Category Archives: Roguelike Games

A new Roguelike interpretation

by Slash, priest of the Temple of the Roguelike

“What is a roguelike?” is a long standing question with no single answer; there are many perspectives you could apply to understand what “roguelike” refers to, starting from strictly historical ascendance, passing through aesthetics or even focusing on a single feature such as procedural content or permanent death.

For a long time, I have refrained from providing a single definition, and went instead for a way to evaluate the “roguelikeness” of a game. This I did to encourage experimentation outside the bounds of the classics, but the world has changed.

Over the years there has been a resurgence of the term “roguelike”, where it has been applied to games that differ so much from the originals that the term is losing its meaning every time. Rogue-Legacy-Full-Game-2 Having that in mind, I have decided to share my own interpretation of what I call a Classic Roguelike, with the sole intention of preserving the original nature and identity of the genre; this doesn’t mean roguetemple is only intended to cover the development of classic roguelikes; we are equally interested in games that utilize some of the mechanics from roguelikes and complement them with other genres.

The most important perspective for me when considering if a game is a roguelike are its game design features. Note however that my interpretation is not limited to the features of the original “Rogue”, nor am I listing all of its features to be required; this list is derived from my experience over the years on what makes a roguelike, i.e. which features from the good old roguelikes are critical to conserve the spirit of the genre.

So, for a game to be considered a Classic Roguelike by this interpretation, it should comply with ALL of the following features:

  • Turn based: The player interacts in turns; for every turn the player gets to decide what action to take. After he decides the game simulates the turns for the rest of the entities in the game world and them prompts the player back for action. The player can pass its turn but it’s done manually as an explicit action.
  • Grid based: (Which could be implied from being “Turn based”) There is an underlying orthogonal or hexagonal grid where the entities of the world are placed. Movement occurs from one cell to another close cell.
  • Permanent Failure: Encouraging the player to take responsibility for the risks he takes. Games can be persisted to support interrupted play sessions but players cannot reload a game for the sake of experimenting or to “retry” a fight or seek a better outcome on a random event.
  • Procedural environments: Most of the game world is generated by the game for every new gameplay session. This is meant to encourage replayability and complements permanent failure.
  • Random conflict outcomes: The main conflict action between entities in the game (commonly, attacking an enemy or casting a spell) has a random outcome. For example, for most of times you can’t know for certain in advance how many hitpoints your attack will reduce from the enemy (Although the player has a reference range and variability that should allow him to make tactical choices).
  • Inventory: There are items the player can pick up and use and inventory space is limited, the player should decide strategically what items are best to keep to survive and win the game.
  • Single Character: The player is represented by a single character inside the game world.

Use this interpretation at your own risk. Some games could be considered roguelikes and don’t have all these features. You might also want to check other roguelike definitions attempts:

What a beautiful day. Let’s kill some ugly monsters!

Fame

Author Piotr Bednaruk
Platform Windows, Linux
Version 8.3 (newest available is 8.4)
Website http://sourceforge.net/projects/untitled-rpg/

City at nightBold adventurer, is it fame you are after? Do you want treasure, fight fierce beasts or just to explore the land? This roguelike game, Fame, does not provide any answers for these questions. An adventurer you are and thats it. A manual bundled with the game also remains quiet about your reasons to wander around the world and whack monsters risking your life many times in the process. I found this lack of introduction incongruent with Fame’s otherwise well done plot. Anyway, who really needs a reason to hunt monsters?

Continue reading

Passive-aggressive plants on the prowl

Author Jabb
Platform Linux, Windows (must compile)
Version 15th December 2011
Website https://github.com/jabb/BileBio/

BileBio is a tiny arcade game with roguelike feel. It started as a 1DRL and had some development later. Every game stage has but one aim which is the same every time: reach the stairs alive. The problem is caused by massive plants growing at astonishing speeds. If something would happen to grow on you – it means death, although BileBio does not explain exactly how you die.

Plants in BileBio are combined of roots, flowers and vines. Each part can spawn more of its kind. Roots are indestructible and can spawn new root in any place at the board. They can also burst producing four flowers around it and lots of vines. Flowers grow new plant parts in chess knight pattern while vines grow into adjacent squares. The last two forms can only grow up two times before decaying and withering. Roots sometimes also wither but it is uncommon event. An active plant segment is highlited in red (beware!); decaying segments are displayed in brown.

