PebbleQuest

Introduction

PebbleQuest is a 3D first-person action-RPG for your Pebble, the first of its kind ever developed for a smartwatch! You play the role of an adventurer on a quest to recover the fabled Pebbles of Power, remnants of the sundered Elderstone guarded by evil wizards in a vast underground dungeon.

A mage in the PebbleQuest game as seen on a red Pebble watch.

Built on the foundation provided by MazeCrawler and SpaceMerc, this full-fledged dungeon crawler combines the random level-generation and “permanent death” intensity of a classic roguelike with the first-person immersion and real-time combat of an action-RPG. I like to say it’s the closest you’ll come to playing an Elder Scrolls game on your watch!

PebbleQuest is still in development, but will soon be available on a wrist near you (by Christmas 2014 at the latest). Stay up-to-date by following PebbleQuest on Google+ and Facebook!

Character Stats

There’s no need to choose a “class” for your character. Instead, simply choose how your character develops as you go along. At the outset, all characters have a value of “1” in three major attributes:

  • Agility: Speed, nimbleness, and skillful movement contribute to physical and magical defense as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of physical and magical attacks.
  • Strength: Brawn and overall vim and vigor determine max. health (hit points) and contribute to physical powerphysical defense, and max. energy.
  • Intellect: Knowledge and mental fortitude are the primary determinants of magical power, whether through direct spells or weapon enchantments, and contribute significantly to magical defense and max. energy.

Energy is consumed each time you attack, whether by sword or spell, and is displayed in the lower-right corner of the screen. Health, of course, decreases when others attack you and is displayed in the lower-left. Fortunately, both health and energy replenish gradually over time. They’re also fully restored each time you level up, at which point you can also increase one major attribute.

PebbleQuest's "level up" screen.

PebbleQuest‘s “level up” screen, an homage to The Elder Scrolls: Arena.

As alluded to earlier, death is permanent in PebbleQuest. When the health meter reaches zero, you must bid your old character farewell and start fresh with a new one. Nonetheless, with a little caution (and more than a little luck), an adventurer may enjoy a long career of monster-slaying and loot-gathering, even in the perilous underworld of PebbleQuest!

Weapons & Armor

Starting out, your character has naught but a robe. (Why, you might ask, would any adventurer embark on a dangerous quest so ill-equipped? Well, perhaps you’re a monk, or you’re terribly impoverished, or you just had an unfortunate run-in with a highwayman, or…I don’t know, stop asking questions!) Soon, however, you will come across various items left lying around or dropped by your felled foes. These show up in the game as white rectangles, or “treasure chests.”

Loot

A pile of loot lies before you, just waiting to be picked up!

Walking onto these treasure chests causes the “Loot Menu” to appear, allowing you to claim items of interest (unclaimed items disappear forever). Only a few of the bulkier items (i.e., everything except Pebbles) may be carried at one time, so if you’ve already reached the limit and then try to pick up another one you’ll be asked which item you wish to drop to make room for the new one. Dropped items disappear forever, so choose carefully! (And, yes, you can still press the “Back” button at that point if you decide you’d rather stick with your current belongings.)

So, which items should your character focus on? For starters, here’s some information on weapons:

Weapon Power Fatigue Special Effect
Dagger +1 +1 Wound
Sword +2 +2 Wound
Axe +3 +3 Wound
Staff +1 +1 Stun
Mace +2 +2 Stun
Flail +3 +3 Stun

As you can see, sharp weapons provide a chance of inflicting wounds (damaging enemies over time) whereas blunt weapons provide a chance of stunning your foes (briefly preventing them from moving or attacking). In addition, although heavier weapons deal more damage per hit, they also cause more fatigue, or energy loss per attack. Lighter weapons—or no weapon at all—may be preferable, especially at the beginning or anytime your character’s exhausted, backed into a corner, and desperately waiting for the energy meter to rise.

There is no ranged weaponry in PebbleQuest, but all spells are ranged, giving mages a distinct advantage in long-range combat. Spells are cast by wielding Pebbles of Power, as we’ll see shortly, but first, here are the details for clothing and armor:

Clothing/Armor Defense Fatigue Magical Power
Robe +0 +0 -0
Light Armor +1 +1 -1
Heavy Armor +2 +2 -2
Shield +1 +1 -1

Once again, there are pros and cons to the heavier items. A high-level character needn’t worry too much about fatigue, but it can be a fatal hindrance at lower levels. Also, clearly spellcasters may wish to stick with a robe rather than suffering penalties to their arcane power by donning armor.

