by Tom

Beta4 out now – bears, blacksmith, story and pet evolution

September 16, 2014 in Announcements by Tom

Lenna’s Inception version 0.5 (beta4) is live. Get it from the usual place.

As per usual, in order to access most of the new features you’ll need to visit the starving artists’ house in the town and speak to the NPC inside to regenerate your maps. This won’t cause you to lose any progress.

What’s new


  • Random ursine (i.e. bear) NPCs have been added.

  • The shopkeeper is now an ursine person at the start. The shop is taken over by the human shopkeeper halfway through the game.
  • The ursine blacksmith Rupert has been added. (GIF)
  • The Damascus Katana is no longer found in a dungeon. You must do the blacksmith’s quest to get it.
  • More story-line and cutscenes have been added (roughly 50% complete now).

  • The chicken pet will now evolve when given a certain item. (GIF)
  • There’s a slightly modified cutscene inside the palace if you find the prince before visiting there.
  • There is new music:
    • On the game over screen
    • When you use the Missinglasses
    • In the town and inside certain buildings
    • In the palace
    • By the sea
    • (Some of these require you to regenerate your map by visiting the starving artists’ house.)
  • There are new transitions between tracks in some places:
    • When you enter a boss’s chamber, the dungeon music fades out.
    • In the overworld, most tracks don’t swap immediately, but only after the current one has finished.
    • Temporarily switching into the glitch or victory music will no longer cause the previous track that was playing to reset and start from the beginning.
  • The lost library books “Tursiops Sapiens” and “Ursus Sapiens” have been written.

Bugs fixed:

  • NPC and pet AI has been improved to hop over the fewest obstacles necessary to reach the required tile.
  • Roads no longer disappear under obstacles (and avoid going under walls and obstacles where possible).
  • A bug causing randomized NPCs to sometimes sell “Urine Tunics” has been fixed. (There are meant to be urine potions around, but not tunics. It’s one of the few potion-only effects.)
  • A bug causing the virtual screen to sometimes (rarely) move permanently from its usual central location is believed to be fixed.


  • Tunics appear as random drops more frequently.
  • The secret room in the library has moved.
  • Roads are better designed now. Rather than go everywhere, they tend to hint at the way to go. Going off-road is more likely to get you interesting loot, however.
by Tom

Overworld Overview – Part 2

September 15, 2014 in Procedural Generation by Tom

I’ve put up the second article on procedural generation in Lenna’s Inception over on my dev blog at Go check it out!

First part here.

In the previous post in this series we saw how terrain is generated and how the procgen system decides each area in the world will be connected, which controls the progression of the player through the game. In this post I explain how the contents of those distinct areas are filled. As mentioned earlier, while Binding of Isaac and Spelunky use hand-designed templates to generate this content, Lenna’s Inception takes a different approach.

Spatially-aware room content generation

This part of the procgen system is aware of the spatial relationships between objects. By formalizing (making strict machine-readable rules) the constraints each kind of tile places on its neighbors, the system can choose where to place randomized objects without breaking the game. As an example rule, a cracked rock requires floor next to it so that a bomb can be placed there. If it was placed next to some water, the bomb would sink and not blow up the rock. The system understands this could prevent the player from progressing and will not by default put water next to cracked rocks.

Full Article

by Tom

Overworld Overview – Part 1

September 8, 2014 in Procedural Generation by Tom

I’ve started a series of posts on procedural generation in Lenna’s Inception over on Go check out the first part!

I regularly get asked how the overworld is generated. I actually started writing it up in a series of blog posts here on last year, but it became difficult to keep this up to date with the implementation. The implementation was changing too much and too often!

Things have stabilized somewhat now, so in this two-post series I’ll give an overview of how the procedural generation in Lenna’s Inception works. I’ll skip over some of the details to keep the length down, but if you need more detail on something specific for your own project(s), I’m more than happy to help you. Feel free to contact me on twitter or by email, but please try to understand that my time is very limited!

How is Lenna’s Inception different?

Procedural map generation in contemporary video games tends to fall into two categories:

  • Sequential levels with limited procedural generation, e.g. rectangular rooms and long-thin corridors (Rogue), or stitching together hand-designed templates and setpieces (Binding of Isaac, Spelunky).
  • Open, non-linear worlds with very few setpieces, but where the procgen system has a huge degree of freedom and can automatically produce variety (Minecraft).

Lenna’s Inception doesn’t really fit neatly into either of those, because while it’s linear, it doesn’t rely heavily on hand-designed room templates. It takes the linear gameplay of the first category and and increases the degree of freedom of the procgen system to a level comparable to the second category.

Let’s start by taking a look at the design of some of the most closely-related games that use procedural generation and randomization.

Full Article

The second part of this series (and its conclusion) will be on Monday next week.

by Tom

ScreenshotSaturday – Honoring Lovecraft

August 15, 2014 in Screenshots by Tom

As a bit of an aside before we get into the screenshots, I’ll be demoing Lenna’s Inception at the Cambridge Computer Museum next Friday for a BYOB retro videogame night. If you happen to be in Cambridge (England) on Friday, come along and share a beer with me! 🙂

78-preview 72-preview

Wednesday is the birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, author of “The Call of Cthulhu”! Here’s a Lovecraft-inspired cutscene I’ve been working on:

Translated from R’lyehian: “In his abode in Daevr, Death waits dreaming.”

