Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The rise of roguelikes

Roguelike is a game genre featuring semi random procedural level generation, permanent death, events, often turn based gameplay, and sometimes progression between each session. They have become substantially popular in the past few years.

Some of my favorites include these:

Faster Than Light

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Dungelot 2

Don't Starve

Cardinal Quest 2

Play sessions for these tend to average about an hour. There is a strong incentive to return and play again, since doing well in a session can lead to bonuses and permanently unlocked features.

I have really gravitated towards games like these. The incredible balance of the difficulty curves, the randomness, the thrill of progress.

Come to think about it, this style of game has been around for a while, perhaps just labeled as action or adventure rather than something more specific. For example, my first exposure to roguelikes was this classic gem for Sega Genesis called ToeJam & Earl:

ToeJam & Earl (image from vg247.com)

Albeit, features lives instead of strict permanent death.

My attempts to pursue this kind of direction as a designer have only moderately succeeded at best. For example, Demons Down Under was intended to be a challenging and unforgiving roguelike; eventually it was reduced to a more casual design to conserve time and widen the appeal to the larger casual gaming crowd on the web. It was still successful, just not what I had in mind. I notice my current zombie defense project following a similar direction towards casual design.

It can be easy to neglect some aspect of game development in promotion of another. Design, tech, art. I recall a decade ago, only stressing tech and programming. My games were more tech demos than anything. Afterwards came traditional and digital art, which led me to Flash game development. Now I want to stress design later this year, prioritizing it before the other two. I picked up this book by Jesse Schell on the Art of Game Design which covers a lot of excellent material. I call it the bible of game design.


I'm going to heavily stress usage of the book for the upcoming Ludum Dare game jam in April.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello!
I'm french, and I am a great fan of your games. I loved play to zombie tactics, last town, zombie situation or defend your nuts 2.
I think you make your games alone, so I cheer you. Continue to make games, they are good!

(and it's funny like you recycle your characters ^^)

Elliot Pace said...

Thanks! Yes, I do reuse some art, and music. I'd like to move away from that in the future.

TomW said...

I've been playing Alien Menance(IOS) and Halfway(PC/Steam). I like the pacing of Turn based games and in my opinion iOS needs more!

Elliot Pace said...

Halfway looks incredible!