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Just who is this game for?

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Just who is this game for?

Postby CommanderData » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:51 am

A little review left in iTunes by "UncleAlias" in Canada for Rogue Touch makes me stop to write this... He notes that there are many subtle and thoughtful improvements in Rogue Touch over the "free rogue" that gandreas put up in the store and abandoned immediately afterward. Thanks for seeing that! We'd had that level of polish in mind and already in production when gandreas released his weak version... almost causing me to give up. Why would anyone need another game of rogue? Especially if one of them was free? But I played the gandreas "free rogue" and found out what many of you already may know. It was a mess. Barely playable. Not really fun at all. Buggy. So I decided there was room for more than one roguelike in the store and plodded ahead.

Here we are at the start of 2010 and we have quite a few roguelikes now: Rogue Touch of course, the sloppy "free rogue", gandreas' equally painful NetHack, DirkZ's iNetHack (which I tossed a few bits and bobs into), Isle of 8-Bit Treasures, Cavern (and up and coming new roguelike by an RT fan), and Sword of Fargoal (remake of the 1983 Commodore game, Jeff and Paul are also RT fans!)... There are a few more coming... DirkZ has started on Slash'em, 100 Rogues has been in progress for over a year now (unfortunately it seems as though they still don't have things nailed down yet and the current beta rounds are pretty buggy).

And of course we have my game FF:SHM, which only people reading here are aware of right now (let's keep it that way until beta testing begins... I'm spread so thin now I doubt I'd be able to keep up with the info requests if this got out into the wild)!

This brings me back to "UncleAlias" who asked "Just who are you trying to make this game for?". A valid question. With Rogue Touch, my answer is simple- for myself and fans of the original game. People who played it in ASCII or graphically on the Atari ST back in the '80s. Of course, anyone could buy it, and many people who'd never heard of rogue did so. Some of them quickly found a new favorite game, and many others found a complex nightmare that they wanted to 1-star delete and move on from.

So perhaps my simple answer as to who the game is for is not so good. In this day and age, everyone expects tutorials in-game. The average age of iPod Touch users is not old enough to vote in the USA! They may really like Rogue Touch if given enough assistance and understanding in-game. Rogue Touch is a bit of a creaky platform since I was just learning the SDK at that time, I doubt I could go back in and a tutorial mode without breaking something else.

But here we are, with a brand new game on the horizon! The slate is clean. The graphics will be crisp, animated, and appealing. Many more people who've never heard of rogue may be tempted to purchase FF:SHM when it arrives this spring. Just who am I making *this* game for? :?:

The answer this time around is more complex. I am making a game that *I really want to play* first and foremost. I think anyone who's made it far enough to read this sentence definitely wants to play it too. But really, I want more people to enjoy it this time. I would like to see people who don't know or care what a roguelike is pick up this game and say "that's cool"! I'd like to get people interested in the story (I know, we're not supposed to have a storyline but there is one, and it'll be expanded upon with further games if this one can pay for itself at least :lol:)!

Other than tutorials (skippable of course) what else would make a roguelike game more understandable and less punishing to those new to the genre, while still being challenging to veteran dungeon crawlers?

Topics that I have seen come up before that people take issue with:

1) Permadeath
2) Food, or lack of it and Starvation
3) Traps
4) Secret Doors and Searching
5) Stat Draining - Strength and Armor (Think Aquators and Rattlesnakes- I know many of you *hate* them)
6) Lack of Stats / Info - People want more to manage, and hard numbers in-game when equipping items
7) Lack of Story
8) Lack of "Skills or Skill Trees"
9) Lack of Tutorials / Training Mission

Now I am not suggesting that any of these has to go, or be included. But I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about these topics. Please tell me what you like about roguelikes, and what you dislike... what can I do to make this new game have a broad appeal? This is your chance to help shape the game a bit, and maybe earn a position on the beta test group too ;)
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Re: Just who is this game for?

Postby Nighthawk » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:13 am

(Posting what I sent to CommanderData in a PM yesterday...)

I could do without #7 (story can just be the old "find X and bring it back" and that's fine) and #8.
For #6, I don't need stats in the UI, but having a hot-link to a page with the stats in-game (instead of here on the website) would be good.

