Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dungeons of Dredmor

Dungeons of Dredmor: Laugh in the Face of Death

Dungeons of Dredmor received the second spot on the Ascii Roguelike of the Year list so I wanted to delve in and explore this fantastic title a bit more.

Dungeons of Dredmor comes from Gaslamp Games and is by far their biggest title so far. The indie developer is relatively young, but its leaders have been in the game for sometime and have contributed to titles from TimeGate Studios, Piranha Games and Destineer Studios.

These young developers have clearly spent time doing hands-on research of other popular titles (the main character’s propensity for playing a handheld gaming system when you leave him alone long enough reminds me of Commander Keen and adds a humorous touch to the otherwise sadistic game). One of my favorite things about this game is its ability to start from various save points. When this option is turned on, you don’t have to begin at the start of the map after each inevitable death. This feature will probably appeal to gamers who are not as familiar with or attracted to the roguelike format.

The procedural generation of the game means that each move you make has consequences — often dire — that can be reaped almost immediately or five moves later. Your best bet is to construct a character who has thick enough skin to last longer than a few minutes in the maze of death that lies in front of you.

The level of customization that Dungeons of Dredmor allows is only exceeded by the level of fun the game offers. You have the power to choose from 34 different character traits spread across disciplines like magic, thievery, crafting and combat. It would be nice if new skills could be picked up within the game, but I honestly had too much fun delving into the world Gaslamp created to really care too much that I was locked into my player’s skills.

Once again I have to congratulate the makers of the game on the humor they lodged (and sometimes hid) within the game. For example, one of the character types, the Killer Vegan, comes with the tagline “the power of clean living, moral superiority and gluten-magic.” For a game as fatalistic as this — and death is pretty much inevitable here — the game keeps a pretty good sense of humor about itself.

It is exactly this contrast of fun and fatality that makes Dungeons of Dredmor such a fantastic title and one of the best roguelikes to be released in 2011. It will be fun to see what the wisecracking game wizards at Gaslamp have in store for us next.

Author’s Bio: Ryan is a guest blogger who likes to write about everything from social media to gaming to how to get deals using Dell coupons for gaming computers and other accessories. He also writes for the Blog Content Guild.

Interview with Brasilian pixel artist Cecilia Favo de Mel

Roguelike games’ developers often concentrate on the gameplay, depth and innovative mechanics leaving something to be desired in visual aspects. This is not to say user interfaces are not improving. They are, but even quite advanced games usually do not receive tile graphics. Sometimes author can do the art himself well enough. Another possibility is to get someone else to do the hard work.

With the recent update 1.6.1, Mario Donick’s roguelike RPG “LambdaRogue” also received a new graphical tileset, which improves overall experience especially for those players who don’t stick with puristic ASCII mode. In this interview, Cecilia talks about her work.

Mario Donick: First of all, can you tell our readers some basic things about yourself, like your name, age, living place, occupation?

Cecilia Favo de Mel: Hi Mario and thanks, well, name, Cecilia Souza Santos. I am 30 years old, live in São Paulo – Brasil. My occupation is pixelartist – really, that is my full time job, though I have no fixed contract so always freelancing on small contracts.

M: Have you always been an artistic person?

C: Well yes, when I was a kid I loved to draw cars since I always loved machines, and tending to fictional machines made me draw even more until I tried organic stuff and then got my first computer with Paint on it… XD

M: When did you start creating graphics for video games?

C: Well you could say around 2000 for my own projects on rpgmaker, but by then I was into pixelart for about 10 years already, just with no application before. But professionally, or rather, for other games, around 2007.

M: RPGmaker? Do you still use this tool, or are there any games done by you available?

C: Yes I do, I use RPGMaker VX, however due to lack of time I shifted my focus to a webcomic project – still related to my game ideas and made in the exact same graphical style, once I learn how to set the blog out for webcomics it will start off and hopefully help me have more time for the game. My setting for both games and webcomic is the kingdom of Star-La the the series is Star Light Romance, got a file about the setting if you want to check :D

M: On what game projects did you work before?

C: A lot, seriously, as I said I live off from small contracts and many times games I worked on get released and I get no notice from client, like Swords and Potions (though Mat is still a nice client and always comes back to me when he needs updates). So here are some titles:

- Swords and Potions
– TinyTown
– Rogue Runner
– Combats Commander
– Dark Souls 1 and 2
– Beyond Beyaan – not released yet

M: Did you know about roguelikes or the roguelike scene before you worked on the LambdaRogue tiles?