Speaking of robes, don’t let the table above fool you: a robe doesn’t have to be useless. Like all other items, it can be infused with a Pebble of Power!

Pebbles of Power

Each Pebble of Power holds a tiny fraction of the incredible potency once exhibited by the Elderstone. There are seven different types: fire, icethunder, lightlife, shadow, and death.

Pebbles may be equipped, allowing you to cast spells. They can also be permanently infused into clothing, armor, shields, and weapons, imbuing them with magical properties. Just be aware that while enchanted weapons will inflict extra damage (and possibly status effects) on your enemies, they will also drain your energy slightly faster than mundane weapons.

Enchanted items as seen in PebbleQuest's inventory menu.

Enchanted items as seen in PebbleQuest‘s inventory menu.

The effects of each Pebble are as follows:

Pebble Spell/Weapon Effect Robe/Armor/Shield Effect
Pebble of Fire Flame
(extra damage over time)
Strength +1
Pebble of Ice Frost
(slows the enemy)
Intellect +1
Pebble of Thunder Lightning
(weakens the enemy)
Agility +1
Pebble of Light Holy Light
(chance to make enemies flee)
Energy Regen. +1
Pebble of Life Life Drain
(absorbs health)
Health Regen. +1
Pebble of Shadow Darkness
(chance of paralyzation)
Spell Absorption
(chance to absorb spells as energy)
Pebble of Death Disintegration
(chance of instant death)
Backlash Damage
(when physically attacked)

All status effects are cumulative. In other words, (a) equipping both Heavy Armor of Thunder and a Shield of Thunder will result in a total boost of +2 to Agility, (b) a Sword of Fire may cause both “wounding” and “burning” damage over time, and (c) a Mace of Shadow will have two chances to apply a “stun/paralyze” effect (and if both are successful the effect will last longer than it would have by either alone).

Directly wielding a Pebble to cast spells has three significant advantages: (a) you can attack from a distance, (b) magical effects from spells are twice as potent as those from enchanted weapons, and (c) spells drain less energy than physical attacks. On the other hand, enchanted weapons inflict both magical and physical damage, and donning armor won’t decrease your physical power like it will your magical power. Just remember, even if you play more as a warrior than a wizard you may still want to invest a few points in your Intellect attribute so as to better resist spells and more effectively channel your will through the magical enchantment of your favorite weapon.

Enemies

The dungeons of PebbleQuest are populated by power-hungry wizards, ruthless brigands, bloodthirsty goblins, and other nasty types. The deeper one delves, the stronger these foes become. Know their strengths and weaknesses well, brave adventurer, for your life depends on it!

Mage

Mage

Mages are the masters of this realm. Each level is ruled by a single mage wielding one of the coveted Pebbles of Power. They cast spells from a distance and are resistant (though not invulnerable) to spells cast on them. Little is known of their history, but they have demonstrated an unscrupulous lust for power and must be stopped!

Warrior

Warrior

Warriors of various sorts and sizes have been hired by the mages as bodyguards. Well armed and armored, they are formidable opponents. Some are of human or elvish ancestry. Others are dwarves, gnomes, or members of other diminutive races. The largest and most fearsome are orcs, hobgoblins, and half-giants. Do not underestimate any of them!

Pale Goblin

Pale Goblin

The mages have allied themselves with other denizens of the deep as well: goblins, trolls, and ogres. These monsters look similar, differing only in size, and each come in pale-skinned and dark-skinned varieties. Originally all were dark-skinned, but some gradually lost their pigmentation following many generations in the deep recesses of the earth, far from sunlight. (That’s right, Dungeons & Dragons: subterranean races are more likely to be pale-skinned, not the other way around! But I digress.)

Dark Ogre

Dark Ogre

For reasons not fully understood, the pale-skinned goblins, trolls, and ogres are also more resistant to magic, whereas those of darker complexion are more resistant to physical attacks. This is also true of the various white and black beasts these monsters have brought with them down into their cavernous lairs, including giant rats, dire wolves, panthers, and bears.

