Thursday, 8 December 2016

Sources of HyperRogue: part IV

This is the fourth post in the series, about the lands from versions 8.x.

There is not much to say about Wild West. Revolvers, and hunting outlaws for bounties, are among the most common tropes in westerns. It does not really match the rest of the game, so it is available as the bonus land only.

Snowyowl0 had an idea on the HyperRogue forum about a land called "The Eternal Storm", which was a land with strong winds, and with Fulgurite as a treasure. I read what Fulgurite was — a mineraloid created when lightning hits sand, and also a nice reference to Fulgur14, one of the most prominent members of the HyperRogue community — and found it more appropriate for the land that I had rough idea for since some time, where you had to kill monsters by creating electric connections out of them. So that's how the Land of Storms was created. The monsters you created electric connections of had to be something metallic (so that it is a conductor), slow (so that you actually have time to create connections), and heavily armored (so that it cannot be destroyed in normal way). My first drawing of the Metal Beast created something like a Trilobite, and they remained like that. They were joined by Storm Trolls, since it was interesting to also have monsters creating conductible walls when they die.

Ivy was one of the first monsters unique to HyperRogue, but now I have invented a potentially more interesting variant of it, growing much more quickly. I found the Mutant Ivy work well in two cases: in a forest (where you could chop down trees to reach the root), and in the open space, where it moved only on hexagons. I have restricted the movement of the Mutant Ivy to hexagons outside of the Overgrown Woods, so we have both cases in the same monster. You could cut trees to get access to the root, but it was also useful to be able to restrict the growth by placing barriers too — so the Mutant Ivy was joined by yet another Troll. Thus, the Trolls in the Living Fjord, Land of Storms, and Overgrown Woods (and to lesser extent Red Rock Valley) are all primarily intended not as something that can kill you, but something that helps you — as we say with Princess Tehora, "the trolls only want to help". The Orb of the Overgrown Woods is the Orb of Luck, which notably loses some charges when you kill an Albatross, as a reference to the superstition that killing albatrosses brings bad luck, as suggested by simon_clarkstone.

And the hex-restricted Mutant Ivy grew quite nicely in the open space, covering everything nearby — this was used in a Yendor challenge, but also a special land, the Clearing, was created for it. Fighting an infinite monster gives me a very epic mental image, especially when you notice that, when you move towards the root, you actually destroy trillions of Ivy leaves with a single strike (even though the game does not count that). Giant Fox was an appropriate monster here — as a omnivore it could both eat the mutant fruits and attack the player character, and there were already some canines (I like reusing families of monsters, like birds and Trolls). Orb of Freedom is a reference to the description of the Giant Fox, which is quite hard to see, since it is hard to actually meet a Giant Fox — even though it has no special properties, in combination with the giant Mutant Ivy I believe that it actually makes the land much harder, so you won't actually meet them unless going for high score.

Haunted Woods are based on an idea of wonderfullizardofoz. The general idea, shape, and location of the Haunted Woods are taken directly from this idea. No specific ideas about monsters, treasures and terrain features were given, so I have decided to make it Haunted Woods, a forest filled with Ghosts, inspired by a card in the Dominion deck-building game, which also gives a mental image of being lost in the woods, and the treasure name is inspired by the most expensive card in the famous collectible card game Magic: the Gathering. The Friendly Ghosts created by Orb of Undeath were initially greenish, but in 9.2 they were recolored on tehora's request to match the Playmobil toy (video).

As I have mentioned, Snowyowl0 had an idea about a land called "The Eternal Storm" — the Land of Storms took the name and treasure from this idea, but not really the general idea (land with strong winds), or the monsters (crows and air elementals). Windy Plains are based on these remaining ideas. I wanted a treasure which would be carried by the strong winds, and a feather was a natural candidate yet again (after the phoenix feather from the Land of Eternal Motion). White dove feather as a reference to the song by Bob Dylan, Blowing in the Wind. Tehora helped with the color scheme.

She has also helped a lot with the Rose Garden — here is her story: "There were multiple sources of idea of Rose Garden — probably the most personal land in the game. The earliest I recall was when Zeno made few buttons and fridge magnets with HyperRogue theme. I told him that HyperRogue lacked in a land that would have been incredibly light, pastel, sweet and pink. A bit disturbing and psychedelic. I do not remember who came first with the exact name of Rose Garden — probably me after Zeno told me about one of his favorite roguelike monsters — the nicely smelling rosebush from Alphaman. I got extremely excited with that idea, even more because I personally dislike roses, so they made perfect "monsters" for that land. And then I populated Rose Garden with False Princesses and Princes — a delicate reference to "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the related Polish song by Kasia Sobczyk. There has been already lost Princess/Prince, that was a real love of our Rogue, but... how to love only one person, when there are many other appealing? This loosely reflects my personal demon, too — to me every other girl would be a better match for Zeno. Digging further in the love-theme, we introduced the Rose Beauties and Handsome Gardeners who would be "too pretty to be killed" — I suggested them during a walk in the break during our friends' doctoral defenses. Actually, the suspenders of Handsome Gardeners were inspired by the outfit of one of our friends on that day. I liked Rose Beauties, because of association with my original understanding of The Sick Rose by William Blake. The very first time I heard this poem in Protagonist's song (thanks KosGD!) it triggered an image of an extremely beautiful but coldhearted evil lady, that nobody expects to be dangerous (of course, many years later I encountered so called "proper analysis" of this poem, but I reject it!). Gardeners tend to be "default lovers" in fairytales — e.g. we thought about Muzzy in Gondoland where the Princess ran away with a Gardener — a cartoon from our childhood. And the last fun fact — when I urged Zeno to create new appearance for Rose Beauties our first attempt ended up as the new look for Witches... And the tiling for that land was prepared to satisfy my moaning that Zeno made a great tiling for Galápagos, and Rose Garden had an inherited one. The initial orb's name suggested by Zeno was Orb of the Skunk and I strongly disliked it. We spend reasonably too much time discussing it, and eventually ended up with Orb of Beauty with the same effect, although motivated differently (gives you stunning appearance, not stink)."

