Sunday, 17 April 2016

Sources of HyperRogue: part III

This is the third post in the series, about the lands from versions 7.x.

I think it was Fulgur14 who wanted a beach with many horocycling seas. I have implemented this, but it turned out to be more convincing as a sea with horocyclic islands, so I have decided that this will be a pirate-themed land, with pirate treasures to be found in the islands. I have named this land the Caribbean, since that's where the Pirates usually roam, and I had no other ideas for another name of a pirate-themed land. (I didn't like the famous Disney film series that much, but I like the Secret of Monkey Island, which is based on the same thing.) One of the treasures in Colossal Cave Adventure is simply called the Pirate treasure, and I am referring to this in HyperRogue's Caribbean somewhat :) The theme has Parrots and treasures, I wanted to have treasure maps too, but as the description says, maps are useless in the hyperbolic plane. So there are compasses. The first time I encountered a compass which points to some specific goal (not just North) was the Secret of Monkey Island, but this also appears in Spelunky and the Disney movie. The Orb was supposed to be described "affect all Orbs which do not affect anything", to keep with the self-referential theme of Escher (see the Eternal Golden Braid), but finally I had to write a more precise description.

The Red Rock Valley started with the snake. I wanted a monster who could walk only on hexagons, and since this provided another way to have a slow monster (but still faster than one moving once per two turns), a snake variant was interesting. I have tried this, and managed to kill the hex snake with its own tail -- but just before killing it, I noticed that the snake has created a very nice structure, which could be used for something. Meanwhile in the forums, tricosahedron had a idea of a land where cells had several elevations, and I have combined the two -- creating steps and structures out of the dead enemies became the theme of the land. The theme, and the Valley part of the name, is based on the Monument Valley, but I preferred a more generic name -- although there is actually the Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, and I have been there.

While the Caribbean was already implemented, but not yet released, wonderfullizardofoz contacted me, and told me about his ideas of the Ocean, with beaches ravaged with tides, whirlpools, and pirates who could use boats. Interestingly, his idea for Pirates and Boats were just like what I have already implemented for Caribbean :) Anyway, Ocean and Whirlpool were great ideas too, so I have implemented them. The treasure of the Ocean is named Amber, because that's what you can find on the beaches in the Baltic region. And Pearl is a typical sea treasure, so it was used for the Whirlpool.

In 2012 I have been discussing hyperbolic geometry in HyperRogue with Piotr MigdaƂ. I did not know Piotr in person then, although we did have some common friends -- for some time, I wanted to meet him and own up to talking to him anonymously, and this eventually happened, with the help of tehora. It turned out that Piotr did not know about how HyperRogue had grown in the meantime. After learning the news, Piotr has sent me some ideas for new lands, including one which I found very interesting: one based on the popular Minesweeper game. A Minesweeper game without any enemies would be quite bland though -- and the best enemies would be ones that could ignore mines, but interact with them somehow, and that's how the Bomberbirds were born (or hatched). And what could the Bomberbirds protect? Obviously, the Bomberbird eggs! Additionally, this has solved a potential problem with this land -- one could go back to the old part of the map, which was generated when the player did not yet collect many treasures and thus contained not too many mines -- and since the treasure was Eggs, they would hatch if you tried to do this. The Angry Birds were probably a slight inspiration too, with eggs as a treasure, and bomb birds -- although not a very strong one, since the Angry Birds have no wings, and they look different in general.

One time, we were discussing with tehora where we will meet. Both of us insisted on their own suggestions of the meeting place and none of us wanted to change their mind. Some time later, tehora said said that she did not like my suggestion, but she felt that she would likely change her opinion in a hour. Knowing that she liked Prince of Persia (the original from 1989), I have said something about conjuring a hourglass, and explained her that, contrary to the propaganda spread by the evil rebel, the Grand Vizier Jaffar in Prince of Persia was actually a good guy, and the hourglass was just a tool to help the Princess decide to marry the man she loved in reasonable time. Then, she said that she wanted a golden palace... Not a real golden palace, but a land in HyperRogue based on Prince of Persia, and this was a great idea, since Prince of Persia had so many features which could work greatly in the HyperRogue world: gates and pressure plates, and guards which could be killed with your sword or pushed into the collapsing floors. The unique enemies of Prince of Persia -- Skeleton, Fat Guard, and Vizier -- also could be turned into interesting enemies. The pattern is based on a pattern made out of circles of radius 3, invented by Fulgur14. The treasure is the Hypersian rug, which is a pun based of Persian rug (I have again used Colossal Cave Adventure as a source of ideas for names of treasures... and there were golden eggs there too, by the way). Since jumping is also a big part of Prince of Persia, Orb of the Frog has been added.

