Heroic Fisticuffs!

Here's a place where I talk about games, applications, websites, and other things that I make for fun. Mostly roguelikes. And pirates. And robots. Since my domain is hard to spell you probably came here on purpose.

The 11DRL Xmastravaganza Eggnog Challenge

In case anyone is still reading here, and not on tumblr, I started an '11-day Roguelike', based on pirates. In javascript. An official r.g.r.d post as well!

Also, hi!

New home

The you and what army devblog continues here on tumblr.

Expect more short form updates as the game goes from crappy pre-alpha to less-crappy beta. Also, a playable version soon, so drop a line if you are hard core enough to be an alpha tester.

Also if somehow an amazing 8-bit artist is reading this and wants to help that'd be great. I even might have some money to spend.

first sign of actual combat

It's nice when you can finally write a method called 'doActualGameStuff'. Only took about 2000+ lines of other javascript and python to get there...

Even More Progress

This is how development of this game has gone:
1. Start designing game element X (Google App Engine, Javascript, CSS, etc)
2. Oh crap.. I don't know as much about X as I thought!
3. Learn lots about X
4. Code some more
5. Find a new X... repeat


So, javascript is more of a bitch to learn than I thought, but I've made a ton of progress on the back-end and 'guts' of the game engine. See also: gridmangler.js.

Unfortunately, as you can see... it still looks like shit! :)

But... slightly better than it did before!

Inspiration strikes...

.. in unlikely places.

Like in the car. When all you have next to you is a pile of mail. (Thanks ASPCA)

More details soon as I translate this into an actual game design doc and finish up the 'pre-alpha' version of the google app engine site, but here is the gist...

The game still uses the general "one vs. many" grid-based, turn-based model, but you-go-I-go seems a bit slow and I couldn't find a way to make it super-exciting. Instead, gameplay will be synchronous! Turns will resolve once both (more?) players have committed to their moves

Events are generated by the resulting placement of units on the grid. To keep things simple for now, the hero will automatically get an attack on any enemy that ends up in one of the 4 squares cardinally adjacent to him.

When units collide (hero vs horde on the same square) the enemy unit always* loses. Wiped off the board. However, this is now the only attack that the hero makes that turn. (Think of dealing with gollum jumping on your face as opposed to having a wide-open space to cut up two or three orcs)

In addition, in the above scenario the surrounding enemy units get an attack in on the hero. This should lead both players into a complex dance of guessing and second-guessing where each is going to end up, while each is trying to force the other into a disadvantaged situation.

Then you can add in all sorts of fun stuff like:
  • different attack patterns (8 surrounding tiles, 2-depth surrounding tiles, etc)
  • movement abilities (shove, pull, entangle, etc)
  • interesting terrain (this 1 square provides bonus X but that means that I know you are going to move there which means I am going to move there so I can kill you but that means that you know that I'm going to move there so then you're NOT going to move there...)
  • different enemy attack types/movement speeds (chess-based moves?)

On the right side of the ASPCA envelope I scribbled "that's the hook!" over a dog's head. So, that's the game. I think that's enough for a fun prototype. Now I just have to finish it.

Thanks for reading!

You are getting ye axe...

So this game is shaping up not in the way I intended (neptune's pride + nethack + wordfeud) but I am really enjoying the new concept. More on that later.

For now, here is google app engine in action:
 'carlosthedwarf' has created a new game
(playing as the evil horde*)

Other players can see available games and join them
'joeyblogs' is going up against our friend carlos.
Don't ask me what a Mangler is.

So... there you go. Progress! Just in case someone has this blog set up in a dusty corner of their RSS reader. If I had a nickle for every game development blog that stops updating less than half-way through the project I would be a THOUSANDAIRE!

Moral of the story: if you are lurking, say hi! 

* I'm thinking more these guys than these guys.

Get Ye Path

I ported my A* pathfinding code from my 7DRL 2011 entry, GnomeSquad into "get ye axe".

Now that I have the channel code down, passing stuff back and forth between javascript and python is (relatively) simple.

