Researching the historical origin of the “Roguelike” term

On November 11 2017, at the Roguelike Celebration in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of doing the opening talk, titled “What is a Roguelike?, 2017 Edition”, where I explored some of the interpretations on the Roguelike term.

keynote

Something interesting I found while doing research for the talk was what could be the first efforts to organize a group of games similar to rogue under an umbrella term. This happened on Usenet, the technological precursor to Internet Forums, throughout which most of the discussion of computer games happened.

My current progress on this research indicates that the efforts to define this hierarchical relationship, intended mainly to facilitate discussion, ended up serving the purpose of creating a community of niche developers and players who through the constant usage of the term ended up giving it an evolving, collective meaning that was relatively stable until the 2010’s decade, with the growth of the indie games scene and diffusion of the more action focused “Roguelike” labeled games.

Read the full article here

2010 Failure Rate of Roguelike Games

Lait posted his yearly analysis of roguelike games over r.g.r.d. He wrote:

So where does seven years of data put us? We are doing very well for roguelike creation – 6.75 new tracked roguelikes per month, a new peak. It is tempting to dismiss this as a 7DRL effect, but the Old column I think is correctly tracking the creation of larger projects. While it is a new high, I’d hesitate to call that a trend. I suspect we are seeing a continuation of the 30 new roguelikes a year rule identified last year.

Read the full analysis

2009 – Failure Rate of Roguelike Games Analysis

2009 Failure Rates

Mr. Jeff Lait has finished his yearly analysis of roguelike development activity!

We are doing very well for roguelike creation – five new tracked roguelikes per month, a new peak.  The new Old column, however, I think shows where some of the sense of stasis in the genre comes from.  The early increases may be due to sampling effects as existing roguelikes were largely added to the list.  But for the last three years we’ve seen a balance at about 30 roguelikes being actively worked on.

Check his analysis at this roguetemple article (or the original usenet post (Via google groups))

2008 – Failure Rate of Roguelike Games Analysis

Mr. Jeff Lait has finished his yearly analysis of roguelike development activity!

The absolute numbers are equally impressive – 70 projects saw another point release in the last year. Of those, an astounding 54 were last updated in the last six months. Roguelike creation, as measured by roguelikes making it to this list, has tracked consistently at three roguelikes per month for the last five years!

Check his analysis at this roguetemple article (of the original usenet post (Via google groups))

Roguelike Definition

Roguetemple presents you a small and comprehensive list of several factors for evaluating the roguelikeness of a game; those may help you get an idea of what a roguelike is,

High Value Factors

Random Environment Generation

The game world and its contents are mostly procedurally generated with each game.

Permafailure (including Permadeath)

You must pay for your mistakes and choices, sometimes at the cost of life. Restoring games is discouraged and only provided to allow continuing split games.

Turn Based Interaction

All entities in the game world are queued in an endless loop and get their independant discrete turn to act.

Single command set

You can access all game commands from any place into the game. There are no artificial restrictions on what actions are available in a given game situation

Freedom

Your game is not directly enrouted into a linear progression. You get to choose what you want to do, how and when

Middle Value Factors

Discovery mechanics

You must research or find out the nature and usages of the items into the world.

Single player

You control a lone character

Lots of content

There are lots of monsters, items, locations.

Complex non-trivial world and object interactions

Items have non-trivial usages, you can do some things which may not be obvious for the item nature.

Low Value Factors

High ramped difficulty

The game gets hard very quick and you are very unlikely to win until you have acquired enough experience.

Monsters are players

The nature of the monsters is similar to the player, they can have equipment, player-like stats, artificial intelligence and are subject to the same world rules.

Character-based display

The player interacts with the world via a user interface based on character symbols that represent UI artifacts and entities into the world.

Hack and Slash

Gameplay involves around killing things and acquiring treasure

The Death of the Level Designer: Procedural Content Generation in Games

Ionic Orders of GenerationAndrew Doull, mantainer of roguetemple’s friend blog, Ascii Dreams, has put up five articles on his series The Death of the Level Designer: Procedural Content Generation in Games. An interesting read for you all roguedevs out there you. 😛

Procedural content generation is yet to set the game industry on fire. It has featured in one of the greatest games of all time, Diablo and it’s successor, who directly trace their roots to roguelike games such as Angband. But the recent implementation of random level generation in Hellgate: London did little to inspire people that this method works well for game level design.

Checketh them out:

Part V

Part IV

Part III

Part II

Part I

RogueDev update

  • RogueSDL by Ed Ropple is a rendering engine for roguelikes using the .Net framework

I’ve just finished work on the first release of my Roguelike rendering engine for the Mono and .NET Frameworks, RogueSDL. As the name suggests, it uses the SDL libraries (through SDL.NET) in order to display graphics. I’ve tried to make it as utterly simple to use as possible, and I think I’ve largely succeeded.

  • Roguelike Library For Java (RL4J) 0.1 has been released. It includes a pretty useful collection of algorithms for field of view (including cones!) and Line of Sight. Worth using in your projects!
  • The series of dungeon generation articles continues at ASCII Dreams with this sixth article
  • From Andrew Doull too… his column discussing the perils and rewards of being an unabashed non-professional creating games has been continued with an article about the feature-lists for roguelikes.
  • Another nice detailed article series about random dungeons, a topic never too old for roguelike development. By Dirk Kok