Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dweller 1.13.3

Dweller is back again after a disastrous release right before Christmas. I've learnt a lesson and I will try to avoid rushing a release again.

The game is available from all the usual sources: Android MarketJ2ME and J2SE. Enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dweller temporarily pulled from the Android market

There's a game breaking issue with pushable stones in the most recent version of Dweller which has forced me to temporarily pull it from the Android Market. I'm away on vacation two more days and I won't be able to upload a fix until then. I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dweller 1.13.2

This is a bugfix release that addresses some recently introduced bugs. I have also experimented with buttons/triggers on the floor that activate nearby traps such as a dart trap. It needs a bit more testing before I can release it, but I think it will be a good trap addition.

  • The quickslot help message will not be shown if you have switched of help messages in the settings
  • Menu item height increased on touchscreen devices to reduce risk of misclicks 
  • Double item descriptions when browsing merchant goods
  • Pushable stones could be pushed on top of stairs and swap position with the stairs and cause a crash when the stairs were used
  • It is now possible to wrap around in menues again
The game is available from all the usual sources: Android MarketJ2ME and J2SE. Enjoy!


Eight2Empire is the blog of graphics artist Thomas Whetnall. Thomas has been working on  a very nice 8x8 tileset suitable for roguelikes and CRPGs. The first version of the tileset was made available a few days ago. Visit his blog to download the tileset and follow the progress.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vote for roguelike of the year

It's that time of the year again. Santa is busy preparing for x-mas and roguelike gamers are busy voting for the roguelike of the year. If you want to cast your vote head over to Andrew Doull's Ascii dreams.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dweller 1.13.1

I released a bug fix version to address some recently introduced bugs. I have also streamlined the release process into a pretty smooth one line command to build all three versions of the game and prepare them for deployment to Android Market and the website.

  • On J2ME devices the messages will now be drawn without a background color to make more of the map visible

  • The problem with double quests in quest giver lists has been solved
  • Quest givers standing on a tree gave a weird error message66
  • Quests and item info could sometimes end up being to high and blocking actual menu choices. These areas of text are now scrollable
  • On Android any text with shadow was rendering the shadow as white
  The game is available from all the usual sources: Android MarketJ2ME and J2SE. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dweller 1.13.0

Dweller has reached version 1.13.0. The new version adds among other things a new quest, improvements to the key bindings and a max range for bows. Full change log:

  • Graphics for triggered traps
  • You can now bump into bookshelves to get a random book
  • Added key bindings for all quickslots
  • Added one new quest with a unique reward
  • The cursor in targeting mode shows if you're targeting with a bow or wand

  • Added a max range to missile weapons
  • Item stats are only shown at the top of the item menu on large screen devices

  • Items that aren't supposed to be generated could end up in the merchant inventory
  • It was possible to completely mess up the key configuration on J2ME devices
 The game is available from all the usual sources: Android MarketJ2ME and J2SE. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A new employer, a retrospective, bigwigs and a silly competition

After eight years at Jadestone Group I took the plunge two months ago and changed job. It was a hard choice to make because it was eight great years with a lot of fun. Here's some of the stuff I did during these eight years:

The Age of Mobile
It all started out with a tech demo of the SIP technology for Nokia packaged as a multiplayer mobile game for Series 60 handsets. A multiplayer mobile game eight years ago, imagine that will ya'! The challenges were as you can imagine quite a few, but the game was well received and resulted in a sequel for the Nokia N-Gage platform.

Some screens from Spirits for N-Gage

Next up was a lot of mobile projects for Boss Media, WilliamHill and Swedish game monopoly Svenska Spel where I did everything from scratch cards to casino games and slot machines.

When I look back I realize that Nokia runs as a red thread through a lot of the stuff we did back then and the Nokia project I'm most proud of has to be the multiplayer pirate adventure game we did for the SNAP Mobile platform that Nokia acquired from SEGA. The game was under development for a long time, but never really got a chance to reach a wide audience since Nokia decided to shift it's focus away from SNAP Mobile.

 High Seize - Sea O' Fortune for Nokia SNAP Mobile

The era of Flash
During the later half of my time at Jadestone the focus was shifted from mobile to web (the mobile department was put into it's own company becoming the now very successful Fabrication Games). My main focus was client development using Flash and Actionscript and we did things like the multiplayer skill platform GamArena and the dice and card platform DiceArena, now available at 20 of Europes largest gaming operators.

To sum things up: I'm damn proud of what I did at Jadestone. I learnt a lot and got a chance to work with some great products and some amazing and talented people. I wish them all the best in the future!

The competition
Now on to the silly competition I mention in the title. My new employer, formerly named SWAD (Swedish Application Development) underwent a brand change just as I started and we are now known as Springworks. As a part of the brand change a lot of company names were chosen and discarded. For three of the more serious names domains were bought just in case one of the names would become the new name of the company. As it turned out none of the names were used and Springworks was picked instead. During a Friday beer a few weeks ago we decided to hold a competition where we split up in three groups, took one domain name each, created a simple web page and put an identical message on each page. The message was:

"We had a really hard time deciding on a new name for our great company. This name and site was one of our ideas.We are quite happy we found our soul as a warm family of skilled engineers and came up with Springworks instead!"

The winner of the competition was the group that got the highest search ranking for the message we put on all three sites. The group I was in got the name BigWigs, and you could look upon this entire post as an attempt to push higher up the search rankings.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dweller 1.12 released

I released a new version of Dweller today. The new version contains some pretty big changes that will pave the way for more variety and things to do. The new version contains a quest system and an improved system for dungeon creation that allows for themed side-branches of the dungeon. Read more about all this in the previous post here. The game is available from all the usual sources: Android Market, J2ME and J2SE. Enjoy!


