Soooo…. it turns out that the whole “70 day roguelike” goal wasn’t very realistic. Apparently, even “700 day roguelike” was a bit of a stretch. So: Welcome to the new 7YRL! Probably just as overly optimistic as the last title, but ah well…

The last two years

Since I last posted here, I changed jobs about six months ago, and am now working at Microsoft (again) in the XNA team, building development frameworks and tools for game developers. In the time since I joined the team, I’ve built and shipped four XNA games on the Windows Phone Marketplace, including one (“3D Mahjong Solitiare”) that was listed by PocketGamer.co.uk as one of the top ten indie titles on WP7! The games have only made about $1k so far, but at least that top-ten mention was worth a little street cred around the office ;-). If you have a Windows Phone, you can find my other games by searching for “Wanderling” (my publisher name) or going here. Here’s some screenshots:

3D Mahjong Solitaire

Driftwood Solitaire

Poker Peaks

Minesweeper Touch

Those game took about 2 weeks each to make (the standard 8PM-after-the-kids-have-gone-to-bed to midnight shift). Hardest part was probably creation of art assets, as I got introduced to the content pipeline proper, especially for the 3d tile models and faces. So why am I suddenly coming back to this blog? Because my next game (which sadly will take more than 2 weeks total) is…

The Roguelike

Although my roguelike work gathered dust over most of the last two years, I did actually make a bunch of progress on it from time to time. Too much to go into in one list here, but it’s much closer to a full-fledged roguelike now than when I last left it. There are a few aspects I’m particularly happy with, such as the unified Actions/Abilities/Buffs/Traps/Effects system, the Xml-driven nature of it all, or the rather comprehensive itemization work I did. I’ll cover aspects of each of these as time permits. I did waste a lot of time waffling between some decisions. I did a complete port over to C++ from C# that ultimately was a wasted effort (as I’ll be going out only on XNA), and caused me to then have to port back to C# after making a bunch of changes to the C++ version :P. I also spent a metric crap-load of time building a full isometric version of the engine with all sorts of bells and whistles… only to decide that I can’t stand isometric on a small device/display. Ah well. Here’s an couple shots of the in-vitro version of the isometric display; this version of the code is in the middle of the port back to XNA/WP7, so the sizing and fonts are off and lots of things are still wonky:

I got that a bit farther before making the hard decision to revert out all the isometric stuff to clean up the code. Here’s what the current version looks like:

Those show the main game window, the map display, and the skill selector. You can tell that I’m only part-way through migrating from the smaller iPhone screen to the 480×800 WP7 screen. I just 1.5x’ed assets in Photoshop for now so they’re a bit blurry, and you can see the bottom of the overlays not stretching far enough, etc. Those’ll get fixed in time; right now my primary focus is on gameplay and user interface (why is “simple” always so hard!) I realize those screens may look simplistic next to the isometric ones. I’m straddling a line between approachable and deep – and I just plain couldn’t make the isometric model approachable. e.g. Although input worked correctly, it always felt off-kilter to tap-to-move on the isometric display. Perhaps other folks can make that work better than I, but when I switched back to the flat 2D layout, it immediately felt more approachable again (although sadly less “deep”). I’m hoping that I can inject depth through gameplay and choices… There’s other stuff as well (e.g. character inventory screens, world map, character creation screens, etc), but those’ll wait for another day. The biggest challenge I’ve been running into is simply trying to get a decent roguelike experience (read: not too dumbed-down) into a mobile device. So many actions, so many playstyles; so little screen real estate…

The blog

So, this blog: I still want to use this space to talk about my experience with roguelike development; but I’ll also include other topics that are of interest to me – game development in general, XNA specifically (surprise!), etc. Anyways, thanks for reading – and God (and my two young boys) willing, I’ll have time to add more! Cheers, Jeff

3D Mahjong Solitaire

Driftwood Solitaire

Poker Peaks Solitaire

Minesweeper Touch

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