Monday, October 3, 2011

Episode 6: Dungeons of Dredmor

Welcome to episode 6 of Roguelike Radio. This week we have been playing Dungeons of Dredmor, a commercial roguelike by Gaslamp Games, available on Steam for USD $5. Talking this episode are Darren Grey, Andrew Doull and John Harris.
The mp3 of the podcast can be downloaded here, played in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics covered this week include:
- Humour in games
- Vendor trash and too many items
- Crafting systems in roguelikes
- The hard choice between avoiding traps and sucking the blood from your enemies' corpses

Join us next week for discussion of 100 Rogues. Also watch out in the coming few days for a special interview with Ido Yehieli, developer of Cardinal Quest.


  1. It's worth pointing out that I'm not entirely happy with what I said on the podcast; the line 'beautiful game but terrible game' especially isn't a fair thing to have said about the game. Blame not having had breakfast before we began recording. I'll follow up in more detail with a blog post.

  2. I think it can be easy to focus on the flaws in a game when reviewing it. Which is why I said I disliked having to review Dredmor instead of just playing it - my reviewer head was spotting lots of faults with the game, but my playing head was just having fun. Sometimes these little flaws really don't matter in the context of a great game.

    I never got to point out my favourite joke in the game - the fact that the traditional accuracy stat is instead called "Enemy Dodge Reduction". The reason? Heroes never miss, oh no, but enemies do sometimes dodge. Thus accuracy is no good, but reducing their dodge ability obviously helps hit the target... I'm a sucker for cheap jokes like that :)

  3. I am, however, entirely happy with my ability to sneak a Diablo reference into the podcast without John commenting.

  4. Fair enough...great podcast but I have to admit to taking exception (to your?) comment that "Skills don't belong in Roguelikes" when ADOM imo owes much of its success to the skill system.

    However, for the most part a fair review and in depth discussion on mechanics. However, 3 hours of level 1 shouldn't qualify more than cursory first impression opinions (One of the members saying he had only played 3 hours all on level 1) but that was offset by others who had clearly played more.

    Also itemization being a negative? Itemization is usually something that is looked for in a Roguelike but again fair enough that is one opinion :)

  5. I love the podcasts btw to me very much in the retrogaming radio spirit...just a few things that stood out for me "huh?" moments :)

  6. I think Andrew was sorely missing the words "In my opinion" before he stated that skills don't belong in roguelikes. There are many roguelikes with skill systems, and all their fans I'm sure will think otherwise ;) I'm a big fan of ADOM's skills (except bloody bridge building) and of Dredmor's and ToME4's too. There are lots of interesting ways to make skill systems, and in roguelikes especially they can offer a great deal of customisation beyond the usual race/class choices, as well as much more interesting progression systems than just extra stats on level up.

  7. Fair enough, that edit buys Andrew a pass...

    But in all seriousness the reason I think skills can and do work well are covered by your comments pint for Andrew! ;)

    Then again he has indicated lack of breakfast (liquid?) as an excuse...jk

  8. We're always going to be open to criticism of 'haven't played enough of X' where X is whatever game we're discussing on the podcast. It's very much a case of too many roguelikes, not enough time. The alternative is to have the podcasts appear less often, which will make the already logistical challenge of making sure we have enough people available a much greater issue. As it is, we try to be regular and informative rather than comprehensive - given that many of these games have effectively infinite content we can't possibly cover everything.

    We're already planning on revisiting Dredmor, hopefully in the not too distant future.

  9. Fair comments and after having some time to think about it the discussion went into areas it may not have touched because of the balance of play times not despite them.

    Looking forward to the next podcast!

  10. Yeah, I think it's actually useful to have a conversation between people with a spectrum of experiences. This allows focus on different aspects of the game, and draws attention to initial frustrations with the game (which are just as important as the late game joys).

  11. One thing that I noticed in the podcast is that most of you don't like crafting in a Rogue-like. I agree that the crafting system in Dredmor can use some work, but I DO like crafting. When I actually choose my skills, I find that I nearly always take at least one crafting skill, if not 2 or all 3.

    Although I am a rogue-like veterant, having started playing back in the 1970s with Rogue, itself, I did drift away for a while, so I am not actually familiar with any other Rogue-likes that do have crafting in them. What I AM familiar with, though, are some of the crafting systems found in MMOs and certain not-rogue-like rpgs (eg. Fallout 3). I actually enjoy some of the so-called fiddling that has to be done in crafting systems. When done well, it can be a kind of mini-game within the game, that gives you a feeling of accomplishment when you succeed in finally making that uber weapon or armor.