  • Quest system with the Goblin King and a few starting quests (more to come!)
  • World generation has been improved and the dungeon will now be kept thematically intact with optional side-branches (not done yet)
  • A couple of new map tiles for the dungeon (one with a static light source)
  • The minimap visibility is remembered between sessions
  • Added descriptions to some potions
  •  Added two unique items
  • Monsters start in an idle state. It is first when they notice the player that the start to attack


  • Item info for items in the inventory is shown in the item menu instead of after selecting Examine (except on small screens)
  • When examining an item of the same type that you are already equipping the stat values of the equipped item will be shown next to the examined item's stats


  • Help popups weren't always shown when they should be
  • Scrolls of Enchant could fail and still mention that the item starts to glow 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Roguelike Radio #14 - Resource Management

Another week, another episode of Roguelike Radio. In this resource Darren, Andrew and Ido discuss resource management in roguelikes. The guys cover topics such as food clocks and other similar resources such as light, disease and how to make every resource count. I particularly enjoyed the little side track into more interesting uses and implementations of traps. Another interesting thing was the discussion around roguelikes without enemies. Good job guys!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hungry Forest

I'm not really sure what this is, but it's got some nice pixel art, and that can often be enough :-) The game really lacks instructions, but it seems like you are supposed to grow a forest and make sure it's inhabitants eat the villagers who come to forage.


Gunpoint is a stealth puzzle game currently in development by indie developer Tom Francis. In the game you need to infiltrate buildings, incapacitate guards, short circuit alarms, ltghting and elevators to reach your goal and escape with whatever it is that you are set to steal. The most innovative feature of the game is the crosslink tool. With this tool you can see how things like doors, elevators, lights and cameras are wired and rewire them to get passed guards and locked doors. Check out the video where Tom show case some of the levels. It looks really interesting and fun!

Nitromen did it again! Nitrome must Die!

Nitrome, the studio behind a lot of smash hits such as Steamlands and Test Subject Green, have released another really well made Flash game featuring the same Nitrome style pixel graphics. In the co-op platformer Nitrome Must Die you take on the role of a kid fed up with too difficult Nitrome games and head over to Nitrome HQ with your gun to set things right. It's a slightly unnerving story, but it is as always when it comes to Nitrome beautifully executed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Legend of Grimrock

Legend of Grimrock has finally reached beta status! If you like me spent hours upon hours playing Dungeon Master, The Bards Tale and similar games back in the day Legend of Grimrock will be right up your alley. It has the same grid based game play and dungeon crawling but with nice graphics and sound. I'm really looking forward to giving this game a shot!

Roguelike Radio - Shiren the Wanderer

In episode 13 of Roguelike Radio John Harris and Keith Burgun discuss one of John's favorite games, Shiren the Wanderer. Shiren is a Japanese roguelike from the 16-bit era with really nice graphics and many innovative features. I haven't played it myself but I have to try and get my hands on a translated ROM.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dweller - new version soon!

I've put in quite a few hours of Dweller development these last two weeks and I hope to be able to release a new version within a few days. I've written a framework to handle quests and I've moved the Goblin King quest to the new framework. I've also started adding some minor side quests that will give you some extra gold and experience and some useful items should you care to pick those quests up. I do not intend for Dweller to be quest driven, but I do think that a few side quests will enhance the game.

I've also done work on how the level files are defined and made it easier for me to control the depth, the themes and how the dungeon will branch out. Now there's full support for actual dungeon branches, much like in Crawl. I've always found the random per level theme (sewer, cave and dungeon) in Dweller a bit odd. I would much rather prefer to have a series of levels using the same theme. In the next version there will be only one theme, the dungeon. I do not want to delay the release more so I decided to throw out the caves and sewers for now. They will come back really soon, but more along the lines of fully designed side branches. The new system also allowed me to add a custom level for The Halls of the Goblin King and I can imagine branch end levels such as Lair of the Spider Queen and Crypt of the Arch Lich and similar.

If you didn't know it already it is possible to donate some money to support the development of Dweller. One player did so recently and he was, as will all future donors, rewarded with a unique in-game item of his choice. So, in the next version you will be able to find The Horned Helm of Yngar The Wise, with custom graphics and all.

Stay tuned for a new release in a few days!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Star Wars - The Old Republic

I'm installing Star Wars - The Old Republic to give it a shot during the beta testing weekend. I'm kinda looking forward to trying something new. I've been playing World of Warcraft for way too long now. I still enjoy it but it's not the same thing as it was back in the day.

Even though I don't normally enjoy sci-fi games as much as I enjoy games in a fantasy setting I have high hopes for SWTOR. My initial reaction now while waiting for the thing to install is... Required disk space 20GB! Come on!? That's ridiculous... storage is cheap nowadays but 20GB is a hell of a lot of data.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sideway New York

Sideway New York is a PSN platformer that is now also available via Steam for the PC. In the game you play a young kid who gets sucked into the graffiti art on the buildings around you. The game is a 2D platformer on 3D objects (houses, walls etc) and the graphical style reminds me a lot of the awesome real life counterparts:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dweller - coffebreak game vs big game?

In a recent comment to a Dweller post a request was made to make Dweller into something more than a coffebreak roguelike. The commenter asked for a deity system (you can see some of my thought regarding that here), a big overworld with several locations to explore, more monsters and the ability to eat corpses. Some thoughts on this and other things that could be added to Dweller:

Coffebreak vs big game
Dweller is primarily a game intended to be played in short bursts, while waiting for the bus, in-between meetings or any other time when you have a couple of minutes to spare. The game must be easy to pick-up and leave, and as such it can't be too complex and take too long to play. There are several features in other RPGs and roguelikes that would contradict the goal of Dweller being easy to pick up and play for a few minutes. A big overworld, a deity system and a class and skill system are examples of such features.

Deity system
As I mentioned in my other blog post a deity system should be a well thought through thing to add, preferably from the start, and not something tacked on to the game just because other games has it. With the risk of disappointing some players I will most likely never add a deity system in Dweller. Sure, there's a reference to a God that aids you when you go down to a never before visited level, but that was just a way to obfuscate a game design decision to reward a player for exploring further. I might expand upon this and let the player heal as he explores previously non visited parts of a level (as is done in Desktop Dungeons).

