Interview with ADOM creator Thomas Biscap
Although lately marketing and endless cloning have devalued the meaning of the term “roguelike” (most of these products should be called “roguelite”), I contend that there are six games that can be considered Roguelike Principal, a canon that combines the clarity of the concept with popularity and player base size: of course, Rogue, NetHack, Angband, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, Brogue and ADOM, aka, “Ancient Domains of Mystery.”
Of all of them, only the last two can rightfully be considered the work of one person. And among them, only the source code of ADOM is not available to curious players. (Rogue was never released as open-source, but the source code of its standard version of Rogue Clone IV was open.) Thanks to the 7DRL competition (“7-Day Roguelike”), thousands of people have already created their own roguelike, but creating an ADOM-sized project, the games are also challenging as the powerful nethack itself is a terrific task.
Fortunately, Dr. Thomas Biskap, the creator of ADOM, agreed to talk with us about the game, on which he spent so much time and energy, and recently told us about ADOM, and about its sequel under development - Ultimate ADOM.
The first part of this interview was taken about a year and a half ago. The second was held recently, so basically has not lost relevance.
This interview was first published in the Extended Play fanzine available for free on the website and on the Internet Archive. You can also read it on the @Play blog .
John Harris : So the first question: how did ADOM start?
Dr. Thomas Biscap: ADOM started when, as a computer science student, I decided to learn a new programming language (namely, C). Best of all I learn when I work on a project, and at that time I played games like DND, Rogue, Hack and NetHack (and saw Omega), and I liked this genre. I was fascinated by randomly generated pieces, as well as the single-player research style of such games, and felt that I needed to figure out how they work. It therefore seemed logical to associate the increase in skills in C with this job. But when I began to dive into the NetHack source (which seemed to be the most detailed, and therefore the most interesting candidate), I quickly realized how complex and sophisticated they are. This led me to believe that it would be much easier to write the game yourself. Besides, it seemed to me that it will be much more interesting to invent everything yourself than to spend long hours on understanding the genius of other people. Therefore, I began to write my own roguelike game, first trying to create a map, then figuring out how to dig tunnels, place @ on the screen and make it move. In the end, everything turned out to be much more complicated than I expected, so it took about two years before, in the summer of 1994, something like the foundation of a running game appeared in my hands. And this is how the foundations of the ADOM source code were laid. When I decided on the true structure of what I want to build, things went much faster. So ADOM over the next years began to take shape, which led to the first releases, and over time to a well-known and fairly common game. Therefore, I began to write my own roguelike game, first trying to create a map, then figuring out how to dig tunnels, place @ on the screen and make it move. In the end, everything turned out to be much more complicated than I expected, so it took about two years before, in the summer of 1994, something like the foundation of a running game appeared in my hands. And this is how the foundations of the ADOM source code were laid. When I decided on the true structure of what I want to build, things went much faster. So ADOM over the next years began to take shape, which led to the first releases, and over time to a well-known and fairly common game. Therefore, I began to write my own roguelike game, first trying to create a map, then figuring out how to dig tunnels, place @ on the screen and make it move. In the end, everything turned out to be much more complicated than I expected, so it took about two years before, in the summer of 1994, something like the foundation of a running game appeared in my hands. And this is how the foundations of the ADOM source code were laid. When I decided on the true structure of what I want to build, things went much faster. So ADOM over the next years began to take shape, which led to the first releases, and over time to a well-known and fairly common game. than I expected, so it took about two years before the summer of 1994 in my hands did not appear something similar to the foundation of a running game. And this is how the foundations of the ADOM source code were laid. When I decided on the true structure of what I want to build, things went much faster. So ADOM over the next years began to take shape, which led to the first releases, and over time to a well-known and fairly common game. than I expected, so it took about two years before the summer of 1994 in my hands did not appear something similar to the foundation of a running game. And this is how the foundations of the ADOM source code were laid. When I decided on the true structure of what I want to build, things went much faster. So ADOM over the next years began to take shape, which led to the first releases, and over time to a well-known and fairly common game.
