Roguelike Development Conference in London

IRDC 2012 logoThe time is drawing near for IRDC 2012 – the International Roguelike Development Conference, being held this year in London on the 2nd and 3rd of June. IRDC has historically been a unique opportunity for developers and roguelikes fans to meet up, make presentations, and discuss relevant topics. This year’s event follows up on previous successful conferences in Berlin, Geneva and Visby. The London gathering promises talks from roguelike legends such as Jeff Lait (POWDER) and DarkGod (ToME4), and a live recording of the Roguelike Radio podcast.

Those interested in attending should sign up now, and look into travel and accommodation soon (London prices aren’t always cheap). Any questions should be put up on the wiki, or directed to Darren Grey.

25 people have signed up so far. Presentations promised include:
– “The Roguelike Rennaissance” by Darren Grey
– “The Single Hit Point Model” by Darren Grey
– “Why Darren is Wrong About Single Hit Points” by Ido Yehieli
– “Developing for Mobile Devices” by Bjorn Ritzl
– “Porting POWDER: A Brief History” by Jeff Lait
– “Stonesoup Survey Presentation” by Johanna Ploog
– “Roguelikes as contrasted to the Commercial Games Industry” by Connagh Muldoon

You can also sign up on Facebook.

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? - my DA gallery, lacks updating my pixeljoint portfolio topic, updated and running

But mostly, best assured way to catch me: (cecifavodemel AT - my e mail.

Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year 2011 winners!

Voting for best roguelike games at Ascii Dreams has finished today. This time almost three thousand people have voted! Undisputed winner is:

Tales of Maj'Eyal logo

Tales of Maj’Eyal

Following are the 20 first games (note we have two ties):

1. ToME 4 with 702 votes

2. Dungeons of Dredmor with 612 votes

3. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup with 486 votes

4. JADE with 431 votes

5. Desktop Dungeons with 391 votes

6. Dwarf Fortress with 373 votes

7. Brogue with 240 votes

8. The Binding of Isaac with 199 votes

9. DoomRL: Doom, the Roguelike with 178 votes

10. Cataclysm with 170 votes

11. Legends of Yore with 94 votes

12. X@COM with 90 votes

13. Caves of Qud with 87 votes

14. UnReal World with 79 votes

15. Angband with 68 votes

15. Cardinal Quest with 68 votes

17. POWDER with 66 votes

18. Infra Arcana with 62 votes

19. Prospector RL with 49 votes

19. Rogue Survivor with 49 votes

Roguelike Round-up Nov 2011

Major News

Humble Dredmor
     Dungeons of Dredmor has been added to the Humble Indie bundle for anyone that gives above the average value of (currently) $4.10, with the option to choose for your money to go entirely to charity if you want.

New Roguelikes!

Hyperbolic Rogue – Simple game with a trippy interface on a hyperbolic plane
Silence – Graphical roguelike with a fading light resource
Microcosm – Robot-themed RL for Android (in alpha stage)
WebRaidMobile 1.1.2 – Android dungeon-delver with content procedurally generated from random web pages

Updated Games:

3079 2.0-PRE5 Middlecrest 0.2.23
Allure of the Stars 0.4.2 Neon 0.3.6
Brogue 1.5.2 NLarn 0.7
Bushudo 3.1 NPPAngband 0.5.4
ButtonHack #5 Portralis 0.5 alpha 2.2
Cataclysm PWMAngband 1.1.8
Diggr Quickband 2.05
Dungeons of Dredmor 1.07 Red Rogue
Dweller 1.11.4 The Slimy Lichmummy 0.36
Fall From Heaven 0.0.7a ToME 4 beta 35
Hydra Slayer 13.0 TomeNET v4.4.8a
Infra Arcana 10.2 Triangle Wizard R12.01
JADE 0.2.2 Vapors of Insanity 0.53
Legacy 0.1.4 World of Tey 0.9.0
Legends of Yore V1014

Upcoming in December:

Roguelike of the Year 2011
     Keep your eyes peeled on ASCII Dreams for Andrew Doull’s regular feature: Roguelike of the Year 2011. This has been a bumper year for roguelikes, and Andrew’s poll will give a chance to recognise all your favourite releases. Also a nice time to have a look back over the previous years’ polls.


Know of any other news? Got anything you’d like featured next month? Post in the comments or on the forum.

Check and mate!


Author Chris Morris
Platform Linux, Windows; (open source)
Version 0.3.1

ChessRogue: Hiding in a safe tunnelThe name says it all. A rogue on a chessboard. You are the king of white army. In fact you are sole remaining member of said army. But! You can still win by assassinating the black king after you singlehandedly defeat his soldiers. Not the last starfighter story again … Oh well. Roguelikes save for few exceptions have never been good in the plot department. This can be forgiven.

ChessRogue: Nine in a rowChess requires good strategy to win against a competent player. You need to plan carefully and sometimes sacrifice a piece to gain upper hand. ChessRogue is more about tactics. You will often wonder how to get out of a tight situation, what next piece to capture or ask yourself if getting to that treasure out there is worthwhile. Usually looking merely one or two turns ahead is sufficient but later this number increases. With only a single hit point this game leans heavily into puzzle genre.