An elusive thing hinted at in readme is the nectar. Presumably it is worth many energy points and score but I have to encounter one yet. Having reached up to level 31 with 51440 points of score none were generated. None in all games I played. It might be exceedingly rare or not placed due to some bug. Whatever the reason I never found any nectar.

The game presents player with nine abilities to learn at varying costs. These are organized into three branches in which to acquire the higher ability one must have earlier one as a prerequisite. At any time up to three different skills can be learned. Some abilities center around wall usage. Hiding inside one is possible and grants safety for a time. Jumping over a single wall is very helpful in mazes and also cheap. Dash can be quite boon before the growth becomes dense or in short windows of opportunity right after some parts decay. Attacking a plant can be guarantee of survival in some cases but in other jumping over it may be preferable. Finally one can spawn a wall to hide in. The remaining skills have almost prohibitive cost of attaining them. You need to expend sixty points of energy before you can use any and still need more to benefit or fuel previously learned tricks. These are: extra lives (50 energy each), repellent lasting ten turns (costs 10 energy) and energy tripling from nectar (free, but find any nectar first!).

Obstacle and stair arrangement is chosen from a set of twelve handmade maps. Some have multiple exits and plenty of walls to use wall hop or wall walk. Others are mostly empty relying on growing plant life to create variety. Over longer playthrough lack of procedurally generated levels or at least more prepared maps is weak side of BileBio.

There are two factors that factor into difficulty. How many roots are spawned when the stage begins and how fast the plants of given stage get active. At early stages the plant life may die out if helped a bit but with progressing stages the green infestation gets to expand faster and faster.

A specific weak point of the game is unreliable numeric keypad handling. Orthogonal directions are read fine but diagonals are not recognized on every computer. Vi keys are provided as an alternative. That and requirement to compile the game from sources relegates BileBio into obscurity.

To sum up BileBio is a fun thing to try but it is not going to hold your attention for long.

Results for Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year 2012

The full list sorted by name is available at the Ascii Dreams. This year there was fierce mobilization among ToME and ADOM players. Ultimately the former won despite ADOM taking lead for a time.

Here is list of all games that broke hundred votes. This number was chosen with premeditation. Like last year the most voted games include some of questionable roguelikeness.

1659 votes   –   Tales of Maj’Eyal

1445 votes   –   ADOM

730 votes   –   ADOM II

687 votes   –   Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup

605 votes   –   Dwarf Fortress

454 votes   –   FTL

442 votes   –   UnReal World

393 votes   –   DoomRL: Doom, the Roguelike

349 votes   –   Brogue

280 votes   –   Dungeons of Dredmor

180 votes   –   Sword of the Stars: The Pit

175 votes   –   Torchlight 2

173 votes   –   Cataclysm

150 votes   –   The Binding of Isaac

138 votes   –   Caves of Qud

135 votes   –   X@COM

133 votes   –   TomeNET

130 votes   –   Sil

Cast your votes: Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year 2012

It is time for another Roguelike of the Year poll hosted by Ascii Dreams. Would be voters need to brave almost three hundred checkboxes! With many indie and commercial developers picking up the roguelike formula for their creations the number is likely to go even higher in future.

The assortment of games varies greatly in roguelikeness. Some clearly belong under the label. Many embrace the nature but are willing to move away from the genre core. Quite a few stray so much they are really roguelike-likes at best. Even further on the scale is a peculiar group of games. These have so few things common with roguelikes that calling them such has no merit. However, which titles fall into the last category will vary from person to person so it is good that Ascii Dreams poll stays very inclusive.

Since the amount of titles to vote for is so great readers may find themselves not recognizing the majority of them. This is caused mainly by the sheer numbers of games. Add to this the commercial titles which can be truly appreciated only by those who purchased them. Mix in games available exclusively for mobile devices and the result might be irregular vote spread. Is this going to visibly affect the results? Soon, we shall see.

The 2012 7DRL Challenge Evaluation Results

7DRL Challenge 2012This year brought sixty-three completed 7DRLs. The number seems overwhelming at first but to play them all one merely needs to try 1,21153846153846153846153 games a week for the next year. Not all are willing to show such dedication. For those, a team of evaluators was assembled to give all the roguelikes a once-over. Their work is now complete. The committee proudly presents you the results. http://www.roguetemple.com/7drl/2012/ However, if you dive deeper into assigned scores you will find even they disagree on what exactly is most worth playing. For example second place is occupied by no less than five titles.

