Years ago I decided to see how little I needed to spend to build a high-end, audiophile quality, class-D amplifier. The answer, then, was US $523.43. I built a worthy little amp, and the article I wrote about it for IEEE Spectrum still attracts page views, and even sporadic emails from people asking where they can get the parts.
Sorry folks, the main components are long gone. So I’ve been steering people to excellent class-D amplifier kits from Class D Audio, DIY Class D, and Ghent Audio instead. But a couple of months ago I got the itch to see how much better I could do now, almost a decade later, with the same challenge. Part of my motivation was the annual Best Stereo Amps lists from gadget-review website The Master Switch. The lists are dominated by amps costing more than $1,000 (nine of them cost more than $2,000).
I’m a sucker for flashy audio gear. But really now, step away from the checkbook and get out your soldering iron. If you have basic soldering and machining skills—can you drill holes in sheet aluminum?—you can get high-end gear for a lot less.
In a nutshell, a class-D amplifier works by converting an analog signal into a varying train of square pulses of fixed amplitude. These pulses efficiently turn transistors on and off, and the transistor output is converted back into a louder analog signal. When I wrote my previous article, class-D audio was fairly new, and audiophiles were still arguing about whether class-D amps could sound as good as class-AB or class-A units.
Nobody is having those arguments anymore. There are many class-D amplifiers on the market now, and the best of these are dominating the upper reaches of the high end.
Designing and building a class-D amp from scratch is a laudable undertaking. Should you decide to go this route I salute you, and suggest you start with Cezar Chirila’s excellent article on the All About Circuits website. But if your heart’s desire is maximum fidelity per unit cost, a better strategy is to carefully choose amplifier modules and other components from among the huge array of fine options that are readily available. That’s what I’ve done here. You’re welcome.
An audio amplifier has two basic components: a power supply and an amplifier circuit. For the amplifier circuit, I spent a couple of weeks researching and evaluating possibilities and settled on the EAUMT-0050-2-A class-D amplifier board from 3e Audio, in Shenzhen City, China. It’s based on Texas Instruments’ excellent TPA3250 amplifier chip, which competes well with class-D amplifiers made from discrete components.
The TPA3250 can drive 8-ohm or 4-ohm speakers and is 92 percent efficient, according to TI. It can accept balanced input signals (as commonly used in music studios and other professional settings), or single-ended ones (typical of consumer gear).
Test results on 3e’s site claim its TPA3250-based board has a total harmonic distortion plus noise (THD+N) of 0.0025 percent at 20 watts into a 4-ohm load, for a 1-kilohertz signal. That’s ridiculously low. For comparison, the $2,199 class-D Peachtree Audio nova300, which The Master Switch declared “Best Overall” amp this year, claims a THD+N of 0.005 percent under the same conditions.
Take all this with a grain of salt, and understand that you cannot hear the difference between a THD+N of 0.0025 percent and one of 0.005 percent. The takeaway here is that a sound system consisting of an amplifier based on the 3e board—which costs $49—along with a good digital-to-analog converter and a preamp can give you sound that can hold its own against a high-end amp.
After finishing this amplifier, I connected it to a pair of 30-year-old, three-way Panasonic speakers, which I frequently use for testing. The sound that emerged from these speakers was so good I was actually startled by it. Over the years, I have listened to at least 15 different amplifiers through these speakers, including tube amps costing upwards of $1,200. None has had the astounding clearness of tone, and precise, detailed and yet fluid sound reproduction of the 3e module paired with the Xkitz power supply. Finding a sweet spot characterized by precision, tightness of bass response, and overall warmness of tone is something few amplifiers manage to achieve, in my experience. This is one of them.
The total cost? $259.01. That’s a little over half of what it cost me to build a similar, but lower-performing, amplifier 10 years ago. That new sum, by the way, includes $37.50 I spent having the chassis professionally powder coated. Unless you’re really good at painting aluminum, I don’t recommend omitting this step. A high-end amp should look the part. But maybe that’s an argument for another day.
This article appears in the November 2018 print issue as “DIY Pro Audio.”
The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
I’ve always wanted to put together a comprehensive primer on how to make a roguelike, something that could hopefully be inspiring while including both general and specific advice. This year’s Roguelike Celebration seemed like the perfect opportunity to force myself to do that after having put it off for so long, so I gave a 30-minute talk on the subject.
I’ve got a fair bit of experience to draw from, having exclusively worked with the genre for the past seven years (Cogmind, Cogmind 7DRL, POLYBOT-7, REXPaint, [email protected]), made it my full-time job for the past five, and over these years also helped build r/RoguelikeDev into the largest community of roguelike developers on the net.