A big overworld
This is a tempting one, but it will not happen. What may happen is that the overworld/forest level will include more things than the healer and the merchant. I'm thinking entrances to different dungeons and more NPCs. There could be a noob/tutorial dungeon for new players and low level players to get to know the game. There could be themed dungeons spanning several levels, like The Caves, The Sewers, The Necropolis and The Dungeons of the Goblin King. This would replace the random theme you get each time you descend to a new level. It would also force me into making the cave and sewer theme a lot more appealing than it is today, with more variation and monsters specific to the level theme.

Improved magic system
Yes, this will happen. Playing a wizard is boring and needs a lot more variation. More spells and above all interesting spells that force the player to make tactical decisions.

Perks and character advancement
Yes, this will happen, and it is described a bit more here.

Yes, this will happen to some extent. I'd like to add a few quests to give the player a bunch of goals on his way towards the Goblin King.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Roguelike Radio - Roguelike features in other games

A new episode of Roguelike Radio was released yesterday. This time Andrew Doull, John Harris, Darren Grey, Ido Yehieli and Keith Burgun (author of 100 Rogues) discuss the use of what is typically perceived as the corner-stones of roguelike gamedesign in other types of games. Some people refer, quite fittingly, to these games with roguelike elements as roguelike-likes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roguelike Radio - The Binding of Isaac

The guys over at roguelike radio are churning out new episodes like there's no tomorrow. Last week they dedicated episode #11 to a review of and interview with the developer of The Binding of Isaac. I bought the game myself as a part of the Humble Voxatron Bundle and while it is a real-time game it has many similarities to a roguelike and it was a well chosen topic for a Roguelike Radio episode. The game has received some critique for being a bit gory and disturbing as the player takes on the role of a small boy who escapes down the basement in an attempt to gt away from his mother who is about to sacrifice her son to show her devotion to God. Once Isaac is down in the basement the true nightmare begins with a lot of nasty nightmarish creatures doing their best to kill him.


It seems like there aren't many classic games and genres that have been spared from being roguelikeified. This time it's the Namco classic Pacman who meets Rogue. In Netpack you move your little @ around a pacman style maze picking up pellets and power-ups while dodging ghosts.


FEIST is an acclaimed (IGF Finalist, Unity Awards winner) 2D platformer made using Unity. It has the same silhouetted style of graphics as titles such as Super Goblin War Machine and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet but it stands out even more visually than other similar titles. The game is scheduled for summer 2012 and despite being at least 6 or 7 months away from a release it looks really polished and fun. The physics, enemies and the little furry hero look really beautiful. Can't wait to give it a try!

Red Rogue

What if you took a roguelike and turned it into a sidescrolling platformer/explorer with randomly generated levels? Well, you'd get Red Rogue and a pretty nice game. Red Rogue definitely has some potential, but it is still a bit rough around the edges.

Friday, November 11, 2011


SIN CAR is an arcade racer with a very different control scheme. Your car moves in a sine pattern at a constant vertical speed and the only thing you can control is the frequency by moving your mouse up and down the screen. Using this method of movement you need to dodge walls and pick up items for bonus points. It's a very simple game but it works really well and it's fun.

Serious Sam - The Random Encounter

When I first saw the video of Serious Sam The Random Encounter on Steam I thought "jesus christ, a cool co-op side scrolling shooter with some RPG elements", but when I read further I realized that this is a turn based game. Yet, the video seems to indicate other wise. Has anyone bought it and care to share some insights? I guess I'll have to buy it and check myself...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ifttt - If This Then That

ifttt is a really nifty site for web-service scripting using simple conditionals. With ifttt it's possible to do things like  sending all your starred Google Reader posts to Read It Later, saving all Facebook photos where you are tagged to Dropbox and send you an SMS to remind you to buy some cold beer if the temperature is above 30 degrees Celsius.

It is really easy to create your own scripted tasks. You chose a Trigger Channel, a Trigger, an Action Channel and an Action. A channel can be anything from Facebook, Twitter, Weather, RSS, LinkedIn, flickr, Gmail, Dropbox to YouTube or SoundCloud.

Available Triggers depend on the Trigger Channel. For Facebook it could be "New Facebook status message by you", for Gmail "New email from a specific address" and for Dropbox "New file added to public folder".

As with Triggers the available Actions depend on the Action Channel. For Gmail there's an action to "Send an e-mail" and for Dropbox "Save file from URL". The input data for the action can be taken from the Trigger, be it the e-mail subject or the Facebook status message.

You are also able to share your tasks with other users. When you share a task it becomes known as a Recipe. Before creating your own task make sure to check the list of recipes as chances are high that someone has already made a recipe for it.

I've started using ifttt myself to propagate all Dweller related blog posts to the Dweller Facebook page. Now that the Google+ API has been released I sure hope there will be a Google+ channel as well so I can get Dweller posts automatically put up on G+ as well.

Dweller - the quest for more content

I am now fairly happy with the changes made to the UI and I feel that I can finally focus on adding more content to Dweller. There are several things I'd like to improve:

The map
The maps need a lot more variation. On the top of my list: More variation to the rooms, room features that can be used tactically in combat and rooms with puzzles. The caves and sewers need a lot more love as they are pretty dull levels at the moment.

