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April 17, 2011 7:36 AM   Subscribe

How Rogue Ended Up On The Sofa - a look at the descendants of the classic game, including MeFi's own 100 Rogues.
posted by Artw (52 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
100 Rogues is a good time, indeed. I'm glad Armitage mentioned Desktop Dungeons as well; that really is probably the best modern twist on the genre I've seen, and I'd love to see more people try and tackle these sort of condensed approaches to roguelikes.
posted by cortex at 8:28 AM on April 17, 2011


Torchlight was super fun for the first few tilesets, then it became a grind, then I gave up after realizing the game wasn't getting any more interesting. At first I thought I liked it better than Diablo, but Diablo (at least the second one) kept you going till the end.
posted by nasreddin at 8:30 AM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also worth mentioning: Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Torchlight has a permadeath mode. I've been thinking about trying that. Getting 10 hours into the game and knowing that the next dungeon level you explore could end it all is the kind of high-risk high-reward gaming I've been craving ever since I finished Demon's Souls (which didn't have permadeath, but had serious enough consequences to make you care.)
posted by naju at 9:06 AM on April 17, 2011


Whoever gave me the link to Desktop Dungeons - you are directly responsible for a dropped novella, you monster.


(clickclicklclickclickclick)
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup is probably my favorite recent roguelike (though I've been neglecting it, and 100 Rogues)... as for condensed roguelikes, Brogue is pretty good too.
posted by furiousthought at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


No love for Angband? It's still under active development, and just recently released a major new update. And don't forget NPPAngband, also actively being developed.

What's that? You also want an all-new, high-quality SoundPack for Angband/NPPAngband?

Take that, Minecraft!
posted by Aquaman at 9:14 AM on April 17, 2011


I like 100 Rogues because it's a hard game but not a sadistic game. My main problem with rogue-likes generally is obviously the arbitrary sadism. You can do everything correctly and still fail. That would be cool if it was a Cormac McCarthy novel but it's not very fun for a game. The other thing that I don't like is that while there is a lot of complexity to some rogues, most of it applies to creating edge cases. Things that you can ignore until you can't. The actual choices and options for the player are seldom that complex and the player seldom has enough information to make an educated guess.

I think that's why I like the first person party based dungeon crawlers like Etrian Odyssey better than roguelikes. Having multiple party members with their own skill tree's gives you plenty of choices to make that influence the game. The games are difficult but cause and effect relationships are logical if complex.
posted by I Foody at 9:36 AM on April 17, 2011


This essay is a really nice reminiscence on an important history of games. Diablo was explicitly modelled after Roguelikes and is brilliant for it, but unfortunately every successor game has removed more and more of the complex intricacies of the original to focus more on the loot/reward cycle. Indie games like Desktop Dungeons and 100 Rogues are welcome because they are something of a return to complexity of the interaction of game mechanics.

Reading this had me dig up my old rec.games.hack posts from my misspent college years, including this stupid death where I had enough enchants to be unkillable and then killed myself by eating too much.
posted by Nelson at 9:44 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My main problem with rogue-likes generally is obviously the arbitrary sadism. You can do everything correctly and still fail.

This is not true of the best roguelikes. One particularly adept player, for example, has beaten Dungeon Crawl fifteen times in a row. If you think you're doing everything correctly, and you're consistently failing, there's likely something you're overlooking.
posted by IjonTichy at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guys, guys, I just learned there's a Free Nethack HD for iPad!
posted by Nelson at 10:03 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crawl: Stone Soup is a genuinely excellent game. At the moment, I think it's my favorite game. It does a lot of things that make other roguelikes seem aggravating rather than challenging, not least of which is reducing grind as much as possible. This is a stated goal of the development team, and they follow through by eliminating classes(!) and races(!) and entire mechanics(!!) that encourage grinding. This is a big difference from some older Roguelikes, such as Diablo and Angband.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


One particularly adept player, for example, has beaten Dungeon Crawl fifteen times in a row.

hyperbolic's longest winning streak is actually 20, all with different race/class combinations; in the end, I think he just ran out of good combos. Had he been using only a single easy combo (like kobold berserker), he could probably have kept it up forever.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:33 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting to see someone streak wins with Felids.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:35 AM on April 17, 2011


Guys, guys, I just learned there's a Free Nethack HD for iPad!

