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Default Caverns of Xaskazien 2 - Free Roguelike

December 23rd, 2018, 08:59
Caverns of Xaskazien 2 is an interesting free roguelike available on itch.io.

In conjunction with its predecessor, Caverns of Xaskazien II has been in development since 1995. It is a completely playable game, but will continue to receive free updates for the foreseeable future.

Game Features:
- A rich, graphical game, with loads of animation and dynamic, coloured per pixel lighting.
- An exclusive orchestral soundtrack created for the game by professional film scorer, Dave Coleman.
- A full sound environment with close to 1000 unique sound effects, volume keyed to the source's distance from your character.
- An intuitive keyboard and mouse interface.
- An easy to understand UI that ensures all information any player could want on any topic is only a mouse hover away.
- 300 visually distinct monsters, each with a dozen+ variants (including named boss types), and robust AI that differs by monster intelligence level. Summoning and Charm methods allow you to raise your own monstrous army to fight for you, too.
- Merchants and NPCs to deal with, as well, each of which can run afoul of the monsters, just like you.
- More than a hundred unique booby traps for the unwary, most of which may be set by players to ensnare monsters, too.
- 125 base weapons and 75 base armour pieces, each with thousands of possible enchantment combinations and legendary variants.
- Hundreds of unique magic items, mundane items, potions, scrolls, staves, wands, rods, food items, etc.
- More than 200 unique spells.
- Play as either sex in any combination of 38 Classes and 13 Races, and customize your character as you see fit through the upgrading of both Attributes and Skills.
- A new Religion system in which you vie for the affections of dozens of gods and goddesses, and where you can devote yourself exclusively to one of 13 different religions.
- Procedurally generated dungeons utilizing multiple methods of generation to create caves, structured areas, labyrinths and even forests, supplemented by occasional pre-generated dungeons called Legendary Lands.
- Hundreds of unique environmental features to interact with and use to your tactical advantage (or detriment).
- Both random and scheduled special Events to mix up gameplay.
- A comprehensive user's manual in the docs folder.
- All for the low, low price of free
Thanks Jaguar!

More information.
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December 23rd, 2018, 17:13
Cool, my first ever news item submittal! This looks like lots of fun to me, but I have come to love roguelikes thanks to many years on this site. I probably won't play this one until he thinks it is close to done with development, though.
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December 25th, 2018, 12:52
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
Cool, my first ever news item submittal! This looks like lots of fun to me, but I have come to love roguelikes thanks to many years on this site. I probably won't play this one until he thinks it is close to done with development, though.
Good find!
Downloading now!

I'm not sure how this site helped you come to love roguelikes; I thought I was the only one here who played them! My old posts about DCSS never get any replies.
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December 25th, 2018, 14:13
Some quick first impressions:

- Char creation font is hard to read.
- Can't walk diagonally.
- Melee combat happens on the players tile?

+ Decent character creation.
+ Mouseover info for everything.
+ Lots going on, very chaotic.
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December 25th, 2018, 17:42
Skavenhorde posted some stuff about roguelikes way back in the day, and I was intrigued. When I posted my win story about DCSS though, I distinctly remember YOU were the one to respond though, which I appreciated, and I have always taken note of your posts since.

I always go in cold, reading nothing but the manual, and I have beaten a few others since. I did Dungeonmans in the hardcore ironmans mode without even trying the easier castle building part, and that was a lot of fun. I put about 130 hours into ADOM, having made tons of notes, before I decided I needed a break. I'll restart at some point, but man was it tough. I enjoyed and beat SOTS-The Pit, which I think I saw you post you didn't like. I beat some smaller indie ones this year (although I guess pretty much all roguelikes are indie - Verlies, The Depths of Tolagal and I am Overburdened on nightmare mode). Because I often have serious issues with my arms and hands, and because many roguelikes can be controlled using only the keyboard, I can play them using Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is great for me.

I own a ton of others that I am saving for the right time, like TOME for example. I am sure I won't play the game in this thread for quite a while, until the author continues it closer to finished.

Happy Gaming!
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December 26th, 2018, 03:27
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
I own a ton of others that I am saving for the right time, like TOME for example. I am sure I won't play the game in this thread for quite a while, until the author continues it closer to finished.