The “How to Make a Roguelike” talk is available in video form below, but this article serves as a text version of that same talk for those who’d prefer a readable format, or to just take a closer look at the many images 😉
A couple years ago at the first Roguelike Celebration I did a talk about how I became a developer, but this time I wanted to talk about how anyone can go about making their own roguelike. It’s pretty common for roguelike players to at least dabble in development. We’re inspired by the games we play and want to make something better, something different, or just something of our own. My talk definitely isn’t a tutorial, it’s more about how to get started and general advice to help you along the way.
Making a roguelike can be pretty tough, not unlike journeying through a dungeon full of obstacles. In the diagram below, that’s you at the bottom starting out your journey. At the top is your target: a fun playable game.
Making a roguelike can be pretty tough, not unlike journeying through a dungeon full of obstacles. In the diagram below, that’s you at the bottom starting out your journey. At the top is your target: a fun playable game.
Ready, set, @!
It’s very easy for your path to end up like this, wildly developing in every which direction as you try to add every system you’re thinking of without a clear overall path:
Indirectly approaching your goal. One day… (This is an animation–open the image separately to see its process from the start.)
Yes you might finish and barely reach your goal, but at what cost? Maybe years of wasted effort and all of your hair :P. On the way it’s more likely you’ll develop yourself into too many difficult corners then get stuck, demoralized, and quit.
What you need to do is make a beeline for your target. With a basic plan and understanding of where to go, you can start with strong fundamentals and then, when you have that fun core game, expand on it all you want!
Head straight for the goal first and start with strong fundamentals. (This is an animation–open the image separately to see its process from the start.)
In this article I’ll mostly be covering the fundamentals, how to travel through this dungeon with a greater chance of success, especially when you’re just starting out and full of enthusiasm, but also aren’t sure how to proceed.
General table of contents:
Note that although this is an intro on how to start making a roguelike, it does not include how to stop making that roguelike. You’re on your own there 😉
Let’s start by getting what is always the first and most common question out of the way: What language to use.
The answer is easy: Anything.
The slightly longer answer is that it doesn’t really matter a whole lot. If you already have experience with some language then that’s great, go ahead and use it. Language is a means to an end, and people have used just about every language to create a roguelike before.
Now that’s not to say there aren’t some easier options if you’re just starting out, so if you’re not sure then I’ll help you with a suggestion:
Sample python code from the libtcod tutorial.
Python is often recommended for first-time roguelike developers because it’s pretty simple and straightforward to work with. Just look at that code. There’s not a whole lot of weird syntax, and if you don’t even know programming or python you can probably still figure out most of what’s going on here.
But don’t worry about “simple” being a limiting factor, as you can still do great things with python.
Ultima Ratio Regum is written in python, and it’s a beautiful and massive open world project which isn’t complete but nonetheless already incredibly impressive.
Temple of Torment is another expansive and complete fantasy roguelike written in python.
There are literally hundreds of python roguelikes out there. All said you’ll have a smoother ride if you start with python, and we’ll come back to how to get started with it later on.
A sampling of programming languages used by roguelike developers.
More complex languages like C and C++ are good in that they’ve been popular for ages, meaning you’ll find numerous relevant resources and references out there. C++ is what I use, but that’s only because I was familiar with it to begin with. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, especially if your goal is to make a roguelike rather than spend all your time debugging! You’ll find a lot of other devs using python anyway, so you’ll still have access to plenty of resources.
Another issue that comes up often among new developers is that of building your “dream roguelike.” Should that be your first goal? Almost certainly not!
At first you’ll be learning a lot, making mistakes you don’t even realize yet, so it’s best to build up some experience first. More importantly, the focus of game development really changes from beginning to end, so it’s best to go through the entire process at least once or twice before starting larger serious projects. Keeping your scope small at first is also the best way to ensure you’ll actually have a complete something to show for your efforts.
Taking our dev map from earlier, that main path is what you need to focus on:
Main development path purely covering a sampling of required features (note that I tend to let “combat” carry a question mark because roguelikes do not necessarily involve combat!).
It can be both a complete game and a stable foundation on which to build more. All those other areas out there to explore are tempting, but try not to get drawn too far away from the main path early on. It’s like playing a roguelike: If you start by blindly running around in the unknown doing only what you feel like doing rather than what you probably should be doing, unless the RNG is totally on your side you’re probably going to die out there somewhere. Repeatedly. Sure this can be a fun way to play around, but building a roguelike is a different story and a bigger investment of time, so try to stay focused.
The cool thing is you can build roguelikes piecemeal. They’re basically a conglomeration of systems that can be tacked on if you think they’ll support the main game.
Building onto your roguelike core, piecemeal style.
After that you can just repeatedly expand and iterate, hopefully with player feedback.