Oh no. I am in grad school, people...
posted by shothotbot at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2011


Hey hey! Lead designer of 100 Rogues here! Nice post; thanks for the comments! Also appreciate the use of the 100 Rogues theme song lyric (still need to release a version of that song with lyrics).

Also, worth noting, is that we're doing a new game called "Auro" which also will be somewhat of a roguelike (although much more of its own thing than 100 Rogues). Our site is www.dinofarmgames.com for more info.
posted by keithburgun at 11:59 AM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I came into this piece expecting to hate it, but found that it's pretty much on the money in all regards. (It didn't hurt that he quoted from my WIP Roguelike encyclopedia, heh.)

The loot/reward cycle that most commercial games that try to be roguelikes resorts to, in my eyes, comes from treating gameplay as if it were a Skinner box. I've seen articles from some developers who claim that, every time a player finds some treasure, it releases a burst of endorphins in his brain, which in turn drives obsessive play.

I've think that we've seen enough tales of gaming (especially MMORPG) addiction that there might be some truth to this, but it doesn't make the game interesting; it's just empty thrills. And as the player begins to realize what's going on the effect becomes less and less.
posted by JHarris at 12:10 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, worth noting, is that we're doing a new game called "Auro" which also will be somewhat of a roguelike (although much more of its own thing than 100 Rogues).

Oooooh. Is that a hex?
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on April 17, 2011


I hate how Ragnarok never gets mentioned EVER when people talk about roguelikes. Do yourself a favor and play it! (You'll need dosbox!) (Also there was a remake!??!?
posted by d1rge at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Self-link to Rogue, a java applet version that's about 13 years old. Also there is a hexagonal version of Rogue that is playable but frustrating because the monster strengths, taken from Rogue, are somewhat out-of-whack.
posted by hexatron at 1:02 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, nevermind that link to the remake of Ragnarok, it's extremely teribad. Instead get the original here.
posted by d1rge at 1:06 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hexatron Rogue is now 13 years old? Unreal.
posted by JHarris at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2011


Oh no. I am in grad school, people...

Word. Once again, Metafilter has failed to save me from myself. I especially didn't need to know about Desktop Dungeons.

(clickclicklclickclickclick, indeed)
posted by a small part of the world at 1:51 PM on April 17, 2011


setenv ROGUE_FRUIT "Amulet of Yendor"
posted by erniepan at 1:54 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM) was always one of my favorite roguelikes. I liked that it had an interesting story and an indepth game world. It's a shame development stalled, but that's what comes of it being one person's baby. There was actually a reddit thread discussing this with the creator of ADOM, Thomas Biskup, recently, and he responded a little more to proponents of his releasing the source on his blog. If you've never checked out ADOM, and you like roguelikes, you're really missing out. It's a great addition to the genre.
posted by lriG rorriM at 2:06 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oooooh. Is that a hex?

Yes - "Auro" will be hex-based, and that's only one of the very dramatic changes to the genre.
posted by keithburgun at 2:56 PM on April 17, 2011


/dusts off Wilderness Survival Guide.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on April 17, 2011


100 Rogues is MeFi's own? It's a gorgeous little game, but I always seem to have issues with the controls.
I love Roguelikes in theory but I can never seem to get hooked on them - even the console ones like Shiren the Wanderer.
Still, reading about is so much fun that I try pretty frequently.
What's the best one for the iPhone?
Is the XBox Torchlight port any good?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:30 PM on April 17, 2011


He missed Spelunky, which is different in presentation, but the same in spirit. Also missing is Baroque (game play vid here), for the PS2, which drops the step-timed mechanic in favor of real-time 3D, but keeps most roguelike mechanics.
posted by codacorolla at 7:27 PM on April 17, 2011


For that matter, there's also Chocobo's Dungeon, which is an adorable little roguelike dungeon crawler for the wii, set in the Final Fantasy-ish universe.

This thread is becoming a list of awesome games. I like this.
posted by lriG rorriM at 7:31 PM on April 17, 2011


Gah, I hated Chocobo's Dungeon for Wii. A lot of console roguelikes are just as full of grind than your standard MMORPG. Super Famicom Shiren gets mentioned so often because it's still the game to beat in terms of console roguelike fun. Most of the game's own sequels lack in comparison.

I've yet to play 100 Rogues (can't exactly afford an iThing), but everything I hear about it signifies that it's very well done. (Of course, some of those things come directly from the designer, heh.)

