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: Crossfire RPG
Crossfire's development history started in mid-1992. It originally started as a Gauntlet clone developed by Frank Tore Johansen at the University of Oslo, Norway.
Crossfire started with just one indoor map (first a simple test-map, then the first real map, which got extended a few times) and then increased to 4 indoor-maps with one-way portals from level 1 to level 4. Upon clearing the last level, there was nothing more for the player to do. Spells were limited to magic bullet (the first spell), fireball, magic missile, burning hands and lightning bolt. Later on, when two-way portals were implemented, development and content contribution took off in all directions.
This change brought about a flurry of new local players (at University of Oslo, Norway) and resulted in many new maps, it exploded in all directions, including the first town and the first world (the one we have now is the third town and third world).
In the years of development that have followed, Crossfire has grown to encompass over 150 monsters, ~3000 maps to explore, an elaborate magic system, over 15 character types, a system of skills, and many, many artifacts and treasures.
One of the joys of Crossfire is the vast depth of development that has occurred over the many years. This has resulted in a diverse playing experience with often little to prepare players for whats to come.
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.