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A Roguelike Primer
March 10, 2013 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Best In Genre for Neophytes and Veterans Alike
posted by Artw (81 comments total) 103 users marked this as a favorite

 
That isn't the nethack I know! You kids....

(This is wonderful)
posted by poe at 8:02 AM on March 10, 2013


It’s widely regarded that Nethack has been overtaken by more contemporary designs ...
Flagged as heresy.
posted by brokkr at 8:10 AM on March 10, 2013 [27 favorites]


I've been trying to re-play Torchlight II but knowing you're following a narrative + playing the HUGE areas + my insistence of exploring every inch of the maps + hording every piece of loot, makes it an utterly exhausting experience. Something tells me that a roguelike is all of this x 100, but maybe I'm wrong?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:13 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


ASCII nethack, please. Straight, no chaser.
posted by ariel_caliban at 8:18 AM on March 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Very cool article, thanks.

The writer has chosen to be PC-centric, though there are several console games that come to mind when I think of Roguelikes.

I'd also like to toss out an honorable mention in the "genre-bending" category I've been having great fun with lately, Transcendence.
posted by Room 101 at 8:19 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


On phones I'm rather fond of 100 Rogues.
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on March 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Identified as relevant to my interests.
posted by ersatz at 8:39 AM on March 10, 2013


This is very good, but they forgot Transcendence, one of the most exciting roguelikes. Arcade space combat, cool storyline, awesome depth....
posted by blahblahblah at 8:48 AM on March 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


It’s widely regarded that Nethack has been overtaken by more contemporary designs ...

Flagged as heresy.


So, I guess I can ask here -- at what point do we collectively give up on the Devteam ever releasing a new Nethack? It's been more than nine years since 3.4.3.
posted by Etrigan at 8:50 AM on March 10, 2013


I'm glad to see that Ragnarok (a more detailed review, a wiki?!) is still available. I wish I could find source code for it though.

I can't wait to try DoomRL. That looks awesome.

Some of you may be interested to know that Jeff McCord has been continuing to work on Sword of Fargoal. You can get it for your phone. Pretty slick.

I adapted Wizard's Castle in Common Lisp which may be good news, if you like Common Lisp and that old game. Currently just plays in the REPL, which is excellent for hacking it.
posted by wobh at 8:50 AM on March 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I got strangely addicted to Unreal World about a month ago - right before it went freeware - even though it can seem like WoodChopping Sim 1000. I think my early successes (surviving being captured and then killing a bear with a hand-knife) made me feel awesomely badass. Between that and Dwarf Fortress it's kind of funny - much easier to handle one person in the woods than 100 dwarves that seem programmed to make the most perfectly wrong decisions.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:59 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


they forgot angband

they always forget angband
posted by rap and country at 9:01 AM on March 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


I have been playing Cataclysm: DDA for all of a day and I have fallen deeply, powerfully in hateful loving lovehate with it. It's a terrible murdering bastard of a game, and every time I feel like things are going unusually well I end up dead pretty quickly, whether mobbed by zombies, eaten by wolves, bleeding out after accidentally shooting a bear at point blank range with a grenade launcher, or starving and eventually suiciding in a cave I fell into that has no apparent exits.
posted by cortex at 9:03 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, I guess I can ask here -- at what point do we collectively give up on the Devteam ever releasing a new Nethack? It's been more than nine years since 3.4.3.
Well, it's open source, so that doesn't matter. Try some variants if you're bored with 3.4.3.
posted by floatboth at 9:05 AM on March 10, 2013


Etrigan: "at what point do we collectively give up on the Devteam ever releasing a new Nethack? It's been more than nine years since 3.4.3."
Why do you need a new Nethack? Flagged as heresy.

