Transcendence Game Design

Welcome to Transcendence!

Nethack is still one of my favorite games. Depth and detail, along with playability and the illusion of simplicity, combine to make Nethack one of the best games of all time. I have always wanted to create a space adventure game with similar properties. The variety of enemies, weapons, and wondrous devices will hopefully provide some of the same depth to Transcendence, and the simple format should make it easy to learn and play.

Nevertheless, I realize that there is still a long way to go. Nethack is great because a combinatorial explosion of possibilities has been captured in its source code. Take the cockatrice, for example, one of the many monsters in Nethack lifted from D&D. The cockatrice is a serpent-tailed fowl (depicted in Nethack with the lowercase letter 'c') whose touch turns any adventurer to stone, a typical challenge in any of a dozen dungeon-crawl games. But Nethack goes further. Once you've killed the cockatrice, picking-up its corpse will also turn you to stone. But if you have gauntlets, you can pick it up and use it to bash other monsters, turning them to stone. But if you fall down the stairs (because you're carrying too much) the cockatrice will slip out of your grasp and hit you in the head, turning you to stone. Almost all possible interactions between objects and the player have been thought about and implemented in Nethack. The result is a deep game that, despite its simple "graphics" can lead to fantastic adventures. Look at some of the stories in this forum and consider whether a modern game such as Doom3 (as cool as that's going to be) could ever match them.

In Transcendence there is still much work to do to match the depth of play of Nethack. Nevertheless, I feel that the framework is capable of supporting a lot of detail and I fully expect to be adding detail for many years. If you have ideas for Transcendence that might add to its depth and playability, please let me know at [email protected].

George Moromisato
28 November 2003

Conceptual artwork for various starships in Transcendence.