Vegans of Virtue: Dungeons of Dredmor(e)

By Alec Meer on November 16th, 2011 at 5:59 pm.

Good to see the devs are as inept at playing it as I am

Not all dungeons require a cross-country trek or a cheeky spot of fast-travel to access. Dungeons of Dredmor was a light but appropriately vicious roguelike which charmed both John and I earlier this year, and creators Gaslamp Games have not left it to fester away on a darkened corner of Steam. As well as a steady trickle of patches, they’ve announced some real-money DLC is incoming, as well as a new patch which, among other things, doubles the number of avatar genders on offer. I did some pretty impressive maths to arrive at that conclusion, let me tell you.

Most of the extra stuff is restricted to the DLC, of course. Given the parent game only costs £3.49/insert foul foreignland currency of your choice here, it’s highly unlikely to be expensive DLC, mind. I am happy about this news, which isn’t something I often say about DLC.

Details are thin on the ground, beyond the fairly inevitable ‘more stuff’, this specifically meaning new monsters, skills, items, levels and MYSTERIOUS OTHER THINGS; pretty much all we do know it’ll feature a Vegan skill tree. Expect tofu gags aplenty. You can pore over a few screenshots for info-scraps here.

Also impending is patch 1.07, which entail a lady adventurer joining the game. Complete with the Dredmor-requisite big eyebrows, of course. Mod support is also planned, the skill-picking UI is being overhauled, and there’ll be an option for a fast mode featuring smaller dungeon floors. Jolly good.

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39 Comments »

  1. nimzy says:

    Reminds me of the optional conducts in nethack. Up for a vegetarian run, anyone?

  2. squareking says:

    I’m not sure how one would go about not loving this game.

    • Berzee says:

      Mainly by valuing graphical consistency. Each individual piece of this game looks plenty fine, but put together on the screen they just bug me for some indescribable reason.

      I like reading about this game a lot =) but I don’t know if I would want to play it.

    • Vinraith says:

      I really do hate the art style. There aren’t any reskin mods floating around, perchance?

      Also, I’m a little unclear on what distinguishes it from other rogue-likes, aside from a price tag.

    • qrter says:

      The next patch includes mod support, so I guess graphics could be changed..?

      I’m not sure about other rogue-likes, but this one at least is brimming with humour, which I appreciate.

    • Kaira- says:

      Okay, apparently comment system ate my comment.

      @Vinraith

      It’s very simplistic roguelike. No diagonal movement or combat (definitive minus to me), no food management, static dungeons (only one weapon can clear tiles in the dungeon), no time/speed system (every single creature can move/attack once per turn), and it’s fairly shallow as mechanics go. Still, it’s pretty good timewaster every now and then.

    • Fumarole says:

      A mouse-driven GUI is enough for me.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kaira

      It sounds like our tastes run similarly on these sorts of things. I must admit, though, that I have little rogue-like experience outside of Nethack. Care to make a recommendation for something less simplified than Dredmor?

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Vin: if you have several spares months on your hands, then Angband.

      http://rephial.org/

    • Waltorious says:

      @Vinraith:

      The main thing that separates Dungeons of Dredmor from other roguelikes is that its interface is much, much easier to learn. This makes it a fantastic introductory roguelike. It’s also more complex than most other introductory roguelikes, with a large variety of items, a crafting system, lots of character skills, etc. So it’s good training for moving on to something bigger and harder like Nethack. It’s also pretty funny.

      As for other roguelike recommendations, I like to recommend Brogue as another fairly simple one. It’s fun because it lets you play with fire and flammable gases, and has some of the nicest ASCII graphics I’ve seen in a roguelike. Then of course there’s Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, which I personally prefer over Nethack. It’s a similar level of complexity to Nethack but has a lot of features that remove unnecessary frustrations or time-wasting, plus it’s got tile graphics that are much more efficient at conveying information to the player than the ASCII option is.

      I actually wrote about all of these recently on my blog. Am I allowed to link to that or would that be bad form? Eh, I’ll link it anyway. Don’t click through unless you want to read more of me writing about roguelikes:

      http://waltorious.wordpress.com/tag/roguelike-highlights/

    • Kaira- says:

      @Vinraith

      If you have little-to-none experience with roguelikes, I’d recommend Stone Soup Dungeon Crawl. It has nice GUI available, has complex mechanix and so on. It is pretty hard for the first few levels, though. Then there is my all time favourite and the best roguelike ever™, ADoM, which broadens the usual dungeon-crawling experience with quite a large story, overworld map and well, it’s tough as nails. JADE is also shaping up to be a good roguelike with a slightly lower learning curve than ADoM, while still being quite faithful sequel to ADoM. Keep an eye on that. Then there are of course the old classics such as NetHack, Angband (and its million variants) and such.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      The art style doesn’t bother me so much as the animation style. I can look at a screenshot and it’s fine (well, except for the annoying eyebrows), but watching a video makes me slightly ill.