(The Bravemule DF AAR linked from the article is fantastic, by the way. "Hyte told us that elf steeds pester our donkey and to beware their schemes. I do not feel she has authority to make us beware.")
posted by brokkr at 9:13 AM on March 10, 2013


I HAD THINGS TO DO ARTW
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on March 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Playing Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup convinced me that NetHack and Angband are both terrible. Optimal strategies, respectively, are to read every spoiler everywhere and to scum like a maniac. Flag this as heresy if you want. I worship Xom.
posted by valrus at 9:19 AM on March 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Excellent article, makes me feel both smug "I've played that, and that, and I won those two" and informed "ooh, I've never heard of UWR. I wonder if it's any good?" And it's great to see how it's inspired some religious debate here. is Trasncendence actually fun? I played it when it was first released in 2010 or so and didn't enjoy it much, but maybe I wasn't patient enough.

Any suggestions for iOS roguelikes? 100 Rogues has been mentioned (MeFi's own), Dungelot is also fun for being quick and casual. iPhones seem the perfect platform for roguelikes, I'm surprised there aren't more big successes.
posted by Nelson at 9:29 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


After decades of death, failure and humiliation I thought I had finally escaped Nethack's siren song when I migrated to a Chromebook, BUT NO!
posted by jim in austin at 9:31 AM on March 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I played too much (much, much too much) Moria as a kid, and I blame my pathetic results at university to the discovery of Angband.

Okay, the Uni stuff is entirely my fault, but still an addictive game. Thanks for the post, but I'm not touching any of those links with a barge pole.
posted by YAMWAK at 9:39 AM on March 10, 2013


Foci for Analysis: "Something tells me that a roguelike is all of this x 100, but maybe I'm wrong?"

Depends on the roguelike. Diving deep quickly (so long as you can acquire the necessary resistances) is a perfectly good strategy for certain parts of Angband for instance.
posted by pharm at 9:41 AM on March 10, 2013


Nelson: iPhone is too small for real hardcore roguelikes (there's iNetHack and Slash'EM though)

iPad is the thing. I played NetHack on nethack.alt.org via RogueTerm (and Colloquy for IRC) on my iPad and it was pretty cool.
posted by floatboth at 9:42 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


An entire terminal emulator just for roguelikes in my pocket. That's some weird combination of awesome and hideous all together :-P

I disagree the iPhone is too small for a hardcore roguelike. Sure you have to get away from the 50 keyboard shortcuts and whole-level screen display, but that's just UI. The thing that's nice about iPhone games is the way you can play them for a few minutes at a time and put them away. Maybe that's not good for a hardcore roguelike though, not sure. Back when I used to play NetHack I played best by binging for a few hours until I got so tired that I was about to make some stupid mistake like eat a dragon corpse while already satiated.
posted by Nelson at 9:46 AM on March 10, 2013


After playing too much DCSS, I could never go back to a roguelike that lacks the auto-explore feature. So much less tedium. And what's with all these new-fangled games that require clicking the mouse everywhere? Get off my lawn.

That isn't the nethack I know! You kids....

That Nethack screenshot is from Falcon's Eye Nethack, which looks pretty but is sort of unplayable.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:17 AM on March 10, 2013


The Eschalon games aren't pure RL but they are turn based and have some randomly generated content and they are quite fun.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:34 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


After playing too much DCSS, I could never go back to a roguelike that lacks the auto-explore feature.

Word. And Tome4 has autoexplore. I think I'd been playing DCSS for about 6 years (back before it was even DCSS) before tome4 finally dethroned it as my go to roguelike. Tome4 also got me to enjoy tiles and graphics! It feels so dirty and so good...
posted by Alex404 at 10:46 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beautiful article. From the start, it was "Intro Roguelikes. I'd put Brogue, DoomRL, and Dungeons of Dredmor there." And then it'd be right there. And so on. Excellently set up. This is my new "Here. You want to know about roguelikes. Go with this." article.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:13 AM on March 10, 2013


Etrigan: "So, I guess I can ask here -- at what point do we collectively give up on the Devteam ever releasing a new Nethack? It's been more than nine years since 3.4.3."


The Devteam are like the J. D. Salinger of game developers. Have they ever given a statement about whether any of them are still involved in developing the game?
posted by octothorpe at 11:14 AM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I too was quite surprised to see the omission of Transcendence. It's amazing. If you're a fan of roguealikes at all, you owe it to yourself to try this one out.

