Category Archives: Interviews

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.

Jeff Lait Interviewed again

The Renegade Roguedev

The Renegade Roguedev

I think becoming unhealthily obsessed with something is a healthy behaviour for a teenager. Usually it runs its course in a year or two, leaving the person wiser, like in larval stage programmers.

That said, we all should have limitations on how long we play videogames. These limits, ideally, should be self-imposed. For minors who have not yet learned discipline, parental guidance may be needed. I am strongly opposed to the government being directly involved, however.

Check out the full interview here

Interview with Slashie!

Slashie

So, I’d been meaning to interview our faithful leader and the founder of the Rogue Temple and Roguebasin; Slashie (Santiago Zapata). Well, I finally got around to it. I’d like to greatly thank Slashie for taking the time out of his busy workday to answer my absurdly long interview, and of course for all the hard work he’s consistently put into the Rogue Temple and Roguebasin year after year. I’ve been debating editing this together in various ways, but I think a simple presentation might be best. So, without further adieu, an interview with Slashie:   — EligZero, for Temple of The Roguelike

Check out the interview!

Mini-Inverview with Topi Ylinen

Peleron’s Brilliant Rebirth (or PBR) is a pseudo-roguelike CRPG by Topi Ylinen. With the project just recently becoming publicly active again, I shot Mr. Ylinen an email with a few general questions about his ambitious project.

What kind of development cycle do you foresee for PBR going forward after it has apparently been quite a long time since the last public release?

“I’m hoping to get a bit more frequent and better thought-out/conceptualised updates from now on. The rather long delay between versions 0.103 and 0.104/0.105 was due to a number of reasons. Although there were a couple of players who completed the Master Dungeon and helped me iron out certain problems, the initial versions (0.100 – 0.103) didn’t attract quite as much attention as I had hoped. (On the other hand, I can hardly blame the players when pretty much every other spell you attempted to cast used to say “unimplemented spell effect”, not very exciting, eh? The most recent 0.105 release at least fixes that.)

Then I started implementing the second starting location, Voldival. I drew a huge town map on a large sheet of paper and then started building the maps, one after the other. I had also started sketching out the quest code and it was turning out to be much bigger design challenge than I had anticipated. All things factored in, at some stage I simply lost motivation. Real life kept pressing me hard, and I directed my energies elsewhere.

Then, after a time, I returned to PBR and decided to take a different approach. Rather than try to implement a dozen different kinds of new features (like quest code) at once, I should first try to make the ones that do exist playable. And also keep adding new areas to explore at the same time. The current 0.105 release fits this pattern: it is a “spells” release (meaning that it implements almost every remaining spell in the game and a lot of new ones) and also adds one more predesigned dungeon to explore. The actual list of changes is of course much longer than that but that’s mainly because the version has been “in the works” for 2 years!

The next version 0.106 will be a “skills” release. It will implement almost all skills that are available to beginning characters, including the rather complex ones like Alchemy and Smithery. The only skill that probably will not be implemented is the Disarming skill since monsters don’t currently “wield” their weapons

That would need to be implemented first, and it is not a high-priority feature addition.

Version 0.106 will also properly implement the two high-level skills that one of your characters can learn upon assuming the high-level profession currently available in the game

Not sure yet whether 0.106 will include any new playable areas. And no schedule for 0.106 yet.”

What spurred you to go at things from a party based and CRPG mindset instead of the usual solo venture?

“The simple realisation that many of my favourite computer games were actually party-based CRPGs. Having a party of characters instead of a single character added a layer of strategic complexity that I greatly appreciated, even if my party configurations often turned out to be rather stereotypical ones. Like, “melee tank – thief – priest – wizard”.

In many ways, I didn’t initially set out to build a roguelike – I was making relatively complex CRPG with lots of character development and strategy options. The user interface is of course 100% traditional roguelike; that’s mainly due to my personal background. A roguelike user interface felt natural to me, and I knew how to code it, so I used it. But the underlying game – the game system and the game world – could be just as easily used in any other kind of CRPG concept, e.g., in a Baldur’s Gate style game, in a realtime first-person CRPG or even in an MMORPG. Come to think of it, it might actually make a heck of an MMORPG – the game world is definitely unique and different (after all, the game world has been a personal labour of love since the late 1980s), and the game system would allow for a lot more depth and strategic complexity than the prevalent MMORPGs of today (that I know of) do.”

Are there any Roguelikes or RPGs in general you have drawn good ideas or just general “stuff that works well” from?

“I don’t consciously examine other games with the intent of finding new ideas, but I used to play a lot of CRPGs and related games when I was younger. There were games I didn’t like that much but I thought they contained some neat concepts. Then there was a handful of games that I enjoyed thoroughly, and I would be lying if I said that no detail in PBR was influenced by those games.

