What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

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Claes
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What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Claes » May 5th, 2012, 12:45 pm

Everyone has different tastes, and the topic question betrays mine. I prefer strategy games, because even though some are light on story, you can imagine so much to fill in the blanks. But it is a serious question. What do people see as the appeal to a rogue-like or a dungeon-crawl? I am wondering if looking at them in as different way could maybe get me into them. But sadly, for now, I see no appeal.

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zookeeper
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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by zookeeper » May 5th, 2012, 2:09 pm

I haven't actually played any real roguelikes myself, but I think the appeal is largely in the fact that you don't know what's going to happen and that more or less everything's possible. That is, there are far less constraints than in for example a linear story-driven RPG and while there is a goal you're trying to achieve, the means of how you're going to get there are entirely up to you. That you basically take your character on an adventure and see what kind of situations you end up in and how you can deal with them, with the randomness of the game forcing you to make possibly very radically game-altering choices (rather than merely determining whether you'll be fighting one orc or two goblins or whether they'll drop a leather armour or a rusty sword). That each playthrough ends up being a very different experience with its own unique twists and turns.

Just my guess.

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Caphriel » May 5th, 2012, 10:14 pm

I used to really like Roguelikes because of the resource management aspect. You don't always get enough resources to succeed, but you usually do. However, the method to success depends on what you find. However, lately I can't be bothered to pick up any new RLs because the community (players and developers) seems to take pride in bad user interfaces and hefty trial-and-error learning :annoyed:

A common reason for liking roguelikes is the shortness of a game. If you win, most roguelikes don't take more than a few hours, and if you die, your character is gone. Roguelikes are generally much less forgiving than games of other genres.

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Scatha » May 7th, 2012, 10:45 pm

I think both of the above answers are fairly perceptive.

I also enjoy the process of discovery each game, and (in the right roguelike) the frequency of nontrivial decisions to make.

Caphriel, I share your distaste for inaccessible games. Depending on how strong your aversion has become, you might like to try Sil (or read the manual, but I think the tutorial gives a slightly better first introduction to the game). We have gone to some effort to avoid both of the pitfalls you describe (the UI remains keyboard based, but has a much smaller set of commands that need to be learned than most roguelikes).

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Thrawn » June 2nd, 2012, 3:39 pm

Kinda a bump, but as an avid ADoM player, I can at least give my perspecitive:

First and foremost, rougelikes are *hard* to win. Each time you start, you are given semi random stats, semi randomized items, giving lots of replay value, even if you've won. Also, in ADoM (and I think others) there are multiple endings depending on how you play. There is a very high learning curve to keeping yourself alive in the early game, and level grinding is pretty easy at that point. Then, the mid game (when and if you get to it) is fairly straightforward, and if you can succeed there, it's not too much trouble to make it to the end game, which becomes hard again, and leveling becomes easier again. While I've learned how to get past the early levels of ADoM, I still have yet to win the game.

Another reason is that while their "art" isn't very impressive, it's easy to parse and functional (I won't get into games with tilesets, because I'm an ASCII purist), meaning there aren't really any visual turn-offs.

Looking at your preference (strategy games), one way to get into it is to try and "solve" the game. Figure out how to Minmax a certain race, and figure out tricks to maximize your chance of success (in adom, for example, a combination of your speed and energy needed to move affect your actual movement compared to the other creatures, so getting the right combo can get you free attacks, and give you the ability to "kite" the enemies using ranged attacks), and go about it that way. Also, begin with a simple one--I agree with Caphriel that a clunky UI is the bane of most rogue-likes, as you need to (even on well designed ones) get used to the interface while playing, and dying because of not knowing something, or doing slightly the wrong thing *is* frustrating.

A third big selling point is it doesn't matter which rogue-like you play, there is something very fun (to many people) in the idea of dungeon-crawling. Most DnD players like the dungeon gameplay over actual roleplaying, and roguelikes are basically just that: getting into deeper and deeper, scarier dungeons, with cursory plot (even in ADoM, that actually has a well fleshed out one), tons of loot and fighting, and a huge sense of achievement when you make it even a tiny bit further.
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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Blarumyrran » June 2nd, 2012, 4:30 pm

Thrawn wrote:Another reason is that while their "art" isn't very impressive, it's easy to parse and functional (I won't get into games with tilesets, because I'm an ASCII purist), meaning there aren't really any visual turn-offs.
ASCII-like roguelike tilesets are not functional, they're horrible to parse. (by tileset here I mean representation of tiles, not necessarily by bitmaps; eg Dwarf Fortress has a bitmap tileset in which each tile looks like an ascii-like symbol, for the player it's an ascii tileset, it makes little difference whether it's rendered as bitmaps or characters)

Firstly they are hard to parse in the sense that you must explicitly learn that a symbol represents a tree by reading its description, while with a proper tileset you would recognize a tile as a kind of tree by its shape, and you would know its function to be anologous to that of other trees by this recognition.

Also if the set of symbols (& colors) has an external limit (say, "only the characters of code page 437"), the same symbols (& colors) will likely have to be used to represent unrelated objects, which again hurts parsing.