Happy Gaming!
Definitely try TomeNET it's free!! https://www.tomenet.eu/ Great game!
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December 26th, 2018, 14:02
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
Skavenhorde posted some stuff about roguelikes way back in the day, and I was intrigued. When I posted my win story about DCSS though, I distinctly remember YOU were the one to respond though, which I appreciated, and I have always taken note of your posts since.
Well, that's about the nicest thing anyones ever said to me!

Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
I always go in cold, reading nothing but the manual, and I have beaten a few others since. I did Dungeonmans in the hardcore ironmans mode without even trying the easier castle building part, and that was a lot of fun.
You must have been the one who told me about Dungeonmans! It was a good one! I played over 60 hours on that one. I exploited the base as much as possible. It's pretty fun to start with overpowered twink items. I liked how shortcuts opened up to let you get back to the hard areas faster and being able to power-level on high-level monsters. It's a sickly sweet roguelike that's far more worried about spoiling the player than making life difficult. Probably a great RL for new/casual players.

Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
I put about 130 hours into ADOM, having made tons of notes, before I decided I needed a break. I'll restart at some point, but man was it tough. I enjoyed and beat SOTS-The Pit, which I think I saw you post you didn't like.
I just can't get into ADOM. Starting again and going through the same quests gets old too fast and there's too much leveling up work putting points in skills with no obvious combat effect that you won't even be using before you die unfairly again.

I don't remember SOTS that well anymore but I liked it initially then something bothered me about the progression system or something about late-game? Doesn't matter!

Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
I beat some smaller indie ones this year (although I guess pretty much all roguelikes are indie - Verlies, The Depths of Tolagal and I am Overburdened on nightmare mode). Because I often have serious issues with my arms and hands, and because many roguelikes can be controlled using only the keyboard, I can play them using Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is great for me.
Well, I can't seem to find Depths of Tolagal. Steam has it, but it's not for sale? Also, the link to the homepage is down?

Overburdened looks a little "lite" for me.

You play rogue-likes with voice commands? That's pretty awesome! With roguelikes, Slow and steady wins the race. 99% of my deaths are from impatience, especially where movement is concerned, so voice would help with that. You can't hold down numpad 6 to run east super fast and register 20 enemy hits before you even notice the mosnter!

That's why I tend to favour rogues with auto-explore. Do you make good use of macros in DCSS? The [o] key is auto explore and [tab] is to attack nearest enemy or move toward them, so a "raw input" macro of o and tab will let you play a fighter class with pretty much just a single button. If you don't care about tournament quality scores you can rest your health back as often as you like. Also, you can add "show_more=false" to your settings file to skip the pauses in the text you get when the rows are full. Really improves the flow in the late-game. (press ~ to make macros!)

Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
I own a ton of others that I am saving for the right time, like TOME for example. I am sure I won't play the game in this thread for quite a while, until the author continues it closer to finished.

Happy Gaming!
Yeah, TOME is a good one. You have auto-explore and an action bar like an MMO. You can double tap the key to cast at nearest, too. I would have thought you'd play TOME before going hunting for the more obscure RLs out there? It even has a global chat to add a bit of a social aspect. There's always someone online eager to answer any questions you have. Also, there are random events triggered by Darkgod, the dev, when he's online. New dungeons with unique loot or a buff for a few turns, etc. Very good game!

As for Caverns of Xaskazien 2, I'm liking the amount of content but it's ruined by a terrible combat system. It's very amateur. You can't even cast spells at range! ALL combat is done on the players tile. You stand on top of the monster while it spams sound effects. I've had to turn the sound off but when you drink a potion the heal doesn't proc until the drinking sound effect has finished played so you sort of miss it. I could also really use a drop-down list of the classes because its like 20 clicks to get back to Mage and there's a small delay before the class finishes cycling so each click doesn't register making it more like 50 clicks to the impatient. I do want to see more of it, the god system looks well made and the mouse-over info is fantastic to have (even though it doesn't show stats required to put points in skills!), but it is a bit of a drag to play and it looks like the type of game that needs to be started over from scratch rather than updated.
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December 28th, 2018, 20:14
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
Cool, my first ever news item submittal! This looks like lots of fun to me, but I have come to love roguelikes thanks to many years on this site. I probably won't play this one until he thinks it is close to done with development, though.
Hey, Jaguar. I'm the creator of Caverns of Xaskazien 2. Thanks for promoting Caverns and drawing my attention to RPGWatch! It's the first I'm learning of the site.

