Computer games – Rogue’s Quest

Rogue’s quest, a creation by Pearson Wung, is a cute but limited roguelike game which I found for free on the web.  

It is an incomplete game which mentions features such as traps and critical strikes but they have not been implemented.  However, the dungeons can still be challenging and rewarding.  You can download the game and the dungeons from this Yahoo Group.

For me, the best feature was the user friendly dungeon builder which allows you to easily build Rouge’s Quest dungeons.  The aim of the game is to kill a monster on the deepest level and take an item that it drops back to the surface.  For a while, I really enjoyed letting myself run wild with the dungeons, but then I discovered a few limitations in the control you have over the editor.  Here are the main things:

  1. You have no control over what items the monsters drop.  There are a few broken items in Rogue’s Quest which make the game too easy, such as a wand of paralyzation, an an amulet or ring of poison resistance and a plate mail or mithril plate mail suit of armour (As having an armour class of 15 or more makes you extremely hard to hit).
  2. You have no control over the heroes’ starting items which are very strong.  A warrior starts with a +2 claymore making most weapons useless finds.  A mage starts the game with wands which may include wands of paralyzation.  Heroes also start off with lots of food and clerics start off with a create food spell so limiting the amount of food a hero can have has no effect on them.  
  3. You have no control over what merchants sell.  A weapon smith or armourer may sell a load of cursed items or powerful weapons.  Booksellers may have scrolls of magic bolt or scrolls of enchantment, charging and experience.  
  4. You can only win the game by going to the deepest level, killing the ‘Artefact Guardian’ and taking its arefact back to the top level.  If you clear all of the levels above the top level, you just have a bit of a boring journey back to the top.  
  5. When you place items like weapons and armour, you have no control over whether it has bonuses or penalties.  You can’t just place one longsword in a dungeon as it may be cursed or it may give a game breaking bonus.  
  6. You can’t place gold pieces as an item so the only way to give you heroes money is to give them starting money, give them items that they might want to sell (useless items like daggers) or have them fight monsters like goblins.
  7. Healing and mana potions give very low bonuses.  There is a scroll of full healing but no way of restoring large amounts of mana with a single potion or scroll.  
So Rogue’s Quest has some restrictions to gameplay and dungeon design.  However, I still love the game.  I saw it as a challenge to design a great dungeon within the restrictions.  As Mark Rosewater says many many times ‘Restrictions breed creativity’.  These restrictions certainly did breed creativity.  
So I worked on a dungeon.  I wanted to do the following things:
  1. I wanted to make the journey back interesting instead of just a trip through some empty dungeons.
  2. I wanted to make the dungeon challenging.
  3. I wanted the hero to get through the dungeon without having to rest to restore stats.  There’s nothing more boring than holding down the 5 key.  
  4. I wanted to restrict food to add an extra dimension to the challenge and set a time limit.  
  5. I wanted the hero to have the option of taking on extra challenges in order to get extra rewards.  
  6. I wanted to restrict powerful items and therefore creatures that could drop powerful items.
So did I succeed?  You can find out for yourself if you go to the Rogue’s Quest Yahoo Group and download the dungeon for the Ruins of Karakos quest.  That is mine.  And try out the other games too.  
I learnt a lot from building this dungeon.  First of all, no matter how simple a gamebook system is, with a bit of imagination, there are tons of things that you can do with it.  There is no need to have tons of stats; you just need to think about what to do with a few stats.  It is possible for any gamesystem to bring up interesting decisions and make you scratch your head over tactics.  It also adds variety and nice surprises to the game.  From now on, I will only have a new stat if I know that it is absolutely needed.  Some attributes do not need to be valued and some will not add enough dimension to a game if they are valued.  For example, some Fighting Fantasy books do not make a good use of the luck score.  Maybe instead of adding unnecessary complications to a game with another attribute, there may be a more elegant solution.  
With that thought, I will leave you until next week.  Have a good one.  

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