Tuesday, November 17, 2015

CubeTV Early Access

Hi folks,

I've released an early edition of my minimalistic platformer, CubeTV. It's not complete yet, but I'm aiming to finish it by the end of December.

You can check it out here on itch.io. I'll post some more insightful pieces about the design of it in the coming weeks.

This isn't the end of my lengthy foray into Roguelike development. I've just decided to mix it up a bit and learn something wholly new. I'm planning to, at a minimum, participate in 7DRL 2016 in a few months, although I have no current Roguelike plans for before or after that yet.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lost Valkyrie [7DRL]

Lost Valkyrie is my entry to the 7DRL 2015 Challenge.

You can download it for Windows here.

The central idea of the game is the player's attack range. The weapon of choice throughout the game is a spear. The spear can be used to lunge (attack up to 2 tiles away) or throw (attack as far as the eye can see). Of course, throwing the spear will require the player to retrieve it if they hope to progress further.

Other ideas explored: Nordic mythology, Lovecraft, interesting monsters, and status effects.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Designing Simple

This year I've whipped out Grid and Iron Fist as my entries into the wonderful world of Roguelikes. By that virtue alone, it's been one of my most productive years yet and its nowhere near over. But before I march forward into the 2015 7DRL and beyond, I thought I'd look back at these two games. Painting a clearer picture of both their successes and failures seems important in improving my own skillset for future projects.

It seems appropriate to analyze Grid and Iron Fist simultaneously as they share a great deal of design. They both feature the combo attack system, go out of their way to limit randomness, have the same type of character progression, and offer a limited set of items to discover.

The combo attack system is one of the elements I'm more impressed with. It has turned out to be an effective way to reward player skill and hide the lack of random damage rolls. In Grid, the combos allow for distinctive weapons to exist. In Iron Fist, combos are primarily changed by leveling up.

Ever since this post back in 2012 I've struggled with deciding how to implement randomness. This design uncertainty culminated with the release of Android <3 Kitty last year, which had no real randomness in the combat. Since then I've been riding the current and not bothering to break away from my own norm. Both Grid and Iron Fist offer very little randomness in the way combat goes down.

Grid is my first game to feature internal character progression that isn't just tied to equipment. @Star Wars attempted to have a similar kind of character development, though it was poorly implemented. In general I'm quite pleased with how the level-up skills work in both Grid and Iron Fist. It fits the more "arcadey" feel that both games tried to have.

One of the major successes in both Grid and Iron Fist was the implementation of Binding of Isaac-style consumables. Players are only allowed to carry one consumable. This has worked out quite well because it mitigates the too-good-to-use syndrome that players often encounter and also allows for tighter balance.

In a game with consumables, players are often tempted to hold onto them until they really need them. Sometimes, in easier games, that situation never actually arises. However, in games where it does, the player having a treasure trove of potions trivializes otherwise challenging content. Of course there's always a middle-ground to take, but I quite like the extremity of only one consumable.

Equipment is a strange topic in regards to both Grid and Iron Fist. When I was designing equipment for them, I wanted to create a small set of items where every item is notably different. I'd say I succeeded in my own goal there, though I'm not convinced it was to the betterment of the games. 

All items are equally likely to show up in Grid and Iron Fist. There is no joy to be found in finding an item once you're reasonably familiar with the games as it will be something you've likely seen a hundred times before. To their credit, those items are generally pretty interesting, but there are so few and they have so little variance that I'm not actually sure it matters how interesting they are.

While I can't verify this, I suspect that most people that play Roguelikes do so for the replayability. The parent of replayability, in my mind, is depth. The most popular of the traditional Roguelikes (NetHack, DCSS, ADOM, etc) have considerable depth and thus replay value. This depth is created by interesting interactions, mountains of content, and uncertainty. 

For all the positive things I can say about my own games, I think they have generally failed to provide interesting interactions, mountains of content, and uncertainty. In fact, looking back at it now, it appears as if I designed in such a way as to avoid those elements. 

I'd like to change that moving forward and create more rewarding, in-depth experiences. This change isn't to spite Grid or Iron Fist or even Android <3 Kitty. Quite the opposite, really. Each of them has allowed me to learn about design and expand my coding skill. Now I'd like to take those self-improvements and apply them to a slightly grander project. My current plan is to have the 2015 7DRL serve as a springboard for that project. Until then,


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Iron Fist [24HR RL]

Download Iron Fist [windows]

Iron Fist is a Roguelike completed in 24 hours. I chose to start the project yesterday at 3PM CST and ended today at 3PM.

Iron Fist started from the final source code release of Grid and branched off from there. This is fairly apparent in some respects, notably the existence of the combo system and the UI.

The aim of the project was for me to have a chance to experiment with two things I'd been bouncing around for a while: the usage of a world map and sound effects. Iron Fist succeeds in presenting both of those items, albeit on a small scale.

I'll likely write a proper post-mortem for Iron Fist in the coming days. I'd like to get into more detail regarding my usage of time over the 24 hour period, the future of Iron Fist (if any), and how it will impact my future development of other games.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Grid 1.1a + Source

  1. Shops are now guaranteed to appear on every floor.
  2. The player can now only carry one program at a time. The carried program will appear on the UI and can be activated by pressing Q.
  3. Durability of all armor has been reduced slightly.
  4. The durability range for all weapons has been reduced from 25-50 to 25-40. Weaponmaster and Repair Bot are unchanged.
  5. The size of the UI has been altered slightly to allow for better aesthetic spacing. 
  6. The Encryption skill now totally prevents enemies from tracking.

Beyond the above changes, the code has also gone through a significant clean up. 1.0b had ~4800 lines of code while 1.1a has ~3500. While I would hardly claim to be a great or educational programmer, I have chosen to release the source along with all the materials I used to create the game.

The game is made with Python 2.7 and libtcodpy 1.5. 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grid 1.0d

Hey folks,

Since yesterday's launch of Grid 1.0a I've released two minor patches: 1.0b and 1.0c. These just fixed a small set of bugs, including one game-breaking one. 1.0d has a tiny bit more meat to it, but is primarily still just geared towards fixes. Since it is a bit bigger it seems appropriate to provide a change log.

  1. Repair Bot now causes reconstruction nodes to restore 5 durability to your armor and weapon.
  2. Anti-virus' effect has been reduced in half (2 to 1, 1 to 0.5 in Daemon of Lust challenge).
  3. Items can no longer spawn on top of reconstruction nodes.
  4. The color of sonic shivs is now a light violet instead of white. This should help distinguish it from the stairs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Into the Grid

It's a new year and what better time to release a new game! This new game is the result of numerous Summer projects, Dungeon Brawl, and several new ideas that the foundation of the game. Combine all of that with a theme that is heavily inspired by great science fiction and cyberpunk and you end up with Grid.

Windows Download

Here's some features of Grid:

  1. A focus on intuitive gameplay and UI that allows the player to get truly immersed into the tactics.
  2. Durability for equipment, forcing the player to frequently adapt to new weapons and play styles.
  3. A simple character progression system that presents difficult choices for abilities that have serious impact.
  4. Three classes each with a unique passive ability.
  5. Seven floors featuring eleven different types of enemies.
  6. Eight optional challenge modes.
Plus, this is not the end of Grid. I have plans to introduce unlockable content, additional challenge modes, three more floors, and alternative floors. 

If you want to communciate with me directly, feel free to hit up the comments here or tweet me.