Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Roguelike Radio Episode 33: Interview with Thomas Biskup

Today I'd like to point you to episode 33 of Roguelike Radio, graciously hosted by Darren Grey. He asked me to do an interview and I happily obliged. As I won't have a chance to hear the episode before the weekend for myself due to lack of time I just hope for the best - my spoken English is a lot worse than my written English... which should be a warning.

In any case it was great fun to chat with Darren and Tapani - hope you enjoy it, too!


  1. It's very true what you say about players creating their own stories (referencing the TotRR). I mean, even the following bit of unused text in the executable seems to reveal a whole new aspect of the world:

    "You enter the Red Rooster Inn as the sun is just rising. Alganon, the innkeeper, welcomes you with great joy and honors you for helping the ancient dwarf. As a reward he grants you a long item wrapped in a sheet. He winks at you and mumbles 'Ye know what'ta do with dat, don't ye?'. Due to some urgent business Alganon then leaves."

    Almost every word in every sentence prompts questions. Where is the inn? Why is it called that? What does sunrise matter (besides providing an especially evocative image)? Who is Alganon? How does he know the ancient dwarf? How did he come into possession of the trident? What urgent business does he have?

    I know (or at least I'm pretty sure) that those questions will never have answers, as this bit doesn't seem to have made it into the final game. Still, it's quite fun to think about.

    1. Answer all these questions ... with a red herring!

  2. I'm really glad that the interviewers were so enthusiastic about the game, it really provides a number of interesting insights and questions. Your English is perfect btw, obviously with an accent, but it caused no problems in understanding what you were saying at all.

    As for weapon skill upgrades, as you said you'd welcome suggestions, my personal take would be as follows:

    * Weapons upgrade the same way as they do in ADOM, hitting more with a single weapon slowly upgrades it to higher levels, each new level requiring ever increasing hits to achieve. Although the curve might be a little steeper to truly perfect a single weapon (which could be modified by talents) due to the follow alterations.

    * Total weapon hits, regardless of weapon, grant a slight reduction to the total required hits to level up in weapon any skill.
    This makes sense as highly skilled fighters will be able to transfer a number of learnt experiences from combat in general to help learning new weapon skills quicker (although it wont have much impact on perfecting a single skill due to the steeper curve in required hits per level).

    * Being skilled in a similar weapon to one you are attempting to train will grant a better rate of improvement than the baseline as outlined above, whilst incredibly dissimilar weapons will only benefit from the baseline.
    This allows you to benefit from only using a very small selection of weapons, so that they all help improve each other rather than being ‘wasted’ on secondary weapon choices and preventing you from achieving mastery in a specific weapon. It also allows weapon generalists to gain a better edge over single weapon focus or small group focus as they’re more likely to have training in similar weapon skills which allows a much better rate of improvement on average – although they’ll still unlikely to achieve perfect weapons skills across the board.

    The results of said changes should allow you to passively gain better rates of improvement from just having combat skills, so that learning a second weapon wont take as long. Whilst also allowing players to actively plan training in other weapons as so to not be caught off footed by suddenly needing to use a different weapon and having to start from 0 skill in it, without removing the ‘threat’ of having to do so for those players who have not. (As nothing is more dangerous than having your main weapon disarmed across the room and under a monster, and having to fall back on that rabbit knife you never bothered training in).

    Exact numbers and discounts would obviously have to the heavily worked out ahead of time to produce the desired outcomes as outline above, but that's a little bit too much work for a single comment ;)

    1. Just thought I'd expand on the idea of talents improving these new factors.

      The three main (well, obvious, I'm sure some clever people will think up interesting new approaches) types of weapon focus a player will have are:
      * Single Weapon Focus - you pretty much always use the same weapon and are a master in it!
      * Small Group Focus - a sword master or lord of crushing blows (heavy two handed weapons, sword axe and hammer etc) you focus on a group of similar weapons which aid each others skill improvement but give you more versatility and choice to the single weapon master.
      * Weapon Generalist - if its designed to kill things, you know how to use it, you go out of your way to learn as many different weapon skills as possible to ensure you can always use whatever is to hand. At the cost of never really being a master in any of them.

      Logical talents and improvements to aid in a preconceived character style would be as such then:

      * Master of One - Prereq: A weapon skill at least 3 higher than all others. - Your dedication to a single weapon skill allow much quicker mastery of it, at the cost of ignorance in every other weapon. Double baseline combat discount whilst improving a weapon skill 3 levels higher than any other weapon skill, half the baseline for any weapon skill which is at least 3 levels lower than your highest weapon skill.

      * Transferable Weapon Skills - Your keen mind allows you to draw better parallels between similar weapons and allows you to learn similar weapon skills to those who already know a lot quicker than usual. Improves the combat discount for similar weapons by a factor proportional to the number of weapon skills you already know that are similar to the one being trained in.