Why I Love Nethack

My current game is a great example of why I love nethack. I am playing a healer and I have had really horrible luck with pets dying. What I needed was something... more powerful. Something that could eat those pesky shopkeepers and cross-aligned priests so that I can convert their stupid altars. 

Luckily, I found a polymorph trap. Since I don't yet have magic resistance this was a lucky find (last time I literally stumbled into it and turned into a queen bee for about 600 turns). As I have yet to find a magic whistle, leash, or any way of controlling my pet, I constructed a rather useful fort of boulders...


The greatest part? This was after only my first try.

JavaScript = Die

Thanks to liberal debugging via Firefox and the firebug plug-in, I have working two-way communication from the browser to the app engine via the channel functionality. I have almost no idea how it works... but it does!

Mostly just for test purposes, I made the same map (in HTML5) click-able and it now dynamically updates (ajax style I guess?) the terrain type at the bottom of the page. Seems a bit slow but at this point I have not done any kind of optimization or testing so no surprises there.


First steps towards ye axe

Google app engine is fun.
JavaScript... not so much.

Here's what 'get ye axe' looks like so far. I'm trying to use the HTML5 canvas element for the front-end since I have no desire to learn flash.

Keep looking...
Not much to look at yet but actually further than I thought I would be at this point. The idea is that a lot of the path-finding and dungeon generation and field of view code that I made for AarrrRL and GnomeSquad will carry over quite easily to the new game. It's all in python!

You cannot get ye axe

Experimenting with google app engine, and using it to make a game.

The idea is to use this space as a devblog, and track the game through it's life-cycle. Judging from my previous gaming attempts, this life-cycle will be extremely short.

Here's the idea:
scribbly ye axe

It's sort of like the slow-form simple strategy (and backstabbing) of  Neptune's Pride...
Neptune's Pride
plus the dungeons and random potions and scrolls of nethack...

plus multi-player tactical gameplay ala shining force, or x-com, or GnomeSquad?? (just throwing it out there!)

Shining Force 2

plus the asynchronous nature of mobile games like wordfeud...
Plus... oh hey did I mention the backstabbing? Anyways, that's it for now. Hopefully this spot will show the game as it progresses from "back of a letter scribble" to "hey this is a cool game you can actually play". Wish me luck.

Android blogger test

Yeah I am trying out the android blogger app. For... some reasons that I'm sure will come to me later.

Also: new url!

Apparently there is no way to add a link in this app?? Laaaame. Switching to tumblr NOW.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - "PM" the RL

PM:theRL has a weird name. And a weird plot. But pretty soon after you start playing it, you figure out what is going on.

Look familiar? 
Needless to say, PM the RL is a roguelike version of a certain classic arcade game. It is short and to the point. I actually had a lot of fun playing this game. It is pretty nerve-wracking to not be able to see the enemy ghosts at all times. You never know when you are going to turn a corner and run into one of them. Then again, the turn-based nature of roguelikes makes avoiding the ghosts somewhat easier. It's also pretty excruciating in that often you can KNOW beforehand that you are screwed: e.g. if you are trapped in a corridor with two ghosts and can see that one of them will get to you in less than the number of steps you need to take to get to a side-corridor.

But that is the kind of excruciating that is fun! (Roguelikes might be the only genre where this is an acceptable statement.)

I also like that the author included the right-to-left-side level teleport as in the original game; that was a nice touch.


PM:theRL is an experimental take on a classic game. In this case, the experiment is a success. Short, fun, and mildly terrifying.

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Dwarftown

Dwarftown is the 2011 7DRL entry by hmp.

The game is a fairly traditional dungeon diver roguelike. Except without any actual diving. Instead, progress is made by progressing further and further into the more difficult areas of the world. You start out in a peaceful wood, with bears and squirrels running about and not bothering you. Eventually you will find the rat caves (rats, bats) and from there Dwarftown (goblins, ogres) and the Dwarftown Market (mimics!).

Don't poke the bear.

