Disc RL in the Media

My Seven Day Roguelike (7DRL) game, Disc RL, was mentioned in a podcast and demonstrated in a YouTube video. Note that the UberHunter, the one who made the YouTube video, is one of the members of the podcast.

An important complaint I discovered about a week after the contest ended, and mentioned very vocally in both the video and the podcast, was my exclusive use of the classic roguelike controls: hjkl yubn (vi keys). Apparently users really dislike these controls, even the hardcore roguelike players. This was a complete surprise to me! These are only controls I’ve ever used and I didn’t realize other players were using anything different, except for perhaps the numpad. Most of my experience with roguelikes has been on laptops, so the numpad simply wasn’t an option.

Fortunately, as a couple of them had found, these fine-movement controls weren’t that important thanks to the auto-movement features. That was the second surprise: autoexplore sounded like a foreign idea to the podcast. I stole that from Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, a roguelike I consider second only to NetHack. Dungeon navigation tedious, so I think of autoexplore as a standard feature these days. What sorts of roguelikes these guys playing if autoexplore is a fairly new concept?

Eben Howard made an really interesting suggestion to take auto-movement further. If there had been a key to automatically retreat to safe corridor, manual movement would have been almost unnecessary. That will definitely be a feature in my next 7DRL.

Oddly, UberHunter didn’t make much use of auto-movement in his video. When I play Disc RL, the early game is dominated by the autoexplore (o) and ranged attack (f) keys. Until I come across the first ranged unit (viruses, V), there’s no reason to use anything else.

That’s where the YouTube video is kind of disappointing. He didn’t get far enough to see tactical combat, the real meat of the game. That doesn’t kick in until you’re dealing with ranged units. Eben in the podcast did get this far, fortunately, so it was at least discussed. This issue suggests that I should have made tactical combat show up earlier in the game. My original concern was giving the player enough time to get accustomed to Disc RL before throwing harder (i.e. ranged) monsters at them. I didn’t want to scare potential players off right away.

Also surprising in the YouTube video, UberHunter seemed to be confused about using hyperlinks in the help system, worried that clicking them would break something. He kept trying to open the links in new tabs, which wouldn’t work because they’re JavaScript “hyperlinks.” Disc RL is a single-page application and that’s how single-page applications work. I don’t know if there would be any way to fix this to be more friendly. Single-page applications are still fairly new and I think web users, especially longer-experienced web users, are still getting accustomed to them.

Even though only one of these reviewers thought my game was interesting, getting this rich feedback was still really exciting for me. When you’re doing something that truly isn’t interesting or important, no one says anything at all.

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Chris Wellons

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