In roguelikes such as Zaga-33 and Ending, the concept of "parity" is crucial — if you have four way movement on a chessboard, and skipping turns not allowed, it is predetermined whether you hit the monster first or it hits you, unless you find some way to disrupt the parity. IMHO games centered around parity get old quite quickly, but I have found it quite fun in Crypt of the Necrodancer — as you have to deal with parity only for a very small number of monsters here — so I have decided to do a bit similar in HyperRogue — have a single land based on parity. The usual HyperRogue tiling has no parity, but it could be recovered by forbidding movement between hexagons, or even better, using another tiling equivalent to such a rule. The intended solution to the problem of killing an incorrectly aligned monster has been influenced by the CotD solution. When showing an early draft to Fulgur14, with trees, lakes, and monsters temporarily named Sloths, he has noticed that the "warped tiling" actually had straight lines, and suggested that they could be used for shorelines — which was a very nice idea, so it turned into a Warped Coast. A new sailor creature was required (after Pirates and Vikings), and Ratlings (from ADOM) were chosen, because of the association of rats with ships and pirates. Their suspiciousness of enemies who do not move was a result of my e-mail discussion with Michael Brough, the author of Zaga-33, about the parity rule. In the first version, the land was solved far too easy by killing Ratlings on a sea boundary, so we have decided with tricosahedron that Ratling Avengers would be created when a player tries to abuse that strategy — and Fulgur14 and tehora wanted them to have capes, because Avengers always wear capes. Corals are a reference to the crochet coral reef project.

Also, the Crossroads IV were created, to reuse the straight line separating Warped Sea and Warped Coast in other situations. Wonderfullizardofoz had this idea too.

Fulgur14 had the idea of a gravity-based land with infinite trees. I think he has suggested apples as treasure, as a reference to the apple which, according to the legend, fell on Isaac Newton's head and thus influenced creation of the theory of gravity. But how to name yet another land of trees, after Jungle, Dry Forest, Overgrown Woods, and Haunted Woods? I remembered that Manic Miner, a classic platformer from 1983, had a level named Endorian Forest. The theme is a result of merging all three themes — Manic Miner's Endorian forest (EF for short), wizardry theme of Ivory Tower, and the theme of research. The land is named Yendorian Forest, as a reference to EF and the Wizard of Yendor in NetHack. EF had green (stable) and red (crumbling) branch platforms, and thus the Yendorian Forest has strong and weak branches. Sparrowhawk is simply a bird who likes to catch prey on trees; tehora did not like using the default bird shape for them, with their "shanks" sticking out, so she was forced to draw a new shape. It is not completely clear what the creatures in EF were supposed to be (probably EF is a reference to the Endorian Forest in Star Wars, and the creatures would be Ewoks, but still, they look different), and how they look from the above — tehora interpreted them as wearing hats similar to ones worn in ancient Aztec reliefs, so that's what we see in HyperRogue. Their bright saturated colors are also a reference to EF. Their name is a reference to Isaac Newton's gravity research, and "infinite trees" in their description are one of research subjects in theoretical computer science.

As mentioned in the first post in this series, originally I had a different idea for the main quest in HyperRogue — every place in the world had environmental/civilizational parameters (temperature, humidity, whatever) which slowly changed as you travelled, and you had to find the location with specific parameters, and probably come back. I did not have a precise idea about how to implement this, and I found that even simpler ideas are fun enough in the hyperbolic plane anyway. At that time, I had no good idea about how to develop this, but when I have mentioned this in that post, I thought that it would be fun to try this now, with all the new experience. I wanted slow creatures whose properties would adapt to the changing environment as you were travelling. This reminded me of Galápagos — tortoises in different islands have different properties to adapt to their environments, which was noticed by Charles Darwin during his Beagle trip, and contributed to the theory of evolution. The land could be called "Land of Tortoises", but Galápagos means "tortoises" in Spanish, so it is better. The text message you get when you find a Baby Tortoise ("Aww, poor Baby Tortoise.") is a reference to Penance, the roguelike webcomic.

A long time ago, Fulgur14 had a idea of a worm-like Dragon, who would be killed by damaging all its segments. I wanted to implement Dragon Chasms some time ago, but the idea for generating it (horocyclic chasms) turned out to be more appropriate for an archipelago, so Caribbean was created instead. Environmental parameters introduced for Galápagos had another application, of creating procedurally generated height maps — so I have decided to create Dragon Chasms with a new algorithm, where chasms were based on such a heightmap. It was quite lucky that Galápagos and Dragon Chasms were created together — I had no idea who would steal Baby Tortoises from their families, and how the Dragons could do anything evil despite being so slow — and making the Dragons steal Tortoises solved both problems! Fire Elementals were added as a simple monster to complement the Dragons — they were already in the Elemental Planes and they should appear somewhere else, and Dragon Chasms sounded appropriate. One bad thing about that is that all other Elementals are very strong in their lands (but weak in the Elemental Planes), and Fire Elemental is still rather weak in the Dragon Chasms — maybe something will be changed in the future. The Orb of Domination has its own story... when we have been showing HyperRogue to one of our friends a year ago, he went to the Desert, and he said "Wow, a Sandworm! Is it possible to ride it?!". It was high time to actually implement Sandworm riding.

This is all in HyperRogue 8.x. The next episode will be about HyperRogue 9.x, and it will take some time — it is still not known what will be there! :)

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