    • MCM says:

      I managed it by playing several other rogue-likes and dungeon crawlers first, and then making an informed comparison which revealed that DoD was not a very good game.

    • andrewdoull says:

      I can second Brogue. ToME 4 is another option, which has GUI and a great tile set (by Shockbolt). POWDER is ported to pretty much every platform.

      If you’re looking for a more general barometer of roguelikes, you could try the Roguelike Radio podcast, and the Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year (and a prettier list of the top ten for 2010) is always worth checking out, to see what people find popular every year.

    • Benkyo says:

      Thanks for the Brogue tip to all who mentioned it! Great fun. Seems like a good design, and easy to play without needing a wiki of any kind.

  3. The Ninja Foodstuff formerly known as ASBO says:

    I was playing this non-stop when it was released. I got as far as the 3rd level and then died from a buff wearing off. I didn’t play it again after that. Maybe this will re-kindle my interest.

  4. Teddy Leach says:

    They call it an expansion pack, but I don’t know if that term and ‘DLC’ can be used interchangeably nowadays.

    • DK says:

      Expansion implies work being done, while DLC implies “we cut this to sell it to you later”.

      This firmly falls into the former category. Stop calling everything downloadable “DLC”.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      More or less reflects my feelings.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Not interchangeable, but expansions are a subset of DLC (what was the last boxed non-standalone expansion released? anyone?). It is helpful to distinguish, of course.

    • Irony says:

      (what was the last boxed non-standalone expansion released? anyone?)

      I’m pretty sure World of Warcraft: Cataclysm fits those parameters.

  5. Gurrah says:

    Wow, brilliant news indeed! 57hours on the clock so far, there goes another part of my life…

  6. qrter says:

    Looooove this game. Great news.

  7. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    It’s kind of sad how years of DLC-mongering have started to change our perception of extra content. The things on offer here point at a proper expansion (just like old times!) rather than what is commonly understood by DLC.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It’s exactly the kind of business model I cheerfully support for many types of indie games: sell a smallish game for a reasonably low price, then continue development and offer expansion packs, so people who really like it can give you more money and get something worthwhile in return.

      Hope it works out for them.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Don’t forget content patches. Those are called free-DLC nowadays.

  8. Eric_CC says:

    ‘Roguelike’ is probably my favorite genre and yet I very few positive things to say about Dredmor. But here goes:

    The graphics are pleasant. It has personality.

    That’s it. I’ve run out. If I could have, I would have given my money directly to the guy in charge of the visual design because gameplay wise, it’s about what you’d expect from a good 7DRL. (7 day Roguelike) It’s just not a good Game when judged on its balance and gameplay merits. In fact, there is really no reason for anybody to play it in its current state considering what is available for free. With time being a limited resource, play the best games!

    I was in Dredmor beta so I knew what I was getting into when I bought Dredmor. I considered my purchase to be a vote for the rogulike genre itself and a vote of confidence that someday the devs would make the game worth playing. That the developers want more money when they are still at least 1 year away, probably longer, from making the game worth playing is just silly. The only way I could justify giving them more money is by writing it off as a donation

    • phanatic62 says:

      Care to elaborate on what free games are as good as Dredmor? I love this game, but i don’t know a ton about the rest of the genre. My understanding was that a lot of the games are hardcore, with Dredmor being slightly (or significantly) less so.

    • Eskatos says:

      Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is friendlier than most roguelikes and has “graphics” too. Still if you want to be remembered in the annals of history, beat Nethack.

    • Waltorious says:

      Dredmor has the easiest interface to learn, by far. Most roguelikes use a huge number of keyboard shortcuts for controls and these are hard to learn and typically needlessly complex. But once you know them you can control the game quite quickly.

      Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is excellent but it’s one of the more complex and difficult roguelikes. Definitely the easiest of the “hardcore” roguelikes to learn though.

      Check out Brogue for a game that’s not much more complex than Dredmor (simpler in some ways actually) but will get you used to the keyboard controls typical of most roguelikes. It also lets you set all sorts of stuff on fire which is quite fun.

  9. MythArcana says:

    I was playing Stone Soup before Skyrim was released…and this, as well. I’ve been playing Skyrim a bit this week, but now I’m craving to go back to Stone Soup and other rogue-likes because I’m hooked.

