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Jupiter Hell, successor to Doom the Roguelike, now on Kickstarter

November 15th, 2016 1 comment

Kornel Kisielewicz, developer of Doom the Roguelike, has just released a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the development of Jupiter Hell. And whilst Jupiter Hell is the successor to DoomRL in many ways, it’s immediately obvious that it promises to be so much more:

3D graphics in a roguelike? A *turn-based* roguelike? And with it an original metal soundtrack and vocals from Mark Meer, who performed the voice of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. This is going much much further than a simple “DoomRL 2″…

Now I should make evident I have a vested interest here. I am very proud to be part of the development team for the game, as Designer and Lead Writer. So I’d quite like to see this succeed! But beyond that I think this game offers a special opportunity – a chance for roguelikes to reach further than they have before.

For many years now we’ve seen roguelites (Spelunky, FTL, etc) do well with a more mainstream audience, whilst the traditional core of the genre still remains very niche. Dungeonmans and ToME are doing better than most, but still have limited impact. I refuse to believe the gameplay is at fault here. Gameplay is precisely what makes roguelikes great! Ultimately it comes down to presentation, and having the right visuals and interface to entice a wider audience in.

Some say roguelikes are too difficult for normal players, but then I see the success of Dark Souls and the new X-COM games (including Ironman Mode having high popularity!) There is a clear audience for games that provide challenge and depth. Jupiter Hell could be the game to finally bridge the gap to the rest of the gaming world. This could be the game I introduce to friends who’ve never managed to get into ADOM or Brogue, but who I know could come to love roguelikes.

And though it has these appeals to a wider audience, Jupiter Hell is still very much a hardcore roguelike. It’s turn-based, with an adaptive animation system so you never have to wait between keypresses. It even has an ASCII mode! This is something new and old players can fully appreciate.

28 days to go! Help us make this happen :)

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UK IRDC 2015 After-report!

July 1st, 2015 Comments off
At symbol made of dice

Many @s gathered in one place!

So IRDC just happened, hosted at the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham. Mark Johnson of Ultima Ratio Regum did the organising. You can find a couple of other reports on it by Mark and by Alan Charlesworth.

On the Friday a few of us met in a pub and had a long chat about roguelikes and gaming. As a sign of the times some wedding discussion also crept in (myself and 2 others are currently engaged). I imagine in a few years it will be about babies! We also had some interesting chat about how Youtube Let’s Plays affect roguelike exposure and sales, and how roguelikes in particular are good for Let’s Plays – both the audience and the LPer like having fresh content from a procedural system.

Mark Johnson at IRDC2015

Mark’s opening talk

On Saturday were the presentations. They were recorded and streamed, and hopefully they’ll be available soon! I’ve uploaded my slides on Alternative Death Systems, essentially saying we need to make the approach to death more obvious, interesting and dramatic, which the ubiquitous HP model often fails at. Particular highlights in the talks for me were AIs attempting to beat Spelunky, a peek at how DCSS generates levels and lots of detail of how Sir, You Are Being Hunted procedural generates environments that feel hand-crafted.

Roguelike developers in a pub in a cave

Roguelike devs in a pub! In a cave! With flails!

After the talks we went to a pub and then out for a curry (very British) before going to a pub that was in some caves beneath the castle, complete with halberds and flails on the walls. Many roguelike puns were made! Then there were debates about game pricing, early access, Steam refunds and other boring money-related stuff. Still, it was interesting to hear some passionate opinions on stuff outside of my domain. We also decided that we need a roguelike set in the caverns of Nottingham, and more roguelikes involving Sean Bean. We should also try to get Sean Bean to a future IRDC if we can :P

Roguelike posters

Mark had some cool posters made of popular RLs

The next day we were a thinned out crowd, sitting in a room with a bunch of laptops showing off various roguelikes. I brought some board games to keep us entertained, and gave Mark his first taste of modern board games – he was pretty quickly hooked, vowing to beat me at Hey, That’s My Fish (he didn’t). Some people wandered in to see the roguelike exhibition and quickly wandered out – overall the audience was much younger than expected and the games not so appropriate for them.

We recorded an episode of Roguelike Radio, mostly discussing the previous day’s talks. This should be available soon!

At the end of the day we went for pasta and a few of us ended up back at my hotel room playing more board games. Good fun :) I managed to do perhaps my best lying ever in as a spy in Resistance :D Alan was utterly hoodwinked…

Overall a great event! Mark did an excellent job arranging everything, and the venue were fantastic. It was also brilliant to see the likes of DarkGod and Ido again.

However it should be said that this hasn’t been the most successful of IRDCs in terms of attendance, and particular in terms of diversity of attendees. The vast majority there were English (many drawn through Mark’s academic connections), with only about four coming from abroad. Most of the European IRDC regulars didn’t attend. No women either. We did have one uni student attend, which is great, and he gave a presentation on his level generator made for his dissertation (very cool). We need more young people making roguelikes and getting into the dev scene :)

I think the location probably didn’t work in our favour for attracting more people – Nottingham seems a far and exotic place for anyone outside the UK. Contrast with the London event where many people made it part of a holiday, some with their families, or the accessibility and cheapness of Berlin. Something to consider for next year (there are rumours of Paris!)

