7DRL – RogueAgent Day 4

What a slog! Today was some hard-won improvements. The engine is now real-time (60 FPS+) with two game simulation ticks per second. This lets you animate things independently from the game simulation.

The idea behind this was to have something approaching a modern roguelike. I don’t want to play this over a TTY, I want things to look nice. An idea I had was you start outside an evil base. You’re on a sandy beach and that’s signalled by slightly undulating water, rather than just a ragged yellow area with a blue area next to it. Or you know when you’ve tripped the alarms because lights pulse red (even though you have all the time in the world between movements to strategise).

The system is also much more modular and has a primitive window system. So when I want to put some UI on, it won’t be too much of a pain… hopefully! Also I could do lighting and shadow in another pass, but I’m staying well away from that at the moment.

There’s some fundamental flaw in how I’m doing rendering and I can either have humans moving around nicely overlayed on the background, or I can have opaque objects (like the ticker display). I want both, but the way that the console blitting system works, it’s broken. Only very late did I realize that a cell with the blit-transparent chroma key is completely ignored, and not just the background. Basically I was hoping to green-screen some characters and I cut them out entirely.

I’ve started a BUGS list because I’m painfully aware of some goofy stuff in the code already. I added code for scrolling the screen if your guy moves too close to the edge of the screen. That’s broken for some dumb reason. Coding is hard!

I also pushed some magic constants out to configuration files.

I also did a bunch of chores around the house and watched 3 episodes of Mr Robot.

I have an idea to fix my transparency problem tomorrow. Then after some social outings, I might try to quickly fix the graphics problems and then declare graphics done. I’m sick of graphics! I need gameplay!

I have about 20K of code so far, with 750 lines of code.


## [0.0.4] - 2017-03-11

The huge graphical update! Lots of rewriting of almost everything.

### Added

- Primitive Windowing system

### Changed

- The entire graphical stack.
    - Slipped in a GUI layer
    - Objects manage their own little render maps
    - Scope for a lighting layer

## [0.0.3] - 2017-03-11

### Added

- Keybindings interface.
- BUGS list
- Engine configuration file

### Changed

- Game loop is now real-time, 2 updates per second, and 60 FPS rendering.
    - GameObjects are given timestamps to adjust rendering.
- Engine controls screenshots.

### Fixed

- Screenshot key now works.

## [0.0.2] - 2017-03-09

### Added

- Generic GameMap code
- `maps/` now contains different maps.
- Filled rectangles utility code
- HQ Map
- Take screenshots with PrintScreen
- Nifty scrolling ticker screen

### Changed

- Maps and GameObjects now render themselves onto a console. This
  allows them to be multi-tile and do things like (fake) glow.
- Tiles now store their own colour
- Test map code moved to its own GameMap
- Player and NPC are now Human objects
- GameObject is very lean

## [0.0.1] - 2017-03-08

### Added

- Core TCOD engine
    - Game loop
    - Clean exit on ESC or Ctrl-C
- Base World functionality (stores a map, a PC and a list of NPCs)
- Base Viewport functionality
    - Walls and floor
    - PCs and NPCs
- Base Object functionality
    - Movement
    - Wall blocking movement
    - Rendering
- Base Map functionality
    - Custom map with some walls
- Utilities
    - Box-drawing (AABB, origin+(width,height), centered)

7DRL – RogueAgent Day 3

No work done yesterday because of my job and spending the night playing a thrilling game of Pathfinder. But I was excited to get up this morning to start coding. More excited than having breakfast and coffee, but in all fairness, breakfast and 7DRL were trumped by a sleep in.

Instead of diving straight in, I’ve decided I’ll do the right thing and eat some food and get caffeinated. I’m reading a few roguelike design articles to get my brain ticking over in a semi-thoughtful way.

I’ve got most of a long weekend open to 7DRL so hopefully I can make something cool!

7DRL – RogueAgent Day 1

After a few hours futzing around, I got things working.

