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Roguelike Radio Appearance and Podcast Life

December 9th, 2012 by Troy Goodfellow · 3 Comments · Me, Podcast, RPGs, Three Moves Ahead

Last week I recorded a session with Andrew Doull and Darren Grey of the the Roguelike Radio podcast. Go over there and listen as we talk about the connections between strategy and roguelike games.

A lot of people have suggested I make appearances on other people’s podcasts, but Roguelike Radio was by far the most frequently mentioned show. I love roguelikes even though I don’t keep up with them as much as I should – so RLR is a great way to stay in touch with what is going on even if I am weeks behind in listening.

The introductory bit to my appearance was cut because of technical issues, but Andrew, Darren and I talked a bit about podcasting. Three Moves Ahead was apparently a direct inspiration for the RLR team – a show dedicated to a particular genre of games that, even if popular and widespread, does not get the attention of other types of video and computer games. Podcasting allows them, as it allowed us at our outset, to target a particular audience and talk about the things that we want to talk about.

Now 3MA would not have become as successful as it has without us greatly underestimating how big the show could get. We’re regularly in the top 100 audio gaming podcasts on iTunes, and that measures new subscriptions. I am familiar with the pattern by now – we plateau in listeners for a while, do a show that goes viral and then a new plateau is reached. If anything, I think that 3MA has demonstrated that there is an audience for strategy gaming since there is no way that we get even 1% of the strategy/wargaming audience that lives on the internet. Not that anyone makes money on it. (Last week, Rob Zacny and I were idly musing about what it would take to launch a strong strategy focused review/blog/video website. Considering we make nothing from the podcast, we would still need to take a pay cut.)

But within a small community, a good podcast is a good way to connect with people that have similar interests, and also a way to promote things that you believe in. We’ve had Vic Davis on to talk about every game he has made, and that is probably a tradition we will stick with. In a recently recorded (but not yet published) show, I plugged Dirk Knemeyer and Bill Abner’s new board game. I don’t think any other independent site on the internet, let alone podcast, will give over more than two hours talking about War in the East. We talk about stuff we like, basically follow a game release schedule, but really talk about whatever we want.

Similarly, RLR introduced me to Brogue – a simple roguelike with lots of colours and some very hostile mechanics (why are my scrolls floating in the water? I just wanted to swim!). So far, I am loving it.

We haven’t done the 3MA fundraising thing this year, not because we didn’t want to, but because we want to leverage our new site, set targets and community rewards (similar to other crowdfunding ideas) and this fall has been a right mess for both me and Rob, schedule wise. I will admit that I sometimes wonder if it would be possible to monetize our show (if we got 20 bucks from every regular listener every year, we could think about making it a real job) but then I remember that that goes against the big reason we do 3MA and why Andrew and Darren and the rest of his team do RLR; it’s about the discussions we have with each other and with our audience. Free won’t help me retire, but it makes it much easier for people to share what we do and spread the word that there is a community of listeners. (Seriously, join the forum.)

I want to thank Andrew and Darren for having me on their show. I wish it the greatest success.


3 Comments so far ↓

  • spelk

    Troy, good to see you join in the discussion over at RLR! Very interested in the discussion of niche communities, I personally feel a lot of the players hiding away in these gaming niches defend them stolidly against newcomers simply because the niche itself defines their gaming “identity”. Many wargamers, and roguelikers eschew more accessible attempts simply because opening up their niche, will possibly dilute their “uniqueness”.

    As someone who has dipped into many of these niches, most enthusiastically as a newcomer wanting to seek out accessibility and open up the hidden depths – I can only take heart that both wargames and roguelikes are now becoming more accessible to more players. iPads, FTL, TOME4, Unity of Command all great leaps forward in bringing the niche to a wider audience – but not necessarily diluting the experience.

    Troy, since you’re dabbling in Brogue, can I suggest a version of Brogue with a silouhetted tileset for the less ASCII tolerant of roguelike curious readers.


    Whilst Brogue is a stunning example of what can be done with ASCII, I found simple graphics made the experience much more endearing. Some sort of blastphemy in roguelike terms, but sometimes graphics are ok for newcomers :)

  • ShadowTiger

    I was actually thinking about how much of a roguelike FTL actually is, with angband and Dungeons of Dredmore being my only references. I was leaning towards it stretching the boundaries too far, but after hearing your explanation on the podcast your arguments are sound.

    I ended up getting sucked into angband recently and played it a bunch. It has changed greatly since I last played it, perhaps 5+ years ago. For example, they got rid of most cursed items, which used to plague the lower levels and required you to manage your identification wisely. Now you can just equip a weapon and bash some monsters until you figure out all of its properties, which is kind of lame. (You could do this before, but at the risk of having it welded to your hand and setting your intelligence to 3)

    I decided to quit angband after I got pretty far (dungeon level 45) and I was coasting through (besides a few cheated through deaths that were mostly from unexpected 1 hit K.O.s). Its not that its not fun, or that I wasn’t tempted to start a new character. It just takes up a large amount of time and started to get a little tedious (holding down the arrow key too often is a bad sign for me).

    I started looking at variants and other roguelikes but I don’t think I have enough time… as you mentioned yourself, to really invest in that pursuit.

    Unfortunately, I can’t really get over the graphics of many of these games, and while I can still read ASCII angband like it was code in the matrix, some other games just hurt my eyes/brain. I actually enjoyed switching over to the modern graphics mode, though not every version has that mode.

    Mostly though I want a deeper roguelike experience. I guess I am inspired by the recent surge of “Survival” games like dayz, minecraft, terraria and such and would like to see a more hostile world. Yes, Angband is an extremely hostile world, yet if you play with towns ( i guess hardcore people don’t) you never run out of food. With the most recent updates, you can usually find food on every floor, and I only use 1 or 2 rations per floor, and thats going SLOW. They may have removed poisoned rations as well, though I can’t be sure.

    So I am actually new to roguelikes… I guess I should look for a place that aggregates, ranks, and categorizes them.

    The main charm I find in angband is it really feels like you are an adventurer in a fantasy world. I had 7 rods of firebolt, 3 rods of frost bolt, 5 rods of lightning bolt, 30 potions of cure serious wounds, and 15 scrolls of phase door. I just love having that batman-style utility belt where I manage my precious few inventory slots to ensure I have a way out of any situation. The struggle to become the perfectly equipped survivor, who can at the very least live another day even if you get your essence drained or your body crippled, is a really great concept for me. I think though this is a side effect of the content that inspired the game rather than being something the designers intend. I wonder if there is a roguelike that focuses more on this aspect.

    Speaking of donations… feel free to fine me for taking up too much space in your comments section all the time : P

  • spelk (Ian Bowes)

    Something I forgot to mention earlier… I did a run down of a few accessible roguelikes on a blog post I did – they’re really a distillation (although not exhaustive) of the best of what I think there is at the moment.


    One such game which uses ASCII, but has subtle graphical effects added to the ASCII is a rather entertaining short blast of satisfying play known as QuickHack. It’s affectionately known as a coffee-break roguelike. It’s very moreish too! Easy to play, easy to pickup, but holds a depth to it that is revealed as you play, rather than some obscura that has to be revealed on a Wiki page somewhere.


    I’d encourage everyone who enjoys RPG’s to just have a go on QuickHack, pretty soon ASCII roguelikes won’t be so intimidating. If I hadn’t selected the Accessible Rogue’s before I’d discover QuickHack it would probably be at the top of the list. I’d now include the Tileset version of Brogue too.