Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Episode 50: Episode 50

Welcome to Roguelike Radio episode 50. This week we talk about the 50th episode and look back over the show's first year. Talking this episode are Andrew Doull, Ido Yehieli, John Harris and Ryan Boyd.

You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics discussed in this episode include:
- The sound quality (and its recent improvement with Ryan as editor)
- Special guests, including some of the more celebrity ones like Edmund McMillan, Derek Yu and Glenn Wichman
- What's special about roguelike development
- The evolution of Cardinal Quest, the first game we covered
- The recurring theme of user interface

- Dodging the "Is it a Roguelike?" question
- Reflecting on episodes that have gone well or poorly

- Episodes we'd like to cover in future
- Why we haven't covered Nethack
- Comparison with other podcasts

- Single-developer roguelikes as works of art and reflections of their author
- How Roguelike Radio has changed us as both players and developers
- Our favourite episodes
- Looking forward to episode 100

Oh, and this was actually our 54th episode if you ignore the numbers ;) 

Join us next week for discussion of graphics and tile design.


  1. Sorry I couldn't make the ep - you guys seemed to have some great discussion.

    One thing I like with Roguelike Radio is getting to have devs speaking directly to their fans when we have them on their show. I hope we'll have more of that in future. But I think the only "celebrity" dev we haven't had on is Kornel...

    Also I'll happily join a Nethack episode just so I can flagrantly insult it ;)

    1. ...and I'll happily join so that I can say "nuh-uh!" to all of your insults ;)

    2. I'd rather you didn't. NetHack's flaws are well-explored to the point of beating a dead horse, and hearing the critical opinions of somebody who doesn't even play it doesn't sound very interesting.

    3. Congratulations to 50 great episodes!

      I agree with Darren that there is lots of potential content for a NetHack episode. Even though John has written a lot about NetHack it's mostly about its good sides and the bad sides might be well-known but you find relatively few pieces discussion it at length on the net.

      So I'm all for a NetHack bashing episode and I'm sure you could get some star guests like David Ploog rambling on about NetHack's deficiencies. :-)

      OTOH I'm also suprised how people have widely different opinions on what's good in NetHack. I wouldn't be surprised if a NetHack roguelikeradio episode would be among the most controversials.

    4. My beef with Nethack is not with its mechanics, but its impact on the genre and how roguelikes in general are perceived. Everyone associates roguelikes with Nethack, and it's hard to convince some devs and players that we can break away from that mold. I find it especially hard with people who have little experience of the genre, and assume that every roguelike is like Nethack, warts and all. A big part of why roguelike stagnated before 2006 was because Nethack became the defacto roguelike and developers couldn't innovate beyond the idea of making "Nethack but bigger". Only by demonising Nethack (in spite of its many important contributions and strengths) have we been able to break away from that and start a new era of roguelike development.

      Patrick, you'd be great to have on for a Nethack episode, considering you've not just played it but also made a variant. Would you be interested in joining us?

    5. I think you overestimate NH's current prominence. These days a lot of people get clued in to roguelikes by hearing of DCSS or DF.

      With new popular games like spelunky, isaac, DoD, FTL, etc. I think all we have to do is wait. As more awesome new games get made the fewer people will think that roguelike==nethack.

    6. New people are seeing the likes of Dredmor and Spelunky more. But there's still a huge number of people out there (especially coders around our age) whose main experience/knowledge of roguelikes is Nethack. A lot of people I speak to about roguelike cite it as the one they know of most, or at least use it as a reference point for the genre. Just as with FPSes people cite Quake even if it's not their first game.

    7. I agree I'm just saying it is becoming less so as time goes by & we have to do nothing but wait (and continue releasing new games) for the situation to resolve itself :)

    8. Darren, sure, I would love to join you guys. But don't expect me to be only on the side of the NetHack defenders. :-)

      Blaming NetHack for being the top dog for such a long time is a bit harsh. Especially in the 90ies there weren't lots of other options and the few that got started (Adom, Crawl) were similary big roguelikes as Angband and NetHack.

      I think you have to blame the developers that they let NetHack be undisputed as "the Roguelike" for such a long time.

