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[PC] [360] [PS3] [PSV] Spelunky

Unread postby Eidoloclast » 07 Jul 2009 00:11

Derek Yu's Spelunky might actually be worth your time to take a look at, Alex. 2D action-platformer with randomized levels, kind of like a roguelike in that there are elements of both luck and skill involved. I personally enjoy it, but I'm not an expert on 2D action games.

That said, it has been generating a fairly large amount of noise in the indie gaming scene recently (approximately two months ago), with people making comments like "this generation's Nethack". (It is not this generation's Nethack. This generation's Nethack is Nethack, or possibly Crawl or ADOM.)

The creator has said that the game was inspired primarily by La Mulana and the generated levels and resource management elements of roguelikes.

The game has a variety of weapons, power-ups and enemies, dungeon levels organized into worlds with different overall features and what is, to me, a brutal difficulty curve. Like a traditional roguelike, expect to die and start over many times before you complete the game, if you ever do.

http://www.derekyu.com/?p=250
http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=4017.0

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Unread postby icycalm » 18 Mar 2010 18:55

http://postback.geedorah.com/foros/view ... hp?id=1233

Recap wrote:Se mostraron ayer las primeras capturas del 'remake' comercial de esta producción 'amateur'. A pesar del filtro más o menos tenue, a mí me parece un acierto de diseño y, sobre todo, una mejora aplastante sobre los ridículos 'pixels' cuadruplicados del original:

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http://spelunkyworld.com/xbla.html

http://spelunkyworld.com/original.html

Solo anunciado para el XB Live Arcade norteamericano por el momento.

Vía http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/ ... k-Gorgeous


Looks like I might finally get to play this. Looks good, no? Recap seems to think so:

Recap wrote:an overwhelming improvement on the ridiculous situations 'pixels' quadruplicated of the original one
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Unread postby icycalm » 20 Nov 2010 23:52

The review is done, but it's probably going to end up taking two pages, so it'll take me a while to set up. Either tomorrow, depending on whether or not I go surfing, what time I get back, etc., or else on Monday. In the meantime, here's the opening line; bonus points to whoever manages to explain it before the review goes up:

I wrote:Let's start by exploding a myth about this game: <i>Spelunky</i> is in no way, shape or form a "roguelike".


And for those who find this easy, here's an EXTRA ROUND for you:

I wrote:Moreover, <i>Spelunky</i> cannot be said to have "roguelike elements" either.


If anyone manages to explain this one I'll give him my website and retire forever from game reviewing.
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Unread postby Breadcultist » 21 Nov 2010 00:52

1. Roguelikes are turn based, Spelunky is real-time (a platformer).

2. The elements of Spelunky that are labelled as roguelike are its randomly generated levels, and "permanent" death. These two seem to be essential to the roguelike genre, even though different genres use them too.

Is it because of the specific way that Spelunky uses them? Its level generator makes platformer levels, not dungeons for turn-based crawling. And the permadeath rule is somewhat undercut by the grind-based continue system.

I'm looking forward to the review.
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Unread postby PleaseContinue » 21 Nov 2010 08:15

Although I enjoyed Spelunky a great deal (until the second tileset, that is), I'm looking forward to your review of it.
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Unread postby Eammy » 21 Nov 2010 10:02

1. As Breadcultist said, Spelunky is a platformer. Even though it uses ideas that are similar to existing games (for example, getting a jetpack allowing temporary flight), at the core it is a platform game.

2. On Breadcultist's question, I don't think it matters if Spelunky uses them in any particular way.

While Spelunky uses game mechanics such as randomly generated environments and permanent death, these elements are just ordinary ideas being programmed into a platformer. It's not like specific game mechanics belong to any specific genre, and that using those mechanics means that you are basing your game on those genres.

However, there are many people who can't see past the obvious. So they try to categorize coincidences, which is where we are now.
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Unread postby Worm » 21 Nov 2010 10:17

Practically every website that has mentioned Spelunky has made the "roguelike" mistake, and I'm glad to see it addressed.

Along with being turn-based strategy games, roguelikes are also defined by stepwise, grid-based movement with an overhead view.

As for why Spelunky cannot be said to have "roguelike" elements:

That would be an inversion of how genre labels work. On the tree of video game genres, "roguelike" is going to be a pretty small offshoot at the bottom--it's a very specific subgenre that basically means "a clone of Rogue with different items, theme, stats, etc." The whole point of subgenres is to identify particular collections of traits that makes certain games special--to set them apart from the larger branches above them.

Spelunky isn't even in the same main genre (it's an action game), but even if it were somehow, it would still sit higher on the branch. And you can't go down the tree to find what elements games share--the branch you're on already tells you that! Down the tree means more differentiation, more specific "core rules" requirements. To say Spelunky has roguelike elements would mean that Spelunky shares the set of core rules that define the roguelike subgenre--in which case it would simply be a roguelike!