I really need to improve the repertoire of spells and the way spells work. It is pretty boring to play a Wizard at the moment. Some spell ideas:

  • Leaping flames - fire spell that leaps from the target to a chain of adjacent targets
  • Blink - teleport in a straight line
  • Tornado - knocks back opponents
  • Icetomb - encase and paralyze target in ice
  • Mass sleep
  • Summon elemental

Character advancement - perks/abilities
I would like to provide the player with more choices on level up. I'm thinking along the lines of passive perks/abilities/talents to chose from. Some of the perks that may make it into the game:

  • Silent Death: Increased damage against sleeping monsters
  • Light Step: Reduced chance to trigger unseen trap or waking up monsters
  • Sewer child: Increased poison resistance
  • Shield wall: Increased chance to parry if wielding a shield
  • Marksman: Reduced penalty for missile attacks at a large distance
  • Magic insulation: Increased chance to resist magic attacks
  • Lock-pick: Automatically pick locks
  • Pack mule: Increased carrying capacity
  • Eagle eyes: Increased sight radius (the Ranger already got this one)
  • Conserve magic: Wands deplete slower
  • Barter: Merchant buy price increased and sell prices decreased
  • Piety: Increased healing by your god
  • Steady hands: Reduced chance of triggering traps when disarming them
  • Increased effectiveness of healing, decreased penalty when using heavy weapons, increased effectiveness of scrolls and wands etc etc
If you have ideas on how to improve Dweller, then please don't hesitate to share them with me! I really appreciate all the feedback I get from players.

Friday, November 4, 2011

ffflood and DotWar

I've been toying with the idea of writing a tower defense style game with use of swarming and influence fields for the surging attackers to make them flow and swarm around your defensive positions in a manner that seems intelligent and constantly forces the player to adapt his defensive positions. The graphics can be kept simple without ruining any of the fun. Have a look at ffflood and DotWar for two games that use simple graphics while still being really fun:

ffflood is a tower defense game with simple graphics, a lot of swarming attackers, powerups and research in between swarms. Simple yet a lot of fun:

DotWar transforms twitter avatars into swarming armies of soldiers, one per pixel. Depending on pixel color the soldier gets different properties. Black pixels are stationary, red are slow but strong and so on. Really fun!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dweller 1.11.4 - fixes, fixes, fixes...

Time for yet another batch of fixes for the 1.11 release. I think I've managed to solve the last issues related to the recent changes made to the user interface. I also managed to fix a few quirks and minor bugs that will increase playability. Give the new version a try and let me know what you think!


  • The stats of missile weapons and ammo wasn't shown on the Examine screen. Since the stats are important to determine attack effiency they have been added.
  • Going back from the buy/sell menu brings you to the inventory category you came from and not to the start of the inventory
  • The character menu button will show the correct character class and not always the warrior


  • Your carried gold is now properly displayed when buying/selling items
  • The map wasn't properly centered (it was off by one both horizontally and vertically)
  • Cursor movement using mouse/touch wasn't working as expected
  • You can now disarm a trap even if there's an item on the same cell
  • The message box at the top of the screen started to scroll after scrolling on the map
  • Sometimes the width of menu items were too long and didn't wrap properly causing text to go off the screen
  • Your gold will not show up in the inventory when selling to a merchant
  • The desktop version didn't redraw the screen after being brought back from a minimized state
  • Scrolls of Enchant were broken

Roguelike Radio - Deity systems

The latest episode of Roguelike Radio was released a few days ago. The entire episode was dedicated to the use of deity systems in various roguelikes. I like the idea of having gods in a game, though it has to be well thought through and should preferably be added as a central part of the game right from the start or not at all. There are many features a roguelike developer could be tempted to add just because they are cool or because one of the major roguelikes does it. Adding gods and a deity system is one of these things you might be tempted to add without giving it too much thought.

I also prefer having a range of active gods giving passive perks rather than in some other games where you pick a single god and actively have to [P]ray to trigger the god and the system. In the latter, gods and the abilities they grant almost becomes an extension to a spell system and something you can use when you need it. Gods should not be under the player's direct control, rather a thing that could help you in a tough situation if you have been playing by the rules of the gods (be it wearing certain items or killing certain monsters).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Voxatron, the arena shooter I blogged about a few months ago, has made it onto a Humble Bundle. It's only the alpha so far, but by buying the bundle you get access to all future updates. Go grab it will ya!

Zero hour game jam

A really freaky Ludum Dare challenge was held yesterday in the hour when the daylight saving time switch-over was made. The extreme challenge resulted in 64 entries. Not bad for such a thing! Check out the site here.

On a roguelike note it's worth mentioning that Darren Grey from Roguelike Radio participated and managed to do a release.

Dweller 1.11.3

Unsurprising a few issues were introduced when the map scrolling was added. Things like animations being rendered at the wrong location or touch/mouse movement not doing what would be expected. I think I've fixed all the issues related to playing the game while having the player non centered after scrolling the map. Let me know if you find anything else related to map scrolling. In between this and the last version I also released a fix (1.11.2) for J2ME where some issues with the experimental tile scaling was solved.

I'm also starting to see a release pattern: release-bugfix-bugfix-bugfix in quick succession and then a period of inactivity before the next release. I guess I could playtest a lot more than what I do and get rid of some of the short bugfix iterations, but I also tend to get a lot of good feedback from players during this period.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dweller 1.11.1

I have now propagated the 1.11.0 fixes into the Android build. I have also added two often requested improvements:
  • J2ME tile scaling. This is a bit experimental and I would appreciate user feedback!
  • Touch/mouse scrolling of the map. It is now possible to look around on the map by simply dragging it using the mouse or a touch screen.

Please give the new version a try and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dweller 1.11.0 (J2ME and J2SE)

I've done a Dweller release for J2ME and J2SE tonight. The new version fixes some critical issues with popups not properly being removed when using the keyboard. There is no Android version yet as the popup problem doesn't affect Android touchscreen devices.

The new version also loads game data in a way that fill make it easier for me to add more items and monsters without having to invalidate user saves. Also, the new version reduced the likelihood of poison being triggered, as it was too lethal as it was before.