Everything else should stay, but if the big concern is bringing in players new to the genre, then you're going to need difficulty levels. That might sound hard, but could use almost the same method as your "Secret Character" stuff from RT. Depending on just how much control you have over your game engine, implementation shouldn't be hard.

Easy:
*Remove #'s 2, 3, 4, and 5 completely, and #1 could be addressed in a user-friendly way such as resurrection on the current level / restore the game to when the player entered the current level.
*Provide weapons and armor with buffs from the outset (ie great starting gear but not specials, 'cause there still needs to be a reason to search for stuff!), or nerf the strength of the monsters. Some powerful monsters shouldn't even show up in the lower levels (Vampires, Dragons, etc.)
*Possibly a shorter dungeon (1/2? 2/3?). No mazes, and possibly a greater chance of finding treasure rooms.

Medium:
*Remove # 3, and modify # 5 so that only the low-end specials happen (Nymph, Leprechaun, Rattlesnake). Keep #'s 1, 2 (but make food more prevalent than the full game), and 4 (but make them slightly easier to find).
*Provide base gear plus one extra bauble (ring, wand, etc.) in starting pack.
*Full dungeon length and monsters, but do not ramp difficulty even higher during ascent as in RT. Still no mazes, but normal chance of treasure rooms.

Hard (Old-School?):
*Everything an old-school player would expect. In other words, the full game.
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Re: Just who is this game for?

Postby nghtstr » Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:45 pm

Hello, it has been a while since I have posted last, but this question brought me out of hiding, and back to you guys.

--- New FF:SHM ---

I think that for the next game, you should definitely have more of an ability to control how your stats are handled. It could still be done "automatically" done by classes of character, but that only becomes important is you start allowing for spells or abilities. Personally, I would love for a mix of old school Rouge/NetHack combined with an old school Final Fantasy (which the name of your game kinda implies). This could offer a lot of room for the growth of the game, and possibly future add-ons (if you so inclined).

If you do go with the above idea, you should make your initial party any way you want (i.e. 4 fighters; a fighter, a thief, a cleric, and a mage; etc. etc.) Again, the idea is an old school Final Fantasy plopped into the world of Rouge. I think that there would have to be some modifications added to the game (obviously 1 food ration isn't going to do it for 4 characters), but the modifications could be a real big asset to the game.

--- Rouge Touch ---

In all honesty, the only modification that could be made to RT is the ability to select what your character looks like, and that is it. RT was meant to be a Rouge implementation, and I think it hits the head of the nail very squarely. I don't think you should change anything with it.
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Re: Just who is this game for?

Postby johndramey » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:33 am

Hmm. Well I know I'm a new comer to the forum, and as such don't have a whole lot of credibility, but my 2 cents can't hurt. And as a guy who ran out to buy an iPod Touch because my buddy who has an iPhone told me that he bought some "Roguelike" for his phone and knew I was into the genre and would be interested I can at least comment.

If you want to make the game a little more accessible without totally ruining the spirit of a roguelike you could simply give the character a choice of difficulty. The difficulty levels could do something as complex as what Nighthawk said, or they could simply give the PC varying levels of starting equipment. Also, and I know this one is a little unpopular with the roguelike crowd, you'll want a storyline. Most roguelike hardcore players are all about there not being a storyline, but that is the one thing that the general audience can't grasp so well. Most casual roguelike players want some basic form of a story. Sure Rogue, Nethack, IVAN, and Dungeon Crawl all have a "story" so to speak, but they are very barebones. You wouldn't have to make a crazy in depth story with some love and deception in it, but maybe break up the game in to multiple smaller dungeons with some over arching goal. Sort of like how Isle Of 8-Bit Treasures allows you to select from a map of dungeons to go crawling in, but have some sort of goal for each dungeon.

The perk of allowing the player to select dungeons is you could start the player off with simpler dungeons that aren't too difficult and slowly (or not so slowly?) build the PC up to a full roguelike dungeon. This will largely mitigate the problems that people have with your #s 3,4, and 5 since you could just introduce those things in whenever you felt like. The problem with this approach is that you are really increasing your work load. Even if you were to not theme each dungeon separately you are going to need to work a lot harder than just having a randomly generated map (not that this is easy). You'll need to create some sort of hub (even if it's just a picture of a town with buttons to press to go to certain areas), have some sort of story line linking the dungeons, and balance everything out (which could be a huge headache).

