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November 26, 2014, 09:22:11 AM
TIGSource ForumsFeedbackPlaytestingPlort - a graphical roguelike
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NiallM
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« on: July 04, 2009, 06:29:18 AM »

Hi,

Plort is a graphical roguelike I've been working on for a while now, and I've got to the point where I think I could use some feedback.  First, a screenshot:

The story is that the world's stopped spinning and you've been tasked with travelling down to the core to start it up again.  Which obviously involves battling dangerous monsters and collecting mysterious potions...

Beyond the graphics I think it's a fairly standard example of the genre (turn-based, permadeath, item identification etc.), but I plan on developing it further and making it more interesting in future.  At the moment though I'm mostly concerned that it's not as much fun to play as it should be, so I'm hoping some kind souls might be able to help me figure out how to make it better?

One question I have is, is it too hard?  Theoretically the game can be completed, but I can't do it myself without cheating.  I don't know if this is just down to my lack of skill as a gamer though...


Anyway, it's open source, and available for Windows, OSX, and Linux(/BSD etc.).  You can get it here.

All comments are welcome (particularly ones that suggest simple, easy-to-implement improvements Wink  I'm so lazy...).


(also, I will say that this is a game where you get rewarded if you dance on Tolkien's grave)
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Hayden Scott-Baron
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2009, 07:33:38 AM »

Hey, this looks cute! Smiley The graphics look a little bit dark, but I approve of graphical roguelikes in general!
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Mipe
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2009, 11:36:45 AM »

The controls are a bit on the "WTF?!" side.
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Kadoba
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2009, 01:00:23 PM »

@Mipey They're just like standard roguelike controls... which are WTF...


@Niall I really like this. It feels just like what it should be - a graphical roguelike. Though it is pretty damn hard, even for a roguelike. The only other one I have played is nethack, so I'm going to compare it to that.


Some big things:
  • The biggest problem I have with it so far is that you can perform actions even while there are messages in queue. This makes things really confusing as it's hard to tell exactly when an event message occurred. Make it a rule that you cannot perform any actions until the message queue is empty. On that same note, having only one message line always really bothered me with roguelikes.
  • If you rebind the corresponding action from the keys on the main menu, the main menu will still display the old key even though you will have to press a new one. For example I rebound 'k' to 'num8' and even though the menu says I need to press 'k' to change my key bindings I have to press 'num8' now. This was really frustrating until I figured out what it was.

Some minor things:
  • I rebound my movement keys to the numpad and on the tutorial level all the movement spaces just said 'num'.
  • It's nice that you want to keep the original controls for roguelikes but you may want to consider some graphical commands as well. I know a lot of my friends refuse to play roguelikes because you have to memorize tons key commands. (although yours is much more simplified)
  • The look command only lets you look at what you're currently standing on. a selectable look command would be really helpful, especially when trying to figure out if a monster is friendly, or what an inventory item does. (Actually I'm guessing this is still a WIP because it always says "Hmm... This cave floor could use some dusting", but I didn't find anything about it on the to-do list)
  • A button to review your key bindings in-game would be nice.
  • After dying you should be able to go back to the main menu.
  • hp regeneration should be a little faster. Resting to recover takes forever.

Things I like:
  • The universal apply command. instead of apply, eat, put-on, quaff, etc...
  • The clean vector graphics and quirky humor. The game already has a lot of charm.
  • When you go to apply or wield your inventory automatically pops up.

So far it's coming along really nicely, but it understandably lacks polish. Keep up the good work!

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Kekskiller
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2009, 01:37:51 PM »

I like the overall presentation, but it's kinda hard to survive with just a spade, dozens of reappearing (seems so) enemies, horrible healing abilities, snd that goddamn standard keyboard mapping (come on! the numpad is much better than some random characters). If you fiddle around with the things Kadoba mentioned and my three points... could become a nice little roguelike.
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NiallM
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2009, 07:56:44 AM »

Thanks for the comments guys Smiley

Quote from: Kadoba
The biggest problem I have with it so far is that you can perform actions even while there are messages in queue. This makes things really confusing as it's hard to tell exactly when an event message occurred. Make it a rule that you cannot perform any actions until the message queue is empty.
Ah, that's a good point.  I'll get on it.  I'll have to have a think about a multi-line message queue - I'll maybe have it so you can bring up a window/panel with the messages ordered by the turn they occurred in.

Quote from: Kadoba
If you rebind the corresponding action from the keys on the main menu, the main menu will still display the old key even though you will have to press a new one.
Oops Embarrassed  That's a fairly silly bug.

Quote from: Kadoba
I rebound my movement keys to the numpad and on the tutorial level all the movement spaces just said 'num'.
Yeah, I'd noticed that before.  The problem is that it's trying to fit 'numpad 1' (or something similar) into a 32x32 tile, which is really the code framework I use's fault.  But I should really change it to just display the number...

Quote from: Kadoba
It's nice that you want to keep the original controls for roguelikes but you may want to consider some graphical commands as well.
Hmm, that would fit with the general style of the game, but it would require a bit of thought on the UI design front.  It's not high on my list of priorities at the moment, to be honest.

