Stuck in the Trollmire
January 1, 2012 3:55 AM   Subscribe

Tales of Maj'Eyal (ToME) is a graphical roguelike RPG. It started off in 1998 as an Angband variant (history), but has since been completely rewritten, ditching both the engine and the Tolkien setting. It recently became the first game to win the Roguelike of the Year award for two years in a row (and also the first game to win it more than once).

What is it that sets ToMe apart from other roguelikes? The main difference is that it has no potions or scrolls; these have been replaced with 'inscriptions' (runes and infusions) with cooldowns Here's some of its notable features (from the Rogue Basin wiki):

Graphical tiles, music and sound effects (all optional)
Skill points based character progression organised into talent trees
Activated combat abilities with cooldowns and resource management
Freeform quests (only very few obligatory quests)
Special vault levels
Multiple dungeons and towns with a large wilderness
Schools of magic-based spell system
Lots of very different races, subraces, classes and class specialization, some of which need to be unlocked by doing certain things in-game
Unlockable achievements

ToME Wiki
Download page
posted by daniel_charms (33 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
In other RL news, Goblin Camp 0.2 was released on December 30, including a major rewrite of the stockpile system and introducing diseases (and there's also a neat new pdf reference guide).
posted by daniel_charms at 4:26 AM on January 1, 2012

All apostrophes in the middle of fantasy names are now to be pronounced "boing." That is all.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:51 AM on January 1, 2012 [13 favorites]

To anyone who's into rogue likes I'd strongly recommend tome. My favourite rogue like is still Dungeon Crawl, with its wickedly honed strategy and balance. Tome is definitely much messier, but it makes up for it in imagination. It's the only rogue like where I play with the graphics and music on because they're so well done.

Overall a pretty incredible (almost) one man effort.
posted by Alex404 at 5:40 AM on January 1, 2012

I'm pretty surprised it won. It's.. okay, but there's no food (or corruption or whathaveyou) counter, and between that and the tiles, it feels more like Castle of the Winds or something. TOME is noteworthy for being the first(?) roguelike engine, though, and I need to play around with it some more for that reason if nothing else.

Most interesting/most promising is Bushudo, I think, but it has a ways to go before it's a thing I can recommend to folk.

Really wish asciidreams had included links to all of the things in the poll (or did it? I can't find 'em now, if they're around).
posted by curious nu at 7:34 AM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, good for them on dropping the Tolkien thing, but did their splash screen really have to go even more aggressively generic fantasy?
posted by curious nu at 8:13 AM on January 1, 2012

Since I'm slightly bored, here's their top 20 of 2011 with links:

1. ToME 4 with 702 votes
2. Dungeons of Dredmor with 612 votes
3. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup with 486 votes
4. JADE with 431 votes
5. Desktop Dungeons with 391 votes
6. Dwarf Fortress with 373 votes
7. Brogue with 240 votes
8. The Binding of Isaac with 199 votes
9. DoomRL: Doom, the Roguelike with 178 votes
10. Cataclysm with 170 votes
11. Legends of Yore with 94 votes
12. X@COM with 90 votes
13. Caves of Qud with 87 votes
14. UnReal World with 79 votes
15. Angband with 68 votes
15. Cardinal Quest with 68 votes
17. POWDER with 66 votes
18. Infra Arcana with 62 votes
19. Prospector RL with 49 votes
19. Rogue Survivor with 49 votes
posted by daniel_charms at 8:17 AM on January 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

I'm looking forwards to the 100Rogues follow up Auro, though it sounds like its hit a few setbacks lately.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

From Artw's link:

"But now, Auro could best be described as a “Dungeon-crawling strategy game”."

Hey! We might finally have an answer to the "what do we call all these roguelike descendants?" question. DOOM had its "DOOM clones" before "first-person shooter" caught on, so.. DCSG?
posted by curious nu at 9:08 AM on January 1, 2012

Ok, what's 'roguelike'? Like Rogue, obv., but I know not of that.

(Colossal Cave and Essex MUD vintage here. Last sorta adventurey thing I did with any serious intent was PMC-Moo, which was enormous fun but really nothing to do with swords and dragons.)
posted by Devonian at 9:42 AM on January 1, 2012

I saw Goblin Camp mentioned up above. Are we stuck building Goblin Camp .2 ourselves if we want to run it on OS X?
posted by interstitial at 10:06 AM on January 1, 2012

These are posts that make me hate that my laptop has no numpad...
posted by Runes at 10:27 AM on January 1, 2012

Runes: fear not, for ToME has mouse controls, so you don't need the numpad for movement.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:39 AM on January 1, 2012

Mouse movement for roguelikes has always bugged me. If you click more than one space away you're committing yourself to multiple turns traveling, and if you didn't click in a straight line you're giving yourself up to the vagaries, in one way or another, of the computer's pathfinding, and both are seriously dangerous in a roguelike worth its salt. I'd suggest instead getting a USB numpad, which aren't very expensive and can sometimes be found as part of "laptop starter kit" packs in office supply stores.

