How to Write a Roguelike in 15 Steps

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(Step 3 -- It's a boy!)
m (Corrected wikifikation (Telamon you beat me on this one ;-) ))
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helpful.  What are your own routes?
 
helpful.  What are your own routes?
  
 
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== Step 1 - Decide to write a game ==
== Step 1 -- Decide to write a game ==
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Most of you will have this step behind you already, but there are some hints
 
Most of you will have this step behind you already, but there are some hints
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it will be ok.
 
it will be ok.
  
 
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== Step 2 - Hello world! ==
== Step 2 -- Hello world! ==
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Prepare your programming environment. Choose your language and platform, choose
 
Prepare your programming environment. Choose your language and platform, choose
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Start coding.
 
Start coding.
  
 
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== Step 3 - It's a boy! ==
== Step 3 -- It's a boy! ==
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Start with screen output and keyboard input. Decide preemptively on your screen
 
Start with screen output and keyboard input. Decide preemptively on your screen
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they come in handy.
 
they come in handy.
  
== Step 4 -- The map ==
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== Step 4 - The map ==
 
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Decide on your map structure. Don't over-generalize -- you can add things later.
 
Decide on your map structure. Don't over-generalize -- you can add things later.
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for walls in the movement code. Maybe add doors and open/close commands.
 
for walls in the movement code. Maybe add doors and open/close commands.
  
 
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== Step 5 - Saving/Loading ==
== Step 5 -- Saving/Loading ==
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Read the map from a file instead of hard-coding it. You can play with it and test
 
Read the map from a file instead of hard-coding it. You can play with it and test
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game to a file and just check it.
 
game to a file and just check it.
  
 
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== Step 6 - It's alive! Alive! ==
== Step 6 -- It's alive! Alive! ==
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Implement other creatures (monsters) and time. At a single monster for start.
 
Implement other creatures (monsters) and time. At a single monster for start.
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Remember to test everything as you go.
 
Remember to test everything as you go.
  
 
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== Step 7 - Interaction ==
== Step 7 -- Interaction ==
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Add stats for your creatures. A simplification of the ones you envisioned,
 
Add stats for your creatures. A simplification of the ones you envisioned,
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the values. Do lots of testing.
 
the values. Do lots of testing.
  
 
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== Step 8 - Data files ==
== Step 8 -- Data files ==
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Move the creature, map features, etc. definitions to data files. Forget about
 
Move the creature, map features, etc. definitions to data files. Forget about
 
scripting for now If something cannot be moved -- just leave it for now.
 
scripting for now If something cannot be moved -- just leave it for now.
  
 
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== Step 9 - Items ==
== Step 9 -- Items ==
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Add items. For start, just objects you can pick up -- no properties. Gradually
 
Add items. For start, just objects you can pick up -- no properties. Gradually
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It's a large step, lots of testing needed.
 
It's a large step, lots of testing needed.
  
 
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== Step 10 - Magic ==
== Step 10 -- Magic ==
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Add item effects, special monster attacks, spells. Add items and monsters to
 
Add item effects, special monster attacks, spells. Add items and monsters to
 
test them. You don;t need all the possible effects right away -- just the ones
 
test them. You don;t need all the possible effects right away -- just the ones
 
needed for the next step.
 
needed for the next step.
  
 
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== Step 11 - Simple game ==
== Step 11 -- Simple game ==
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Try to make a simple, hard-coded game. Play it and give it to play to your
 
Try to make a simple, hard-coded game. Play it and give it to play to your
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mini-game.
 
mini-game.
  
 
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== Step 12 - Levels ==
== Step 12 -- Levels ==
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Write your level generators. Implement moving between the levels, wilderness or
 
Write your level generators. Implement moving between the levels, wilderness or
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with their effects, as needed.
 
with their effects, as needed.
  
 
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== Step 13 - Experience ==
== Step 13 -- Experience ==
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Start developing your experience system and skill system. Tune the monster's and
 
Start developing your experience system and skill system. Tune the monster's and
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Play your game a lot.
 
Play your game a lot.
  
 
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== Step 14 - Citizens ==
== Step 14 -- Citizens ==
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Add NPCs, shopkeepers, simple quests -- if you need them all. Keep adding
 
Add NPCs, shopkeepers, simple quests -- if you need them all. Keep adding
 
features and tuning the stats.
 
features and tuning the stats.
  
 
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== Step 15 - Free at last ==
== Step 15 -- Free at last ==
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Start adding and testing all the 'unique' features you thought are so cool
 
Start adding and testing all the 'unique' features you thought are so cool
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--
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''Originaly submited to [[RGRD Wikify Project|rec.games.roguelike.development]] by Radomir '[[The Sheep]]' Dopieralski''
Radomir `The Sheep' Dopieralski   @**@_
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                                    ($s) 3  Ching!
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                    .  .  . ..v.vVvVVvVvv.v.. .
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Revision as of 16:22, 26 August 2005

This is a rough route map for the creators of roguelikes. I'm well aware that there are many possible routes and that no two journeys are the same -- this is a description of one of possibilities and maybe will help you to plan your own.

Please add your comments -- maybe we could make this article really helpful. What are your own routes?

Contents

Step 1 - Decide to write a game

Most of you will have this step behind you already, but there are some hints about the direction of the first step. The best reason to start developing your own roguelike game I can think of, is to create a game that you will enjoy playing yourself. It's like this in my case.

