Monday, October 17, 2011

Episode 8: Progression Systems

Welcome to this week's episode of Roguelike Radio. Episode 8 takes a break from the usual focus on one roguelike to instead consider in general the role of character progression systems in the genre, with particular emphasis on the major roguelikes. Talking this week are Darren Grey, Andrew Doull, John Harris and Ido Yehieli.

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:
- Skill systems and class systems
- The role of items in progression
- Limiting resources and anti-scumming
- Alternative xp sources

Relevant links:
- Article on game design and permadeath (mentioned by Andrew)
- A Quest Too Far (the reverse-progression 7DRL Darren couldn't remember)
- ToME4, ADOM, Crawl, Nethack, Angband, Dungeons of Dredmor, Gruesome, Cardinal Quest, DoomRL (all mentioned at some point)

Join us next week for discussion of Jeff Lait's Powder.


  1. Great show guys! I really loved the change in format and thought this was really an interesting discussion. I hope you do more like this in the future.

    Two points (both related to what was discussed the end, mostly because that's what's at the top of my mind right now haha):

    1.) I don't think the tangent about Facebook/"Social" was off-topic at all in a roguelike discussion, considering that games like Desktop Dungeons are already teetering (if not arguably already past) the edge there.

    2.) In regards to Crawl's removal of victory dancing in 0.9, I think that the general response to it has been really positive, even amongst the long-time players. It didn't actually make the game any easier for "standard" play, but did enable quite a lot of alternative playstyles that might have previously been too difficult simply because their skill management was too difficult. It has lead to some unforseen balance problems that have only became apparent recently. Like for instance, Stealth is way too easy to train in 0.9, leading to some absurd situations with some races being able to max stealth by mid-game and then annihilating huge vaults with just one casting of invisibility. But I'm sure it will be tuned up by the next version!

  2. I love the radio guys! Keep em' coming.

  3. I just got into rogue-likes again with the with Dungeons of Dredmor and I've listened to a couple of episodes of the show. You have a lot of interesting things to say and I really appreciate the amount of knowledge you guys display about game design, something totally missing from most podcast.

    If I could make a suggeestion, try to reign in the English chap (the one who isn't the host). He has the habit of going on by for way too long and getting very monotone. Try to keep him from talking for more than ninety uninterrupted seconds and I think the show would flow a lot better.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. There are no English guys on this show! And I think we all end up sounding monotonous if we speak too long...

  5. Thank you guys for the great discussions. I also just recently started to get back into roguelikes starting with Dredmor. I must say that I feel compelled to try out a lot of the titles that you discuss -- my latest obsession is Powder, and I look forward to hearing your discussion of that game. (Geez, it's hard -- addictive, but hard).

  6. I think that assuming that you are assuming that a player will see, identify and accept a constraint like "the character grows weaker over time" or "the character must progress downwards to obtain more food" and adjust their play-style instead of treating the constraint like an obstacle to overcome by using more and more ridiculous tactics until the game forces the issue and the player rage quits over corruption in ADOM, or lack of food in Gehenna in Nethack, or forced backtracking in Crawl.

  7. That's not a monotone, that's the new zealand accent (Stolen joke, courtesy of Flight of the Conchords as far as I know :P)

  8. I have no particularly meaningful responses now, but only because the hosts collectively did such a good job of covering all relevant ground and arguing both sides of any arguments on the topic. Very interesting listen (I noticed no monotony), and the best episode that I've downloaded (of 1-9) so far!