Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Sources of HyperRogue: part II

This is the second post in the series, about the lands from versions 5.x-6.x.

While HyperRogue was not yet on Steam, Maciej Chojecki has sent me a bunch of ideas for new lands. One of the ideas was about a forest -- with forest ghosts which can walk on trees, and "timbermans" who can destroy trees and drop "axe orbs" on death, which could allow you to destroy trees too. I liked the idea of a maze of trees, but I was somewhat afraid of static mazes then (you could just run into a dead end and slay any followers easily), so I thought that there should be some anti-camping mechanism -- and what anti-camping mechanism fits the theme of a maze of trees? Bushfires sounded great, especially if you could cut the trees to make the fire spread slower! I have tried several approaches, but finally it worked as I wanted (two types of trees were required so that escaping from the fire, and stopping it by removing trees, was balanced well). Also, in the meantime I have played Hoplite, which is another small tactical roguelike. I loved some of the great ideas here, such as the stabbing mechanics -- possibly HyperRogue would develop in a different way if I had played Hoplite before... In Hoplite your character has a choice of learning one of possible skills, allowing the player to develop their character in many different ways. I miss this in HyperRogue somewhat, but on the other hand, I find the extremely simple rules of HyperRogue nice too -- and new lands would be harder to balance if multiple builds were possible. Hoplite is newer than the early versions of HyperRogue, so maybe it took some inspiration? I don't know. :) Anyway, I have copied the stabbing mechanics, and created HyperRogue's Hedgehog Warriors. In the Slavic mythology, ferns blossomed only on the summer solstice, and the Fern Flowers brought wealth to whoever found them. Seemed like a great treasure for the forest land. Interestingly, after finishing the Dry Forest, I read Maciej Chojecki's e-mail again and found out that he had the same idea for the name of the treasure.

Cocytus, the hellish version of the Icy Lands where heat creates immovable terrain instead of destroying it, was partially created before LoEM. The idea for the mechanics is somewhat inspired by Stanisław Lem's Three Electroknights, a short story where a knight steals the precious gems from an extremely cold planet, until his heat melts the ground below him. The problem with heat-based lands is that it is somewhat hard to plan your next moves here, as it is hard to tell whether a cell will melt in the given turn or not. Thus, I have decided to make it an unfinished land, only accessible to cheaters (or by getting 2000 $$$ -- which was actually possible in some versions, by using exploits). As for the name, Cocytus was one of the four rivers in Hades in the Greek mythology, a frozen lake in the ninth circle of Hell in Dante's Divine Commedy, and the ice-themed part of Hell in Dungeon Crawl -- I guess Dante is the closest to HyperRogue here. After adding the Dry Forest, I have decided to finish Cocytus too -- I have added the missing graphics, and also added the Crystal Sages. I wonder how people interpret their weird gestures? I think nobody has commented about that. Anyway, read Three Electroknights for an explanation -- the gestures come from there.

Thus, 5.x included two new lands. Version 6.0 started with five new lands...

I have already mentioned the forest idea by Maciej Chojecki. While I did not want a static maze because I was afraid of camping, his ideas actually solved the problem -- the "timbermans", and also somewhat the monsters moving through walls only, would prevent you from just waiting in a dead end. Thus I have decided to create a new land based on the mechanics, just changed the theme to a cave -- and thus the Dead Cave was created, reusing Seeps for the Forest Ghosts, and with Earth Elementals instead of timbermans, still dropping orbs providing means to go through the walls. HyperRogue already contained Orbs of Digging, which worked only in the Living Cave -- I have made them work in both lands and also in some other lands, and renamed them to Orbs of Earth. Also renamed Orb of Lightning to Orb of Storms. (Speaking of orbs, the name Orb of the Flash from the Icy Lands is based on a spell from Diablo.)

Some players on Steam wondered how a war game would work in the hyperbolic plane, and that's how the Hive was born -- and they wanted ants, so the Hyperbugs who fight there are ant-like creatures. Royal Jelly is the food of baby bee queens, and it appears as a quite valuable item in many roguelikes (ADOM, NetHack, older versions of DCSS, Spelunky HD). Again, I have tried several attempts -- in some of them Hyperbugs were invincible, in some you only received Royal Jelly by killing the Hyperbug queens, and in some there were actually three sublands, for the different Hyperbug races -- before finally settling for circles of radius 9. Note that this was before horocycles were added to the game, and even circles of radius 9 were somewhat a challenge for me at the moment... they were (and they still are) generated completely when they were created -- I think that the reason for the sparsity of Hive is that I did not want walking through Hive to use too much memory (even though it probably actually uses more memory as it is, since you have to walk longer before finding a nest).

