What a roguelike is

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(Roguelike Definition, the Berlin Interpretation)
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* Tactical single character play: the unit of action is based on the individual adventurer. The game is not twitch oriented (like Quake, rewarding reflexes and well trained actions) nor is it strategy oriented (like Civilization or Warcraft, requiring working on the large picture).
 
* Tactical single character play: the unit of action is based on the individual adventurer. The game is not twitch oriented (like Quake, rewarding reflexes and well trained actions) nor is it strategy oriented (like Civilization or Warcraft, requiring working on the large picture).
  
== Roguelike Definition, the Berlin Interpretation ==
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== The Berlin Interpretation ==
  
===Preamble===
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The first International Roguelike Development Conference held in Berlin, Germany in 2008 addressed this question.  The result of those discussions was the [[Berlin Interpretation]].
 
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This definition of "Roguelike" was created at the International
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Roguelike Development Conference 2008 and is the product of a
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discussion between all who attended. The definition at
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http://www.roguetemple.com/roguelike-definition/  was used as the
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starting point for the discussions.  Most factors are newly phrased,
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new factors have been added, some factors have been removed.
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===General Principles===
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"Roguelike" refers to a genre, not merely "like-Rogue".  The genre is
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represented by its canon.  The canon for Roguelikes is ADOM, Angband,
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Crawl, Nethack, and Rogue.
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This list can be used to determine how roguelike a game is.  Missing
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some points does not mean the game is not a roguelike.  Likewise,
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possessing some points does not mean the game is a roguelike.
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The purpose of the definition is for the roguelike community to better
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understand what the community is studying.  It is not to place
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constraints on developers or games.
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===High value factors===
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----
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====Random environment generation====
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The game world is randomly generated in a way that increases replayability. Appearance and placement of items is random.
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Appearance of monsters is fixed, their placement is random.
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Fixed content (plots or puzzles or vaults) removes randomness.
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====Permadeath====
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You are not expected to win the game with your first character.  You start over from the first level when you die.  (It is possible to save games but the savefile is deleted upon loading.)  The random environment makes this enjoyable rather than punishing.
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====Turn-based====
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Each command corresponds to a single action/movement.  The game is not sensitive to time, you can take your time to choose your action.
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====Grid-based====
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The world is represented by a uniform grid of tiles.  Monsters (and the player) take up one tile, regardless of size.
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====Non-modal====
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Movement, battle and other actions take place in the same mode.  Every action should be available at any point of the game. Violations to this are ADOM's overworld or Angand's and Crawl's shops.
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====Complexity====
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The game has enough complexity to allow several solutions to common goals. This is obtained by providing enough item/monster and item/item interactions and is strongly connected to having just one mode.
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====Resource management====
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You have to manage your limited resources (e.g. food, healing potions) and find uses for the resources you receive.
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====Hack'n'slash====
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Even though there can be much more to the game, killing lots of monsters is a very important part of a roguelike.  The game is player-vs-world: there are no monster/monster relations (like enmities, or diplomacy).
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====Exploration and discovery====
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The game requires careful exploration of the dungeon levels and discovery of the usage of unidentified items. This has to be done anew every time the player starts a new game.
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===Low value factors===
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----
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====Single player character====
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The player controls a single character. The game is player-centric, the world is viewed through that one character and that character's death is the end of the game.
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====Monsters are similar to players====
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Rules that apply to the player apply to monsters as well. They have inventories, equipment, use items, cast spells etc.
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====Tactical challenge====
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You have to learn about the tactics before you can make any significant progress.  This process repeats itself, i.e. early game knowledge is not enough to beat the late game.  (Due to random environments and permanent death, roguelikes are challenging to new players.)
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The game's focus is on providing tactical challenges (as opposed to strategically working on the big picture, or solving puzzles).
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====ASCII display====
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The traditional display for roguelikes is to represent the tiled world by ASCII characters.
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====Dungeons====
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Roguelikes contain dungeons, such as levels composed of rooms and corridors.
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====Numbers====
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The numbers used to describe the character (hit points, attributes etc.) are deliberately shown.
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== External links ==
 
== External links ==

Revision as of 22:04, 26 September 2008

"What is a roguelike?" is a tricky question; it is hard to conceive a roguelike definition with which everybody will agree as this is a gaming genre that has evolved and has a dynamic definition as well.

However, roguelikes do share some elements. Some of the most common elements in roguelikes are:

  • The User Interface : ASCII display of a tiled world has become a distinctiveness of roguelikes.
  • The Game World : random world generation may be the most common feature of roguelike games. And they usually provide little plot.
  • The Gameplay : turn-based gameplay and dungeon hack are most often proposed.

Even among the "major roguelikes", it is not uncommon for one or several of the above guidelines to be broken, such as ASCII character display (many offer a graphical-tile alternative) or plotlessness (ADOM is heavy on plot).

Contents

User interface

  • ASCII character display: games use no graphic tiles or 3D models but rather a two-dimensional character grid viewed from above, in which each character represents an entity. For example, a human may be plotted as a '@', a dragon as a 'D', etc.
  • Narrated action: short text descriptions are given for almost all game events except ordinary movement.
  • Front-loaded commands: the player has knowledge of and access to all (or almost all) commands at the start of the game, often long before acquiring the objects or powers that make the command useful.
  • Keyboard based interaction: The keyboard is the traditional way to interact with the game world, as it provides the quickest way to access the several commands that a roguelike may have. There are certain popular schemas of keyboard usage.

Game world

  • Random world generation: some parts of the world in which the action is performed are generated using a random algorithm; this is made for the sake of replayability, thus every gaming session is unique.
  • Spatial Consistency: All the actions happen in a definite space. No warping to fight scenes or minigames on a different reality.
  • Little storyline: a gripping plot is not typically the selling point of any roguelike. The story is usually kept to a minimum to enhance replayability.
  • World interaction: little or no objects lie as an adornment in the world; most of them have a use in the game.
  • Setting: Some of the common settings for the world include the personification of a character fighting his way into a dungeon and adquiring items via monster treasures or town supply. The world commonly has magic forces of different kinds to increase the possible interactions.

Gameplay

  • Permadeath: once your character dies your savefile disappears; this encourages careful choosen tactics, cold sweat when fighting big baddies and curses when your character dies; as well as a great sense of accomplishment in every Ascension.
  • Freedom: the player may choose to do anything he wants in the game; there are no fixed plots, you can roam freely or look for the final game goal.
  • Turn-based: the time freezes in order to take the best of decisions when time comes.
  • Dungeon hack: your goal is to kill monsters and find powerful treasures in order to kill stronger ones and repeat the process.
  • Tactical single character play: the unit of action is based on the individual adventurer. The game is not twitch oriented (like Quake, rewarding reflexes and well trained actions) nor is it strategy oriented (like Civilization or Warcraft, requiring working on the large picture).

The Berlin Interpretation

The first International Roguelike Development Conference held in Berlin, Germany in 2008 addressed this question. The result of those discussions was the Berlin Interpretation.

External links

Many people have tried to define roguelike games. Here is a collection of links to pages that purport to do just that:

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