Expect an Android version pretty soon.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Roguelike Radio - POWDER and Interview: Brian Walker

A new episode of Roguelike Radio was released yesterday. In the episode Andrew Doull, Darren Grey and Santiago Zapata discuss POWDER together with it's developer Jeff Lait. POWDER, initally created for the Nintendo Gameboy, is one of the more widely ported roguelike with versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, PSP, PS3, Wii, iPhone etc

Last week a bonus episode of RR was published featuring an interview with Brogue developer Brian Walker, aka Pender. Make sure to check that one out as well!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Adding vs cutting features

A friend of mine, currently employed at Mojang (the people behind Minecraft), did a nice blog post about adding versus cutting features in games. As a developer I know how tempting it is to add cool features, but it's damn hard to not lose yourself and your game in a frenzy of cool but often unnecessary stuff. I could use a punch in the face now and then since I often find myself side tracked in Dweller. I need to improve game play in Dweller, not refactor the UI for the nth time or spend time coding cool technical framework features that has no impact on the game itself.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cardinal Quest on sale at Indievania

Cardinal Quest is an arcade-style dungeon-crawler inspired by 1980s classics such as Gauntlet, Red-Box D&D and Golden Axe. The game is developed by roguelike community celebrity Ido Yehieli and it's Ido's first title as a self employed indie developer. If you like to support Ido, the roguelike community in general and at the same time get a lot of good fun in this nice little game then head over to Indievania and pick up the game during their Pay What You Want sale.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Roguelike Radio #8 - Progression Systems

Yet another episode of Roguelike Radio was released yesterday. In episode 8 Andrew Doull, Darren Grey, Ido Yehieli and John Harris discuss progression systems in roguelike games. I found the episode very interesting and found a lot of the discussions very spot on. I totally agree with Andrew about skill systems in roguelikes. It is damn hard to create a skill system where every skill is as good as all the other skills. I've found that it often boils down to a subset of the skills that are worth taking. Just look at the amount of time Blizzard has spent balancing and redoing the Talent trees in World of Warcraft.

I do not agree at all with Andrew when it came to his statement that "it's the players choice how they want to play the game"  and "you should be able to let players play the game they want to play". As a developer I am the one designing the game and it is me who set the rules. Sure, I get quite a bit of feedback from players and quite often I adjust the game based on feedback received from players, but ultimately it is my choice not the players. As Ido put it: "players don't always know what is good for them".

Something that's cool with sandbox kinda games where you simply drop the player into a world where most of the world can be manipulated/used/combined in many different ways is that sometimes players come up with ways of solving a problem or using game play elements in a way that the designers never thought about.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Steambirds: Survival

My favorite dogfight game Steambirds is getting an update with a new iOS version named Steambirds: Survival.  The new game adds a new mission progression system, multiple player controlled planes (you can hire more planes) and it's free to play. I can only hope this gets released on Android as well!

One of the developers of Steambirds: Survival, Danc, has a pretty interesting blog post about Steambirds and something he calls the "Arrow of Play". In his own words Arrow of Play "is a directional property of the mechanical systems that always moves the player forward. And like time, there's often a surprisingly amount of variation that occurs along the way.  Some players advance slowly, others take strange side paths, but all advance."

In Steambirds some of the elements of the Arrow of Play is Inevitable Decay (plane health almost always go down), Escalation (enemies get more plentiful over time) and Resource Flow (completed goals earn you copper which help you complete more goals or unlock new missions)

One often seen elements of the Arrow of Play in roguelikes is the Food Clock (you need to advance in your search of food else you die), but besides that there is little in terms of game play mechanics that actually drive you forward in a roguelike. On the contrary a lot of roguelikes leave most of the choice of when to progress further in the hands of the player. In roguelikes with respawns or non persistent maps a player can continuously scum a few levels to build a very strong character and only when confident enough that the next level can be handled the player delve deeper. I'd like to see more game play elements in roguelikes that constantly push the player forward, keeping the player on the edge of his capacity. Levels could decay or become increasingly lethal to stay on to prevent level scumming or the player could be hunted downwards by some always highly out of depth monster or arch nemesis. Only when the player has gone deep enough and become strong enough he has a chance to stay and slay the hunting enemy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roguelike Radio - Cardinal Quest and 100 Rogues

A new episode of Roguelike Radio was released yesterday. In this episode John Harris, Ido Yehieli and Andrew Doull interview lead designer of 100 Rogues, Keith Burgun. 100 Rogues is a very successful  roguelike for iOS with a huge following.

Last week a bonus episode of RR was released featuring an interview with Ido Yehieli, the developer behind Cardinal Quest. CQ is becoming a big hit with a lot of downloads and purchases. SO much in fact that Ido is able to work as a full time indie developer.

I've really enjoyed listening to these last two episodes as they have reminded me of the importance of focusing a lot on the controls and usability of a roguelike on handheld devices. I definitely need to focus more on this in Dweller. It's also refreshing to hear that there is a big market for commercial indie roguelikes. As someone put it: we're in the golden age of indie development right now.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Roguelike Radio Episode 5 and 6

I haven't had much time to spend in front of a computer these last two weeks and definitely not enough time to listen to the latest two episodes of Roguelike Radio. Luckily this is changing for the better and I've had enough time to listen to both episodes and work a little bit on Dweller as well.

In episode 5 Darren Grey, Andrew Doull and Ido Yehieli discuss Frozen Depths. One of the more interesting topics covered in this episode is the pros and cons of a food clock and resource management. I totally agree with the guys that a food clock system shouldn't be tacked on to a game "as an afterthought". Introducing a food clock should be a very conscious decision and it should be made in a way well integrated manner. It was a while since I tested Frozen Depths myself, but I'm definitely going to download and give it a try again.

In episode 6 Darren Grey, Andrew Doull and John Harris discuss the commercial roguelike Dungeons of Dredmore by Gaslamp Games. Some of the things discussed are humor in roguelikes, vendor trash and item overflow and crafting systems. I think the guys have some really valid points regarding the problems with a lot of the crafting systems available and the in my mind illogical desire to add crafting systems to roguelikes (and other games). A crafting system, if added, must be really well thought through and add a lot of value to the game and not simply be an alternative means of getting more gear.