White Beast

White Beast

As an aside, I’m sure some readers will be wondering about the simplistic graphics. In order to incorporate as much varied content as possible, I had to save memory by leaving some visual details to the player’s imagination. I considered using bitmap files for each enemy, but transparency would not be supported by such files, so I stuck with drawing primitive shapes, lines, and pixels instead. Nonetheless, I feel (and hope you’ll agree) that, while in active gameplay, the resulting images are sufficient to create an intense gaming experience!

Actions & Controls

Your character is capable of three actions:

  1. Move forward/backward
  2. Turn left/right
  3. Attack via weapon/spell

Moving immediately places you one “cell” forward or back and turning abruptly shifts the point of view 90°, just like some of the old (okay, really old) CRPG classics. Attacking with a weapon (or bare fists) causes a white line to streak across the screen, representing the path of your attack. Attacking with a spell causes the screen to flash (this is true for enemy mages as well). Naturally, attacking with an enchanted weapon causes both visual effects.

Pro tip: You can move and attack much faster than your opponents. Take full advantage of this fact by backing away or escaping down a side tunnel when you need a little time to recover health or energy. Of course, this advice is useless if you’re already backed into a dead end, so avoid that scenario as much as possible!

Without further ado, here’s the button breakdown:

The Pebble's four buttons: "Back" on the left side and "Up," "Select," and "Down" on the right side.

The Pebble’s four buttons: “Back” on the left side and “Up,” “Select,” and “Down” on the right side.

  • “Up” button: Press/hold to step forward. Press twice to turn left.
  • “Select” button: Press to use your current weapon or spell.
  • “Down” button: Press/hold to step back. Press twice to turn right.

Interested in creating your own Pebble apps? Check out the official Develop for Pebble website.

17 thoughts on “PebbleQuest

  1. Pingback: Pebble Programming | David C. Drake

    1. theDrake Post author

      Thanks for the offer! I’ve still got a few things to iron out before I’ll be ready for beta-testing, however. I’ll keep you posted! :)

      Reply
  2. Jericho

    When you do get to the point of needing beta testers, I’m available as well. Also, I’m really excited about this project! I can’t wait to see it come to life.

    Reply
    1. theDrake Post author

      Glad to hear it, Jericho! I’ve been making a lot of progress lately, so it should be coming along very soon, along with SpaceMerc. Stay tuned!

      Reply
  3. Sean Watt

    I’m really excited for this game, what’s the latest news on it?

    Reply
    1. theDrake Post author

      Glad you’re looking forward to it! The slightly simpler sci-fi game SpaceMerc will be released this weekend (and submitted to the Pebble App Challenge), but I want to spend more time fitting as many features as I can into PebbleQuest before its debut. I estimate it will be available within the next few months.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: SpaceMerc: FPS Gaming on a Smartwatch | David C. Drake

    1. theDrake Post author

      As PebbleQuest enters its later stages of development, I’ve chosen to still handle most of the testing myself. I hope to have it polished and ready for release within a few more weeks!

      Reply
  5. jrod

    I realllllly loved spacemercs! I can’t wait for pebble quest to come out! Do you have an estimated release date?

    Reply
    1. theDrake Post author

      Thanks, jrod, that’s wonderful to hear! PebbleQuest is already far more fun than SpaceMerc and will continue getting better over the next few weeks. I plan to release it in late November or early December.

      Reply
  6. jrod

    And one question, if you had trouble fitting all the features in spacemerc, how in the world do you fit all this into pebble quest?

    Reply
    1. theDrake Post author

      Ha! Not gonna lie, it’s been an interesting challenge. I just keep hunting for more ways to streamline the code and eliminate features that aren’t crucial to the overall experience. In the end, will I be able to incorporate all the NPCs, weapons, spells, status effects, etc., that I’d like to? Of course not, but I’m endeavoring to squeeze as much content as I can into every precious byte.

      Reply
    1. Drake Post author

      Thanks for the offer! My testing needs are already being met, but the game’s almost 100% complete, so you’ll be able to experience it for yourself very soon. When that time comes, I’d appreciate hearing your feedback!

      Reply
  7. Jrod

    When do you think you will finish? I cant wait! I recently got android wear watch (which is awesome), but i will still use the pebble to play this.

    Reply

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