Harris : Yeah! I also studied the sources of NetHack and can confirm their confusion, the reason for which was the fact that a lot of people worked on the game for a very long time, adding different functions here and there. It's amazing that it keeps so well throughout the history of development! I remember, I read that the NH 3.0 version caused a lot of code cleaning, and then the recently released NH 3.6 was another such cleaning.
This was probably one of the advantages of working on your own project - you don’t need to worry about breaking something written by someone else, either technically or from a design point of view. Does anyone help you develop ADOM today, or is it still your own project?
Biscap : In my opinion, your own project has several serious advantages:
1. Your level of education is many times higher than when expanding what others have created, because you have to understand everything yourself.
2. You can more easily (or better) realize your vision of how the game should look and be felt. If you work on the basis of someone else's work, then many assumptions are already built into the game, and if you don’t like them, then it will take a lot of work to get rid of all this (if it is possible at all). Especially if you come to the project as a beginner.
3. Forking an existing project is unlikely to make you happy, because it takes a lot of effort to synchronize with a parallel project, both for technical reasons (integration of changes to a parallel code may not be possible) and in terms of design (i.e., you need to find out what all small changes in the whole code mean and how they influence your vision of the fork). And your project will always be compared with the original, which can be both good and bad, but it seems to me that it distracts from its own design.
The ADOM team currently has me as the maintainer and programmer of the game's core and content; Johan Tekstige, the only person in the world, besides me, who has access to the source code of ADOM, he is working on the build infrastructure, publishing on Steam, fixing software bugs and integrating sounds and NotEye - he is a pillar of ADOM stability and quality; Zeno, the genius who created NotEye, which means that thanks to him today in ADOM there are graphics; Lukas Diegues, the main composer who wrote the stunning ADOM soundtrack; Krzysztof Dycha, the main artist, and Michelangelo, who single-handedly painted each image in the graphic version of ADOM, having spent several years on it.
That is, on the one hand, I am still working on ADOM alone (that is, on the core of the game), on the other hand, I am part of the world's best team. These guys are so creative and inventive that we push each other forward. I love working with each of them and I believe that in the future we will create many more amazing things.
Finally, we have an incredibly committed and ever-growing community. There are many people who share with us new ideas through the bug / rfe database at www.adom.de/bugs , and thus also participate in the development of ADOM. The game would not be so without all these wonderful people!
Harris: When I first played ADOM, I came to it from NetHack, which contains many references to classical Dungeons & Dragons, its monsters and plot, as well as many references to literature and pop culture. When I took on ADOM, it stunned me a little - the game was unique, it contained its own mythology and entourage. Now I think that entourage is one of the most powerful aspects of ADOM. It seems to me that part of the game is to study the unusual, sometimes surprisingly unusual properties of objects such as si, or all herbs, or many artifacts. Were they created specifically for the game, or taken from other sources, third-party or created by you?
BiscapA: I would say that most of the content was created by us or others, but the sources of inspiration were a lot of existing resources. For example, the general idea of corruption is taken from the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing Game with its principle of Chaos, encroaching on civilization. Andor Drakon, as the god of Chaos, is a reference to my character from AD & D (first / second edition), who was originally a cleric of evil worshiping a petty demon. At some point he managed to kill his god and get immortality. The original Andor Drakon in its immortal form is a bit like Sardo Numsp from the film “The Golden Child”. “Si” is also taken from the very long campaign of the first edition of AD & D, in which my friend and I played for two dwarfs, Gorko Galgenstrick and Groron Garman. One day, a friend of mine suddenly discovered in his handwritten inventory list a “si” item, and we had no idea where it came from. We laughed at it, and a few months later we suddenly found the second "si" in this inventory list. So a joke arose for their own about a replicable artifact, which as a result turned out to be in ADOM.
Many other details, such as Aylas scarf, Brannalbins cloak and Rolf, are taken from the characters that my friends and I played in the D & D and AD & D campaigns.