    There is a lot of discussion on the official Dredmor forums about how to improve the crafting system, and I know that the devs are working on that. Obviously, you can only discuss the version that you actually played, but I'm just letting you know that it appears that some of your criticisms are being addressed.

  12. I'm very negative about crafting myself (as I'm sure was abundantly clear!) and tend to stick away from games with too much fiddly crafting. I was glad I could just ignore it in Dredmor. For those that do like crafting I think the game has a lot to offer, both in terms of the variety of ingredients and crafting types, and in the humorous recipes and items produced. Also I really love some of the cheesy jokes in the crafting achievements... Is it bad to want to get an achievement just because it has a funny name?

    We didn't have time to talk about Dredmor's achievements system, alas. Nor about a number of other things. It's such a big game to cover in such a short space of time!

  13. I just wanted to drop in and say that I enjoyed the podcast. I also feel that inventory management is a huge hurdle in this game and could greatly be improved. I feel a large portion of my game time is spent gathering resources.

    That said, I feel there is a reason why crafting is popular. Deep down we all want to be little munchkins and grind away until the game poses no challenge. Because it's there, I find myself taking alchemy or fungal and grinding out 100s of potions and fungi to trivialize the health/mana resource management and ultimately the game.

  14. Any defense of a game that begins with 'If you'd played it longer then ...' is automatically a fail argument because it's admitting that the early game is sub-par. This is true with all media, but especially for roguelikes where the early game NEEDS to be varied and constantly fun since that's the part you're going to be playing the most. :) Humour isn't much help in the long term since the player will have seen all the jokes eventually but still needs to regen D:1 after each death. Being able to pick a different batch of skills straight up sounds like it could help counteract that, but IDK. I haven't bought Dungeons of Dredmor myself since it seems focused on appearances and gimmicks rather than constant, balanced challenges like eg. DC: Stone Soup.

    On a different note, I've never seen the problem with junk items in roguelikes. If focusing on your axe skill means that you can't make any good of swords ... just ignore the swords and be all the more excited when you find a good axe. As long as the amount of *useful* loot (be that just the specific items you need to craft for your class in one game or every particularly nasty potion you can use on any enemy in another) roughly matches how much you need to dispatch your enemies, who cares? All the more to intrigue you into trying out different classes during your many replays. Unless the piles of crap become GODLY huge it shouldn't take more than a second or two to glance over them and pick out what you need.

    Mind you, if you can't easily pick out what you're going to need - hello poorly documented crafting systems - that's probably another UI issue altogether. Experimentation works in a game that you explore and play through once, but if it can be spoiled than it just leaves you with LESS content on every subsequent playthrough and has no place in a good roguelike.

    I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but a good crafting system for a roguelike would be one that had fairly predictable results but required you to risk diving to the bottom of this dangerous dungeon or hunting some enemies that you knew spawned regularly over by that wilderness feature before putting together your flaming death sword of awesome +25 and gibbing those annoying mega elder phase dragons with it.

  15. I think crafting systems just don't work with permadeath. Whatever interesting thing you make (and possibly spend ages making) is doomed to be destroyed. Unless the act of crafting is itself enjoyable then the whole effort is futile.

  16. To be fair, whatever interesting character you play (and possibly spend ages leveling up) is doomed to be destroyed too. ^_^'

    If I were to design a crafting system it wouldn't be one that took any significant time to use itself - just choose a base item then select which rare extras to forge it with from your inventory - but would act as an occasional customisable reward for players who went out of their way to take on tough uniques or explore more dungeon branches than normally easy for a single character class.

  17. I just listened to this older show after picking up Dreadmore in the Steam sale a few days ago.

    It was cool to note that many of your suggestions and problems in this show seem to have been specifically addressed in the way you suggested. For example, gold picks up automatically on any adjacent squares. And for Fungal Arts, you no longer plant spores on enemies, they just have a random chance to spawn on enemy death just like you guys wanted. There were more two but I haven't played enough to be familiar with them all.

    Love the show!

  18. It'd be nice to see the show revisit the game, now that there's three expansions out. And face it, where else can you play a communist emo banker?

  19. Oh man, the cheese thing. I finally get it!