To be honest I feel that #s 1,6, and 8 are pretty important to the roguelike genre. You could sidestep #1 by using some system ala Shinren the Wanderer where the PC had a common storage space that was static through all of his/her characters, but the individual characters should be expendable. Part of the fun of this genre, for me at least, is coming upon a corpse of one of my older characters. Removing permadeath from the game also takes away a little bit of that sense of tenseness that takes over those of us that can get down to the deeper levels of the dungeon.

I don't really know if this post will help you at all. I'm pretty sure that even if it's helpful in someway it's a little too late to do much of anything, but hey it can't hurt, right? I bought Rogue Touch a long, long time ago and I didn't think of looking for a Rogue Touch website till yesterday when I finally decided it was time to look up the equipment and see if I could get some tips for breaking through the lower levels.

With all that said, Rogue Touch is a perfect game. I love it more than anything, and it's had a spot on my trusty touch since I bought it. It's carried me through many a long day at work, long subway ride, or boring meeting. You're a god among men CommanderData.
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Re: Just who is this game for?

Postby CommanderData » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:59 am

Jonhdramey, thank you very much for the kind words! I have to take a conference call in a few minutes for the "day job", but I'll be back to review and comment on your post in-depth later. This thread and the other recent one on "fun" have a lot of great info in them that need further discussion :ugeek:
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Re: Just who is this game for?

Postby CommanderData » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:44 pm

johndramey wrote:Hmm. Well I know I'm a new comer to the forum, and as such don't have a whole lot of credibility, but my 2 cents can't hurt. And as a guy who ran out to buy an iPod Touch because my buddy who has an iPhone told me that he bought some "Roguelike" for his phone and knew I was into the genre and would be interested I can at least comment.


John, I'm back! You're new here, but I think your ideas are valid and very interesting. Also funny that you purchased an iPod Touch based on the availability of Roguelikes! Hopefully my next game will be interesting enough to bring even more people into the roguelike fold :mrgreen:


johndramey wrote:If you want to make the game a little more accessible without totally ruining the spirit of a roguelike you could simply give the character a choice of difficulty. The difficulty levels could do something as complex as what Nighthawk said, or they could simply give the PC varying levels of starting equipment.


I agree with everyone who says different difficulty levels could help (Nighthawk and JonathanCR discussed this further in the "fun" thread). In fact, I think a fine grain of difficulty control and make things REALLY interesting. Sort of like the setup that "Forgotten Realms: Dungeon Hack" has. It was discussed not too long ago in an @Play article here: http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2009/11/col ... dungeo.php (take a look at the "dungeon generation" section!)


johndramey wrote:Also, and I know this one is a little unpopular with the roguelike crowd, you'll want a storyline. Most roguelike hardcore players are all about there not being a storyline, but that is the one thing that the general audience can't grasp so well. Most casual roguelike players want some basic form of a story. Sure Rogue, Nethack, IVAN, and Dungeon Crawl all have a "story" so to speak, but they are very barebones. You wouldn't have to make a crazy in depth story with some love and deception in it, but maybe break up the game in to multiple smaller dungeons with some over arching goal. Sort of like how Isle Of 8-Bit Treasures allows you to select from a map of dungeons to go crawling in, but have some sort of goal for each dungeon.


Storylines can be used to attach yourself more to the protagonist, and further enhance the desire to complete the quest. The story cannot be very text heavy because it'd be very repetitive after each death and new attempt, even if it's "skippable". I'm thinking something along the lines of Shiren where there are pieces of story that can advance after each death. Since I'm planning a multi-game arc here, the storyline actually has some importance, and I hope it'll be well received.


johndramey wrote:The perk of allowing the player to select dungeons is you could start the player off with simpler dungeons that aren't too difficult and slowly (or not so slowly?) build the PC up to a full roguelike dungeon. This will largely mitigate the problems that people have with your #s 3,4, and 5 since you could just introduce those things in whenever you felt like. The problem with this approach is that you are really increasing your work load. Even if you were to not theme each dungeon separately you are going to need to work a lot harder than just having a randomly generated map (not that this is easy). You'll need to create some sort of hub (even if it's just a picture of a town with buttons to press to go to certain areas), have some sort of story line linking the dungeons, and balance everything out (which could be a huge headache).


