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Shedding Everything Except for Discovery, and Envisioning a No Berlin Roguelike

A topic by Caterjunes created Apr 07, 2016 Views: 269 Replies: 5
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(2 edits)

I did some thinking about how the Berlin Interpretation gets used and misused, and about what a No Berlin roguelike might look like. The full post is here:

Some basic tl;dr thoughts:

  • You'd have a consistent, non-random map that is entirely revealed from the start, and NPCs, items, etc. stay in roughly the same places each time, as Droqen specified in his original post.
    • BUT certain qualities of the payer-characters, NPCs, items, etc. would be randomized.
    • This would help to eliminate grids, "rooms," and other traditional dungeon stuff.
    • It would also de-emphasize exploration-as-such without eliminating a sense of surprise.
  • Making monsters different from players could mean altogether avoiding monsters in the traditional sense.
    • Since we're trying to avoid hack-and-slash gameplay, maybe we move away from combat.
    • "Monsters" don't even necessarily have to be physical creatures. They could simply be bad things that happen.
    • But there could also be room for literal monsters, of course, because monsters are cool.
  • "Discovery" as such might be the one and only element that really couldn't be eliminated without wrecking what makes roguelikes compelling in the first place.

The berlin rule is "Exploration and discovery". If we remove exploration but keep discovery we are still breaking the rule by not having both. It's a technicality but it keeps the challenge possible so I'll take it.

That makes sense to me.


👍 Also this definitely works!

Developer (2 edits)

It could also be twisted more loosely, based on the more specific definition of "The game requires careful exploration of the dungeon levels and discovery of the usage of unidentified items. This has to be done anew every time the player starts a new game."

Unknowns are fine as long as they're not too similar to unidentified potions or random dungeons? Discovering reliable properties or emergent events are still on the table. "Not exploring" a landscape could mean you have a map, or something.

Then again, given that there's no grid and low complexity, there could be no map at all...

maybe even what makes games compelling.

I think the direction I'd take is to just steer clear of the kinds of exploration & discovery that roguelikes exemplify. No resource-limited exploration of nooks & crannies for items. No random items with testable properties. No... item identification in a mechanical sense. But surely no game can survive without discovery, just as no game can survive without complexity.

Wrote this while reading the blog post.

Having come to the end, it was a really good read! The No Berlin Roguelike will probably take form very slowly (well, mine anyway) b/c I'm working on other major stuff... but I have yet more to chew on now.

Really glad to hear that you found the post interesting and/or useful--and really excited to see whatever you come up with, whenever you come up with it.

We definitely agree that discovery and complexity are necessary, and that the goal would be simply to avoid the forms that they conventionally take in Berlinier roguelikes. Likewise, I love the idea of randomizing elements other than dungeons and potions (or dungeons and potions by other names, for that matter). Like you say, lots to chew on.

Thanks again for inviting me to talk!