    This is a great entry level game to rogue-likes and is well done, but I prefer the complexity of Stone Soup personally.

  10. FalseMyrmidon says:

    This was the gateway drug to Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup for me.

  11. Sigvatr says:

    Why do people insist on using pay for DLC? Why can’t they just release all the new content for free, and then the people who play it will tell their friends to buy it because free stuff comes out to make it more fun?

    • Shuck says:

      The simple answer: because developers need income to survive. Developers can’t normally afford to sink significant time into developing free content for a game that’s already released in the hopes that it might attract more buyers – it’s far too risky. Some developers have done as you suggested and sold the game initially for full price with the promise of free content thereafter, and it was a disaster. Developers either discovered that they didn’t sell enough copies that they could afford to make good on their promise, or players expected more than they ended up getting and were angry.

      Far better to sell smaller bits of content as they’re released, and be upfront about what’s being sold, for both developer and buyer. In cases like this, the original games are sold for a fraction of what you’d normally pay for even a small indie game; if the sales are good, that income covers further development of expansion content which is similarly priced. If sales are poor, then the developer moves on to another project, and no one is left expecting something they didn’t get.

  12. pantognost says:

    This will probably sound like a flame, but I suppose that a bit of frustration does that to a person. I saw at least 3 comments (and several replies to these comments) that said the thing that frustrated me: “DoD is pretty but simple.”

    Wrong.

    Let me say it once more.

    WRONG!

    Ok now that I got it out of my system let me tell you why you are WRONG!

    More is not always better. Of course there are a lot of roguelikes that have time systems, complex initiative, tile destroying weapons, whole planets’ simulation…and their influence on your gameplay is so arcanely calculated that when you finally get the clock of uber ticking that would make you master of time you realize that it adds an extra 1.266% to every inititiative modifier. All the while you are staring dumply at the same @ symbol all the time while a sea of characters floats about it.

    Yup! That’s right! Here is your holy cow, slain and bleeding here on my porch. Roguelikes had ASCII graphics once upon a time due to NECCESSITY! The great programmers of old wanted a rpg experience so they used what symbolic representation they could get (ASCII) in order to bring some kind of visualization to the world of the text adventures. This veneration of the ascii display in roguelikes is nostalgia at best and geeky elitist inferiority complex at its worse.

    So up comes this game DoD that has an extremely simple to grasp combat system, a tight set of skills that provide for a myriad of EMERGENT interactions in the game world and a randomized loot and map system that facilitatesd these emergent interactions. It is fun, it is immediate, it is to the point and it actually invites people to return to it instead of pushing them away furiously with arcane commands and hidden functionality.

    And the great elders of the roguelikes wrinkle their noses, remove their holy ascii hoods and say “it’s simple” or “it has only good graphics”

    Yes! And these are the only things that the roguelike genre lacked so far.

    Get it !?

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      I agree pantognost.

      I’ve never played a rogue-like before DoD, and mulled over trying it for ages before finally picking it up. It’s a fun game that’s not all that challenging until you pick up the difficulty level. That said I’ve had some very short games, but that was more due to my own stupidity, so I never felt frustrated with the game itself doing something arbitrarily unfair and therefore I kept clicking “Start New Game”.

      I’m far from a graphics whore when it comes to games (budget/mid range cards being a staple in my systems usually) and will rarely ever buy a game based only upon it being shiny. However I do appreciate a game that is designed to be accessible to new players (whether to the genre or to that specific implementation).

      To me, developers, and by extension their games, that are most worthy of praise are those that are successful in appealing to and being accessible to new players who otherwise might ignore most similar games, while providing additional depth once you scratch the surface.

      Such games aren’t going to be the pinnacle of their genre for dedicated fans, but they shouldn’t be derided for that. From comments on the various articles about DoD I’ve read, my gut feel is that it’s been extremely successful as an ambassador for rogue-likes.

      I really would like to try out something with the additional complexity of other examples mentioned in the comments here, but why should I have to put up with outdated archaic interface systems?

      Just think, how many of the rogue-like fans (including here) essentially defending interfaces consisting of hidden keybindings you need to learn by looking them up in documentation will quite happily abuse developers for poor GUI / console port interfaces? How many got in on the Skyrim UI bashing this past week?

      True fans should be pushing rogue-like developers to improve their interfaces, so that more people get a chance to enjoy what is a significantly under appreciated genre.

      Well that’s my opinion anyway. You’re entitled to your own of course.

    • Benkyo says:

      The thing is, DoD is pretty, but badly flawed.

      Simplicity (and it is pretty simple) isn’t the issue. There are gameplay balance issues and glaringly broken bits that leap out at anybody who’s played a few decent roguelikes and they aren’t trivial.

