Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Episode 79 - Mobile Roguelikes

This is episode 79 of Roguelike Radio, where we talk about Mobile Roguelikes. Talking this episode are Darren GreyEben Howard and Tom Ford. Note that this is predominantly design-focused, and based mostly on experiences with Android roguelikes. 

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

Show schedule:
 - 2 years now since RLR started, woohoo!
 - How the mobile roguelike landscape has changed over the last year
 - Why mobile roguelikes are important
 - On-screen keyboard vs direct touching, and other control issues
 - Darren <3 Ending,
Eben <3 Hoplite
 - 4-way vs 8-way on a touchscreen and fat fingers (and hex!)
Length of gameplay, small levels and dense experience
 - Changes in style of gameplay with mobiles while keeping to the general roguelike formula
 - Novel sources of inspiration like side-scrolling beat-em-ups
 - Size of grid squares (5mm x 5mm)
 - Size of map and visibility requirements, exploration, running away, short goals (short play time per level)
 - Auto-save on exit, including jumping out to the home screen (very important)
 - Information on restore is vital
 - Starting options (classes / race) and replayability
 - Difficulty in mobile roguelikes

 - Tom's mobile development experience
 - How to look good on a small screen, and the traditional problem of bad sprites in roguelikes

 - Some games mentioned: Dungeon Ascendance (Tom's Game), Powder on GB, Shiren on DS, Crawl on Android, Ending, TraqHack, Brogue X on Android, Hoplite, WazHack, Dungeon Ho!, Rogue Miner, Dweller, Dungelot, Cardinal Quest, Pitman, Elder Signs Omens, Pixel Dungeon, Lost Labyrinth, Tower of The Sorcerer, Desktop Dungeons, Kairosoft, Martin's Descent 
 - Platforms talked about: Unity, libGDX, Monodevelop, CocosX, LIBTCOD, Rot.js, SquidLib

Join us next time on Roguelike Radio for an in-depth look at Unreal World, the Iron Age Finland survival roguelike.


  1. @Tom: You forgot to mention Adobe AIR and Haxe. Both cross compile to native apps on Android, iOS etc

    Also, Unity recently announced better 2D support (http://blogs.unity3d.com/2013/08/28/unity-native-2d-tools/)

  2. haven't heard the episode yet, but I'm sooo +1 for the hoplite. it's a PERFECT game to play on mobile.

  3. Just to note, several of the dwarves DO die at the end of The Hobbit :)

  4. regarding libraries I think also data-driven library/framework ORX runs on both ios and android, but I dont think I've seen any roguelike using it (well it's probably more suited for real-time games), although it would be quite interesting seeing rogulike written in it.

  5. I appreciate this episode as I've never given much credit to the idea of a mobile roguelike (that and I hate mobile devices). So, thanks for this one.

    Outside of announcing my appreciation for the episode, any chance you'll be doing a Stealth episode sometime? I know you've joked about rogues in roguelikes a bit, but I thought it'd be nice if you talked a little about games that might have done stealth well or other rogue class concepts.

    Part of the stealth thought (for anyone who might answer), are there any roguelikes that do directional fov well? I'd think that would aid stealth mechanics tremendously if not for encouraging looking 360 degrees before taking a step.

    An innovation focused show might also be nice where you cover some of the more innovative mechanics across all roguelikes.

    Thanks again for the show and please keep 'em coming! :)

  6. I just want to say that this has become one of my favourite episodes so far. I appreciated that you finally delved into the intricacies of interface design for mobile devices.

    I must point out that most of the advices you gave for mobile roguelikes also apply to mobile videogames in general (which is good). I also like that you took some time to talk about dev tools, which I never get tired of.

    I appreciate that you took the time to write the list of game names at the end, it was difficult for me to get the them from the audio (Hoplight? Hopelite? :) ). I have discovered a couple new games.

    Great episode, thanks!

  7. I remember playing a roguelike in the old, pre-smartphone days that was actually pretty good. It was called Mobile RogueLike EX. It was made for Japanese cell phones and a refinement of another game called just Mobile RogueLike, with better artwork, an improved interface, and more enemies and items.

    It's Rogue with Shiren the Wanderer-inspired graphics, enemies, and items. But what was really nice was the interface. You moved with the number pad, and used 5 with a direction to fire whatever arrows you had equipped. The screen showed an area about the size of a medium-large room in Rogue, with a transparent map in the corner that gave you your bearings in the level. If you wanted to look with more detail, you just pressed the * key.

    It was blasted hard, though. I don't think I ever got further than level 8 or so, and I think there might be more than 100 levels!

    But I think that Rogue, with 4-directional "swish" movement, a little map in the corner, and maybe a few buttons along the bottom, could work very well. Or any other roguelike with similarly simple gameplay.

  8. Happy second year guys - your episodes are always a highlight of my week.

    Interesting in the context of your discussion to note that 868-Hack, the mobile version of Michael Brough's 7DRL from this years challenge, has just hit the app-store; following in the footsteps of Zaga-33 last year.

    It looks to be very much the same (brilliant) game, just with an easier to remember name for those of us that have trouble with prime numbers ;-) It's certainly in the puzzle-rogue type category you talked about in the episode, and seems almost ideally suited with its short play sessions and far from 'easy' difficulty (though I'm sure Darren's beaten it with some ridiculous score).

    P.S. can't wait for the UnrealWorld episode - one of my all time favourite roguelikes!

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