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phubans
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« on: February 02, 2011, 09:13:18 pm »

In my 20+ years of gaming and game developing, I have only recently heard of this term. What exactly does it mean and why is everyone suddenly making or attempting to make these? All I know (or assume) is that these are procedurally-generated dungeon crawlers that are sometimes done in ASCII, like the (assumed) grandfather of this genre; Dwarf Fortress.

But other than that, what constitute a roguelike, how did it come to be named as such, and why is EVERYONE interested in developing one? I'm tired of hearing that damn word! It makes me think of some stealth-based RPG where you can only play as a rogue class and your objective is to loot treasure, sneak around enemies, and infiltrate locked doors. Is this genre solely based on those activities? Or is it just poorly named?
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mcc
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 09:36:12 pm »

I do not know how much of a joke this is

Roguelikes are games similar to Rogue. The original Rogue was open source, originally shipped with BSD and is copyrighted by Berkeley University. It was an ASCII art turn-based dungeon-crawling game with absolutely unusable controls, like it uses almost every key on the keyboard and you have to memorize different characters for 'drink potion' and 'use scroll'.

Noteworthy second generation roguelikes like Moria and Nethack kept the same basic play mechanics while adding lots of complexities, like things you could interact with or the ability to dig. Dwarf Fortress is like a seventh generation roguelike.

Toe Jam and Earl is actually a perfect example of a roguelike.

Roguelikes tend to look like this: All levels are randomly generated. Each level has an exit; your goal is to reach it. Randomly scattered through the level will be random monsters and random items. As you kill monsters, you gain XP and power up; as you move down/up in the levels of the game you encounter harder monsters. The items are totally random but have the common feature that once you pick them up you don't necessarily know what you have, you have a "blue potion" or a "red present", the only way to find out really what an item is is to use it (and possibly suffer bad effects from it). As you continue in the game you'll have encountered enough different types of items that you'll know, for example, that the blue potion was a potion of blindness and you shouldn't drink it. Dying in a roguelike is usually incredibly easy and so roguelike games are usually mostly about managing risk; you need to know, each door you enter or random item you try, how likely it is to screw you over or try to kill you (usually almost anything you do in a roguelike has at least some chance of killing you) and if it does try to do something to try to kill you you need to be prepared to evade it or neutralize it. Roguelikes do not offer save features or "extra lives", you play once and then you will never see that character/generated game again. Roguelikes are mostly about playing hundreds of really short games and then occasionally getting the one game where you make it all the way to level 30.

Later-gen roguelikes like nethack or dwarf fortress took advantage of the abstractness of ascii art (a dog is a letter "d"; therefore you can represent a bloody, dying dog, a friendly dog, and a levitating god dog in game mechanics without having to draw any additional graphics) to put objects in the game that you can interact with in incredibly complicated ways. For example Nethack lets you put an object in a box and then bury the box; there's one enemy that when you kill it, instead of dying it turns into stone, but then it turns back into a monster after a certain number of turns. The only way to totally neutralize this enemy is to kill it so it turns to stone, stuff its stone corpse into a box, and then use the spell you normally use to lock doors to lock the box. Nethack strategy is crazy complicated.

People seem to go back and forth when they say "roguelike" whether they mean "procedurally generated game about managing risk" or "game based on top-down ascii art".
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2011, 09:52:08 pm »

Rogue is just a computer playing Dungeons and Dragons (first ed.); using "@" for you, uppercase letters for monsters and lowercase letters and punctuation for other stuff like items. It's like a turn-based board game where you move one space at a time, avoiding traps and defeating monsters in dungeons that write themselves. Originally, it's kind of like a Tic-Tac-Toe board of "rooms," all connected with hallways to each other, filled with invisible traps and sometimes hidden doorways. It also has stuff like potions and spells, but the colors/spells all shuffle effects every time you play it - and some of them have good and bad effects. Potions can, for instance, blind you or heal you. If you throw a potion at a monster, it will blind or heal them instead.

There's about 4-5 major ongoing-development things that really flesh it out into excessively detailed worlds full of "thought of everything" fluff, the most popular being a program called NetHack. This also results in a lot of "Yet Another Stupid Death" or YASD, usually by a player doing something stupid while they're cornered by enemies.