Like many entrants in this year's 7DRL challenge, Dwarftown uses the libtcod library. However, just using the library does not mean that a game automatically looks good. Dwarftown has a ton of polish in this regard. The colors are nicely done, and the lighting is both nice to look at and tactical. For example, when you first get to the rat caves it is hard to see what is going on and rats kept sneaking up on me. Your character starts with a torch (there are also torches to find in the dungeon) that can be lit. Once lit, the dungeon becomes much more manageable, but only until your lighting lasts!

Dynamic lighting. Also glowing fungus!

Dwarftown itself especially makes good use of the dynamic lighting engine.

The gameplay in Dwarftown feels solid. The monsters seem to take an appropriate amount of bashing to kill, and I was not surprised to be killed by the various things that killed me. (e.g. I would not expect to do well against a level 5 Ogre with my meager 1d6 sword)

The game itself is smooth and had no lag or errant pixels or anything on my windows XP machine. I know from experience that designing a scrolling map is a pain in the ass. Coupled with tons of bears and squirrels running around each step I expected some sort of slow down, but never saw any. Kudos to hmp for creating such a fine experience.

I never did make it out of Dwarftown alive, but I did find lots of cool stuff in the abandoned markets. (Just watch out for mimics).

"O" shit, indeed.

Dwarftown is a simple but polished classic roguelike. Certainly an awesome achievement for a 7DRL. Go play it for yourself!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Mad Mage

Mad Mage is a fun concept. I was curious to try it out after reading the initially summary. Here's the gist: you (the wizard) are slowly (or rather quickly in some cases) going mad. This means the reverse of the standard roguelike identification system. All of your items (scrolls, potions) are identified to begin with, but become unidentified over time.

The great thing about this is that it sort of becomes a meta-game outside of the game. You start thinking to yourself: did I put that scroll of murder in my sash or in my robe. Was it slot a or slot b? Oh well, I'll just toss this random potion and see what happens!

It's a mad world

Mad World has a nice old-school look to it. I personally like my roguelikes to look like roguelikes. I didn't have any problems running the game on Windows XP. It also does a nice job of mixing up the scenery, which is strangely not done very often in roguelikes. Your mad mage travels through grassy plains, caves, dungeons, deserts, and swamps on his quest to find the... something? In particularly mad fashion, I never was able to end the game by finding the ossuary.

Scroll of Mass Death. Why don't more games have that?
Deserts look like deserts

The various potion/scroll effects are great. The randomized enemy names are very charming. As is the inventory system. When I first looked at it I was annoyed: WTF... I have to put stuff into 9 different slots?? After playing the game for a while I figured out why. It's a great way to organize your items and help you remember things. Like I said, it's charming too. It's fun to think about a wizard wandering around with random scrolls in his hat and potions in his boots.

I put on my wizard hat and robe. And boots.

The charm comes out in the random messages your wizard says as well: now where did I put that...? What did I have for breakfast this morning? Excellent stuff.

I've seen other reviews of the game talking about the map generation. Personally, I found it to be a little annoying. I ran into way too many dead ends. But hey... maybe it is just part of going mad right? The levels are also huge; I never really got that feeling of "everything is explored" that you do in other roguelikes. I always felt like I was missing something, but really there was nothing leading me in any particular direction, so it was a little frustrating to me, personally. Now, I am the kind of guy who has a label on his label maker so it could just be me. :)

Mad Mage has a lot of charm and I am hoping to have time to go back and beat it once I've played the rest of the games. Great job!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Monster Slayer Show


Awesome name? Check.

Amazing title screen? Check.

Love a good title screen

Unique gimmick? Check.

Tight leather pants? Check!

Extra tight please.




Does your game have a lazer megacannon? Didn't think so.

So, yeah. I had a blast playing this game. This is the kind of game you play and look at all of the blood and dead monsters, turn towards the spectators and say "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!?". This is the kind of game that you play and then hang your head in shame because your own 7DRL is pretty lame in comparison.

I would review this game more but I really need to change out of these tight leather pants and go fix my rocket launcher. Meanwhile, I suggest you play this game, yesterday.

5 out of 5 @s. TO THE EXTREME!!

EDIT: I guess I should include a link to the actual game! Go play it.