Each 7DRLs was judged under six categories. Score for each rank is either 1, 2 or 3 where higher is better. Getting a 2 is a adequate achievement in first five categories. The last criterion is called roguelikeness. Here 3 means roguelike, 2 is for games only partially fitting the genre and 1 for the rest. Note reviewers used their personal opinion on what constitutes a roguelike. Thorough explanation of the categories can be found under results table.

The Honorable Members of the Committee

  • @ Todd Page, Robo-ambassador
  • @ Michał Bieliński
  • @ Risto, Mysterious Northern Coder
  • @ Michael Curran, Knight Burzmali
  • @ Z, The Hydra Slayer
  • @ Jice, Marquis of Doryen
  • @ Slash, Priest of the Temple of Roguelike
  • @ Jeff Lait, Serf in Zincland
  • @ Darren Grey, Scholar of the roguelike world
  • @ Joshua Day
  • @ Ido Yehieli, Lord of Tametick
  • @ Joseph Hewitt, Ataraxia Overlord
  • @ Oddmunds, Knight of Tametick

Interview with Brasilian pixel artist Cecilia Favo de Mel

Roguelike games’ developers often concentrate on the gameplay, depth and innovative mechanics leaving something to be desired in visual aspects. This is not to say user interfaces are not improving. They are, but even quite advanced games usually do not receive tile graphics. Sometimes author can do the art himself well enough. Another possibility is to get someone else to do the hard work.

With the recent update 1.6.1, Mario Donick’s roguelike RPG “LambdaRogue” also received a new graphical tileset, which improves overall experience especially for those players who don’t stick with puristic ASCII mode. In this interview, Cecilia talks about her work.

Mario Donick: First of all, can you tell our readers some basic things about yourself, like your name, age, living place, occupation?

Cecilia Favo de Mel: Hi Mario and thanks, well, name, Cecilia Souza Santos. I am 30 years old, live in São Paulo – Brasil. My occupation is pixelartist – really, that is my full time job, though I have no fixed contract so always freelancing on small contracts.

M: Have you always been an artistic person?

C: Well yes, when I was a kid I loved to draw cars since I always loved machines, and tending to fictional machines made me draw even more until I tried organic stuff and then got my first computer with Paint on it… XD

M: When did you start creating graphics for video games?

C: Well you could say around 2000 for my own projects on rpgmaker, but by then I was into pixelart for about 10 years already, just with no application before. But professionally, or rather, for other games, around 2007.

M: RPGmaker? Do you still use this tool, or are there any games done by you available?

C: Yes I do, I use RPGMaker VX, however due to lack of time I shifted my focus to a webcomic project – still related to my game ideas and made in the exact same graphical style, once I learn how to set the blog out for webcomics it will start off and hopefully help me have more time for the game. My setting for both games and webcomic is the kingdom of Star-La the the series is Star Light Romance, got a file about the setting if you want to check :D

M: On what game projects did you work before?

C: A lot, seriously, as I said I live off from small contracts and many times games I worked on get released and I get no notice from client, like Swords and Potions (though Mat is still a nice client and always comes back to me when he needs updates). So here are some titles:

- Swords and Potions
– TinyTown
– Rogue Runner
– Combats Commander
– Dark Souls 1 and 2
– Beyond Beyaan – not released yet

M: Did you know about roguelikes or the roguelike scene before you worked on the LambdaRogue tiles?

C: Yes I did, mostly because of Gearhead, a mech based roguelike game which, funny enough, my dad linked me to. He knows I am insane about mechs and sci fi and god knows how he stumbled across the link to the game. I downloaded and got a feel for roguelike games, but still didn’t play too much back then neither searched for others.

M: What is your usual process when you work on a tile? Do you draw sketches before, or to you start digitally right away? Please explain a little bit about your work.

C: Well I’d say I first sketch everything on my mind, since I have a very clear imagination I can basically see (almost touch :P) what I imagine so yeah. Once I have the design in mind I imagine how it will be in pixelart and start out pixelating on ms paint. First basic outlines, then basic color separation, then shading and antialising as needed. The rest is photoshop and the only tiring part – cutting every tile into a separate png – but just because it is simple yet done a lot :)

M: Most roguelikes have square tiles, with same width and height. LambdaRogue, in contrast, has 20×40 tiles. Was it difficult to work with this small and irregular size?

C: Yes and no – I am used to console style rpg setup where only terrain tiles are square while character tiles or some object tiles are rectangular, so for those it didn’t affect me in anything. In fact only thing that affected me is having all terrain tiles tileable vertically as well as horizontally, because of the details I wanted to add, but in terms of effort, all fine.

