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[Comments] (2) Notes on Notes Towards a Roguelike: Zack wanted me to comment on his Notes Towards a Roguelike, where he talks about his problems with Nethack. Nethack does have serious problems, but some of them are coupled with the things that make Nethack fun, so they can't just be ripped out.

Anonymous commenter on Zack's Livejournal says to take a look at Dwarf Fortress. I definitely think everyone should take a look at Dwarf Fortress, but the roguelike part of DF is pretty lame. Instead I would suggest Zack take a look at ADOM, which has most of Nethack's fun features, few of the aggravations, and not many of the second-order aggravations that come from fixing the first-order aggravations.

Zack's complaints about Nethack:

More later as I need to go to sleep.

Update: The promised "more".

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Posted by Nick Moffitt at Tue Oct 16 2007 03:50

The indie pen-and-paper RPGs have done a lot to tackle the XP problem. Some consider XP a fixed resource that all players receive at the start of the game, and these points are gifted from one player to another.

The Shadow of Yesterday has the notion of "keys" which are rules for earning XP that you actually pay for with character creation resources. Thus the player ends up claiming XP at various points and only if the GM strongly objects (usually with support from other players) is the key overruled.

I've thought occasionally about more mechanical keys (they tend to be plot-driven, and thus difficult to code) that could be coded up. Two such were "The Key of Learning From Mistakes" in which the degree of failure indicates the size of the XP award, and "The Key of Incredible Achievement" where the margin of success is the XP bonus.

Posted by Zack at Wed Oct 17 2007 03:06

Thanks for the comments! I think this might actually shake part II of the series loose from my brain, or at least, some commentary on Dwarf Fortress or ADOM. I want to say one thing here right now, though: The major thing I don't like about 1e D&D mechanics in a roguelike context is the attributes. It makes sense in a tabletop game to have a fairly complicated attribute system, because you have the human-to-human referee/player interaction to give it nuance, even if people are more interested in the combat simulation than the roleplaying. In a roguelike context I think six attributes is too many. I honestly have no idea what the gameplay effects of high Wis are in Nethack, for instance.

You of course don't want it too simple either, because unlike in tabletop, the character really is just a bag of numbers; the computer's got to have enough to work with. It's not a roguelike, but I think Kingdom of Loathing puts the nail right into the global optimum on this one: Muscle, Mysticality, Moxie. (Obviously the names should be different in a less jokey context. And I don't wish to hold KoL's entire game mechanic up as ideal - just the attributes. I've read the explanation of the difference between damage absorption and damage reduction at least six times and I still can't remember it for more than five minutes.)

I didn't know the Japanese games existed, and reading about them was very instructive. I like your idea of putting most of the plot into the 'outer' game to avoid the 'inner' game being annoyingly repetitive in its early stages; the vague ideas I have in my head for a plotful roguelike would play quite nicely with that.

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