The Lich Ruin

For years, the wise Magelords ruled Harberia in peace.
But now, everything is in danger.
The evil lich lord Afgorkon has taken up residence
in the old ruin on the island of Funeris.
A young magelord (you!) sets off on a journey to
challenge the lich and banish it from Harberia.

The Lich Ruin is a turn-based, real-time strategy game where you must challenge Magelords and other creatures to win spells and other rewards, in order to build up an arsenal powerful enough to take on the lich lord Afgorkon and restore peace to Harberia!

In these challenges, there are three lanes. You can spawn creatures from your spells in these lanes (using the arrow keys), but each spell costs a certain number of crystals. You gain one crystal each turn (every 2 seconds), and there are also two crystal towers that will yield an additional crystal to whoever controls it for 5 turns.

You can toggle unit info by using the left arrow, and Z (or C or N) and X (or V or M) to select which spell to cast next. In the overworld, use the arrows to move and Z and X for interaction,

Good luck, young Magelord!


This cart is by far my largest PICO-8 undertaking so far. The spritesheet is filled up to the brink, the entire map space is used, and all the sound and music patterns have also been used! A lot of time was spent on optimising the code to get as much content as possible into the game.

There are over 30 different challengers to take on, more than 15 different spells to find, and atleast 5 different upgrades that you can use to customise your spells.

The game was originally made for the 4th Alakajam, although that was just the core challenge gameplay. Since then the overworld and all the interactions and upgrades have been added. Enjoy!


Description during Feedback Fortnight:

I made "Wizard Duels" for the 4th Alakajam. I wanted to expand the game and add a single-player campaign and let you build up your spells one by one, before confronting a final boss.

This is still a WIP, but I will make a playable build with some of the features I'm (still) working on disabled. Any comments appreciated! Update: There's now a v2 build!

Missing things and known bugs:

  • win screen, intro screen and in-game tutorial
  • AI - still random
  • units with haste sometimes jumps back while moving (display bug)
  • non-unit spells sometimes appear to hit things a bit far away (bug, but might leave it like this - it's a hassle to get right)

Things added in v2:

  • multiple maps and crystal tower configs (and countdown on the crystal towers)
  • hard mode (and super hard mode) options (press enter before your first battle to try them out!)
  • non-unit spells
  • spell upgrade functionality
  • units are now using their wizard's colours
  • friendly fire for non-unit spells (beware…)
  • a new html wrapper as chrome won't let you autoplay sounds anymore

PICO-8 features a limited amount of space for code, so I am a little limited on how much I can actually add to the game.

Any comments appreciated! On any aspect of the game! Is it boring? Is it too easy? Too confusing? I have space for another enemy/spell - what would be a cool addition to the game?


Probably worth adding these instructions for the battle gameplay:

Controls:
Use Z (or C or N) and X (or V or M) to select which creature to spawn. Use → ↑ ↓ to spawn the selected creature in the lane indicated by the arrow.

← toggles more information about the creatures and wizards

Comments (13)

Laguna
a month ago

Hi @dollarone, thx for sumitting this awesome game here. I would totally have missed it. I really enjoy the pixelart and the animations, especially the "i have won" animation of the magician. :D

The game itself is nice, once I got the basic principles. Thanks for using X and C as key and not X and Z which is constantly broken on german keyboards. However, I had a hard time figuring out the controls in the first place. Just add a short controls section in the description. After I figured out how to cycle through the cards and how to spawn units on a specific lane I really enjoyed plaing it! :)
I am amazed by the amount of content. I really enjoyed the dialogues.
When it comes to game structure, this is quite good. I would love to see more content, especially wrt to the fact that (at least how I played it) I had to fight the villagers in a specific order to be able to win. This might just be my playstyle but I would love to see some more meta gaming, e.g. the spells you mentioned, leveling up cards or special skills for your fighther to learn.

I like the color coded trouses (however at least on my screen they look a bit the same. using a stronger contrast (e.g. red and blue) could surely help but that is just a minor issue.
Another idea would be to add a countdown to the markers (of the bottom and top lane) directly, so the player can see when the next additional income is going to pour in.