Eventually, of course, I’m aiming to remove the “foreign” game world material – this means especially the two predesigned dungeons – and replace it with stuff that is better aligned with my own Ikoniel world. I used an external source of inspiration for those two predesigned dungeons simply because I wanted to quickly create something playable, and detailed dungeon planning & design from the scratch can take a lot of time.

When I started building the game, I didn’t immediately start planning & writing the actual code. Instead I took a paper notebook and started planning how the game mechanics should work if it were a pen&paper RPG. My initial inspiration for the game system owes a lot to a well-known CRPG, but I wanted to take it one step further. What I ended up with was a game system that – with its complex calculations, modifiers and special cases/conditions – would have probably been too complex for an actual pen&paper game (well, except for the old Rolemaster or Advanced Squad Leader veterans, I guess), but in a CRPG that is not an issue when the CPU takes care of all that for you.”

Favorite Roguelikes personally?

“I’m a very traditional kind of guy, really. Nethack and Angband are the ones I have played the most. I like Nethack because of its details and relative depth (but hate the arbitrariness – your success depends too much on blind luck, my first ascending character found a Wand of Wishing near the beginning!), and Angband because of its epic scope and feel. Angband is also better for strategic planning since once you know the game, you know how to play and develop different kinds of characters effectively. In Nethack you would be worrying about the food all the time. There are still random elements in Angband that can cause unexpected YASDs, but that’s the fun part of it, isn’t it?

Moria was the first roguelike I ever played, and even though Angband (when it was released) quickly superseded it for me, I still have very fond memories of Moria. Like when I encountered my first invisible opponent. I couldn’t see it – that was scary! Eventually I took it out with some well-placed ball or bolt spells and felt like I had achieved a great victory.

And then of course there are the numerous NH & Angband variants. Can’t say I have played them all. But I liked some of them a lot – especially the ones that changed the basic game content so much that it felt like a fresh new experience, like Cthangband did. The sense of discovery, again!

Adom is probably the newest(!) roguelike I have played. I never quite got into it, I just kept dying and couldn’t get the hang of it or how I should have played it. The same problem with Omega. They are probably great games, they just weren’t for my kind of a player.

One very different (semi)roguelike that deserves to be mentioned: Alphaman! The post-nuclear holocaust roguelike. I played it just briefly and, yes, kept dying all the time, but I had a great time with it.”

Graphical tileset/sound/music planned to exist at some point after everything is fully situated?

“Yes. My todo list says under category 4b (“Not essential for the core game, will/could/might be implemented when *everything* else is completed & working”)
“- Add graphics
- Add sound”

Thanks for your time Mr. Topi Ylinen!

The homepage for the project is located at http://www.kolumbus.fi/topi_ylinen/peleron/

– Getter77, 05/04/2009

2008 Roguelike Soundtrack Contest Entries, and Interview with Mingos

The 2008 Roguelike Soundtrack Contest entries have been published! Check out the contest homepage and vote for your favorite!

They were 15 valiant bards entering the dreadful labyrinth of the 2008 roguelike soundtrack contest. Only 8 of them survived the traps and hidden creatures. You can vote until July, 20 23:59 GMT for your favorite soundtrack

Thank you Mingos and Jice for arranging this contest. And thank you contestants for providing us with quality soundtracks!

Check the Interview with Mingos for further details!

Dwarf Fortress Development interview over Gamasutra

DF PhysicsJhon Harris, from Gamasutra, has interviewed Tarn Adams, developer of Dwarf Fortress. The interview covers details about the history of the game, and goes as far as discussing some features of its inspiring random world generator and simulated fluid physics. Check the interview

The first overall goal of the world generator is to create enough information to produce a basic biome display. A lot of initial attempts at a world generator will start with things like “I need to lay down some forests, and some mountains, and some rivers, and some deserts…” and then when you end up with a jungle next to a desert, or a desert next to a swamp in an unlikely way, it’s difficult to fix.

Yep, I know what you mean Mr. Adams; also, would be interesting to compare JADE and DF world generators :)

[...]
Jhon Harris: Right. Permadeath is generally a roguelike concept, of course.

Tarn Adams: Yeah, I’ve seen some of those 7DRL contests. It’s too bad it takes so much time to undertake a large project. Time is really the only barrier for a lot of people.
[...]

It is! We are one week away from the challenge… are we ready yet?

Interview with Glenn Wichman, creator of Rogue

Glenn in 1982, two years after Rogue Mr. Glenn Wichman is known as one of the creators of the original Rogue back to the 80′s, before computer games were a multi-billion dollars market, and when one single lonewolf developer (or a small team) had a chance for success on the commercial world. He comes back after almost twenty years to find out the evolution of the genre that his game spawned. He describes himself as an hard-working, happy person, and loves kayaking.

Read the interview here