The Humble Frozen Indie Bundle

If you haven't bought the latest Humble Indie Bundle yet you still have about two days to grab it before the sale closes. The bundle is named the Humble Frozen Indie Bundle after it's flagship title Frozen Synapse. Frozen Synapse is a nice turn based squad strategy game with a lot of missions and game modes. Along with Frozen Synapse the bundle contains the puzzler SpaceChem and if you pay more than the average $4.74 you also get the physics platformer Trine, the 3D third person shooter Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor, Splot (Preorder bonus), Jack Claw (prototype bonus) and finally TRAUMA (freebie).

As an added bonus a part of the money goes to EFF and Child's Play. I bought my copy last night, but I haven't had a chance to test any of the games yet. Sleep less, play more!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dweller passed 10k active Android installs!

Today when I uploaded version 1.10.6 of Dweller to the Android Market I noticed in the statistics a significant increase in the number of installed games. The number of active installs went from around 8k to 10k. The total number of Android installs is 35000 so it's almost one third of the users who decide to keep the game installed!

Dweller 1.10.6

Yet another minor release is out of the door. With this one done I should be able to focus on new features again! The new release brings back the message history again and it also fixes an issue with missing text in some textboxes.


  • The message history is now available again
  • Some lines of text in textboxes were sometimes incorrectly hidden

Steambirds for Android

If you enjoyed the Flash version of Steambirds you will be thrilled to hear that the developers have teamed up with Halfbrick (the people behind Fruit Ninja) to release a sequel to Steambirds for Android devices! The game is scheduled for release in October and it's said to be free.

Offical trailer

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dweller 1.10.5

I had to do yet another release. It may seem silly to release as often as I have, but I believe that it's better to release incremental fixes and make the game better in small steps instead of waiting too long between releases, especially now that I've made big changes to the underlying framework. The new version solved a component layering issue. On small screens some components overlapped and the wrong component handled input. I've also finally gotten around to improving the Define keys screen. The define and show keys view has been combined and you can now redefine individual keys instead of having to define all keys at once.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dweller 1.10.4 - speed, finally!

I finally found the cause of the performance issues in the 1.10 release. The problem was caused by excessive redraws when there were off-screen animations (sleeping monsters). I have also decided to reintroduce the message prompt as it was asked for by users.


Thibault Imbert from Adobe posted about a very nice initiative by Adobe and Austrian Gamua called Starling. Starling is a 2D game development framework that sits on top of Molehill to allow developers to leverage the GPU without having to know anything about the low-level details of the Stage3D API. I expect a lot of never before seen performance intense games and demos to come out of this and I'm eager to try this out myself.

Diablo III beta has started

Two days ago the offical Diablo II beta program launched and the first lucky people have been invited. People who have opted in for the DIII beta are first in line, but Blizzard will also hand out keys via different promotions. The things I've seen so far of the game really makes me drool and I can't wait to try it myself.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dweller 1.10.3 - speed, again!

I've become really familiar with all the profiling tools available for Android, J2SE and J2ME these last couple of days and I think I've managed to improve performance quite a bit since 1.10.0 was released. I still have things I need to fix, but it's getting better. Please send me your feedback on how the game is running on your device!

Dweller 1.10.2 - speed!

The recent changes to the Dweller user interface and some under-the-hood changes to the rendering did unfortunately slow down the application significantly. I've done some performance profiling and made several improvements that should increase the frame rate quite a bit and make the game feel a lot snappier. I'd be very grateful to hear how the game is running on your device. Please post back here or send me an e-mail!


  • Made Vampire Bats and Spiders a little less dangerous


  • Clicking on the action bar at the bottom of the screen in portrait mode moved the player
  • Several big performance improvements

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roguelike Radio episode 4 - DoomRL

A couple of days ago a new episode of Roguelike Radio was published. I've really come to look forward to the beginning of each week to hear what the guys have to say. This time around it's Darren Grey, Andrew Doull, John Harris and Ido Yehieli doing the talking and they discuss the popular Doom RL by Kornel Kisielewicz. Kornel is also the guy behind Alien RL and he's well known at for his never ending project (is it vaporware?) GenRogue.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dweller 1.10.1 bugfix version

I had to release a bugfix version that solved some input problems preventing movement on touchscreen devices in portrait mode. It was also not possible to start a new game after death.

Monday, September 19, 2011

ARRP 2011 Summary

The Annual Roguelike Release Party 2011 is coming to an end and it's time to sum up. We had 27 pre-announced releases and the number of actual releases are getting close to those numbers have surpassed those numbers. Here are the ones I'm aware of:

Quite an impressive list. Now I need to find the time to test all of them...

Dweller 1.10.0 ARRP release

Well, I guess I missed the ARRP by an hour or so, but at least I managed to release a new version of Dweller. A lot of work has been done to rewrite and improve the UI. There's still a long way to go, but now I have a much more extensible system that will be easier to build on.


  • The J2ME version now require CLDC 1.1 support (was CLDC 1.0)


  • A lot of changes have been done to the user interface, but there is much more to come!
  • Your current position on the minimap will blink to make it easier to find
  • It is now possible to bind a key to show/hide the minimap
  • "Tip of the day" will be shown on the loading screen
  • Quickslots for easy item access


  • Changed the fireball cast animation
  • The minimap will be smaller on large screens and always positioned in the top left corner
  • Undead are immune to poison attacks
  • Poison has now become more lethal as it ticks for damage each turn unless resisted
  • D-pad is now semi transparent to not cover vital things on the map


  • Trader and healer names were always the same after a clean installation of the game
  • Improved message feedback when trying to equip an illegal combo of items
  • It is no longer possible for the player character to be charmed/pacified by a dark wizard
  • Trap doors will not be generated at the bottom of the dungeon (nothing happened when you fell through)

320x480 Overworld

32x480 Inventory

320x480 Dungeon

Saturday, September 17, 2011

ARRP mayhem, need more time!

