Thursday, 16 November 2017

Celebrate your Rogues!

What is absolutely fascinating to me, and a real joy is to be able to experience the annual Roguelike Celebration.

A gathering of roguelike enthusiasts, developers, players, forward thinking speakers demonstrating their latest ideas and design philosophies. A real bonding of the community in every sense.

I can't thank the organisers enough for making the whole celebration available to watch on a service like Twitch. Not only can you be there in real time, but you can catch up later at your leisure.

Be sure to check out, the meta-progression talk given by Jim Shepherd (developer of Dungeonmans), and the fantastic news on ADOM's future by Thomas Biskup, not to mention the live playthroughs of Caves of Qud and Nethack, and the whole spectacle, diversity and enthusiasm on display.

Watch Roguelike Celebration 2017 from roguelike_con on

You should be able to catch up with previous sessions with Roguelike Celebration on Youtube, including one of my favourite talks from the #roguelikecel 2016 by John Harris on the Difficulty in random games.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Beware of the Golden Krone!

If you have a fondness for the Halloweens and you like to cosy up to a fright night on All Hallows Eve, then I have good news for you.

The Golden Krone will be stalking your Hotel dreams tonight!

Golden Krone Hotel is now available on Steam in Early Access and this Gothic Horror Roguelike is primed to spook and delight you in equal measure.

This pixel art traditional roguelike is soaked in blood and bathed in light, where you tip toe on a thread between vampire and vampire hunter, where lighting or the lack of it dynamically alters your tactical decisions, and illuminates or shades your path through the Golden Krone Hotel.

The shifting perspective between the lightbringer Human adventurer and the desperately needy Vampiric survivor, really plays out in the mechanics and provides a strong thematic foundation for the action to be lifted beyond the "usual" roguelike adventuring.

So as you bob for your apples, suck down your pumpkin soup or devour copious quantities of black pudding, throw a few shiny coppers down on the game to book your room at the Golden Krone Hotel, and settle in for a night of terror-ific excitement!

To get the lowdown on Golden Krone Hotel and it's development, listen to the developer Jeremiah Reid talk with Darren Grey on the Roguelike Radio Podcast Episode 138.

Or for a general look at Horror across the roguelike genre, check out Roguelike Radio Podcast Episode 140.

Or check out the recent Rock, Paper, Shotgun article

Or check out the devs blog

For a quick look see at the game in action, I would recommend Waervyn Plays:

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Cogent Mind

The 7DRL that has been in mechanical incubation for a few years has finally arrived on Steam!

Cogmind is the story of the mini-mechwarrior ascension of hunted AI from a vulnerable naked Core to an armour plated, tech scavenged, weapon besotted, killing machine! The Rise of the Robot. Your mind to the cyber mind.

The hardware heart beating at its core is a traditional roguelike that has been tweaked and tinkered with to provide an explosively tough gauntlet of survival.

Your prime directive is to escape the depths of this robotic prison, using only your sensors and ad hoc construction abilities, using salvaged components from slagged bots who got in your way.

There is a lot to like in the basic premise of the game, but it shines in its Matrix-like presentation, in its effective delivery of information when building your escape "mech" and in the visceral action depicted with dramatic explosions and powerful realistic sound effects.

Did I mention that the sterile labyrinth environment is deformable, a couple of good rockets and you can pretty much cut your own way through the rock!

The game is often pitched as a robot building game, but for me, the level of detail, variety and complexity on offer reminds me more of the design process required when putting together an effective Battle Mech. Subsystems such as locomotion being open to multi-legged, treads, wheels, hover or true flight, multi-slotted weaponry with a deliciously obscene number of options, and an array of utility tech that keeps getting more interesting and tactically useful as you ascend towards your freedom (and possible doom!). These subsystems require careful balancing with your build's limits on weight, heat generation, core protection as well as power and matter resource management. The struggle for survival also takes a toll on the durability of all your components. The machine under your control is not one that takes part in Robot Wars. The machine is more like a sophisticated piece of military hardware such as a MechWarrior or Battletech frame, yet it is built from the ground up, according to your designs or playstyle.

Since the quality of hardware available to you is dependant upon how high you've managed to climb in the complex, and you get zero experience for killing hostile bots, you need to assemble something that just works enough to get you to the next staircase up. But perhaps you can refine your build based on what you find, perhaps it evolves into something better, more sustainable... this more than anything keeps you chomping at the byte and propels the action forward.

