Archive for March, 2013

Mosaic bugfix / balance update

March 25th, 2013 5 comments

I’ve had lots of really nice feedback on Mosaic, but I’ve also had a few bugs and issues pointed out to me. In particular the L sequences weren’t behaving intuitively, there was some buggy behaviour from the Rs and everyone found the Es almost impossible to defeat (I rather liked them – oh well). So I’ve done a bit of a fix-up, and you can now grab version 1.1:

Here’s the full changelog for this version:

  • A few typos fixed and help text updated
  • Removed Big L move (^^>>)
  • Added Corner move (^v><) – much more intuitive and always triggers
  • Es now bounce off edges
  • Ds approach the edges more closely
  • As only move in cardinal directions
  • Ns only move in diagonal directions
  • Gs now move every 10 turns (was 16)
  • Some bugs in R movement and tile wiping fixed
  • Rs can now attack the player, but only when rushing from diagonals
  • Rs now move every 4 turns (was 5)
  • Rebalanced enemy spawn rate – they appear earlier and generation slows down more when there are more of them
  • Tweaked the music generator
  • Less high pitch noises on the strings
  • More note variety on some instruments
  • Less repeating of the same notes
  • Added violas (a typo was preventing them from playing before)

Now this is all low-hanging fruit, the sort of thing that’s pretty standard to have to sort out post-7DRL.  There are maybe some other changes I’d like to make, new ideas that have only come to me after release. And there’s also the temptation to do some serious work on the music engine, to try and make it sound a lot better. That could be a real rabbit hole to get into though… Considering the time invested I’m happy with what’s there, and I’m not sure I have the time or the skill to do much better. Still, there may be a more meaty update to Mosaic in future. For now please enjoy this latest update and let me know how it feels in terms of balance and fun – if there are changes you’d like made then let me know!

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Factorising 86856527

March 21st, 2013 Comments off

Michael Brough’s 86856527 is my favourite of this year’s bumper crop of 7DRLs.  Admittedly I’ve not yet played all that many of the insane 147 successful games, but Brough’s brilliant byte-sized roguelike sets the bar rather high, and is very worthy of some close analysis.  If you haven’t played it yet, go do so, or at least watch UberHunter’s insightful Let’s Play video.

86856527 follows on in certain style from Michael’s streamlined 2012 7DRL Zaga-33. Aesthetically it’s very similar, and it is similarly on a much smaller playing field than most roguelikes. Even smaller than Zaga-33 in fact, and yet it has a lot more content packed in. The density of content within the 6×6 grid space is far far higher than I’ve seen in any other roguelike. For all its big icons and graphical charm this is a very complex game that is unforgiving to any who will not look deeply into its mechanics and systems.


You can see it all, but you have to look

You have 4 resources – health, siphons, credits and energy. Health is lost in battle, siphons are gathered and then used to draw out credits/energy from the map and abilities from the wall, and energy/credits are used to fund the use of those abilities. The siphoning of abilities from the walls summons enemies, which can damage your health and against which abilities are primarily used to defeat. It’s all beautifully weaved together. Complexity through interrelation.

I’ve seen both 86856527 and Mosaic referred to as having a board game feel to them. The big reason for this I think is the way in which they use the board itself, with grid squares counting as a resource and being a major part of the game. I’ve said many times on Roguelike Radio that I feel the map is too static in most roguelikes, that there’s too little interaction with the environment, and this was a big thing for me in designing Mosaic. 86856527 takes a very different route but achieves much of the same end effect. You care about every square, you analyse every grid.

This is reinforced by the enemies, which each have distinct differences. Individually they are not very interesting, but when combined in groups they can be trickily complex to defeat without taking damage. Terrain matters a great deal in how you can move around and how the enemies will move turn to turn. There is that lovely chess-like feel of always thinking a few turns ahead, considering the optimal options at each stage, and positioning, terrain, abilities and resources all tie in to those considerations.

And then there’s the score. Beating the game isn’t too hard if you play very carefully. But once you’ve done that suddenly score becomes an intensely important issue. The points come in discrete blocks that you have to spend resources and risk attacks to attain. They are sirens calling out to you, tempting you with higher positions on your high score table, yet frequently drowning you in a sea of enemies beyond your ability to survive. Riding the line between maximising score and retaining survival is thrilling and compelling, and the cause of many a YASD. The ease of replay and shortness of play sessions combine with this to make a very addictive experience. There is always the one more game to play. You’ll definitely beat that high score this time…

So what design lessons are there to learn from 86856527? Resources tied to terrain, individual enemy types, removal of numbers and density of content are all important. They are perhaps nothing new though, especially in the field of board games. Rather the novelty comes from their interrelation, the tightness with which they are wound together to form a solid core. No one element makes the game, and it is their fusion into a cohesive whole that makes this title really stand out. This is the real design lesson from Brough’s latest offering, that every piece of your game must bind together so tightly that the individual pieces can no longer be seen on their own. No single factor can be distinguished or removed without collapsing the whole.

Indeed, 86856527 cannot be so simply factorised. It is just too prime…

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 –

Edit2: And UberHunter has covered it on the start of his epic journey to Let’s Play all 7DRLs:

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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:

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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Unity for 7DRLers

March 5th, 2013 Comments off

Unity have gotten in touch with me offering Unity Pro trial codes for people making Seven Day Roguelikes this month.  The trial code lasts a month, so you can make your 7DRL and still work on it a little after.  Plus your project should still work in the normal free version of Unity after…  If you want one of the codes for your 7DRL week then please e-mail me at darrenjohngrey at