    9. I'd enjoy an episode on NetHack. RLR has served as my eye into the world of Roguelikes, so would only be fitting to cover NH too, if for nothing else but completeness of the Epic RLs.

    10. How many times do you interview someone, and they say, "Well, I started out with Nethack, then I went on to play bla bla bla."

      Nethack is monolithic. Less so, and becoming less so, but still. That's the baseline Roguelike.

  2. Viewer suggestions eh? I'd probably do irreparable damage to your topic backlog progress if I weighed in there....

    Well, er, the Dungeon Bash Tactics dev is pretty hard up for feedback and attention---plus the game seems more approachable to a general audience and you folks versus some of the monstrous projects afoot.

    So yeah, try to accost/contact that guy. Among many others.


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Heh, first post and there's no editing feature or whatever i dunno. Anyway I wanted to suggest an episode on updates and changes to some of the games you have looked or even some that you haven't. One of the things I love about this genre is the (relatively) rapid and transperant development cycle and it would be nice to here some of your feedback on some of the changes (big and small) that these games go through.

      An episode on unreal world might be interesting and survival as a rising endgame theme as opposed to getting an amulet or saving the world.

    2. hear. Is there a way to edit?

    3. There's no way to edit. We recommend rereading and thinking before hitting post ;)

      Unreal World is one we'll likely cover some time. Tarn Adams expressed particular interest in us covering that. It's a big game to cover though. As for updated games, definitely. Brogue and ToME4 in particular I think we'll come back to.

  4. Ha ha yeah that's probably a good idea.

    Any news on the roguelike bundle? I assume there'll be an ep for that.

  5. This is something that's been floating in my head as I've followed the show (don't take it personally it's just a bit of fun).

    The Roguelike Radio Drinking Game!

    Any person on the show (excluding a guest talking about their own game) mentions their own game: take a drink.

    Darren Grey swears: take a drink.

    Someone says "Diablo": take a drink.

    "Is it a roguelike?": take a drink - however if after this question the hosts all agree that it is indeed a roguelike: drink everything in the room.

    Sound Quality Bonus Mode (optional): if any of the above occurs whilst there is an issue with sound quality, drink double the amount.

    1. Hah! Sound quality mode would kill everyone. An addition: Andrew Doull mentions an Angband. Double drink if he's defending an Angband feature.

    2. Oh Oh! Every time John Harris brings up something completely and totally obscure (and awesome). Drink twice if it's a bit of an awkward non sequitur.

      These are my fav parts!!!

      I just dug my bottle of jaeger out of the freezer...I fear for my liver.

  6. I've been dabbling in RL's for a long time, but have drifted in and out of the genre with my fickle gaming moods. Surprisingly, it was the FTL episode that attracted my attention and swung my gaze towards Roguelike Radio listening. I found the last show with Tarn Adams very interesting, and I've subsequently gone on to listen to his own show DF Talk, to get even more insight into the impenetrable behemoth that DF is. :)

    It was mentioned that RL's are all about the mechanics. I think this is primarily why I struggle with them. I've always come at the games for an adventure, a fantasy adventure where I could enjoy the journey. I've never been about gaming my way through the mechanics, I want the adventuring to be the main focus. I see so much potential in RL's for delivering a good adventure, without a reliance or obsession with mechanics. This leads into my question, or perhaps suggestion to the Roguelike Radio team...

    How does the likes of MUD's and MUSH's fit into the adventuring genre that RL's seem to also occupy? How does the panel feel about MUD's and MUSH's - is there any cross-over - any blatant difference that would prevent the two genre's evolving together?

    I've similarly been on a personal quest to find a MUD/MUSH that caters for my rampant adventuring appetite, and have equally fallen in and out of love with them, as I do with RL's.

    My last question is a little more pedestrian, are there any good party based RL's, where you're managing a team of adventurers?

    Congratulations on the 50th Episode! I hope you keep the momentum and keep bringing quality guests in to explore the genre, both the established and the evolving RL scene!

    1. Hey Spelk there are a ton of party based Roguelikes! Well, there's at least a couple.

      Check Roguebasin. Here are some I know of... Japanese?

