An Earth Pony Wizard?
May 9, 2014 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Introducing a perfect Metafilter storm: Ponyroguelike 0.9.4.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker (24 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I could barely get the game to function. I managed to buy a spoon before I gave up.
posted by Pseudology at 7:47 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

This isn't even the first PONY-themed Roguelike. That would be the now-discontinued Anqustria.
posted by JHarris at 7:53 PM on May 9, 2014

Played a little. It actually seems to be inspired by Desktop Dungeons more than a traditional roguelike.
posted by JHarris at 8:04 PM on May 9, 2014

I could barely get the game to function. I managed to buy a spoon before I gave up.

The controls are WASD (QRZC) but mouse clicks and arrow keys also work.

actually seems to be inspired by Desktop Dungeons more than a traditional roguelike.

Possibly. I don't think I've tried Desktop Dungeons. I will say that this is the first roguelike I've tried that made me 'get' the concept. (It's turn based, but everyone is static. Unless you engage them.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:20 PM on May 9, 2014

That's Desktop Dungeons' design influence yes, that and uncovering terrain heals both you and damaged enemies. Also, being able to tell by hovering over the enemy if you'll kill him or he'll kill you.
posted by JHarris at 8:35 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's turn based, but everyone is static. Unless you engage them.

It's not really much like a classic roguelike, in that case. Like JHarris says, this makes it more of a Desktop Dungeons clone. Which isn't a bad thing at all; I love Desktop Dungeons.

I might just have to accept that the definition of "roguelike" is getting broader, but I do wish we could collectively come up with a new name for this kind of thing and preserve the term "roguelike" for games that are actually like Rogue. I remember people using "roguelike-like" for a while, but it doesn't look like that stuck. And some people are using "procedural death labyrinth" now, but that one seems too jokey to catch on.
posted by my favorite orange at 10:32 PM on May 9, 2014

So… it's a rogue-like because you only get one life? Since exploring is a limited resource, I feel like it should give you experience. Without being able to rest or heal, I'm having a hard time getting anywhere with this.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:37 PM on May 9, 2014

A guide to playing Desktop Dungeons-style games is forthcoming. Please stand by.
posted by JHarris at 12:36 AM on May 10, 2014

Oh, this looks neat. *click*

Oh, cool, one of the races you can play as is "Dragon". Yay, I love Spike. *click*

"You must unlock the achievement 'Not a beta!" to play as this."

... "Not a beta".


*clicks "Back" button on browser*
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:47 AM on May 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

This game is 90% a clone of Desktop Dungeons, a brilliant game, not really a roguelike but its own thing, and quite interesting. I think it's a work of genius. But it is a game that goes about its play in ways you might not expect; it is not a grindy at all, but really a kind of randomized puzzle game.

Desktop Dungeons -- A Beginner's Guide
(most of this applies to this game as well)

Each game is a single dungeon level. You start at level 1. You're surrounded by a small ring of light, beyond which is a bunch of dark tiles. Get near a black tile, and the area around it lights up, revealing more of the map. The tiles hide floors, walls, monsters, and some items and other features you can use.

Somewhere hidden on the map is a monster of level 10. You can tell this because there's a little number 10 by his icon. Defeat this monster to win the game.

That is, usually. Desktop Dungeons has a variety of scenarios you can play, and many of them change these facts up slightly. Sometimes the ultimate monster is less than level 10, and sometimes there's more than one monster. Most of what follows applies to "normal" games, but keep in mind sometimes there are exceptions.

Still, most of the time, kill the level 10 monster. The problem is, you're nowhere near strong enough to do it. First you must build your experience level. You do this by killing the other monsters on the level. There are other monsters from levels 1 to 9. The number of these monsters available is inverse to their strength: there's two level 9s, three level 8s, and so on to ten level 1s. That's all there are; there ain't no more. When you kill one, you earn as many experience points as its level. Your job is to do this, building up your level a bit at a time, until you can challenge the level 10 monster (the "CHAMPION" in ponyrl) and survive. That's all fine and good. Except.

Except, ordinarily, if you only kill monsters of your level or lower, there's nowhere near enough experience points building up this way to get to level 10 yourself. If you only do this, you'll max out at about level 6 or 7, and be doomed to fail.

So what's an adventurer to do? Well, do that adventurers have always done since Gygax's day: powergame.

The fundamental method of powergaming Desktop Dungeons is to defeat monsters of higher level than you. This is challenging but possible, indeed essential. When you kill a monster of higher level, you earn bonus experience points based on the difference in level, experience above what you'd get just by wiping everybody out in order. A monster one level higher earns you two extra XP, and monsters of even higher level than that earn you exponentially more experience. These boosts can be quite dramatic. Expert players in fortuitous situations can find ways to beat monsters four or more levels greater than yours, even at low levels, and gain several experience levels at once. That's the key to success at Desktop Dungeons: take advantage of the game's quirks to beat tougher monsters than you "should" to get ahead of the experience curve, and so gain the power to beat the boss. Mind you, often you won't be able to take advantage of this so dramatically, but if you manage to do it somewhat, the extra XP you generate here and there may be the edge you need to win.

