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Weekly Links #307: roguelike edition

16 February 2020 — No Time To Play

When I released Glittering Light 2 last week, it was silent. That was a deliberate choice, to keep me from burning out at the last moment. Turned out to be a good decision, as adding audio took longer than expected... then longer still. But it worked in the end, and the game now sounds better than it has any right to. I was even able to reuse a few effects from the previous game, and just those it was missing the most, too. Too bad traffic on Itch.io petered out just before I uploaded the new version, but oh well. It's now one of my top viewed (and played) games.

Before that however, I took the time to write more words about how game genres evolve. Turns out I wasn't the only one, as you'll see below. A timely subject, because yes, it's 2020 and most people think roguelikes are normally real time. Feel free to shake your cane at kids today, some of us would rather try and keep up with the changing times.

And then at the other end of the work week I wrote a longer article that is and isn't related: What is an RPG to you? Because yes, the answer is often very personal.

As for my plans for the immediate future, there are several possibilities:

  • a Tkinter port of Glittering Light 2;
  • which in turn would pave the way for a long-planned Pygame port of Electric Rogue;
  • alternatively, some preproduction work on a sequel to the latter, for which I have a few ideas.

In the way of news, we have comments surrounding a long write-up about the definition of roguelikes as a genre. Yes, again. Details under the cut, along with the usual links without commentary.


On Wednesday, Josh Ge of Cogmind fame chimes in on the controversy over the definition of a roguelike. At least his views on the matter are broad and nuanced. But gods, fans of hard games are full of shit. And I take issue with the notion that roguelikes can somehow still surprise the player after the first few runs. Nope, you’re still going to run into that way-out-of-depth monster around the same time. You’re still going to die because you took one step too many along that corridor, out of sheer inertia, after walking around an empty level for minutes. You’ll still have to pick the one class that’s at all viable, and apply a small variation of the same optimal strategy to get anywhere at all. And you’ll never, ever die on any level outside of a very narrow band. Sounds like a poorly designed roguelike, you say? I just described my experiences in games like Lost Labyrinth, Pixel Dungeon and DCSS. How about no.

That the original 1980 Rogue is still one of the best games in the genre it spawned even after 40 years is a testament to its excellent game design, but also an indictment of its countless imitators.

I've made so many roguelikes because that way I can play my own games without running into the little issue of knowing the map by heart and facing the exact same challenges in the exact same places every time. But frankly, I'm more and more interested in graduating away from the genre and to handcrafted RPGs.

Oh, by the way: all game rewards are artificially constructed by definition. That's kind of the whole point. Real stakes instantly make it not a game. A sport, maybe, but not a game anymore. How's that for a gatekeeping distinction?


Last but not least, the news in brief:

And at the last moment, another creator I know writes about their inspirations. Enjoy, and see you in a week.

Tags: roguelike, game-design, philosophy, politics, worldbuilding

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