Monday, 1 October 2007


Antoine is a roguelike developer I have a lot of respect for. He's written Guild and Quickband and his game designs focus on how to make game play more interesting. Quickband is an attempt to shorten the admittedly sometimes tedious game-play that Angband suffers from. It distills the game down to a much more limited number of levels and has Saruman as the final boss monster. You should be able to win a game of Quickband in an afternoon of play. Guild is a roguelike where you control multiple characters. Both are based on a greater or lesser degree on the Angband code base: Quickband is a variant of NPPAngband and Guild uses the Angband term code.

I believe Antoine's working on a roguelike in Python, which hasn't been released yet, but which he occasionally discusses on But more importantly, he's just posted an update to another Angband variant he is working on, Ironband. Again, he's distilling part of the Angband game-play to make the game more interesting. In particular, he's removing shops from the game, which is one of the features of so-called Ironman play. Ironmen in Angband traditionally exit the town level straight away and take the first down stair that they encounter until they reach the bottom of the dungeon and kill Morgorth or (more usually) die trying.

What's interesting about Ironman play is not just that the game is a lot harder. Its that many in-game resources become more important, because they cannot be reliably restocked from the shops. As a result, an Ironman character is forced to evaluate the utility of every item that they find, as opposed to just ignoring less than useful equipment in the dungeon. This takes Angband back to the much more traditional Rogue style of play. Food becomes a critical game-play counter as opposed to a minor inconvenience. The player may be forced to move around the dungeon without light, healing or escape mechanisms. And money becomes just a measure of in-game score, as opposed to a fungible resource that can be earned via patient play.

But Antoine's gone beyond just recreating an enforced Ironman style game in his variant. He's added a whole lot of in-game statistics (Stealth, Perception and so on). He's removed stat gain potions and instead decided to distribute a certain amount of stat increases on level-up. And he's gone classless. I'm really happy to see this last decision. I'm sure it'll work out, just as I argued in one of the first posts to my blog. And it increases my respect for Antoine even more. After all, he's clearly a braver developer than I am.

1 comment:

Antoine said...


Thanks for the ups. Yes, Ironband is coming along well and I expect a release soon. I'm just pausing to add in a few features (most recently, heavy armor reducing Stealth, weapons of vampiric draining, and a message 'The orc's attack bounces off your armor' for when AC protects you from an attack).

Keep up the great work with UnAngband, which is a far more ambitious creation than anything I manage,