The way this will likely play out: New players can play a "tutorial dungeon" complete with a teacher/guide that tells you how things work in the world. The main quest line will have four distinct areas with differing tilesets and themes. There will also be a post-game hardcore dungeon as well for those who simply can't get enough. Similarities to Shiren show through here too ;)

Make no mistake, this is all going to be PAINFUL to balance correctly since the monsters, magic, and world rules are all new and invented by me. We don't have the benefit of years of small refinements that many roguelikes have seen. From my background in the genre I have some confidence it will turn out great, and I am sure people here can help in the final phases of testing.


johndramey wrote:To be honest I feel that #s 1,6, and 8 are pretty important to the roguelike genre. You could sidestep #1 by using some system ala Shinren the Wanderer where the PC had a common storage space that was static through all of his/her characters, but the individual characters should be expendable. Part of the fun of this genre, for me at least, is coming upon a corpse of one of my older characters. Removing permadeath from the game also takes away a little bit of that sense of tenseness that takes over those of us that can get down to the deeper levels of the dungeon.


This is where we're headed. The individual "instance" of your character is expendable. I'm not in love with the "skill tree" concept because I'm afraid it makes you more emotionally invested in that "instance" rather than in the items you're carrying. There will be provisions to reacquire some of your character's equipment after an untimely death, other than that you'll end up as a level one character back at the start of the game!


johndramey wrote:I don't really know if this post will help you at all. I'm pretty sure that even if it's helpful in someway it's a little too late to do much of anything, but hey it can't hurt, right? I bought Rogue Touch a long, long time ago and I didn't think of looking for a Rogue Touch website till yesterday when I finally decided it was time to look up the equipment and see if I could get some tips for breaking through the lower levels.

With all that said, Rogue Touch is a perfect game. I love it more than anything, and it's had a spot on my trusty touch since I bought it. It's carried me through many a long day at work, long subway ride, or boring meeting. You're a god among men CommanderData.


Your post has been helpful, as have the posts of every other dedicated Rogue Touch player that still visits here. We're still at a point in time where things can be nudged in new directions easily. And posts like these and the ones in my "fun" thread are going to help make the game even better than I'd originally envisioned.

And thank you once more for the great feedback on RT, it makes me very happy to know that it has become a favorite of many people. I'll try hard to exceed the greatness in my upcoming projects! :ugeek:
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Re: Just who is this game for?

Postby johndramey » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:00 pm

CommanderData wrote:John, I'm back! You're new here, but I think your ideas are valid and very interesting. Also funny that you purchased an iPod Touch based on the availability of Roguelikes! Hopefully my next game will be interesting enough to bring even more people into the roguelike fold :mrgreen:


Well thanks for that! It's cool that you both read your forums and reply so quickly. I only wish I could have found your forums a lot sooner. My buddy (who lives in China) shot me an email one day saying we should talk. We arranged a time to get on MSN and sat and caught up for a while. He capped off our reunion with a discussion on why I should get an iPhone and how they even have roguelikes for it. Well, no iPhone in SK (till last month, they released them, but I like my touch), so I ran out the next day and dropped the money on an ipod. First purchase was Rogue Touch, and it's never been taken off my ipod since then!


CommanderData wrote:I agree with everyone who says different difficulty levels could help (Nighthawk and JonathanCR discussed this further in the "fun" thread). In fact, I think a fine grain of difficulty control and make things REALLY interesting. Sort of like the setup that "Forgotten Realms: Dungeon Hack" has. It was discussed not too long ago in an @Play article here: http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2009/11/col ... dungeo.php (take a look at the "dungeon generation" section!)


Just finished reading that article, and it was pretty interesting to see just how roguelikes were being tackled back before I played computer games. I only really picked up video games seriously around the senior year of high school, so I kinda missed a lot of the early stuff. The dungeon creation section was indeed pretty interesting, and it would be fun to see if you could implement something like that. That system runs a little counter to what you (seem) to be talking about wanting to do, but it would create some really interesting options for increasing replayability.

