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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

A History of Rogue 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-rogue-origins dept.
blacklily8 writes "Gamasutra has published "The History of Rogue: Have @ You, You Deadly Zs." Despite only the most 'primitive' audiovisuals, Rogue has continued to excite gamers and programmers worldwide, and has been ported, enhanced, and forked now for over two decades. What is it about Wichman and Toy's old UNIX RPG that has sent so many gamers to their deaths in the Dungeons of Doom, desperately seeking the fabled Amulet of Yendor? This article covers the history of the game, including the Epyx failure to make a ton of cash selling it in 1983. It also goes into rogue-like culture and development."
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A History of Rogue

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  • Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:04AM (#27843169) Homepage

    Despite only the most 'primitive' audiovisuals, Rogue has continued to excite gamers and programmers worldwide, and has been ported, enhanced, and forked now for over two decades.

    Despite? Given how easily we could at least put a simple tileset on the game to make things more realistic, I'd say that Roguelikes' ongoing popularity must be at least in part _because_ of the primitive graphics. A high-rez animated monster can only ever be a high-rez animated monster, exactly as you see it on the screen. But the dashing asterisk can be whatever you imagine it to be, and that makes it better. It's just like the way books are satisfying in a way that movies can never quite be.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:21AM (#27843215) Journal
    When all you have to entertain a player is a bunch of ASCII character, you know that you can't cheat on shiny effects. All that is left is game mechanics, sensible relationships between objects, and a thing that seems to go out of the game when the graphical cheesecake goes in : meaning.

    Can you set up traps, use polymorphic spells in unpredictable ways, suffer from hallucinations or become randomly invisible in 3D RPG/FPS these days ? I heard that in WoW, it sometimes rain but it does not change a single thing to the gameplay : things keep burning, fire elemental still have a good time and no spell is affected.
  • Re:Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:23AM (#27843221) Homepage

    I would not even call ascii primitive audiovisuals. It is more of a abstraction. And it enourages developers to work on important stuff: gameplay. And if game is fun without graphics, you just hit jackpot.

    But of course awesome things happen if someone manages to take that roguelike core and adds fitting graphics ( Diablo series. )

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:30AM (#27843251)

    Oh c'mon, you know just as well that as soon as anything had any ever so tiny effect in WoW, the cry to NERF RAIN would be deafening.

    Sometimes I wonder if players want change in that game at all.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pipoca (1142297) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:32AM (#27843255)
    The Diablos are basically a real-time Rogue-like clickfest. If you were to give them ascii graphics (but kept the gameplay), they would probably still work (although the graphics do help with the mood).
  • Re:Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:38AM (#27843287) Journal
    You point out another key difference : the gamers in WoW are probably less after immersion than those in Rogue (shock!) but more after dominance. They don't really care if a bug allows them to stack two armored helmets whereas people in rogue would complain if the all elusive unicorn got stuck in corners because of a buggy AI.

    Maybe the difference is not in the ascii vs graphical question but rather in the singleplayer vs multiplayer ?
  • Re:Imagination. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FiveDozenWhales (1360717) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:40AM (#27843295)

    When all you have to entertain a player is a bunch of ASCII character, you know that you can't cheat on shiny effects. All that is left is game mechanics, sensible relationships between objects, and a thing that seems to go out of the game when the graphical cheesecake goes in : meaning.

    Not only are you kept from cheating, it also frees up a lot of resources. When a program isn't storing landscape data, character models, textures, etc. in memory, and using at least some processor time in keeping track of them, it means you can have much more complex AI/more instances of the AI, larger areas in memory at one time, and a wide range of ongoing effects all at once.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:46AM (#27843315)

    You can't just throw more processor cycles and memory in and expect better AI. It doesn't scale like that at all.

  • True , but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viol8 (599362) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @04:54AM (#27843343)

    ... if the graphics are simpler the developers can spend more time on the AI. And if theres only a few developers this is a big deal. Its probably why most text based MUDs were generally more imaginative than WoW and its clones.

  • Re:moria (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:50AM (#27843507) Homepage Journal

    Offtopic? Idiot moderator.

    I never got a playable Moria compiled on any of my systems. Basically, it was a VMS only game. The Unix ports never worked all that well.