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Light

Ok, 13 out of 45  7DRLs reviewed. Almost 30%!

If the rest of these games are as good and complete as the ones I have played so far I am in some serious trouble.

On to the next game: Light, by Kaw.

This is another libtcod game! Man, this thing is everywhere. Maybe I should actually sit down and look at using it? Nahhhhh.

First off, Light looks great. As expected from a game called light, it handles lighting really well. The diffusion is great and the independent light sources are amazing. It's rare to see actual lighted MONSTERS wandering around, casting light as they go. I had to keep from running into the glowbugs because I didn't want to actually kill them.

All of the lights.

It has a very limited inventory, which normally forces some interesting tactical decisions. However, in Light I didn't feel like I could give up my light source, and I couldn't figure out how to drop my tinderbox, so I really only had one 'spare' slot for one of the many potions I came across.

The dungeon features were cool. I like pulling switches and jumping down holes and all that.

Unfortunately that is about all I can say about Light. It crashed a few times on my windows machine and I never got past level 3. (I did let the author know, since that is what I would want someone to do for me.)

But finishing any sort of 7DRL that runs is considered an accomplishment in my book, so kudos!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Regicide!


Bart: [watching Flanders] An ax.  He's got an ax!  I'll save you, Lisa![tries to walk on his leg, falls back] Uh, I'll save you by calling the police.  [dials 911]
Voice: Hello, and welcome to the Springfield Police Department Resc-u-Fone[tm].  If you know the name of the felony being committed, press one.  To choose from a list of felonies, press two.  If you are being murdered or calling from a rotary phone, please stay on the line.
Bart: [growls, punches some numbers]
Voice: You have selected regicide.  If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one.
-- The Simpsons, Season 6, Episode `Bart of Darkness`

I had been looking forward to playing this game since I saw the name. I also vaguely recall being very interested in the author's previous 7DRL, Chompy (looks like he went ahead and finished it, awesome! Will have to check that out after these reviews are done).

So, Regicide! The plot is pretty simple and drives the theme very well. You are tasked with dispatching an evil King. The game starts in a prison, and the prisoner mechanic is very nicely done. Throughout the prison levels, there are prisoners that you can free with keys. Some are fellow revolutionaries and will help you. Others are vicious murderers, and will attack you! I wasn't sure how to tell which was which before I let them out but I suppose that is part of the game! (A fun part, too)

I'll admit that when I first freed a prisoner I wasn't sure what would happen. I was pleasantly surprised when he started bashing the prison guard with me. I was hoping that would happen!

I was hoping that would happen.

From the display side, this is another libtcod game. I could've used bigger fonts... I had trouble making out the doors (+) from the walls (#). But, that could just be the fact that I am a) old, and b) destroying my eyes by playing so many roguelikes! Playing in full screen mode greatly alleviates this. I also really dig the scrolling levels. Nice and smooth.

The friendly revolutionaries were helpful, but not very good at avoiding my dagger when I walked into them, or following me through doors. According to the author, the next version fixes this. It would also be awesome if they could follow me downstairs, although I did learn later to not waste gold on prison guards and to save it instead for the Royal Guard down below. This bribing feature is one I really like. I guess we both independently came up with it, since I included it in my 7DRL, GnomeSquad.

Once you get past the prison level it gets crazy. There are worms that spit acid and destroy your armor! And the rock walls! Having monsters destroy the scenery is an awesome feature. I don't know of any other roguelikes that do that. Can someone enlighten me if I am wrong?

Arg! My armor! (destroyed by acid)

This is as deep as I got :(

So, at this point I died. A lot. I really want to go down and kill that stupid king but no amount of potions or scrolls of fire seem to help me. I am looking forward to going back and trying once I have finished these reviews though! This game shows a large amount of polish for a 7DRL. Very full featured but simple in all the right places. (e.g. no need for giant inventory, just pick up a better weapon if you find one) Even the little things, like the way the prisoners moan or the murderers yell stuff, and the way the message buffer slowly fades over time.

Very promising stuff, keep it up!

And I will be back to finish off the king later!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Stygia

Stygia! The very name conjures up memories of ancient lands.