Beyond that, newer ones are like an RPG without real-time physics. It's the easiest example of a "procedural generated content" game there is, which is what inspires automatic level-builders like those found in Spelunky and Gentrieve.


http://www.hexatron.com/hexrogue/index.html Here's a good starter. Fire it up and press "?".
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Seth
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2011, 09:54:30 pm »

the only thing i can say about roguelikes is that they are awesome
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moi
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2011, 09:57:31 pm »

My favorite roguelike is Cave story
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2011, 10:12:24 pm »

My favorite roguelike is Cave story

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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2011, 10:29:40 pm »

dwarf fortress the grandfather of the genre

hhhhhheh

im no expert on roguelikes but yeah it refers to the game rogue which is a randomly generated dungeon crawler with no towns basically and a lot of object interactions

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deathtotheweird
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2011, 10:50:03 pm »

google would have solved your inquiries a lot quicker.

ugggh.

http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopment.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2011, 10:51:55 pm »

the only thing i can say about roguelikes is that they are awesome
werd

Play a few, dawg. You'll get what they're about. I recommend POWDER.

Development-wise, I think they might be as 'popular' as you say because they require minimal art assets and level design and unique scripted interactions of stuff - like, you don't need to make a whole mess of code to differentiate between a gun and a bow, or a sword and a gun, or a shield and a sword. They have stats and affect stats and are mostly composed of data rather than active behaviors, and the entities that do have active behaviors can share much of their behavioral shit because they usually all follow the same rules.

It's mostly just the complex interaction of simple systems, and all entities usually follow the same rules unless given some ability that lets them resist a law or two. Such as, everything falls if over open space, unless it has a status that lets it fly/levitate, or everything made out of materials [x,y,z] can burn if exposed to fire. This lets the developer write the rules to the universe and give the players the freedom to overcome obstacles using and within the bounds of those laws, without having to worry about creating specific circumstances and solutions like those found in non-procedural and event-based games (whereas roguelikes are procedural and system-based [I just made some of that up but I think it's still understandable???]).

So you might come across a field of grass with an enemy wandering around in it that is weak against fire. Instead of fighting the fucker you just set the field alight and watch him burn. The developer probably didn't put those things together specifically for that to happen (though they may have!?) but they put the rules in place to allow such things to occur.

Also what the rest of those dudes said.
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2011, 11:02:34 pm »

Dwarf Fortress is not a grandfather of roguelikes or even a good example of one. Dwarf Fortress' only likeness to Rogue is the extremely primitive art.

For most of the rest of your questions, just lookie here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roguelike
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2011, 11:09:21 pm »

Primitive ASCII allows for much richer game environment than you could get with top-notch art. Procedural generation also allows for greater replayability.

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Dustin Smith
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2011, 02:13:04 am »

foo-bans, play shiren the wanderer and all shall be explained.
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2011, 03:18:02 am »

Dwarf Fortress is not a grandfather of roguelikes or even a good example of one. Dwarf Fortress' only likeness to Rogue is the extremely primitive art.
Pretty much this. DF (in Dwarf mode) is a city building/lifesim/economic strategy game with a hint of RTS thrown in. It's basically Dungeon Keeper meets The Sims  meets The Settlers.

What roguelikes are: Games that play like Rogue.

What roguelikes aren't: Every game with ASCII graphics and/or random content generation
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2011, 03:55:34 am »

Dwarf Fortress is not a grandfather of roguelikes or even a good example of one. Dwarf Fortress' only likeness to Rogue is the extremely primitive art.
Dwarf Fortress has Adventurer Mode as well, which is exactly a roguelike.  Dwarf Mode is both better known and better (possibly because it's more complete).
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2011, 04:04:50 am »

People don't usually talk about Adventure mode when they call DF a "roguelike" though.
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2011, 04:48:15 am »

Droop
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2011, 08:16:46 am »

why is everyone suddenly making or attempting to make these?


As someone who is currently working on a game with light rouelike elements, designing procedural generation algorithms is a fun challenge (to me at least). Being able to teak some variables to produce very different results is pretty cool. And since the algorithms depend more on logic than programming skill, someone like me can get something basic but flexible up and running pretty easily.
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2011, 09:45:12 am »

why is everyone suddenly making or attempting to make these?


As someone who is currently working on a game with light rouelike elements, designing procedural generation algorithms is a fun challenge (to me at least). Being able to teak some variables to produce very different results is pretty cool. And since the algorithms depend more on logic than programming skill, someone like me can get something basic but flexible up and running pretty easily.

Agreed.  I also think that procedural generation is an interesting area of game design that has gone unused (except by roguelikes) for a long time.  Or at least, unused until recently. It's one thing to make a good level yourself, but a whole different (and fun to me as well) to make an algorithm that can make good levels. 
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2011, 09:57:11 am »

Roguelikes allow you much more "behind the scenes" freedom, because the display is abstracted - you don't have to make new assets for new features. You can just designate this and that symbol, paint it differently and that is that. Which is why roguelikes have by far the greatest gameplay depth compared to AAA games, where gameplay is constrained by availability of assets.
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2011, 10:38:50 am »

The simplicity of ASCII graphics also allows the player to imagine the action taking place in their head instead of in the world, which can be more immersive. Similar to reading a book or playing D&D.
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