Author Topic: ElvinRL (7DRL 2014 Success)  (Read 2464 times)

blinkdog

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ElvinRL (7DRL 2014 Success)
« on: May 22, 2014, 03:21:15 AM »
ElvinRL was my (successful) attempt at my first 7DRL (2014).

You can read about it here:
http://7drl.org/2014/03/22/elvinrl-notes/

You can play it here:
http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~meade/elvin/ElvinRL.html

Jabberwock reviewed it here:
http://7drl.roguetemple.com/Reviews

Let me start out by saying Thank You to Jabberwock. Reviewing my work is a pretty cool thing to do. Silence is the most damning review that can be given to any published work, so I appreciate all of the comments that were made. Some of them have deeply informed my plans for 7DRL 2015.

I'd like to offer a response to the review, in hopes of clearing up why I did some things the way that I did for ElvinRL.

> Jabberwock >
>The most difficult part of this game is figuring out what to do. There
>are no instructions. 3 hotkeys are listed on the screen, but the most
>important one, SPACE, is not listed, which makes the game seem
>impossible till you press it accidentally at the right place. Once you
>figure out what to do, the game becomes rather boring and tedious.

These criticisms are dead-on. I left instructions until the end of the project and then found myself short on time for completion. That was obviously a bad decision. Next year, I envision making sure that available commands have short and long documentation in the source code itself, and making sure they are on-screen.

> Jabberwock >
>There are 36 fragments of security password. They are hidden in
>countless ... things? I don't know what is it. Hacking takes 7
>seconds!!! That's really annoying. Falling into trap also takes some
>significant time and accompanied by superannoying sound. There are
>some interesting concept in the game, but implementation details are
>really turning you away from it.

ElvinRL is an Impossible Mission themed roguelike. All of the sounds in the game are taken from the original Commodore 64 game. The superannoying sound played when falling in a pit trap ... it was the sound played in the original Commodore 64 game when the player fell in a pit.

I could have chosen a different sound for falling into the pit trap. However, the effort was partially driven by the desire for a nostalgic experience. Annoying as it was, no other sound would have been authentic to that experience. The other option would have been to leave it out entirely, but I felt that would be even more dissatisfying.

> Jabberwock >
> Completeness
>The game runs fine, but often generates disconnected maps, making the
>game impossible to win

This is the only part of the review that I consider inaccurate. The code to generate a fortress layout never generates disconnected maps. The algorithm to generate the layout is:

while less than 31 rooms
  find all rooms that can be extended (north, south, east or west)
  pick an extension point at random
  add a new room off of the extension point
find all rooms that can be extended (north, south, east or west)
pick an extension point at random
add the final "master control" room (where you win the game)

The code to generate the layout is found in layout.coffee, which you can find on GitHub here:
https://github.com/blinkdog/elvin-atombender/blob/master/src/coffee/layout.coffee

I've created a jsFiddle to run the algorithm and spit out a fortress layout here:
http://jsfiddle.net/blinkdog/6j92S/

Press the "Run" button near the top-left hand side to generate a new fortress layout.
Some results are quite twisty, but they always form a single acyclic tree.

> Jabberwock >
> Aesthetics
>The game looks ok, but 7 seconds hacking and lengthly falling into
>the pit with annoying sounds are really really bad decisions.

Eeek, really? I re-used the same garish colors from the rooms in the original Commodore 64 game. I think the game is terribly ugly.
I felt the low score in this category is the most deserved score.

> Jabberwock >
> Fun >
>Most fun comes from figuring things out. Once you know what to do,
>the game become very repetitive. Estimating if you can or cannot
>pass thru the room without using snooze is a little entertaining
>at first, but grows old pretty quick.

This criticism is dead-on. During the project, I assumed the gameplay elements would fall into place. After finishing the project and playing
it through a few times, I noticed that after the nostalgia wore off it was a rather shallow and boring experience. In fact, what I wrote about it:

"If you have played the original Impossible Mission, you’ll be in for a nostalgic treat, especially if you play with sound enabled. If you haven’t played the original, you may find my roguelike a little boring and repetitive. There isn’t much to do beyond avoiding robot guards and searching a garishly colored sprawling fortress for puzzle pieces to a mad man’s control room."

Jabberwock's comment confirms my intuition on the matter, and again, deeply informs my plans for 7DRL 2015. Like the instructions, the gameplay elements cannot be taken for granted. It is something that needs attention throughout the development process.



Oddly enough, the shortcomings of ElvinRL are what have taught me the most about making an RL game. I appreciate (and again, thank) Jabberwock for taking the time to discover the undocumented SPACE command, and to write a review for my game. I hope my entry for 7DRL 2015 will be much better for the experience.

Trystan

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Re: ElvinRL (7DRL 2014 Success)
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2014, 04:11:33 AM »
Thanks for such an honest review of your own game (and review of a review).

I added a link to the retrospective page on the roguebasin wiki at http://www.roguebasin.com/index.php?title=Retrospectives. Feel free to change the quote or link to a better retrospective.