All components have detailed specifications, and elaborate ASCII artwork to accompany the depth.

The game runs in both ASCII or tiled mode, and seemlessly weaves the same magic in both modes.

The game is soaked in lore, but not in an overtly obvious way, its hidden in terminals that can be hacked at risk to your anonymity. You can perform cyber-hacking wizardry that will clone your chosen components into blueprints that can be assembled at fabrication stations.

The environments are varied and comprise of procedurally generated zones where a whole ecosystem of hostile and non-hostile bots go about their business whether that be patrolling the area, or cleaning up scrap parts, or fixing the zones infrastructure. There is plenty of diversity on offer in terms of what bots you'll come up against, if you like their kit, you can kill and salvage (or even steal it).

It's a tinkerers paradise. There is always something new to pickup and consider integrating it into your build. There is always something better, somewhere else. And the journey is a battle to out-configure the calamities you will face on the way.

The game delivers a beautiful action framework, lavished with interesting detail and engaging danger, where you can actively take part in an emergent narrative, with surprises galore!

My hopes are that the game will reach an extended audience of not just the diehard roguelike players, but also the tinkering dungeon crawlers and the mech building tactical players who want a deep and interesting challenge.

This is most definitely a traditional roguelike, but it carries the genre into new exciting territory and its a wild ride!

Strap a couple of Particle Guns onto your frame and lets get the hell out of here!

You can check out Cogmind here:

Cogmind Website

Cogmind BLOG

Roguelike Radio Episode 109

If you want to see what Cogmind is like, and learn its mechanics in an easy to follow Lets Play, I'd recommend Quill18's latest run.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Burning HOAK tree!

I was exploring the joys of Crawl's Hill Ork and Abyssal Knight (HOAK) combination, having stepped out of the Abyss, commanded by my deity Lord Lugonu to spread my corruption - when I got into a spot of bother.

I was being hounded by my fellow orcs, and their Beogh Priest, and they'd brought a menagerie of Phantoms, Yak's and Centaurs along for the massacre.

Desperately seeking shelter in my inventory sack, I fumbled out an unknown magical potion and quickly guzzled it down! It transpires (pun intended) that it was a potion of Lignification, which roots me to the spot and turns my body into a Tree! These orc puppets of Beogh are now gnawing at my bark, but doing very little damage to me.

I'm not entirely sure this pause in the pounding will last long, and without any other course of action available to me, I commune with the Lord of the Abyss himself. Lugonu answers my call for Corruption, and he claws at the very fabric of reality around me spreading his Hand of Corruption across the very ground where my roots where so firmly planted! From the Abyss, in pours an army of Abyssal Creatures!

The Green Very Ugly Thing being most prominent to my pitifully paralysed awestruck knot-like eyes!

All manner of unmentionables turn up, with the Worldbinder bringing more and more creatures of suppuration and demise to the fore. These minions of the mortal dungeons did not know what hit them! They were suffocated with the noxious fumes of pestilent death oozing from Lugonu's summoned horde.

If I could move anything, I would have cracked a smile through my pithy canopy and let some sap ooze out to show my glee. Revenge is sweet and sticky.

Amidst the brutality displayed by the thrashing horror and others, I fumbled around trying desperately to find anything that could treat my wooden wounds. I had no idea how long my preserving bark would last, nor whether the creatures of the Abyss would look favourably upon a lowly Hill Orc minion of Lugonu.

Foolishly reading out a scroll of immolation, I almost burn myself to the ground, but the fog of the Abyss soon dissipates the heat, luckily.

As the Corruption fades away, the dark forms shift and meld back into the night of the Abyss, my lignification also falls away.

I am dumb-founded at what just happened.. on the brink of death, I turned into a tree, called forth an army of unspeakable hate that laid waste to my attackers, and then as I uproot myself and take on Orc form once again, the death lays about my feet, along with a lot of loot, and a hint of satisfaction at witnessing Lugonu's power to protect his own.

The self satisfaction was short-lived though, as Ogz the HOAK went on to be frazzled by a pool of Electric Eels on the same level.

2806 Ogz the Fighter (level 9, -8/83 HPs)
Began as a Hill Orc Abyssal Knight on June 30, 2017.
Was an Elder of Lugonu.
Killed from afar by an electric eel (10 damage) ... with a bolt of electricity ... on level 8 of the Dungeon on July 7, 2017.
The game lasted 01:11:30 (8227 turns).