While this is super-lamo, it’s doing a bunch of things right under the hood. There’s a world that chooses maps (from a list of one). There’s a map that draws those walls. The NPC gets an update (and just takes a random step). The PC accepts key-presses and quits cleanly. The walls block movement. I can take screenshots of play.

More importantly, I didn’t fall down a rabbit-hole of planning. Some things are placeholder at the moment, but the structure lets me expand out where I need to, when I need to.

The Gamer’s Guide to Australia Day

On Australia Day 2017, I thought it might be nice to look at some Australian games!

Australia Day. It’s a day to reflect on The Lucky Country. To fire up the barbie, set up the stumps for backyard cricket and listen to the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown. It’s a day to decide whether to eat a lamington or a pavlova for dessert, and whether a Tim Tam slam counts. It’s a day to reflect on our culture and multiculturalism. It’s a day to recognize the men and women doing their best to improve our country and the world.

Many Australians are gamers, and we’ve had a weird and wonderful history with games. I thought it might be neat on this day to point out a few Australian games, in case you need something Australian to do to escape the heat. So smear a Weetbix with Vegemite, pour yourself some Milo and wander through these games made in Australia or by Australians.

Caveat: In this multicultural and multinational society, what’s Australian and what’s not is hard to define. I figure these examples are close enough.
Continue reading “The Gamer’s Guide to Australia Day”

VR Games Round-Up

Here’s some recommendations on HTC Vive games!

UE4 is downloading a large update, so I thought I might spend the time productively and give some quick reviews of VR games I have played on my HTC Vive.


I happen to be very lucky and splurged on getting myself the HTC Vive in a preorder. So I’ve had it for about 9 months now, and Australian shops are just starting to stock it.

I think unequivocally, the HTC Vive is the best VR gear out there. The setup is great. The hardware is top-notch. It is more expensive, but that’s okay. The room-scale experience is great (Oculus’ fixed-position default seems mental once you’ve tried room-scale). And as games get more demanding on hardware, you can improve it – which you can’t really do with a PS4 or phone-based VR. I also bought some Google Cardboard VR sets, and it’s okay for a 5 minute dabble.

If the Vive can have a wireless or at least backpack-mounted interface, then it’ll be perfect. I’m quite pleased to see regular firmware updates to the base stations, headset and controllers.


Enough about hardware, let’s hear about games I liked.

The Lab

Valve spent a long time experimenting with VR games whilst designing the Vive. The Lab is a polished version of those experiments. There are several disconnected mini games designed to explore the space of game design. There’s an archery tower defence game. A Portal-themed Angry Birds equivalent. A bullet-hell space shooter (which is really wicked in 3D). There’s a few visual explorations like wandering in a postcard, sweeping through a CT scan or standing in space looking at the solar system. The gamey bits are really great and there’s lots to mess about with. Plus it’s free!

Job Simulator

Job Simulator puts you in a robot-run world where you run simulations of human jobs from the 1980-2010s. You are guided and graded by robots who know nothing of the human condition. And so, mostly, you make a mess.

On paper this game sounds boring. Fix a car. Photocopy some documents. Serve hotdogs at a convenience store. But it’s fun! It’s about the experience rather than the mechanics. The gameplay itself is fairly simple, but you are given a lot of latitude to mess around however you like. There are many things to interact with and it all feels natural if slightly goofy. So like many jobs, your real task is to fool around within the system.


Holopoint is what the Matrix simulator might give you to train you in archery. You shoot arrows at targets and have to reload by grabbing another arrow from your quiver. But soon enough, the targets start shooting back. They launch a projectile at your head, so you can avoid them by ducking, swerving or spinning around. As the levels climb, samurai converge on you from all angles.

In a good game of Holopoint, it starts to become a dance like all those fight sequences from the Matrix. You loose an arrow, spin to dodge a bolt and then draw to fire quickly on two samurai behind you, and then untwist to take a swift shot at a target hiding in the rafters. You don’t have to be so dramatic (head tilts can suffice) but it feels damn good.

