Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Assuming you count 7DRLs as roguelikes, I've just beaten my second roguelike ever: Michael Brough's 86856527. I suspect this is the game that Keith Burgun is trying to make with Auro - you should go play it (and ideally beat it) before reading any further as what I'm about to say involves spoilers. For the record, I got 21 points, using three programs.

I'm going to commit the cardinal sin of back seat redesigning a 7DRL - or at least part of it. The programs in the game are generally 'top tier' in the sense they are equally useful for their cost, although there are some programs which are clearly great in combination. I'm going to focus on the few programs which are 'second tier' in the sense they are missing one of either overall utility or interesting synergy: the four I feel fall into this category are ANTI_V, KILL_D, DCRPT and to a lesser extent BOMB - I'm still undecided about POLY although the suggestions below indirectly buff it.

The first three second tier abilities are all enemy specific, and are still useful in the sense that every enemy is a distinct challenge, but they don't have much synergy with anything else, and are still not powerful enough to be necessarily a win-button against their specific nemesis. The challenge of course is figuring out how to improve them while keeping close to the terse descriptions in the current game. My suggestions are ANTI_V should change to 'Damage all virus for $', KILL_D should change to 'Destroy nearest Daemon[s] for [two energy symbol squiggles]' and DCRPT should remain unchanged but end up with a buffed implementation.

Rather that using ANTI_V and KILL_D to directly credit the player, the floor grid under these affected enemies should get an additional credit or energy when the ability is used provided it hasn't already been siphoned. This allows the player to take advantage of the level entry spawns to increase the overall floor grid values, and gives POLY a purpose beyond helping destroy enemies.

DCRPT should be buffed so that while you have it active, you are given additional information about the play area. My initial thoughts were along the lines of having one block with ???? for the program/score and ? for the alert level on each level which DCRPT would reveal, until I realised that there is one other fact which is hidden which would be useful to know: the identify of spawning enemies. DCRPT should reveal what each enemy spawning is instead of the Transmission icon, giving you an extra turn to plan how to handle incoming enemy(s).

BOMB is incredibly useful given that it doesn't take time to use: but it has the downside of destroying adjacent walls which would otherwise channel enemies towards you. I'd like to see the floor exposed by bombing walls to get either energy or credits like other floor sections, to compensate for this and add a further level of strategy to bombs.

As for further program ideas - I'm sure there are plenty, but I like the sparsity of the current design. I am going to suggest one, borrowing an ability in Auro, because it seems to me that the movement abilities .WARP and .PUSH are the most useful and interesting part of the game, and to those, I'd like to add .FORK.

.FORK costs two (or three?) credits, and allows you to 'Make one move freely'. Since using a program takes no time, .FORK allows you to move without your enemies responding - but also make illegal moves such as moving towards an enemy (when you'd normally attack), move onto an enemy or wall, and move off the edge of the play area, warping from north to south or east to west edge or vice versa. Fork allows you to .DEBUG suicide in the finest Nethack tradition and it costs credits to fulfil the old adage that time is money and to try to prevent .EXCH/.SIPH+ abuse.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

John R

As the author of a widely lauded alternate history short story featuring John Riccitiello as the protagonist, I feel like I should comment on recent events. But it turns out Stephen Totilo has done the hard work for me, writing a thoughtful piece about the man, if not the company he lead.

John to me sounds like several company owners I have had the pleasure of working with - people with integrity, but also intelligence who have inspired those around them. A CEO is responsible for two things: communicating the vision of the company, and holding ultimate responsibility for its execution. You may criticise the decisions he has made, but it sounds like he has made those decisions with consistency and in view of the long term plan for EA.

It is often the case that people forget it is what someone hasn't done which is just as important as what they have done. EA has not gone bankrupt, or become worthless, the CEO has not left under a cloud or in ambiguous circumstances, the company has not become completely risk averse. People may hate EA, and by extension its CEO, because of the SimCity launch fiasco, but it is exciting to see so many people care about a game in the obscure city builder genre, as opposed to just another FPS.

