Thursday 24 July 2014

Nethack, Angband UI and warm days

I've played Nethack as a researcher trying to find out what makes it good. Of course I've played Nethack even before I started Kaduria (a long, long time ago), but I need to try different professions and also try to become a better player.

The biggest problem in Nethack is Elbereth which kind of fixes an inherent design flaw. Also in my opinion D&D has always been "broken", because it relies too much on magic. But even if the game seems to be broken it can actually create a gameplay that many people seem to like. And it's not fair to judge game design that was created mostly in 80's by regular students. In that context Nethack has stand the test of time very nicely.

Angband is another game I need to study more. I never liked it and didn't even want to learn how to play it. It's still difficult, because the user interface is really bad and tries to scare you away. I remember the old Angband was better (one with true 80x25 console). What they have now is way too many tilesets while they should concentrate creating one good set and ascii modes are also poor, with bad fonts. It's sad how the UI can't even scale to selected font size, you have to increase or decrease the tile size manually.

It's been really warm for over a week now. 25+ C which is extremely warm in arctic region. I'm trying to survive days at work and when I get home do nothing. It's hard to concentrate on programming so I have spent this time playing (or researching as I call it).

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Field of field of vision

Roguelike developers have long struggled to invent good and fast FOV routines. I've had some good results with a regular line of sight (line drawing) and then fixing errors with a special routine. What I've also found out is that clearing the FOV map first is slower than setting visible and blocked tiles using only line drawing (drawing to the end of FOV area) at least in large open areas, because there are then two iterations through the map (even though line drawing visits a number of same tiles).

One day I had an idea about new type of fix routine that takes place first, before line drawing. It also sets each tile of FOV map to a preset value. Then line drawing takes care of the rest. But let's not get excited, because there is not yet a working implementation. In theory with advanced type of routine it would be possible to limit line drawing only to places where it's needed after the initial FOV routine.

I also wondered would it be possible to draw the level with the FOV routine itself (without having to copy the FOV data first to a map) using an update map to prevent multiple drawing of a tile. It could be something to try, because it seems always that you need to iterate the map or visible area several times to get things done before drawing.

Sunday 6 July 2014

The player of games

As a player I'm not very good. It has somehow become more evident when I've been watching ADOM gameplay videos on Youtube by Gordon Overkill. He also seems to make mistakes which fellow youtubers often point out in comments, but he is still way better than I am.

The main difference is that Gordon knows what to do. He knows where to go, what items to use and what kind of monsters there are in the game. Of course roguelikes require learning that stuff and using tactics to apply all that information. I don't play ADOM, but in Nethack it's the same story. What happens to me in Nethack that I sometimes get far, but then something bad happens and the game is over. Sometimes it's something new, but often it's just the lack of proper tactical response to a bad situation. In other words I don't know what to do.

This is somewhat important, because I'm developing games that should be difficult as roguelikes often are. But how can I do that if I'm not a skilled, tactical type of player? I really don't want to set up a closed game testing before release. Maybe I should forget about creating a super difficult game and create the gameplay easy enough for me to win the game. In case of Kaduria it will probably be something that happens anyway, because the RPG system is not similar to D&D.