Author Topic: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?  (Read 5902 times)

Samildanach

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Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« on: August 28, 2013, 04:44:22 PM »
I've been playing the Warlock of Firetop Mountain roguelike recently, based on the influential but very simple early-80s Fighting Fantasy gamebook of the same name. It got me thinking about the potential of turning gamebooks and their settings into roguelikes. I'm going to focus on one in particular here, but I'll be very happy to hear alternative suggestions as well as thoughts on this one.

I can see why The Warlock of Firetop Mountain would be chosen as the source material - it's a straightforward dungeon crawl with no flowery extra features, no magic system to speak of, and a generic (therefore easily variable) setting - but the more I think about it, the more I think others might be a better fit. For me, the Lone Wolf series springs to mind.

I think the adventures of the Lone Wolf character would work well. His unlockable (in the books) Kai Disciplines fit into roguelike format without too much difficulty. Some, such as Weaponskill and Animal Kinship, don't require much imagination. Others (Sixth Sense and Mind Over Matter) might need more thought but still shouldn't be difficult. Sixth Sense could easily be enemy detection or magic mapping, and For Mind Over Matter I imagine maybe the Morrowind use of telekinesis - using switches etc/picking up items/whatever at a distance, or not using up a turn to do so.

The setting could be kept open world-ish for an ambitious game but could easily be condensed into a series of dungeons - escaping the Kai Monastery massacre, Ruanon, the Maakengorge caverns, the ice fortress Ikaya, the gargantual sewer complex of the Baga-Darooz, any number of Darklands citadels... The setting itself is also a nice deviation from standard fantasy conventions. In place of kobolds, orcs and trolls we have giaks, vordaks, helghast, drakkarim, xagash, crypt spawn - a whole compendium of foes that aren't just reskins of fantasy standards but actually have their own distinctive creature identities.

Playing the hero character might seem to tempt the hero trap but a lot of Lone Wolf's missions involve secrecy. Getting out of the ruined monastery without revealing that you survived the battle, getting to Durenor before the Darklords realise what you're doing, capturing Vonotar (which is a lot easier if he doesn't know you're coming). If that's still to heroic it's easy enough to use one of nameless junior Kai Lords who Lone Wolf recruits between adventures.

There's also the potential for class choices. The Kai (e.g. Lone Wolf himself) are basically rangers with a hint of the monk to them; the Knights of the White Mountain are paladins; the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star are magicians; the Herbwardens of Bautar are essentially alchemists.

Anywhere from relatively basic and simple to ambitious and elaborate could work really well with the Lone Wolf setting, I think. Sadly I can't programme. I don't even know what code looks like, and I don't think a rich and engaging roguelike based on a favourite book series would be a good project for Baby's First Code Experiment.

So...anyone else familiar with this and have thoughts about the idea, even if it has to remain hypothetical? (Though if you want to make it, knock yourself out!) Any other people who used to read gamebooks and have a particular book/series they can imagine as a roguelike?

getter77

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2013, 08:45:31 PM »
It would work pretty well same as many other as of yet untapped P&P trappings---my familiarity of it comes from the thoroughly entertaining video LP's of the series thus far that Deatheven13 on Youtube has been wrangling via the whole Project Aeon dealie:

http://www.youtube.com/user/deatheven13/videos?flow=grid&view=50&shelf_index=2
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Samildanach

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 10:03:55 PM »
I was unaware of that! I'll have to take a look. I do follow a few LP-ing blogs though, most consistently Fighting For Your Fantasy, which is about to move from Fighting Fantasy to Lone Wolf.

The problem I have with a lot of fantasy settings is that they get lazy. Even quite inventive ones often end up falling back on Tolkien tropes. Considering the prominence of Tolkien in the roguelike genre (Angband, Moria, Sil, early ToME, etc) it's nice to step away from that for a more creative setting I think.

This sort of source provides a non-standard fantasy setting that is already well developed.

getter77

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 02:14:22 AM »
It is good watching, Project Aeon getting supported by the original fellow(s) was a class act move to keep it all alive and lively all these years after the fact.

There's also Seventh Sense, which ties into things a bit:   http://www.projectaon.org/staff/david/

And this, for DS emu firing up or the real deal if homebrew inclined:  http://www.projectaon.org/staff/frederic/index.php

There's actually a Hexen'ish Warlock of Firetop Mountain RPG for the old Nintendo DS too---in one of the strangest moves, said moves including not doing a PC port despite it would've almost assuredly been well received and could've served as a tremendous springboard for the modding/source material enthusiast community, they actually took the system to the absolute limit on the graphical front so much so that there was practically, literally nothing left for Music.

Tolkien set the fantasy fiction world ablaze---but I too think/know there is much more out there that is finally starting to get more action afoot, helped in part by the likes of the OGL that is currently aiding Veins of the Earth/Incursion in our dreams, and any other more permissive licenses and so on.

Also, many people simply don't want to deal with the estate/rights beyond the biggest of the big---so their eyes doth wander.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 02:16:38 AM by getter77 »
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Zireael

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 09:52:25 AM »
Quote
Tolkien set the fantasy fiction world ablaze---but I too think/know there is much more out there that is finally starting to get more action afoot, helped in part by the likes of the OGL that is currently aiding Veins of the Earth/Incursion in our dreams, and any other more permissive licenses and so on.