      There may be more man. I dunno.

      I think Prospector RL could be considered party based, but not in the classic fashion. Your away team has a bunch of people, but you don't really know much about each individual.

    2. My own experience with MUDs is that they're more social games, with the whole combat and game mechanics side of things being less relevant.

      On party-based roguelikes, I think there are fundamental issues with multiple unit management that makes it hard to implement in roguelikes. Just the basic wandering around the dungeon is a big chore when you have several people to move. I've yet to see any compelling solution to this (though I have had some thoughts myself on how it could be done).

    3. I've played the MUME mud quite a bit (of Diku heritage), and it was very much focused on combat mechanics, with hard penalties for death (usually lost a level and all your hard-earned gear).

      When the red text would appear in a room saying *An Orc* has arrived from the North! Man, that's the most adrenaline pumping experience I've had in a game to this day; - You knew another player had just entered the room that wanted to kill you, rob you of at least one level and many days of hard earned gear. I was never very good at the PvP aspect of it, so in a PvP fight I usually ended up dying, if not escaping successfully.

      But I always found MUME quite disorienting, and MUDs in general, due to how fast-paced it was combined with the lack of graphical, spatial representation. You really had to memorize all the rooms and exits to survive. So often deaths would feel very frustrating...

      I think some elements of MUDs could fit very well into the concept of a Roguelike though, and I don't necessarily mean the multiplayer aspect of it.

    4. Some other party-based roguelikes that haven't been mentioned yet, all as it happens with a sci-fi theme:

      Steam Marines:


      Last and most probably least, my own game, AS.T.Ro:

      With AS.T.Ro I tried to mitigate a bit the multiple-unit-management issue Darren mentions in a couple of ways - mainly by giving characters a movement range, streamlining the controls so that typically one click = one turn and trying to ensure an even spread of enemies throughout the level to avoid boring 'dead zones'. Whether it worked or not is up for debate!

  7. About "party based roguelikes" - I think that itch is often scratch by Turn Based Tactics (sometimes Tactical RPG) games.

    E.g.: xcom, jagged alliance, advance wars. They're not quite roguelikes (often missing random generation and permadeath) but at least for me share a lot of the appeal.

  8. Congratulations on the 50th episode! What I've found with RLR, that I haven't found in any other game design podcast, is how to the point your guys are. With that I mean, you aren't chatting about personal stuff with each other, which you find a lot of in other podcasts, and the layout overall of the podcasts are well organized I think, which results in enjoyable listening.

    My favourite episode so far was the one on Cataclysm RL, and from it my favourite narrative:

    Darren: "...probably the closest a roguelike can be to an MMO without actually being shit! Ehm... because obviously ..."
    Ido: "Without being multiplayer."
    Darren: "Well... that too. Eh, same thing!"

    I've enjoyed every single episode though, every single one seem to have some part that I can learn from, or that will inspire me in some way, so keep them coming guys! You're awesome!

  9. Replies
    1. Well I depends on the interpretation. We can go with the classic Berlin Interpretation, but that's become a bit stale.

      'IMHO' we should look at the original Rogue game. It was made on a computer. This Episode was made on a computer. So they are 'alike'.

      Thus, this episode is a rogueLIKE!


    2. 'que' is Spanish for 'what'.

      'cue' is an English word that refers to "An action or event that is a signal for somebody to do something."

      Also interpreting the word 'roguelike' to mean merely something that is like rogue is a pointless subversion of its communal meaning. It's a bad joke masquerading as pedantism.

      Any object has some similarities to other objects. The true number of attributes any object could have is mind boggling, and doubtless for any arbitrary pair you could find some attribute they share. This means your interpretation lacks any merit as it has no power to distinguish.

      While there are no accepted list of attributes that constitute meaning 'roguelike'. There are certain attributes of rogue that are considered salient given how we use it, and we should therefore concentrate on only those attributes.

      None of those attributes, I believe, are shared with this podcast. Therefore, not a roguelike.

    3. Well, if your only argument is to attack my spelling and grammar, then you fail.

      [said while conveniently ignoriing substantive arguments, while I attempt not to break the 'webs are serious business' character, while acting like I know what 'pedantism' means.]

