One of the most basic mechanics of Real Time Strategy games is resource management: food, metal, wood, gold, units, and whatever it is, there’s never enough. The constant state of supply-not-meeting-demand forces players to balance their production in order to fulfill their goals or objectives while maintaining enough on-hand in emergencies is what creates some of the tension and difficulty of these games.
This week I’ll be looking at an interesting game called Dungeon of the Endless, which describes itself as an “Old-School Pixel-Art Squad-Based Adventure Tower-Defense Roguelike-Like Role-Playing Strategy Game”. DotE blends a limited squad of up to four heroes with the resources of: Food, Science, Industry, and Dust (abbreviated by FIDS, or variations of) with other mechanics usually found in other games like tower defense and traditional RPGs. The entire game’s difficulty relies on the classic resource management aspects of an RTS integrated with more small-scale game types like RPGs and Tower Defense.
Let’s get to the FIDS breakdown.
Food:Heroes require food to heal during fights, which usually costs a small unchanging amount, but can easily spiral out of budget, especially during a tough fight. Reflecting RPGs, one must level them up for better stats and abilities, which requires the player to use up upwards of hundreds of units of food. This costs increases with each level, raising questions on whether leveling up now is currently worth it, especially when you’re in a tight spot.
Industry: Used for building modules, which is divided into 2 types: major and minor. Major modules grant buffs or produce FIS, while minor modules act as the “towers” from a normal Tower Defense, attacking enemies or giving buffs to heroes in the room. building major modules however, need a little time to decide which one to build, as new major modules have increased building costs, so players cannot just build FIS modules everywhere due to the build cost vs the resource output.
Science: Every now and then, players come across an Artifact, which serves as a way to upgrade or research newer and better modules, with each project taking 3 turns to finish unlocking the chosen module. This 3 turn wait for the desired module is yet another decision making progress, as more than one of them might be needed like having to choose between getting a better Food Module or a minor module that lowers enemy defenses, allowing your heroes to defeat them faster.
Dust: Dust is special, it is the only resource to not carry over from floor to floor, it is only gained by opening rooms which then have a chance of giving Dust. Dust is used to power rooms, and in turn, power module to keep them running. Players must take care when powering rooms, because going to the next turn usually spawns enemies in the unpowered rooms. These enemies will usually go after the heroes, their modules, or the crystal they must protect. There will be few times where Dust is plentiful enough to power an entire floor, especially in the later levels.
DotE does not use a currency resource like gold, instead the FIDS themselves double as currency. Merchants can be found on occasion when opening doors, where they will deal in one of the FIDS for buying or selling equipment for your heroes. Spending FIDS in this way is generally recommended when you have an abundance of that particular resource they deal in or you have extra items you can trade in with. These can provide much needed items for getting through the dungeon or even resources during a severe shortage.
The interplay of classic RTS resources in DotE with other genres’ mechanics provide a challenging yet enjoyable experience that swiftly brings about the consequences of players’ decisions to where it can get to the point that simply opening one too many doors can result in a game over. This is captured succinctly with the game’s phrase “What’s behind the door?”
That’s it for now