Sunday 20 November 2016

4:40 am

I started recording the latest Roguelike Radio podcast (on Imbroglio) at 4:40 am in order to accomodate both UK and US based guests which is why I have such a slow start to the show.

One point I touched on is how Imbroglio has the ingredients of a roguelike with a very different set of outcomes, which justifies Michael Brough's labelling of it as 'roguelike?'. This missing piece is close to the tactics versus strategy debate but it doesn't fall on the same axis. It's also close to a puzzle form but it isn't just procedural puzzle solving. I'd like to label it "improvisation" because it feels very much like improvisation (in theatre) or how I imagine musical improvisation plays out. Imbroglio has improvisation, but the core design discourages it in some of the ways we talked about (at the level I'm playing at).

I don't think I've seen anyone write clearly about improvisation in depth in the context of game play (Feel free to point me to articles I may have missed) except perhaps relating to Far Cry 2. More significantly, I'm not sure if there are games which have improvisation as their primary mechanic (Spelunky?) and I'd be interested in hearing about whether there are any games which do so.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Texclipse & LuaTex 2016

Just some quick notes for fixing up Texclipse to use LuaTex 2016.

1. Remove the --src-specials option from the Build options.
2. Add the following 2 lines as early as you can in your document:
3. Font paths don't appear to be supported in Windows. Instead copy the fonts into the fonts directory.

Friday 16 September 2016

How High Frontier builds futures

I've been a little hesitant about talking about the design work going into the High Frontier RPG since the arguments of the politest naysayers to my first post about it  can be approximated by "I haven't been to Russia so it can't exist." There are far less polite responses on the High Frontier board game mailing list, so I appreciate the general tone of the arguments being made in the comments - I'm just not swayed by them because among other things, they miss the fundamental fact that the person whose post I linked to is not just a hysterical tumblr user, but someone who has actually won a landmark precedent setting court case on the exact thing I was talking about.

Nonetheless, I'm also feeling guilty about a throwaway line I made in the last design post, which I think needs clarification and expansion on:
"Unlike virtually every other RPG on the market (sans Microscope), High Frontier RPG does not have a fixed game world"
This is, of course, nonsense as every single game master can attest to - the game world evolves as soon as players being to interact with it. The caveat I should have added at the time was "unlike virtually every other published setting on the market" and even then that is insufficient, as much like comics, RPG settings have to be torn asunder and rewritten to account for inevitable power creep and conflicts in the stories set in them.

What I meant, is that the published setting for the High Frontier RPG consists of very few immutable rules: nuclear power in space, wet extra planetary locations, a new space race, and even then there's potential caveats and loop holes that may mean not even these are true - for instance, the data used to predict icy comets and Ceres, a frozen Mars and water in the clouds of Venus has turned out to be inaccurate but High Frontier relies so much on these places having useful amounts of water to keep the game balanced and interesting that it'd be a different game if these changes were made.

The rest of the High Frontier RPG universe is not fixed: its random and chaotic and procedurally generated from the players actions directly (you can go out and set up factories and colonies yourself to increase the tech level you have available) and indirectly (the chosen Space Politics will directly impact how the social, political and technological milieu of the game evolves). Even then, I'm only attempting to stuff 60 years into the rules (the average time simulated by a High Frontier board game) and borrowing heavily from all sorts of science fiction tropes to try to guide what this looks like.

At the heart of this system is trends: a trend determines what the next few impacts on the crew are - be it a technology they can begin using, or a change to the way they operate or the missions they get, or a new type of human they are forced to evolve into or are replaced by. I split the trends up into ones driven by Mission Control, ones driven by the political environment that Mission control works in, and wider social trends representing what long term trends are happening Earthside (as distinct from short term events).

I'm going to quote from one person's experience of messing around with the trend system rather than an actual game session, to give you a feel for what this might play like:

I generated the equivalent of Luftwaffe-in-Space: Red MCSU - Crew Nationality German. Not sure how to determine starting politics (always Purple?), but I simply rolled for it at the beginning and started on Red as well.
In a fairly small number of turns:
-Zipped out to Ceres with a VASIMR-Orion combo and planted a factory.

-Performed an Orbital Bombardment Weapons Test at Deimos.

-Got assigned another refinery mission out to Dione, but rolled snake eyes when crossing Saturn's rings, ending things rather prematurely.

Other cool things that came up that would have been great for an RPG session:

-En route to Dione the Germans received an additional mission to rescue a stranded Indian crew...on Dione. Didn't know if it is possible to take multiple missions if the destinations for both of them are the same, but I never got there to find out. The RPG possibilities for that encounter would have been fantastic. "We're here to rescue you. Also this is our factory now. You seem upset, why?"

-Not sure if I was doing the Earthside trends correctly, but it was generally of an increasingly gruesome flavor thanks to the Red space politics. A whole lot of Ludditism, some Surveillance State, and by the time my Germans met their unlucky fate, someone down the well had built a tomb to Fearless Leader that was visible from space. Could see having to react to a parade of such things being really interesting (especially with a crew differing strongly from Earthside trends).