ChessRogue: Graphical modeThe board is colored with alternating light and dark colors. Helps quite a bit with fighting bishops and making longer diagonal moves in general. There is also SDL mode but it is compiled only for Windows. Linux users need to some nontrivial dependency resolving to compile it first. The looks pass but controls are bit worse. Those of you with disdain for vi-keys will not be pleased. It is here as default control scheme. Sure, you can get around using number pad quite well at the start but later you must make two or three space moves. To do you that need to use the vi equivalent. Despite constantly displaying keys ChessRogue is not good game learn vi style keys because one mistake often means game over. Luckily there is keymap included. On Linux it can be put in home directory or made hidden and it will still be found. Ingame movement display will change to accommodate edits. Unfortunately good news end here. Said keymap states function keys, number pad, return key and other similar key cannot be remapped. Number pad fans are at a loss. People with non-qwerty keyboard layouts will need to edit crkeymap.txt file before playing.

ChessRogue: Lances and mantrapsChessRogue creates a board and sprinkles opposing pieces on it. The most variation in gameplay comes from randomized levels. Number and types of opposing pieces differ only slightly between playthroughs. Water layout defines how the battle will fare. You should look for best places to exploit skills you have and at the same time efficiently hinder enemy. On difficulty modes below expert first level will feature a water cross where you can trap pawns without much trouble and get them all. On toughest setting you need employ crowding tactics to pick them off. Moreover there might be not enough pawns generated to make diagonal capture ability available. Then on second level you may need to face sergeants with just basic powers. Surviving this requires a bit of luck which is against the spirit of chess. Sometimes ChessRogue will smile at you and place bishops or even knights in a spot where they are unable to make any moves.

ChessRogue: YASDAnother subtle but not without tactical uses rule is order of piece movement. Sometimes while observing enemy movement patterns you might deduce that pawn moves before this bishop does. Such knowledge may allow you to move into seemingly dangerous places because you know that a pawn must move first and only available spot to enter is one cutting off a path of aforementioned bishop thus guaranteeing you safety. This is difficult to pull off but very satisfying if played well. Also if you are in a losing position where every possible escape is covered try to look for places that can be obstructed with lucky piece movement. You might survive more than one ambush.

ChessRogue: Fear effectEarlier I have mentioned treasures. These are represented by white exclamation mark and come in three types. Fear effect makes enemy pieces flee from you unless you stupidly wander into a position where you can be immediately captured. Used well this may be helpful in separating tough pieces, splitting dense or well-covered formations or madly dashing to the exit. The last option does not reward you with additional points or moves but in later levels this might be wise decision. After all not much is left to be learned from all those dangerous pieces and you might get captured. Second effect is haste. Speed enables you to make two moves in a turn. Very useful. Finally, learning makes every capture count triple bringing desired new abilities to you faster. On the other hand you receive bonus score for every unexpired treasure when you enter exit. Do not bother with this much before you get your first win though.

ChessRogue: Secret weapons labCurrently ChessRogue presents two modes to players. Classic Pieces and no special challenge. Do not let yourself be deceived! Playing with classic chess pieces only makes for easier game because there is less possibilities to consider and fewer levels to get caught. Extra pieces are still present sometimes. They appear with special level entrances and inside those but are not counted in score list. They may still contribute to chain captures though. Overall new piece types make for more interesting play but much less balanced. You will note more than one time the aggressiveness of sergeants. They are by far more dangerous than generals because they cannot move back in orthogonal corridors. If two of them team up or one with a pawn in front be prepared to count that way out. If all your ways get generated with teams like this you know Random Number Generator hates you today.

ChessRogue: Shogi pieces includedWeak point of ChessRogue are its first levels. There is barely any challenge offered even the first time. Unfortunately patience requirement is significant. Imagine getting captured somewhere in midgame. You brain got used to solving difficult situations with advanced pieces on board and now you are back to fighting just meager pawns. Boredom has great potential to turn your thinking off at this point resulting in getting owned by that brown ‘P’. Quite frustrating.

ChessRogue: Super power gainedSpecial predesigned areas are another not so great addition. There you will find prearranged pieces and a boss waiting to be conquered. Exit does not appear until the special opposing piece is captured or (at the fortress) zoo wall is smashed. The problem is the special level is the same every time. Once you figure a strategy (or a few) for solving that puzzle it becomes more like a boring chore to overcome. You need just to make no mistake executing the plan. A plan, which is very similar every time. To add insult to injury capturing cannoneer (boss of second predefined area) while in classic piece mode is useless because there will be almost no sergeants available to load the gun.

ChessRogue presents very entertaining challenge. It is worth recommending it especially to masterminds. In late game with plethora of moves to make try to make the longest chain capture possible. My personal best is 27 pieces taken in a row. The joy is overshadowed by low replayability of early game, poor quality user interface and somewhat by game saving possible only between levels.