Another influential source was the comments of the ADOM community over the years. Fans of the game, directly or indirectly, gave us a lot of amazing details. I try to choose the ones that in my opinion best fit the game.
Finally, some parts were created only for ADOM, especially the whole mythology of the elements, which is still evolving. Rogue Village, Terinyo, Black Druid and other similar elements were specially created for ADOM.
That is, in general, there were many sources of inspiration. The main criteria for adding to the game were either my emotional affection, or simply the interestingness of the proposals and ideas of other people, which turned out to be so suitable that they became part of the game.
Harris : I like it - you take on some aspects of working with the community from creating a game with open sources, while at the same time the source code remains closed, which keeps a certain secret for the players.
The development of ADOM was suspended for some time. Can you tell me why she was stopped when she started again, and what is her current state? She is now on Steam, what is your relationship with the platform?
Biscap: in fact, the work on ADOM was suspended for a time from 2001 to 2012. The reason was life in the real world. In 1998, I began to work full-time, because my student life came to an end, and it took a lot of free time. And by 2001, we founded QuinScape. I still work in it with two founding colleagues. Now we have more than a hundred employees, it is firmly on its feet and an experienced IT integrator. The founding of a company requires a lot of energy, much more than many people think, which is why it greatly interfered with the work on ADOM. Then, in 2003/2004, for some reason, I decided that my ego needed to receive a PhD as a hobby project in the process of building a company. Therefore, I started doing this in the morning and late in the evening. Then my girlfriend and I decided to get married, which happened in 2009.
But I was very busy, and started programming ADOM II (JADE) in Java as a kind of sequel. Therefore, I had neither the time nor the motivation to work on ADOM, and the longer you take a break, the harder it is to go back. Fortunately, my good old friend Johan Terstigege, who is now part of the ADOM team, continued to bore me with the demands to move on. One day in 2010, he showed me a prototype for the iPad, on which he began work. (He had access to the source code, because he made many ports, starting with the port for the Amiga back in 1996 or in 1997).
It made me think, and after thinking about my hobbies in 2010, I again started developing JADE. At that time, I had four or five blogs, wrote various paper RPGs. (And they even published me in Germany, in the only worldwide paper magazine about RPG. I mean not RPG genre, but RPG format. Search the Internet for Maddrax and Thomas Biskup, and you will find traces.) But I kept thinking what I’m looking for, and finally I noticed that this is what I found in ADOM: a great community with which you can exchange ideas, and then add them to the game.
So I said to myself: “Well, it’s time to blow off the dust and continue working on ADOM.” So, on July 2, 2011, I released JADE 0.0.1, which resulted in Johan again beginning to push me gently. Thanks to this, we organized the ADOM crowdfunding campaign, which started on July 2, 2012, and was quite successful, earning us about 90 thousand dollars to continue working. The receipt of money led to the creation of Team ADOM and the resumption of the development of ADOM.
And although we still need to finish a couple of awards to complete the campaign (it was created for the long term), we are extremely pleased with what ADOM has become over the past four years: soundtracks, amazing graphics, a modernized UI (although in this area much more) and lots of new content.
The most recent milestone was the release on Steam in November 2015. This opened up a new source of income for me, which of course is important. But until I managed to get a dollar for ADOM, all the money goes to pay for the team members, and I continue to work for free.
Although initial sales have declined, the total amount of sales is still at a good level, which will allow us to continue working for at least several years, during which we will work at a new level. We will finally finish with all the remaining crowdfunding promises and move on to creating a bright future for ADOM. We have already collected a lot of amazing ideas, but so far we have not had enough time to work on them, because we mainly dealt with the tasks set by crowdfunding. Completing this process will be a great relief for us, and we will be able to work more freely.
You can buy it on Steam [http://www.adom.de/steam]. This is an amazing, albeit challenging game.