The author of the Veins of the Earth here *blushes* The OGL is indeed a good thing. However, even with it, you have to be careful to avoid stepping on any toes.
You should be extra careful, as the Lone Wolf has no such things (especially when there's a company with the rights to make a game). For example, you should change all recognizable names. Darklords and Darklands are generic enough, just putting a space in the middle would do.
Even if you were to adapt the Mongoose OGL adaptation, the OGL does not cover place names, character names etc.

malignatius

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 10:07:56 AM »

The problem I have with a lot of fantasy settings is that they get lazy. Even quite inventive ones often end up falling back on Tolkien tropes. Considering the prominence of Tolkien in the roguelike genre (Angband, Moria, Sil, early ToME, etc) it's nice to step away from that for a more creative setting I think.

This sort of source provides a non-standard fantasy setting that is already well developed.

This. I find it really hard to get into generic fantasy games and rougelikes without a defined setting.   I haven't touched a Lone Wolf book since my childhood, but i really loved those books so I really like the idea.

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2013, 02:10:34 AM »
There are. SO. MANY. RPG's....so many I'd like to see made into games. I'll name 5 here, as 5 is my magic number.

The Dead Simple Series: ESPECIALLY the super hero version, Carbon City
http://thegamesshed.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/dead-simple-rpg-rules/

Robotech by Palladium. Transformable Mecha and 50 foot humanoid aliens. Yes please.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness also by Palladium. Mutant animal hero game.

Firefly RPG...PLEASE! Someone with skill do this...

Marvel Super Heroes and/or Star Frontiers...I know that's 2. :-)

Samildanach

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 07:14:44 AM »
Good call on Firefly. I can't believe so little has been done with that property, game-wise. It has so much potential. I've never played the RPG but I would if I had any roleplaying friends.


guest509

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 08:13:46 AM »
I've checked it out Samil.

Skills are by die roll. 1D4 for low, up to 1D12 for high skill. Cinematic, over the top fun based. I hear good things every time I hear about it. Much like the series itself.

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2013, 11:35:54 PM »
The problem I have with a lot of fantasy settings is that they get lazy. Even quite inventive ones often end up falling back on Tolkien tropes. Considering the prominence of Tolkien in the roguelike genre (Angband, Moria, Sil, early ToME, etc) it's nice to step away from that for a more creative setting I think.

I cannot believe how unimaginative modern fantasy is.  There are literally infinite possibilities, but all anyone wants to do is go with the same elves and dwarves over and over again.  Generic fantasy was less interesting than real world myths even before it had been copied a trillion times.  If you're going to rip something off, why not Shinto or Arthurian legends or Slavic fairy tales?

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2013, 03:29:05 PM »
Because the generic fantasy setting allows players to jump into a fantasy game without learning fifty new words and a power heirarchy. It also allows the developer to minimise the time they spend writing flavour text so that they can concentrate on developing imaginative game mechanics.

I'm all for more variety in game settings, but I've seen this complaint a dozen or more times and I think it would be better to make games with unusual settings than to complain about the lack of such games.

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2013, 05:21:03 PM »
And the fact that there are goblins and dwarves doesn't mean there is no room for creativity. And modern fantasy suits the roguelike genre really well. I've done some research on Slavic fairy tales and they're not really good for hack&slash RPG, probably better for a non-violent adventure game. Maybe Greek mythology would be good.
KeeperRL, Dungeon Keeper in roguelike style:
http://keeperrl.com

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2013, 01:34:18 AM »
I'm all for more variety in game settings, but I've seen this complaint a dozen or more times and I think it would be better to make games with unusual settings than to complain about the lack of such games.

It's a legitimate complaint.  Unimaginative and unoriginal writers deserve to be called out.

guest509

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2013, 05:47:22 AM »
Roguelikes aren't really story telling devices so much as game playing devices. Strategic decision and feedback models.

So stock and recognizable genres and motifs are well used. These aren't fiction writers, but game writers. Tokien took decades to invent his world before he laid down story. Even Saint Gygax borrowed heavily from him. The roguelike medium is just the wrong place to world build. I'm VERY open to being proven wrong, but any game that proves me wrong will have thousands of pages of text so I probably won't play.

I'd like to take this opportunity to complain about one area of fiction that has not been ripped off enough. Comics, or rather Comic Book Movies. Where is my Super Hero the Roguelike? I'm not good enough to write one or I would have...:-(

Go ahead and rip off every comic book movie for the last 40 years. I don't care. I just want to have claws, sideburns and +10 healing. With the option of being a mild mannered physicist who can 'Smash' when things get hairy. Or a bazillionaire with ninja skills and a catty girlfriend. Mkay?

Paul Jeffries

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Re: Gamebooks to roguelikes - Lone Wolf?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2013, 06:39:15 PM »
Personally I find 'standard' Tolkienesque elf/dwarf/orc/dragon fantasy world incredibly tedious and a bit of a turn-off, but I do agree with the point that pre-existing settings like that can be a good basis for communicating all sorts of useful information to a player without having to explicitly tell them.

I think it's more of an issue with ASCII graphics than it is with roguelikes, though.  If you're creating a graphical roguelike you can do a lot of low-cost communication and world-building purely through the visual design.  It doesn't matter if the player doesn't have the pre-existing knowledge that an Ogre is bigger and tougher than a goblin because you can just make it look bigger and tougher.

To return to the original topic: I think the Lone Wolf setting could be quite good as a roguelike.  To be honest I don't really remember too much about the world (it's been a while since I read them) but I recall them having quite a good being-hunted-by-the-forces-of-evil vibe that could benefit a roguelike.

I'd quite like a Tower of Clavius Boon roguelike - hopefully Dungeonmans will come close.