In the end you’ve got so much stuff tacked on that you have no idea where the last ten years went xD
Looking at a roguelike project as a whole it can seem really daunting, but all you really need is a plan and perseverance. Starting small is important because you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re much more likely to fail if you aim big right away.
So what does a small roguelike really need? A core mechanic. This is where the experience starts. It should be explainable in a single sentence and this is what you want to prototype first. Go straight for the fun.
What’s the game’s unique take on rogueliking? If your game only has this mechanic, is it fun? If you’re thinking a little bigger, could this mechanic serve as a core for the rest of the game to sit on? Think about what the player is doing from minute-to-minute, which presumably has something to do with this core mechanic. If that repeated process isn’t fun, it’s not going to matter what you build on top of it!
Visualizing the Core Mechanic as a foundation for roguelike design.
So in this initial proto-game, only implement as many of the outer elements as necessary to bring out and test the core mechanic. Again, the above visualization and its branches may look daunting, but it’s just a sample of what’s possible. Roguelikes can be really simple and yet really fun.
To explore core mechanics a little bit more, let’s look at 7DRLs.
A “7DRL” is a roguelike made in 7 days. Every March or so there’s an event where lots of devs make their own 7DRL, already going on 14 years now. It’s great because as long as you finish you’ll definitely get at least a few people to play it and leave feedback. Judges will also score them in different areas, though most everyone treats 7DRL like a personal challenge (it’s not supposed to be a competition).
7DRL Successes by Year, 2005-2018.
Over a hundred new roguelikes come out of this event each year. It’s a lot of fun, and while I wouldn’t recommend doing a 7DRL as your first game (you don’t need that kind of pressure so early), it’s a good idea to participate once you have at least some experience and know what goes into a roguelike, especially the technical aspects, because having a deadline really does help.
7DRLs are great examples of “start small and expand as necessary after you’ve confirmed your core mechanic seems like a good idea.” So 7DRLs naturally make good prototypes, and many are experimental in nature. We see so many cool innovative ideas each year!
Let’s take a look at a few examples…
Knight (2014 7DRL)
Knight is all about controlling your momentum. You’re mounted on a horse most of the time and that little blue block in the center or so is all you can move, only one space per turn, and that’s where you’ll end up next turn. So you can only accelerate, turn, and slow down so quickly, meaning you have to plan in order to line up your attacks on moving foes to behead them with your sword as you pass.
A Roguelike Where You Dodge Projectiles (2016 7DRL)
I love how this 7DRL has its core mechanic right in the name (download). You’re a ship in space, and although you automatically attack enemies within range, enemy-fired projectiles move more slowly, and you can see their projected path for the next turn and need to maneuver so that you can both continue attacking and avoid being hit.
Seven Day Band (2015 7DRL)
In Seven Day Band you create your own roguelike as you play it. Wandering around you’re faced with new unknown enemies and objects, and have to set their names and abilities as you encounter them for the first time, or when they start to matter. (“Band” here refers to making an Angband-like of your own.)
Broken Bottle (2011 7DRL)
In Broken Bottle you play an alcoholic in a post-apocalyptic world where alcohol consumption ties in to most of the experience, for better or worse depending on your choices. (It’s a pretty story-focused 7DRL.)
Drakefire Chasm (2012 7DRL)
Drakefire Chasm has you playing a young dragon fighting caverns full of monsters, adventurers, and other dragons, but there are no items, just upgrading your dragon abilities and eating your foes in order to grow larger and advance. This one still gets occasional updates.
Golden Krone Hotel (2014 7DRL)
In Golden Krone Hotel you take advantage of the differing abilities of your vampire and human forms, including their interaction with dynamic light. This one eventually turned into a bigger commercial roguelike and has done pretty well on Steam since releasing a year ago.
Cogmind 7DRL (2012)
Here’s my original Cogmind 7DRL, where you’re a robot building yourself from scratch using parts found and taken from other robots, with rampant item destruction so you’re forced to rebuild pretty often. Obviously this also became a much bigger commercial project later. I never expected my little 7DRL detour six years ago would turn into my job, but I’m really happy that I participated because that was perfect for proving the core mechanic was fun.
POLYBOT-7 (2018 7DRL)
This year for 7DRL I did POLYBOT-7, which is kinda like Cogmind but plays extremely differently because there was a significant change to the core mechanic. Instead of the player choosing what items to attach, nearby items automatically fly over and attach themselves to you, and you can’t even remove them. The only way parts are removed is when they’re destroyed. I originally planned for it to be a kind of scaled-down Cogmind, but as 7DRL got closer I kept feeling like that wasn’t really a game worth making–it needed to be something with a truly unique hook to it, a completely new core mechanic. It turned out pretty fun, and also became a good reason to design numerous additional mechanics that would support this new type of experience (comparison here, and I also did a huge postmortem covering the process behind its development from beginning to end).
