The interactive fiction roguelike

Month: February, 2014

Emily Short revisits Kerkerkruip

by Victor Gijsbers

Well-known interactive fiction authoress Emily Short (Galatea, Savoir Faire, City of Secrets, Bee, Counterfeit Monkey, and many others) has revisited Kerkerkruip. She reviewed it for the Interactive Fiction competition 2011, back when the game was first released, and finds the new version 9 much better:

I really recommend trying this thing if you haven’t. It pushes in interesting ways on the boundaries of what IF normally does, by having large elements of randomness and systematic play. It is one of the few IF games to make a serious shot at interesting combat that is not puzzle-based, and it shows off UI effects that most Glulx games never attempt.

It also yields some surprisingly entertaining moments that capitalize on the juxtaposition of procedurally generated situations with narrative text — for instance, I was being attacked by four enemies and thought my goose was probably cooked, but then I sprouted four tentacles from my torso, my enemies went mad and started licking their own weapons, and I was able to clean up.

Emily Short also mentioned Kerkerkruip in a list that shows of the variety of recent interactive fiction.

Kerkerkruip Wiki

by Victor Gijsbers

Kerkerkruip is precisely the kind of game that needs to have a wiki. Whether you want to see a list of all the scrolls, review how Isra and Fell work together, or check our strategies for using the dagger of double strike, a wiki could be an indispensable source of information. And having one is common for roguelikes; I myself am an avid user of the Brogue wiki, the Binding of Isaac wiki, and especially the Crawl wiki.

Well, Kerkerkruip now has a wiki too! I’m not perfectly happy with Wikia, since the number of ads is quite distracting. But it is certainly functional.

At the moment, the wiki is still quite empty. I added a few weapons, but we’ve maybe got 1% of all the information we need. So if you feel up to it, go and contribute! You might want to get your information from the source code. It’s Inform 7 source, so don’t worry.

New art coming in Version 9

by Erik Temple

Since version 8, Kerkerkruip has included a kind of trophy gallery that you can check out if you hang around on the title screen for a few seconds instead of immediately firing up a new game. The gallery starts out empty, of course, but each time you kill a new enemy–at least, one that has a soul that you can steal–a card depicting that enemy is added to the gallery. The card also includes a couple of statistics about your long-term relationship with this enemy, namely how many games have gone by in which you’ve killed it, and how many times it has killed you.

The cards are illustrated using what I call typographic collage (other examples here, here, and here). Version 8 shipped with art for seven of the game’s enemies: the ravenous armadillo, the chain golem, the swarm of daggers, the mindslug, the adventurer Miranda, the reaper, and the giant tentacle. Version 9 will add three more. I’ve discussed two of them elsewhere, so this post will focus on the most recently completed, the Fanatics of Aite.

Fanatics of Aite

These fanatics serve Aite, Kerkerkruip’s goddess of cruelty, bloodlust, war, and ruin. As their appellation implies, they are a trio of zealous cultists. They also embody sacred personages: the Defender is a heavily armored blunt instrument of his god, the Tormentor deals excruciating pain from a sacral staff, and the Healer supports them both with curative abilities.

I struggled for a while with how to depict three characters on one card (there isn’t much space!), but as I thought about the way that the cultists subsume themselves into preexisting religious roles, I decided that the best way to convey the nature of these characters was to depict a tableau of sacred objects. The Defender, after all, is just a man until he takes up Aite’s shield, the Tormentor only a woman until she lashes out with the staff of pain. The card lays out these emblems, along with the Holy Sword of the Healer, beneath Aite’s war mask.

Fanatics of Aite monster card

Note: I cheated a bit here. In Kerkerkruip, the Defender doesn’t actually carry a shield. He is instead armed with a special sword whose main property is that it is essentially stainless steel. I thought the shield was better visually and also as an expression of the Defender’s role, so I just went with that. Purists are asked to sputter silently in a corner.

A few notes on the depiction of the objects for the interested: Overall, the imagery is borrowed from ancient Greece, since Aite herself is borrowed from its mythology. The shield uses Greek frets sketchily rendered with inverted 7’s, while the holy sword is basically a Greek xiphos in shape. The mask is a combination of a Greek helmet with a theatrical mask, e.g., the hair from this one. I didn’t have any real-world examples in mind for the staff of pain, but I’m sure that I didn’t invent it completely. (Citations for my subconscious are welcome!)

The background texture is by deviantArt user cloaks, and is I think very evocative of the interior of a dark and sacred grotto. The font used is Gafata, and while it has some nice shapes the lack of character of some of its glyphs gave me some tough moments. In the end, though, I think it turned out to provide good character for the images.

Before moving on, there was one discarded idea I want to share. The scorpion’s reputation for cruelty and dealing pain make it a natural fit for Aite, and I toyed with using it as the design on the shield:

scorpion shield


Minotaur monster card

Read about the minotaur card on the Glimmr blog.

Wisps of Pain

Wisps of Pain monster card

Read about the wisps of pain card on the Glimmr blog.

Kerkerkruip now has a Twitter account

by Victor Gijsbers

Kerkerkruip now has a Twitter account. Follow @Kerkerkruip!

Kerkerkruip 9 beta

by Victor Gijsbers

We’re nearing release of Kerkerkruip 9. (“We” being the design team consisting of Mike Ciul, Erik Temple, Dannii Willis, Remko van der Pluijm and myself.)

This is by far the biggest update of Kerkerkruip yet, with over 600 commits on the Github code repository. Among many other things, it brings you two new normal enemies and some undead opponents as well; a religion system that adds an entire new strategic dimension to Kerkerkruip‘s central mechanic of soul absorption; the ability to throw grenades into adjacent rooms; sleeping monsters and dream sequences; as well as a completely redesigned reaction system, which now involves four commands — dodge, parry, roll and block — all of which have different tactical uses as you build up your offensive and defensive flow. To top it all off, there is Wade Clarke’s awesome music for the title menu.

There are still a couple of small bugs and other minor issues we’re working on, but the game is definitely ready for beta testing. So please grab the latest beta — this link will always link to the latest beta — and give it some testing! Any bug reports or other comments can be posted here, on Github, or on the Interactive Fiction forum.

Get the game file and the Gargoyle interpreter.

Kerkerkruip one of the “most interesting roguelikes”

by Victor Gijsbers

Kerkerkruip got 13 votes in the “Roguelike of the Year” competition. Perhaps not a great showing — I’d love the game to become better known in the roguelike community — but at least it was enough to get into Andrew Doull’s list of the most interesting roguelikes. That list contains every game that got between 10 and 100 votes, presumably on the principle that such games are (a) well-developed and active enough to get some people excited about them, while (b) being small and new enough to contain innovative design principles.

Number of votes is obviously a very crude measure of such qualities, and not intended as anything else, but this list certainly functions as an invitation to explore some of the weirder designs out there; which, for a game designer, is invaluable.

New website

by Victor Gijsbers

Although Kerkerkruip is already 2-and-a-half years old, it has never had a dedicated website. But with the massive release 9 of the game upcoming, a new and more welcoming website seems appropriate. So, welcome to the new Kerkerkruip website!