Don't start by asking around about the definition of roguelike game -- you don't need it. If the game you write is not considered roguelike by others, but it's still fun to play for you -- you succeeded. It's not like there's some kind of a contest to write a game meeting certain specifications.

Don't plan too much. Of course, if you want certain things in your game, you must write it so that there is room for them -- but don't even try to anticipate everything -- it's just impossible. When you write a desig doc, you make a lot of decissions. Most of the decissions can't be made without performing some test first -- usually by writing small programsutilizing given feature. It's best to make the decissions when your project has already reached apropriate stage -- when you don't need to write an additional program, because your project already has everything you need.

It's no fun to just proceed according to plan -- leave some space for improvisation. Don't be afraid about making mistakes or implementing something in an inflexible way -- you can improve it when you need it -- most of the time it will be ok.

Step 2 - Hello world!

Prepare your programming environment. Choose your language and platform, choose apropriate compilers/interpreters, editor, version control, automated build, and other utilities. Set them up so that you're comfortable with them.

Decide on which libraries you're going to use -- it can change later, but it's usually a painful change. Don't think too much about portability -- it can be fixed later. Think about what you need and what you're comfortable with.

Decide on the language you want to write comments and object names in your code, as well as the language you want to be used in your game. I'd strongly recommend using english in your source code -- you can get more help this way from others.

Write a simple 'Hello world!' program and test whether it works. Test your libraries, etc. -- you don't want any surprises.

Start coding.

Step 3 - It's a boy!

Start with screen output and keyboard input. Decide preemptively on your screen layout (easy, you can change it later) and make the routines that display map characters, status lines and messages.

Make the routine to read key-presses (no config files, no keys redefinition).

Make a '@ walking around the empty screen' demo. Play with it a little, clean things up, play some more, imagining the game is finished and you're playing it.

Make the message handling routines -- especially for the debugging messages -- they come in handy.

Step 4 - The map

Decide on your map structure. Don't over-generalize -- you can add things later. Make your (empty) map displayed on the screen. Scrolled if you need it. Add some elements to your map to see if they are displayed correctly (just hard-code them, you don't need a level generator yet).

Make your '@' appear on the map -- not as it's element at first, just as a cursor. Test the scrolling, maybe make a 'look' command.

Now turn '@' into creature. You still don't have time implemented, so the keyboard-reading routines will just move it around the map. Include the checks for walls in the movement code. Maybe add doors and open/close commands.

Step 5 - Saving/Loading

Read the map from a file instead of hard-coding it. You can play with it and test different configurations if you make it human-readable from the start.

Add the 'save' command and the procedures to save your game -- the map at first, then, gradually, all of other game elements. From now on, when you implement something that needs saving, also implement saving it as soon as possible.

Once you work with files, you can make your preferences and keybindings config files. Again, if you make them human-readable, you'll save yourself a lot of trouble.

Now, when you're not sure how any element of the game works, you can save the game to a file and just check it.

Step 6 - It's alive! Alive!

Implement other creatures (monsters) and time. At a single monster for start. Give him some simple AI (like, say, stay still, or maybe move randomly).

Start with my turn-your turn, then implement the time system you want (or, usually, a simplification of it and gradually make it more complicated later).

Remember to test everything as you go.

Step 7 - Interaction

Add stats for your creatures. A simplification of the ones you envisioned, probably. It's best to add stats as they are needed, not because they 'look cool', but you might not be able to resist ;).

Make the creatures notice each other -- bump, attack, etc. Gradually improve their AIs, so that they can chase the player.

Implement and test the combat system -- without equipment for now, just hardcode the values. Do lots of testing.

Step 8 - Data files

Move the creature, map features, etc. definitions to data files. Forget about scripting for now If something cannot be moved -- just leave it for now.

Step 9 - Items

Add items. For start, just objects you can pick up -- no properties. Gradually give them properties, kinds, stats, etc., implement inventory, picking up and dropping, equipping and using (no effects yet), also stacking, containers (if you want them), etc.

It's a large step, lots of testing needed.

Step 10 - Magic

Add item effects, special monster attacks, spells. Add items and monsters to test them. You don;t need all the possible effects right away -- just the ones needed for the next step.

Step 11 - Simple game

Try to make a simple, hard-coded game. Play it and give it to play to your friends. Test the mechanics implemented so far. Check whether the game is fun.

Change everything you need to change. Don't forget to test a lot. Always ask someone to test the games 'fun factor', or test it yourself after some time of break -- it's hard to notice some things right away.

This step should take pretty long time, until you've got a playable, fun mini-game.

Step 12 - Levels

Write your level generators. Implement moving between the levels, wilderness or town if you want them, saving the levels on level change if you want them persistent (so that they don't take up memory).

Spread your monsters and items on different depths. Add more monsters and items, with their effects, as needed.

Step 13 - Experience

Start developing your experience system and skill system. Tune the monster's and item's stats. Make character generation screen, classes, races, whatever.

Play your game a lot.

Step 14 - Citizens

Add NPCs, shopkeepers, simple quests -- if you need them all. Keep adding features and tuning the stats.

Step 15 - Free at last

Start adding and testing all the 'unique' features you thought are so cool months (years?) ago, when you started the whole thing. Revise whether they are really so cool.

Write that random plot generator, factions system, infinite wilderness generator, neural network AI, etc. -- you can test them on a working game.


Originaly submited to rec.games.roguelike.development by Radomir 'The Sheep' Dopieralski

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