A Deeper Dive into our Dynamic Dungeons

Development Blog

Discover the intricate design and dynamic experience of dungeons in Lumenshard MC. Our latest development diary delves deep into the creation of our Minecraft MMORPG server's dungeons, inspired by legendary games and driven by innovative technology. Join us in this adventure!

Lumenshard Team

Greetings, adventurers.

Today, we're spilling the secrets behind our Minecraft MMORPG server's vast dungeons. Whether you're a seasoned explorer or new to our world, this dev blog promises revelations to feed your wanderlust.

[Future Video Coming Soon]

Inspiration & Design Philosophy

Our aspiration for Lumenshard's dungeons has always been to craft spaces that go beyond the ordinary — spaces that capture your imagination, challenge your skills, and draw you deeper into the stories of our world. Every room, every corridor, every mysterious nook is designed with the utmost care and detail.

Our dungeons don't just happen; they're born from a cocktail of inspiration and innovation. The sweeping landscapes of The Elder Scrolls, the tight puzzle-polish of The Legend of Zelda, the lore-rich tapestry of Baldur’s Gate, and so many other great series influenced our approach. But Lumenshard dungeons bear their own distinctive signature. From eerie caves to age-old forts, every setting unravels a tale, waiting to be discovered by adventurers like you.

Our commitment is to make each dungeon uniquely LMC. Every descent below and ascent beyond, every cautious step and brash charge, every instanced playspace offers a refreshing, unparalleled adventure.

Story Integration: More Than Just a Quest

Narrative in Lumenshard isn't always just dumped into your journal; it’s scattered and hidden, waiting for you. It's about creating an environment where stories naturally unfold, allowing you as adventurers to connect the dots.

Dungeon & Boss Narratives

Every dungeon you delve into has a tale to tell. The NPCs you meet, the challenges you face, and the powerful bosses you confront are all woven into the grand tapestry of Lumenshard's evolving saga.

As you explore, you’ll find stories to discover even as you tell your own. NPCs share whispers of the past, bosses guard ancient secrets, and every challenge you overcome adds a new chapter to your legend.

The dining halls of a yet undisclosed dungeon location somewhere along the Keruca Coast.

Environmental Cues

We've taken the adage "show, don’t tell" to heart. Our dungeons are laden with environmental cues — the path may not always be clear, so you’ll need to explore every nook and cranny to discover all their secrets

While we promise to provide enough context not to strand you in labyrinthian dungeons, we also promise not to hold your hand. You’ll be expected to go beyond the hack-and-slash approach to dungeon delving, using intuition to solve unique and often dynamic puzzles in order to reach your goals. 

Using the environment to tell players where to go and where to look, such as leading lines, color usage, sound effects, and visual effects.

Written Chronicles

If you’re a fan of written lore to be discovered as a form of in-game environmental storytelling, look no further. Among the treasures and trinkets, some of your most rewarding finds will be the notes, diaries, and manuscripts we’ve scattered around. These aren't mere collectibles: they're windows into the lives, hopes, and fears of Lumenshard's inhabitants.

The sprites of the vast array of books and written content to be discovered throughout Lumenshard MC.

The Magic of Procedural Generation

Our quest to ensure your adventures remain fresh and exhilarating led us to harness the potential of procedural generation, taking the unpredictability and replayability of Lumenshard to new heights.

Ever-Changing Puzzles & Challenges

Leveraging Minecraft's command block capabilities, our puzzles, traps, and riddles are anything but static. While the mechanics may seem familiar, the solutions will be refreshingly diverse, urging you to think, adapt, and strategize with every visit.

Tailored Dungeon Experiences

With our custom additions to Minecraft, every dungeon adventure becomes a canvas of possibilities. From intricate mazes to sprawling chambers, the designs morph to ensure monotony remains a stranger to Lumenshard.

Behind the scenes, we’ve been hard at work developing a suite of proprietary plugins to power the LMC experience. In this dev blog, we’ll focus on two: one called the Dungeon Manager (built as an add-on to a heavy duty plugin called the Gamemode Manager, already powering LMC instancing), and another called Phoenix Dungeons (which handles procedural generation). These plugins are implemented and in active testing as of today, the result of many months of R&D. We’re at a point now where we’re confident enough to finally start inviting members of our community into the game for feedback prior to official release.

With Phoenix Dungeons, we can lay down intricate designs for your exploration. We provide entrance and exit points, important set pieces that do not change, and then the plugin builds in the rest from component parts we provide. From convoluted mazes to simple linear paths, no two adventures through the same dungeon will feel the same.

Originally designed entirely within the game world, procedural generation depended heavily on command blocks and other mechanics outlined further down in this Dev Blog.
Now powered entirely by server side plugins, we can create more unique and bespoke dungeons more quickly.