Harris: Wait, so you got a PhD? Then I must call you Dr. Biscap! I am very glad that ADOM has come back to life and continues to evolve!
If you do not mind, I would like to delve into the design of the game. One of the most unique elements of ADOM is the corruption clock, which replaced the food counter from Rogue with a position of the main force driving the player forward. Although he can be resisted, I think he copes well with pushing the player, especially because some of the corruptions, such as Mana Battery and Poison Hands, can make the game much harder. Where did you get this idea?
Biscap : Yes, I received a PhD. But to call me “Dr. Biscap” I force only those who annoy me, so that you can be calm.
About filth: I've always liked Warhammer Fantasy Role-play and the way chaos creatures carry various kinds of filth in themselves. I also like the way Broo in Runequest was accidentally embroiled. And I always loved the mutations in Gamma World. I am a huge fan of Gamma World, and in ancient times I even conducted the official Gamma World newsletter; then mailing lists were the best thing on earth.
It all came together when I was thinking about filth. I always liked the phrase “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. So I thought that it would be great if the game had something that makes the player more powerful, but at the same time leads to all sorts of misfortunes. (Do not ask me about the idea of chaos wizards and chaos necromancers as player classes.)
Also, I liked the idea of the ADOM storyline. I felt that the battle against Chaos can be more tangible in the presence of long lasting effects of filth. In the beginning, it was perceived not as a replacement for the famine system, but rather as something that more closely links the player with the general plot.
Certain kinds of filth evolved from a mixture of ideas and elements invented by ADOM fans in that golden era. If I’m not mistaken, Mana battery (a form of filth that makes a player with enormous power attract mana to himself, but at the same time does not allow him to use his staff), was invented by one of the community members. I liked it so much that I just had to add it to the game.
Today I like nasty, because it is quite a unique mechanism, intertwining the tasks of game design (the time counter you mentioned) with the plot (the world is becoming more and more dark). In ADOM II and ADOM III, if I ever do it, the filth will dominate the world much more. Other creatures and monsters will also gradually decompose and degenerate, filth will affect the weather much more (it affects it in ADOM, but probably nobody notices), plants will mutate, and I have a vision of the world slowly turning into chaos is filthy with tentacles protruding from everywhere.
And I would like to add more opportunities that the player could consciously exchange forces for filth, for example, a way to enhance the spell by absorbing the filth. I guess I like to tempt people.
[Below is the more recent part of the interview.]
Harris : Have you tried playing the D & D fifth edition?
Biscap : Actually, I have most of the books, but, to be honest, I haven't done much with them. I like what I see, but I remain a strong supporter of simple skill systems, and I am a bit angry with developers for not even trying to implement a simple standard skill system. And this edition has frightened me a little, because I think that a very flat power curve does not very well reflect the path of the hero, whom I personally expect from D & D. For me, the difference in skills of a first-level warrior and a level 20 warrior is too small.
But I really liked how they managed to smooth the system. I absolutely did not like the fourth edition, and the third was too complicated for my taste.
Harris: Yes, I do not like much in the fourth edition. Two members of our group played a lot in the third edition and became experts in it. Therefore, playing with them has become like a scam. They know all the exploits and it's almost impossible for me to compete with them! In the third edition, I have the feeling that I either give them a little XP, or a whole bunch of XP.
Biscap : I am a traditionalist, adherent of the first / second edition. In fact, I am writing another RPG in which I collect all my rules for my personal “ideal edition (A) D & D”. But who is not doing this today?
The topic of exploits is another aspect that I don’t like in the third edition. for my taste, it is too deep in the search for lows, which usually causes people to look for the best combinations and the like. I do not like this, I prefer storytelling.
However, I like complex systems, but when I'm GM, I prefer something lighter. I need a free system of average complexity. And in terms of complexity, the second edition is ideal for me. We actively used the skill system, and the races with classes were treated fairly freely, which is very close to my favorite style. We had a sufficient level of gameplay intensity, but mostly we focused on the plots.