      I have lots of respect for the graphics and some respect for the interface, which is accessible if clumsy in some ways. Accessibility is very important. Then there are the flaws, a few of which I’ll list as they come to me (been a long time since I played)

      First, it’s really slooow. I can play half-a-dozen runs through my favourite roguelikes in the time taken to trudge down the levels in DoD. I think it’s the combination of big maps, X-Y only movement, restricted view and animations that makes DoD such a slog.

      Second, there’s no incentive to enter more dangerous areas other than boredom. Sounds strange to a roguelike novice, but it’s critical. Roguelikes are almost always really really hard. You have to try and optimise your play to survive. If you can ‘scum’ easy areas by (for instance) killing weak critters over and over again then you might as well play an MMO or JRPG. Grinding is not what roguelikes are about, they’re supposed to be fun/tactical/challenging, take your pick – for me the three are interchangeable. Roguelikes I’ve played go about avoiding grinding in many different ways, with limited food and starvation or limited healing and no natural regeneration being the two most common. Capping experience for under-levelled critters or level time limits are other less popular options that crop up in other genres too. They all force you to progress and explore more dangerous areas instead of killing endless diggles until you are ‘experienced’ enough that it’s safe to go downstairs. Why on earth didn’t DoD implement something like that? I guess it’s probably because the default difficulty is so easy you can cruise through it with your brain switched off. The ‘rogue’ difficulty presents a challenge, then you find yourself either playing in a very boring way or picking the most broken, optimal skills or more likely both.

      Third… oh wait, they added a ‘digest’ button. Definitely a step in the right direction, but there’s still the food-less regeneration issue to deal with.

      Fourth, a lack of variety and tactical options. How to run away? Just walk away, or jump away in a pinch. Escaping is so easy, no tactics or thought required. All those extra damage types? Pointless. There’s no need to defend against or inflict specific damage because none of it makes a significant difference. That’s a perfect example of ‘more is not always better’ right there. Monster strategy? The same critters all through the dungeon are all beaten in the same way. None of them use different strategies, status effects, or anything at all really, with the possible exception of the level 10 diggles that I remember were best engaged at range because they hit so hard. They could have had: Monsters with powerful ranged attacks that you need to close with, monster mobs with a leader that has powerful status effect attacks that you need to take down or disable first, fast monsters, slow hard-hitting monsters, equipment stealing/destroying/downgrading monsters, monsters that can use equipment, monsters that need to be attacked with a certain damage type (does DoD have physical immune monsters? I think maybe it did), monsters that knock you back or suck you in… The list could go on forever and this is a case where more is not just better it’s essential. Variety in encounters means you can learn as you play, emergent gameplay abounds and tactical play is fun.

      Fifth, broken skills, but this is patchable and being patched.

      This post has rambled on way too long already but I hope a few points resonate with anyone who’s played DoD and found it lacking but couldn’t pin down why. There are much better options out there, and most of them are free!

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Errr… whatever OP, I you want to believe that, be my guest.

      The truth is, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup has about infinitely more content (races, classes, magic schools, gods with their own likes/dislikes/punishments/rewards, weapon types, artefacts, …) to explore than DoD, is well balanced, has an interesting dungeon structure with themed branches, and many hand-made special rooms you can come across while exploring. Besides, its graphical version is playable with the mouse. But in any case after a few games you’ll want to learn the key bindings, as they become second nature and are much faster to use.

      DoD is a good game and a nice gateway into roguelikes, but yes it is held back in some way by graphics. When you want to add a new monster with interesting gameplay mechanics, it’s much easier to just represent it by a letter and get working on the good stuff. The best example of that is Dwarf Fortress, I doubt you’d have dwarves strangling people with their own guts and insanely detailed characters if all those details had to be rendered with graphics.

    • ruddyadam says:

      I like all of what Benkyo said, especially here:

      “Fourth, a lack of variety and tactical options. [...] They could have had: Monsters with powerful ranged attacks that you need to close with, monster mobs with a leader that has powerful status effect attacks that you need to take down or disable first, fast monsters, slow hard-hitting monsters, equipment stealing/destroying/downgrading monsters, monsters that can use equipment, monsters that need to be attacked with a certain damage type (does DoD have physical immune monsters? I think maybe it did), monsters that knock you back or suck you in… The list could go on forever and this is a case where more is not just better it’s essential. Variety in encounters means you can learn as you play, emergent gameplay abounds and tactical play is fun.”

      I would like DoD to expand on its user-friendly interface and challenge me with a necessary learning curve in tactics to actually beat the game.