-Rolling for Stresses, the Military Payload Specialist ended up with Pacifist. Lots of interesting RPG potential there, though I never encountered a combat situation.

The intuitive approach for building trends would be to go with a technology tree style structure. But I know from previous experience that tech trees are very expensive time wise to create and balance, and often feel restricting rather than enabling. So I've ended up going with a tech era system, with a random table in each era determining the trend for the era. And about midway through the era there should be a trend change which rolls 1D6 + big positive or small negative bias, instead of 2D6 + small positive or negative bias, effectively moving from a wide band of overlapping options, to a much narrower band of less overlapping and more individually likely options.

And each subsequent era has the extremes going more, well extreme. The most authoritarian regimes start out merely performing Great Projects. They then move to being Big Brothers or Failed States, and then Homeward Hive or Forever Wars. And where they can end up? Well let's just say aggressive Grey Goo Berserker starships consuming everything in their path is only the second worst option.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Some long overdue administration

This is only 3 years overdue.

Every vote for the 2013 Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year poll is below. As for why I stopped? I kind of forgot about doing it the next year. Which is probably an indication that it stopped being fun to do. I wish someone a little more active in the community had picked up the idea and run with it, but apparently it wasn't important enough for someone else to feel the need to do so.

_____rogue the space0 (0%)
@Star Wars0 (0%)
10 Second Roguelike0 (0%)
30 (0%)
30790 (0%)
30890 (0%)
8.68-HACK0 (0%)
868-HACK2 (0%)
868565271 (0%)
88 Pages0 (0%)
A DAY @ THE ZOO0 (0%)
A False Saint, An Honest Rogue0 (0%)
Ad Astra Per Aspera0 (0%)
ADOM85 (25%)
ADOM II22 (6%)
Adventure Dungeon1 (0%)
Adventure Mall0 (0%)
Akamar0 (0%)
Alchemy0 (0%)
AlexandriaRL0 (0%)
Allure of the Stars0 (0%)
Alternate Dimension Rogue Like0 (0%)
Anarchial0 (0%)
Angry Troll versus Magic Bridge0 (0%)
Appeasing the God0 (0%)
Archmaster0 (0%)
Arcology Escape0 (0%)
AscentRL1 (0%)
Asterogue1 (0%)
Asylum Escape0 (0%)
Attack The Geth1 (0%)
Aurora2 (0%)
Back up0 (0%)
Bardess0 (0%)
Beltham's Lair0 (0%)
Bionic Dues1 (0%)
Black Mage Goes Rogue0 (0%)
Bonfire0 (0%)
Borstal0 (0%)
Brogue23 (6%)
Bronze and Faith0 (0%)
BRS-0810 (0%)
Bughack0 (0%)
Bump!0 (0%)
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead55 (16%)
Caverns of Shrug0 (0%)
Chase Brannick: Space Mechanic0 (0%)
Chest Quest0 (0%)
Chicken and Thyme0 (0%)
Cogs of Cronus0 (0%)
ColdRL0 (0%)
Comrade Pixel0 (0%)
Consuming Shadow0 (0%)
CoreRL0 (0%)
Cosmic Commando1 (0%)
Cosplay Mystery Dungeon0 (0%)
Cutpurse Castle0 (0%)
De Sade's Dungeon0 (0%)
Dead Man Walking0 (0%)
Delusions of Grandeur0 (0%)
Delver2 (0%)
Depths of Tuzua0 (0%)
Desktop Dungeons7 (2%)
Diablo, the Roguelike4 (1%)
Disc RL
Disc RL0 (0%)
Distant Echoes of Ancient Lies0 (0%)
DiveDive0 (0%)
Don't Starve4 (1%)
Doom, the Roguelike24 (7%)
Double Rogue0 (0%)
Down The Brain0 (0%)
Dragon's Lair0 (0%)
Dragons Hoard0 (0%)
Dragonslayer0 (0%)
Drakefire Chasm1 (0%)
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup37 (11%)
Dungeon Dashers1 (0%)
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Dungeon Ho!0 (0%)
Dungeon of the Endless0 (0%)
Dungeon Penetrator0 (0%)
Dungeon X: Flesh Wounds0 (0%)
Dungeon-Themed Starvation Simulator0 (0%)
Dungeonmans7 (2%)
Dungeons of Dredmor13 (3%)
Dungeons of Kong0 (0%)
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DynaHack1 (0%)
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Elona+11 (3%)
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fabu0 (0%)
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Fame1 (0%)