I'm also amazed and very happy that ADOM development has restarted after a decade of being in deep freeze. Time to see if the Red Rooster is still there...
posted by bonehead at 11:24 AM on March 10, 2013


If you want that isometric Nethack interface, you should probably get Vulture, formerly Vulture's Eye...more formerly Falcon's Eye under a different developer.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:35 AM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I, by the way, found Vulture pretty playable as Nethacks go, though you'd do well to set walls to half-height and use full screen on an enormous monitor, seriously.

If you like its quasi-3D kind you might enjoy Noegnud from the same dev. It's more customizable, and incidentally harder to get working very well.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:44 AM on March 10, 2013


A-ha! Norse World: "Remake of classical roguelike game Ragnarok (Valhalla)." (Russian homepage I don't know what any of the text says or links do here, use with caution.)
posted by wobh at 12:38 PM on March 10, 2013


I like games. And I often like gaming. I spent hours and days in Fallout 2 and 3 without the slightest regret.

But there are some classes of games that I have never had an interest in playing, entirely because of their reputations. Roguelikes are part of that class of games. LoL and any game that is notorious for an obnoxious online community. Dwarf Fortress. Sports titles.

But some of these roguelikes, especially that Doom game, seem sufficiently... well... luring to get me to overcome my irrational aversion. All right. It's Sunday. I'm going to give a roguelike a try.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 1:01 PM on March 10, 2013


I'm going to give a roguelike a try.

Famous last words...
posted by jim in austin at 1:15 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dwarf Fortress is sort of its own while other thing in terms of complexity, despite sharing some similarity with Roguelikes. There's many games here where you don't have the same steep learning curve.

(Character death early and often is something you may have to learn to live with though.)
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2013


Oh man. Transcendence is done by the same guy that did Anacreon back in the day. Might be time to muck about with this one a bit...
posted by valkyryn at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2013


I think he should have also included Spelunky, an ingenious side-scrolling platformer roguelike. The original PC version is free (including a fan-made Mac port) and there's also a high-res remake with more features for XBox (previously & previouslier).
posted by straight at 1:37 PM on March 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


To say that Nethack is about the meta-information is no understatement. In my final plays of that game I would keep another console open with the source code.

On the other hand, if you've played Nethack then statements that Diablo/Torchlight/Titan Quest are roguelikes make you wish they weren't the shallowest possible version of a roguelike. They are more Gauntlet than Rogue.
posted by saber_taylor at 2:37 PM on March 10, 2013


I love that people just go ahead and identify FTL as having all the important roguelike qualities despite not having some of the more obvious but maybe less important things like a dungeon map.

That said, the above mentioned Dungelot just having a grid threw me and I totally rejected it - maybe I should be more open minded and give it another go.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was a huge Nethack fan (8 ascensions) who can't go back after Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. Nethack deserves its place as the iconic roguelike (more so than rogue does), but it is no longer the best roguelike, even in its niche. DCSS basically does everything that Nethack does, and does it better.

Also, though I'm hardly an ASCII purist (I play DCSS in sprites mode, and I enjoyed Dredmor and FTL tremendously), the isometric version of Nethack really is miserable. The 2d sprites version, however, plays just fine.
posted by 256 at 3:22 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dungelot is a fine way to spend some time; I spent probably 10 or 15 hours on it a couple weeks ago, just playing and playing and playing. I should note though that it doesn't have a lot of meat to it; you're not going to learn a whole lot more about the game after your first dive to dungeon level 100 or so, and there's not as much sense of agency as I'd like or of having significant tactical options. Mostly you just need to think through the ramifications of the perks a given character class has and balance your approach to revealing each floor and using-vs-selling spells accordingly.