Stygia! I really dug the lighting and the dungeon layouts were awesome.

Sygia! I died. A lot. So many times.

This happened a lot.

Stygia is a classic (in a good way) roguelike dungeon diver, with a few twists. I like the heating effect. Throughout the dungeon are random "hot spots" that raise the temperature of the otherwise chilly dungeons (this temperature drops as you go down). When you are warm, you can rest to regenerate health. This makes locating hot spots a top priority for each dungeon.

According to the author's posts on 7drl.org, you can finish the game by getting down to dungeon level 10 and defeating the bad-ass boss. I would love to meet him! I couldn't get past the 3rd dungeon level. However, that doesn't mean I'm not going to come back and try! It just means that I have many other 7DRLs to play.

So, stuff that I liked? Title screen! I love a good title screen. The story is interesting without being overbearing and explains some of the game mechanic to you. The libtcod engine looks amazing as per usual. I did have a hard time seeing the grey "g"oblins through the diffused yellow light, but maybe that was just me. Kobolds and ogres were easier to see.

Title screen!

I also dug that the weapons/armor were highlighted based on (I assume) rarity. So, if you see a green weapon lying on the ground, you know it is more rare (better?) than a white or gray one. And it goes up the color scale (white, green, blue, purple, etc) that I learned from Borderlands, but probably started in World of Warcraft or some older RPG that I haven't played.

It was a little hard to tell which armors were better than others. So if I find a green +2 leather armor, is that better than a gray +0 platemail? It's entirely possible I was missing something, but my armors did not seem to effect by "Defense" stat.

The other thing that bugged me (that was also maybe a feature) was the enemy movement. These guys pounce! They seem to move 2 spaces for my 1 space. Again, maybe this is on purpose, but it takes some getting used to.

Other than that, the combat felt really solid. I seemed to be bashing monsters with an appropriate number of hits. They were just bashing me much more quickly! :)

So, Stygia, I wish you well. I will probably come back and play you after these reviews, but for now I must move on. Definitely keeping an eye on this one.

(Since typing this originally the author has come out with an updated version, which I will try out soon.)

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Lord Bistian Unnamed

LordBistian has a 7DRL challenge entry for us. It's name? Well... in his own words:
It has no name but whatever. 
Indeed Lord Bistian. Indeed.

So, this is a first-time 7DRL entry and for that it is a great entry. I really dig the graphics. It has a few nice touches such as "brodollars" (best currency name ever?) and a really great intro screen. How much do I love a simple and uncluttered intro screen? SO MUCH.

I really liked this water effect!
BroQuest (there, I just gave it a name) is a minimalist dungeon diver. You have four (three really, one is reserved for weapons which I later found out) inventory slots to fill up with as much treasure as possible. One thing that confused me... I am supposed to leave the dungeon with $15,000 brodollars, but I only have 3 slots. I guess this means I need to optimize and carry the most valuable items available? This is a bit odd since things like a single "diamond" or "gold coin" do not stack. Why would I carry these around? I think related treasure should pile up in one inventory slot. (e.g. one giant pile o' gold, one giant pile o' diamonds)

The gameplay is somewhat limited. It's not obvious which monsters are easily handled and which aren't. I was butchered over and over again by an Arch-Lich, but smote Asmodeus in about 6 turns without taking any damage. From someone who plays a lot of nethack (e.g. a lot of the people who participate in/play 7DRL challenge games), this is a bit odd to me.

Also, I would kill for some dungeon memory. The dungeons (mazes really) are nicely generated, but I can't tell which sections I have already visited. With the levels being so huge, this is tough to deal with.

I got this screen a lot.
That being said, there is something to be said for BroQuest's simple interface and cartoon-ey, hand-drawn graphics, and no-nonsense inventory system. It's something I could one day see growing into a lovely android or iPhone game. Lord Bistian... do you accept this challenge??

As a first-time 7DRL entry, it is a great accomplishment.

PS: There is something to be said about the roguelike community in that I will download and run a random .exe file from a mysterious dropbox location with no questions asked! That is some brotherhood right there, my friends.

