IF Comp 2011: Kerkerkruip

Kerkerkruip is a randomized, combat-oriented game with roguelike features, presented in IF. More details within.

Kerkerkruip is so unlike most of the other games in this competition that it’s hard to hold it in meaningful comparison. There’s a story, but only a very very thin, shadowy one: the entire point of the game is to wander through a dungeon (regenerated each time from standardized elements) and fight monsters (selected, I think, from a broad selection of monster types). Combat makes use of Gijsbers’ ATTACK extension, which implements a complex act-and-react system with partially randomized outcomes. Instead of puzzles, there are tactical challenges. With the variety of available armors, weapons, spell scrolls, and specialized skills, it feels somewhat different each time.

In order to communicate all the complicated things that are going on, the screen typically contains at least as much statistical information…

Rolling 6 + 4 (inherent bonus) – 2 (defender dodging) + 2 (tension) = 10, you beat the swarm of daggers’s defence rating of 4.

…as it does narrative. And this I have my doubts about. I suspect that I would have enjoyed these combat situations at least as much, and possibly more, if they had been presented more graphically, or in a way that separated out the numerical reporting from the story text. Going back and forth between narrative text and numerical text made it hard for me really to concentrate on either. This may be a personal quirk of my own, but I felt like I was constantly having to shift how I was reading and analyzing the output, and this was disconcerting.

So Kerkerkruip has (thanks to the textual descriptions) a somewhat more distinctive flavor than ASCII-based roguelikes I’ve played. Jury’s still out on whether I would find this a convincing combat element for more standard, story-based IF.

Still, I found Kerkerkruip polished, non-buggy, and entertaining for the five or so playthroughs I spent on it.

8 thoughts on “IF Comp 2011: Kerkerkruip”

      1. I was curious, because I bet that’ll be a lot of people’s experience. I’ve only played a bit of the release version, but as a tester it took me a while to beat the game on easy mode. Maybe not a full two hours, but maybe not far from that. And I’m pretty good at roguelikes.

        As for the early alpha versions, let’s just say that there’s a reason the game now starts in easy mode.

  1. The extreme randomness kills this game for me. Even if you use the right strategy you still stand a very good chance of losing; for example, I threw a rust grenade in the chain golem’s room and attacked it with a rust-proof weapon (the nunchucks), and was higher level than the golem to begin with, but I still lost that fight on easy mode just because I couldn’t get the dice to go my way.

    From a technical standpoint, Kerkerkruip achieves some pretty impressive things though.

    1. The extreme randomness kills this game for me.

      By IF standards, yeah, that’s completely unfair. By roguelike standards, it’s pretty much normal, I think — there’s a feeling that your dungeon is like a spread of cards in solitaire; it might be completely unplayable, but that’s fine, because you’re going to lose quickly or else quit out of sessions that you don’t want to complete.

      (That’s not to say you have to like that — but it’s a different design strategy that I think requires a slightly different player mindset.)

      1. Actually, I agree with Troy to a certain extent here: the first release of Kerkerkruip is too random. Even when you have fine items, fine abilities and good tactics, you’ll still lose fights you are supposed to win too often.

        One of the things I have done to solve this problem in the second release is to decrease the randomness of the attack and skill rolls (rolling 1d7 + 1d4 -1 instead of 1d10); another is that I will give the player an extra expendable resource to use when things get tough.

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