But what Dungelot reminds me of in some ways is a very sort of stripped down toylike version of Desktop Dungeons, which is more fully a roguelike in spirit and content though itself pretty wonderfully reductive in scope from one play to the next. The whole dungeon fits on one screen, but literally every move matters because you've only got the resources of that one screen to help you bulk up enough to kill the level 10 boss hanging out somewhere in there. It's a marvelous random RL puzzle factory that is brutal and unpredictable and really, really rewards careful and thoughtful play.
posted by cortex at 3:56 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, if you've played Nethack then statements that Diablo/Torchlight/Titan Quest are roguelikes make you wish they weren't the shallowest possible version of a roguelike.

So here is my game-design-nerd beanplating on what constitutes a "roguelike": A classic "roguelike" has many distinguishing characteristics, and people sometimes grab onto a handful of these in respect to a particular game and say "oh, that's a roguelike".

There are characteristics in presentation and theme: Classic roguelikes are universally turn-based, tile-based (traditionally ASCII, although tile graphics work too), have RPG-style game systems (traditionally stolen from AD&D), and involve exploring a dungeon. I think Dwarf Fortress is commonly confused for a roguelike, although its base dwarf-management mode really is not, because it shares most of these characteristics.

Then there's the (IMO more exciting) higher-level gameplay characteristics, which tend to really spice up any game: Permadeath, randomized levels, randomized items, randomized events, complex item interactions, etc. These are the aspects that a lot of other game designers have (rightfully!) grabbed onto, in games like Toejam & Earl, Transcendence, Spelunky, The Binding of Isaac, FTL, etc. I like to call these "roguelike-likes".

These are some of my favorite games ever (I've always preferred games that combine complexity and depth with action), but I think calling them "roguelikes" only confuses things. I'm hardly a purist, but "roguelike" refers to a very specific kind of game.
posted by neckro23 at 3:59 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm 100% a-okay with the DoomRL graphics, but every other "nice sprites replaing the original ASCII" addon is heresy.


On the other hand, if you've played Nethack then statements that Diablo/Torchlight/Titan Quest are roguelikes make you wish they weren't the shallowest possible version of a roguelike. They are more Gauntlet than Rogue.

You can complaint that they're not really roguelikes, but they're very plainly an evolutionary descendant.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:40 PM on March 10, 2013


I really like the graphics and style of Dungeons of Dredmor, but the healing system is not thought through very well - essentially, if you mash space bar a hundred times, you can rest yourself back to full health, but there's no way to auto-rest. However, if you eat food, you get the option to "digest" which is basically an auto-rest. So it's like: am I willing to mash spacebar to be at full health for the next fight, or should I eat a food to spare myself from mashing spacebar? And then you're really fighting the UI rather than the game itself.

I thought TOME4 was boring when I tried it, but maybe I need to give it another try because of all the positive feedback it's had. I started as a human rogue, ran around a forest fighting and running away from dozens of trolls, and got bored. I think it might be the graphics - I'm not an ASCII grognard by any means but the default Castle of the Winds-y tileset does nothing for me. Something odd about seeing graphical tiles with no animations.

Now Unreal World, I am really going to have to dig into one of these days. ELONA is another roguelike that I want to give another go...I thought it was horribly grindy the one time I tried it, but it's bizarre enough to make me want to play it again.
posted by pravit at 5:18 PM on March 10, 2013


You can complaint that they're not really roguelikes, but they're very plainly an evolutionary descendant.

Yeah. Kind of like Minecraft seems to be an evolutionary descendant of Dwarf Fortress.

At the same time, I think the move from turn-based to real-time might arguably be considered more a difference in kind than a difference in degree. The difference between Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress seems mostly to be one of simplification and giving-a-damn about the interface. Both are basically real-time, both involve mining and constructing fortresses, both have combat interfaces, etc. But the difference between Angband and Diablo seems a lot sharper.
posted by valkyryn at 5:21 PM on March 10, 2013


Red Rogue was was great!

It's a short (6-12h) side-scrolling roguelike with enough complexity to make it tricky without beady-eyed spoiler-scrutinizing. Runs under flash or as a binary for linux/osx/windahs

The way time works was novel; there's either generic live-mode, or you can choose to have the clock running while you're moving, which makes it tense when you slip up, but gives it the same feel of nethack.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:09 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for all the shout-outs to Transcendence! I've been playing it hard all afternoon.

