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Tycho / on Thu, Dec 19 2013 at 11:01 pm

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The Statute

We have been known to make the occasional comic.

Snow isn’t really a guarantee where I live, so the novelty typically associated with its arrival is further compounded.  If you are a young person for whom the base novelty (Bn) of the product has not wavered, and this mysterious residue has the power to keep you home from school, we cannot wonder at its psychic grip on our youth.

But if you’ve always lived here, and then became an adult via the usual process, you never had an opportunity to learn the admittedly counter-intuitive sort of driving that will allow you to not destroy your car.  Or my car.  I’m placing special emphasis on the second part.  So I’m going to type this at home.

In the same way that Platformers or Tower Defense used to be the thing the indie coterie would chew up and then fashion into elaborate geometries, we are one hundred percent up to our ass in roguelikes.

I spent a bunch of time last weekend trying to figure out Amplitude’s Dungeon of the Endless.  The “Endless” are up one side and down the other of Endless Space, by the same developer, a game of the sort we once called “4x” but someone has probably generated a more unwieldy, less descriptive term for.  I never played as much Endless Space as I wanted to.  I have a specific kind of brain problem where I might play a game the same amount as a normal, healthy person in aggregate, but it’s actually just me playing the first hour over and over again until I get it perfect.  Writing this paragraph resulted in my playing a lot more of it actually, and liking it, because they’ve taken an uncommon kind of care.  It’s not nearly as fiddly as this genre seems to demand, but that is a matter of personal preference.  There’s worldbuilding everywhere, and commentary on virtually every human endeavor, sneaking around as flavor text.  That’s what I liked before, and there was more than I remembered.

So every game from Amplitude Studios, or planned game, exists in a shared universe; this means that the characters running around in Dungeon of the Endless eventually forget how they came to be there, forming a new culture, which ultimately emerges in Endless Space as The Vaulters.  These Vaulters might might even discover the planet Auriga over the course of a game, the world which is their ancestral home, where the forthcoming Endless Legend takes place.  Or, took place?  I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff, I don’t mind saying so, and if they are going to put as much affection into their games as they have thus far then I am content to be the opposite pole of this Love Battery.

Dungeon of the Endless is a roguelike, which is to say it is like Rogue.  Where it goes left instead of right is in your ability to customize the rooms you discover with all manner of things, including various blueprints you find during your travels, in addition to increasing the resources you get for discovering rooms, which is drawn over from their 4x experience.  A special note must be made on its presentation: pixel art, but not like you know it, with delicious, mad ratios and music I can hear even now.

It’s beautiful, but it’s in Alpha, which gets back to the unfinished thing we were talking about before.  I doubt there will be any number in any field anywhere in the game that won’t receive attention before release.  I don’t have a full conception of what Steam Early Release means to me yet, other than to say that it is essentially Kickstarter sans the elaborate social media metagame.  And it provides bridge funding for Kickstarters successful and otherwise, so I think it’s probably vital.  Sometimes I play games which are not done, and I don’t entirely know how I am supposed to contextualize that, other than to make it as plain as possible.  In the end, though, if it allows weirdos to bring passion projects like this into my house with a couple clicks, I sort of have to make peace.


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