So while these games may have more than one system, it’s pretty clear where their core mechanic lies, and like many other 7DRLs they really stand out for it.
While we’re at it let’s take a look at a few non-7DRL examples. These games took years to make, and certainly include a ton of systems and content, but you can still see how they revolve around their core mechanics.
There’s Mage Guild, which has the greatest alchemy system that let’s you mix any two items, be they potions, monster remains, or whatever, and get all kinds of interesting new items and effects.
In Demon you recruit a wide variety of autonomous follower demons and train them.
Xenomarine is built around ranged combat and directional facing, not something you see in many roguelikes.
And one of the NetHack devs once told me NetHack’s core mechanic is “if it seems like it should be possible to do something, then you probably can.” (This almost seems like an anti-core mechanic and not the kind of example you want to follow as a new developer, but yeah :P)
One of the most important things you’ll need access to for roguelike development is information. That includes learning the basics, getting answers to questions, getting into more advanced topics later, or just food for thought.
Your specific pitfalls will be different from other devs, because everyone’s got a somewhat different skill set and personality, but you can use online resources and friends to overcome those obstacles. While you probably won’t have anyone actually working with you on your project, others can step in with advice when you need it. But you have to ask! It took me far too long to learn that, and my early progress was pretty slow because I never reached out to people. So I’m here to tell you, there’s tons of help just waiting out there!
Let’s look at some of the most useful resources…
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers r/RoguelikeDev
The RoguelikeDev subreddit is is the largest group of active roguelike developers in the universe. We’ve got a very welcoming and helpful community, and a well-organized sidebar pointing to a wide variety of useful resources.
r/RoguelikeDev and its informative sidebar.
Among those resources are tutorials in various languages and libraries, and we have members who’ve used them before and can help answer your questions.
Earlier I mentioned starting out with python, and the easiest way to do that is with the library known as “libtcod,” for which we have a tutorial (many, in fact).
Like most game libraries, libtcod handles basic features like your game window, mouse and keyboard support, bitmap fonts, and palette and color manipulation. But it also does a lot of the roguelike-specific heavy lifting, like map generation, FOV, and pathfinding.
Feature samples found in the interactive libtcod demo.
Ultima Ratio Regum and Temple of Torment, two roguelikes I showed earlier, both started with the game they created using this tutorial, and eventually grew into their own things. libtcod is pretty great, and has been receiving updates for ten years now.
Another way to get started is to join the r/RoguelikeDev summer code-along event. It follows the libtcod tutorial alongside other developers, if you need the extra motivation and pacing handled for you.
r/RoguelikeDev summer code-along logo
We’ve done the tutorial for a couple years so far and interest has always been high. About 100 people participate each year. Technically you don’t even have to use libtcod or python to participate–many people use other languages and follow along with their own roguelike or similar tutorials.
At the end of two months you’ll have your own playable roguelike! Here are some of the games that came out of our event the past couple years:
r/RoguelikeDev summer code-along sample projects.
It’s a really nice walkthrough you can tack onto–it basically gives you the required technical background for a functioning roguelike, then you do the part where you let your imagination run wild 😀
These include meta topics like planning and motivation, and details like common systems, design, all sorts of stuff! Over the years we’ve had quite a few devs contributing to these community FAQs, including many with well-known roguelikes.
Honestly we’ve got tons of developers hanging out in the subreddit in general, many with long-term hobby projects and who are knowledgeable and happy to help. We also have a Discord for real-time help and discussion. (We share the server with the r/Roguelikes subreddit, so you’ll also find lots of people playing and discussing all sorts of roguelikes in other channels.)
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers RogueBasin
Outside our subreddit, many years ago Santiago Zapata created this great website you may have heard of called RogueBasin. There you’ll find a whole section of development-focused articles.
RogueBasin Articles table of contents.
There are quite a few articles (that list there is just the general table of contents!). Although a lot of the content is older, most of the articles are just as relevant today. This is actually where I got started years ago, and found the articles both inspiring and enlightening. (Also a little scary at first, but remember, roguelikes are developed piecemeal–take it one step at a time!)
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Roguelike Radio
Darren Grey, Andrew Doull, Mark Johnson and others host the podcast Roguelike Radio.
Roguelike Radio topic list (2011-2018).
Check out all those topics! They also include interviews with a wide range of roguelike devs. I’m even in two or three of them, including one where I say Cogmind might be done in 2016 or something like that. Hahahahaha… (The new year is 2019, but don’t hold me to that–more players keep finding it and I’m always adding new content and features because I can :D)
You’ll also see that a number of the podcasts cover the 7-day Roguelike Challenges, which are a pretty big thing in the community.