It's like Privateer, only rendered as a real-time quasi-Roguelike. Trade, fight, do missions, upgrade ships, explore. Great little game!
posted by porpoise at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been playing Brogue for a couple of months now and find it just insanely difficult. I've learned a lot of little tricks, each of which slightly increase the percentage likelihood that I'll make it just a little bit further, but I have yet to get further than level 10 - and that was a game where I was just trying to crash down one level after another as fast as I could, without bothering to actually defeat anything or try to survive in any meaningful way. If I'm doing really well at a normal game I make it down to level 6 or 7. Whatever's going on in that game, I don't seem to understand it yet.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The definition of "roguelike" that a developer of Rogue says he goes by is a game that that has the capacity to surprise its creator. Interesting, but there are lots of kinds of surprises.

I like games like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, but I never really get into them like I do Nethack, even though DCSS has a stronger design. To a degree it feels like some of the fun has been designed out of it, that in their zeal to simplify the game by boiling it down to essentials they've taken out some aspects that are actually fun. Like what I'm going to call the Bilbo Factor: the power of a single randomly found item, like a ring of invisibility, to fundamentally change the nature of the game, making it a bit easier, not hugely, but more possible, especially if the player can grasp and take advantage of its implications. Nethack has a good number of items like that; Crawl, I can't think of any off the top of my head, except maybe certain artifacts, and there aren't many properties they have that aren't just amalgamations of those you get from other items anyway.

The thing about the player grasping an item's implications comes down to something that's one of the hardest things any game designer can put into his game, and that is a place for player insight. Some element that exists outside of the obvious rules of the game, something that's never overtly mentioned to the player, but kind of implied by other things, like the graphics or level design or the application of some real-world logic, something that tempts the player to take a moment and try something funny out, but then it works. Like going down a pipe in Super Mario Bros., or bombing open a suspicious rock in The Legend of Zelda. Like standing on a scroll of scare monster, or using a ring of invisibility to mislead monsters to taking the wrong fork down a corridor, or using a wand of slow monster to kill arbitrary opponents by alternating hitting and fleeing.

That's what I enjoy most about roguelikes, about most games actually, and it's disheartening to notice that here it is 2013 and its still the blackest black art of game design.
posted by JHarris at 9:06 PM on March 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, I've been a bit obsessed with Dwarf Fortress for the last couple of months, and I'm starting to realize that it's entirely possible that I'm one of these insane roguelike crazy people and just not know it yet (though I've beaten FTL and The Binding of Isaac, but those aren't really the same, I guess). I think I'm going to give that Tales of Maj'Whatever a try. NetHack seems a little too weird for me, at least right now. Also, the Doom roguelike looks amazing.

By the way, has anyone actually played the original Rogue? How is it?
posted by gkhan at 9:09 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rogue is still excellent, still one of the strongest roguelikes, and still one of the hardest.
posted by JHarris at 9:11 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mars Saxman, Brogue is a lot more strongly inspired by Rogue than other roguelikes, especially in terms of balance. There's a lot of things to figure out in that game. I haven't played it much lately though, and I hear it's had some pretty major changes lately.
posted by JHarris at 9:15 PM on March 10, 2013


Rogue is the only roguelike other than Dredmor that I've beaten.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:08 PM on March 10, 2013


Well, after saying that I just did really well - got to level 10 on seed #10276104. Spear of quietus, yay! I'll keep grinding away at it...
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:52 PM on March 10, 2013


Re: Pope Guilty's pronouncement, I should mention that most of my Rogue experience comes from PC Rogue, which seems to be much harder. I suggest not trying that one. I've had several victories in Rogue Clone IV, which is a pretty direct port of Unix Rogue (available in the Debian package bsdgames-nonfree).

Here, this one, this is what you want to play. Not this one. (Although searching for it just now, it seems the sources are available.)
posted by JHarris at 11:35 PM on March 10, 2013


It's a marvelous random RL puzzle factory that is brutal and unpredictable and really, really rewards careful and thoughtful play.

