2021 in RoguelikeDev
gamedev, project, update
The r/roguelikedev subreddit community hosts a yearly January event where authors talk about the last year in development and look ahead. This is my post (originally on Reddit).
Dose Response is an open world roguelike where you’re an addict. You’re wandering around, desperately looking for the next fix, having to avoid the dangers surrounding you.
It’s an abstract game — no needles or guns, the monsters are concepts rather than orcs or trolls. The focus is more on the loop of compulsion and the alternating of feeling great and the fall that follows.
It is also supposed to be a relatively short and simple game. One where you don’t have a tonne of things to learn. There’s few items, a handful of monsters, no levelling and no spells. Something that a "normal player" would be able to play (and win if they’re careful) while still being challenging and true to the roguelike feel.
I had planned to double down on Dose Response development and release it on Steam. But the last 15 months or so have been incredibly difficult for me. Crises came in different forms, from many angles, one after another. It took a huge amount of effort and energy to remain safe and (mostly) sound.
Things are better now, but I was able to do a small fraction of what I planned.
I’ve wanted to add graphical tiles to the game for a long time, but I really worried about being able to keep the feel of the game, maintain the abstract nature of it.
Then I came across this free Bountiful Bits tileset by VEXED and I loved it instantly. Put it in the game, loved the look and asked the author if they were willing to create the tiles that were missing (characters, monsters, food, doses).
And we came up with a great agreement. The work was in a range I was happy to pay for something that will unlikely reach any real profit, they’re licensed under CC0 which means I can keep the game fully open source and VEXED can have them in their open portfolio.
VEXED has been fantastic to work with — they took on my deeply vague requests and created something with the exact look and feel I wanted.
Companion NPC with tiles:
Same screenshot with ASCII graphics:
A fully uncovered game map:
Same with ASCII graphics:
The only other significant thing I’ve done was replace my ad-hoc text-based UI code with a Rust-native library called egui. It’s a pretty young project, but it’s got actual widgets, can do layouts, is renderer agnostic and therefore let me do a lot of things I’ve been putting off.
Oh, and I finally also got a laptop from Apple a year ago and thus managed to fix issues on that platform. Since then, Apple has switched their lineup to a completely new CPU architecture so who knows if it’ll still work there. I’m not buying a mac every year.
There’s a handful of things that I’d like to do before I feel I’m satisfied with the game:
Finish up the menu and GUI work
Add the graphical tiles to the Help pages, inventory, etc.
- Right now, the GUI only shows the ASCII version of everything
- Implement the Challenge settings to make the game easier/harder to play
- Add a colour-blind and/or greyscale mode
- Add the graphical tiles to the Help pages, inventory, etc.
- Add (optional) sounds and some ambient music
Improve the world generation
- I like what the current naïve worldgen produces
- But I’d like to make the exploration more varied and interesting
Better mouse support
- You can fully control the game with a mouse but it’s awkward
- I’d like to make it feel better without compromising on the "roguelikeness"
- Start posting regular gameplay videos and updates
None of these are massive, but they’ll take time and energy which is in short supply still.
And the biggie: release on Steam.
Even without updating the gameplay, I want to finish up the graphics, sound & controls work before I’m comfortable putting it on Steam, though.
Website | Trailer | itch.io | Source | Play Online
The version on the website/itch doesn’t have the new changes. I need to read up on Steam’s (and other stores') policies to see how much is allowed on other sites with possibly different payment strategies (Dose Response on Itch is pay what you want). I might end up keeping the ASCII-only version as is and make the new version with graphics etc. have a set price.