In short, Spelunky and Rogue may have some characteristics in common (e.g. random level generation), but "roguelike" refers to the entire set of Rogue's core rules and cannot be used to describe any given rule in isolation.
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Unread postby icycalm » 21 Nov 2010 13:32

Worm is cheating because he has read my rllmuk thread. So you are not getting my site, dude, and I am not retiring!
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Unread postby Masahiro9891 » 21 Nov 2010 18:31

Hey icy, could you post the name of the thread from rllmuk so that I can look it up; or will enough of it be covered in the review that it won't make a big difference?
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Unread postby walrusdawg » 21 Nov 2010 19:20

Worm wrote:Practically every website that has mentioned Spelunky has made the "roguelike" mistake, and I'm glad to see it addressed.


It already has been addressed.

Kevin Juang wrote:I tried clicking and going through review after review only to get the same recycled, useless crap. All it proves is that reviewers just indulge in groupthink and copy ad nauseam from other sources. . . I know of games where everyone parrots the same completely inaccurate facts (usually taken from the first review that was published).


http://insomnia.ac/commentary/reviewing_rez_hd/

Only in this case it was the game's creator who made the "roguelike" association.

Derek Yu wrote:Spelunky is a cave exploration / treasure-hunting game inspired by classic platform games and roguelikes


http://www.spelunkyworld.com/original.html
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Unread postby icycalm » 21 Nov 2010 23:49

Dude, are you dumb or what? No one has yet debunked the "roguelike" claim -- how hard can that be to grasp?

Masahiro9891 wrote:Hey icy, could you post the name of the thread from rllmuk so that I can look it up; or will enough of it be covered in the review that it won't make a big difference?


The admins deleted it (and banned me...) because I made a fool of everyone in the forum for 40+ pages. Among all the posts I made there was a first draft of an upcoming essay of mine which will be called "On Genre and the Tree of Gaming", and will be included in the second volume of Videogame Culture. But the Spelunky review will be in any case self-contained. It's just that, once you've read the essay, you'll be able to understand the debunking of Yu's claims even better. Or, to be more precise, the ramifications of the debunking for game theory in general.
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Unread postby Breadcultist » 30 Nov 2010 13:45

http://www.destructoid.com/new-indie-ga ... 8649.phtml

Here Derek Yu talks about his game (and indie games in general) for a documentary about indie games. There's some footage of the 360 version.
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Nov 2010 14:41

Breadcultist wrote:Here Derek Yu talks ... about indie games.


When will he talk about dependent games? Does he not play dependent games?

It shows.
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Unread postby icycalm » 30 Nov 2010 18:13

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Unread postby watatatow » 30 Nov 2010 20:16

Awesome review! I look forward to what's coming up.

Also, found a typo on the second page:

icycalm wrote:If it does not put the player into a comma within five minutes it's GOTY material.
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Unread postby MrPattywagon » 30 Nov 2010 20:22

I enjoyed this review, especially for its analysis of roguelikes and their practical need for randomness since you could then explain the gimmickry of such randomness in Spelunky. I can also better understand a discussion elsewhere on this site as to why reviewers need to pay attention to the reactions of the rest of the gaming community and not just to the game itself -- a discussion of roguelikes in this review would have been worthless if nobody had ever tried to make that connection, but because people think Spelunky has roguelike elements that kind of analysis is necessary for it to be a good review.

So basically, I learned a lot from this, more than I expected. And it was fun to read, too.

A question: I admit I don't understand randomness very well (despite reading a discussion of that subject on this site; I suppose I should re-read those posts), but couldn't adequately detailed scripting mitigate some of the flaws you've described? You said that challenge in a platformer comes from the design and craftsmanship of each stage, but if the block patterns and enemy spawn points for each stage are planned in a sort of second-hand way through generation, could that not come close? Maybe there's even an aesthetic interest in seeing happy coincidences of tile arrangement.

You also write that much of the pleasure from playing a platformer comes from appreciating the design of each stage and the careful arrangement of platforms and enemies to create interesting and challenging spaces. You say Spelunky gives no such feeling because the next stage is merely another tileset rather than a new "architecture". However, from what little I know of the game, each tileset has different enemies and mechanical elements, like the floors (and lack thereof) in the Ice Caves. Perhaps there are different block patterns in each stage as well? Your only mention of tilesets, however, is dismissive and doesn't mention these differences. I think your analysis of the game's platform design is sufficiently covered in your criticism of its randomness gimmick, but that omission seems like an easy way for people to criticize your review.

Then again, it's the only flaw I could find, and readers could find any number of other reasons to avoid your conclusions, so why care, lol. It's one of my favorite reviews on Insomnia, and I look forward to the rest of your takes on the indie scene.
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Unread postby zinger » 30 Nov 2010 20:39

This screenshot is resized somehow, looks pretty nasty:
http://insomnia.ac/reviews/pc/spelunky/screenshot7.jpg

A well-written and enjoyable review. From watching the screenshots I still think the graphics look OK though. They are extremely simple, and cheap by trying to win hipster points by riding the retro wave, but "a brown-grey sludge of pixels punctuated by the occasional stunted, badly-drawn sprite" sounds like an exaggeration?
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Unread postby BrianDawkins » 30 Nov 2010 21:25

MrPattywagon wrote:You said that challenge in a platformer comes from the design and craftsmanship of each stage, but if the block patterns and enemy spawn points for each stage are planned in a sort of second-hand way through generation, could that not come close? Maybe there's even an aesthetic interest in seeing happy coincidences of tile arrangement.