You hit an enemy by clicking on it. (In ponyrl, you must be adjacent to it; in Desktop Dungeons, the game will automatically walk you to any spot you've seen just by clicking on it, a great time saver.) Enemies here don't strike you until you click them first. You can safely walk by the boss monster many times, so long as you don't hit it. When you do click a monster, it gets the first hit unless you're higher level than it, in which case you get the first hit. (Usually. Some monsters have special abilities that change this up. See below.) You really want the monster to do less damage than you have in hit points. You can tell this by looking at your character's health bar when pointing at the monster, for it will show you how much of your hit points will be left should you strike this foe. You don't want the whole bar to be shaded when you hover, for that means you'll die if you hit this enemy. It also shows you how much damage your enemy will take, on his health bar. Compare how much of each bar is shaded. You want more of his bar to be taken off than yours with each hit, for that means, starting at full health, you'll defeat him before he defeats you.

You'll take a lot of damage in a typical game; how do you get this back? You heal by exploring new territory, uncovering new black tiles. When you step in a space adjacent to hidden tiles their contents are revealed, and every tile so uncovered heals you for one hit point per experience level you have. (This also gives you back one magic point per tile; more on that later.) However, you can't take advantage of this to wear down enemies, because they also heal at the same rate, one HP per each of their levels per tile uncovered up to their maximum. If you hit an enemy then go uncover tiles to heal up, it'll heal up too, and if the monster is higher level than you, it'll heal faster! So it's best to kill an enemy "in one go," without exploring. (Note, there are times when it can be advantageous to heal by exploring while fighting. See if you can figure out when.)

Because of enemy healing as you explore, it's important to find other ways of healing yourself, that won't heal your foes. It's also important to find ways of damaging enemies without opening yourself up to counter attacks. And it's important to find ways to increase your attack, defense and magic resistance. You can do this by using magic (glyphs in Desktop Dungeon, spells you can buy in ponyrl), or by taking on a patron deity at an altar, or buying special stat boosting equipment in shops, or even in other ways. And depending on what race and class you start at, you'll have a number of other special advantages; success will nearly always depend on taking ruthless advantage of those! All of these things let you get ahead of the game in certain ways, and used carefully, may let you take down much stronger foes. And even if you can't find a way to beat a monster three levels higher than you, you might be able to beat monsters a single level stronger consistently, and those small experience boosts add up.

But lest you think the existence of all these ways means the game is too easy... you don't know where either the monsters or the many things that give you advantages are at the start of a map. Those are revealed as you explore, and you might not find what you need when you need it. Since unexplored map is also your main source of healing between fights, if you explore too much without making enough of a dent in the monster population you might run out of healing and not be able to restore yourself for those last few fights to enable you to power up to beat the boss. And even the monsters themselves are a resource of a sort: when you gain an experience level, you're immediately completely healed and regain all your magic, without healing any damaged monster on the level!

So, there's lots of ways to get ahead of the game, but you have to get very far ahead, typically, to have a hope of success. But figuring out how to do that, in a plethora of situations, with lots of different races, classes, items, gods and monsters, is what makes Desktop Dungeons so addictive. Try it out for yourself, now, and see if you agree.
posted by JHarris at 1:24 AM on May 10, 2014 [20 favorites]

If this sounds interesting to you and you'd like to try the original, the "alpha" (really a complete game) is available free on the internet here. And the full game it spawned is available on Steam!
posted by JHarris at 1:33 AM on May 10, 2014

Thanks, JHarris. Am I correct in my conclusion that some levels are unwinnable? I got frustrated after my third start in a row having to uncover most of the map to even find enemies I had a chance of defeating.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:50 AM on May 10, 2014

I think some are, but I've not played enough ponyrl to know what that number is. Desktop Dungeons is much more winnable than a beginner might think, because some of the tricks are quite subtle.

It helps to keep in mind all your various options. For example: it seems you always start with an attack spell in ponyrl, for instance, which is akin to Desktop Dungeon's BURNRAYDAYZ (Fireball) glyph. That lets you trade 7 magic points for a minor attack at an enemy without danger of reprisal. A normal "earth pony" only starts with 9 or so magic points. But its strength scales up with experience level, and you get both hit points and magic points back as you explore. While you might not be able to heal up faster than enemies from exploring, you get a little more of an edge if you're both zapping it and smacking it.

Because of things like this, although each game is only one screen, a good player (at least, if I can be considered good) will take a half-hour or more exploring a level, trying to figure out which situations will give him maximum advantage.

Just so you know, I've earned the "Postgraduate" achievement from ponyrl already, which you get by beating the boss of the Tutorial level without picking up the orb. If you can figure out how to do that, I think you'll be well-prepared for the difficulties the game will offer you.
posted by JHarris at 2:15 AM on May 10, 2014

It might also help to explain a few of the special abilities monsters have, and what they can inflict on you.

When pointing at an enemy, there will be a number of icons displayed beneath its hit point bar. These are its special powers. Nearly all monsters have at least one, and some have several. Once the monster is displayed, move the mouse over and highlight the icons to find out what they are and their implications. You must pay attention to all of these; some of them make an otherwise weak enemy something you might choose not to kill right away, and others aren't so bad, but might bite you once in a while if you smack them carelessly.

