During my entire life as a developer, I always wanted to make a Roguelike or a Roguelite, they are very interesting by nature, the sensation of exploration and the feeling of always playing a version of the game that was never played before is simply amazing! Since them I tried to come up with a bunch of different roguelikes and a bunch of different ways to ingrate roguelike mechanics into other genres. This post is about two roguelites and a roguelike that I started developing but actually never finished for a variety of reasons.

But what is a Roguelike? What I mean by roguelike usually is a game that is all about exploration and experimentation, if you never played Brogue, I recommend you trying that to see what I’m talking about, every new room, every floor, every new gameplay you find something new and try that to see what it does, the ammount of emergent gameplay and mechanisms in a game like that is simply amazing.

But this is not a post about Brogue, or any other Roguelike, this is a post about my three failed attempts of creating roguelites or roguelikes.

Dreamlands

Dreamlands

The first one I tried to make was Dreamlands, it is a turn-based roguelite, the game play as a traditional roguelike on the combat sense, but the dungeon exploration is more based on the Zelda dungeon style, where you have a number of discrete rooms and you never know what is in the neighbour rooms.

Not happy with that, I slapped on top of it a leveling system inspired by Bloodborne.

Not happy with that, I slapped on top of it a Lovecraftian lore and a Dream based game loop, hence the name, Dreamlands. The gameplay loop was simple, you were in a dream, you were supposed to go on a hunt, going to the hunt is going to the dungeon and killing monsters and bosses and finding items and doing all the stuff from a roguelike, but when you die, you go back to the Dream Hub and you could buy equipment and level up.

What went right?

Doing the turn-based system and the dungeon generation system that is similar to Zelda’s dungeon was a big success for me, I still use the systems and the knowledge I got from them, but besides that, there was nothing very interesting about this game.

What went wrong?

Well, a level up system and a lore went compeltely wrong, I’m not a Systems Designer and I’ve never had done balancing before, I’m also not a writer, so writing is hard for me. Needless to say that having those two things on the game blew up scope very hard, and that’s what led for to giving up on this idea.

Mobile Roguelike

After giving up a roguelite, what should I do? Do it for mobile, of course!

Mobile Roguelike

This game idea was so quick that I didn’t even come up with a name for that. It was a generic roguelite with aesthetics based on The Lord of the Rings. You always went up battling against different enemies and collecting coins, the goal was to go the further possible, your high score was how many tiles you go up.

What went right?

I adapted the systems from Dreamlands to this one, so that was a good takeaway. I also came up with a very good monetization system and a very good gameplay loop, you could collect coins to buy new characters or new “adventure packs” with new environments, new enemies, new mechanics, and things like that, the adventure packs could also be bought with real money, while the “core game” was free.

I’m proud of this monetization because it gives the player the chance to have access to all content without spending any money at all, but of course, that would be hard. I’m also proud because it doesn’t block anything for the player if they don’t opt to buy adventure packs and I’m also happy that the system didn’t have ADS, which I personally dislike.

What went wrong?

Well, pretty much everything, creating all the content, mechanics, music and things like that would take a lot of time, because it was mainly just me working on the game (although I could get some help on the art side of things) - I gave up the idea because scope was simply too big, it had to have a lot of content and would demand a lot of time.

Aglarond

After giving up a game with a lot of content and monetization ideas, what’s next? I thought that it was a good idea to go for a traditional roguelike, but with beautiful graphics and enhanced game feel, well, how could I be so naive.

Aglarond

For Aglarond was when I started getting more into what really was a roguelike, what made a roguelike be good and what it really meant to develop a roguelike. I played a bunch of Brogue and had a very good idea of what was important and what made people want to play roguelikes: every time I played the game, it was a different experience based on exploration and experimentation - and also it was about the stories, even when I failed in the first floor, it is about telling stories, about the time I activated a trap and set everything on fire, and when I had success and went very deep in the game, it was a sucess story.

Making a game that lets the user create stories is not an easy task and demands time. Sure, making a “roguelike” is easy, just slap a turn-based combat, a dungeon generation and permadeath and there you go, but making a roguelike is hard, because it is a game that players go to create their own stories and to explore an always changing environment.

What went right?

With Aglarond, nothing went right to be honest, good part of development was me adapting the turn-based system and coming up with a new dungeon generation system, and then I got burned out from my Master’s and development in general and couldn’t have a lot of progress. I could say that what went right is me realizing what a roguelike really is and understand why I like them so much.

What went wrong?

Me thinking that I could make a real roguelike in 3 months went very wrong. The idea was scratched because I didn’t have the resources to make a real engaging roguelike within the time and I’m not in a place to spend years in a unique game.

What’s next?

I honestly don’t know what’s next, I came up with “Fourth Dimension” more than a year ago with the idea of making simple and fun games, but the truth is that I wanted some kind of safe environment to make and publish experimental games, short games, games with a simple story and things like that, the purpose is to try new things and broaden people’s views on what games can do, maybe that’s the new goal? For now I have no project in mind, so only time will tell what happens.

You can always follow me on Twitter and talk to me there!