Sunday, April 21, 2013


Mujahid was the second seven day roguelike that I finished and it was written for the 2012 7DRL challenge. Again there was some serious leaning on the libtcod + python tutorial to get things underway quickly in terms of the basics before branching out into something different.

In retrospect, this is probably the 'best' of my 7DRL games in that it's a relatively complete fleshing out of a full idea (which is admittedly rather simple) and not too long for that gimmick to become annoying. I think that my 2013 game, Rasatala, crosses over that line just a bit and becomes a bit of a chore to play.

The mechanic I'm talking about is the introduction of facing to a roguelike game. The only major roguelike which comes to mind which incorporates something like this is Unreal World and I wanted to explore stealth gameplay with the concept of facing and the implications that that has to sneaking around a dungeon. The obvious tactics which come to mind is spotting an enemy who doesn't see you because they're facing the other way and sneaking up behind them to dispatch them without being seen.

Inspiration was taken also from the Assassin's Creed series of games, along with the Thief series as well I guess, and the setting of this game bleeds over a little bit from the Assassin's Creed series even though the gameplay is deliberately much more simplified than either of those examples.

You can watch a youtube video of a playthrough of the game here to get a better idea of what it's all about:


A big part of my plan in 2012 was again to pick a setting which was unusual but also not dramatically different from what's expected in roguelike games to the extent that a lot of things needed to be reworked to cover that. I basically ripped the idea off a 2011 7DRL called Alamut which was an ADOM-esque attempt at a roguelike set in the middle ages where you chose between being a Muslim or a Christian and played out some role in the Crusades. That game never really seemed to be finished but I thought the idea was a good one which hadn't been explored before.

And of course there's a natural fit with stealth gameplay and a setting which saw what's popularly thought of as the historical basis for the word 'assassin', so an Islamic themed roguelike struck a chord with me. It also had the benefit of seeming to be slightly more controversial than it actually is and I'm sure there's a bunch of people who are uncomfortable with the name of this game but don't really want to say it.

Anti-combat gameplay

This isn't a straight up fighting game. You could probably try and take that approach and see how it goes but I don't think you'd make it past more than one or two enemies. Health doesn't regenerate and healing salves throughout the dungeon don't do much to help you, so your life is a very precious resource.

Fights are much more efficient when you attack your opponent from an unseen position. In that instance, you insta-kill them, so the trick is to place yourself in a position where you can perform that backstab but avoid being hit while doing so.

The idea was to make the decision to enter a combat a weighty one with the option of avoiding combat entirely being the most attractive one in almost every circumstance where possible. You can win the game with killing as few as four opponents and that really should be your goal even though it's not explicitly stated.

No magic and questionable use of religion system

A semi-realistic setting was my goal and accordingly magic and magic items were a poor fit. There are items scattered throughout the dungeon which you can pick up and use and they're very helpful a lot of the time. There's a few lazy ones - in particular a vial of green gas which confuses your enemies for a short period.

The most interesting item for me was the inclusion of stones throughout the dungeon. Now this sounds pretty damn boring but the gameplay use of stones is not as weapons as you might think at first (and as the youtube above demonstrates, that seems to be the most obvious interpretation) - instead they're used purely as a distraction for enemies. You can throw them to any square within your line of sight and an enemy who can see the square where it lands will go to investigate unless they can already see you, and that presents your opportunity to either sneak past or try and go for the backstab.

The ability to pray is also built into the game and it's caused me a bit of enjoyment to read various reviews of this game where people have guessed as to its effect. Someone said that it made you invulnerable for a short period of time. Someone else said that it reset the monster's AI so that they stopped trying to find you.

The reality is that it does nothing. It's purely for flavour and also for a bit of fun on my part by distracting players which proved successful. Of course, there's nothing stopping it from actually working, but that depends on the grace of Allah and I'm not entirely in control of that...

Things I could have done better

I put smoke bombs into Rasatala this year and made the Thug class start with them. They would have been a perfect fit for Mujahid and I should have included them.

The AI in Mujahid is just a little bit dumb with a few quirks I'm unhappy with. There's a trick where you can step past an enemy and then backstab them without facing your opponent which will count as an insta-kill. It's unintended but an abusable trick which makes the game trivial if that's what you what. Likewise, I'm not really happy with the way in which enemies dramatically change direction without warning which makes sneaking up behind them very dangerous. It would have been better if they gradually changed facing and turned around slowly so the player could observe it happening.

Otherwise, I think it's a pretty solid effort for a roguelike written in seven days!

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