All in all this is an awesome game with nice gameplay. I would love to see this extended into a full version!

dollarone
a month ago

I really enjoy the pixelart and the animations, especially the "i have won" animation of the magician. :D

Hey thanks, really appreciate that as a "programmer art" dude :)

Just add a short controls section in the description.

Done! Will add something in the game as well.

When it comes to game structure, this is quite good. I would love to see more content, especially wrt to the fact that (at least how I played it) I had to fight the villagers in a specific order to be able to win.

Cool idea, there are other wizards who should offer tougher (but optional) challenges once I sort the non-summon spell bugs out!

I like the color coded trouses (however at least on my screen they look a bit the same. using a stronger contrast (e.g. red and blue) could surely help but that is just a minor issue.

Yeah, originally I had two colours subsituted (one dark, one light), but I thought the light ones make the units look bad. Also it doesn't really matter as you are unlikely to confuse the units as they face each other!

Another idea would be to add a countdown to the markers (of the bottom and top lane) directly, so the player can see when the next additional income is going to pour in.

Ooh, great idea, I'll implement that right away!

All in all this is an awesome game with nice gameplay. I would love to see this extended into a full version!

Cheers and thanks so much for the feedback!

dwemthy
a month ago

Feel like I'm missing something on the v1 version: can't duel anyone, they all say I have no spells and I can't figure out how to get spells.

On the original version I had a tough time at first, didn't realize how crystals were slowly acruing over time, also didn't identify the different lanes until the other wizard used them first. Really solid set up, wish I could figure out the newer version as it looks like it has some progression as you duel different enemies.

dollarone
a month ago

there's a dude in the forest who will give you a spell… I will add a hint to make that more obvious!

Wan
a month ago

Wan
a month ago

I did not play the original 4th Alakajam entry, so I'll give you the perspective of someone discovering for game for the first time, in the current version.

This seems to be one of your most ambitious games, and I'm not suprised to learn you're hitting the limits of Pico8, because there's really a lots of stuff in here. I'm impressed! With the huge world map, plethora of different spells and large amounts of art, you managed to (once again) give me an itch for Pico-8 game development.

First, I have to say I've been quickly impressed by the amount of visual detail you put into this. From the animation of the characters, to watching the losing castles fall into dust, to the varied world map art and effective UI, it feels like a lot of pixel love has been put into this, and makes it feel overall like more than a jam game.

When I started I was confused a little bit as no one would want to battle with me, but I soon figured I had to seek a character that would let me get my first skill. Then the skill characteristics were clear enough for me to understand I'd need to choose my battles and be careful in which order I take each opponent. The first couple battles were fun and intuitive (I did read the game description first so it helped), but I didn't put too much thought into them. Then for the next few matches I felt a bit lost; I suddently had like 4-5 cards in my hand and simply didn't know what were good tactics to use against my enemies. The turns were ticking a bit too fast for me to make intelligent decisions. A battle against a mage I think proved quite tricky and it took me three or four attempts to manage to barely beat him.

When I got to the second part of the map I started to have a bit more fun as I was finally understanding basic tactics, making choices fast enough, and in particular leaning how to play the archer & the mage properly. Some of the next matches were super satisfying, when I figured out neat tactics that worked specifically for them (eg. spamming 1/1 goblins, or timing a mage well to destroy a whole lane, etc.). Until then the game crashed :P

Despite that I was quite excited playing the game, and when starting a second run I noticed I was a much better player, breezing through the first few levels. So yup, the gameplay is solid, engaging, and deep enough to make it worth some good play time.

If I had some suggestions, it would be mainly to try to optimize the number of skills the player gets, rewarding them more progressively so that we can master each card before going to the next. If you're considering different maps, I'd suggest trying to use terrain types to maybe block certain skills (eg. archers cannot go in forests). Also the encounters already feel nicely balanced overall with the randomized AIs, so I suspect having them play more cleverly could make the game super hard, especially in the early levels, so careful with that.

Oh a save system would be welcome :D

Best entry for me so far, looking forward to the next updates!

dollarone
a month ago

I did not play the original 4th Alakajam entry, so I'll give you the perspective of someone discovering for game for the first time, in the current version.

Ah, nice. The original was just the battle section. I am still surprised that it was possible to add a second "game" on top of that in a single pico8 cartridge :)

First, I have to say I've been quickly impressed by the amount of visual detail you put into this.