Also also, much of player's decision-making demands parsing regions on the screen with some property uniform in it that separates it from other regions; with an ascii-like tileset, parsing such regions is much harder than in a proper tileset because, for one thing, the same ascii-like characters that are next to each other are separated by blank space which hurts visual uniformity.

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Jetrel » June 10th, 2012, 10:31 pm

Vaguely counting diablo as one of them, I'd say the allure is far and away one thing: Procedurally Generated Content. Hands down. That, and a fairly high amount of resulting non-linearity. I love games like chrono trigger to death, but you can only play them a few times before you know exactly what you're going to get at every stage of the game. It just gets boring.

By contrast, most of a roguelike is entirely different every time you play. Others in this thread have done a better job of describing things, so I'll refrain from doing so - a tip of the hat to thrawn's post; I agree with what he likes about the gameplay.
Blarumyrran wrote:
Thrawn wrote:Another reason is that while their "art" isn't very impressive, it's easy to parse and functional (I won't get into games with tilesets, because I'm an ASCII purist),
ASCII-like roguelike tilesets are not functional, they're horrible to parse.
Yeah, I pretty much completely agree. I agree so completely I practically could have written blarumyrran's post. I've tried, I've really given ascii games a chance, and frankly, it's just crazy. Learning to parse them is an expensive, complicated skill - I guess it's fun if your time is worthless, but I've got a huge backlog of skills to learn and I'd rather get better at drawing and coding. I'm not going to learn a complicated skill just to play a freaking game.

Having seriously tried them, it takes weeks to just achieve "basic fluency" at the UI, and to not be constantly dying because of something you haven't memorized and don't understand. Compare with graphical games where, sure, it takes a long time to master, but you can sit down and have basic fluency with the game in half an hour.

Especially when I don't have to, because stuff like Dungeons of Dredmor, afaict, seems to eliminate the need to do so.

Thrawn wrote:meaning there aren't really any visual turn-offs.
This however is a good point - even the best games that have visuals will end up having a few warts - a few things in the game drawn in a manner you find unappealing. Whether it's technical errors, gaudy style, or whatever, there's substance to be offended by. ASCII games are more or less neutral in this regard - they may be agonizing to parse, but they neither look good nor bad.
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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by MCP » June 15th, 2012, 8:15 pm

One, and only one, of my friends likes/doesn't mind the ASCII. He also has an incredible memory.

For the rest of us people who don't instantly remember everything we see, the tile set helps tremendously. Even tiles made up of 8x8 or 16x16 pixels is enough to tell the difference between a mushroom, a piece of meat, and a sword. I already know what those look like, so I don't have to immediately memorize new stuff. This frees me up to learn how to play the game.

That said, as long as there is a tile set, I'll be playing Rogue-likes for the rest of my life.

When I was about 4 years old, I learned my first lesson in Rogue. I had gone down a level and reached a room with no doors. I couldn't find any doors and I tried everything (with advice from older people), but still it was an empty room, no way out. I was attached to my guy and I was frustrated.
I had to learn, it is time to start a new player. And then I learned the game was completely different the next time I played it.

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Midnight_Carnival » June 26th, 2012, 8:39 am

Also an ADoM fan, formerly Nethack and Slashem.
Appeal?
The graphics are mind-blowing!
Computer graphics are only as good as the hardware + programmers permit: mind graphics are a whole other kettle of turnips.
After that comes the point that although they can be very absorbing, they are not intrusive at all, some of my best Nethack crawls were done while working hard on my M.Phil assignments.
After that, I'd risk sounding really geeky by saying I apreciate the work that went into them. I mean think about it, most of these are released free (ADoM for a postcard -which I suspect few ever send!) even on Wesnoth, someone can make a name for themselves doing really pretty graphics - on a rogue-like game it is unlikley people will remember you for your contributions and yet...
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Evropi
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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Evropi » September 20th, 2012, 10:56 pm

I'd just like to weigh in on this... this forum moves so slowly after all that a necro can't hurt. :lol2:

Watch this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxdYUQ1YkxI

It is a guy describing what makes the best games, the ones that people enjoy most. What people love to see is non-linearity, but that word is something of a buzzword in the gaming industry. No-one wants a scripted game like Snore of Duty (that's why no-one like CoD single player, though I admit the MP is outstanding).

The point of games as an art form--and what puts them at a higher level than other art forms is the fact that events can occur in a narrative that are completely emergent on how you play the game. These are truly non-linear games, and roguelikes, especially truly advanced ones like ToME (favourite, especially due to being fully graphical and hence much more accessible!) or Dwarf Fortress (very impressive, though I can't actually figure it out for the life of me :oops: ) are very worthwhile for anyone with the patience to learn them.

Oh, and watch the video. I love a bit of game theory. And rants. :)
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marvalis
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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by marvalis » October 20th, 2012, 2:07 pm

This guy is commenting on dwarf fortress yet he has never played it? What a joke.