Quote from: Kadoba
The look command only lets you look at what you're currently standing on. a selectable look command would be really helpful, especially when trying to figure out if a monster is friendly, or what an inventory item does. (Actually I'm guessing this is still a WIP because it always says "Hmm... This cave floor could use some dusting", but I didn't find anything about it on the to-do list)
Yeah, that command's definitely still work in progress.  At the moment it's only really useful for investigating gravestones, holes, and bushes.  If you have a pair of glasses, or a magnifying glass, you can use them to get some information on monsters adjacent to you though.

Quote from: Kadoba
A button to review your key bindings in-game would be nice.
Good point.  Sounds like a job for '?'.

Quote from: Kadoba
After dying you should be able to go back to the main menu.
Yup.

Quote from: Kadoba
hp regeneration should be a little faster. Resting to recover takes forever.
I may have just implemented it and forgotten(quite possible Wink ), but I'm not sure hp actually regenerates at all?  You get an increase when you gain a level, but I think that's it.  Although you're right, it should regenerate.

Quote from: Kekskiller
I like the overall presentation, but it's kinda hard to survive with just a spade, dozens of reappearing (seems so) enemies
Yeah, the difficulty does need some work.  The first few levels shouldn't be too bad though?  Most of the initial monsters are largely peaceful, the only one you really need to watch for is the Blue Blob, and you can outrun that as long as you don't get caught in a dead end.  I'll follow this post up with a hints post though.

Quote from: Kekskiller
that goddamn standard keyboard mapping (come on! the numpad is much better than some random characters)
I'm coding this on a laptop, so no numpad for me - the default mapping's just the usual vi keys, which are common to most roguelikes.  Having said that, it's trivial for me to mirror the movement keys to the numpad by default, so I'll get that done for the next release.
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NiallM
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2009, 08:15:16 AM »

Okay, to help out with the initial levels, a few hints:

  • Most monsters in the first few levels are peaceful, and won't attack you unless you attack them.  The way to tell is if a monster is moving towards you, it's probably going to attack you (there are a couple of exceptions to this rule, but I'll let you figure them out for yourself).  In addition, some of the peaceful monsters can potentially spawn a nasty surprise if you attack them, so you generally don't want to attack anything that isn't overtly hostile.
  • Weapons-wise, if you haven't got a means of identifying things, you don't want to weild a knife (potential for nasty surprises).  Hammers are uniformly safe (and generally powerful), for now.  Logs have the potential to screw you up, and Wee Sticks are fairly useless.
  • When you start you're given a special helpful item, randomly selected from the following:
    • Irn Bru: Legendary Scottish hangover cure (banned in the US, apparently).  Raises your max HP.
    • Brain Juice: Identifies all unidentified items in your inventory.
    • Magicberry: Heals you a lot, and identifies random items in your inventory.
  • If you pick up something that looks like you can wear it, <a>pply it to yourself to put it on.
  • (roguelike 101)Drinking an unidentified potion/eating an unidentified berry is a pretty bad idea.
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Loren Schmidt
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2009, 06:25:00 PM »

Ooh, another roguelike. I'm working on one myself, and every time I see a thread for a roguelike or other RPG I find it quite encouraging. Best of luck to you, sir!

This seems pretty appealing so far. The tutorial seems nice and concise, and covers pretty much everything I needed to get started. I think this is the first time I've ever been bitten by a snail, that made me laugh. It seems very tidy- I confess I don't like the main character much, but other than that the graphics are pretty nice. I particularly like how clean the GUI looks. Edit: I think I'm getting used to the main character...

This does seem pretty difficult, but I'm not sure how much of that is a need for tuning and how much is just a matter of getting used to the game. I don't even know what all the items do yet. Are there ranged attacks? I'll second Kadoba's suggestion about the message queue, it's a bit befuddling right now, but that's really a pretty small matter. Oh, one other small thing I noticed is that there's no prompt for apply or weild- it would be nice if it said what the current action is somewhere when the item list pops up- perhaps it could say something like "Pick an item to apply the tomato to" in the message bar at the bottom? That's a really fiddly detail, though- in general this looks pretty good already. I look forward to seeing how it progresses.
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Dr.Melon
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2009, 01:22:55 AM »

Yes! Irn Bru! Truly a masterful drink over here in Scotland. Beer!
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Cesque
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2009, 07:29:22 AM »

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@Mipey They're just like standard roguelike controls... which are WTF...

Seriously, how about arrow keys or wasd+qezc? The current controls are definitely WTF, or maybe I just can't use the numpad on this laptop.
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JoeHonkie
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2009, 07:55:44 AM »

The tutorial on the mac displays the movement keys upside-down.

Also Irn-bru is horrible.  It's like death in a bottle.
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Kadoba
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2009, 09:04:25 AM »

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@Mipey They're just like standard roguelike controls... which are WTF...

Seriously, how about arrow keys or wasd+qezc? The current controls are definitely WTF, or maybe I just can't use the numpad on this laptop.