There will be further updates to Caverns, but as I note you're waiting for a "finished" state, I should let you know I chose a poor numbering scheme for the version number. It was a complete and playable game at Version 0.01 (at which point it was just a graphical overhaul of the original Caverns of Xaskazien). That first game was programmed in 1995, and COX 2 was started in 2010. I have no end of ideas to add to the game, so it will likely continue evolving for the next several decades at least. Just FYI
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December 28th, 2018, 20:24
Originally Posted by SirJames View Post
As for Caverns of Xaskazien 2, I'm liking the amount of content but it's ruined by a terrible combat system. It's very amateur. You can't even cast spells at range! ALL combat is done on the players tile. You stand on top of the monster while it spams sound effects. I've had to turn the sound off but when you drink a potion the heal doesn't proc until the drinking sound effect has finished played so you sort of miss it. I could also really use a drop-down list of the classes because its like 20 clicks to get back to Mage and there's a small delay before the class finishes cycling so each click doesn't register making it more like 50 clicks to the impatient. I do want to see more of it, the god system looks well made and the mouse-over info is fantastic to have (even though it doesn't show stats required to put points in skills!), but it is a bit of a drag to play and it looks like the type of game that needs to be started over from scratch rather than updated.
Thanks for checking out the game, Sir James! I know the combat system - occupy same square vs. bump-to-attack - is not common (though it is used in some other roguelikes). When I started work on Caverns 23 years ago, I was unaware of the existence of many other roguelikes (and had certainly never heard the term "roguelike"), so made up my own system. But the combat spells used in your own square is very intentional - if you want to confront a monster, you have to risk the confrontation. Monsters don't respawn - they're a finite resource - so it's up to the player to decide which are worth engaging, and which have to be avoided, sacrificing experience. It does force a different way of thinking about strategy than Angband or DCSS, but different can be good.

In terms of the stats required to put points in skills, you can learn this either from the manual or readme, or by hovering your cursor over the stat in question. It's standardized, though, so just to let you know here - Warrior Skills correspond to Strength, Rogue Skills to Dexterity, Mage Skills to Intelligence, and General Skills to Max Health. In every case, you need 30 in the corresponding stat to raise a skill to the Basic level, 60 to raise it to Advanced and 90 to raise it to Expert.
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December 29th, 2018, 16:27
Originally Posted by Virtua Sinner View Post
Thanks for checking out the game, Sir James! I know the combat system - occupy same square vs. bump-to-attack - is not common (though it is used in some other roguelikes). When I started work on Caverns 23 years ago, I was unaware of the existence of many other roguelikes (and had certainly never heard the term "roguelike"), so made up my own system. But the combat spells used in your own square is very intentional - if you want to confront a monster, you have to risk the confrontation. Monsters don't respawn - they're a finite resource - so it's up to the player to decide which are worth engaging, and which have to be avoided, sacrificing experience. It does force a different way of thinking about strategy than Angband or DCSS, but different can be good.

In terms of the stats required to put points in skills, you can learn this either from the manual or readme, or by hovering your cursor over the stat in question. It's standardized, though, so just to let you know here - Warrior Skills correspond to Strength, Rogue Skills to Dexterity, Mage Skills to Intelligence, and General Skills to Max Health. In every case, you need 30 in the corresponding stat to raise a skill to the Basic level, 60 to raise it to Advanced and 90 to raise it to Expert.
Thanks for the reply! I'm still playing it!

Here, have some thoughts!

I did eventually notice the 30/60/90 thing when I moused over Dexterity.

I feel like the combat system removes a bit of environmental tactics, like exploiting corridors to fight things 1v1. It's sort of more like a world map. It could be a party based game and colliding with a monster drops you into a combat screen that has tactical combat like an AD&D goldbox game. As it is I just hold down 5 and maybe drink a potion. I haven't got very far, though, not even to level 10. I have a bad habit of wanting to try my luck on everything!

