Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Episode 67: 7DRLs 2013 Overview

This is episode 67 of Roguelike Radio, where we discuss many of the top games from the 2013 7DRL Challenge. Talking this episode are Darren Grey, Eben Howard, Thomas Birkel (aka GameHunter/UberHunter) and Jo Bradshaw. This is the second episode in this year's 7DRL coverage, following on from our last episode interviewing several successful participants.

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:
 - Discussion of GameHunter's 7DRL Let's Play videos and how useful this is as feedback to developers
 - Particular highlight games for the panellists
 - How some of the "not really a roguelike" games can still be interesting
 - Jo Bradshaw's mini-reviews of 150 7DRLs
 - Gimmicky 7DRLs, and how a game can be centred well on a single mechanic or cool idea
 - Exploring mechanics when focusing on a single theme
 - The need for content alongside the gimmick or theme to properly explore the mechanics
 - The difficulty of getting the balance right in a 7DRL
 - Some discussion about long dungeons and no-brainer exploration and combat wasting a lot of time in many roguelikes
 - Huge wealth of themes explored this year, and a big departure from the usual dungeon crawler theme
 - The failure of Unity, with many developers showing promising looking screenshots during the week but no games or incomplete games at the end
 - rot.js as the big successful technology used this year, with some GameMaker successes too
 - Roguelikes by people who don't know about roguelikes or are relatively new to the genre

There were many many many games discussed, including (in order of discussion):
 - Mosaic - tile-laying game with procedural music by Darren Grey
 - A False Saint, an Honest Rogue - versus nature game with interesting changing viewpoint by Jere
 - 86856527 - hacker-themed resource and progression game by Michael Brough
 - Attack the Geth - Mass Effect themed game by Eben Howard
 - Borstal - story-based game about a juvenile prison by @thotep & @regisekpl
 - Rodney - high scope dungeon crawler with many interesting special moves by Slash
 - Tower of Despair - roguelike where facing matters and with customisable text files by Team Kalamakkara
 - Farm RL - crazy procedural farming sim by Hi
 - KlingonRL - resource-based space game with a cloaking Bird of Prey, by Jo Bradshaw
 - Bump! - turn-based platformer with terrain destruction by Aaron Steed
 - Gelatinous - play a slimy Gelatinous Cube eating adventurers, by Jason Pickering
 - Nya Quest - cat vs many mice where careful facing and moves matter, by Geminosity
 - Pugnacious Wizards - very deep spellcaster game with cool spell effects, by Trystan
 - Delusions of Grandeur - illusionist roguelike where you have to trick the enemy by Derrick Creamer
 - The Reset Button - time travel roguelike, though a bit incomplete, by eliotn
 - Chicken and Thyme - another time travel game with a very individual theme
 - Tetrogue - Tetris-themed roguelike where you build things with tetrominos, by Konstantin Stupnik
 - The Aurora Wager - hot air balloon game, but sadly lacking in roguelikery, by Team Grenoble
 - Cosplay Mystery Dungeon - cosplay-themed roguelike by AJ and Switchbreak
 - Live As Long As Possible - roguelike where time only progresses when you're acting, by Edwin DeNicholas
 - Disc RL - Tron-themed roguelike without light-bikes by skeeto
 - Fisticuffmanship - positioning-based melee roguelike by Ido Yehieli
 - Quadropus Rampage - action RPG with professional quality graphics by Butterscotch Shenanigans
 - Possession - play a ghost possessing different monsters and getting their abilities, by Taylor Vaughan
 - Hoplite - Greek-themed melee roguelike by Magma Fortress
 - Double Rogue - roguelike on a 3D surface where you switch classes each move, by ratking
 - Weeping Angels - based on a Dr Who episode, by Jeffrey Lund
 - Liberation of Yarna - city revolution simulator by Kipar
 - Malachite Dreams - Ultiamte V style exploration and puzzle game by Jeff Lait
 - EXCELent Rogue - roguelike *in* Excel, by Erch and Gurg
 - The Conception - play as a sperm seeking to reach the Egg, by Ondras
 - So Many Jagged Shards - visually impressive game with destructible glass shard walls, by Niall Moody

Join us next time for a discussion of failure, and a look at some 7DRL failures that looked pretty cool.


