Gauntlet Rogue, a 7DRL 2018 Postmortem

What if Gauntlet was a turn-based game with procedurally generated levels?  Well, it would look and play a bit like this.  Playable on the web, uses keyboard.

What went well

1. It was a port

No wonder there's so many ports of preexisting games out there. Ports are *easy*.  You have a working model of how the game plays, you might have access to the multimedia you need, so it's largely just a matter of wrapping it around a platform.

As a player, ports are boring because I've already played the game and want something original.  But, as a developer,  this was a quick and dirty way to put my skills to the test and get some great practice in.  I learned a lot about the kinds of mistakes I make when putting together a project, such as optimizing prematurely.  

2. It got me interested in game development again

Having finally gotten around to creating a complete play loop (where usually my apprehensiveness in design would derail me before getting to a minimum viable product) I've been having a lot of fun iterating it.  This 7DRL has successfully got the development ball rolling from a deep furrow, and I've largely been blowing off playing my brand new copy of Final Fantasy XV PC because tinkering on my little project is more fun.

3. The lore was fascinating

I also ended up learning a lot about Gauntlet history.  It always was a favorite old classic of mine, I played it in the arcades when I was a kid and was mystified then.  Turns out that Gauntlet owes a lot of its legacy to home computer game called Dandy.  Dandy was a play on words referring to D&D, Dungeons and Dragons.  Before you turn up your nose at the idea that Gauntlet could be a roguelike, consider this: the core intention of their development was derived from the same root, digitizing those tabletop D&D adventures as an endless dungeon dive.

What went poorly

1. Time

I started late and it was my own dumb fault. I initially coded fast and sloppy because I thought I just had roughly a 12 hour period to work on it before submitting it. This was during Saturday, I had work on Sunday, and so I basically just had the one day. However, then the deadline was extended to allow development the following Monday, a day I had off. I then paid a stiff price for my initial sloppy coding, as I now had to tidy everything in order to move it along.

What we have right now is not as complete as it could have been if I had the full seven days to develop.  I still have not yet added a really good dungeon generation mechanic, instead there's  just a placeholder there: procedural, but only just.  I think I am going to continue working on it long enough to do that and maybe add a few more interesting elements.  There's all sorts of pickups, monsters, and game mechanics in the original that did not make the deadline.  Seven days might have been enough to get that done, but nooo, I had to be an oblivious dork.

2. Originality (or lack thereof)

I sort of hobbled myself in terms of originality here.  I imagined this would be a cool concept, taking classic Gauntlet nostalgia and funneling it into a roguelike but, in practice, I think it would have been even cooler to do something uniquely my own.  Given more time, I might have had more time deviate more, make it feel less Gauntletly and more the unique parody I intended it to be.

This also leaves me open for accusations that I was just looking to leverage Gauntlet's popularity when, seriously, I chose this theme just out of need for simplicity so to finish something on time.  

On top of that, the choice to use original Gauntlet assets raises the perpetual concern that I'm just going to get cease and desisted by Atari's lawyers despite meeting at least 3 out of the 4 criteria of what constitutes fair use.  I absolutely cannot take my 7DRL game and sell it, so this is looking to be largely a piece of temporal art, a fun go kart to tinker with, and nothing else.

3. Best bug

I spent three hours thoroughly mystified that I could not shoot pickups, wondering what strange divine intervention had stopped this from working, until I looked at the top of the function and saw that past me had added an early punch-out optimization that stopped it from working when there were less than two entities in the tile.  Past me flummoxed future me but good, and present me was so lazy it took me three hours to finally read through an entire function and find the bug.  Maybe I've spent too much time coding, as I savored every incredulous moment of my complete bewilderment.


Great fun to make, an interesting artifact to play.  I'm continuing to put out updates, but left a download link up to the pre-deadline version ("Last  Chance Version").  It's also attached to this dev log entry.  But I enjoyed making it enough that I am contuining to put out new versions:


Gauntlet Rogue : Last Submission Before The Deadline 4 MB
Mar 13, 2018

Get Gauntlet Rogue

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