The roguelike genre of computer games is characterized by randomization for replayability, permanent death, ASCII graphics, and turn-based movement. Games are typically dungeon crawls, with many monsters, items, and environment features. Death is frequent and often avoidable. Many roguelikes employ the majority of the keyboard to facilitate interaction with items and the environment. The name of the genre comes from the 1980 game, Rogue.

History[edit | edit source]

Some features of Rogue existed in earlier games, notably: Adventure (1975), Dungeon (1975), and several written for the PLATO system, such as the multi-user games dnd (1975) and Moria (1975). Both dnd and Moria utilized limited graphics. Moria offered a primitive first-person, three-dimensional view,[1] while dnd presented a top-down map view similar to Rogue.

In Rogue and Moria, the dungeon is randomly regenerated when the player begins, creating a new challenge each time.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

These games present a plain view. Traditionally, an "@" sign represents the player character. Letters of the alphabet represent other characters (usually opposing monsters). Rogue itself only made use of capital letters, but present-day roguelikes vary capitalization to supply additional visual cues. A dog, for example, may be represented by the letter "d", and a dragon by a "D". Coloration may signal further distinction between creatures. For example, a Red Dragon might be represented by a red "D" and a Blue Dragon by a blue "D", each of differing abilities significant to player strategy. Additional dungeon features are represented by other ASCII (or ANSI) symbols. A traditional sampling follows.

 ------                             -  Wall
 |....|      ############           #  Unlit hallway
 |....|      #          #           .  Lit area
 |.$..+########         #           $  Some quantity of gold
 |....|       #      ---+---        +  A door
 ------       #      |.....|        |  Wall
              #      |.!...|        !  A magic potion
              #      |.....|
              #      |..@..|        @  The adventurer
   ----       #      |.....|
   |..|       #######+..D..|        D  A red dragon
   |<.+###    #      |.....|        <  Stairs to a higher level
   ----  #    #      |.?...|        ?  A magic scroll
         ######      -------

Graphical adaptations are available for most early roguelikes, and it is not uncommon for new development projects to adopt a graphical user interface.

Players issue game commands with at most a few keystrokes, rather than with simple sentences interpreted by a parser or by means of a pointing device such as a mouse. For example, in NetHack one would press "r" to read a scroll, "d" to drop an item, and "q" to quaff (drink) a potion.

Features[edit | edit source]

  • Roguelike games randomly generate dungeon levels; though they may include static levels as well. Generated layouts typically incorporate rooms connected by corridors, some of which may be preset to a degree (e.g., monster lairs or treasuries). Open areas or natural features, like rivers, may also occur.
  • The identity of magical items varies across games. Newly discovered objects only offer a vague physical description, with purposes and capabilities left unstated. For example, a "bubbly" potion might heal wounds one game, then poison the player character in the next. Items are often subject to alteration, acquiring specific traits, such as a curse, or direct player modification.
  • The combat system is turn-based instead of real-time. Gameplay is usually step-based, where player actions are performed serially and take a variable measure of in-game time to complete. Game processes (e.g., monster movement and interaction, progressive effects such as poisoning or starvation) advance based on the passage of time dictated by these actions.
  • Most are single-player games. On multi-user systems, scoreboards are often shared between players. Some roguelikes allow traces of former player characters to appear in later game sessions in the form of ghosts or grave markings. Multi-player derivatives such as TomeNET, MAngband, and Crossfire do exist and are playable online.
  • Roguelikes traditionally implement permanent death ("permadeath"). Once a character dies, the player must begin a new game. A "save game" feature will only provide suspension of gameplay and not a limitlessly recoverable state; the stored session is deleted upon resumption or character death. Players can circumvent this by manipulating stored game data ("save scumming"), an act that may be considered cheating.

Notable examples[edit | edit source]

Modern roguelikes[edit | edit source]

Classic roguelikes[edit | edit source]

List of popular roguelikes (and other descendants of Rogue)[edit | edit source]

Popularity[edit | edit source]

Many online communities dedicate themselves to roguelike games, most notably the rec.games.roguelike Usenet hierarchy.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The graphical action role-playing game Diablo bears a premise similar to that of Rogue: players slash their way through increasingly difficult monsters and attain treasure while traversing deeper into randomly-generated dungeons to complete quests. As such, some refer to Diablo as a roguelike despite wide differences in actual gameplay.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

External links and further reading[edit | edit source]

Additional links are encouraged

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