Once upon a time, eons ago (at least in videogame years) there was a little RPG that came out with randomly generated dungeons to crawl, named Rogue*. The game was very popular, and imitations of it sprung up almost immediately — dubbed rogue-likes — which is in fact still a popular genre to this day (as you may be aware).
This concept, when well executed on a solid, already fun base of gameplay, was brilliant. Essentially it resulted in a game that never ended, and in theory you wouldn’t WANT to end; that you could go back and play again and again and again. Sure, you’d get tired of it eventually, but one day you’d be back in the mood for it, and the game would be waiting for you. It would still be fun. And you’d still have an UNLIMITED supply of fresh levels. This is a fascinating idea, and it wasn’t long before developers started attempting to do this with other genres besides RPGs, and they became known as rogue-lites. A fair number of them are quite good, and a few remain among my favorite games of all time. Occasionally one still comes out (yay indies!) that I just love, and they occupy a special niche carved into my mind of eternal games that I want to continue playing (occasionally) forever. That’s a very powerful thing to me. Making such a game became my Amulet of Yendor, if you will.
They don’t need to be fancy or AAA titles, as long as they have good, solid, addictive gameplay you just never got tired of. Probably the best-known would be Minecraft, and it’s immense popularity and longevity are a testament to a rogue-lite’s power. There are humans playing and streaming this game today that didn’t exist yet when I bought Minecraft back in the alpha days… but I digress.
I had the idea of creating a driving game, pitting you and your car against a twisty mountain road in the dead of night, and I thought, THIS is the type of game that could be endlessly fun, if only you couldn’t memorize the “tracks” and there were an endless supply of them. Bam. My Amulet of Yendor.
So I immediately got to work.
With my rogue-lite, NIGHTVISION, which I call the first ROAD-lite, I am bringing that idea to reality. And apart from sharing a little videogame history and one facet of my game’s origin story, I just wanted to tell you that I was right. It is endlessly fun. This project has been so motivating for me because every single time I work on it more — tweak it or add some new feature — and then settle back to play it, it’s more fun than the last time. I’m half proud, half astonished that this blend works so well. I’m both vindicated and humbled.
When you’re developing a game, it takes a looooot of time. And you inevitably need play it over and over and over. Normally the risk of getting burnt out on it, or worse, losing track of your vision, becomes an all-too-real challenge. But I can’t stop playing this game. In every session, I have jaw drops — just scraping by through a tight turn, and let me tell you the acceleration on a straightaway after near-death is EXHILARATING; I have wincing — riding that yellow line pushing the brink of physics and ALMOST making it only to fly off the road to my death; I have literal laughing out loud — at my hilariously gruesome crashes. It just feels good.
Most profound to me is that the worse I do in the game, the more I want to play. Which brings me (finally) to the second major hallmark of a rogue-like… they’re pretty tough, man. Rogue is almost known more so by its insane difficulty than the groundbreaking procedural levels it gifted future games with and we all know and love today… just to give you some idea.
But when your game is more fun when it’s hard, then hard’s the way to go. And I know you wouldn’t want it any other way. Because I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Nightvision is a game you’re gonna love, and I can’t wait to share it with you!
* Note that Rogue wasn’t the first game with procedural level generation, but it’s credited with starting the genre, and the fascination that continues to this day.