It is also brilliant. Your skillset is limited compared to full-sized RLs, but it is basically a puzzle with a bit of luck. You weigh your chances before you engage in combat, you choose your opponents and you take calculated risks in your choice of god or direction of exploring. I've played the alpha enough to throw them a few quid when they release the new version.
posted by ersatz at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2013


Ars Technica - Dwarf Fortress: Ten hours with the most inscrutable video game of all time.
posted by schmod at 8:24 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dwarf Fortress is not the most inscrutable video game of all time. In a world that contains LSD: Dream Emulator and Panic? I doubt Dwarf Fortress is even in the top ten, although I've not ranked them.
posted by JHarris at 10:14 AM on March 11, 2013


About the games on this list:

Well, first, to define terms....
"Hacky": Like Hack, hewing to the traditions of Rogue, fundamentally about discovering item uses, monster quirks, building up intrinsics, randomness and learning about the world. Most often send you in search of some item you want to escape with. Game exploits get fixed if they're egregious, but otherwise tend to be left in and even enshrined. I tend to like these.
"Angbandy": Like Angband, hewing to the traditions of Moria, fundamentally about building up a character, building up resistances, combat tactics and risks vs. rewards. Most often send you to kill someone or something deep in the dungeon. Game exploits will be ruthlessly fixed. I tend to be standoffish about these.

Brogue: Very nice, very Hacky.
Dungeons of Dredmor: Funny but not awfully deep, very Angbandy.
Doom: The Roguelike: Interesting in that many of your attacks are missile weapons. Mostly Angbandy.
Tales of Maj'Eyal: I don't like this one much overall, but a good number of others like it. Very Angbandy. (Was originally a branch of Angband in fact, although its codebase doesn't use much, if any, Angband code now.)
Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup: A special case, contains lots of interesting things. Straddles a line between Hack and Angband, although I'd put it slightly on the Angband side. Playing an Orc Priest, BTW, is marvelous fun.
Nethack: I have enjoyed this game a great deal, and have had multiple ascensions. The textbook example of a Hacky game, although was more Hacky in earlier versions. Is of legendary difficulty, but legends aren't always true.
Cataclysm: Haven't played yet. Zombie games leave me cold generally, but if there's a genre of game that most "gets" the play implications of facing off against a horde of stupid opponents for as long as possible, I'd have to say it's roguelikes.
ADOM: A bit on the Hacky side. We (me and friends) played a great deal of this once upon a time. It contains a great many cool ideas, although some of its play systems seem a little half-baked. (If you kill a lot of one kind of monster, successive copies of it will be stronger, so eventually even jackals will be able to punch through your armor and one-hit you.)
IVAN: I haven't played yet. (I'm a bit behind on roguelikes since GameSetWatch and @Play closed up.)
FTL: I own a copy of this but haven't had the chance to play it yet. Actually, I've not played much of anything lately other than 2600 games. It's depressing, let me tell you.
Binding of Issac: Own a copy but haven't played it yet. I mentioned it before but I have problems with its theme and graphics. It's personal, nothing against the game; everything I hear about it sounds great actually.
Teleglitch: I've not heard of this one actually.
Dwarf Fortress: I *have* played a bit of this. Its primary game mode is actually not roguelike, although it does have a roguelike Adventurer mode, which I'd classify as Angbandy.
UnReal World: Surprisingly venerable. It fell off my radar a long time ago but now it's back. Haven't played lately.
Elona: Very Japanese. I've played a little of this, but not enough to say much about it.

Other games to try out (I'm in too much of a hurry right now to build all the links, use Google): The original Shiren the Wanderer (a must play, fan-translated Super Famicom and DS), Legedermain (PC), 100 Rogues (iOS), Infra Arcana (PC), ToeJam & Earl (Genesis). There are plenty of others that I don't have time to sift through my memory and the @Play archives to find right now.
posted by JHarris at 10:42 AM on March 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Teleglitch: I've not heard of this one actually.