I think the main thing annoying me at the moment is the lack of storage space and inventory management with a mouse since I use numpad to play. Having items take up multiple slots could be a bad idea when the inventory is so small already? People want to hoard!

The tip of the mouse cursor is a bit hard to see and sometimes I put points into INT when I thought I clicked Health.

I've mostly been messing around with Centaur Warrior and casting lots of Summon Mundane Item trying to get an extra bag.

I'd like to try a mage class who can ID potions and scrolls but there isn't enough spellpoints to exclusively use spells for combat so I feel like picking up magic is a late-game thing. Where's the 2SP cost Magic Dart 1-3(+int/10 or something to make it stay useful.) damage? Your best mage roll can cast 3 Sparks spells then he's done for the floor?

When I start, I want Combat and Travelling so I can't imagine wasting 3 points on mage skills for a while. Something definitely bothers me about the ID system. Maybe ID should be a General skill and reduced to a single Identification skill because it's not magical to know what something is and scrolls/potions are more useful to classes who don't get magic.

Im intrigued by the idea of a gold carry limit based on your Strength because Fighters are usually a gear dependant class that needs more gold. I notice it allows the creation of coin purse items. That ties back in with inventory and General skills. But then there's gems anyway, so I'm still trying to properly get a feel for those two resources.

I think you need another screen of "mutations" which replace the mundane items which have passive abilities to a degree. Mutations are FUN and you need to work out ways to save inventory space requirement.

Try to use the inventory less because it's so limited. As it is almost everything you do involves the inventory. I want to do dungeon crawling, not deciding what to drop. I always walk over treasure, it always picks it up. It's often unidentified then I have to stop playing to drop it. I've never once had enough space to keep trinkets until I find a smuggler!

Maybe another inventory screen just for trinkets?

Also, a quick button to drop the last item you picked up could help? I've seen that in a few rogue-likes.

Wands and traps failing is another thing that's bothering me and another item not really worth picking up but, again, both good for classes without magic and also fairly common. I'd prefer a 100% success chance but if you skill it up it does a stronger effect. Every item you pick up should be useful to everyone, just in a different way, and not something to drop again at the cost of the game flow.

Anyway, that's probably enough thoughts for now. In a word: INVENTORY!

I'd be interested to hear some tips and what your favourite race/class combos are and stuff like that!

PS. Forgot to mention the sounds repeating can get annoying. Could they play less often? You could even randomise the delay like 5 seconds + random(4)+1 so it seems more natural.

Are they your highscores that the game starts with? Is Gnome Explorer best class? Descend is a pretty epic escape spell.

How do you play? Do you just ignore all the items and rush towards some inside knowledge to make you OP? How do the pros play?! Why hasn't the small inventory annoyed you?

OH, and another thing, lol, where's are cooking fires? Never seen one! Why can't you cook in a cauldron? Uncooked meat not worth picking up! Could have ANOTHER inventory for uncooked meat to make it worth carrying.

It wouldn't bother me if there were, say, 10 types of meat and the page listed them ALL with the amount you have of each. More like resources in an RTS. Forget about "realism" just let the player carry them all and YOU decide the limits to how many they can find based off the loot tables. If you want a hard limit then stop them from dropping. "If uncooked goose > 10 then reroll the loot"
Last edited by SirJames; December 29th, 2018 at 16:47.
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December 29th, 2018, 18:34
I usually randomize race/class/sex and play with whatever it gives me. I usually randomize religion too, but sometimes have to adjust it afterwards, because while there are no bad race/class/sex combos, some religions are incompatible with some classes in terms of play style (for instance, playing a Crusader who gets bonuses for killing Goblinoids, and then worshipping Hornas who gets angry when you kill Goblinoids).

The inventory is limited, but yeah, hording is not a thing in this game, and I don't want it to be. Deciding what to carry/not is a HUGE part of the strategy.

Trinkets are super valuable but you might be passing up good loot to carry them, so they're iffy. If you're playing a character with good bartering skill or a Tomb Raider, then they're always worth carrying, otherwise, you have to judge on a case by case basis. If there's a Smuggler on the level, (about a 25% chance?) it can be worth it to scour the level for Trinkets to sell before unloading less valuable stuff, as they'll only usually buy 6 items from you.

