Monday, 28 April 2008

In the beginning...

The first post in a blog is usually meant to be something profound, something dramatic that explains the need for a stream of consciousness that I'm about to write and you're about to read (hopefully). This post is no different, for I'm going to tell you a little story about a game called Kharne.

Kharne (or to give it its full title "Kharne: The Relevation"- I was going through a pretentious phase at the time) was an abortive Graphic GUI-based Roguelike game I wrote in Borland Delphi back around the turn of the millenium. It was originally intended as a stepping stone to get me from writing C++ in a commercial context to a job writing Delphi. It actually succeeded in that respect - I've been involved in Delphi Development as a job for the last 7 years or so, albeit mainly in the fields of data analysis and warehousing.

But the game was never finished. People who code things for a living know that finishing things and getting things done are the bane of both software development and software developers, and actually getting employment using Delphi during the working day drained what little motivation I had left to finish off Kharne. To be honest, looking back now, with the benefit of the clarity of hindsight, the fact that the code was...shall we say, sub-optimal, and I was going through an extremely difficult time in my personal life also contributed to a general malaise. But despite this, Kharne was fully functioning, if you left out the fact that magic wasn't actually implemented. A big if, though, for a fantasy roguelike.

Despite this, and despite many adverse issues (such as the final boss being bugged and undefeatable), Kharne actually got quite a few downloads and a lot of play. There was even a suggestion of a rewrite a few years ago, but one other thing got in the way big time: a great hulking obstacle called World of Warcraft. Now, MMORPGs are probably, on the greater balance of things, a bad thing for many people, myself included. I'm firmly of the opinion that they suck out individual creativity and energy, to an unacceptable degree. Having said that, personally, I no longer play World of Warcraft, and so, here I am, in 2008, rewriting Kharne, having got the buzz for coding back. Back in 2001 I couldn't have envisaged this happening. But that's true for many things in life.

Strictly speaking, "rewrite" is the wrong word to use. I've already rewritten some of the engine and internal datahanding routines (very, very little is, or will be reused from the original game for reasons that will become clear soon). The original announcement of the commencement of the rewrite occured last October on, but due to personal circumstances, the last few months have been too busy to get any coding done. So now, with the establishment of this blog, this is the offical announcement of the recommencement of the rewrite.

The purpose of this diary is to keep the reader updated with progress, to discuss various aspects of roguelike development, and to solicit in-progress feedback on Kharne as it develops. I'm aware it will be a pale imitation of probably the best roguelike development blog out there, ASCII Dreams, but blogging isn't a zero-sum endeavour. I have a Roguelike to sell (or rather give away) to you, the reader.

In the next few posts, I'll discuss the original Kharne, how my views of Roguelikes have changed over the years, the issues that arise from recoding a roguelike, and anything else of interest. When I release the first playable betas, they'll also be announced here first. Your comments are appreciated and most welcome. If you don't want to comment here, you can email me at

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