    4. Our content is procedurally generated, though I suppose our post-show editing could count as savescumming :(

  10. Best ending of an episode ever? Everyone cracking up and losing their shit?

    Dig it!

  11. I love Roguelike Radio, very excited each time a new episode comes out.


    My #1 complaint with the show is the "But is it a roguelike?" endless waffle. It's nigh-unlistenable since:
    - You've covered the question to death
    - Everyone on the panel has the same well-worn opinions on the topic already
    - Who cares anyways? if it's on the show it's worth talking about.

    In my opinon, whenever you guys start edging close to this topic, you should just list out the roguelike elements, maybe how they're used, but quickly move on.


    I also wanted to say that Ido's point about his least favourite episodes being the ones that go into minutiae of a specific game. Though I sympathize with that view, and didn't even listen to the Shiren episode ;), some of my favorite episodes are the ones that DO go into lots of detail about a game.

    Here's why:
    - If I don't know the game, sometimes hearing about the unique stuff in it provides an incentive to try it.
    - Many roguelikes feel the same as a new player, it's important to know what fun COULD be had if I invest.
    - If I do know the game, it's awesome to hear the stuff I know

    There's been a number of episodes that have gotten me to try the game, and then _relisten_ after I'm familiar. CataclysmRL for example is one I found exactly this way, and then went back to listen again after I found out I loved the game ;).

    Also, Ido mentioned the puppy quest in Adom specifically, well I'd just started Adom and had just done the puppy quest so it was very neat to hear it talked about, and learn the history and stuff, without having to have lived through the Adom forums in the 90's or w/e

    All in all, love the podcast, hope you guys keep it going.

    1. I really enjoyed the Shiren episode myself, but to fully appreciate it I've had to listen to it a couple times. Usually an episode of RLR covers the duration of my forest walks and such, so if the episodes dig down very deep I still appreciate it.

      Heh, and I had the exact same happening to me with regards to CataclysmRL!

  12. I've mentioned a couple of roguelikes to cover in the past but, if you'd like another meta-subject for the show (like the one used for episode 50), how about "roguelike websites"? I mean, you mention "roguebasin" and "rgrd" or even "roguetemple" but what ABOUT these sites? Who runs them, when did they start and why? History? Alternatives? Dead websites like dungeondweller and, my favourite, @play column over at gamesetwatch? ASCii dreams' importance due to the annual poll? Chronicles of Doryen due to libtcod? Etc etc. you surely know more websites than i do, you get the picture.

    Just a suggestion. I guess it will be awkward, sometimes you might fear it'll sound like a shameless self-plug, other times it'll mean promoting a "competitor".

    Maybe keep it for episode 100. Just make sure you post links to all of these ;-)

  13. I heard someone mention you use Skype. Have you tried Mumble? It has great latency and it performs audio compression (the original meaning in audio) so everyone's voice is roughly the same loudness.

    1. We've tried Mumble (some eps are recorded with it) and had serious connection dropping problems using it. Which is a shame, because it does have various nice features. But overall Skype gets the job done, and is more convenient when we have guests on.

  14. By the way, I can't find no donation button on the RLR blog page. Shouldn't you guys at least open for the possibility to receive some appreciative donations? You guys spend a lot of time on this, and with equipment you've payed for yourselves, while we're all sitting here and enjoy every episode of it. Also it's a bit ironic that you keep mentioning on the podcast how roguelike developers should give their community some way of donating to show their appreciation of the game... :)

    1. Uh, and what would we do with donations? There's no fair way to split it.

    2. Well, could at least buy decent mics for all the usual contributors, but whatever you wanted to. I just want to throw money after you :P

    3. Heh... Well, I think many of the contributors have donation buttons on their personal web-sites. Just don't forget Ryan and his hard work on producing!

  15. The way to do Nethack would be to feature on parts of it: "Items in Nethack" "Interactions in Nethack" etc.

    I disagree with Ido that spending a couple episodes on a game, even when you haven't played it, is a bad thing. The idea that you have to listen to every episode seems to be the problem there and people should feel free to skips, especially with such a genre that deserves in depth discussions. I agree that the ADOM episodes weren't interesting to me, but they weren't bad episodes. More is better!

