The title of this one will be The Quest for some Inorganic Maize, and it will eventually turn into a sequel to The Quest for the Oblong Conglomerate, but that won’t happen until 2.0 or so.
The Procedural Part
With the exception of a small town in which the player starts out, the whole world will be procedurally generated. Not only that, but the world will hardly be persistent at all; individual rooms will be generated anew whenever you leave them alone for too long.
Specifically, here’s how it will work: Rooms can be persistent or non-persistent. Persistent rooms are the town and possibly some special, quest-critical rooms (once found, but only until beaten). Additionally, any room the player just left is temporarily treated as persistent. All other rooms are non-persistent. When the player enters a non-persistent room, it will be procedurally generated based on any persistent rooms surrounding it, plus a small increase in difficulty. Some rooms may only ever appear next to specific neighbouring rooms, while others may require a certain difficulty level or the completion of a quest before they will enter the pool.
Other aspects of the game will also be randomised to some degree, but I haven’t put too much thought into how that will work, just yet.
The Death Part
Death will be permanent as far as individual player characters are concerned, but there will be some kind of feature in place to soften the blow to some extent. Unlockables, perhaps, or the promotion of player-killing enemies to quasi-boss status, with a subset of the lost character’s equipment as a reward for defeating them. We’ll see.
The Labyrinth Part
The “confined area” aspect of the game will be purely aesthetic. The world will be effectively infinite in size; even the computer’s memory shouldn’t be a limiting factor, since unused rooms will be discarded. I suppose there is a theoretical possibility of the room coordinates themselves overwhelming the player’s machine, but good luck travelling that far.
To facilitate more intimate interaction with the non-persistent world system, the player will have a magical map, allowing her to make an active choice to make certain areas persistent. Doing so will require pencil items that can be found or bought from town NPCs. Each pencil is only good for a limited number of uses, so the player will have to weigh the pros and cons of adding a room to the map.
Additionally, there will (probably) be a NPC who’ll buy maps off the player, paying more for maps containing interesting or distant areas. I may even make this part of the main quest: after finding the Inorganic Maize, the player’s objective could be to return to town and turn in the map showing its location.
Some of the town NPCs will offer the player quests, which will be randomised based on a few different templates (find an object, kill a boss enemy, etc.). Completing the quests and returning to town will result in some kind of a reward, as is the case in every other game ever made.
Quests will typically add extra items, enemies or even rooms to the randomisation pool, which would not otherwise be generated.
The town, being a perpetually persistent area, will not move or change on subsequent visits, at least not in the manner of other areas; however, to keep up with the needs of the developing player character, there may have to be some kind of level progression with regard to quests and shop inventory. This will likely be based on the highest achieved difficulty level, rather than that of a neighbouring room.
I will also have to give some thought to the effect of the town, effectively a room with difficulty level 0, on neighbouring areas. Should difficulty be reset to the absolute minimum whenever the player returns home, relying on the player to create short-cuts to more challenging areas using the map? Hmm.