Monday 27 June 2011

Broken home

The Family Business: A shotgun which fires 8 shots instead of 6, with a 15% damage nerf.

Sounds pretty straightforward.

Until you realise the original shotgun can reload and fire a 7th shot before the Family Business can fire it's 8th.

8 * (1 - 0.15) = 6.8...

Robin Walker, when asked, said "We can't do maths."

Edit: Neither can I.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Broadly boasting

Valve announces 7th weapon to have the initials BB. Robin Walker boasted "We wanted to mimize the number of keys on the keyboard you had to use, and noticed that Pyros, especially, were wearing through keys on the left hand side of the keyboard. By forcing forum goers to use the letter B more frequently, we hope to reduce green house gas emissions required from purchasing new keyboards...."

(Previous weapons: Backburner, Buff Banner, Battalion's Back-Up, Black Box, Boston Basher, Brass Beast. Hats: Backbiters Billycock, the Berliners Bucket, the Blighted Beak, the Brain Bucket and ye olde Baker Boy. Maps: Barn Blitz)

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Now they finally fixed the first one...

In a shocking turn of events, Valve decides to release a TF2 secondary weapon that can kill people. Robin Walker, when asked, said "We've only done it once before, with the Flare Gun, and I was worried it would affect the balance of the game. Luckily, we've spent all of our development efforts since the original Flare Gun release balancing it, so I'm confident that we'll only have to spend another 12 months or so getting this new secondary fixed..."

Monday 20 June 2011


I proposed an 8 pixel roguelike design (original competition suggestion) following Darius Kazemi's request for a game that would support the hardware he bought back in 2009.

Rob Beschizza has been inspired by a favicon based RPG to implement another 8 pixel roguelike, Tiny Hack, and it's even more fun than I expected.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Just like a dirty, cheating player

One of the biggest challenges in Unangband when fighting some of the higher level uniques is their tendency to teleport away then heal themselves up. This extends fights because it forces the player to track the unique down again and continue - and is doubly challenging if the monster also has the ability to recover the mana points that they used up in the process of escaping. What can result is extend stalemates, where the player is unable to damage the unique quickly enough to kill them before they escape again.

There are plenty of opportunities to break these stalemates: deadly traps, cross-fire from other monsters that may be involved in the fight; but these mostly rely on the monster AI not being smart enough to recognise and avoid these additional threats.

The player is equally capable of using teleports and heals, and has the additional ability to flee up or down the stairs at any point (I've considered allowing uniques to do the same) to effectively reset the level. Teleportation can be a risky escape mechanism, because the destination may be more deadly than the current location, and healing may be overwhelmed by more damage the following turn and permadeath ensures that the player is punished for pushing their luck too far. But monster teleportation and healing is less risky, because the unique is in the position of having overall control of the level: there is no other faction he could teleport into which would threaten him, and the player usually lacks the means of ramping up damage even further (because otherwise he'd already be using it).

Allowing the player to summon monsters is one significant way of addressing this, but not every player is a spell caster capable of doing this. Letting warriors and thieves recruit armies or assassins is another possibility, but outside the scope of the game in the short term: and very much against the fiction of Angband which is a one-sided battle where you are the 'weaker' side. Druids are also capable of using spells to 'prepare the ground' and make part of the dungeon far more dangerous for other monsters. And other roguelikes offer anchor magic of various kinds which prevent both the player and nearby monsters teleporting to escape.

A trap that some Angband variants fall into is offering various abilities to drain monster mana, which since mana inevitably is converted into hit points by monsters which can heal, means that these items are effectively doing large amounts of damage - usually much larger than any other attack is capable of.

I think I have the balance of the above mix right for spell casters in Angband, but I'm welcome to more feedback. I'm more worried about whether I've missed anyway of balancing these abilities. I'd love to hear your ideas on other ways to fix this.

And for the record, I've always loved enemies turning around and using healing magics - Tenchu being the first game where an enemy ninja quaffed a potion just like I had been doing - because it makes you realise on many levels just how cheap, portable, instant, heal all magic can be.

Thursday 16 June 2011

This is why I write games

HallucinationMushroom has won a game of Unangband:

Man, I'm ecstatic! This is a very challenging variant and one I didn't think I'd ever win. I mainly fire up Un for the atmosphere and the first half of the game is my favorite, all the way up to Smaug. It doesn't hurt that my kitchen table roleplaying experiences have almost all been MERP or Rolemaster... it's like retreading old, familiar ground
You can read about his troll bard's feat here.


6 trends in gaming.

And in other news, my Battlefield: Bad Company 2 stats reset for some reason.

I now have to grind to get a med kit again.


Wednesday 15 June 2011


An observation I just made over at Rock Paper Shotgun:

There’s a strong indie tradition of Super Mario Bros remixes. Notch wrote Infinite Mario Bros which is now used for AI and procedural generation research by a number of academics, and Andrew Spinks (developer of Terraria) also wrote Super Mario Bros X.

On the other hand, maybe it just creates a weird fascination with bashing in blocks…

Monday 13 June 2011

Games industry like every other industry

From an analysis of E3:

Because highly visible at E3 this year was also the "go big or go home" nature of the video game industry in recent years. Publishers seem finally to understand that if they are to play in core retail, they must release the best title in their genre, or must innovate on a genre, else they might as well throw their dollars in a fire. There were no middling titles on anyone's marquee this year; the quality level of core retail titles on offer was across the board higher than it's ever been.

Sunday 5 June 2011


Far from it for this blog to become merely a venue to rave about brilliant indie games featuring procedural content, but, yeah, Frozen Synapse...

Friday 3 June 2011

Well spade

It looks like Unangband is getting the HallucinationMushroom treatment. I, for one, am excited.