenery you see. Templates are lined up correctly using the cyan cube you can see around the terrrain template in the picture. The scenery purposely goes a little further than the front and back of the cube. This makes it so you don’t see any gaps between templates as you play.

Item Templates are the Fireworks, Rings, and Envelopes you collect as you play. These hand-built patterns are randomly strung together one after another to create a huge variety of possible combinations. They are lined up as you play just like the terrain templates — using the green cube you can see around the example above. To make creating these templates easier, we developed a system that automatically snaps items to their lanes, and automatically spaces them evenly down the template.


To create our five Expedition stages’ varying difficulties we hand-curated sets of Item Templates for each one to ensure a smooth difficulty curve even on randomized replays.  We also use the five stages to gradually introduce new concepts like negative items, rings, and increasingly complex patterns to deal with.

We hope you’re excited to try the our first foray into expeditions when Test 2 launches. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for future updates.

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