Even with their WTFness they are rebindable to whatever you want. Like I said, it's standard roguelike controls (read: older than dirt) so of course its going to be unintuitive to us modern gamers. There's actually a practical reason why it's mapped the way it is and it has to do with a lot of the commands being mapped to keys that begin with their letter for easier memorization: 'a' for apply, 'q' for quaff (a potion), 'e' for eat. That being said the control scheme also comes from an age with hardware limitations, emerging game standards, when you actually had to study in order to learn how to play the game.

Thing is roguelike purists will more than likely prefer this scheme, and since it is a graphical roguelike choosing this scheme is understandable, at least initially. I think the graphical aspect will have a lot of appeal to people who would never play roguelikes otherwise and having an ancient control scheme may actually turn them back away. Maybe easily selectable control profiles might be something to consider starting off with a "classic" and "modern" scheme and able to make your own.

Though honestly to me it's not that big of a deal. I'll just rebind the keys to whatever I want. A lot of gamers won't do this and will lose interest very quickly when they find out they have to fight with the default controls to even begin playing. (as evidenced by this thread)
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Dataflashsabot
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2009, 09:42:58 AM »

Irn Bru is awesome, agreed! Beer!
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Cesque
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2009, 10:39:16 AM »

Quote
Like I said, it's standard roguelike controls (read: older than dirt) so of course its going to be unintuitive to us modern gamers.

I'm a great roguelike fan and it's probably the first time I come across the claim of such "standard" controls. The original "Rogue" in a Windows/DOS distrubution lets you (or me at least) use arrow keys. NetHack and ADOM both do that. IVAN, iirc, allows this as an optional control scheme.

Then again, I didn't play Rogue on Unit, but still... what's the pain of allowing arrow keys as a second (default) option?
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Kadoba
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« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2009, 11:13:15 AM »

You're right standardized was a poor term. A lot of modern roguelike releases and updates now use numpad and directional key movement as the default. classic would have been a better word to use.

A good article is this. The article repeatedly refers to the controls as "vi-like Movement" and "roguelike controls". It also goes into a lot of detail of why it was used.

A couple of excerpts:

Quote
But there are important advantages granted by the roguelike control style. For example, its similarity to the controls of the venerable Unix text editor vi made the game infinitely easier to pick up back in the days of Rogue, when computer games were played on terminals more than anything else, the presence of numeric keypads was not guaranteed

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Control style is the single biggest thing that drives players away from playing roguelikes, more than graphics, more than randomness, more than permanent death -- even more than difficulty.
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Cesque
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« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2009, 11:47:30 AM »

Ah, alright. Thanks for the explanation Tongue
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NiallM
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« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2009, 11:55:10 AM »

Yes! Irn Bru! Truly a masterful drink over here in Scotland. Beer!
Grin Yeah, I want to have a bunch of Scottish references in the game.  At the moment all I've got is Irn Bru, a Haggis monster, and Midges (midges are bastards Angry Wink ).  I'd like to do it without falling back to the usual tourist cliches though, which maybe makes things slightly harder.  I reckon future versions will include Buckfast in the long line of alchoholic beverages available, and I want to work in the Glasgow tan as well...

The tutorial on the mac displays the movement keys upside-down.
Cheers, I'll get onto that.

Quote from: Kadoba
Maybe easily selectable control profiles might be something to consider starting off with a "classic" and "modern" scheme and able to make your own.
Now that's a thought - seems like it could be a decent compromise between the two points of view (though at the moment it seems like I'm the only one who really likes hjkl for movement.  Seriously guys, give it a shot - the keys sit under the 4 fingers of your right hand.  It's really nice once you've got used to it).

Then again, I didn't play Rogue on Unit, but still... what's the pain of allowing arrow keys as a second (default) option?
I'm a bit wary of having the cursor keys for movement by default, because there wouldn't be an obvious mapping for the diagonal movements.  I think it might wind up misleading players unfamiliar with roguelikes, I'm not sure they'd realise it's possible to move diagonally in a single turn.  I think the numpad is a more sensible option, though even that might trip people up.  I'll have to have a think...
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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2009, 12:52:04 PM »

There's a company called Irn Bru USA that imports a special version of Irn Bru without the banned stuff in it, I ordered a bunch for a friend over there, she says it's pretty good, but I haven't tried any myself yet so I don't know how well it compares with our real thing. Smiley
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Loren Schmidt
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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2009, 12:29:38 AM »

Ha, I love how half of the comments in the thread are about Irn Bru.

I've played roguelikes with hjkl before, but I always thought the diagonals were weird compared to using the numerical keypad. Of course the downside is that laptops don't have keypads...

What sort of solution do you think you'll end up using? I'm pretty interested in this myself, because I'm also working on a roguelike and have yet to nail down the controls. I'm leaning toward the keypad, myself, with redundant movement keys within the main keyboard and configurable layout.

Quote
Control style is the single biggest thing that drives players away from playing roguelikes, more than graphics, more than randomness, more than permanent death -- even more than difficulty.
I completely agree with this. That could probably be extended to cover UI as well. One of the things I liked about the early version you posted is how clean and easy to pick up it is.

Anyway I look forward to further news about the game, best wishes!
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ortoslon
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2009, 10:26:23 AM »

NiallM, have you played Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (tiles version)? It's a graphical roguelike done right.
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