Spelunky is wonderful; I might have to figure out a way to get an Xbox 360 just to play the Live Arcade version when it's released.

hyperbolic's longest winning streak is actually 20, all with different race/class combinations

Hmm, I think someone should write a column examining each of those combos. Yes, "someone"....
posted by JHarris at 8:07 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rad, I had no idea 100 Rogues was by a MeFite! I've loved that game since it first came out. Nice work!
posted by freebird at 8:32 PM on April 17, 2011


And I don't think Roguelikes should be frightening. At their heart, for me, Roguelikes are casual games.

They are not games to be played casually; that dungeon will eat you alive if you don't treat it with the respect it deserves. But: they are games that can be played as a casual part of life. A short session here, resulting in failure, might also result in better understanding of the effects of a particular potion. A quick burst before saving the game, to pick it up later, might solve another of Nethack's Sokoban levels. And, out of short, flawed, ten-or-fifteen minutes runs - before being booted to the command prompt again - comes the years-long journey to the surface.


THIS IS PERFECT.
It explains something that I've been mulling over for ages. I grew up with games, but I barely have any time to play them. It's much more satisfying to get through an hour's worth of difficult gaming than 12 hours of flabby bloat. If I spend an hour beating one tricky enemy in Bayonetta or a hard platforming bit in N+ than I have DONE SOMETHING. I am a GAMER. And if I fail, I've learned something.

This might be why Roguelikes work on phones.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:42 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


See also Mefi's own John Harris' column @play at gamesetwatch. A column all about roguelikes.
posted by symbioid at 8:42 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also Mefi's own John Harris' column @play at gamesetwatch.

Ahem. (points to username)
posted by JHarris at 9:04 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hmm, I think someone should write a column examining each of those combos. Yes, "someone"....

Do it. You know you want to.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:17 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really want to talk about Torchlight more than I have, but it fills a Rogue-shaped hole for me. It's a logical successor to Diablo; more relaxed, more endearing, gentler on the player

Relaxed? Gentle on the player? No true roguelike could be these things.

and yet with enough room for advanced players to push themselves.

Not "push". The word should be "punish".

IjonTichy: One particularly adept player, for example, has beaten Dungeon Crawl fifteen times in a row.

I wrote the game that DC Stone Soup is based on and I only ever finished it three times, one of them on a grossly unbalanced debug build that never got released. I find the idea of finishing it twice in a row incomprehensible. Fifteen is just insanity.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:28 AM on April 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


naju: Torchlight has a permadeath mode.

Indeed. Rest in peace Ed, Jed, Ned, Ted, Red, Zed, Fred, and the rest. You are missed.
posted by moonbiter at 5:19 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The best thing about rogue-like games is that most people don't recognize them as a game when I play them at work. Also I've been playing them for what, 20 years now?
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:57 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wrote the game that DC Stone Soup is based on

You have stolen hundreds of hours of my life. Thanks!
posted by IjonTichy at 8:24 AM on April 18, 2011


I wrote the game that DC Stone Soup is based on

!!!

Linley Henzell?! Wow, that's like having a roguelike celebrity in our midst, welcome sir! Although you have to admit, the Stone Soup guys (David Ploog and company) have mutated the game rather far by now.

I can't imagine their having found twenty different good game-winning combos either. It seems to me that a lot of the game is picking a good race/class mixture, but you have to have comprehensive knowledge of the game's systems to do it. I don't really have that knowledge myself, which makes it a bit difficult to write about.
posted by JHarris at 9:42 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


To think of ADOM is to think of the opportunites lost. ADOM was a great game when it was being developed, but the author caught the nothion that it was highly valuable as a text game. Even in 2001, this was demonstrably false. Numerous attempts had been made to comercialize text games in the .com boom days (shareware options, full-time companies, deals for sponsored games) without any significant commercial sucess. There were many, many great IF games being produced at that time, but no commercial sucesses.

Diablo II was making tons of money but somehow the fact that it had a polished, attractive interface didn't seem to penetrate with Biskup. He continued to maintain that charging for ADOM would be possible, and thus hung on to the source. As the games was also strongly story driven, he didn't want people scanning the source code for spoilers, and I beleive, even disliked the fact that people wrote walkthoughs for the game. So, for a bunch of reasons, the source was never released.