HarrisA: Yes, in the fifth edition there are less minima-highs, but they are still there. I worked on the megapodzemel, and it was very interesting to play it.
Biscap : Mega Dungeons is a terrific topic. I would love to create it myself, but we recently had a daughter, so the schedule became even more intense.
This is a great idea, something in the style of Castle Greyhawk. As in the golden era of RPG. I like it! I was waiting for the first installments published by Troll Lord Games, but unfortunately the trolls were too slow. And Gayle Gaigax doesn't seem to want to do anything with the legacy. Very sorry.
I participated in GEN CON [approx. Lane: annual convention in the USA dedicated to board games]last year, and attended all the special sessions dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the event. It was exciting to see all the old legends and hear them talk about past times. Awesome times. I liked every minute and I made a bunch of photos with them - I'm such a fanboy! In fact, we plan that one of them will write plots for Ultimate ADOM. I am very pleased with this, and I hope that everything will go according to plan.
Harris : Yes, it was probably great. I have never been able to attend conventions, with the exception of Dragon * Con, which is held quite close to me.
Biscap: I was on two GEN CON, but that's all. Here in Essen, we have a Spiel games fair. This is the largest event in the world dedicated to traditional board games. Unfortunately, today RPG occupy a small niche here. But I have visited every Spiel since 1988. This is a great tradition that I hope will last for many more years. And, fortunately, the fair is held just 30 minutes from me.
Harris : I still see ADOM as a newbie, even after all these years, even though Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and Brogue came out after it and have been around for a long time. What do you think about these daring "upstarts"? And how do you perceive the phenomenon of “roguelite” - randomly generated action games inspired by the example of roguelike?
Biscap: I personally think that the ADOM problem lies in this big pause in the middle. That is why it is sometimes felt both young and ancient at the same time.
Harris : Given the pauses in the development of NetHack, I do not think you need to worry about it.
Biscap : I still remember how Dungeon Crawl took its first steps, and Linley began to show the source code. It was great chaos. I was struck by all that he did, but it scared his code. I am impressed with what these games have achieved, and how much innovation they have brought.
Games like Brogue and DCSS inspire me a lot. They encourage me to expand the boundaries even more in Ultimate ADOM. It's great that there are such games, because, in my opinion, they support the flame of roguelike life. And I like the way the developer community looks alive. A lot of people are working on innovative games. It is remarkable that procedural generation, permadeath, randomized entourage and game objects are becoming more and more mainstream features.
In general, I like roguelite, although they are not my favorites. But it’s interesting to see how roguelike principles apply to other game genres. What I don't like is the confusion, which seems to be getting bigger. It seems that many studios are trying to extract marketing benefits by calling their games roguelike, although in reality they are not. It is annoying. But this is personally my sick corn, perhaps not very important for the rest of the world.
So in general, I like the fact that such activity is around the rogue genre, it inspires me and challenges me.
Harris : Yes, it looks like half the games on Steam today are called roguelike.
Biscap: Yes, the situation is bad, especially on Steam. But Steam, in many ways, has become a rotten swamp, and yet I am pleased with the opportunities it gives ADOM! I’m upset that Greenlight was killed, even though this system wasn’t perfect. But it was better than this “give us $ 100 and publish” approach. It would be better if it was “let's give $ 5,000 and publish”, well, or at least 2000. So that it would stop the appearance of any garbage.
Harris : Last year, I helped MobyGames a bit in filling out their database. I looked through the list of new games on Steam and scored information about them in the database. Some of them were terribly bad. One was essentially a declaration of love to Donald Trump. This is a first-person shooter in which the player controls the “American President John Trump” and shoots the mafia guys. [This is a gameThe Last Hope: Trump Vs. Mafia .]
Biscap : Brr. Sounds disgusting.
Harris : As you might guess, it was released by a Russian publisher [approx. Trans .: in fact, Atomic Fabrik from Moldova] .
Biscap : Lol, if it was a Hollywood storyline, then everyone would say: "Fu, implausible garbage."