It’s possible to beat the dungeons and work through the storyline out of sync and out of order, so I’ve scripted a slightly altered palace cutscene that takes place if you found the prince before he gets kidnapped:

It’s not Charles Darwin’s birthday for another 6 months, but I’ve also been working on pet evolution. Check out this evolved FriedChicken in action:

To be honest, calling this metamorphosis process “evolution” would not be a good way to honor Darwin.

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by Tom

ScreenshotSaturday – New NPC race

August 1, 2014 in Screenshots by Tom

Quick reminder first: beta3 is available right now. Among other new features, it includes randomized potions and tunics. Go and download the update if you haven’t already!

Screenshot Saturday

If you’ve been collecting the lost library books, you might have noticed the title of one of the books hints at an intelligent race of bears. Although I haven’t written the content of the book yet, these bears are now wandering around in my development builds!

99 123

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by Tom

Beta3 now available – potions, tunics, NPCs and the palace

July 31, 2014 in Announcements by Tom

Lenna’s Inception version 0.4 (beta3) is live. Get it from the usual place.

As per usual, in order to access most of the new features you’ll need to visit the starving artists’ house in the town and speak to the NPC inside to regenerate your maps. This won’t cause you to lose any progress.

What’s new


  • Randomized potions have been added. These potions have a variety of effects, not all beneficial. You can use potions in a number of ways:
    • Drop it on yourself to try out its effects and find out what it does. If you’re standing in the same place as your pet, you’ll both get the effect.
    • Throw it at a distant pet or enemy to grant that pet or enemy the potion’s effects.
    • Throw it at the ground to create a puddle. When any mob (enemy, pet or Lenna herself) walks over this potion, it’ll be granted the potion’s effects.
    • Launch a potion across the room with the bow (which does not require any arrows). This is often the most convenient way to deliver the potion to a pet that is standing next to you without also taking the effect yourself.


  • Rare alternative tunics have been added. When you find or buy one, you can equip it by choosing “Change Lenna’s Tunic” in the inventory screen. Like potions, these tunics are randomized and have effects on the player character, much like the potions.


  • The hammer can now be used as a weapon.
  • Randomized NPCs have been added to the “town” area. Some give you items, and some sell items, although most tell you the latest gossip.
  • The palace location has been added and is the first destination you must head to after the school (if you’re following the storyline, otherwise it’s optional).


  • The first four bosses in story mode now speak before attacking.
  • New music has been added to the palace location and the dungeons styled after abandoned buildings.

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by Tom

ScreenshotSaturday – Palaces, potions and misbehaving NPCs

July 25, 2014 in Screenshots by Tom


When the game starts, Lenna’s students are killed and she sets off to report this to the guards at the palace. Until now, the palace has only been mentioned in dialogue. Now it’s a real location.

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by Tom

ScreenshotSaturday – Random Passive-Effect Tunics

July 18, 2014 in Screenshots by Tom

Some weeks I take part in an event in the twitter and reddit game development communities known as ScreenshotSaturday. It’s an opportunity once a week to share screenshots with other developers and find out how your favorite projects are coming along.

If you’re curious what I’ve been working on for beta3, my submissions are below.

Alternative tunics with randomized, passive effects


The healing tunic is one of many tunics I have planned. It gives you half a heart about once every 5 seconds.

The same effect system will be used for the randomized potions, and for boosting the abilities of certain enemies.

Each time you start a new game, the colors and materials of each tunic (and potion) will be randomized. You’ll never know what you’ve found or bought until you’ve put it on. You better hope it isn’t poisonous or made of gunpowder…

I’m hoping people will figure out neat ways to combine effects, e.g. donning an explosion tunic, quaffing a blast protection potion, and then walking into a group of enemies to blow them up unharmed.

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by Tom

Beta2 is live – New Shopkeeper!

July 16, 2014 in Announcements by Tom

Lenna’s Inception version 0.3 (beta2) is live. Get it from the usual place.

In order to find the new shopkeeper in a pre-existing save file, you’ll need to visit the starving artists’ house and talk to the NPC inside.

What’s new


  • A shop has been added. This can be found near the library and school. Regarding the items on sale:
    • The shirt will eventually be part of a trading side-quest.
    • The bicycle is not a real item yet.
    • A random pet is also on sale, which is not shown in the GIF below.


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by Tom

Let’s Plays to watch

July 11, 2014 in Let's Plays by Tom

Quite a few videos of the beta showed up this week. I watched every one I came across. Besides being a lot of fun, it has helped to find bugs and rough edges in the game. You can bet that beta2 will be a much smoother experience thanks to these videos!

Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of some of the LPs and videos that appeared this week:

First up, and with a special place in my Archangel heart, is TRSCP, who has been playing since the alpha. If you want to watch an old hand at work, look no further…

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