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!