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Procedural Generation Jam – 8-17 November

September 23rd, 2014 Comments off

A new game jam is on the horizon, the Procedural Generation Jam:

http://itch.io/jam/procjam

Many people are using this as an excuse to make a 7DRL. But you can make any sort of procedural game you want on the week, or concentrate your time on some procedural tools instead. I’ll be making a roguelike where procedural generation is part of the mechanics of play! Hopefully it’ll also be fun.

To kick off the ProcJam there will be a day of talks in London from developers who use procedural generation. This will include Mark Johnson of Ultima Ratio Regum, Tanya X Short of Shattered Planet, Hazel McKendrick of No Man’s Sky and me! I’ll be giving a talk about how to include the player in the procedural generation, which is something I’ve tried to do with a lot of my games. You can get free tickets to the event or watch remotely via the livestream.

I’ll be hosting an episode of Roguelike Radio in the coming weeks with a few of the speakers, talking about the purpose of the jam and why procedural generation is so cool :)

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Live on One Life Left

June 25th, 2014 Comments off

On Monday I was interviewed live on London-based radio show One Life Left about roguelikes. You can catch up with the podcast version here:

http://www.onelifeleft.com/2014/06/25/one-life-left-s10e04-222-brogue-likes/

I only had a small interview segment on the show, but hopefully I did the genre some justice. I must admit I struggled a little to answer their search for a proper definition of roguelikes since I don’t really believe in strict definitions! Got Hoplite plugged at least :)

I also talked about my short stories tying in with Elite as part of Tales from the Frontier, just released. This is alongside my writing credits for Tales of Maj’Eyal and ongoing work for Jupiter Hell. I seem to like writing for games with procedural content ;) I’m always looking for new writing opportunities so if you have any leads let me know!

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7DRL Incoming: 8th to 16th March

February 24th, 2014 2 comments

It’s now less than 2 weeks to the start of the 2014 Seven Day Roguelike Challenge! This my personal highlight of the year, and I can’t bloody wait for it to start :D

This year I’ve set up mailing list for people wanting to subscribe to updates about the process. This is for developers, players, media, whoever. Just enter your e-mail address if you want to be kept up to date this year and in future years.

Also, Unity have repeated their offer of 1 month trials of Unity Pro for 7DRL entrants. E-mail me if you want a code!

As for my own plans… I’m hoping to make a complex game with a hacking theme (868-HACK being a big inspiration). You move on a hex grid, with “connected” nodes being easier to travel around, and connections are created by your movements. Enemies destroy connections and hinder your movements. You die if you get surrounded by enemies – so it’s a no HP game, with movement being key. Building on Mosaic a little bit, but I’m hoping it’ll be more tactical. Bumping into enemies will trigger special attacks against them, but which attack type is triggered depends on the direction of attack, following a “hex wheel” of assigned powers. The hex wheel rotates each turn, so you can’t keep spamming the same attack in one direction.

My biggest challenge is coming up with interesting enemies and bosses, and maybe some sort of progression system. Also a good name… Hexhack? Hacktics? I’ll think something up…

Ooh, and in other roguelike-y news be sure to register for IRDC! The International Roguelike Developers Conference is in Berlin again this year, from 9 – 11 May, hosted by the distinguished Ido Yehieli.

Darren Grey, age 30, with 11 games

April 4th, 2013 6 comments

Happy Birthday to me! I’m a little high from too much chocolate, and marvelling at the tremendously out of season snowfall, but overall having a good day. And to celebrate my birthday I encourage you to play all of my games:

  • GruesomeIt is pitch black, you are likely to eat someone. Play as a grue lurking in dark places and eating adventurers.
  • Toby the Trapper – A quick gnome versus slow ogres, with the only way to damage them being to lay traps. The unique bosses lend a great puzzley challenge to the game.
  • UNSTOPPABLE – You are a robot with impenetrable armour and a weapon that fires unstoppable shots. Hunt rogue AIs on a looping map, but try not to destroy the universe by accidentally shooting yourself.
  • Broken Bottle – Play as an alcoholic trying to escape from a fallout shelter. Addiction plays a strong role in this short story-centric roguelike.
  • Run from the Shadow – You are stalked by a powerful shadow in a guilt-themed world.
  • Harrowed – A simple one vs many roguelike made in 1 hour.
  • sick peter – Play as a terminally ill 4-year old boy in Nazi-occupied Holland. Search for your missing mother whilst avoiding guards.
  • Rogue Rage – Roguelike with various stance-based superpowers. Still incomplete in areas, but lots of novel combat in it.
  • Broody Vole – You’re a female vole trying to have babies and protecting your brood from vicious weasels (made in 3 hours at TIGJam last year).
  • F*ck This Jam – Action RPG telling the dramatic tale of one man versus endless waves of demonically possessed jam. Beware the giant Jammie Dodgers!
  • Mosaic – Lay colourful mosaic tiles on a grid with your movements, trying to encase enemies in art to dispel them. Music is procedurally generated based on which parts of the map you have filled in.