C: Yes I did, mostly because of Gearhead, a mech based roguelike game which, funny enough, my dad linked me to. He knows I am insane about mechs and sci fi and god knows how he stumbled across the link to the game. I downloaded and got a feel for roguelike games, but still didn’t play too much back then neither searched for others.

M: What is your usual process when you work on a tile? Do you draw sketches before, or to you start digitally right away? Please explain a little bit about your work.

C: Well I’d say I first sketch everything on my mind, since I have a very clear imagination I can basically see (almost touch :P) what I imagine so yeah. Once I have the design in mind I imagine how it will be in pixelart and start out pixelating on ms paint. First basic outlines, then basic color separation, then shading and antialising as needed. The rest is photoshop and the only tiring part – cutting every tile into a separate png – but just because it is simple yet done a lot :)

M: Most roguelikes have square tiles, with same width and height. LambdaRogue, in contrast, has 20×40 tiles. Was it difficult to work with this small and irregular size?

C: Yes and no – I am used to console style rpg setup where only terrain tiles are square while character tiles or some object tiles are rectangular, so for those it didn’t affect me in anything. In fact only thing that affected me is having all terrain tiles tileable vertically as well as horizontally, because of the details I wanted to add, but in terms of effort, all fine.

M: Did you play LambdaRogue before creating the tiles, or were you able to work without playing first?

C: I did start a game just to read more on the game, know what was going on and how the tiles and characters previously looked together.

M: The tiles you created include both fantasy and sci-fi elements. What’s the idea behind this?

C: Well my favourite setting is Sci-fi;fantasy, I love the idea of having magic, swords, knights alongside robots, starships, pistols to the point most of my favourite games, anime and movies follow that including my own game projects. So when I read LambdaRogue intro and it mentioned that civilization was destroyed, but some technology was not lost my idea was a world similar to Phantasy Star IV where there was tech, but humanity was living very poorly to the point that this tech was lost and little development was made since surviving was priority. Magic I supposed was developed before, along with technology and most of the teachings could still be passed down from masters so easier to keep than gadgets. 

M: The old Phantasy Star games were really great, indeed. Phantasy Star 1 was the first RPG I ever played, and I still think of it very often when I think about RPG design. Even with its simple methods and nearly no dialogue or story, PS 1 was able to create the feeling of a huge world, or even star system — I never forget when I first entered the space ship and went to that desert planet, and later on the ice planet. It also had huge dungeons, even in 3D graphics.
Anyway — are there any current RPGs which you like to play and where you can find a mixture of Sci-fi and fantasy?

C: Well most current rpgs, both console or PC and Japanese or American don’t appeal to me that much, too much going on in graphics and such, but not so much in depth, though Mass Effect was looking interesting, but I need a new video card to play it properly.
My top sci-fi-fantasy rpgs are:

- Phantasy Star IV
– Final Fantasy VI
– Chrono Trigger
– Xenogears
– Grandia
– Wild Arms
– Cyber Knight 2
– Septerra Core

M: Which tiles were most difficult — dungeon tiles, items, or creatures (such as player, monsters, NPCs)?

C: Both items and humanoid monsters, mostly because in my own setting you either face humans or animal like monsters, no zombies or medusas etc. But both were challenging in a fun way, just outside my comfort zone which is nice to shape up.

M: And what was most fun?

C: Ooh the human characters, both player, npcs and enemies, specially the enemy guards, Benito Leone, female archer, mage, soldier, the badass looking weapon seller and the waitress XD

M: You also created new effect icons for spells and items, new character portraits, and some general UI elements. This is not game graphics itself, but part of the user interface. Did you work on interfaces for other games or software before?

C: Yes, mostly for Beyond Beyaan and lately for Combats Commander.

M: How did you ensure that users will be able to recognize the meaning of the icons?

C: Google XD And a bit of experience, I mean even as a player I look at games with the eyes of a professional in graphics department, so I use what is most common in games of the genre with some peculiar design tweaks. When it is something too new… I google and check out the first images related to that word or concept.

M: Will LambdaRogue players see more of your work in the future, in other areas of the game?

C: As long as you want my services, I am here! You are a nice client and I truly like the setting of the game and want to play it on next release. So yes!

M: How can interested developers contact you? Do you have a website?

http://clest.deviantart.com – my DA gallery, lacks updating

http://www.pixeljoint.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=10246 my pixeljoint portfolio topic, updated and running

But mostly, best assured way to catch me: (cecifavodemel AT gmail.com) – my e mail.