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Gridfolk

Gridfolk was initially classified as a successful 7DRL entry. However, the author has since reclassified it as a failure. Either way, I started looking at it.

After playing the game (I had no problems getting it running, personally) I tend to agree with the author's own comments. It is an interesting tech demo, but not a game.

That being said, it is a very interesting tech demo. The multiplayer roguelike is an elusive holy grail for developers. The concept for this game was a good one. I would certainly be interested in playing the end result.

The fact that the author got a fully functioning client/server realtime roguelike working in 7 days is impressive in itself. Although I have a lot of experience with python, I have never done any networking code beyond a few simple socket listeners.

Also the screen is nice. I like the presentation and the colors and the weird enemies.

Digging Mode definitely needs to be a toggle. Having to hit 'D' every time you want to dig is a super-pain. I didn't go down very far.

So, great concept. Interesting tech demo. Looking forward to next time. :)

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Destiny of Heroes

So many roguelikes! Up next is the epically-named DESTINY OF HEROES.

When I first read the name I read it as DENSITY of Heroes. Not sure why. But then I got to thinking... Density of Heroes would be an awesome 7DRL! You could have monsters based on the elements of the periodic table and try to gain protons and electrons (and neutrons) in order to defeat your enemies. Combat is resolved by density. Of course your nemesis is the arch-fiend of elements: UNOBTANIUM.

Anyways, back to the game. Destiny of Heroes is the first 7DRL entry by IBOL. It was created in Dark Basic. Which I imagine is some sort of twisted arcane version of regular-basic. (I personally used a lot of Q-BASIC back in the day) The version I played was not the "official" 7DRL version but rather the next version, which I assume fixes some number of annoying bugs. I'm no glutton for punishment.

oooh.. dynamic lighting! (nice)
First off, I love the intro screen! This roguelike is off to a great start. Clear goals, big font, no overly-wrought fantasy setting introduction (let's be honest they all boil down to the same thing).

The game itself is a fairly standard (and I mean that in a good way) crawl-esque dungeon diver. I say crawl and not nethack because of cool things like this:

  • throwing items -- appears that you can throw anywhere within radius X, as opposed to cardinal directions (the throwing interface is especially awesome)
  • dungeon generation -- these are cool organic-looking dungeons, not your usual box & corridor (great job on this part IBOL!)
  • no-nonsense inventory -- it knows when you pick up a mace you would rather just get rid of your dagger (Vicious Orcs was great about this too)

So, now for the less-good. I thought the game had way too much whitespace. The window was huge, and this was part of it (but not necessarily a bad thing since it had a nice on-screen inventory). The real problem was the font. The glyphs didn't have enough weight on them for me. The grid squares were also too far apart. 

Go away, whitespace!
(Although a surprisingly useful implementation of SENSE TREASURE)

The game also felt a bit laggy at times. I would punch the arrow keys in quick succession only to have my little @ only move 1 or 2 spaces. However, I know from experience that making a scrolling dungeon window is a giant pain in the ass so I was not bothered too much. Certainly it is something that can be cleaned up and optimized at a later time. (7DRLs are not really the place for optimization)

I really liked the monsters -- they weren't your typical fare. I am also easily entertained by non-standard characters such as the ÿ and σ. There were a few times in this game where I got more than a passing whiff of Brogue. This is in no way a bad thing since I love Brogue and still play it constantly. The AI was fun. The water sprites were especially obnoxious.

One thing that bugged me was the length of combat. On more than a few occasions I felt like I should be smashing my way through monsters but ended up going 6 or 7 rounds with... a bat. I expect a certain number of "windshield kills" in my roguelikes, and bats are certainly up there on that list.

It was also a bit annoying to not see the final few game messages. There were a few times when I quaffed a potion or read a scroll in desperation (e.g. down to my last 1 or 2 HP), only to get a big ol' "game over" screen, without telling me what the scroll did. That is a pretty minor annoyance though.