I usually try to keep one back up weapon in case something breaks, but seldom carry spare pieces of armour. You can ease up on the extra weapon idea a bit if your Repair skill or Weapon Smithing skill are high.

Conjure Mundane Item is great for trying to snag a backpack or other carrying item, as you're doing. I also prioritize Traveling early on, and will sometimes beeline to 90 Health to get Expert Traveling as soon as possible.

I also usually try to put 1 point into Cartography early, too, so that found Maps aren't useless.

If I find a Skill Tome, I'll use it immediately if possible, but otherwise carry it unless it's high up in a skill line I never intend to put points into (or it's a Skill I'm not allowed to learn based on Race or Class Deficiency).

Unless I've got my Alchemy skill up or Runic Lore skill up, I don't usually mess with potions/scrolls unless I need to (except Health Potions which you can identify on sight). If you're poisoned and dying, by all means start chugging unidentified potions, since Curative potions are quite common (or casting Low Power scrolls, hoping for a Cure Poison one, though that's less likely). If you have a disease, it can also be worth it to chug random potions, because Restorative potions are also pretty common (or use random Mid Power scrolls hoping for a Restoration Scroll, though again, less likely). There are other ways to identify scrolls/potions besides the skills, but they're much less common.

I love playing mages, but save the spells for the monsters that need them. Mages don't have to be incompetent combatants (depending on the Race you've chosen, I guess), so early in the game hack apart everything you can and save the offensive spells for either Golems or monsters that you're particularly frightened about. Also, run away when needed. Unless you're worshipping Baloraasin, there's no bonus for killing every monster on a given level.

You can also gain spell points back by chugging potions. Mage Potions are pretty common, too, and will instantly give you all your Spell Points back. They can be identified on sight with Advanced Alchemy (which Alchemists may start with?) You an also get SP back by sleeping if you can find some form of bedding. Your Conjure Mundane Item may also yield a Bedroll which will let you sleep once per map.

The sound delay is randomized, though I agree, in high concentrations of monsters it can get annoying. I may just double the potential delay.

Mutations may become a thing one day, but what is on the horizon that is similar are Talents (or maybe they'll just be called Abilities, again). In the update after next (several months away at least), on leveling, in addition to getting attribute and skill points, you'll get a choice of 3 new perks that will be dependent on race and class. This should help make the differences between Mages vs. Necromancers, as an example, more pronounced.

You're right about the tactics of combat being more limited in terms of position. But the tactics are usually self-similar in roguelikes. There's more than one enemy? Retreat to a hallway. I play a lot of Angband, so I know what you're talking about, but this is more streamlined and more forgiving to the player. Not saying better, but it's different, and not something I'd ever change as I don't want just another Angband/DCSS clone.

Wands I only keep if either my Wandlore is high, or if it's something particularly useful (like Blink or Descend, or maybe an offensive spell). Otherwise I tend to pick them up, use them immediately till they're emptied, then discard them. Even incompetent characters should get off one or two spells successfully from the average wand. And properly trained, they're 100% successful (and self-refilling).

Cooking fires appear on (IIRC) about 20% of maps. They're infrequent because Cooking can be a massively OP skill. You can permanently gain 5 attribute points off most meats if you're properly trained/equipped. So the trade off is much like Trinkets - do I want to carry this in the hopes of a massive payday, or ditch it in favour of something lesser but surefire? For most untrained characters I might carry 1 or 2 pieces of meat, unless I have a Tinder Box or Create Fire spell to create my own cooking fires. But if you see a Cooking Fire, it's usually worthwhile gathering and cooking and immediately eating most meat you can find on the current level.

Trap Kits I seldom use unless trained up, or if there's a foe that I'm too frightened to face head on. Some can be a convenient way to kill Golems if you're not a spell caster. Trained up they can be deadly, though. Properly trained, they're 100% foolproof, and even untrained you've got a 50/50 chance of properly setting.

The high scores are whatever I had when I uploaded if I forgot to clear them. I usually note them when they fill to 40 scores, then delete the list to start over. It's a way I can keep an eye on if anything is a common kill for my characters and therefore needs attention.

My one suggestion would be to randomize your character. There might be strategies you'd never think to consider that reveal themselves this way.
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