I don't remember how I got an idea of a more complicated repeating pattern... possibly it came from a discussion with Fulgur14. I think I wanted a dense regular pattern of ultraparalell lines, to make a better use of the hyperbolic geometry. I have called it the Vineyard, since that's what dense paralell lines remind me of. (Also see some regular graveyards from the real life.) Vine Beasts appear in some addons for Battle for Wesnoth.

Satisfied with the Hedgehog Warriors, I have created some more monsters requiring special means of killing -- ones which were killed when you approached them (again a bit like in Hoplite), and ones which were killed when you moved away from them (somewhat inspired by the game Ultima, which is a chess-like game where pieces differ mostly by the way they attack, rather than their movement capabilities -- I have never actually played it, but I find the idea interesting). Also, it turned out that I could create several interesting repetitive patterns by changing the vineyard one a bit. I wanted a sea land for a long time, so I wanted to combine all these ideas into one -- a "fjord" with a regular pattern and filled with Hedgehog Warriors, Pikemen, and Flail Guards. However, this turned out extremely unconvincing, so I have dropped the fjord theme, and it became the Emerald Mines instead -- a maze of small twisty passages, all alike. (By the way, that quote about small twisty passages is from the classic adventure game, Colossal Cave Adventure -- not used in HyperRogue, but Hydra Slayer quotes another line from CCA.)

I was somewhat unhappy with the relatively low usefulness of the early Orbs, so I have created the Land of Power, where the Orbs were essential. Initially it was supposed to have fires arranged in a way similar to the ice walls in the Icy Lands, but finally, I have decided to use another rearrangement of the Vineyard pattern. The enemies were called Witches so that we have more female enemies, to complement the choice of playing a female character, which was also introduced somewhere around that time. By the way, a bit of history about this choice: players have been asking to translate HyperRogue to their languages. At first, I did not want to add translations to HyperRogue -- I did not believe in translations too much, since programs are usually translated very badly to Polish, where nouns can be in several cases based on their role in their sentence, and verbs and adjectives change depending on the genus of the noun. Most translation engines cannot handle that -- instead, they cheat by using forms which are always correct, but very ugly and unnatural. But then, I thought, let's show them how to create a beautiful Polish translation -- so I have created an engine which created nice Polish sentences, and even cared about the gender of the player character correctly.

That was HyperRogue 6.0. Then, tricosahedron has asked on the Steam forums about large and infinite circles -- he believed that the placement of Great Walls in the HyperRogue world was static, and thus there would be fixed large circles made of a specific land, and wanted to know how to find a center of such a circle. Actually, great walls are placed randomly (not based on any circles), so this question does not make much sense -- but still, his question seemed to be an interesting challenge, and that's how Camelot was born in HyperRogue 6.2. Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Holy Grail obviously come from the English legends.

Camelot required HyperRogue to be able to create made of billions of cells, which could not fit in the computer's memory. Changing these routines to also enable infinite structures -- that is, horocycles -- was relatively easy. It was Fulgur14 who wanted horocycles to appear in the game -- and the first land featuring them was the Temple of Cthulhu, greatly improving the previously quite boring R'Lyeh. I wanted the player to have to go deeply into the infinite sequence of horocycles to obtain a big amount treasures. There are many famous fictional books of magic in the Cthulhu mythos, such as the Necronomicon -- to force the player to go deep into the horocycle, I have decided that these books would be the treasure, with more valuable ones deeper in the temple, but no point to collect two copies of the same Grimoire. With the ultraparalell lines of the Vineyard, medium circles of the Hive, large circles of Camelot, and infinitely nested horocycles of Cthulhu, the hyperbolic theme of HyperRogue became much stronger -- thanks to Fulgur14 for discussing the hyperbolic geometry :)

To be continued, with the lands from versions 7.x...

1 comment:

  1. I did guess a while back that Crystal sages make obscene gestures at you, causing you to heat up from anger. I haven't heard of _The Three Electroknights_.