Roguelike Round-up Aug-Oct 2011

Firstly, my apologies for the lack of updates these last few months. Job-hunting, house-hunting and the new podcast have all leeched my time away. This update covers activities for the whole of the last three months.

Major News

Roguelike Radio podcast
     A new weekly podcast has started focusing on our favourite game genre. Roguelike Radio has had 10 episodes to date, as well 4 bonus interviews with developers. Each week the topic alternates between a focus on an individual game (such as DoomRL or Dungeons of Dredmor) or a discussion on a general topic to do with roguelike game features.

Cardinal Quest released
     Ido Yehieli has released his commercial roguelike Cardinal Quest, available on BMTMicro and Gameolith, with a free demo playable on Kongregate. Its retro graphics and music have proved so popular that a free giveaway caused BMTMicro’s servers to crash after 100k copies were downloaded in under an hour!

Annual Roguelike Release Party 2011
     ARRP 2011 proved a huge hit with 27 releases, including 9 completely new titles. You can find a full list at Björn Ritzl’s blog.

Classic RLs in Your Browser
     Donnie Russell has been hard at work converting several classic roguelikes for play in flash in your browser, making them much more accessible on modern systems. Available are Rogue, Hack, MAG and Larn, some with tiles options. There are also versions of Rogue and Hack for the GameBoy and Nintendo DS.

New Roguelikes!

Allure of the Stars – Sci-fi tactical squad-based roguelike
Bushudo – Island survival game for the iPad
ButtonHack – Coffeebreak RL playable in your browser (using Unity)
Cardinal Quest – Arcade-style dungeon crawler, on sale for $4.45
Dungeons of Decay 0.4.9 – Coffeebreak RL written in libtcod
Hack n Slash Online – Alpha of an in-browser online roguelike
Harrowed – Minimalist roguelike made in 1 hour for the Zero Hour Game Jam
Into the Dungeon++ – Graphical roguelike released for ARRP
js-like – Javascript-based roguelike in beta stage
Legacy – New graphical roguelike with an overworld and animated actions
LumberjackRL – Explore the wilderness, chop down trees, eat flapjacks!
Magog – Hex-grid game with portal-connected areas
Netpack – Pac-man with random levels and inventory system
Rings of Valor – Real-time roguelike with a variety of races and classes
Rogue Assassin – Stealth-based roguelike still in early stages
Rogue Zombies – ASCII zombie-killing browser game
RogueDungeons – Graphical roguelike with a great UI
Run from the Shadow – 2DRL with themes of guilt and escapism
The Lair of Xar – Tile-based dungeon crawler
The Slimy Lichmummy – Retro roguelike with some cyberpunk elements
World of Tey – Short alpha of a new fantasy roguelike
X@COM – ASCII squad game based heavily on X-COM
Zombie Swarm – Zombie-killing RL with guns and allies

Updated Games:

91 LarnHD 1.1
Angband 3.3.1 Legend of Siegfried 0.2.0
Anquestria 0.12 Legends of Yore
Bardess 0.4.2 Legerdemain 1.1.0
BOSS 2.4c Lost Labyrinth 4.7.1
Brogue 1.5.1 MAGHD 1.7
Cataclysm Middlecrest 0.1.95
Caves of Qud 1.0.4293.15893 Neon Roguelike Engine 0.3.5
DCSS 0.9.1 Netwhack 0.6.3
Descension 0.1.81 NPPAngband 0.5.3
Desktop Dungeons POWDER v116
Diggr Prospector RL 0.2.3a
DoomRL Pyromancer 0.2.0
DungeonRL Quickband 2.04b
Dungeons of Dredmor 1.0.6 Red Rogue
Dweller 1.11.1 RevivedHack 2.5
EmoSquid 0.5 Stellar Edge 0.0.50
Expedition 0.4.1 ToME4 b34
Fall from Heaven 0.0.6a TomeNET 4.4.8
Fangband 1.2.6 Traction Edge 0.2b
FayAngband 1.1 Triangle Wizard 11.02
Hordes of Tarshish Unangband 0.6.4b
Hydra Slayer 12.9 UnNetHack 3.6.0
Ignite 0.038 Untitled 0.7.1
Infra Arcana 9.2 Vapors of Insanity 0.52
JADE 0.2.0 Voyage to Farland 1.8t
LambdaHack engine

Sources: Planet Roguelike, RogueBasin, Temple of the Roguelike forums, List of Actively Developing Roguelikes,

Know of any other news? Got anything you’d like featured next month? Post in the comments or on the forum.

Some news!

  • The 2011 Annual Roguelike Release Party was a great feast of bytes and randomness! 27 games were updated, for further info check the list compiled by Björn Ritzl, of Dweller fame.
  • The roguelike radio podcast goes on, they have just put Episode 4 online, covering an all-time favorite, DoomRL!
  • Thomas Biskup contines working on JADE after recovering his website.

Got any news? feel free to post at our forums! also, be sure to follow us on twitter! @roguetemple