So we’ve got knowledge covered pretty well now, but another major consideration when it comes to game development in general is assets…
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Assets
Here are our assets:
Roguelike development assets 😛
Seriously though, ASCII is wonderful in so many ways, and makes it so easy to add new content. With the right combinations of foreground and background colors you can create some really pretty games.
If familiar with roguelikes already you’ll probably recognize that as Brogue, but over the years I’ve collected a large number of inspiring ASCII screenshots, and want to share a selection of those here to give you an idea of the breadth of possibilities:
22 images from a range of ASCII roguelikes. (And to head off the inevitable questions: You can find the names of these projects here.)
The variety is just amazing–there’s just so much room for unique styles!
When working with ASCII or ASCII-like monochrome tilesets you can also use my editor, REXPaint (and it integrates with libtcod–bonus!). For me it’s become a totally indispensable tool, and quite a few other roguelike devs rely on it now, too, for things like interface design, mapping, and art.
REXPaint logo, partial interface, and sample images (note there are too many colors in this composite recording so the gif screws with the palette).
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Tilesets
Of course, if you want more people to actually play your game (:P), or if it’ll help you get into your project, there are also some nice tilesets you can use, even if they’re just a placeholder. Many are free, or at least available at a reasonable price. You can find links to a bunch of tilesets in the r/RoguelikeDev sidebar.
Sample 2D roguelike tilesets.
For some people tilesets have the advantage of sparking your imagination, if you need that to help with development. That said, you may have seen some of these tiles in other roguelikes before, and that can be one of the drawbacks (the visual style not necessarily being uniquely associated with your project), but good-looking free/inexpensive art is invaluable for indie devs.
Roguelike tileset demos by their respective artists.
For this last segment I want to take a look at where to start your real design process, what you want to focus on. You might be satisfied with just moving a little @ across the screen smashing into letters, or you might want to go a bit further than that, and hope that others enjoy it as much as you do.
Of course you’ll want some kind of hook to get people interested in the first place, but this hook can take a number of forms…
We already talked about having a core mechanic, which is one of the easier hooks since it ties most directly into the gameplay itself, and roguelikes first and foremost are all about gameplay. All those permadeaths aren’t going to be worth it if there’s no replayability.
Amazing audiovisual features aren’t traditionally as common, although we’re seeing more roguelikes headed in that direction, which is great because it attracts even more players to the genre. So that’s a useful hook.
But the one I want to emphasize now is theme, which is an excellent hook, but not taken advantage of nearly enough.
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Theme
We have lots and lots of fantasy dungeon crawlers, so naturally if you want to really distinguish your project, go for any unique theme that’s not a fantasy dungeon crawler.
Brainstorming potential themes for roguelikes.
Roguelikes are generally based on good/interesting gameplay, but having a unique theme not only makes the entire experience unique, it also gives you a source from which to readily draw brand new mechanics. (A unique theme almost forces you to take this route.) In particular, historical and mythological themes offer a huge range of established material to explore and expand upon. People also always seem to want more sci-fi roguelikes than what we already have, a relatively underexplored group of themes compared to how broad it is, and how much sci-fi content we see out there in other genres and mediums.
We’ve seen some really unique themes in recent years.
MakaiRL is a neat concept steeped in Japanese mythology and historical fantasy. I wanna play that!
Skies of Bloody April is a World War I dogfighting roguelike.
These are the kinds of themes that really turn heads, especially of course once they reach a fully playable state (both of the above are still in early development).
One that’s already a very complete game is Lone Spelunker, where you explore the natural and sometimes dangerous wonders of subterranean caves.
As for some other themes frequently asked about in the roguelike community which haven’t been satisfied yet, pirates come up pretty often. We did have one game pop up, Pirate Rogue, which is among the highest ever voted threads on the Roguelikes subreddit.
Pirate Rogue concept art.
But Pirate Rogue was just a concept they were prototyping and the developer put it on hold since they realized their dream game was a bit beyond their experience level. The demand is clearly there, though.
Superheroes and cyberpunk are other themes that come up all the time. Someone do them.
There have been a lot of great stories coming out of the RoguelikeDev subreddit, just so many awesome projects in there, both new and long-term. But I wanted to share one in particular which I consider a pretty inspiring story, and that’s Armoured Commander.
You’re in control of a single WW2 tank, within which you lead multiple crew members in overland campaigns. Gregory Scott, the developer, started this project with only limited programming experience, and just went at it with the libtcod python tutorial.
One year later it was finished and featured in Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Armoured Commander in Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
That’s from no gamedev experience to a complete game featured in a top PC gaming opinion site in one year. Sure there’s luck involved in this sort of thing, but having a unique theme and sharing it around guarantees that more people are going to take notice.