I also wanted a land based on the Living Caves algorithm, but with water instead of caves, so you could also take a boat and go through water. The result looked more convincing as a Fjord than the Emerald Mines, so I have called it the Living Fjord, and created Vikings as enemies who could use boats -- a better match for the Fjord than the Pirates -- also a new species of Troll who could be used to create bridges (since Trolls come from the Norse mythology and are related to bridges, they were quite a good match), and Water Elementals who could connect bodies of water. The treasure has been chosen to be Garnet, as apparently that's what the Vikings prized.

Initially, the Princess was simply mentioned in the description of Palace as another reference to Prince of Persia, but in 7.3 I have decided to add a quest to actually save the Princess. I like how, when attempting to get to the Key in Hell, lakes of sulphur can be large, but they can be circumvented with probability 1 -- but, since this was not actually the easiest way to solve the Yendor Quest, I wanted another quest which exhibited this even better. Testing revealed that I had to make the quest part of the Palace a bit easier with respect to gates (it was still solvable with normal distribution, but just too hard -- so I made this a separate Princess Challenge), and that a Mouse which could open or close plates would be too annoying -- a bit against the original Prince of Persia, where stepping on a pressure plate to open a gate was the only thing that the mouse did. To avoid the (quite sick) "damsel in distress" trope, the Princess/Prince has been made quite a powerful ally. The description of the Orb of Love comes from sayings about love: one is "love heals all wounds", and another is "love transcends time and space", which is inspired by the movie Interstellar.

As already mentioned above, there were some discussions on the Steam forums about how the third dimension could work in the hyperbolic world; in particular, while three levels of rock in the Red Rock Valley is still quite fine, higher altitudes should have hyperbolic effects of its own, since vertical lines supposedly should also diverge. I have decided to explore this further -- with a platformer-style level, with gravity. The first time I have seen a platformer level in a normally top-down game was Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening; there were also several small platformer 7DRLs (like Earl Spork by Eden Howard, Fuel by Ido Yehieli, and Bump! by Aaron Steed). I have initially called this land the Edge (like, the world ends, but gravity pulls you back), but I was not convinced -- I have shown the draft to Fulgur14, and he suggested the Tower and the Gravity Well, which I also liked, but I felt that Gravity Well was too abstract, and Tower does not explain why does it stand in place. Finally, I have called it Ivory Tower -- a traditional place where scientists (and wizards, in fantasy settings) perform their experiments disconnected from the world, and I felt that the description explains the changed gravity quite well. Gargoyle is a flying fantasy creature, which is made of stone and likes high buildings (based on the architectural element of the same name), so they were a natural idea for the monster there.

The trapdoors in the Palace made me really want to create a land similar to the Land of Eternal Motion, but with only 50% floors unstable. Initially, floors were supposed to be random, but then zelda0x181e posted a very nice pattern in the "Suggestions for the new lands" thread, and I have decided to use that instead. I have decided the monsters to be just the basic type, to refer to the Land of Eternal Motion once more -- and I think the land obtained is very nice, as you have to really use the land to your advantage to success there. Unfortunately, I had no good idea for the theme, and finally I have decided for the "Zebra" theme, with everything in black and white stripes (amusingly, "Zebra" was close to "Zelda", which was the inital name of the land, based on the nick of the designer of the pattern). Onyx is a mineral with a similar structure. I still had no idea for the Orb -- I have added Orb of Discord first (which was initially implemented for the Living Fjord before deciding that Orb of the Fish will be a better match, but was still unused), but then decided that Orb of the Frog was a better match for the land where jumping is very useful, and the Orb of Discord is great for the Palace too, so I have switched the native orbs of Palace and Zebra -- still keeping lots of Orbs of the Frog in the Palace.

After having two Elementals in the game -- the Earth Elemental from the Dead Caves, and the Water Elemental from the Living Fjord -- I thought that there should be some relation between them, like they should fight each other, or appear in the common land based on the classical four elements. When I first saw Fulgur14's fifty cell pattern painted with four colors, I thought that it would be good for such a land -- but I was still unconvinced, as Earth and Water elementals make more sense in infinite areas. Then Fulgur14 told me about his idea of using crossing Great Walls as a way to separate the four elements, and I found this very interesting, so I used this. I have been testing the crossing Great Walls in the Crossroads, and I liked the effect too, and that's how Crossroads III were created. The four Elements are not symmetrical -- I think it is more interesting that way.

And that's all in Versions 7.x! The next part will describe the lands and features from versions 8.x. Since this major version is not yet complete, it will be probably some time before part IV is posted :)