CommanderData wrote:Storylines can be used to attach yourself more to the protagonist, and further enhance the desire to complete the quest. The story cannot be very text heavy because it'd be very repetitive after each death and new attempt, even if it's "skippable". I'm thinking something along the lines of Shiren where there are pieces of story that can advance after each death. Since I'm planning a multi-game arc here, the storyline actually has some importance, and I hope it'll be well received.


That's actually quite a good idea. I never got a chance to play much of Shinren because I moved to South Korea and sorta lost the ability to play much video games. My touch is about the only thing I can get away with now a days. But a storyline that can be uncovered over multiple characters is a great idea. How exactly would this happen though? Will they be like pieces of a puzzle that the PC collects through the game, and can access regardless of the actual character being played?


CommanderData wrote:The way this will likely play out: New players can play a "tutorial dungeon" complete with a teacher/guide that tells you how things work in the world. The main quest line will have four distinct areas with differing tilesets and themes. There will also be a post-game hardcore dungeon as well for those who simply can't get enough. Similarities to Shiren show through here too ;)

Make no mistake, this is all going to be PAINFUL to balance correctly since the monsters, magic, and world rules are all new and invented by me. We don't have the benefit of years of small refinements that many roguelikes have seen. From my background in the genre I have some confidence it will turn out great, and I am sure people here can help in the final phases of testing.


I don't have any doubts that it will be awesome, but the amount of work that this requires boggles my mind. You got a lot of devotion in you to be able to do all of this on top of holding a regular job. I like what you are planning on doing though. It seems like with the differing areas you could work in more and more complex things that are more dangerous to the PC. As in, the tutorial dungeon could be something rather simple. Maybe a 5 level dungeon with just basic run of the mill enemies. Maybe introduce something like the rattlesnakes on the last level of the tutorial dungeon, explain how the effect the player, and then give the player a "restore strength" potion after they complete the tutorial? That way the PC can learn that snakes are something to be watched for, some enemies require different strategies, and the mechanic of stat loss.

CommanderData wrote:This is where we're headed. The individual "instance" of your character is expendable. I'm not in love with the "skill tree" concept because I'm afraid it makes you more emotionally invested in that "instance" rather than in the items you're carrying. There will be provisions to reacquire some of your character's equipment after an untimely death, other than that you'll end up as a level one character back at the start of the game!


I'm currently taking part in the 100 rogues beta testing. They are using a skill tree system, and it's a little strange. It does allow you a lot more customization in your character, and allows for some level of character growth that a typical roguelike does not have, but it also suffers from a few problems. First of all the testing and balancing that goes into the skill tree is pretty astounding. All of the skills need to be viable, and that is pretty hard to accomplish. If you have a choice between a skill that has very limited use but is great in that one instance, or a skill that is useful but not as powerful, more often than not the PC will choose the more general skill. So what you usually end up with is one "main" skill set that most PCs who are trying to ascend use. The other skills get used as a way to screw around on not very serious playthroughs.

I like how Shinren did it. I had very limited experience with that game, but if I remember correctly there were common warehouses located in hub areas that allowed the PC to store items for future plays. It was interesting because it made the PC weigh the risks. Should I use this item now and risk losing it, or should I store it for a later playthrough?

CommanderData wrote:Your post has been helpful, as have the posts of every other dedicated Rogue Touch player that still visits here. We're still at a point in time where things can be nudged in new directions easily. And posts like these and the ones in my "fun" thread are going to help make the game even better than I'd originally envisioned.

And thank you once more for the great feedback on RT, it makes me very happy to know that it has become a favorite of many people. I'll try hard to exceed the greatness in my upcoming projects! :ugeek:


Awesome, glad I could help and I'll try to contribute as much as I can, as well as just being a creepy internet dude who hangs out in your forum from time to time. If you can create something from scratch that is just half as good as Rogue Touch you'll be an amazing talent. I love all things roguelike, and you definitely have my interest piqued!

*upon rereading my post I see it's a little "stream-of-consciousness"y. Sorry about that. I'd try to go back through it and clean it up but I gotta head to work. Bear with me :P
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