Here's a few:
MANA BURN (or MANA DRAIN): When you hit this enemy, all your magic points are immediately drained and won't regenerate until you earn your next experience level (which will restore them all), or you use an item that cures the condition. Because of this, you usually want to have one of these as your last kill before gaining a new level, so the condition cures right away.

POISON: Mostly the same thing as Mana Burn, but for hit points. It doesn't drain all your hit points, but it disables natural healing until you gain a level or otherwise cure it.

FIRST STRIKE and SLOW: The first means the monster will always hit you first regardless of whether your level is higher than it (so it'll always do at least a little damage). The second means you'll always strike it first, even if it's higher level, so it won't ever do damage to you if you can kill it in one blow.

WEAKNESS: When this monster hits you in melee, it'll permanently weaken your character by a little bit. One or two hits aren't much to worry about, but if you adapt a hit-and-heal approach to it your character'll get corroded to uselessness.

SPAWNS: When you kill this monster, it'll immediately summon a clone of itself to its place at full health. This summoned monster is like its predecessor except it won't clone itself again if you kill it -- but, also, it's worth no experience to kill.

CHAMPION: This is the monster you have to kill to win.
posted by JHarris at 2:32 AM on May 10, 2014

Angband was my favorite rogue-like. In the process of trying to find any hint at all about how to beat the stupid tutorial so I can play as a unicorn, I ran across Anquestria which is sadly no longer being actively developed, but is tempting to get running in a VM.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:09 AM on May 10, 2014

The way I did it is:


1. One thing to remember is that even your low experience level can be a kind of resource in the game. The lower your level, the more experience a given monster is worth, so long as it's higher than yours.
2. Because of this, the books, which give you a free experience boost when you use them, are a bit of a trick. You don't want to use them right away. Explore most of their room, then try to beat the enemies to the right. When you're out of ways to damage an enemy (don't forget to use your starter spell!) without dying or healing up, don't explore new tiles but gain a level from reading books, which will heal you and refill your magic without restoring the enemy. Repeat until all the non-boss monsters are dead.
3. Don't search tiles unnecessarily. Try to leave as many as you can (while still killing all the enemies) so you'll have as much healing left over when attacking the level 10 monster.
4. Think carefully about which items you buy. The boss monster has a magic attack, so defense bonuses are useless against it -- get items that increase resistance instead. Also consider magic increasers (from a full tank might let you get a second fireball off earlier), the Iron Will spell (which increases resistance for the next enemy attack at a cost of 4 MP), attack increasers (do more damage when you hit), and health and magic replenishing items (which provide restoration without letting the boss restore). Even with all of this, you'll probably have to work it back and forth a bit, attacking (once) and using magic, then healing through exploration just enough to get another attack and/or spell. And of course, if there's enough books left for another experience level, don't waste that full heal and magic restore!
posted by JHarris at 4:04 AM on May 10, 2014

I've just deleted Desktop Dungeons (but kept the Alpha) because once I got to the hard dungeons, they were just too hard.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:05 AM on May 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is true, Desktop Dungeons really pushes you to intelligently use every advantage you've got in the harder boards.
posted by JHarris at 4:07 AM on May 10, 2014

Actually, I *planned* on deleting it -- but it looks like I didn't. Time for another go at Havendale Bridge.

I hate this game...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:09 AM on May 10, 2014

BTW ob1quixote, have you played Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup? I've never really gotten into Angband, but DCSS is excellent and varied. Or maybe Rogue itself? (I assume you've already tried and rejected Nethack.... Which isn't to say that Nethack is bad, IMO.)
posted by JHarris at 4:12 AM on May 10, 2014

I liked Angband because I'm a giant Tolkien nerd.

I did finally get Postgraduate. It takes some luck in the items you get, but you can make a mistake and still get it. I was going to post the replay code, but it got mangled somehow and wouldn't actually replay the game.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:34 AM on May 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Suddenly a wild brony appears!"

I am terrible at this game.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:13 AM on May 10, 2014

One thing it took me too long to figure out: Achievements aren't given on replays.

If you're trying to get Postgrad, here's how I did it: Take your Earth Pony Wizard in and speed walk to the the library. Read up enough to get level IV (one wall of books) and take out the Diamond Dog (two whacks will do it.)

Go back to the library and read up to level V (one square of books.) Buy a Spoon and a Cute Sticker. Head back right and take out one Vortex with Magic Missile and Attack. Double back and heal up in side passages and repeat for the other Vortex. Buy the Wizard's Hat to increase your Magic. Head back and heal up taking care to walk over the remaining books so you don't 'heal' later.

Finally, head up to the main Vortex, use two Magic Missiles, double back to the main library to read up to Level VII and use your two Magic Missiles again. Then it's a matter of Attacking the Vortex to take it down.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:11 PM on May 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just learned about the documentary A Brony Tail (trailer).
posted by jeffburdges at 12:40 AM on June 9, 2014

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