Also go play Tales of Maj’Eyal, a fantastically epic RPG that contains close to a novel’s worth of lore that I’ve written. All of these games are creations I’m immensely proud of. I also want to go back and improve/update them – if you have particular favourites you’d like to see brought up to date than please let me know. But at the same time I have lots of new game ideas too…

Anyway, I’m 30 and I’m still alive, and making games. It’s rather fun :) If you’ve not made a game yourself yet then I implore you to go make something. There is very little in life that is more satisfying!

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Mosaic, a roguelike about creativity

March 17th, 2013 7 comments

I present to you, Mosaic:

Mosaic is a roguelike in which your movements change the map, laying down colourful mosaic tiles wherever you go, and producing dynamic music based on your play. If you trace out an outline then it fills in the whole area with tiles. This is the only way to kill enemies. It’s also rather pretty!

Mosaic tiles

Pretty colours!

Some notable features of the game:

  • 4-way movement is the only input
  • Chained sequences of moves can trigger special moves
  • 1HP system, but actually not easy to die unless playing very sloppily
  • Map altering as you play
  • Procedural music generated based on the map layout and tile positions
  • Enemies all have individual movement patterns, with some being more threatening than others

Try it out! Have fun! This is honestly the best thing I’ve ever made (IMHO :P)

Edit: And here’s a Youtube video showing some gameplay and the music – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIcCF6vNq6s

Edit2: And UberHunter has covered it on the start of his epic journey to Let’s Play all 7DRLs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-CV45LrqJ4

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7DRL Start: Moasic – An Introspection on Self-expression

March 10th, 2013 Comments off
Mosaic @

Concept art only – not representative of final product ;)

As of 6pm GMT on Sunday 10th March I am beginning my Seven Day Roguelike.  Hopefully I will shrug off last year’s failure and resume my previous run of successes!

The name of my game is Mosaic, and it will include a mishmash of ideas that have been floating around my head for a while.  In particular it will include:

  • Simple 4-way controls. No other controls at all.
  • Strings of moves trigger wider special moves.
  • You change the map with your moves. The whole game interaction will be about crafting the map around your movements.
  • You die in one hit, but the terrain you construct will act as temporary defence against enemies.
  • Incorporating Conway’s Game of Life somehow.
  • Procedurally generated music based on the terrain you construct (a bit like Tonematrix).
  • Some arty fluff about self-expression and creation.

I’m also hosting a London Afterparty on the evening of Sunday 17th for 7DRLers to meet up and play each others games / weep about their failures.  If you want to join in sign up here: http://7drl2013.eventbrite.com/#

Good luck to everyone taking part!  It’s gonna be one hell of a big crop of games at the end  :D

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The Seven Days Cometh

February 7th, 2013 2 comments

The Seven Day Roguelike Challenge dates have been announced for 9th to 17th March!  All developers are encouraged to try to make a roguelike in 7 days during this time period.  I’ve been particularly pushing to get some traditionally non-roguelike devs to enter this, as outside perspective is always great to have  :)

Some handy resources:

We’ll be doing a Roguelike Radio episode soon on “How to make a good 7drl”, with a few experienced developers.  We also recently did a T-Engine episode and will have a libtcod episode soon.

My own plan is to make a game called “Mosaic”, which will be based around terrain manipulation arising from normal movement, perhaps with a musical element if I can get it working right.

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The Roguelike Incubator

December 1st, 2012 3 comments

A few months back I set up a project called The Roguelike Incubator – an area for less well-known roguelike developers to put up their games for feedback, with the caveat that they also give feedback to other developers.  A joint back-scratching exercise that everyone could benefit from.  Developer feedback can be especially insightful, with ideas for design mixed in with coding knowledge, and in general this helps with the struggle to get decent feedback on newer and smaller games.  The project went well for a few months, with my own game Rogue Rage receiving excellent feedback, but has gone quiet lately.

We’re now looking for new developers to join the circle.  All you need is a RogueTemple account (easy to set up), an in-dev roguelike with a playable build, and a bit of time to trade with others.  The activity is all publicly visible, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention, so it’s a great place to put up unfinished works for constructive criticism.  If you’re interested then check out the latest thread I’ve started on the call for new developers.

Note that previously the Incubator was wrapped up with the idea for a Roguelike Bundle.  I’ve realised now this may have been a mistake, putting too many restrictions on people, and I’ll be looking to do something a little different with the bundle idea in future.  The Incubator is instead open to all, and I hope to see a much wider participation in future.