The word is when Roguelike Radio comes in after break in about a week we're covering this game. I've never been able to get really into Angband-likes in the past, so I'm going to be putting some effort into learning this one.
posted by JHarris at 11:10 AM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cogent features of Roguelikes:
  • Randomized levels
  • Randomized item appearances, necessitating experimentation to find out what's what
  • Everything trying to kill you
  • Preposterous difficulty
  • Bizarre and counterintuitive winning strategies
  • Permanent death
You'll often see text-based overhead views and turn-based play cited as features of this genre, but this hasn't really been the case since Diablo was released.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:12 AM on January 1, 2012

Randomized item appearances, necessitating experimentation to find out what's what

This one doesn't seem to apply to ToME, for some reason.
posted by kenko at 11:29 AM on January 1, 2012

There is no definite list of things that strictly defines roguelikeness, the term was always one of convenience from the early days when it was more obvious what it meant than now. I only include Diablo on the edges of roguelike play; really, your typical MMORPG has about as much in common with roguelikes as Diablo.

Turn based play isn't essential to the genre, but most of the best games feature it, because it allows for a nuance of action that most games can't hope to match. On a given turn in Nethack, or Shiren for that matter, there are at least a dozen actions possible each turn, and many more depending on how much and what you're carrying in inventory. Most real-time games that are inspired by roguelikes must necessarily drop that, to their detriment.
posted by JHarris at 11:33 AM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I definitely want to try this. I've just recently gotten into Dungeons of Dredmor and Desktop Dungeons, and I'm really enjoying roguelikes with tile sets and at least some semblance of individual story (or at least a distinct and individualized setting), so this seems like it would be right up my alley.

Incidentally, based on what I like, I'm wondering what other roguelikes I might like? JHarris, I'm looking vaguely in your direction. I'd probably be looking sharply in your direction, but it's new year's day and I've had a lot of champagne and fruit juice this morning already, and vague is really all I can muster at the moment.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:04 PM on January 1, 2012

The Berlin Interpretation, formulated by the participants of the first International Roguelike Development Conference* in 2008, is a pretty good attempt (although by far not the only way) to define what a roguelike is.

* a fancier way of describing a bunch of game devs getting together to talk about stuff they like over a couple of beers. Don't get me wrong, though; I like the fact that these guys are holding conferences on a regular basis and using terms like the Berlin Interpretation. I also expect that JHarris knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:28 PM on January 1, 2012

I am still looking for more roguelikes that have persistent levels, but very few seem to aside from nethack.
posted by Canageek at 2:19 PM on January 1, 2012

My girlfriend, myself, and now my brothers are hugely hooked by Desktop Dungeons. I know a lot of hardcore players don't care much about graphics, but it's a great way to get people into the games who haven't played roguelikes before. Levels that rarely take more than half an hour to beat (or retreat from) really make it easy for anyone to get into.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 2:31 PM on January 1, 2012

I am still looking for more roguelikes that have persistent levels, but very few seem to aside from nethack.

Have your tried dungeon crawl.
posted by St. Sorryass at 2:37 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did an @Play on the Berlin Interpretation some time back, and applied it to a number of games. The verdict I came up with is that it's pretty good, but is more a descriptive tool than anything else -- I don't think someone should design a game based on what the Berlin Interpretation tells them about roguelikes, but instead find other roguelikes they like and see what inspires them personally.

infinitywaltz, it doesn't have tailes but you still might like ADOM, which probably has the strongest setting of any major roguelike and also some of the wit and energy of Nethack thrown in. It's not as fair a game as Nethack, but Nethack these days might actually be too fair.

Earl the Polliwog: Most of ADOM also uses persistant levels.

My biggest problem with most recent adaptations of roguelikes can be illustrated with something that happened to me just today playing Dungeons of Dredmor. I was on level 9 with a heavy magic-using character who had rocked the Promethian Magic class throughout the game. Seriously, it's one of the best classes in the game; Summon Wyrmling and some care can get you to dungeon level 7 by themselves. Part of it has to do with the fact that, if an enemy is adjacent to a pet and has noticed it, it will always attack the pet, making them highly effective roadblocks to keep hordes off a magic user's back.

Unfortunately the usefulness of the Promethian skill becomes severely less on dungeon level 9, beause that level has a fire theme, so Wyrmling attacks are much less effective there, just while monster strength is finally catching up to the Wyrmling's tremendous health level. Still, by that time it only costs me 8 magic points to summon a new Wyrmling and I had bucketloads of magic.