Harris: One more question. One aspect of ADOM is that the game borrows ideas from NetHack and Angband, and expands them. For example, shops, item systems, complex monsters and the clever use of items from NetHack, monster memory and regenerating levels (in Infinite Dungeon) Angband. I really like this aspect, the way you willingly take these ideas and implement your own approach to them. Hmm, this is more like a statement than a question. I guess I miss a lot.
Biscap : "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery." And indeed it is. In fact, I took the favorite features of other games and tried to adjust them to my own taste. And in many cases, the community gave me amazing variations of my favorite ideas.
For me, design was closely related to the improvement of elements that work well. Therefore, many of them can be found in ADOM.
Harris : Yes, there are so many new elements in it, especially the structure of quests. I do not think that there is any other game that uses quests in the way ADOM does. I believe that they are very effective. They give the game its shape.
Biscap : Quests also emerged from my penchant for storytelling. I know that many players consider roguelike games to be tactical tasks or puzzles. For me, they have always been a way to tell an interesting story and enrich it with random elements that make it infinitely replayable.
Harris : But it is the form of storytelling that structures the game. In many games, storytelling works to the detriment of the gameplay. With ADOM, the situation is completely opposite, there are pre-created quests in it, supplemented by randomness.
BiscapA: That is what we want to greatly improve in Ultimate ADOM. We have plans for very long storylines that intersect with each other ... but in each game in a new way. Including the factions with their own goals, moving the world forward, and allowing the player to decide for himself when he wants to interact with parts of the huge and constantly changing storyline.
Harris : My favorite example is an attempt to save the Yriggs.
Biscap : Why do you like this example so much?
Harris : I remember the first time I found out about him, having discovered the game myself. I remember trying to drag Yrrigs to a doctor, just for the sake of interest, and I was surprised when it really worked.
I especially like the fact that his nature strongly depends on the randomness of the dungeon. This is a very interesting tactical task, it can be very simple or complex, depending on the scheme of levels and the location of monsters.
Biscap : Personally, I especially feel today that each small fragment of a static storyline in a randomly generated world creates adds something to an emergent gameplay. Such moments make people share with each other their feelings from the passage of his version, for example, as in the case of the quest Yrrigs, and it's just great.
Have you tried to go through the quest of the ice queen and reveal her secret? You will like it. It’s like a plot with Yrrigs, only on a much larger scale.
Harris: I haven't gotten to Ice Queen yet. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to particularly deeply study the ADOM after its resurrection.
Biscap : Oh, you will like it. But this is a very high level quest. And the effects of this secret quest will be transferred to Ultimate ADOM.
Harris : To my shame, I confess that despite the fact that I now write a lot about games, I’ve been able to play them less often.
Biscap : Lol, the same thing with me and game programming. No time to play them. That is why I am so bad at ADOM.
Harris : What other games have you played or do you find them inspiring? CRPG, for example Gold Box D & D games? Or some part of Legend of Zelda?
BiscapA: Oh, I'm a fan of several ancient toys. As for ADOM, the two most influential games were most likely the first Wasteland because of its incredible amount of side quests and riddles, and Bard's Tale III, simply because of the complex plot of the dungeons. I also like the Realms of Impossibility for Commodore 64 for the feeling of a miracle she instilled in me as a child. I liked the very first game “Fate” for its motto “every action has consequences”, and this is what I also want to emphasize in Ultimate ADOM.
Harris : Oh, Bard's Tale. I almost completely passed BT2, but got stuck on that annoying last puzzle.
Biscap : I liked the Phantasie III for the Amiga for its fierce battles, strange races and the same sense of wonder. I went through all the first three Bard's tale, spending a huge amount of time on them. BT III is just a gem.
Harris : I did not manage to play 3, but I still have cards for BT2 somewhere. I hope the developers of the new BT will try. Apparently, people like Wasteland 2, so the chances are high.