For the record, I completely disagree with always on DRM and to a large extent with the software as a service model (Fuck you Google), but I can see why EA has made those choices - if not why they have failed to communicate them clearly.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Early coverage

86856527, Bump (Free Indie Gam.es, Metafilter), Sunk Coast, 24 Killers

More to come. And feel free to follow the results at 7drl.org and hit up Adam Smith on twitter if you want RPS to check out your 7DRL contribution.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

UnBrogue 1.1.3 released

This version is intended to primarily be a bug fix release. I'm distributing through Dropbox as the Berlios backend required to upload releases is down at the moment - Windows, OS/X.

Known issues
- Monsters will not flee through water.

Changes for 1.1.3
- Rename 'stagger' to 'hit' in bolt damage description text (Requested by tinyrodent).
- Add combat message when a fire bolt is blocked by a shield.
- Armor of burden increases armor class by one for every two strength requirement increased.
- Armor of immolation increases immolation chance at +2 or higher enchantment.
- Add more toads to wand/staff of Toads.
- Added wands/staffs of Detonation.
- Adjust power curve of spiders created by Talisman of Spiders (Requested by ggoDeye).
- Add brief note about noise level of armor in description (Suggested by Creaphis).
- Allow charms to start with up to +3 enchantment.
- Cursed weapons, armor, shields, rings no longer generated in reward rooms (From 1.7.2).
- Staffs, rings, wands identified when you enter a reward room rather than when you pick the item up (From 1.7.2).
- Ensure bolts of slowing last at least two turns (so that the status effect applies and is visible for at least a turn).
- Add missing charm descriptions.
- Items affected by a talisman of rune mastery now display their full effects.
- Your allies cannot learn healing from Dar Priestesses.
- Fix to prevent fire bolts double hitting the last target they penetrate to (Reported by tinyrodent). 
- Fix crash when impaling a blinking monster (Reported by tinyrodent).
- Fix non-runic items appearing in runic reward rooms (Reported by tinyrodent).
- Fix force, cursed weapon descriptions.
- Fix cursed armor names.
- Fix bug where stolen items altar would detect everything on level (Reported by thaumato).
- Fix bug where shattering would always shatter reflective monsters.
- Fix bug where canceling using a staff when it had no charges would destroy it.
- Fix bug where canceling using a staff would use a charge and a turn.
- Fix bug where wearing another talisman when you couldn't remove a talisman due to your inventory load out would delete it.
- Fix bug where you could equip a talisman of [spoiler] while you are wearing cursed armor.
- Fix bug where multi-bolt items would use additional turns.
- Fix a variety of typos (reported by tinyrodent).
- Fix some rune descriptions (reported by tinyrodent).
- Fix negation not negating shields (reported by ggoDeye).
- Fix bug preventing obstruction being removed by tunneling.
- Fix staffs of tunneling not tunneling the correct number of grids.
- Fix scrolls of identifying not identifying all wands and staffs.
- Fix length of displayed path when targeting range limited wands.
- Fix elixir of light.

Thursday, 14 March 2013


For anyone trying to find the Three Moves Ahead episode featuring Vertex Dispenser it is episode 128, from about the 36 minute mark. (From this twitter query). Not mentioned in the show notes, so I'm mentioning it here in case anyone else is searching for this iota of information.

Also, fuck Google.

Monday, 11 March 2013


Num­ber of entries for 7DRLC 2012 (last year’s chal­lenge): 100.
Num­ber of entries for 7DRLC 2013 (this year’s chal­lenge): 253 (so far). [Edit for the history books: 357 entries, at least 139 successes].
I feel like I should be handing out polystyrene cups full of water and cheering people on.

Saturday, 9 March 2013


Indie Statik features a roguelike primer you could point your friends and family at to help understand the breadth of the genre. (Although by breadth, it seems to favour off-the-wall concept and tile sets).