Saturday, 2 January 2016

NotEye+Hydra Slayer update, last year, and further plans

So let's start the 100th on this blog by summarizing year 2015.

2015 started with HyperRogue just accepted for sale on Steam. I put it on Steam Greenlight some years ago while it was still free to do so, because why not? At that time, HyperRogue, although it seemed to be the most popular of my games, was quite small and simple -- I considered Hydra Slayer to be more interesting from the gameplay perspective myself.
Well, the plan was to add typical Steam features such as achievements and leaderboards, and release it for a very low price. But it went much better than that. Quite a lot of people have bought HyperRogue, added positive reviews, and formed a community who discussed strategies and suggested many new ideas for further development. I have decided to add new features -- these features are added to the Steam version first to encourage people to buy, but the free version is also updated later. At the end of the year, HyperRogue on Steam has 38 lands (including some that are very interesting and I am very proud of), contrary to 11 when it was first released on Steam -- as well as many special modes, such as Euclidean, cooperative shmup, Yendor Challenge, or pure tactics mode. The free version of HyperRogue has 32 lands, so whether you have bought HyperRogue on Steam or not, you got a much more interesting game to play :)

In the meantime, I have been also working in Team ADOM. This was mostly working on NotEye, which ADOM is using as a graphical engine. I consider working on innovative game design (as in HyperRogue or Hydra Slayer) much more fun than mostly working on user interface, but still, it is great to work on one of the greatest roguelikes, that I have played a lot many years ago. In November, ADOM has been finally released on Steam too, and despite some nasty bugs in the initial release, it has been very successful there.

So what are the plans for 2016? I don't think it would be practical to add 30 new innovative lands to HyperRogue per year forever, but there are definitely at least some lands to be added -- HyperRogue community still has some great unused ideas. There is also still a lot of work to do in ADOM -- the user interface needs many more improvements.

More interestingly for me, Hydra Slayer has been just accepted for sale on Steam. In some sense, the situation between HyperRogue and Hydra Slayer has been reversed -- Hydra Slayer is the smaller one now :) Although HyperRogue and Hydra Slayer are both roguelikes based on mathematical concepts, there are also very different in some other regards. HyperRogue is designed as an open world roguelike, with a vast hyperbolic world that you can roam freely; to make it interesting at all times, the player character remains roughly equally strong during the whole game -- there are no experience levels nor equipment other than temporary powerups which cannot be carried far away -- otherwise, the players would just grind the hyperbolic plane to become stronger and stronger. 1HP approach makes all battles full of action, and brings new challenges based on monsters and environments -- so I have to be creative instead of copying other roguelikes -- but it has its limitations, too. For example, an unfortunate consequence is that all characters are very similar, the only difference being which lands you have already completed, and which lands not yet. Hydra Slayer, although its math-based combat is what I find innovative and interesting, is more like a typical roguelike here: a single dungeon, hitpoints, several races to choose from for the character, randomly found equipment that the character has to build their strategy around.

I am planning to use the same model for Hydra Slayer as for HyperRogue -- what you get by buying the Steam version (instead of playing the free one) is online achievements (contrary to HyperRogue, Hydra Slayer already has local achievements in the free version), leaderboards, and automatic updates with new features (which are also added to the free version after some time). I have no clear ideas for these new features at the moment, but I hope that the community will help here too, so if you have any ideas already, I am happy to listen :) At first, some work is required to update the graphics, add music (any suggestions here?), create the trading cards and other graphical assets.

For now, I have released a new version of Hydra Slayer+NotEye. The previous release was not tested very well (some of the bugs being the same ones as in the initial Steam release of ADOM). This release fixes them, improves the performance, and includes a new sample for Noteye, written in the D programming language (thanks to Michał 'Ancient' Bieliński, the developer of PRIME). Hopefully all the bugs that were easy to run into have been fixed, so if you want to play the free version of Hydra Slayer before buying it on Steam, it should be much better than the previous release. Furthermore, NotEye now has a repository on GitHub -- this should make it easier to allow both ADOM and Hydra Slayer grow together with NotEye, and potentially to let more developers to use NotEye or to contribute to its development -- previously, NotEye grew continually due to ADOM developments, but this growth was invisible outside.

So, have lots of fun in the New Year!

Changelog for NotEye 8.3:
  • fixes in the copymap optimization, fullscreen mode, some crashes, some timing problems on Linux, true console output
  • an option to disable autocentering if the player character is still close to the center (a configurable area of no-autocentering region, which can be different while targetting e.g. in ADOM)
  • added a capability of improved versioning (previously, the version number of NotEye in ADOM did not change, even though there were differences)
  • an ability to easily add user-made interface mods
  • NotEye's dev menu allows to evaluate Lua functions
  • added a sample in D (thanks to Michał Bieliński)
  • an option to "ignore errors and go to NotEye menu" after the script crashes
  • configuration is now actually saved for the Third Person Perspective mode
Changelog for Hydra Slayer 16.3:
  • added some optimizations to improve NotEye's performance
  • fixed some bugs in the interface, some typos and credits
  • when you finish the Tutorial, you continue normal game as expected, not go back to the beginning of Tutorial
  • Hydra Slayer's save/highscore/log files are now moved to NotEye's userdir