Cheers, I think the 16 colour palette helps me do pixel art.

When I started I was confused a little bit as no one would want to battle with me, but I soon figured I had to seek a character that would let me get my first skill.

Yeah, I've added a hint based on Laguna's feedback. I considered giving the player a starting spell (or two) but I kinda like starting completely from scratch, and the idea was to make the player wander around a bit and not just go for the first battle when the game starts.

Then the skill characteristics were clear enough for me to understand I'd need to choose my battles and be careful in which order I take each opponent.

Cool. I've been thinking a lot about how to introduce different cards so the player understands them and also to "ramp up" the difficulty. Once you have a few cards it is harder to "force" a certain way of playing, but in the beginning you can. Note that it is also (currently) possible to beat any opponent with just the goblins, it just requires a bit of luck.

The turns were ticking a bit too fast for me to make intelligent decisions.

I've gone back and forth on this - the original had different gamespeeds. I think part of the challenge is to think with a limited amount of time. Also the animation is now based on the current speed so … yeah, this is now a feature ;)

Some of the next matches were super satisfying, when I figured out neat tactics that worked specifically for them

Awesome :D

Until then the game crashed :P

Yeah I've seen that error a lot (wan posted a screenshot on irc) - I thought it only happened when you get a second copy of a spell (which should be impossible!). More debugging to do, I guess.

If I had some suggestions, it would be mainly to try to optimize the number of skills the player gets, rewarding them more progressively so that we can master each card before going to the next.

Yeah, this is the goal. I'm tinkering with the health/attack levels of units now so there is a "recommended" order to tackle the first few opponents.

If you're considering different maps, I'd suggest trying to use terrain types to maybe block certain skills (eg. archers cannot go in forests).

That's a really cool idea! Currently there are three different maps, but it's just the layout. E.g. the three bridges in the screenshot is one. Also the location of the crystal towers can vary.

Also the encounters already feel nicely balanced overall with the randomized AIs, so I suspect having them play more cleverly could make the game super hard, especially in the early levels, so careful with that.

Yep, true. Hopefully I have space to implement a "stupid" AI in addition to a "clever" one! I've also added a hard mode (each lost battle lose 1 max hp) and a super hard mode (hp never resets) for the masochists.

Oh a save system would be welcome :D

Ah, good idea! Pico-8 does support this. I never envisaged that anyone would not play through the whole game in one sitting :p

Best entry for me so far, looking forward to the next updates!

Cheers! and thanks for very useful feedback!

Wan
23 days ago

The turns were ticking a bit too fast for me to make intelligent decisions.

I've gone back and forth on this - the original had different gamespeeds. I think part of the challenge is to think with a limited amount of time. Also the animation is now based on the current speed so … yeah, this is now a feature

Well I was sharing my first impressions but I agree it's best to keep a fixed speed. Maybe the takeaway is just that making the early battles easy is acceptable as the new player needs some practice to master the basics.

Best entry for me so far

My compliment still holds after playing all the entries, but shhhh ;)

dollarone
22 days ago

Thanks @Wan!

I posted a progress update and a v2 build!

Raindrinker
21 days ago

Art: Oh I like it a lot! its not very polished pixel art, and maybe has too many colors to feel consistent but it works. And the amount of animation or different sprites for each units attach sprite is astounding. And in PICO8 with the size and palette limitations!

Music: Is there and fills the void, and sounds nice. Im not sure how hard is to do music in PICO, but I'm quessing quite a bit. Also really rich SFX.

Gameplay: Wow, the base for this is great! And I didn't manage to go super in depth, but it feels like you managed to get a really clean and elegant X coutners Y counters Z coutners X or something, like it feels pretty fair. At some points the combat was a bit too stalematey and a bit samey, cause theres nothing special ever happening, but thats a matter of variety I guess? maybe havign a different resource with which you can cast high costing spells would fix that. Havent played that famous mobile game that is kidna liek this myself and Im nto sure how they handle stuff.

I feel like PICO8 limits you a lot in UI, for a game in which UI feels very important. Would be a lot cooler to be able to select & click stuff instead of doing the z thing. Due to that, swapping untis feels a bit bothersome always.