Seeing what's happened with DCSS is amazing. It's a shame ADOM never got the chance to evolve in the same way, or even get maintenance updates. There are still some significant bugs in the version on the ADOM website ten years on.
posted by bonehead at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


ADOM is weird. I have to admit that keeping the source closed has had something of a positive effect on it, in that the game has deep mysteries that kept the community guessing for years, concerning the availability of ultra endings.

Nearly all expert roguelike players, myself included, end up becoming heavily spoiled along the way. For games like Nethack and ADOM it seems unthinkable that a player could learn everything he needs to know to win just through playing. Nethack at least has some mechanisms by which a player, over years, could gain all the requisite lore by himself. ADOM seems to rely on spoilers a little more, and the ultra endings included to give the community something to puzzle through together.

Now however, ADOM could probably be best served by going open source. I think Biskup might have lost the source code though.
posted by JHarris at 9:57 AM on April 18, 2011


Biskup claims on his blog that ADOM is still in active development, #2 after his ADOM Live iOs port. Thus he still can't release the source because of the commercial possibilities. So it goes.
posted by bonehead at 10:05 AM on April 18, 2011


I can't imagine their having found twenty different good game-winning combos either. It seems to me that a lot of the game is picking a good race/class mixture, but you have to have comprehensive knowledge of the game's systems to do it.

From what I've observed, picking a good combo doesn't really matter that much; no character will ever be perfect, as you'll always be missing a few pips of important resistances or whatever, so you always have to focus on working around your weaknesses, rather than just relying on your strengths (for example, as a spellcasting elf, you'll need to pour some xp into fighting skill - at a massive penalty - to increase your maximum health, rather than just dumping it all into different casting skills, as otherwise, you'll be toast before too long). The combo you choose only determines where you start from and its main purpose is to keep you from dying early on; it doesn't have to be game-winning for you to win, it has to be not-game-losing. The main difference, I think, between a good player and an ordinary one (like me) is that for a good player, fewer combos are instantly game-losing. If you look at hyperbolic's 20-win streak, for instance, he's often developed the character he chose in a completely different direction from what the combo would suggest (a SEAs has turned into a whip-wielding necromancer with just a few levels in stabbing and so on).
posted by daniel_charms at 1:11 PM on April 18, 2011


I love that his 20-win streak was ended by a kobold wielding a +0, +0 club.
posted by IjonTichy at 2:25 PM on April 18, 2011


I can't imagine their having found twenty different good game-winning combos either. It seems to me that a lot of the game is picking a good race/class mixture, but you have to have comprehensive knowledge of the game's systems to do it. I don't really have that knowledge myself, which makes it a bit difficult to write about.

You should interview hyperbolic to help with that lack of knowledge. He could make his observations, you could question his analysis of playing a certain race/class, he could dispute your take, etc.

Also, is Dungeon Crawl, if not Stone Soup, now a little bit "Mefi's Own"? And Linley Henzell too?
posted by Gnatcho at 5:08 PM on April 18, 2011


Now I want Cormac McCarthy to write Nethack: A Novel.

"The meat was tainted. I should have preserved it a long time ago. Before I dropped the tinning kit to pick up yet another ring. I was stupid. We’ve been over all of this. I didn't bring myself to this. I was brought. And now I’m done."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:38 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also worth mentioning: Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures.

nonononononononoihavetofinishthisreport
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:40 PM on April 18, 2011


you have to admit, the Stone Soup guys (David Ploog and company) have mutated the game rather far by now.

Absolutely - they've done a fantastic job and I'm very grateful to them for keeping Crawl alive. This was what I was hoping would happen when I made it open-source and although it was just hanging on for a few years (pre-Stone Soup) the new devteam has done great things with it. Especially considering the horrific state I left the code in.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:48 AM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Have you guys tried Forget-Me-Not? I thought I wouldn't actually enjoy it because I don't get much out of Pac-Man/Bubble Bobble/Centipede-type stuff anymore, but it seems that combined and rogued up with randomly generated levels, it's mesmerizing.

The subtly awesome visual and sound design helps, of course.
posted by ignignokt at 9:18 AM on April 19, 2011


you have to admit, the Stone Soup guys (David Ploog and company) have mutated the game rather far by now

DC Stone Soup is in really active development. Every time I install a new dev build I discover all kinds of new features and areas, it's really superb. And the IRC channel is also very active; elliptic (of the 20-win-streak) is often online, as are other top players.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:09 AM on April 19, 2011


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