So pick a unique theme and own it. This gets more people interested, and in turn that will help keep you motivated.
Remember that your game doesn’t have to be a strict roguelike. I’m going to be a little blasphemous here and say it’s not worth getting caught up in definitions. We often see people come up with a game idea they’d like to make, but then worry about whether or not everyone agrees it’s a roguelike. It doesn’t really matter, because there are as many definitions as there are players! As long as it’s internally consistent and follows your own plan, you’re all set. (But don’t worry, the Roguelikes subreddit will continue to bring you weekly arguments about whether or not something is a roguelike xD)
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers XRLs
Now to do a total 180. There’s another approach you can try which has its own advantages, the so-called “XRL.” These are based on existing IPs, and save you much of the planning and design effort that goes into making a game, as most of those questions will already be answered for you. At most you have to come up with how to adapt it to roguelike formulas. With an XRL you can focus on implementation and other fundamentals while you get your feet wet.
Personally I think this is a good way to start out your early development efforts.
Perhaps the most famous XRL is DoomRL, officially now called just “DRL” after they were hit by a C&D from Zenimax for the name.
DoomRL / DRL
Aside: Note you do have to be careful of particularly litigious companies, like Nintendo, for example (I’d advise against doing an explicitly Pokemon roguelike!), but in general roguelikes are so niche and under the radar that XRLs are fine for hobby projects. Only those that gain significant notoriety would have to worry about this sort of thing, and by that point you can either rebrand it to your own content, or should probably have enough experience to be comfortable working on your own ideas from scratch. XRLs are usually short-term, small-scale learning projects, although a number of XRLs have been in development over multiple years. (In any case, definitely forget having any commercial aspirations with an existing IP!)
Today DoomRL developer Kornel Kisielewicz is busy working on the DoomRL successor Jupiter Hell, a prime example of using an XRL to grow a large fan base, and then relying on them to support an even larger commercial roguelike.
In his early years Kornel also made two other XRLs: AliensRL, one of the first roguelikes I ever played, and DiabloRL.
Prolific roguelike developer Slashie has made roguelikes based on Castlevania, Metroid, Zelda, Star Wars, Megaman, and probably like ten others he hasn’t told us about 😛
Slashie’s collection of XRLs.
Even my own first semi-roguelike project, XCOMRL, belongs in this category. Based on the original UFO Defense, it started from an IP with mechanics I was already really familiar with and love, which helped a lot.
From there I was able to branch out and add a lot of my own mechanics and content, doing experiments on top of an already solid foundation.
[email protected] modded maps, some of them complete conversions into a non-X-Com universe.
Another major advantage to XRLs is that you have instant fans, other people who enjoy both roguelikes and that same IP. This is great for motivation since you’ll always have people cheering you on. A number of my core supporters today are the same people who followed my early work on [email protected]
So some tips to help keep you in this for the long run…
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Release Early and Often
“Release early and often” is the roguelike development mantra. It’s good to quickly get everything into a minimally playable state–again, build that prototype. Doing this will probably net you some good feedback, which is valuable for the long term.
RogueBasin release announcements history.
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Sharing Saturday
Even before your first release, even with just a concept, and long after that, try participating in our weekly sharing threads in the RoguelikeDev subreddit.
For some this is a way to stay accountable to yourself, and it’s a nice way to review what you have, or have not, been up to. You can literally post about how your week was hell at work and you barely got anything done, and in the process make friends with others in the same boat. Or you can talk about the cool new feature you added or are thinking about. Or share funny bugs. Anything, really! It’s a great community 😀
Come share with us!
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Keep a Blog
Besides Sharing Saturday it’s also nice to concentrate all the info about your development in one place. A public place. Blogging actually has a bunch of advantages; here’s a list of some of the major ones:
organize your thoughts
examine your work from a different angle
document the process
create a useful long-term reference
build a community
I’ve been doing this for a while myself and found it to be incredibly valuable. Below are the topics I’ve covered over the years on my blog:
Five years of blog posts from Grid Sage Games.
You’ll probably find a fair bit of useful info just sitting there for the taking 🙂
Hexbyte Hacker News Computers Accessibility is Important
Accessibility is important. Traditionally this wasn’t the case with roguelikes, but nowadays you have an opportunity to reach so many more players if you’re willing to put in the effort. This means sufficient documentation, a tutorial, full mouse support, a tileset, etc.
To demonstrate how valuable mouse support and a tileset can be, check out these player stats from Cogmind:
Cogmind player preferences: That’s a whole lotta mice and tiles!
Note that some accessibility features are important to consider in your design from the very beginning, but don’t worry about all this stuff in your first roguelike. Starting with an ASCII/keyboard-only game is just fine.
This is the end of my article, and the beginning of your great new roguelike.
