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Old December 29, 2020, 17:36   #1
FogSpear
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Join Date: Dec 2020
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Roguelikes - a waking dream - vanilla is my flavour (so far)

In some spare time this season, I wandered into the world of Roguelikes by trying a few Roguelike-likes on my mobile device (e.g. OneBit, Pathos). I felt something familiar in those apps and yet was wholly unsatisfied.

I soon realized that I was going to have to get to the computer and dive down this rabbit hole. The history of the genre began drawing me in. I have been quickly trying a number of roguelikes that I have found linked on the RogueBasin website. I started with reviewing lineages and then looking for cases of active development. I have tried a few since to get a feel for the variations: Brogue CE, Nethack, Angband, DCSS, ADOM. I also looked quickly at some older ones like Moria, Larn/Ularn and some *band variants like Sil.

So far, I keep coming back to Angband Vanilla. Why? Hmmm. True - it's learning curve is a little taller than some modern remakes like Brogue CE. True - compiling it on my Linux box and getting everything working the way I wanted took a little longer than expected (e.g. sound - sdl, graphics - sdl2, layout - term purposes, sizing, positions). True - it's ASCII interface is a distant relic from the past. But - SO FAR I LOVE IT.

Maybe those were some of the things that have drawn me in. I feel I have had to invest a little bit of time to get familiar with everything. Now, none of that per se sets Angband apart from other roguelikes really. So what else aside from the slightly technical setup and the core aspects of roguelikes (i.e. permadeath, random dungeons, turn based play, etc...)?

I am a noob but I like vanilla so far because:
- I seems immersive to me (see tips below)
- it combines, loosely, d20 mechanics and a middle earth universe
- it retains a useable ASCII graphics model; the game design stands on its own without fancy graphics; I am not a fan of graphic tiles mixed with textual info panels. Give me an immersive environment: graphics or ASCII - hybrids rarely do it for me.
- it moves with modern human interface devices; Nethack put me off because of its insistence on vi key bindings (which I could probably find a way to over-ride but...)
- it has multiple terminal configurations but with sdl2 in fullscreen, I feel like I am inside an immersive environment; it is a bit reminiscent of spectrwm for any fans of linux cli and tiling managers.
- it seems polished; meaning rich with variety of generated objects, starting options, graduated balance, and depth of interaction model beyond just the dungeon level.
- it seems still actively developed by a community; which helps with longevity (i.e. it is likely not going to disappear tomorrow).
- it is often used as a base for variants; which likely signals strong programming fundamentals; although I have not yet dove into the code.

Some things that I would hope for:
- a return of charisma or at least an option to include it (e.g. if selling in town is enabled) - I did see a thread debating its utility but there is something core to Angband that says - hey this is a cool expression of two familiar tropes that we are going to combine and make better. Removing charisma seems to mess with the integrity of that core recipe IMHO.
- combat roll view option - I like what Sil has done; I can figure out the hit/damage myself if I want aided by the combat roll window. (I also appreciate their take on spending skill points to develop your role; it reminds me of Skyrim but I recognize that as a larger departure from basic d20 stuff)

Some things I have not done yet:
- tried using macros with the inscription/keymapping functionality
- tried modding or considered the ease of variant creation (I still want to play more)
- oh...and beat the game. Not that I ever need to but I hope to.
- and a bunch of other things that only experience will bring

For my increased immersive experience (now we are talking), I run:
- sdl2 with all 7 tiled term windows going (on linux)
- "tabletopaudio" with some town and dungeon ambience playlists
- a dark room and a headset

Thanks for the great ride so far.
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