Fancy Skulls1 (0%)
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FHRL0 (0%)
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Fishtryoshka0 (0%)
Fisticuffmanship0 (0%)
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Forays into Norrendrin3 (0%)
Friendly Meddling0 (0%)
FunhouseRL0 (0%)
Gatecrashers0 (0%)
Gelatinous0 (0%)
Goblin Men0 (0%)
GUTS0 (0%)
Hack, Slash, Loot2 (0%)
Han Yolo and the Mysterious Planet0 (0%)
Hark!0 (0%)
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Hoplite3 (0%)
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Hydra Slayer1 (0%)
HyperRogue2 (0%)
Illuminascii0 (0%)
Incavead: infinite cave adventure3 (0%)
Infection0 (0%)
Infra Arcana6 (1%)
Inside Out0 (0%)
Interloper0 (0%)
Into the Labyrinth0 (0%)
It Did Not End Well0 (0%)
Kali's Ladder1 (0%)
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Kollum: The Pressure Valve0 (0%)
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Legend of Dungeon4 (1%)
Liberation of Yama0 (0%)
Like a Rogue0 (0%)
Live as Long as Possible0 (0%)
Lost Crypts0 (0%)
Lost Labyrinth1 (0%)
Lurk Under Wires0 (0%)
MacRL0 (0%)
Magic Fountain0 (0%)
Malachite Dreams0 (0%)
Man in a Maze0 (0%)
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Mosaic0 (0%)
Moving@0 (0%)
MovingETA v0.070 (0%)
Mysterious Castle1 (0%)
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Nightmare Tyrant0 (0%)
NinjaRL0 (0%)
Not the Robots0 (0%)
Now Hiring: Zookeepers0 (0%)
Noxico2 (0%)
NPPAngband4 (1%)
NPPMoria2 (0%)
Nuclear Throne0 (0%)
Nya Quest0 (0%)
Nyanko0 (0%)
Occult Chronicles0 (0%)
One Way Heroics3 (0%)
Paranautical Activity1 (0%)
Peli0 (0%)
Pitman0 (0%)
Pixel Dungeon6 (1%)
Pixel Piracy2 (0%)
PonyRL2 (0%)
Possession: Escape from the Nether Regions1 (0%)
Post Future Vagabond0 (0%)
Prehistorical Bean Climber0 (0%)
PRIME2 (0%)
Prospector3 (0%)
Pugnacious Wizards0 (0%)
Pugnacious Wizards 20 (0%)
PurpRL0 (0%)
Quadropus Rampage0 (0%)
QuickHack1 (0%)
Rasatala1 (0%)
Red Rogue3 (0%)
Return to the Dungeons of Doom0 (0%)
Rillaung0 (0%)
Risk of Rain7 (2%)
Rodney0 (0%)
rogue (7DRL)0 (0%)
Rogue Break0 (0%)
Rogue City Scavenger1 (0%)
Rogue Coder0 (0%)
Rogue Dream0 (0%)
Rogue Effect0 (0%)
Rogue Fleet0 (0%)
Rogue in the Void0 (0%)
Rogue Legacy15 (4%)
Rogue Shooter0 (0%)
Rogue Valley0 (0%)
Rogue's Eye0 (0%)
Rogue's Labyrinth0 (0%)
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Room Rogue0 (0%)
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RuneMaster0 (0%)
Ruoeg, a minimalist roguelike0 (0%)
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Scrounger0 (0%)
Seduction Quest0 (0%)
segfault0 (0%)
Seven Days in Space0 (0%)
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Sil7 (2%)
Skool Eskape0 (0%)
SkullDorado0 (0%)
Slaughter0 (0%)
Smashing Bad0 (0%)
So Many Jagged Shards0 (0%)
Sorcery Saga: The Curse of the Great Curry God0 (0%)
Spelunky HD11 (3%)
Splitter0 (0%)
Starship Rex0 (0%)
Steam Marines5 (1%)
Stink Warrior0 (0%)
Sunk Coast0 (0%)
SurviveRL0 (0%)
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Swift Swurd0 (0%)
Sword of the Stars: The Pit5 (1%)
T.H.A.D. - 7DRL edition0 (0%)
T.o.M.E. 4139 (41%)
T@XI0 (0%)
Teleglitch5 (1%)
Tetrogue0 (0%)
The Artifact0 (0%)
The Aurora Wager0 (0%)
The Case of the Girl and the Red Dress0 (0%)
The Conception0 (0%)
The Fourth Wall0 (0%)
The Guided Fate Paradox0 (0%)
The Hunger Games0 (0%)
The Land2 (0%)
The Monastery Garden0 (0%)
The Power of Dreams0 (0%)
The Reset Button0 (0%)
The Royal Wedding0 (0%)
The Veins of the Earth1 (0%)
The Wizard's Lair0 (0%)
TomeNET2 (0%)
Tower of Guns2 (0%)
Triangle Wizard5 (1%)
Ultima Ratio Regnum6 (1%)
UnBrogue1 (0%)
Underhall0 (0%)
Unhappy Devil0 (0%)
Unnamed RL0 (0%)
UnReal World22 (6%)
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Versus Time0 (0%)
Voyage to Farland2 (0%)
Warp Core Breach0 (0%)
Wayward8 (2%)
WazHack6 (1%)
Web Raid Mobile0 (0%)
Weeping Angels0 (0%)
Witchaven the Roguelike1 (0%)
X@COM3 (0%)
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