Vanishing Realms

This is VR Dungeons and Dragons (Vanishing Realms, VR… geddit?). You creep through crypts. Have sword fights with skeletons. Put gems into statues to reveal secret treasure… All the tropes. Even having to dodge pendulum axe traps! Oh my knees!

Traditional pen-and-paper roleplay mechanics are pretty much absent, but that’s replaced with neat experiential stuff. You draw your sword from your waist. When you cast a fireball, your hand rumbles with the awesome power. Having to quickly sift through your inventory in your belt while an archer is laying down fire is much more exciting than on a tabletop!

This game is Early Access and could be great given enough resources. There was a decent length intro campaign when I played.

Raw Data

Raw Data is a horde mode game where many robots descend upon you and you have to destroy them all. You can wield a gun (and you have to reload like you’re jamming a clip in). Or you can be a legally-distinguishable-from-Jedi cyber-samurai with a laser sword and the ability to telekinetically push things around with your palm.

You can play this game by yourself or multiplayer. I only play the former, but there seems to be cool class-like setups. Interestingly, Raw Data doesn’t teleport you instantly like other VR games, but does a whooshy projection thing which when paired with a sword that can deflect bullets, makes you feel like a goddamned ninja.

This is more gamey than many of the others on this list. It’s fairly intense, but fun.

Rec Room

Summer camp meets VR! There are several multiplayer VR mini-games, but more importantly, ample opportunity to horse about. Mini-games range from paintball to frisbee golf to 3D Charades. Rec Room isn’t a lean, mean competitive multiplayer game, but an excuse to have interactive fun. Voice chat works great and your simple avatar is able to express a lot of character.

I was sold when you could join a group by fist-bumping (since you can click the grab button to make a fist…) I had fun playing 3D Charades with some random people. I had to do “boa constrictor” and drew a bad 3D snake. But when I jumped into the middle of the drawing and had it wrap around me in 3D… Fun times!

Waltz of the Wizard

There are some games that are just “experiential”. Waltz of the Wizard is like that. You get to be a wizard in a tower casting spells. You cast spells by dropping (say) an eyeball and a pointy gem into the cauldron, and then pour in some red mana. The spells are cool. Classics like fireball or turning yourself into a giant. You can also make objects ignore gravity, or dance around like a Disney movie. There’s lots going on in Waltz of the Wizard, but you can just mess about. You can spend your time shooting objects with a crossbow if that floats your boat.

The crazy thing about this game is that it’s free! Not as part of a package or anything like that. Straight-up free. There’s nice 3D modelling and voice acting. Many experiential games charge a few dollars admission. Not Waltz!

Tilt Brush and Google Earth

Google have been playing around with VR and the results are amazing. Google Earth VR is the old Google Earth, but y’know, in VR. The sense of scale is amazing. You can shrink yourself down to normal size (in an admittedly blocky world) or grow large and survey the land. They have several curated tours for you, both man-made and natural. You can change the time of day by just grabbing at the sun and shifting it.

Tilt Brush is something amazing. It’s MS Paint for 3D, in VR and with extra sparkles. You draw in the air with very intuitive controls that might draw ribbons or fire or sparkles. Drawing in space and being able to walk around it is great. VR offers some fascinating experiences and Tilt Brush is one of them.

Also tried…

I’ve also got Audioshield (punch energy balls to the beat), Kingspray Graffiti (do graffiti with semi-realistic spraycans), Fantastic Contraption (make physics gadgets), theBlu (experience some neat underwater scenes) and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (crazy bomb defusal). All of these were decent, but either require more work or just didn’t grab me like the others.

VR is really fascinating. If you haven’t tried it, you need to. Explanations on paper don’t match what it’s like to grab a thing and throw it in a way that feels natural. Or that awkward moment when you go to lean on a virtual table that doesn’t exist in the real world.

VR is great, and I can’t wait to see what else happens in this space.