What roguelikes have is a lot of love and a great history behind them. They are all build on a fantasy tradition and have profound roots in tabletop RPG games that have been around for decades.
Besides the rich fantasy world, there is character development, again coming from the tabletop RPG games. There is also something that you might be able to refer to as 'horizontal progression'. Vertical progression can be seen as gaining levels, horizontal progression is more about you, the player, learning how to play the game, discovering new aspects of it, but also learning new strategies and adjusting them based on the cards you are given by the game.

For example, you learn how to hack a corpse to produce some food, congratulations you (the players) have learned something new.

Learning the interface is very rewarding and also difficult. Yes, sadly these are somewhat related. For example, in adom you can become blid from a glob of mud. You have to wipe your 'F'ace to get rid of it (press F). This command is not used for absolutely anything else! (except skipping a turn without moving). It is little tricks like this that are very rewarding to learn.

Similarly, a game like dwarf fortress is immensely complex. You even learn how to make soap. The fact that this game requires so much knowledge is again very rewarding when you figure it all out. Kinda say that dwarf fortress isn't very geologically sound. Let's just say it has a geology of its own.

Did I mention the world is immensely rich? creating this world has always been one of the main challenges of roguelikes. Just look at what Thomas is trying with ADOM2. Look what Toady is doing with dwarf fortress. There are many more example. Yes, roguelike developers are the only game creators brave (or stupid) enough to try and generate entire worlds.

Did I mention the games have many items? Wands, books, rings, the list goes on and on. And all those items can have magical properties of one sort or another. Combine that with the properties of you character and you have nearly endless combinations of awesomeness.

And magic, did I mention magic?

There is really no way you can sum up the complexity of these games in one or two words or key 'features'.

Perhaps the most defining aspect would be developer freedom.
As Zach or Toady said: 'I want to make a game that can even surprise myself' (or something along these lines).

I think that we need to develop this kind of 'community progression' more in the future.But that is off topic here.

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Captain_Wrathbow » October 20th, 2012, 3:00 pm

Well, as long as this topic is still alive and kicking, I suppose I might as well weigh in.

Recently, (a few weeks ago) I started playing NetHack. (with pure ASCII tiles) So here is my two cents:
  • The number one thing that appeals to me is undoubtedly the randomly generated content. NetHack is unpredictable, and totally different every time you play. You never know what is coming next, and you have to constantly adapt to new situations.
  • I love the ASCII graphics. I realize that I am in the minority on this point. (at least in the context of this thread.) For me it is kind of like the difference between reading a book, and watching the movie adaptation of that book. Reading the original book is always better. You can use your own imagination to see things as you want to see them, much as you would read a book and develop your own mental picture of what each character looks like. (then go to the movies and find yourself thinking "woah, that's not how I pictured <character> at all!")
  • I am not a big fan of the resource management aspect. I like the exploration, fighting, tactics, and leveling up, but I find that managing my inventory is tedious and annoying. (I often play as a monk because then I don't have to worry about weapons)
  • I like the challenge and the unforgiving nature of the game. "Commercial games want you to win. NetHack doesn't care whether you win or lose. (Slash 'em wants you dead.)"
    Every time you die, it is a learning experience. I hardly ever (in fact I cannot think of one time) die because of bad luck or unfortunate, out-of-my-control circumstances; I can always take a deep breath, look back, and identify a certain, specific mistake I made that led to my death. And then I don't make that same mistake again. I get a little farther every time I play. (So far my best crawl got me to Lvl22)

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by A-Red » October 25th, 2012, 4:08 am

I can definitely understand what people love about roguelike games, especially ones that give you as much freedom to *decide what the goal of the game is* as Dwarf Fortress, but here's another perspective on what makes "good games."

There are so many awesome games that have been made that I want to play (between older games resurfacing with retailers like GOG and the indie scene) that I will hardly ever play any of them very many times. A game that I'll want to come back to again in a few years is a sign of excellence, but a higher level of replayability is not something that interests me. Instead, what appeals to me personally is good level design. I love when each challenge is perfectly engineered for the context in which it appears, and when each of those challenges comes together in the right sequence to create a story. I haven't been able to get far into a roguelike yet (which isn't to say I never will) because I'll almost always opt for games like The Spirit Engine, Halo, Baldur's Gate II, Myth: The Fallen Lords, or Limbo instead.

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by BerenErchamion » December 27th, 2013, 7:39 pm

MCP wrote:Even tiles made up of 8x8 or 16x16 pixels is enough to tell the difference between a mushroom, a piece of meat, and a sword. I already know what those look like, so I don't have to immediately memorize new stuff.
On the other hand, I find it much easier to tell the difference between a D, an N, an S, a semicolon, and a purple parenthesis than I do between the squiggly lines (and in 8x8 or 16x16 there's not a whole lot of distinguishing features you can put in that are detectable with a quick glance) that may represent a dragon, a naga, a snake, a sea serpent, or a whip.

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Re: What is the appeal of a rogue-like game?

Post by Thrawn » December 28th, 2013, 3:40 am

For what it's worth, ADoM now has a very pretty tileset, so it's easier for less experienced rogue-like players to figure it out.
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this goes for they're/their/there as well

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