Another Roguelike Celebration! The biggest roguelike gathering of the year just keeps getting bigger 😀
I had to miss last year due to my concussion, but it was great to finally meet up with everyone again. Back in 2016 I showed up just a few days before Roguecel and still wasn’t sleeping well when the time came around, and although the sheer excitement of being with all these roguelike developers and players was enough to keep me going through an entire day, I knew it’d be even better if I could participate fully refreshed. So this time I made a vacation of it, arriving in the US a couple weeks early to visit family near San Francisco, too.
Like 2017, this Roguecel was on a two-day schedule, which is just awesome. The feedback from 2016 was pretty much unanimous in that a single day was simply not enough, especially since that also forced the talks to be split into two tracks, meaning you’d always be watching one talk at the expense of another, which sucked. (After this year I’m hearing multiple calls of “two days is just not enough!” xD)
On Friday night (10/5) we had a pre-event meet-up at ThirstyBear Brewery. It was announced relatively late so there were only about 25 people or so, though this was probably for the better since the place was already packed and we had no reserved space. Instead we gradually assimilated tables as they were emptied, and in the meantime had to guess who among those entering the bar were actually here for roguelikes. This was not hard to guess 😉
I met up with lead organizer Noah, who said about 230 tickets were sold this year!? o_O o/ roguelikes!
I spent most of the evening catching up with old friends Santiago and Thomas. All three of us hail from separate countries, but talk online and got to hang out in 2016.
Santiago admitted he didn’t have a single slide prepared for his talk the next day (in the morning scheduled for right after mine). Quite the opposite of my approach, but surprisingly it turned out fine as you’ll see.
Saturday marked the official start of the event, and the next morning I arrived early to help out a bit with setup. Roguecel 2018 was held at the GitHub offices in San Francisco, same as last year though different from 2016 so I hadn’t been here before.
GitHub is such an amazing space for hosting events, and we got to use it for free. Wow.
As usual the decorations included various posters, letters, @ signs, and message log texts, so part of setting up was to hang these things around the area to make it a little less GitHubby and a little more roguelikey.
As a sponsor, Thomas had some Ultimate ADOM posters printed up, so he, Britta (another organizer) and I hung those around.
Even before 9am people were scanning their tickets at the door and picking up their Roguelike Celebration memorabilia.
Every year there are @ socks for everyone to replenish their supply. And a new t-shirt design.
But there was a great collection of other stuff, too…
Everyone got one of those awesome ASCII/@ tote bags, inside which is a notebook, marker (magic, of course), and pamphlets containing Ultimate ADOM mini-stories. Top-center there is a little roguelike map lapel pin! As a speaker I also got some nice chocolate and a custom thank you card with a hand-written message on it, signed by all the organizers <3
All three meals were catered both days, except for dinner on Sunday. It was a healthy, tasty variety of options, so I was happy to see that (in addition being mostly stuff I wasn’t allergic to :D).
After breakfast it was time for talks, so most everyone gradually moved over to the speaking area. There are technically linked monitors everywhere so it’s easy to see the talk from other sitting/standing areas, too (even, uh, the restrooms xD).
The talks started a little late due to GitHub technical issues, and the first two ended up not being streamed, but at least they were recorded.
I was actually the opening talk! This is great because I could get it out my mind rather than worrying about it any longer. It also turns out that because my talk touched on a lot of different subtopics, a fair number of other speakers referred back to my presentation, which was kinda cool.
My own talk went pretty well. Back in 2016 at the first Roguelike Celebration when I gave the From Hobbyist to Full-time Roguelike Developer talk, I was quite nervous because 1) that was the first time I’d done any kind of speaking about anything since high school in the 90s and 2) I hadn’t even practiced what I was going to say, just put together a bunch of slides and notes (this is bad when you’re as easily nervous speaking before an audience as I am).
But this time I came prepared. Perhaps a little too prepared? I started my outline a few weeks in advance, on September 13th, and worked on the outline and content off and on up until the day before the Celebration. I finished with just enough time to practice it a couple times, and was happy that my (intentional) overestimates of how long each section would take ended up totaling an actual final time of about 26 minutes or so. At the time I guessed I’d spent maybe 40 hours on it, but on checking my time records now, apparently I spent freaking 59 hours preparing this talk xD
Well, it was worth it! This is something I’ve always wanted to put together, a comprehensive primer on how to make a roguelike, something that could hopefully be inspiring while including both general and specific advice. So this year’s Roguelike Celebration seemed like the perfect opportunity to force myself to do that after having put it off for so long.
The full talk is here:
In addition to the video presentation, I’ve made the slides publicly available here and
will also be posting a full text version, perhaps with some edits and additions, here on the blog soon. Update 181024: Posted!
Santiago took some photos for me from the audience.
Right after me was Santiago, and his talk was great, surprisingly so considering he hadn’t done any slides until that morning (though he did admit the stress wasn’t worth it and he will try not to do that again in the future…).
Then it was time for lunch…
The weekend wasn’t packed with lots of back-to-back talks, either. In addition to meal times, there were additional breaks for mingling or whatever.
In the afternoon we came back to a great talk from Jim. Really all the Roguecel talks were great.
Then came the final presentation of the day, in which Thomas shared the first public demonstration of Ultimate ADOM, the new game the ADOM team has been working on for about nine months now.
Although they’re focusing on the graphical version of course, the ASCII version actually also looks pretty neat. There’s also grafting of enemy parts in order to gain their abilities, which certainly sounds a lot like Cogmind :P, though Thomas does say he’s been taking inspiration from my work so yay 😉
Thomas also sponsored the Saturday evening party, so no complaints there!
In addition to the bar, a bunch of computers were set up for playing roguelikes and retro games. Among them, there were original VT320 and VT420 terminals from which to log into the Living Computer Museum and basically play Rogue and Hack as they were originally played. These naturally got a lot of attention 🙂
Some devs also just hung around with their own devices showing stuff.
Tarn Adams kicked off the second day of talks.
Then came Brian Walker, who had sadly missed the first day because he had a vacation which was set before the Roguecel dates were even determined this year. So we didn’t get to hang out the day before, but at least he got in late that night and could still make Sunday.
For the latter portion of his presentation, Brian also shared info about his current project, a time-moves-only-when-you-do platformer roguelite that draws on the same map generation principles found in Brogue.
Of course there were more breaks to enjoy on Day 2 as well.
Then Thomas came up for a second talk (well technically yesterday’s was a demo), this one about how they’re using ECS in Ultimate ADOM. So it was a lot more technical and source-heavy, with plenty of examples. I also got a shout out at the beginning, which was great 😀
Last was the lightning talks series, where different speakers would come up for just five minutes or so and share some topic of interest.
After another break, Caves of Qud devs Jason Grinblat and Brian Bucklew narrated a “choose your own playthrough” run of Caves of Qud, controlled by Nick DeCapua.
Those two days sure went by fast. I took one last shot before heading out of the building.
For the final dinner there were maybe several dozen who’d stuck around, so we all walked a block up the road to the 21st Amendment Brewery.
Fortunately there was still a fair amount of outdoor seating left, and we gradually took over additional tables until they were all ours, though a portion of the group walked further up the road to another restaurant to eat real quick before coming back later.
And there we sat until closing time!
Such a great weekend, very much worth flying around the world for… I’m already looking forward to seeing everyone again next year!