Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup
|Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup|
|Release date(s)||September 19, 2006|
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is a free and open source roguelike computer game, which is the actively community-developed successor of the 1997 roguelike game Linley's Dungeon Crawl, originally programmed by Linley Henzell.
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup polled first in a 2008 poll of over 500 roguelike players, and later polled second in 2009 (behind DoomRL) and 2010 (behind ToME 4), and third in 2011 (behind ToME 4 and Dungeons of Dredmor).
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is a roguelike game where the player creates a character and guides it through a diverse branching dungeon, mostly consisting of persistent levels, full of monsters and items, with the goal of retrieving at least 3 of the 15 "runes of Zot" located there, fetching the Orb of Zot, and escaping alive.
Gameplay is designed to provide interesting strategic and tactical choices within a balanced game; to offer replayability based on random dungeon generation; to make the game accessible and enjoyable without deep knowledge of its internal mechanics; and to present a friendly user interface that can optionally automate several tasks like exploration and searching for previously seen items. Conversely, the developer team seeks to avoid providing incentives for mindlessly repeating boring actions and providing illusory gameplay choices where one alternative is always superior.
The dungeon originally featured 27 main levels, with all the objective items are situated on the bottom of thematic dungeon branches: the Snake Pits, the Slime Pits, the merfolk-populated Shoals, the Vaults, the mummy-infested Tomb, the four Hells and the demonic Pandemonium, with the orb at the bottom of the draconic-themed Realm of Zot; the dungeon also contained the Lair of Beasts, the Orcish Mines, Elven Halls, Crypt and Hall of Blades which reward loot. Subsequent updates reduced the main dungeon to 16 levels and added a new branch separating the main dungeon from the realm of zot: The Depths.
Most levels are randomly generated to maximize variety, while the levels containing the objective items are randomly chosen between several challenging, manually-designed layouts, which usually contain random elements, and which are authored in a Crawl-specific language incorporating Lua scripting. Randomly generated levels may contain randomly chosen manually designed fragments called "vaults", as well as portals to special manually designed mini-levels called "portal vaults".
Characters are determined primarily by their species, their background and their religion. Character advancement is based on experience points gained by defeating monsters, which increase both an experience level, and a set of skills that the player decides to focus on, which consists of melee weapon, ranged weapon, magic and auxiliary skills.
The species choice determines the aptitudes of the character for each of the skills, which represent how much experience is needed to raise the skill to higher levels, and adds species-specific abilities. In the 0.10 version 24 species are available, from those with little deviation from the common mechanics such as Humans, High Elves and Orcs, to species such as Deep Dwarves, Mummies, Vampires, Felids and Octopodes which are characterized by special gameplay mechanics giving them a unique flavor.
The background choice instead determines the starting skills and equipment, with 28 choices available in the 0.10 version, including for instance Fighters, Berserkers, Wizards, Necromancers, Elementalists, Priests, Healers, Assassins, Hunters and Arcane Marksmen; unlike species choice, background choice only affects the start of the game, and the player is free to pursue any skills and use any equipment.
Some backgrounds also start with a fictional religion, and in general it is possible to acquire or change the character's religion once the appropriate altar is found; in the 0.10 version 15 gods are available, and the choice of the god to worship deeply impacts gameplay, because each god rewards and punishes a different set of actions, and offers a specific set of abilities and gifts inspired by original lore. Some gods offer enhancements to existing play styles, such as Okawaru gifting weapons and boosting combat, Sif Muna gifting spell books and extra MP regeneration, while others force unusual demands on the players in exchange for significant bonuses, like Cheibriados who wants devotees to move slowly and Ashenzari limiting the ability to swap equipment in return for divinations and skill boosts, and Xom, who is the DCSS equivalent of the trickster god archetype.
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup was begun in 2006 by greensnark and Erik Piper as an attempt to restart Crawl development, which had progressed slowly in the years since Linley Henzell, creator of the original Linley's Dungeon Crawl, had retired from developing the game. Several interesting patches had been made to the game in recent years, particularly one by greensnark known as the 'Travel patch', which borrowed the implementation of Dijkstra's algorithm from NetHack to provide an auto-exploration ability in game. These patches were compiled into the Stone Soup project, which was eventually released publicly on Sourceforge.
Stone Soup has since then developed an unprecedented variety of extensions which fit into this general vein of "play aid", such as allowing searching through every item ever discovered by regular expression. Additionally, Stone Soup has made a number of user interface improvements, such as mouse interaction and an (optional) graphical user interface.
In order to avoid featuritis, Stone Soup has also pruned gameplay elements which they considered superfluous, including several races and a magical school. The development team has also expressed a desire to maintain the current total length of the game, and so as new areas are added to the dungeon, old ones have been shortened or even removed to compensate.
Graphical tile version
One notable addition of the Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup branch is the ability to play (locally or in a web browser) using a graphical tile version of the game. Players unfamiliar with the genre may find the tile version more accessible.
There are currently two Android ports of the game available.
There is also an official port of the tile version that is currently under development. The latest unstable builds can be downloaded from the official website.
A few servers support online play through an ssh client, the best known of which are crawl.akrasiac.org and crawl.develz.org. Since 2011, an online tiles version (called WebTiles) with basic features has become available at tiles.crawl.develz.org and at webtiles.akrasiac.org.
Features of online play include automated high-score tracking and real-time recording of online play for later viewing. Also, ghosts of other players' characters are frequently encountered on a player's journey, providing an additional challenge. An annual tournament for all Stone Soup players is held every August on the servers.
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