Get to it 😀
(This article was originally published here, on the Grid Sage Games dev blog.)
In the third quarter of 2018, Panasonic lost $65 million in the branch of the business that makes battery cells to power Tesla’s electric vehicles, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company said it had to add production and hire workers more quickly than expected as Tesla aggressively ramped up to producing 4,300 Model 3 vehicles a week.
In September, the head of Panasonic’s Automotive Division said that the company was on track to complete three new production lines at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, by the end of the year. That would bring the total number of battery-cell-producing lines at the Gigafactory up to 13.
The Model 3 ramp up that ate into Panasonic’s bottom line didn’t have the same effect on Tesla, which posted its first profitable quarter in several quarters last week. It shares soared.
Panasonic, for its part, does not seem to think the dramatic expense increase is in vain. According to Reuters, Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga says the company intends to continue investing in capacity at the Gigafactory. Tsuga added t
“It’s an amazing feeling,” says David Mzee, whose left leg was paralyzed in 2010. Mzee has now regained some ability to walk thanks to a breakthrough in spinal-cord stimulation technology. “I can do a knee extension of my left leg… flex my hip and even move my toes.”
Mzee is one of three participants in a study that used a new technique to overcome spinal-cord injury and restore walking ability in patients with varying degrees of paralysis. The results, published in Nature and Nature Neuroscience today, are dramatic. All three patients recovered some degree of walking ability, and their progress in physical-therapy sessions has translated to improved mobility in their daily lives.
The basis of the technique, called epidural electrical stimulation (EES), is not new at all—it’s been investigated as a potential treatment for paralysis for decades, with a lot of success in animals. And in September this year, two separate papers reported breakthroughs in allowing patients with paralysis to walk, with assistance, as a result of EES.
But the earlier patients made progress only after months of intensive rehabilitation—in the best case, after four months, and in others, closer to a year. What Grégoire Courtine, Jocelyne Bloch, and a large team of researchers report today is a huge leap forward: their patients were able to walk (with assistance) after only a few days.
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Blocking the feedback loop
The difference lies in how constant the electrical stimulation is. EES works by implanting a device that delivers electrical signals to the spinal cord. When an injury interrupts the connection between the spinal cord and brain, it prevents signals from reaching below the site of the injury, EES can help to bridge the gap by providing electrical signals to the spinal cord below the injury site.
In rodents, cats, and even monkeys, EES has allowed “standing, walking in various directions, and even running,” write Courtine and his colleagues. They suggest that this technique has been less successful in humans because the electrical stimulation has been continuous, preventing feedback from the body to the brain, and effectively blocking the brain’s sense of where the limbs are in space. Physiological differences between humans and rats—including just the difference in body size—could explain why this affects humans and not rats, they suggest.
The systems needed to get more precise. And so the researchers set about understanding how the nervous system responded to movements in every joint in healthy individuals, building up a “map” of what these activation patterns looked like. Then they worked out where exactly the electrodes were needed to provide stimulation to match these activation patterns and built a system that would deliver shifting signals only to where they needed to be.
The researchers had to adjust the details for each of the three patients in the study, adapt
Verizon Wireless says it will not move faster on building its 5G cellular network despite a Federal Communications Commission decision that erased $2 billion dollars’ worth of fees for the purpose of spurring faster 5G deployment.
The FCC’s controversial decision last month angered both large and small municipalities because it limits the amount they can charge carriers for deployment of wireless equipment such as small cells on public rights-of-way. The FCC decision also limits the kinds of aesthetic requirements cities and towns can impose on carrier deployments and forces cities and towns to act on carrier applications within 60 or 90 days.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai justified the decision by saying it would speed up 5G deployment, and he slammed local governments for “extracting as much money as possible in fees from the private sector and forcing companies to navigate a maze of regulatory hurdles in order to deploy wireless infrastructure.”
But in an earnings call last week, Verizon CFO Matt Ellis told investors that the FCC decision won’t have any effect on the speed of its 5G deployment. Verizon also said that it is reducing overall capital expenditures—despite a variety of FCC decisions, including the net neutrality repeal, that the FCC claimed would increase broadband network investment. (Verizon posted a transcript of the earnings call here.)
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Verizon already building as fast as it can
An analyst asked Ellis if the FCC order would “change the sort of internal targets you have for the rollout of the small cell and 5G infrastructure and possibly allow you to go a little faster as you look out to 2019 and 2020.”
Ellis responded that the FCC decision “doesn’t necessarily increase the velocity that we see.” Verizon is “going as fast as we can” already, he said.
