What is your current favorite Roguelike? [Or all things roguelike]


There was a little-known game called [B]Beneath Apple Manor[/B] that predated (but probably didn’t influence) [B]Rogue[/B], but it’s certainly true that the later games all draw their inspiration from Rogue or a game inspired by it or game inspired by a game inspired by it, many already before the commercial release by Epyx.

Diablo’s turn-based origins, back when Blizzard North was Condor, are also documented online, but the book you’re thinking of is probably [I]Stay Awhile and Listen[/I] by David Braddock, here’s a relevant snippet: http://www.shacknews.com/article/76406/chapter-8-finale-condor-and-blizzard-lock-horns-over-diablo

And FWIW, any dungeon crawler with randomly generated levels, including Diablo, counts as a rogue-like for me.



I looked it up


I thought Rogue was so awesome back in the day as a kid, but it didn’t take me long to abandon it for Wizardry and then Might & Magic and The Bard’s Tale.

Man, I love classic western RPGs. So great.


That screen shot both repulses and stokes a craven desire.

Any conversation on what a roguelike is never ends well, though my favorite ones usually end up collapsing on themselves in true blackhole fashion when they determine Rogue is not a roguelike.


I love me some traditional roguelikes, but I’m also on board with the modern expanded usage.

The way I see it, the true essence of the genre is twofold:

-Both the resources available to the player and the challenges facing them are the result of complex interactions of systems with significant random influences.
-Consequences are permanent, with no “load game” safety net. “Permadeath” gets at this idea, but is too narrow for my taste, since so much of what I like about the genre is the weighing of possible consequences short of death.

There’s nothing about these principles that tie them to any particular set of gameplay mechanics. Rogue itself and its immediate descendants applied them to a turn-based RPG base, which worked great. But this resulted in things like the Berlin definition fixating on the RPG mechanics (turn-based, dungeon crawling, item identification, inventory management, etc.).

So Rogue is a roguelike RPG, Spelunky is a roguelike platformer, Atom Zombie Smasher is a roguelike tower defense, etc.


I wish we kept Doomclone, or perhaps something like “Doom-like”. e.g. Call of Duty is a Doomlike movie.


So I guess Chronicon is a roguelike ARPG? Maybe?


I won’t judge you, man.


I haven’t played it, but Steam lists hardcore mode as a “future feature”, so… maybe it’s not a roguelike? I dunno, what makes it feel more like one than various other ARPGs?

For the record, I would count Diablo-style games as technically roguelikes when in hardcore mode, but not particularly great ones, as too many of their design choices are at odds with what works well in the form. They generally take a long time to get interesting/challenging with a new character, ask for a lot of hours to be invested to get to the end (making death TOO painful), lack much in the way of meaningful consequences short of death, and lack any mechanic to push you forward into danger rather than grinding in relatively safe locations and always being overleveled for what you’re fighting.


I have a weird “design” question.

What are the practical and mechanical features that differentiate a 1st person dungeon crawler like those, and a top down Field of View approach more typical of roguelikes?

The idea is to figure out whether or not is possible to fully embed the first into the second. Auto-maps essentially replaced the cell by cell mapmaking, and the combat can use actual positioning instead of being abstracted and sitting into place. But there’s still something to pinpoint about the exploration feel.

One aspect that classic roguelikes lack is that the rooms are mostly featureless and repetitive, where instead the 1st person dungeon crawlers have puzzles and specific, handcrafted design, but there’s nothing in there that can’t be ported over (as long you give up the randomly generated part).


Nethack and Brogue both contain handcrafted puzzles. My understanding is DCSS has hundreds of handcrafted level designs that it intermixes with randomly created floors to vary the experience and make it less likely the player experiences patterns normal randomly generated levels have. DoomRL also mixes carefully designed puzzle-like boss fights with randomly generated content. Most Japanese “Mystery Dungeon” style roguelikes contain a story-driven fixed-content dungeon with no perma-death you play through before you get to “real” game with randomly generated dungeons and perma-death.


On a related tangent, I saw this yesterday when reading the Cogmind dev blog - along with hand-crafted ‘prefabs’, DCSS also has a bunch of different dungeon generation algorithms to keep things interesting. Pretty awesome variety:

Expand for image

(image copied from Gridsage Devblog)


You mean like this?


I remember hacking around a bit with [I]Telengard[/I] for the C=64.

Like many games in the early C=64 era, it was mostly written in BASIC, with the graphics routines as 6510 assembler.


Yes, yes, I know that randomness doesn’t necessarily requires dropping those elements.

My question was about finding the aspects specific to first person dungeon crawlers that might be missing in the top down perspective. I mean the stuff that still makes people love those kind of games, even in the modern incarnations like Etrian Odyssey and all that.

Is there some unique flavor that is specific to first person dungeon crawlers and that cannot be ported over? What makes THOSE games special and sets them apart?


My favorite was always Zangband.


Beyond the art/atmosphere involved in the perspective, I don’t think there is anything that couldn’t translate successfully to a turn-based top-down game.

I think the main difference is that these are usually party-based games, with very simple inter-group tactical positioning and formation considerations. You have front and rear ranks, and can get flanked or backstabbed, as a simple ‘block’ of characters.

Directly translating to top-down a party of up to six in a single grid space with a single direction/facing could be odd - when viewed from top you’d see 6 characters in the square, but expect each to have independent facing. You’d possibly also expect them to be able to separate into their own squares, but controlling them independently then moves into complicated tactical rpg territory. You’d lose the simplicity that the 1st-person party-based games have.

Not insurmountable, but I can’t think of much else that really separates them game-play wise.


It depends how much you want to twist the genre. You could play an Etrian Odissey by looking just at the map (overhead) and moving combat and text to the map screen.

So mechanically, yeah, the perspective doesn’t really matter.

There’s, however, a greater sense of exploration and presence in first person dungeon crawlers. Movement is slowler, it takes longer to get to places, and you are looking ahead trying to figure out how the dungeon layout is going to pan out. There’s also more mystery and more sense of getting lost, since your view is limited.

I think the combination of these factors is what makes the genre compelling, tbh. More a matter of presentation and metaphor than of mechanics.


My top 3 of all time:

1: Dungeons Of Dredmor
2: Dungeons Of Dredmor
3: Dungeons Of Dredmor

My favorite part of it, is that is the only one I really enjoyed because is accesible and I find it funny (ymmv).


Is it sad that the ‘boring’ screenshot was more likely to entice me than the action shots?

Edit: sigh for replying to something from a few pages ago. :(