But why not just design them well? The point is that Spelunky doesn't "come close," and that it would do better to just design them.

If I wanted a nice painting of a seashore, I could equip a dozen blind children with paintbrushes and verbal instructions about how to paint a seashore, and perhaps there would be some "aesthetic interest" in seeing "happy coincidences" of their brushstrokes. Or I could pay a professional artist to paint a dozen different seashores. Guess which I would rather have on my wall?
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Unread postby Breadcultist » 30 Nov 2010 23:03

I particularly enjoyed the detailed discussion on the roguelike confusion.

One function of randomly generated levels is to prevent the player from learning level layouts, to force him to explore every time and improvise rather than plan (far) ahead. Isn't that a reasonable design choice, even for a short, arcade-style game? Having a random selection of many hand-crafted levels would accomplish this goal better, of course, with the feasibility problem mentioned in the review.

Spelunky's level generator seems to work by randomly arranging pre-designed blocks of about 10x10 tiles, with restrictions to make sure open passages connect to each other and lead to the exit. The result is a simple maze.

I agree with icy's assessment of random level layouts in platformers. It's a gimmick, because the essence of the platformer is its level design. And there's no way to reliably, algorithmicly generate good levels.

But if Spelunky was great in other areas, say, enemy design and combat, I'd look at the level layouts differently. The best part of the game as it is, I think, was learning to deal with the shopkeeper NPC/enemy. Part of the challenge is encountering him in a range of unpredictable level configurations.

Spelunky can't be a good platformer. But something with its basic structure could be a decent or great arcade-style sidescrolling action game with random levels.

I don't think the XBLA version will be that. In the footage I linked above, looks like it has the similar crappy physics. That rough movement. I thought that was Game Maker's fault in the original game.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Dec 2010 02:52

I am planning to reply to the questions later on in one go, but I had to step in in the meantime to point this out. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stop calling the 360 remake "the XBLA version". No one gives a fuck how the game got into your hard drive. We categorize games by the HARDWARE they run on, not the delivery method for christsake. CAN'T WAIT TO PLAY THE "GRANDMA'S GIFT VERSION", etc.
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Unread postby JoshF » 01 Dec 2010 03:15

Another problem with the randomization is that it makes scoring and timing impossible to accurately compare, basically making them worthless features.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Dec 2010 14:27

Just watched that video of Derek Yu prattling on, etc. linked earlier on by Breadcultist. He says at one point that "WITHOUT THE TIGSOURCE COMMUNITY NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE". I.e., in the context of what he's saying, he would not have got into game design and made a submediocre platformer without the "indie" community.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE ENTIRE US, JAPANESE AND BRITISH GAME INDUSTRIES IN THE '80s DUDE? HOW DID THOSE PEOPLE MANAGE TO CHURN OUT ALL THOSE MASTERPIECES WITHOUT YOUR PRECIOUS LITTLE "INDIE" COMMUNITY? (And the funny thing, as I will be showing in the last part of my Genealogy, is that they made all those masterpieces exactly because they did not have this so-called "indie" community!)

What makes the entire thing so cunning and devious is how that video, by its textbook documentary cinematography, with all the little cuts and music playing in the background, and this little wide-eyed continuously smiling Chinese kid with a face like a kitten's (he even has whiskers!), can make the most absurd stupidities and outright lies and slander appear, not merely respectable, but as honest and insightful as THE FUCKING VOICE OF GOD. You are a HERETIC, A FUCKING DEMON if you find that dude and what he's saying slanderous and repulsive.
Last edited by icycalm on 01 Dec 2010 14:35, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Dec 2010 14:34

He likes "indie" games because they are rather "rough" and this creates an "osmosis" between the player and the designer that's rather "powerful".

BUT THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. THE TERRIBLE CONTROLS AND EXECRABLE SCROLLING OF SPELUNKY ARE NOT FAULTS BUT INTENTIONAL ROUGHNESS MEANT TO CREATE A POWERFUL OSMOSIS BETWEEN ME AND DEREK YU. SO POWERFUL, INDEED, THAT IF HE HAD BEEN SITTING NEXT TO ME WHILE I WAS PLAYING THE GAME I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE SMASHED MY SCREEN ONTO HIS HEAD FOR MAKING ME GO THROUGH IT. I GUESS I HAD THE GAME ALL WRONG THEN. I AM OFF TO EDIT MY REVIEW WITH THIS DEEPER "INTERPRETATION" OF THE GAME.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Dec 2010 14:50

I will be replying to the questions and objections posed above — it's just that my reply will be huge, so it's going to take a while.
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Unread postby icycalm » 01 Dec 2010 16:01

Meanwhile, for all the indie bums who will end up reading this, here are two examples of what Japanese people who you would have categorized as "indie" are doing, while Derek Yu and his buddies have trouble making a sprite jump:


http://postback.geedorah.com/foros/view ... 229#p11229

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Scroll also to the middle of this page and press "play" on the video window:

http://www.4gamer.net/games/040/G004096/20101116058/


So yeah.
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