BiscapA: Naturally, I played some of the Gold Box games. Pool of Radiance was awesome. And that strange special extra battle with the legion of beholders inspired me to a new super-complicated final quest from the latest ADOM releases, which can be played only when you win ADOM.
Harris : Interesting! Most likely, this means that I will never see him.
Biscap : This new final quest will most likely be seen only by 0.0001% of all players.
Harris : So 100 people will write about him on the blog on Tuesday, and next year he will be speed-ranked at SGDQ.
Biscap: Lol, probably. I supported the new BT and I'm curious if they can succeed. I also supported Wasteland 2 and now I have a limited edition box on my shelf ... but, unfortunately, I don’t have time to play it.
Harris : I wonder what the dungeons will look like. Will they still be Wizardry style mazes?
Biscap : I hope they choose this option. But I only saw a few battle scenes. Again, there is no time to sort out the details.
Harris : Let's talk a little about ADOM's skill system.
Biscap : An interesting topic, because in Ultimate ADOM it will be completely different. Now I think a lot about her, because soon we will add a new skill system to the UA.
Harris: This is probably my favorite part of the game, because it is similar to the classic interest skill system from Runequest / Call of Cthulhu.
Biscap : Interesting. Today I really don't like it, although when I implemented it, I adored it.
Harris : Curious! Why did you stop loving her?
Biscap : I don't like it on several levels:
1. Today I find it too fractional. She is a little confused, and all these numbers scare newbies. Since the small steps of improving the skill are barely noticeable, it seems more complicated than it actually is.
2. Now I do not like the fact that some skills work automatically, while others need to be activated manually. It is too difficult for players to understand.
3. Skills do not seem particularly balanced in terms of utility. We have the construction of bridges (Bridge Building) along with alertness (Alertness) and concentration (Concentration). This is not necessarily bad, but the system looks a bit ugly.
4. It seems to me that today the games become more interesting if the choice made by the players is not easy. In ADOM, this is more like “pumping glasses into skills until they reach 100, but the path to these glasses is not particularly important.”
Harris : I can not disagree on each of the points. I think that point 4 is especially important. In fact, the most important thing in games is the player’s choice, and if the choice is painful, it means that it is important, and therefore of particular interest. The exclusion of mindless choice is a sign of good design.
Biscap: Therefore, for UA, I have other plans that so far meet the following principles: the skills will have five or six levels (student, traveler, expert, master, grandmaster, legend — something like this). Each individual level will add something meaningful. For example, “Observation” at level 1 can display basic data about monsters and items, at level 2 a player will learn about PV / DV / hit points, at level 3 about power points and spells, etc. This is still a gaming approach, but it makes real sense. And if every skill is useful, then the choice of each level will be painful. And suddenly we get a completely different gameplay and character feel.
I'm still working on the details of the design (in particular, on the list of skills and levels), in general the design will be as I described.
Harris: I agree with the need to use other gameplay and expansion of the space of opportunities.
Biscap : In fact, I will go to other major changes, for example, abandon the need to identify items. Perhaps this will remain an option for the hardcore mode.
Harris : Interesting. Perhaps this will be a good decision, it all depends on the rest of the design.
Biscap: It seems to me that identification today does not add interest to most players. Identifying objects is very difficult, and the presence of damned objects (in their current state) makes it even more dangerous, and often interferes with the fascination of the game. Instead of doing something interesting (studying a heap of curious subjects), we have to perform routine tasks (what to do with all this junk, which I do not understand). Therefore, the damned objects in the UA will also be very different.
Curses will be much less common and will vary. Something like “you can't be removed from yourself for the next 100 moves,” “deals 4d8 damage when removed,” “leads to confusion for 2d10 moves when removed,” and the like. That is, the curses will add interesting choices.
Harris: Identifying items is a strange thing. It can be implemented well, but the original Rogue handled it best. Since identification tools are rarely found in Rogue, a player often has to use unidentified things and risk using something bad. In Rogue, the player is very dependent on items. It used this combination - you need to use objects, but very often you do not know what they are, which gave weight to bad objects and their identification.