Why do I even bother to make posts?
posted by cortex at 11:25 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's unfortunate fact that sometimes I miss posts here. I didn't see this one until very early this morning, for instance.
posted by JHarris at 11:29 AM on March 11, 2013


I kid because I love.
posted by cortex at 11:35 AM on March 11, 2013


I did vaguely consider a "Previously" link to your post history.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on March 11, 2013


Well, after only having had experience with Nethack (briefly, had fun but was ultimately overwhelmed) and Dwarf Fortress (extensively, but only the city-building mode), this thread has inspired me to dive in with a more modern, hopefully-less-opaque roguelike.

I've downloaded DCSS, ToME, and Transcendence, based on the article and comments here. Now for the metagame of trying to decide which to try first.
posted by gilrain at 12:03 PM on March 11, 2013


Those screenshots of Dwarf Fortress and Nethack look AWFULLY PRETTY. And AWFULLY TEMPTING TO DIVE INTO. *eyes this thread warily*
posted by naju at 12:42 PM on March 11, 2013


Transcendence is, by JHarris' scheme above, more Angbandy than Hacky. The game is about skilling up via progressively better equipment buys (there are levels of tech and much to chose form within each level). Classes are ship types: quick, nimble; big guns and armour but slow, etc... The "should I fight" question is always important. It's fairly forgiving though, especially compared to some of the games on the list.

Transcendence is also notable for how mod-friendly it is. Much of the game is written in XML and the author goes out of his way to provide a full api for the game. As a result, some of the mods are really well done.
posted by bonehead at 1:07 PM on March 11, 2013


Holy crap. I knew more and more roguelikes were embracing tiled graphics in place of ASCII, but at least the last I checked in it seemed that had done nothing for the actual UIs. I decided to try ToME first, and wow... it actually even has a UI, and it's actually even pretty good. I'm in shock.

I know it's weak of me, but a good UI like this is going to really make ToME something I can play and enjoy for more than a few obsessive evenings, which was my previous engagement level for roguelikes. It's not the graphics, although those are surprisingly nice, it's how the UI distills the complexity of the game and makes it more readily available to nerd out on.
posted by gilrain at 1:37 PM on March 11, 2013


If you want that isometric Nethack interface, you should probably get Vulture, formerly Vulture's Eye...more formerly Falcon's Eye under a different developer.

Or the sublime Noegnud, which allows you to play in glorious 2.5-D ASCII.
posted by Zed at 2:54 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"It's a UNIX system! I know this!"
posted by Artw at 3:03 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mentioned it before but I have problems with its theme and graphics.

Try playing for half an hour or so. I shared the same concerns, but when I started playing (with graphics at minimum to maximise speed, as it is a Flash game), I slipped into gamer mode* and didn't think about it too much after that.

*Where my character is a sprite occupying certain space rather than a baby, my weapon is a projectile rather than tears and so on.
posted by ersatz at 6:05 PM on March 11, 2013


I really hate The Binding of Isaac. It's way too unforgiving for an action game, and the idea of beating a game over and over to unlock 95% of the content offends the shit out of me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 PM on March 11, 2013


cortex: I know. I was more responding ruefully, because while I reload the front page frequently, I still miss things, somehow.

Pope Guilty: Yeah, that stuff bugs me too, but it works well in Desktop Dungeons where each race/class/dungeon combination is like its own game. (BTW, what's the prognosis looking for you re: the conclave? White smoke soon?)

ersatz: Yeah, I know that, and I don't doubt that I can enter that state. But eventually I'll come out of it, and there I'll be. I'll probably try it soon regardless, it's not just the theme, it's that I've not had time to play much of anything lately, other than 2600 games and reading about Twilight Struggle. (On which, I'll probably be writing a FPP before long, because it is damn keen.)
posted by JHarris at 6:44 PM on March 11, 2013


It's probably more of a roguelike-like but my 13 year old son has really latched onto Delver. He's been playing a free (early) version from the development thread. Gameplay video here.