  1. Ha! No episode is complete without a 'what is a roguelike' discussion, good to see we slipped it in right at the end. :-)

    1. The tagline of this site should definitely be "...But is it a roguelike?"

    2. Roguelike = A game that draws emergence and replayability from procedural generation.

      Generally permadeath, consumable resources and turn based style of play is used, but not required.

      So I'm pretty sure I just settled the debate right there. :-)

  2. Waii! Nya Quest got mentioned. I'm still surprised at the kind words it's recieved and I got a silly grin from listening to you talk about it. Thanks guys! :3

    Playable Mice huh... I might have to try that >:) (though probably not in the first iteration of Nya's Yarn. Maybe after that :P)

    Anyhoo, great episode and lots of interesting stuff mentioned. A few more roguelikes beyond the ones I've tried to check out too by the sounds of things :D I'm really impressed how many games you managed to cover in the time and still get a few extra topics discussed on top of that. Nice work!

    1. If my gosh dang hounds hadn't started bawling at some stranger forcing me to go I had 12 more I was going to give a rapid fire 30 second shout out too...we hit most of them anyway.

    2. Well shit I might as well just list them here...

      Not enough attention has been given to Appeasing the Gods, Corremn's Fountain game and Swift Swurd...they are all classic style games but with a little something extra. Check 'em out! And tell the authors you did!

      The rest we talked about in the show.

  3. This year's 7drl was insane! Not only so many participants but also so many creative takes on the genre. I had a lot of fun refreshing twitter to see people's updates throughout the week. You guys did a great job in this episode discussing a fraction of the games, and looking forward to seeing more of Gamehunter's LPs.

    Just a quick correction I know of at least 2 successes made in Unity: I made "Live as Long as Possible" in Unity 4, and I noticed that ratking's "Double Rogue" is running in the Unity web player. :P

    1. Yeah, I think when they work no one seems to notice what the development platform is, when they don't...well that sort of sticks with you.

    2. Ah, interesting! I should have realised Double Rogue used Unity, as they used it for Pitmann Krumb a few years back - possibly the first Unity 7DRL ever made. It just goes to show how being experienced with a platform makes a big difference.

    3. Thanks for mentioning Han Yolo there towards the end. Though I'm quite experienced with Unity prototyping, I landed on quite a few gotcha's when using it in practice.

      My first mistake was to expose too many variables in the Unity Editor Inspector. This became a real mess when Prefab'ing certain objects for reuse in other scenes, only to have to drag all the dependencies over again. This is fine for small prototyping, but for a game you really need to automate as much as possible, using Tags and whatnot.

      I also found a problem with Unity, which is how readily available third-party solutions are, and how hard it can be to make them work for your requirements. So this is where I went wrong when doing pathfinding. Had I rolled my own solution, I'd probably just spend a day on getting it to work, rather than spending two days on something that almost worked!

      A third thing was orientation of walls, and a plethora of corner-cases that emerged due to the 3D nature of the walls. I spent two days simply on pattern recognition for placing wall pieces correctly...

      Third, I had never written an ability system before, and over-architected it in Unity... so though we had planned for more abilities, we never found the time to implement them.

      I feel quite bad about the week, because Bill and Petur, who did the art, was really racing along, creating some amazing looking visuals and effects, but without any real gameplay to support it, the project fell short and isn't interesting beyond it's looks...

      We are working on a new version of the codebase now though, so with more time, we'll make it into a proper roguelike. Bill and Petur definitely succeeded in the challenge, while I failed.

      Once my utility library gets a bit meatier, I'll start releasing some of my codebase for roguelike development in Unity. As it stands, it's a lot of work just to get these basic systems up, and as I experienced in this year's 7DRL, it's hard to make a game when you're battling with the core utility code!

      Did Ratking ever release any of his utility code from Unity? Or are there anyone else who would be willing to share?

      There's a complete lack of grid-based FOV algorithms, roguelike-style pathfinding, decent grid-based procedural dungeon generation (there are some place pieces procedurally, but I don't consider that "as roguelike")...

      It would be really great if those of us using Unity3D for roguelikes could share openly some of these resources to help the community around the engine grow...

      It's an excellent engine, very easy to use, but it lacks proper roguelike utility code to speed the process for roguelike development.

    4. You shouldn't be so down on yourself - clearly you didn't have the right tools for the job here. Prototyping stuff just isn't the same as making a full and complete game. But this is what the 7DRL process is all about - teaching people about the rigours necessary to get everything together. Hopefully you'll have more success next year!

