Hempuli is still at it

Hempuli is the brilliant creator of the rule-breaking-and-making puzzle game Baba Is You. That is not the subject of this post, but I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

No, the post’s subject is a series of things they’ve made since. Yes, I said things. I said it and I meant it!

They’re all: (free|wonderful|insane|playable in browser|available on itch.io). There’s twenty-three of them, and they’re all ludicrous ruminations on the idea of Sokoban. We’ve posted about Hempuli’s improbable series of Sokolikes before, but they keep making them, and so now there’s 23.

The basic rules are: there are blocks, and you can push them. If all the Xs on the level have blocks on them at the same time, the flag activates, but it stays active only while every X is occupied. If the flag is active, you can step on it to complete the puzzle.

But there are also buttons. If all the buttons of a given color have boxes (or players) on them at the same time, then certain gates in the puzzle open. Some puzzles have water. Don’t step in that. Boxes will usually float on top of water though.

In (nearly) all the puzzles, the arrow keys move your little Sokoperson, the R key resets the current puzzle, and the Z key reverses your last move. Keep pressing Z to keep going back, until you reach the puzzle’s start state.

Those are the basic rules, but don’t be surprised if they’re upturned in some of these games. Hempuli is diabolical, and sometimes the basics don’t apply, or are turned on their head in unexpected ways.

From Mountris. The character is about to make a surprising mistake.

In Mountris, some of the blocks you push are Tetris shapes, that move as a single unit. Think carefully about the implications of that.

Upon seeing this early puzzle in Permaban, my mouth said, unprompted, “What fresh hell is this?”

One interesting thing about these games generally is how they often break one of the central rules of Sokoban, that you can’t push two or more blocks at a time. In many of Hempuli’s variants you can, but in some of them you can only do it in certain circumstances.

Hell, continued: From the aptly-named (?!) Nabogorf. Notice, this one has a different Undo key. Why do you suppose that is?

As I review these games in order, I’m struck by how they keep getting stranger. Evidently the process of making Baba Is You disconnected some important limiter in Hempuli’s brain, and so now they’ve become a portal, spewing forth constant matter from the Elemental Plane of Puzzles. Weep for them… but also, enjoy the results of that, both now and almost certainly in the future.

From Mayban: Oh, there’s color now. What does that mean? What’s about to happen? Why am I shaking in my seat?
Automount turns the game on its head. But they all do, so that statement is meaningless. This one turns it extra on its head. With cherries on top.

Roguelike Celebration Talks Start Tomorrow!

Ah, it crept up on me, so let me remind everyone that Roguelike Celebration begins today, although until tomorrow it just means they’re opening their social space for awhile. Nicole Carpenter at Polygon wrote a short piece about this year’s conference.

There is an admittance fee, but if you can’t afford it you can also get a free pass! Please consider paying them if you are able though, they do a lot of work every year in putting it together.

Here is the official schedule (linked), below is it presented just as a list of talks, with ✨sparkle emojis✨ around the things that personally enthuse me. ✨Just because!✨

Times given are US Pacific/Eastern. If you think the short times between starts are indicative of short talks, most of them aren’t that short, they have two tracks going on beside each other:


9:30 AM/12:30 PM: Arron A. Reed, Klingons, Hobbits, and the Oregon Trail: Procedural Generation in ✨the First Decade of Text Games

10:00 AM/ 1 PM: Nic Tringali, ✨Abstract Space Exploration✨ in The Banished Vault

10:30 AM/ 1:30 PM: Linas Gabrielaitis, Fictions of Infinity in ✨Geological Finitudes

10:45 AM/1:45 PM: Ludipe, Exploring ✨Pacifist✨ Roguelikes

11:30 AM/2:30 PM: Florence Smith Nicholls, Another Stupid Date: ✨Love Island as a Roguelike

11:45 AM/2:45 PM Kes, Hunting the Asphynx: Roguelikes, ✨Provenance✨, and You

Noon/3 PM: Mike Cook, Generating Procedures: ✨Rule and System Generation✨ for Roguelikes

1:30 PM/4:30 PM: Scott Burger, The ✨Data Science✨ of Roguelikes

2 PM/5 PM: Nat Alison, In Defense of ✨Hand-Crafted Sudoku

3 PM/6 PM: Eric Billingsley, Scoped-down design: ✨Making a Tiny Roguelike

3:30 PM/6:30 PM: Elliot Trinidad, Touching Grass & Taking Names: Tuning the ✨Blaseball✨ Name Generator

4:30 PM/7:30 PM: Paul Hembree, Audible Geometry: Coordinate Systems as a Resource for ✨Music Generation

5 PM/8 PM: Jurie Horneman, Why ✨Dynamic Content Selection✨ Is Hard


9:30 AM/12:30 PM: Mark Johnson, ✨Generating Riddles✨ for a Generated World

10 AM/1 PM: Jesse Collet & Keni, Fireside Chat About the Development of ✨NetHack

10:30 AM/1:30 PM: ✨Leigh Alexander✨, ✨McMansions of Hell✨: Roguelikes and Reality TV

1 PM/4 PM: Ray, Remixing the Layer Cake: Facilitating ✨Fan Reinterpretation✨ Through ✨Caves of Qud✨’s Modular Data Files

1:15 PM/4:15 PM: Crashtroid, Preventing Ear Fatigue with ✨Roguelike Music

1:30 PM/4:30 PM: Everest Pipkin, The Fortunate Isles: Fragment Worlds, Walled Gardens, and ✨the Games That Are Played There

2 PM/5 PM: ✨Jeff Olson✨, ✨Alphaman✨: Developing and Releasing a Post-Apocalyptic Roguelike Game in the ✨DOS Days✨ When Computers Were Slow, Memory Was Scarce, and No One Had Ever Heard of Object-Oriented Code

3 PM/6 PM: Dustin Freeman, ✨Live Action Roguelike

3:30 PM/6:30 PM: Jonathan Lessard, A ✨Simulation✨ with a View

3:45 PM/6:45 PM: Tom Francis, Generating ✨Boring Levels✨ for Fresh Experiences in Heat Signature

4 PM/7 PM: Patrick Kemp, Design Tooling at ✨Spry Fox

5 PM/8 PM: Stav Hinenzon, A Messy Approach to ✨Dynamic Narrative✨ in Sunshine Shuffle

5:15 PM/8:15 PM: Josh Galecki, ✨Procedurally Generating Puzzles

5:30 PM/8:30 PM: Jasper Cole, ✨Backpack Hero✨ – Player Upgrades and Progression

6 PM/9 PM: Brianna McHorse & Chris Foster, Fusing AI with Game Design: Let the ✨Chaos✨ In

The Looker

Remember The Witness? Remember how everyone loved The Witness?

What? You didn’t love The Witness? Are you it some kind of blasphemer?

Sure, it has all those smarmy tape recordings all over the place. Certainly, you never quite feel like you’re done with it. Absolutely, everyone has at least one puzzle they find maddeningly obtuse (mine was on the ship). But you gotta admit, the special category of puzzle was a work of genius. If you don’t know what I mean by the special category, um… forget I said anything!

Well whether you loved The Witness or if you think it Jonathan Blows, you might want to have a look at The Looker, a pitch-perfect parody that’s actually a pretty decent puzzle game in its own right. It’s rated Overwhelmingly Positive, and as a reviewer says, “If you liked The Witness, you’ll like The Looker. If you hated The Witness, you’ll love The Looker.”

It’s free on Steam, and only takes a couple of hours to complete!

Steam: The Looker ($0) via Dominic Tarason.