I'd also like to announce my membership in the Sucks at Brogue club. I haven't played for months, but for after a few weeks of obsessively bashing my head against the dungeon walls it began to dawn on me that my cowardly/cautious method of careful exploration and hoarding of unknown items was in fact not working at all. I'll have to take another whack at it some time.
posted by gamera at 7:00 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone remember Kroz or ZZT? I have no Rogue background but I suspect they don't qualify as rogue-likes per se, though they were inspired by the game that is known as Rogue.

It's interesting how they were respectively created by the founders of Apogee Software (publishers of Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D) and Epic [Megagames] (Jill of the Jungle, One Must Fall, Unreal, Unreal Tournament). I first tried Kroz along with Commander Keen, buying a $5 diskette for each title at the airport. They were 5 1/4 floppies and each contained a single episode of the respective game. Kroz sounded much niftier than it looked and I had to acquire a taste for it before taking it seriously especially after playing Commander Keen.

I wrote a "sandbox" B800:0000 game at one point myself for my own entertainment (a 2D platform game, where I remember having jet packs and gravity and no other details) and it was almost entertaining to play, for me anyway, but I mostly just enjoyed the constantly-adding-new-things-to-do or new-WAV-file-sound-effects-to-play part.
posted by lordaych at 9:16 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


This thread is awesome because without it I would not have known about Cataclysm. It's the Day Z roguelike and it is the bestest thing ever. I can't last a day without getting eaten, but it's crazy fun.
posted by aspo at 9:52 PM on March 11, 2013


Anyone remember Kroz or ZZT?

I got into MegaZeux which was inspired by ZZT, and HOLY HELL, did I fall hard for it. It came with a robust level editor, and I made entire complex action-RPG games with towns, puzzles and boss enemies. I've been meaning to check on whether there's still a thriving community for ZZT/MegaZeux games.
posted by naju at 1:14 PM on March 12, 2013


I am having a lot of frustrating moments in ToME4, now. The latest example is that it sent me into The Maze, just west of the starting town of Derth. The area is supposedly low level, appropriate for my level 9 archer who has run out of lower level areas, and yet on the first floor I encounter a level 27 named vampire.

I reacted correctly, I think: immediately used an escape (Disengage, at the rank that moves me 5 spaces away), and then popped a heal (a Regeneration infusion). After those two first moves, I was already down to half health -- the vampire was now out of sight, but apparently I was still in range of its spells. My escape and healing on cooldown, I could only continue to move away from the threat, but I was dead in two more turns. I could save scum, but if this is what the game thinks is fair, I'm not sure I want to.

Another time, I randomly came across a merchant calling for help while in the overworld of the low level area. I chose the option to help, and was dropped into a dungeon with no exit back to the overworld. The boss in there was a few levels above me and had a lot of minions. Not as bad as above, but it had so many abilities and condition effects that after ten save scumming tries, I concluded my character was a loss (I didn't have a save from before entering the dungeon).

I know roguelikes are unforgiving by design, but sheesh. So, questions: am I playing ToME wrong? Or is this just how ToME is? If so, is there a better (more fair, rather than less difficult) option with similar depth and a good UI?
posted by gilrain at 2:28 PM on March 13, 2013


Incidentally, Transcendence and anything else with real-time combat is out, for me. I play roguelikes for the turn-based strategy aspect. I like to be in a tough situation with a lot of options, but have as much time as necessary to think through my optimal move.

I've played a lot of TBS games, but my only previous roguelike experience (aside from ToME over the last two days) is a short Nethack kick a few years ago (got roughly halfway to ascension on one character, at best), and a lengthy, on-again-off-again relationship with Dwarf Fortress (city building mode) at which I am pretty good (usually abandon fortresses due to boredom or overpopulation rather than difficulty).
posted by gilrain at 2:36 PM on March 13, 2013


"It's a UNIX system! I know this!"

nethack: the world's least forgiving text editor.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:10 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


nethack: the world's least forgiving text editor.

That's why I play in the world's most forgiving text editor! (Really, I do.)
posted by Zed at 6:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someday, god willing, somebody will implement emacs in emacs.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:45 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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