Killed by python. Yeah, that seems appropriate for me.
So, all in all, a solid vanilla roguelike. I couldn't muster up the strength to dive all the way to level 15 (these levels are quite huge!!), but it is always nice to see a fully functioning game in a 7DRL challenge.


PS: Oh, I also loved the mini-map!

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - 7DRL Challenge Challenge (7DRLCC)

Next up is the confusingly named 7DRL Challenge Challenge. I would've gone with a more descriptive name like "Time Attack" or "Time's Up!" or "Where the @#$%^# is that damned down staircase??".

This game uses the LOVE engine, which is some kind of 2D lua game-making framework. Since my game requires both python and pygame, I can't really complain about downloading LOVE, so away we go.

First problem -- this game is way too small! Apparently some people in the forums had the same problem. Since I was determined to play this game I found a solution (others may not be so forgiving):

  • Extract the .love file
  • edit the "player.lua" file
  • rhe last line says "fixed.ttf', 8
  • change the 8 to 16, or (presumably) any other number
  • rezip the files
  • re-name the archive to .love
  • re-launch the new .love package

Aaah... much better!
Now, with that out of the way, we can play the game. Here is the good part: this game is fun! The goal is to get yourself (@) to the down stair (>) on each level. In your way will be pits (0) walls (#) and doors (+). So, what's the catch?

You need to do this in about 30 seconds.

It is a perfect example of a first 7DRL entry. It has a simple potentially non-genre-standard mechanic (time is ticking in real time) and a simple presentation. The way the level fades to black as your time runs out is quite ingenious and also quite maddening! Never before have I mashed my numpad keys so frantically in a roguelike. Running, Running, RUNNNIIINNNGGG!!!!

Noooooo! (fade to black)
So yeah, it's fun.

One beef -- is every level "winnable"? There were a few times when I couldn't see a way through.

A few suggestions:
  • exit highlighting -- show me the exit when the level starts. I wasted the first 5-10 seconds of every level just looking for the > symbol. Or maybe just change the color?
  • time tokens -- if you can't find the exit quick enough, run for one of these to give yourself some extra time
Good for what it is. A solid 7DRL.

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.

7DRL 2011 Reviews - Rook

Rook is a 7DRL entry by Joshua Day. The concept intrigued me, and the screenshots caught my eye. (Note to roguelike developers: screenshots!!)

At first, I was at a loss of what I was supposed to be doing. The readme.txt was not very helpful in explaining some of the core mechanics of the game. However, the success post on 7drl.org was helpful:
As long as you’re wearing the orb of the Turk, you can’t die a stupid death — every move you can make has to kill you.  If you take it off, you’re playing a traditional roguelike.  The ring of vulnerability will save you from losing any hitpoints, because every hit you take will kill you, which is forbidden by the orb.
Well, that explains that!

After reading that I felt a little bit stupid. Surely the name "rook" should've inspired me with some vaguely chess-oriented thoughts. Once I got the mechanics down it was a very fun little roguelike.

The game gave me a mad pell-mell sort of feel, with bouts of extreme tactical decision making. This is a good combination! I also liked the terrain. The trees (&) were first seen as obstructions, but later, as friends. I can use trees to lose pursuers! That way I don't have to risk taking off the ring to dispatch them. And always, always, always, trying to move right.

Nice line of sight (through the grass)

A fate worse than death?
Being "checkmated" is a unique way to end the game. Is there some way I can reverse my steps and make different decisions? That would be pretty amazing.

There is one particularly mean bug in that potions and scrolls can fall on obstructed terrain. The author is up-front about it and mentions it in the readme. But it is still quite sad to run out of your way over to a healing potion (!) only to find your way blocked. It is like the game is taunting me. But, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Who doesn't enjoy a good taunting every now and then?

After a few dozen mad-dashes rightward (yes, it is worth it to go after potions and scrolls) I was finally able to kill the king. Huzzah!

Take that, you evil tyrant of some kind!

I also noticed that the game seems to be using curses? This would make for a great terminal game. Perfect for breaks at work between other games.

Either way, excellent work. Looking forward to the next version.

You can find a list of all 7DR L2011 finishers on roguebasin or temple of the roguelike.