Saturday, February 27, 2010

Swamp vs. Deserts


after reading that there is no more auto-scum and there are no more great drops I got reminded of this little pearl written by Hajo in 2002. The pearl is a little bit hidden and only talks about OO design but really it talks about all design, so I extracted the part that struck me right between the eyes and rewrote it a little :

But in the meantime I think to get anything finished, creating perfection isn't the optimal approach.

Most other RL games are quite messy, code-wise, but they are all prosper and evolving.

Currently I'm trying to find a golden path between the desert of perfect theory and the swamps of usable reality. The swamps will in the end swallow you, but perfection can be like a desert that is very hard to cross (= takes a long time to implement properly).

Between the swamps and the desert there must be a temperate zone, which is easier to walk than the deserts and less dangerous than the swamps. Now the question is, how far should you stay from the swamps, and how deep should you travel in the desert?

This could be applied to anything in design, but specially to roguelikes. The Vanilla team is right now too much in the desert; it is a noble place to be, but us lesser players cannot always see where you're going to or have the patience to wait for the final product.

The other thing I'd like to say is dont be like the French, I will never forget working for a French company that did not like their email system, they were going to replace it. So since they were going to replace it, they cut the current email system without replacing it first. This stock quoted company went without email for 2 days (!!!) before realizing that you know, maybe they should have the replacement first... Taking out the auto scummer without first re-designing level generation is 'being French about it'. Refusing to give people a buy out button and also not redesigning shops is 'being French about it'. Refusing to give 'great drops' because long term you're going to fix item distribution is also pretty French.

Now, I've worked in a few countries since then and whaddayouknow, it's not just the French ;) If you've found a better term for this behaviour, let me know, I love and adore the French, I'm even married to one of them.



  1. The other half of the equation isn't necessarily making levels interesting - it is making monsters interesting. I submitted a patch that did that some time ago which may still exist in the vanilla code. However, it closed down the current 'dive and survive' model that having 70-90% of monsters being uninteresting allowed. Players that are used to that model didn't like it...

  2. It only took me close to a decade to this comment. But yes, fully agreed! I did the same in Hellband way back when.