Procedural Death Labyrinth -- the new name for Rougelike-lite-likes?

Browsing the Steam ‘tags’ page I noticed an interesting tag tucked away at the bottom: Procedural Death Labyrinth. I clicked it and upon seeing FTL and Spelunky I instantly knew the genre it implied (and could probably have guessed based purely on the name). For it to be on this ‘tags’ page implies that a lot of people are tagging these games as such, I think? (I have no idea, especially as there’s some other odd ones on there like the incredibly useful “Achievements” tag…).

I’ve long been annoyed by the terms “roguelike-like”, “roguelite” etc. When they first started to be used to describe Binding of Isaac, FTL and so on I was one of those annoying people in the comments saying “This isn’t really a roguelike? Please come up with a new term”. Understandably nobody listened, even when I suggested some of my own*, because who listens to backwards neophobes? In some ways I was complaining because I’m an grumpy traditional “roguelike” elitist that doesn’t like all of these newcomers implying that The Binding of Isaac is in anyway similar to Nethack and therefore, in my eyes, watering down a perfectly good and established term. But it’s also because, to me, roguelike means “it reminds you of Rogue”. (Which is a backwards thing for me to think, as I’d played close to hundreds of Roguelikes before bothering to even play Rogue. I’d even made some half baked ones before trying the original.). And frankly FTL or Spelunky, whilst fantastic games that I’m terrible at, don’t evoke a single ‘Rogue’ memory in me.

But it looks like some other people have gone a step further than simply whining in comment threads and have been busy posting gamasutra blogs about the idea of a new name and even purchasing domain names for the terms they come up with. I guess the ‘movement’ has started to gain critical mass? (And this post is in the hope of helping it gain a little more ;))

Procedural Death Labyrinth – do you think it’s a term that’s here to stay? Will you use it? Do you like the idea? Is there another, better-er, term out there*?

*(Randomly generated permadeath game. Well, I think it’s catchy…).

Sorry Pod, “rogue-like” has something like thirty years of momentum driving it. I don’t see it going away. I will agree with you that its use is stretching the meaning of the phrase being usefulness at times (and FTL and Spelunky really aren’t very rogue-like beyond the perma-death and procedural processes), but it does very well define the genre of “procedural death labyrinth” and with fewer syllables. Not that I don’t sympathize - I completely hate the word “shmup” but its gained acceptance pretty quickly and describes scrolling shooters with only one syllable. All else being equal, I think simplicity wins.

I don’t want it to go away at all! I’d like to keep roguelike with all of that history behind it. I’d like roguelike to mean what it used to mean – games like Rogue ;) Procedural Death Labyrinth is what these upstarts can be termed.

Many genre names are syllable laden. MOBA? RPG? They’re so long I can’t be bothered to type them out in full.

Well see there you go. If you called it “PDL” you probably would get more traction.

How about “PermaProc”, or “PP”? The two core concepts these games borrow from the roguelike tradition are permanence of death and other consequences, and heavy use of procedural generation to make each play different, so why not use them for the name?

At least “roguelike-like” for all its awkwardness makes more sense than the pretentious-sounding “Procedural Death Labyrinth”. Where’s the “labyrinth” in FTL? Just seems like gamer taxonomists have hit upon a phrase they like and are trying their hardest to get their way. It’s nearly as bad as “Walking Simulator” to describe any first-person game where you don’t commit violence.

“Rogue-like-like” is too awkward. I always want people just to go the other linguistic direction and call them “roguish” games, but nobody else seems to find that funny.

Maybe we should call them rouge-likes.

Procedural Death Labyrinth sounds like it should be the name of one of these games.

Except if it’s really revolutionary, then we have to worry about Procedural Death Labyrinth-likes and the cycle never ends.

Where is the Kickstarter for Procedural Death Labyrinth? I want to play that.


You jest, but at least one of the devs on this board is probably furiously reading up on how to hex-edit his source files to pre-date this thread ;)

Well tell him/her to fricken’ hurry!


those words… they don’t mean anything.

I dunno man, you just sound like an. . . . . . . . Angrycoder.

I will say that “Procedural Death Labyrinth” sounds like something I want to play. On the other hand, it’s too awkward and it would take a lot of use to make an acronym like PDL stick. There’s tons of similar terms you could come up with (Infinite Death Simulator? Random Wombat Generator?), but my bet is that the one that sticks will be a) championed by a publication or popular streamer/podcast, and b) easy to remember and simple to say.

Would be really interesting to see how these terms spread, but they all use really simple words (FPS, RTS, RPG, MMO, MUD, MOBA, all the acronyms are constructed from basic terms like First-Person, Real-Time, or Multi-User, not Procedural and Labyrinth). On the flip side, this is a more niche genre, so perhaps a nerdier name is appropriate. Random Death Maze is not quite as intriguing.

At the $5000 backer label you get to decide the genre name that the devs will try to make stick.

At the $2 billion level the devs will build a time machine for you to travel back to 1980 and rename Rogue “Procedural Death Labyrinth”.

Only when you arrived would you discover the filename length limit wouldn’t allow it, but good luck getting back to 2014 to ask for a refund.

As somebody who played Rogue I agree with this. There are clearly games that are “roguelikes” but the line definitely gets blurred. Is Conquest of Elysium 3 a roguelike? Its as much a roguelike as FTL or Spelunky.

Now can we discuss the elephant in the room… The Diablo series and is it really a RPG or a glorified shoot 'em up in disguise?

It’s an RPG-like.