Unfortunately I died due to an obnoxious and annoying little case. A wyrmling was on one side of a demon and I was on the other. The wyrmling did little damage, so I was attacking with a strong weapon that did most of the damage. This worked fairly well for most of the game, but it did mean I had to be careful -- every time you make an attack the enemy has a chance of getting a counter.

I died because 1. the wyrmling was partly obscured on-screen by the top of a door it was standing in front of, making it less obvious whether it was alive or not. And 2. it both countered me AND attacked me in the same turn, taking me down from 61 hit points to 0.

IS it a fair death? Well, yes, but it was an unsatisfying death. In most modern roguelikes, deaths come very often like this, when there's some little edge case that results in taking slightly more damage than they were expecting. In fact in many roguelikes this is the ONLY way to die, whereas in Nethack there's a lot of ways, and to a newbie player it seems almost like each has an equal change of finishing the job on a given turn.

Turning to stone from touching a cockatrice is a quicker death, and in some ways it's an unfair death, but it's an INTERESTING death. It's a death that rises up out of the blow-trading, tactical-combat muck that most developers and players have determined MEANS "roguelike" It's a death you can tell a story about; "I got turned to stone by a cockatrice" is more interesting than "I was just edged over 0 hit points by a leucrotta."

Even if you phrase it as "I faced down a horde of monsters and they got me as I made a heroic stand in a orner," it doesn't escape the fact that nearly all roguelikes, if you're playing well, end that way, and it does get old eventually, especially since other computer games fell less out of touch with that kind of play experience. Take that to its logical extreme and you a MMORPG, where your stats and level are most of the game, and the play is more a sense of time tax you pay.

Well, this is what I think. Take it for what you want.
posted by JHarris at 3:05 PM on January 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Looking at daniel_charms top 20 list... the top 9 I know and mostly like, 10 looks interesting... wait. What's that? X@COM? Is that what I think it is? Check website... Oh my god. Must have now. Now I say now.

Seriously, I hope that it makes it past the mid alpha roadblock that happens far too often. This thing looks like it could be amazing.
posted by aspo at 3:13 PM on January 1, 2012

Temple of the Roguelike has a definition set as well.
posted by curious nu at 4:55 PM on January 1, 2012

@St. Sorryass ....I should specify that I want something a bit easier then Nethack, as I can get to around the oracle or Minetown then go splat. Dungeon crawl is famous for being far, far harder then nethack.
posted by Canageek at 10:00 PM on January 1, 2012

One thing I forgot to mention in my post (which I totally should have, since I was trying to present it as a game that is accessible to those who aren't hardcore roguelike fans) is that ToME actually has several difficulty settings. You can change how much damage you take and the number of lives you get.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:30 PM on January 1, 2012

Q: What would happen if Nethack and Bejeweled had a baby?
A: Dungeon Raid for iOS.

Sooooo addictive.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:56 AM on January 2, 2012

Canageek, I've heard that there are Crawl players who approach marvin's Nethack winning streak, so maybe it's not as easy as we (yes, including myself) think.
posted by JHarris at 11:49 AM on January 2, 2012

Rock Steady, needs less Bejeweled, more Nethack. Fortunately there's already iNethack and Nethack HD for iPhone and iPad hacking, and they're both free to boot.
posted by JHarris at 11:52 AM on January 2, 2012

Yeah, anyone tried X@COM? That turned my head, too.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:31 PM on January 2, 2012

Well, since I was the one who brought it up in the first place, I felt it was my duty to try it and report what I saw. The game is still in pretty early alpha (v0.10 something) and obviously missing lots of features - like map generation and the rest of the world outside of the mission/scenario you are playing. But so far, I quite liked what I saw. The UI is pretty easy to grasp (F1 brings up a help screen with key bindings and stuff) The gameplay is quite similar to the original X-COM. You get thrown (well, land, in a controlled manner) in the middle of a scenario and have to fight your way out of there. The game's not fooling around, though - I was attacked by floating disks and snakemen on the second or third turn. I blew up a few of them; then accidentally blew up a few of my team (explosions look awesome, though) and ragequitdecided that was enough for the first time.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:29 PM on January 2, 2012

I went in for another round and damn those X-COM ops are squishy. They were dropping like flies left and right until one of them got her hands on a heavy plasma - then it was the aliens' turn to die. Until a Sectopod rolled in and obliterated the remainder of the crew with its lasers.
posted by daniel_charms at 6:15 AM on January 3, 2012

The idea of x-com without save games is kinda intense. I do remember lots and lots of x-com soldier death, especially before the power armor gets researched. Without constant save-scumming, it's a game about how easily humanity would crumple in the face of the kind of technology that can move matter efficiently between the stars.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:51 AM on January 3, 2012

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