      In general when starting from scratch you should get everything working on a static map before branching out to procedural maps. Only when you have the correct interactions working properly can you get them working well in a more random environment. Also emphasise getting the gameplay over getting the aesthetics right. Fixing corner graphics is a waste of time if you don't have the gameplay together. Some rough edges on the visuals is something roguelikers will happily put up with.

    5. Yeah, it was a humbling experience :-) After having run through it myself now, I must say that some of these 7DRLs, and the amount of gameplay some of you manage to squeeze in is nothing short of amazing!

      Looking back at the week, I spent 2 days on corner graphics, 2 days on pathfinding, then the rest of the days battling a badly written pathfinding hack, a turn-based system that didn't work and an over-complicated ability system :-D

      I'll definitely be more prepared next year, but will continue work on Han Yolo, and hopefully have a more fleshed out version ready by ARRP.

      It's actually just about a year since Roguelike Radio first introduced me to this amazing world of roguelikes, and only now that I made my first serious attempt at one during the 7DRL challenge...

      I just spoke with Ratking over at #RGRD, and I'm starting to realize that I'm probably over-designing and complicating my code more than I need to. He was very helpful in explaining how he did some aspects in Double Rogue and Pitman. Often the simplest solutions are the best!

    6. I spent an entire day on pathfinding. In 2D. In Gamemaker. With NO CORNERS!!!!

      If you had fun that's what's important. This is one of the few genres of games where some of the major releases count as hobby projects.

      Meaning fun for the builders is paramount.

    7. Haha, yeah those corners were a real killer :-P I had a ton of fun, and was hyped through the roof for this thing for a long time prior to the start of the challenge!

      The last day was frustrating, trying to get "something" playable out there, and Bill worked really really hard on adding a small touch of polish there right at the finish line! All the other days were pure fun though :-)

      And yeah, I think the fundamental idea behind roguelikes, and what I've heard from Rogue's developers, is that the game should be fun and interesting to play, even for the developer... Hopefully Han Yolo will get there one day ;-)

  4. Hey dudes, first time listener since we completed our 7drl. Thanks for giving Quadropus a little love. We watched UberHunter play through it (youtube) and it was mighty hilarious.

    We've actually decided to take the thing to the limit and will be releasing it for iOS and Android after it incubates some more. And we'll be participating in every 7drl from here on out!

    We're running our 2nd alpha this weekend if any of you lovelies have an android device and would like to take it for a spin.

    Thanks again for the inspiration and the LOVE.


    1. Love? Didn't you catch the whole, "It's not fair you pros don't belong here" vibe? :-)

      PLEASE continue your development and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a week next March and wow us again.

  5. Good job on bringing up A False Saint, an Honest Rogue. It's really bloody good - quite surprised at how fun just trying to stay alive is.

  6. Hey GameHunter, wanted to echo comments praising your work. Last year I wrote a 7drl, and then there was just no reaction to it until I saw your video review, which was hilarious. So the video reviews made my work feel appreciated. Also, for reference purposes. Sometimes roguelike radio or the forums describe a dynamics from a particularly game. But I don't want to install a JVM or are running the wrong platform or am just lazy. But I know I can find your reference video on youtube.

    1. It's great to know that people enjoy my blind fumbling through their games! I try to be entertaining and educational at once, especially when it comes to the 7DRL, because I'm aware that the developers themselves may well be watching. Thanks a bunch!

  7. I don't think Unity was to blame for the Unity failures. I do agree that probably a lot of people tried to learn Unity and do a 7drl at the same time, which was a mistake.

    Unity's also perfectly good at 2d with the addition of the 2d toolkit plugin or similar. Yes, it costs money, but it's very very worth it if you intend to do 2d work. Once you've got that, there's really no reason I can think of that unity should provide any barrier to success.

  8. Whether you succeeded or failed; if you've written a blog post about what you learned from your roguelike attempt, then don't forget to update the Retrospectives page at http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopment.org/index.php?title=Retrospectives. No matter what you learned from your attempt, please share them with the developer community!

  9. As a relative newcomer to roguelikes I'm enjoying this. It's becoming clear that there's a lot of potential for exciting innovation and experimentation in the roguelike form. Good times. There are at least ten here that I want to check out, if not more.