I've been coding more or less all day to get Dweller ready for the Annual Roguelike Release Party tomorrow and ran into a snag a few hours ago. The J2ME version refuses to run, failing with a ClassFormatError! Gah! It was a while since I tried the J2ME version and I really have no idea what is causing this. I've decided to do a clean install of the tools (and in the process upgrade to Eclipse Indigo) and giver it another go since it could be a preverification problem. The J2ME tools were a bit dodgy on my previous installation since I was running the 64-bit version of Eclipse Helios, and some of the wireless toolkits weren't compatible.

Hopefully I'll be back on track now and still have a chance to make a proper delivery. I've got some good music, tea, a nice whiskey and some candy so there's a good chance of success. Here we go!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Roguelike Radio - Brogue episode

A couple of days ago the third episode of Roguelike Radio was released. This time it's hosted by Scott Edgar, Erez Ben-Aharon and John Harris and the topic is Brogue by Brian Walker, aka Pender. I haven't played Brogue much myself, but my memory of it was that it felt like a very well designed roguelike with some pretty unique features. Hearing Scott, Erez and John talk about Brogue really confirm this. The number of ways to tackle the different monsters in the game is staggering and there seem to be a lot of unique items and spells to discover. I'll definitely give Brogue a try again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

AARP soon, better get a move on!

I'm getting really stressed out now. I'm intending to release a new version of Dweller for the Annnual Roguelike Release Party on the 18th of September. That's only four days to go, gah! I have made a lot of changes and experimented with the UI, but nothing is really finished. I'll figure something out though and do some real crunch-time coding on Saturday. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011


Dig-N-Rig is ascii gaming at it's finest. You control a Diggit 6400 mining robot on a mission to drill your way to the earth's core. While diggin' and drillin' your way down you need to send the rare minerals and other resources you discover back up to the lab on the surface by constructing a network of conveyor belts. The resources you discover will be refined in the lab and used to purchase upgrades to your rig. As a fan of old-school ascii roguelikes this game really hit home and I'm thrilled to see the use of ascii graphics in an indie title!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Roguelike Radio pt. 2

A new episode of Roguelike Radio was posted yesterday. In this episode Andrew, Scott and Erez Ben-Aharon discuss Desktop Dungeons and it's roguelikeness. There's some interesting discussions going on and I'm not really sure where I stand myself regarding Desktop Dungeons. The game sure does condense the roguelike experience into a game where every move matters, much like in the most critical and memorable situations of a Crawl or Angband game. But in my opinion it also drive point too far in the sense that a lot of the RPG element is lost in the process, and by that also the attachment to your character.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Infestor is a really nice platformer with beautiful pixel art and rockin' chip music. You take on the role of a amoeba-like biological weapon with the ability to infest and control humans. Your goal is to move from entrance to exit on each level by clever use of infestation of enemies. While in control of a human you can move faster, jump longer, push items and shoot other humans. Once a host has served it's purpose you can release control by exploding your host and move on to the next one.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Today I had a chance to try to the demo of Hammerfight available on Steam. The game is all about brutal air combat using small flying machines with large weapons such as blades, hammers and metal balls attached to the machines using chains. Imagine yourself being a flying medieval flail kinda weapon wreaking havoc to other equally deadly machines. It is a lot of fun!

One of the real strengths of Hammerfight is it's controls. The game is fully mouse controlled and as you move your mouse in a circular motion your machine swings it's weapon in the same way. Combine this with realistic physics and you get some really intuitive controls where you really need to time your swings for maximum damage.

Forget Me Not

Forgot Me Not is a game that reminds a lot of PacMan, but with a lot of twists. How about procedurally generated levels, many different monsters, the ability to shoot and monsters being able to shoot you? Sounds like fun? It is!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Skillz is a new DJ game by Playpen Studios for iOS and Android tablets, scheduled for release on the 8th of September. Judging by the game play videos Skillz is a perfect example of a game very well suited to the tablet format. It probably doesn't beat having a real mixer and turntables as in DJ Hero, but I think it will work well enough on a 10" tablet (maybe not as much on the smaller 7" tablets though). It's also great to see more tablet only games as I believe there's a lot of compromise that has to go into a game if you want to target both the smaller 3-4" screens as well as the larger 7-10" tablet screens.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mario + Portals = Mari0

What happens if you cross the old NES classic Mario with the innovative Portals puzzle-platformer? Well, you get a lot of interesting ways to kill Koopas, that's for sure...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Solar 2

I tested the Solar 2 Demo just now and I must say that it is a pretty cool game. The game won the first price ($200000) in the recent Dream.Build.Play XNA competition. I love the open-ended gameplay available in the demo, and from what I've read the mission mode in the full version sound like a ton of fun too! In Solar 2 you start off as a small asteroid somewhere in space. You exert a bit of gravity and you can collide with other asteroids to grow in size. Once you reach a critical mass you turn into a small planet and you can now pull in asteroids to have them orbit you as your moons. The problem you face now is that if you collide with asteroids you will lose mass so what you want to do is to use your ability to absorb asteroids to grow in mass. While doing so life will start evolving on your planet and if you grow enough you will get an orbital shield, ground to space cannons and small spacecraft that will shoot down asteroids on collision course. The interesting thing is that you are not the only planet and soon you'll find other planets with shields, spacecrafts and ground to space cannons that want nothing else than to obliterate you.

Tanooky Tracks

Tanooky Tracks is a cute little browser based point and click adventure where you need to help two kids find and catch a bunch of creatures called Tanookys that hide in the kids' house. At your aid is a book listing all the Tanookies you need to find. The hiding place of each Tanooky and how to lure them out is written in the form of riddles. Each riddle involves figuring out the hiding place and combination of items that particular Tanooky wants. An example:

"Ten discs in her back that are made of gold, but where they may be she has never told"

The graphics remind me of the playful style of Tiny Bang Story, but maybe not as polished. Still, it's a fun little game well worth playing.