Adaptive Mobs & Treasures

Our world teems with challenges. From fearsome foes guarding their territory to treasure chests waiting to be unlocked, Lumenshard's dynamic spawning system ensures that unpredictability remains your constant companion. Plus, our adaptable config setup empowers our design team to fine-tune challenges at any time, ensuring that Lumenshard's dungeons evolve alongside its adventurers.

The locations, the difficulty, and the timing of mob spawning can all be configured on a per dungeon basis.

A concept treasure room, where the contents of the containers, chests, barrels are all randomly populated with loot based on pre-set dungeon drop tables.

Behind The Scenes: Our Development Journey

Developing these dungeons was a long and complicated journey, with the first one actually completed in early February 2023. It was the proof of concept dungeon for one of the primary Keruca Coast quest lines involving Bardovico’s Brewery & Taphouse.

The following may have some spoilers, so skip ahead if you don’t want to know the details.

Bardovico’s Cavern

This dungeon was built prior to any procedural generation technology, relying entirely on command blocks and third-party plugins to facilitate the experience. We came up with unique Redstone circuits to power the puzzles, randomization, environmental storytelling, and more.

The interior of the Bardovico's cavern dungeon is another fortress to be conquered.

For some true behind the scenes action, here are some of the Redstone circuits developed for the dungeon:

Puzzle Solution “Randomizer”

A Redstone circuit that leverages default Minecraft mechanics to randomly select one of multiple possible outcomes for a puzzle, room, loot, etc.

Timed Gate Circuit

Using a command block motion detector, we can automatically open and close doors with a smooth charge "up and down" Redstone pulse.

Co-Op Moving Platforms

Advanced Redstone components used with co-op play in mind, enabled us to design some preliminary contraptions that explored teamwork as a necessity.
The combination of all of the above has led to some very intersting puzzles, that we only continue to refine further in future dungeons.

As we developed more complex challenges for players to overcome, our solutions for them became more elegant. Some problems relied on previous experience working on projects such as Reverie - The Uprising from nearly 10 years ago. Some of these challenges were resolved through modern means via custom plugin development.

Challenges to Overcome

We knew going in that we wanted to provide meaningful depth and breadth of content. The hardest part was slowing down parts of development to ensure that we invested properly in some of the technology powering the experience.

This comes in many flavors which we’ll follow up on in future development blogs, but the highlights are as follows:

  • Nearly Infinite Replayability - Most dungeons will come with bespoke points of interest, as well as procedural generated spaces, so you can be certain when you return it'll be a unique experience each time.
  • Instancing with a Party - We wanted to make sure that not only can individual players enjoy dungeons, but they can with groups as well, and have the difficulty at times scale up depending on how many players are participating.
  • Dynamic Challenges and Spontaneous Moments - We want the outcomes of dungeons at times to also matter, and while we won't share to many details yet, this is an area we are also exploring.
  • Rewarding Loot - We want some loot to matter to everyone, which means all loot matters, whether is a note that adds to the environment, the items left over from previous tenants, or the rare gear that you may stumble upon, there's always something for everybody.
Screenshot of a work in progress location called the Vimmentori Copper Mine, a trove where players will be able to go and harvest resources. The cavern tunnels are pictured above as grids, to allow for procedural generation on instance load.

Future Visions: What's Next for Lumenshard Dungeons?

As we iterate through the feedback loop between our internal development teams, volunteer QA testers, and broader community, we’ll continue to bring new experiences to bear through every release.

Now that we’ve got a firm foundation under our feet for level design, mob and combat challenges, custom puzzles and traps, and true randomization for loot, we’ll set our sights on the challenge that lies ahead: bosses. Big ones.

The Grand Finales

We’ve debuted the “Grave Golem” in our internal QA testing to get a sense of scale, difficulty, mechanics, custom visuals, and sound effects for our bosses. Lessons learned here have helped inform all of our existing mobs, our custom player combat mechanics, level design and more.

This is an area that we’ve been gaining momentum in, but have not yet reached the gold standard we hold ourselves to as a team. However, the Grave Golem will be making its first appearance in the Hall of Heroes during our MVP in a v0.1 version for players to enjoy while we work on its final state for a future release.

Embarking on a Lumenshard dungeon adventure is more than just gameplay: it's a journey through crafted narratives, unforeseen challenges, and tales that resonate. And this is just the beginning. We're committed to evolving, improving, and ensuring that Lumenshard remains the pinnacle of Minecraft MMORPG servers.

Supporting Lumenshard's Growth

This project is currently being funded entirely by the developers of the project, and as we continue to grow in experience and in community we can’t help but be so deeply appreciative of the support we’ve been receiving from you all as of late.

If you’re feeling generous and would like to become a paid supporter of the project to help us with continued development, please feel free to check out our Patreon. All of the public facing behind the scenes content we share is through our Discord so be sure to stop by there as well.

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