Gamedev

Why I’ve started ‘Tangaria’ project?

First reason was – to promote online (multiplayer) roguelike genre. I’ve worked on promotion of roguelikes in Russian speaking communities via my youtube channels for years. And of course MAngband, TomeNET and PWMAngband are beautiful, the BEST online multiplayer games ever created, but it’s very hard to convince modern (@#$%!) gamer even to try this games because of oldschool display.

Before I’ve started Tangaria, I’ve played TomeNET for 3 years. I’ve made 1-bit tileset for TomeNET and believed that online roguelikes should be only played with very minimalistic graphic appearence – so it would be easier to ‘read’ game’s situation. But after all this years in TomeNET, I’ve went to try PWMA in graphical mode – and I was amazed that it’s actually pretty possible to play online roguelike with ‘pictures’. You remember pictures with almost the same effort as you remember glyphs/letters in symbolic roguelikes.

At the same time having graphics could greatly enhance gameplay – as with ANSI symbols we are quite limited with objects to display: chair, table, candle, books etc – all this objects are forced to have the same symbol * as we are limited to 255 glyphs which are divided for monsters, items, players; there is no space left to add something, we came to the limit long time ago. Proper graphical tileset removes this limitation.

So graphics is first, but not the main reason why I’ve started ‘Tangaria’.

Another big reason is that I’ve became not satisfied with gameplay in other online roguelikes; which I love very much and greatly respect their devs, but all trinity got ‘roguelikish‘ gaps in their gameplay, eg player are allowed to have a lot of different characters. In this particular genre – online multiplayer roguelike – it’s very wrong as it always brings cheating (giving items from high lvl char to low lvl), hoarding items in houses and eventually old players have pointless and boring 1-45 lvl gameplay (and even 50+ if you would collect good stuff). 

Another problem is that mid-end multiplayer (and therefore real-time) *band gameplay is ruined by ‘full ESP’ mechanics with unlimited radius. Players shouldn’t see ALL monsters at WHOLE level all the time. Limit ESP is essential for truly roguelike experience in real-time mode, when you have to make decisions fast. Player shouldn’t  ‘L’ook around level all the time like mad – it looks really weird and unsatisfying. This ESP problem becomes especially bright when you play with graphical tileset.

The same thing with revealing ‘full map’ spells. They breaks exploration and make players gameplay ‘semi-automatic’: come to the lvl, push 2 buttons to reveal lvl, move 2 screens, repeat… Dull.

Another doom of rlg spirit is non-permadeath mode which is quite popular in other online roguelikes, as newbie players starts to play everlasting character and then afterwards even if player become experienced it’s hellish hard to start playing in roguelike mode, with one life. Players should start to play roguelikes properly from begginning!

And it’s not everything of course. Stair-scumming, possibility to grind low lvl dungeons, cheating with summoning staves and so on and so on.. All this problems will be (or already) solved in ‘Tangaria’. But of course to solve this issues properly, a lot of stuff have to be rebalanced and it’s quite long and complex task.


Some history of ‘Tangaria’

A few worlds about how all this started… Everything began when I had certain disagreement with TomeNET devs and started to play PWMA. As there wasn’t any ‘alive’ PWMA servers, I’ve decided to start my own, tiny server. At first it was just a small community, but it have been grown in time to more and more players.

Slowly I’ve started to experiment with server config. My goal was to solve all main online roguelikes problems listed above – ESP/mapping, permadeath, 1 character/account etc.

Then I’ve started to modify some internal staff and rebalance the game – eg made food much more rare and valuable, as without it, food mechanics was too simple and boring (go town -> buy food, repeat). So eventually it came to rebalancing all kind of stuff – items, monsters, shops, dungeons etc

At this point I want to say thanks to Powerwyrm (PWMA developer) who helped a lot in understanding how to work with PWMA ‘game engine’. He explained a lot of internal stuff and introduced great new features which ‘Tangaria’ heavely required to become better place. Not all stuff which I suggested Powerwyrm agreed to implement, we got different points of view on matters, but eventually we managed to find a compromise in a lot of questions. Thank you, Powerwyrm! And thanks to all online roguelike devs who made so much for this beautiful genre!

So after a while I’ve started to work on tileset, to enhance game graphics. PWMA already had great Gervais’s tileset included, but it had only monsters/items in it; almost without terrain and objects. And at this particular point I’ve recognized that working on new graphical tileset could inspire other online roguelike developers to combine their efforts and to work together at ‘game engine’ core, which could be the same for all online roguelike games. I thought (and still hope on it) that my example – Tangaria project – could bring new vision on this great genre and people could unite, overcoming their differences to start joint work. Of couse each of us would work at it’s own game, but they could have common mutual ‘core’ with modules which could be customized for each game by it’s own accord.

Creating new tileset was a very long process.. and I still work on it. Soon new version of Tangaria would go live and I hope it could give new breath to the online multiplayer roguelike genre.

That’s it for now, I’ll edit/write more stuff into this page later. There I just want to explain my vision on online roguelikes.