Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Practice 2013: rogue(like)^n

(by Michael Brough)
·         Zaga 33, Glitch Tank, Vertex Dispenser, O, Corrypt, 868-HACK, Helix, SMESPORT
·         Roguelikes are games that are literally like Rogue.
·         Common properties = randomization (level, monsters, items), permadeath, turn-based grid tactics
·         If you remove the turn-based grid tactics, then they’re usually referred to as roguelike-likes, such as Spelunky.
·         Dungeon Crawl has an auto-explore function, so one mechanic of the game is completely automated.
·         Hyper Rogue = has weird geometry, takes place on a sphere
·         A lot of roguelikes have a wait command because many players don’t like moving towards the enemy to attack them. Michael removed the wait commands from his games because he likes to force the compulsion to move. Maybe an alternative solution to the wait problem is putting in diagonal movement.
·         868-HACK implemented a range attack and also added a wait command that required resources to use. If something is useful, the players should pay a cost to use them.
·         Pillar dancing = run around an obstacle and the enemies can never catch up to you. This is especially bad since your health will regenerate over time, so you can delay any combat to gain back full health. Some solutions involve putting in a time limit or generating more monsters overt time.
·         Roguelikes have a bunch of different types of items (single-use, multiple-use, permanent equipment). Limited use items have interesting choices, but permanent equipment doesn’t because you just choose the one with the higher numbers. Developers usually try to make these numbers difficult to figure out.
·         “Here’s an interesting choice in games… do I quit my PhD to make games? That’s choosing an identity. In games, the interesting choice is that we want to win. It’s not much of an interesting choice. So we try to make the choices as frustrating as possible for the player to make.” – Michael Brough
·         In many roguelikes, players don’t always understand the numbers, so choosing to be the leader of horses or the leader of demons is a role-playing choice.
·         Combos, different resources, varied types of effect, risk and reward
·         In many games, you can ramp up the difficulty but making the game faster. But in a turn-based game, you have to make the decisions harder. One way to do it is to ramp up the use of resources and players have to be more efficient with their resources. Eventually, you have to generate so many enemies to make the game impossible and make the game end.
·         Punch Quest and Mage Gauntlet developer got really into Zaga-33. But he became less interested in high score, and more interesting to survive as long as he can. To get a high score, you have to take risks but to survive as long as possible, you have to get a long streak and be conservative.
·         868-HACK had a scoring system that took a lot longer to get boring, but it’s still quite dependent of luck after a while. He implemented streaks
·         Make your maps smaller so you can show everything on one screen instead of having the player scroll around to see the whole map.
·         There’s no secret formula to balancing a roguelike. Just play it a lot, find the exploits, and fix them.
·         Should developers strive for balance between different classes? Yes, but sometimes there’s no way to achieve fair balance. So the classes can be considered different difficulty settings and some players play the weaker characters for a challenge.
·         Michael’s games are associated with noise and glitches. This is mostly because he develops his games all by himself and there’s no other person there to fix the bugs for him. He’ll see the bugs and get inspired to continue along with them.
·         There’s nothing ethically wrong with killing things in a game because they’re symbols. Players are sociopathic in the game when they go around killing everything, but this doesn’t mean that the behavior bleeds out into the real world.
·         Smiley face chosen as the avatar because he has three hit points and it was a convenient way to show it.
·         Michael has a very bullheaded art style. Everybody thinks his art is ugly right up until the moment that they realize it’s beautiful.

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