      * Master of Arms - Prereq: Transferable Weapon Skills & at least level X in all weapons skills. - Your keen mind has been trained in all combat skills, allowing you to draw similarities between weapons never previously realised. So long as no weapon skill exceeds that of any other by more than 2, you gain double the baseline combat discount for improving any weapon.

      * Seasoned Combatant I - Prereq: Total hit count X thousand or more. - You've seen a lot of combat in your time, and have learnt from your mistakes and experience, improve your total hit count by X thousand for the purpose of calculating the baseline combat discount. This does not improve any weapon skill directly, but will allow quicker improvement of weapon skills in future.

      * Seasoned Combatant II - Prereq: Seasoned Combatant I & Total hit count Y thousand or more - You've seen enough combat that you can learn from watching others just as much as you can learn from doing it yourself. Whenever you get hit you have a chance of improving your total hit count by 1 for the purpose of calculating the baseline combat discount. This does not improve any weapon skill directly, but will allow quicker improvement of weapon skills in future.

      Things like that in general, stuff that will help you focus on weapon training if you really care about being a grand master in weapon skills.

  3. Thanks for doing the interview. It contained a lot of interesting stuff and was interesting to listen to. It would be great to see you doing Adom II as full-time, I think you already deserve it because of the first Adom.

    How big achievement the first Adom is for you personally? To me it would be awesome to publish a game that people would be willing to play over and over again.

    To linear vs randomized discussion: I'm a fan of randomized world because it makes each game unique. However Adom is a good mix of both (a bit too linear in the end, but I've never really tried to win the game, so it doesn't bother). I'd like to make one in which you could choose between Nethack type of dungeons and more linear world, so there would be multiple ways to win (and play) the game. The great dungeon and other world could also be linked in some way.

    Keep up the good work. My wallet is ready if you decide to try kickstarter kind of thing.

    1. ADOM is the most amazing thing I have ever achieved. Finding my wife being a close second and founding and growing QuinScape with absolutely amazing colleagues a close third. I feel lucky :-)

      But honestly... I'm looking forward to the day when I'm a dad and can show all those amazing ADOM memories to my children (boxes of postcards, foreign magazines, etc. pp.). It's a dream come true and I'd love to continue living that dream ;-)

  4. I had some ideas for IndieGogo rewards; hopefully they'll be useful:

    $5: Electronic Postcard Quest: Thomas Biskup will email you a pdf of the backer-exclusive "Welcome to the Scenic Drakalor Chain!" postcard. Also includes [backer icon for the forums? Backer-only really-cheap price for ADOM II Deluxe? Better development updates or something?] Note that pledging at this level will not complete The Postcard Quest, but it may briefly distract you from the sting of your persistent failure.

    $10: Reverse Postcard Quest: Everything from the $5 level, plus: Thomas Biskup will send you a physical "Welcome to the Scenic Drakalor Chain!" postcard via real, actual postal mail. This level should allow you to almost completely ignore the fact that you still haven't completed The Postcard Quest.

    $15: Reverse Postcard Quest Deluxe: Everything from the $10 level, but Thomas Biskup will scrawl several paragraphs (or equivalent) onto the postcard, making it unique. Maybe he'll tell you how his day went in excruciatingly boring detail; maybe he'll draw a picture of his favorite My Little Pony; maybe he'll include a recipe for cake, but deviously leave out the key ingredient! Who knows? Perfect for backers who have already completed The Postcard Quest.

    $20: Instant Postcard Quest: Everything from the $10 level, plus you'll receive an additional envelope containing two unsent Drakalor Chain postcards. One of these is pre-addressed to Thomas Biskup; just add postage, write any message you like in the blank space (optional), and throw the postcard into the mail. Instant relief for your Postcard Quest-related guilt! The second postcard is unaddressed, and perfect for sending to your friends, family, or adventuring partners.

    Maybe $25 level or something for $15 + $20?

    Definitely add levels with 5 and 10 blank postcards.

    1. Very cool ideas... I'll have to rework the reward levels :-)

      Although I'm a bit afraid of doing more than just signing at comparatively low levels because if I were forced to scrawl something on 1000+ postcards (I'm always optimistic ;-) ) I wouldn't have time to program for months... that's the one thing that disturbs me a little bit.

    2. Even if they take 5 minutes each (which they shouldn't), then 1000 postcards would be about 83 hours. And if it's an extra $5 / postcard, you're earning $60 / hour to do free-form writing.

      But you could certainly go ahead and make that an alternate $20 reward, for people who have already completed the postcard quest or something. Just make sure that you have good reward tiers at low levels. I've seen too many kickstarters where the cheapest reward is at $30.

  5. Interesting interview. Given that ADoM II's biggest problem is lack of time, maybe some things could be "outsourced" to community? Like, for example, sorting bug reports and merging duplicates. Or making lists of words for random dungeon names. Or writing creature descriptions.

    There's a lot of people waiting for next versions that would surely contribute if given an opportunity.