Final thoughts: The base is neat. probably needs to go outside of PICO8 to get developed in anyinteresting way. I really like what you did with the overworld, with some writing and settign it coudl feel really cozy, like wizards and RPG people playing cards in a taver, like the feel they try to get in Hearthstone or the witcher card game. Even just a single text line of the enemy showing you his spells and talking to you humanizes them a lot. Neat one! Woudl definitely play a more complex version of this for a long time. The PvP mobile versions dont quite pull me. You do have some "player advantage" with unit movement priority, do you?
Cheers!

timbeaudet
21 days ago

Initial Impression

The art was nice, it felt like a pretty cool world to explore. Immediately walking up to the first guy for a challenge and having no spells made me wonder where to get the spells. So I walked to another guy, and no spells, then another, and another and this loop continued for a while. I exhaused ALL the possible guys I though I could walk to.

It wasn't until a viewer on stream showed me the path above the water that I found the friendly goblin with a spell, even after seeing the "my cousin in the forest" hint. This should probably be the first guy you encounter, or perhaps laid out so he is very easy to reach, I nearly gave up at this point.

Now that I can challenge enemies

Initially I went up against the 'orc barbarian' with clubs and I expected to lose this after only a few moments of play. Somehow, I managed to win without understand anything about what happening. Several of my goblins made it to the tower with nothing falling down left me confused and wondering how to win. But I managed victory.

I then learned pressing left toggles the battle display. This should absolutely be on by default. At the very least the hearts on the towers and perhaps on stronger enemies. It was very simple to fight enemies my level, and the strategy definitely increases greatly as you collect spells. Which is nice.

Random thoughts

The one button to toggle spells was getting pretty hard even with only 3 spells collected - of which I assume there were a lot more that I didn't collect. I don't get the feeling it would get better with more spells.

dollarone
21 days ago

its not very polished pixel art, and maybe has too many colors to feel consistent but it works.

I basically tried to use as many colours as I could (of the 16 available). I'm still learning and improving pixeling!

I'm not sure how hard is to do music in PICO, but I'm quessing quite a bit. Also really rich SFX.

It's not super hard, but there's limited space - I've absolutely exhausted both the music and sfx space :)

maybe havign a different resource with which you can cast high costing spells would fix that.

As you get further into the game, you can upgrade spells, basically creating better and more expensive versions of the ones you've found.

Havent played that famous mobile game that is kidna liek this myself and Im nto sure how they handle stuff.

Maybe you mean Clash Royale? It's a bit inspired by that, and DOTA.

I feel like PICO8 limits you a lot in UI, for a game in which UI feels very important. Would be a lot cooler to be able to select & click stuff instead of doing the z thing. Due to that, swapping units feels a bit bothersome always.

Agree. You can add mouse support in PICO-8 but I think it would still be awkward.

Final thoughts: The base is neat. probably needs to go outside of PICO8 to get developed in anyinteresting way.

Yeah, I'm bursting at the limit of what can be contained in a PICO-8 cart. Perhaps a mobile version or something could be fun?

You do have some "player advantage" with unit movement priority, do you?

Yes, correct. I did wonder whether to make it random, but figured the player might need a little bit of help.

This should probably be the first guy you encounter, or perhaps laid out so he is very easy to reach, I nearly gave up at this point.

Ok interesting. I wanted to make the player explore a bit, hence not giving out the spell immediately. I reckon if you got the goblin spell in your first encounter, you'd just butt your head against the goblin warrior/archer who have a massive advantage against you, and probably ragequit because of that. Hmm.

I then learned pressing left toggles the battle display. This should absolutely be on by default.

Good point! I shall make it so!

The one button to toggle spells was getting pretty hard

There are two: Z (or C or N) and X (or V or M) to scroll left/right

Unfortunately PICO-8 does limit you a bit w.r.t. controls, I agree that the control scheme is not ideal.

Thanks for feedback folks, much appreciated!

dollarone
10 days ago

I've made a bunch of changes, some even inspired by feedback recieved during the Feedback Fortnight! There's a "final" 1.0 version available…

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Info

Gather spells and take down the evil Lich!

Links

Original game v1 v2 RC 1.0 (Play this!)

Author

dollarone

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