In a Time of Roguelike Chimpanzees I was a Monkey
Ok, so a theme munged from an old Beck song has absolutely nothing to do with roguelikes. Really though, this month seems to be all about new releases of roguelikes, lots of ‘em, and you’re a loser, baby, who should kill himself if you aren’t just a little bit excited about it. Yep, that’s my tie-in.
Hope you have some time to waste and are also nerdy enough to like this sort of thing. If not, go play some Mass Effect or something. Go on, git.
Yo, bring it on down.
Here’s a quick list of the big names updating this month:
- Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup 0.6
- DoomRL 0.9.9.1
- Transcendence 1.0
Also recently, a rash of newcomers, mostly one-off concept games made in the heat of friendly competition:
- Tigsource’s Assemblee Competition
- 7DRL (7 day roguelike competition)
Forces of evil in a bozo nightmare. (Crawl)
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup‘s last release, 0.5, was a landmark that provided great interface refinements and one of the most flexible and thoughtful tiled interfaces around. The 0.6 release looks somewhat less dramatic an improvement, but still offers some exciting features: a finalized version of the Shoals dungeon branch, several new gods to extract favor from, and “Dungeon Sprint,” a super hard, super condensed hack designed as a one-off challenge for experienced players.
Stock car flamin’ with a loser on the cruise control. (Transcendence)
Transcendence splits the difference between arcade space shoot-em-ups and roguelike complexity, and it may well suffer a little popularity hit because of this. Too quiet for a shooter, not ponderous enough for a roguelike, Transcendence is a game about exploration, trading, and upgrading your ship, with an arcade space shooter mechanic. It owes as much to Elite as it does to Nethack or Asteroids.
The big news for this release is that after many long years of on again, off again development, Transcendence has finally hit the big one-oh. It may even have a proper endgame by now. Congratulations, George Moromisato!
Try playing Transcendence with SomaFM’s Mission Control station in the background.
Double barrel buckshot. (DoomRL)
Speaking of splitting things (in half, with shotgun blasts), DoomRL saw a new release just this past week. Unfortunately, the fantastic new tileset by Derek Yu is not one of them. On the other hand, there are several new features and surprises for experienced players, as well as bug fixes and interface refinements for everyone else. “Exotic” weapons have been newly classified and made more frequent, and the ability to record demos and a prototype modding tool has been added.
I’m a driver, I’m a winner. (Assemblee and 7DRL competitions)
Thanks largely to the cutesy Oryx Lo-Fi Roguelike Tileset, TigSource’s recent Assemblee competition churned out more experimental roguelikes than usual. Of particular note are:
- BitWorld – 2.5D Zelda-style action in a randomly-generated world.
- Great Dungeon in the Sky – An action battle platformer with roguelike heroes and monsters. Unlock characters with game-breaking abilities as you go.
- ro9 - An interesting concept in which you simultaneously lead nine characters through first-person dungeons, battling monsters and getting treasure along the way.
- TinyCrawl – A slimmed-down, streamlined dungeon hack, a series of rooms with one battle in each. Perfect for a five minute break.
7DRL, or 7-Day Roguelike, is a strict competition focused on producing a full roguelike within a single week, from start to finish. Done in eight days? Sorry, that’s an 8DRL. The most recent compo just ended March 14th, and I’ve yet to play any of them, however, given the short timespan, it’s likely that even the best of these are going to be novel one-offs or proofs-of-concept.
Still, it’s an even bet that at least some of the new game mechanics that come about in a rapid prototyping environment will show up in other games. At the very least, 7DRL is a fertile playground for new ideas.
Soy un perdedor. (Conclusion)
In conclusion, I really could have come up with a better theme, like “Beware the Roguelikes of March!” But I made a terrible decision, and I’m sticking to it.
I’m also going to be playing a lot of Crawl. By some accounts, that’s also a terrible decision, and I’m sticking to that as well.