Our teams have been engaged with municipalities across the country on getting permits to put up small cells, whether for 4G or 5G. [We] certainly like the fact that they are providing a little more guidance for how quickly that should happen, but I don’t see it having a material impact to our buildout plans. We are going as fast as we can. And while the federal-level rules are helpful, it is still a very local activity municipality by municipality. So a lot of good work going on there.
Ellis also said that Verizon’s “capital expenditures for the full year [will] be between $16.6 billion and $17.0 billion.” That’s down from $17.2 billion in 2017 and potentially below the low end of Verizon’s initial 2018 projection. In January, Verizon projected that its 2018 capital spending would be “in the range of $17.0 billion to $17.8 billion, including the commercial launch of 5G.”
Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | No guarantee of more broadband
Before last month’s 5G preemption vote, Pai claimed that “big-city taxes on 5G” slow down deployment in big cities and “jeopardize the construction of 5G networks in s
A new study of oxygen isotope ratios and heavy metals in the tooth enamel of Neanderthals who lived and died 250,000 years ago in southeast France suggests that they endured colder winters and more pronounced differences between seasons than the region’s modern residents. The two Neanderthals in the study also experienced lead exposure during their early years, making them the earliest known instances of this exposure.
Tooth enamel forms in thin layers, and those layers record the chemical traces of a person’s early life—from climate to nutrition to chemical exposures—a little like tree rings on a much smaller scale. Archaeologist Tanya Smith of Griffith University and her colleagues examined microscopic samples of tooth enamel from two Neanderthal children from the Payre site in southeastern France. The teeth were radiocarbon dated to around 250,000 years ago, and the set of samples recorded about three years of life.
One important clue to past environments is oxygen, which comes from the water a person drank or the plants they ate. The ratio of the oxygen-18 isotope to oxygen-16 depends on temperature, precipitation, and evaporation. Generally, higher ratios of oxygen-18 indicate warmer, drier conditions with more evaporation.
In the Payre Neanderthals, oxygen-18 ratios increased in the summer and dropped in the winter in predictable seasonal cycles, which Smith and her colleagues could compare from one week to the next. The data suggests harsher winters and more pronounced seasonal changes than today, and information about seasonal shifts can be combined with other details recorded in tooth and bone to explore how climate affected Neanderthals’ development and life histories. Climate is often credited with driving hominin evolution, but it’s rare that archaeologists can directly link the two.
“This is particularly germane for Neanderthals, who survived extreme Eurasian environmental variation and glaciations, mysteriously going extinct during a cool interglacial stage,” wrote Smith and her colleagues.
The cold seasons were hard on Neanderthal children, because both of the ones from Payre bear lasting traces of illness or malnutrition during their early years. That kind of physiological strain impacts how the body absorbs and processes minerals, including the ones in tooth enamel, and that can leave a visible line across the tooth, marking the layers of enamel added during tough times. On a lower-left first molar from one child, Payre 6, the layers of enamel laid down during the late winter or early spring, not long before the child’s second birthday, show a line marking about a week of sickness or starvation. And another child, Payre 336, apparently suffered a similar two-week episode in the winter and anothe
Reddit user harritaco discovered something rather unusual about the iOS devices used at their place of work. iPhones and Apple Watches stopped working unexpectedly, completely locking up and recovering only days later, sometimes suffering long-term harm.
The failures appeared to coincide with the installation of a new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine. MRIs use powerful magnetic fields and helium-cooled superconductors, and something about the presence of this new machine was upsetting the Apple hardware. That magnets can be a problem for electronic devices is no big surprise—they can damage magnetic media, confuse compasses, and induce electric currents in harmful ways—but surprisingly, it’s not the magnets that seem to be the problem this time—it’s the helium.
The iPhone user guide warns that proximity to helium can impair functionality and that to recover, devices should be left to air out for a week or so in an environment far away from the rogue helium. Harritaco discovered that, during installation of the MRI machine, some 120 litres of liquid helium leaked and vented into the environment. This created a relatively high helium concentration, and any Apple hardware exposed to that helium stopped working.
To test this hypothesis, harritaco conducted some experiments in which an iPhone was put in a sealed bag of helium; after a few minutes, it stopped working
In a recent financial briefing, Nintendo recommitted to keep selling and supporting the 3DS, and the company explained why the eight-year-old system continues to have a place next to the Switch.
Nintendo 3DS is set apart from Nintendo Switch by its characteristics as a handheld game system that is lightweight, price-friendly, and highly portable. Affordability is the strong point that positions Nintendo 3DS in a niche clearly separate from Nintendo Switch. In the grand scheme of things, Nintendo 3DS has a prominent position as the product that can be served as the first contact between Nintendo and many of its consumers, and for this reason we will keep the business going.
Keeping the 3DS around as a form of “entry-level” Nintendo hardware makes a lot of sense. The New 2DS XL now retails for just $150—half the price