    Future episodes I'd like to hear:
    Rogue Survivor (Zombie, but more about action and arcade-like survival (can you last longer this time) than world building Cataclysm

    Storytelling through Roguelikes

    When to updrade to a new version, or when not to (For instance, I am probably going to keep playing DCSS .8 or .9 than continue)

    Console roguelikes

    Sil (Angband varian)

    1. Storytelling in roguelikes is something I'd find very appealing too. Emergent stories, procedural story branching and different techniques used to portray a story in roguelikes.

  16. I'd be interested in more "cultural/general" episodes - like the ones on winning and elitism. I'm not a developer, so these things about the community of roguelike players intrigue me the most. Some ideas: The demographics/identity of roguelike players? (I'm sure Rax, the runner of, would have a lot to say about gender in roguelikes, for instance, and I'd love to talk to them - and you - about that as well, perhaps. Perhaps one of the Dungeons of Dredmor devs responsible for adding a female avatar in that game could also chime in?) Playing telnet/SSH/webtiles on servers and shared leaderboards - perhaps with the runners of,,, etc? How people tell stories with their roguelike play - YAVP/YASD/etc type forum posts, let's plays of all flavors, and the like? (This is another I'd personally love to discuss, as someone intrigued by video Let's Plays of roguelikes after being a huge fan of the Minecraft video LP community, though TheUberHunter on Youtube is probably a more knowledgeable authority.)

    Whatever you cover and whatever you do, keep up the great work and all the best for the next 50 episodes!

  17. Congratulations on the 50th episode!

    My favourite episodes are the ones in which roguelikes interfaces are mentioned, because it's a theme I'm particularly interested in (as, it seems, some of you guys are). From the top of my head, interface is spoken about in Ido's interview, the Gaslamp games interview, and also the recent one, designing for the visually impaired.

    If I may join the crew suggesting topics to discuss in future episodes - please allow me to suggest two:

    1. Roguelikes & portable devices - I'm especially interested in the interface problems related with touchscreens. I wouldn't mind hearing a discussion about it.

    2. I'd like you to get a bit more technical from time to time. At times, it seems as if you were "restraining yourselves" and specifically avoiding "talking about programming too much". Well, I happen to like hearing about programming stuff. I'd like to hear a bit about the data structures people are using in their games. Or the libraries they use, those kinds of things. You said at the begining of this episode that your audience is mostly programmers. Throw us a bone from time to time. :)

    Also, kudos to the editors for the huge amount of work, which often goes unnoticed. The audio quality has clearly improved through time. (I would still increase the average volume of the podcasts abount 20%, but I'm not complaining).

    I raise my cup to you guys:


    1. I'm definitely agreeing to the number 2 request here!

  18. Echoing the congrats on the 50th episode. I've really enjoyed the entire run thus far. I haven't always agreed, but I've always been entertained.

    Some topic ideas:
    - bots in roguelikes (there are the obvious complete bots, but there have also been recent bot assisted wins in DCSS, and the seems to be ongoing)
    - high level play; some people are simply better at roguelikes. I'd really like to hear an interview with one of them. In particular I'm thinking of DCSS players, because I'm aware of them, but I'm sure there are others. Guys like elliptic, or stabwound, or N7891 (or whatever it is) who are able to win with a pretty extreme level of consistency. They seem to be playing a different game than the rest of us, and that would be interesting to explore.
    - online play; nethack and DCSS, the Brogue weekly challenge thing. I can really only speak to DCSS, but playing online is a very different experience from playing offline - especially with the continued improvements to Tiles mode for DCSS
    - the emergence of non-permadeath roguelikes and the possible impact on the genre. Not to rehash the what is a roguelike question, but Dungeons of Dredmore was played in non-permadeath mode by a heck of a lot of people. How important is permadeath - is it important at all? Is Ironman the same as permadeath, how is it different, etc.

    I really enjoy the shows that hit the broader topics, obviously.