M: Did you play LambdaRogue before creating the tiles, or were you able to work without playing first?

C: I did start a game just to read more on the game, know what was going on and how the tiles and characters previously looked together.

M: The tiles you created include both fantasy and sci-fi elements. What’s the idea behind this?

C: Well my favourite setting is Sci-fi;fantasy, I love the idea of having magic, swords, knights alongside robots, starships, pistols to the point most of my favourite games, anime and movies follow that including my own game projects. So when I read LambdaRogue intro and it mentioned that civilization was destroyed, but some technology was not lost my idea was a world similar to Phantasy Star IV where there was tech, but humanity was living very poorly to the point that this tech was lost and little development was made since surviving was priority. Magic I supposed was developed before, along with technology and most of the teachings could still be passed down from masters so easier to keep than gadgets. 

M: The old Phantasy Star games were really great, indeed. Phantasy Star 1 was the first RPG I ever played, and I still think of it very often when I think about RPG design. Even with its simple methods and nearly no dialogue or story, PS 1 was able to create the feeling of a huge world, or even star system — I never forget when I first entered the space ship and went to that desert planet, and later on the ice planet. It also had huge dungeons, even in 3D graphics.
Anyway — are there any current RPGs which you like to play and where you can find a mixture of Sci-fi and fantasy?

C: Well most current rpgs, both console or PC and Japanese or American don’t appeal to me that much, too much going on in graphics and such, but not so much in depth, though Mass Effect was looking interesting, but I need a new video card to play it properly.
My top sci-fi-fantasy rpgs are:

- Phantasy Star IV
– Final Fantasy VI
– Chrono Trigger
– Xenogears
– Grandia
– Wild Arms
– Cyber Knight 2
– Septerra Core

M: Which tiles were most difficult — dungeon tiles, items, or creatures (such as player, monsters, NPCs)?

C: Both items and humanoid monsters, mostly because in my own setting you either face humans or animal like monsters, no zombies or medusas etc. But both were challenging in a fun way, just outside my comfort zone which is nice to shape up.

M: And what was most fun?

C: Ooh the human characters, both player, npcs and enemies, specially the enemy guards, Benito Leone, female archer, mage, soldier, the badass looking weapon seller and the waitress XD

M: You also created new effect icons for spells and items, new character portraits, and some general UI elements. This is not game graphics itself, but part of the user interface. Did you work on interfaces for other games or software before?

C: Yes, mostly for Beyond Beyaan and lately for Combats Commander.

M: How did you ensure that users will be able to recognize the meaning of the icons?

C: Google XD And a bit of experience, I mean even as a player I look at games with the eyes of a professional in graphics department, so I use what is most common in games of the genre with some peculiar design tweaks. When it is something too new… I google and check out the first images related to that word or concept.

M: Will LambdaRogue players see more of your work in the future, in other areas of the game?

C: As long as you want my services, I am here! You are a nice client and I truly like the setting of the game and want to play it on next release. So yes!

M: How can interested developers contact you? Do you have a website?

http://clest.deviantart.com – my DA gallery, lacks updating

http://www.pixeljoint.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=10246 my pixeljoint portfolio topic, updated and running

But mostly, best assured way to catch me: (cecifavodemel AT gmail.com) – my e mail.

Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year 2011 winners!

Voting for best roguelike games at Ascii Dreams has finished today. This time almost three thousand people have voted! Undisputed winner is:

Tales of Maj'Eyal logo

Tales of Maj’Eyal

Following are the 20 first games (note we have two ties):

1. ToME 4 with 702 votes

2. Dungeons of Dredmor with 612 votes

3. Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup with 486 votes

4. JADE with 431 votes

5. Desktop Dungeons with 391 votes

6. Dwarf Fortress with 373 votes

7. Brogue with 240 votes

8. The Binding of Isaac with 199 votes

9. DoomRL: Doom, the Roguelike with 178 votes

10. Cataclysm with 170 votes

11. Legends of Yore with 94 votes

12. X@COM with 90 votes

13. Caves of Qud with 87 votes

14. UnReal World with 79 votes

15. Angband with 68 votes

15. Cardinal Quest with 68 votes

17. POWDER with 66 votes

18. Infra Arcana with 62 votes

19. Prospector RL with 49 votes

19. Rogue Survivor with 49 votes