What is a Roguelike?
A Roguelike is usually described as a free turn-based computer game with a strong focus on intricate gameplay and replayability, and an abstract world representation using ASCII-based display, as opposed to 3D graphics. Of course, as with any genre, there are deviations from the norm.
Roguelikes allow the player an indefinite amount of time in which to make a move, making gameplay comparable more to chess than to reflex-based games like first-person shooters. Since graphics are limited (if not completely shunned), the player's imagination must come into play - gameplay is more like reading a book than watching a movie.
Of course, the best way to understand what Roguelikes are is to download and play one.
Many Roguelikes are freely available online. The most influential are known as the Major Roguelikes:
Before their rise in popularity in the late 80s and 90s, the genre was dominated by the Major Classic Roguelikes:
Since the control systems of these Roguelikes are geared towards "expert" players, the novice player may be interested in trying a 'lighter' game like some of the coffeebreak roguelikes or just dive in at the deep end and find a roguelike game to suit you.
There are several other important places in the roguelike community that you should consider visiting:
Featured Roguelike: Zorbus
In Zorbus your goal is to delve deep into a dungeon, find a portal to a mythical place called the Zorbus where a mere mortal can ascend to demigodhood.
Thematically Zorbus draws influence from the late 70s and early 80s tabletop D&D campaigns, adventures and lore. The goal is to create a tight, streamlined dungeon crawling experience where the dungeon feels alive, eventful and rich in content. Something more than just boring empty rooms and corridors! Diversely shaped levels with themed content (throne rooms, prisons, lots of hidden treasure caches etc.) with good connectivity between the areas.
Important part of the living dungeon are the creatures. Creatures act intelligently, might fight each other, flee when threatened and try to gather their friends to overcome a threat. Most creatures can use items and also pick them up from from the dungeon floor. Creatures are not silent either but comment on things with speech bubbles.
You don't have to go to the fight alone but can recruit other creatures along the way.
The rule system for the game is slightly influenced by the d20 system used in the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Zorbus has experience levels but no character classes (race is selected). On each level up, you point buy skills and talents (mostly combat maneuvers and spells).
New Roguelike Releases
If you have some ideas for a new Roguelike and would like to give development a go (or are already a seasoned developer) the RogueBasin is here to help you expand the Roguelike genre. A complete list of articles is available, but here are some to get you started:
If you'd like to contribute to RogueBasin, simply create an account and log in. Feel very free to edit! We especially need more information added to the games pages and the lists - if you're a developer, consider updating your game's page, and making sure that it (and you) are included in the relevant lists.
If you're an experienced developer, consider writing articles about creating Roguelikes. There are many people new to Roguelike development, and they often need help. It's especially helpful to write articles about problems you have experienced yourself. Also you can add your name to the RGRD Wiki Project (directly, or by posting a message on rgrd saying how you want to participate). If someone sees a relevant post by you, they'll upload it to this wiki as an article.