Biscap : Considering the fact that there are a lot of things in ADOM, the constant risk of using them removes a significant part of the fascination from the game. I'd rather add to the game a lot more interesting ways to use and combine when working with objects.
Harris: I am sure that you will find the best solution, because you have created ADOM. I believe we can trust you in this.
Biscap : Lol, thank you. You can not worry.
Harris : In my notes, I left a note on the comparison of the "power of objects" and "the power of levels." For example, I see Nethack as a game mainly about the strength of objects. If you have a good inventory, you can go quite far, even with experience level 1. And the game usually does not match the generation of items with the level of the dungeon, so good loot can be found (but rarely) at level 1.
At the same time, I consider Angband the game about the strength of the levels, about what your character’s experience level is. And I see ADOM as a synthesis of these two approaches.
Biscap: I understood you. Personally, I believe in finding the best balance. Levels and their effects should be interesting, otherwise you can abandon levels, classes and the like. But interesting items should be able to change the ratio. Because the subjects are quite random, and chance helps to create arbitrary (emergent) plot lines. (“Wow, I found this steep, long spear of eternium destruction already at level 3, and this allows me ...”) That is, I myself believe that it is necessary to stick to the golden mean.
Harris : This is a good approach, and I like the idea of emerging storylines. Character stories Events and adventures that make it memorable and dependent on situations.
Biscap: It would be great if a player could go far, using only a combination of level / class, but the power of objects allows you to find new ways and approaches. And sometimes it just feels great that certain items are required for certain quests or monsters. And I like how people find new approaches to killing monsters, using objects in interesting ways, for example, the staff of making doors and restricting the movement of certain monsters. I never thought about it when I designed this staff.
Harris : And I think this is a good trait, because if most commercial game developers see something like an exploit, then they rush to get rid of it. Many of the Serious Developers believe that the ingenuity of the players should be fought.
Biscap: In fact, I take the opposite position, of course, if it does not go to a complete imbalance of the main gameplay. But it's great when there are such amazing innovative solutions to complex problems, and I intend to more actively implement them in the UA, because they provide new, innovative ways of combining objects.
Harris : To prepare for the interview, I read the ADOM Wiki for a bit, and there are some very strange things.
Biscap : Then you probably know more about ADOM than I do. (Starts digging into the source code.)
Harris: The wiki mentions breaking into the game code for information, which of course is cheating. But there it is also written about a player named Anilatix, who cast the Create Item spell more than 150 thousand times. And he created a website with tabular results! I have a link. [https://sites.google.com/site/adomitems/] All this in order to understand the algorithm for generating items. I am surprised, amazed and a little scared by this level of player obsession.
Biscap : Wow, I didn't know about that. I'm just amazed by these incredibly stubborn people. Probably, even reading a binary code would be less painful.
Harris : I remember the early days of the Ultimate Ending ending, when no one knew what it was.
Biscap : Yes, glorious days.
Harris: Probably, today a similar secret will be found much faster.
Biscap : That's why now the game has a roll of omnipotence ... and so far no one has been able to read it ...
Harris : I watched the SGDQ speed running marathon, and some of the moments made me lose hope that the developers can hide some game secrets in the code. Well, the omnipotence scroll proves that it is still possible!
Biscap: I'm not so sure. In the old days there were great players from Russia who disassembled a binary file and were able to point out errors to me with an accuracy that I thought was incredible for someone who does not have source code in their hands. We gradually lose similar skills. I think it is extremely difficult. This is usually possible when people do not have the right combination of skills. For example, Grond is an extremely gifted player, and he very quickly finds bugs (and reports them) that this is simply amazing.
Harris : How sweet of him. I don’t even want to think where they apply their skills now.
Biscap : Yes, exactly.
I thank Dr. Biskap for communication and patience. ADOM is available on Steamfor $ 14.99, old versions can be downloaded from the game’s home page at https://www.adom.de/ .