Saturday, April 30, 2016

Episode 121: Simulation

This is episode 121 of Roguelike Radio, where Mark Johnson, Darren Grey, Tarn Adams and Sami Maaranen discuss Simulation in Roguelikes.

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

Topics Discussed:

  • Simulation goals for Dwarf Fortress, UnReal World, and Ultima Ratio Regum and for smaller games
  • Reasons to make simulation-heavy games including their benefits for motivation
  • Inspirations for Dwarf Fortress, UnReal World, and Ultima Ratio Regum
  • Release deadlines, missing them, and the effect on bugs
  • Reasons people enjoy simulation-heavy games
  • Planning and developing a simulation-heavy game
  • Balancing complexity in large simulations
  • Cultural limits for simulations (cinematic movement---Dogme 95)
  • Other ways to simulate combat
  • Realistic grind vs. player fun
  • Debugging large simulations
  • Check out Tarn's recent GDC talk with Tanya Short on Practices in Procedural Generation!
  • Also, UnReal World is now on Steam!

Join us next time for an interview with the Nethack Tool-Assisted Speedrun Team!


  1. Fantastic setup! And you seem, as so often, to telepathically pick a theme I'm going around pondering myself, as I've been thinking about adding food, drink and/or sleep to Land of Strangers. Not to mention chopping down trees and all that. For what it's worth, the current testing version does include outhouses, which may make it into the upcoming release. You can't currently "do" anything on the loo, but they affect shooting by providing some kind of cover (a single hex surrounded by walls), whilst also granting a temporary intrinsic, "on the shitter", which reduces your evasion skill. Oh, and Darren, you prude, I could think of numerous literary examples of feces as one of the most primordial, pervasive, perpetually present motifs in the cultural history of humanity ;)

    Regarding Dogme '95, which was all about seeing how much you could strip away of what a movie "needed" in order to be a movie (their ideal, I think, was to make away with the script, actors, camera and director), I've long thought it could be amusing with something like a 7drl DogmeRL which would disallow all the classic tropes (random maps, turnbased play, ASCII display …), whilst still trying to be a RL. For instance, could the lack of typical PCG be countered by other kinds of gameplay emergence to achieve that good ole RL feel? It may just be an already outdated commentary to the onslaught of Rogue-lites and such, and certainly unrelated to the topic of this episode, but anyway …

    As always,

  2. These three men in a forum together is amazing to hear. They are the true artists of game development.

    1. I was likewise VERY excited to hear about the lineup on this particular podcast!

  3. I love this discussion. It reminds me of my observations with playing Sid Meiers games, throughout the years. He has a tendency to create games that have running simulations underneath a user-friendly game on top of them. For instance, how the game Pirates! Has the player doing pirate stuff, trying to make money, prestige, and gain a better retirement while trying to grow their fleet and keep their pirates happy. And yet, underneath the covers, a full trade and economic simulation is running. Players could ignore it as much as they want, but one could also be aware of the simulation and use it to their advantage and have better results.

    One thing I felt proud to discover is how I discovered how I (the player) was situated as the biggest potential stone to create cascading ripples in the economic simulation engine depending on my actions. How I could simply actually decide to perform an embargo on an island, by sinking any and all ships importing or exporting supplies. If successful and I avoid reactionary pirate hunters, the island progressively goes towards economic ruin. Their military loses many due to lack of funding, and people start to blame the strife on the running government. At least in the idea of the simulation. So I could avoid a potential strong direct conflict to take the island by draining it this way. The reason? Winning the island has a higher degree of chance that people will have had it with the current government and I could personally appoint another governor. This is a way the player could even change the country of ownership and thus the economic simulation adjusts to deal with that. The player feels that there is the bigger thing which they could affect one thing in hopes to manipulate a much bigger picture due to how interconnected things are.

  4. Are you guys ever going to do an episode about your favorite 7drls of 2016. Those 7drl episodes were my favorite!

  5. Was the cinematic movement mumblecore?

  6. I loved this one. I was wondering if you might try you hands at a discussion on realtime roguelikes.