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Two Accessible Roguelikes: Midboss & Cardinal Quest 2

It has been a while since I've managed to pen something regarding roguelikes, and immediately I need to bring to your attention the possessive phenomenon that is Midboss.

Midboss is a gorgeously animated isometric crawler where you fight, defeat and possess other creatures, in order to take on their powers and become stronger by surgical selection of leeched powers.

Midboss recently released on Steam, and there was a whole episode of Roguelike Radio dedicated to it, in conversation with the developer Eniko over at Kitsune games.




Now, I also have to mention my return to the 4 directional action of Cardinal Quest 2. I avidly played the first installment of the game on mobile, but the further refinement of the game's core ideas into the sequel left me a little cold initially. I think I was too set in the extremely streamlined mobile centric ways to appreciate the work done on the sequel.

The early more "open" levels of the game, not speaking to the dungeon crawling desire.

Well, I'm happy to say I have returned to the experience, with a more open mind, with the freshness that only a break from genre can bring. CQ2 keeps the essence of the streamlined more accessible game, but it enhances the overall action with more options and much more variety in terms of environments and monsters.

I'm pleased to say, Cardinal Quest 2 seems to be taking up the mantle of accessible complexity for a new generation of traditional roguelikers.

With the Steam sale in full swing it could be time to harvest all those lovely new and not-so-new roguelikes as a long-term investment for the future.

Monday, 24 April 2017

7DRL - Brazen Berry Bonanza

It seems such a shame that the 7DRL challenge is over so soon, even with the few weeks afterwards awaiting the reviews, and then it all goes quiet again for another year.

I thought I might do some posts extending the exposure of some of the titles developed, and an easy start to this would be to present the ones I reviewed, whilst gathering whatever information I could on them..

So, here's the very first one I reviewed in my batch:

Brazen Berry Bonanza

by Ethan Hoeppner

Information and Download (Windows)

Playable on Web:

BBB is a puzzle game with roguelite tendencies, it centers around land expansion and berry growth, both affecting where the player can go, and how important an area is to protect from the encroaching enemies. You harvest the berries for points, and the seeds for resources to use to continue growth, or to destroy the enemy infiltration and their berries. if the enemy ripens 5 of their berries you lose. So there is a competing balance between protection of you crops and sabotage of the enemy harvest.

It provides for interesting placement decisions and emergent offensive/defensive play.

Completeness: 3

Well put together game, can leave player in no possible move situation, relies on enemy progress to end game

Aesthetics: 2  

Solid colour blocks, with pixel fruit, and the all important @ make it minimally satisfying and easy to see terrain assets and incoming dangers, needs a hint of more personality.

Fun: 2

I enjoyed the exploration of interactions between mechanisms, limited grow/seed resources makes for an interesting and emergent puzzle.

Innovation: 3

Environmental growth (organically builds map) & seeding, to harvest resources to gain points and push back/hinder the enemies.

Scope: 2

Bite sized terrain acquisition/defense puzzle, there is a seed to an interesting mobile title here if developed further

Roguelike-ness: 2

@ symbol, procedural terrain generated by grow/seed mechanics, seed ripening competition, real time expansion, more mechanics puzzle terrain/resource acquisition/defense game.

Searching for more info on the title, as luck would have it, I managed to find a Youtuber known as Deadly Habit who had covered the game, so I'll urge folks interested in the game to take a look at the video below and the channel.

If all goes well in the future, I'll document the titles I reviewed and will hopefully have some time to do some more 7DRL titles from this years batch.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

7DRL roundup & Roguelike Radio

I've been a busy @ recently, taking part in the reviewing process of the 2017 7DRL Challenge, and then I was kindly invited to join Darren Grey and Chris Haner on an episode of the Roguelike Radio Podcast to discuss some of this years entries.

So here is an inventory list of places to visit to level up your 7DRL rogue:

It was a real honour and a pleasure to take part in the reviewing process, and a dream come true to actually feature on the Roguelike Radio podcast. A show that I have listened to intently for a good number of years.

Thanks to Darren for the invite to put back a little something into the 7DRL roguelike community, and thanks to Chris Haner for his extensive video coverage of the 7DRL entries.