More Hawken - Desert Gameplay from PAX 2011

Another Hawken video was released today. Looking good!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Roguelike Radio

This week a new milestone in the history of roguelikes was reached. The first episode of the Roguelike Radio podcast was released! To my knowledge this is the first time a roguelike podcast has been produced and I do hope many more episodes will be released. The first podcast does a deep analysis of the recently released commercial roguelike Cardinal Quest.

The podcast is being produced by Darren Grey, Andrew Doull and Scott Edgar. Darren and Andrew are veterans of the roguelike scene and they've contributed in many different ways to the progression of the roguelike genre. Andrew is the guy behind the popular Angband variant Unangband and the Procedural Content Generation wiki and Darren is the developer behind the innovative Gruesome roguelike and he has contributed to the news group for years. Scott Edgar was previously unknown to me, but he did a good job in the podcast. Keep it up guys!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hawken Story Teaser

Adhesive Games, the people behind the in-dev mecha combat game Hawken, have released a teaser trailer revealing some of the backstory of Hawken. Not only does the video feature some really nice environments but it also shows some more in-game combat footage. For some weird reason I begin to drool every time I get some more mecha videos to look at. I wonder why?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kingdom Rush

I've never really enjoyed tower defence style games, but I do believe Kingdom Rush is a bit of an exception. Your task is to protect your kingdom from raiding Orcs, Goblins and other monsters. You build barracks, archery towers, mages, call in reinforcements and use abilities such as meteor rain to stop the advancing hordes. The graphics is really cute and cartoony and the audio is fitting. You play in a campaign mode across a big map and you earn stars that can be used to buy upgrades or abilities when you complete a zone.


It seems like games where you need to reach as high as possible while dodging obstacles are very popular. Have a look at previous reviews such as Cuboy Hot Pants, Tobe's Hook Shot Escape and The Blocks Cometh to find more of the same kind. In / ESCAPE \ you need to jump and slide on the sides of a vertical shaft while avoiding spiky sections of the walls while at the same time not getting caught by the slowly advancing laser beam. The game is surprisingly addictive (as is most games of this genre). The "one-more-time" feeling immediately hit you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dweller status update

I'm guessing that you're starting to wonder what happened to the next Dweller update? I haven't had much time to work on Dweller these last few weeks, but progress is steady (although slow) and it shouldn't be to long until a new version is released. My main area of focus since the last release has been to pave the way for more spells and making spell casting more interesting. What I've done is to externalize spell definitions into it's own configuration file. This will allow me to add new spells much easier and faster than before. Spells will now also be able to have different areas of effect such as line, chain, cone, circle, single target or all visible targets.

Another important area where Dweller need some attention is the user interface. There are too many menus in Dweller and it becomes a hassle to do simple things. It is a big task and it needs to be broken down into manageable pieces for each new release. What I've worked on in this release is to make it easier to access commonly used items from your inventory. Things like healing potions, scrolls and spell books should be accessible with a minimum of interaction. Starting from the next release you will have access to something I call quick-slots. In these slots you will be able to put often used items such as potions and have access to them immediately from the main UI while playing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I'm really in love with the graphical style of Blipzkrieg. The combination of Tron like graphics and the organic flowing movement of the swarming opponents is really appealing. Your avatar is a circular "blip" that you control by clicking and dragging a path on the map. Nearby allies attract to your avatar and follow you. You need to guide yourself and your allies to an end-point on each map by cleverly utilizing the features of the level, attacking enemies when you outnumber them and fleeing when outnumbered.

Mr.Runner 2

Mr Runner 2 (MR2) is a side scrolling runner variation of Canabalt. In MR2 you jump and slide through levels filled with obstacles such as spikey floors, walls and large gaps. You mostly run left to right, but at times you need to jump up walls to proceed through the level. While running you can collect coins that together with time will accumulate to your level score. The game feels a bit sluggish and it doesn't scroll as smoothly as Canabalt. It is well worth a try though!

Experimental Shooter

Experimental Shooter is a nice little puzzle shooter cross-over where the rules of the game change each level. You control a little "cannon" in the middle of the screen and you have a number of "enemies" (white balls) either moving around or lined up in some way on the level. Your goal is to clear the level according to the rules of that particular level. In one level you might have to shoot all your targets within a certain time, in another you need to bounce your shots at least once before hitting the enemies, in yet another you get to play pool and try to pocket the enemies.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Games that I want to try

I've been slacking this summer when it comes to keeping up to date with the latest and greatest releases on the indie scene. I've started building a list of games that I'd like to test, and by the looks of it I will have lots to play the entire autumn. Here are some of the highlights:

Infested Planet
This game is still in beta, but I have acquired a copy and intend to start playing soon. "Take charge of 5 veteran solders and fight an alien army of 100,000. It's all about striking hard and killing lots of squishy alien bugs. To do this, you get an arsenal of awesome weapons; from walking tanks with miniguns to field artillery, you're set to kick the aliens back down their slimy hole."

Bastion seems like a mix between Torchlight and the old Fallout games. It's set in some kind of post-apocalyptic world recreated in stunningly beautiful hand painted graphics. It promises a deep storyline and a lot of action.

"Capsized is a fast paced 2d platformer focused on intense action and exploration. As a intrepid space traveler, your ship has crash landed on a mysterious alien planet. You must navigate through the perilous environment and fight off blood-thirsty creatures to save your crewmates and escape with your lives!" How could things possibly go wrong when you're equipped with a jetpack and a gravity hook?

"Hammerfight is about 2D battles of flying machines equipped with various slashing, piercing and blunt weaponry". The controls seem rather unique with the physics of the game tied to how you wave/swing your mouse pointer to build momentum with your weapon.