    Or maybe just the game play sucked. I never seemed to get past the rooms of spreading lice.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @06:00AM (#27843539) Homepage Journal

    I'd say that Roguelikes' ongoing popularity must be at least in part _because_ of the primitive graphics.

    I would have to agree. I've played both Rogue/Hack/Nethack for curses and Nethack for Qt and I prefer the curses version.

    the dashing asterisk can be whatever you imagine it to be, and that makes it better. It's just like the way books are satisfying in a way that movies can never quite be.

    You're right, but for the wrong reason. Books are a far, far better medium for laying out a rich story.

    I enjoy playing World of Warcraft, but nothing I've encountered there has excited me more than killing the wizard of Yendor and beginning the dangerous ascent back up to victory.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @06:05AM (#27843557) Homepage Journal

    I maintain the similarities are there

    They are.

    You are a braver man than I am, I will not show my wife the older games and expect her to understand why they are important. Gaming history is perhaps the least important aspect of history.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:00AM (#27843785) Homepage Journal

    I just realized, after my own ode to rogue, that we are now those old cranky guys...

    "In my day, we didn't have any a that sissy graphics stuff, we just had ASCII and we liked it that way. We weren't like the kids these days that save their games before fighting some weak underling. In our day, if we wanted to save our game before we dropped to the level where there be Balrogs, we had to write batch programs that would back up the game files. Colors? We didn't have colors. If you wanted colors in my day, you had two choices: black and white. Oh, there were some sissies who liked green or amber but those were the rich kids who had big name systems like Kaypro or Compaq. Us real men used old black and white televisions that were sitting in the basement and built our computers from Heath kits. I bet they don't even know what an RF converter is anymore.

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:55AM (#27844237) Homepage

    Without Rogue there would be no Nethack [nethack.org] and no Dwarf Fortress [bay12games.com].

    And I could probably have used all that time to write a frakkin' book or something, instead of zapping ghosts with a wand of polymorph or dropping merchant caravans into lava just to see what would happen.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:13AM (#27844451) Journal

    There's a certain amount of justification for the crankiness, at least short-term. When a new capability comes along, whether that's 3D effects, computer animation in movies or whatever, that is all we get for a while. Other necessary ingredients to a good product go out of the window. It's only after the makers have finally got it out of their system that they start using things judiciously. Look at a film like the recent "Let the Right One In". Excellent special effects but used very sparingly to add to the creepiness of the film as needed. Whereas you look at a vampire film ten years ago and the same technology of morphing people's faces is used everywhere and the basis of what they sell the movie on.

    I'm not much of a gamer, but I'd say that computer games have been stuck in this phase for a while, but maybe it's starting to end. Perhaps it has been prolonged because graphics cards keep getting better and better so quickly. If you can keep on wowing people with graphics year after year, then you don't need to stop and look at the other ingredients for a good game. But crankiness is also misplaced. There always will be good games even if the majority just depend on the latest technological gimmicks and sooner or later, the industry settles down and relegate these gimmicks to just being one tool of many. Just some thoughts.
  • It needs to have two modes. An easy mode, and a real mode.

    No. What Dwarf fortress needs, desperately, is a better UI. I'm not just talking about proper graphics, though that would be a part of it. Even the developers have admitted that they have streched the limits of what is possible with ASCII characters.

    Currently, Dwarf fortress is like a rocket ship, with literally hundreds of knobs, buttons and switches. It's frequently impossible to figure out what is going on and how to do anything about it. Which is tragic because almost everyone who sees the game _wants_ to know what is going on and to interact with the world as much as possible.

    Something like Falcon's Eye shows the way. Meaningful graphics which convey the maximium amount of information in the least time, and context sensitive menus, which only display relevant options. Better still would be the creation of a system that relied on only a few "verbs", with objects in the world as nouns. As the saying goes "Complexity is Easy. Simplicity is Hard."

  • by juuri (7678) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:09AM (#27845137) Homepage

    Winning a roguelike is much like the first time you beat your chess teacher or parents in any game that required a bit of logic or skill. It's something you remember. One of the few digital bits that I make sure survives all of my data migrations from machine to machine is a copy of the output of my first ascension in Nethack.

    Date: 1997/06/12
    An invisible choir sings, and you are bathed in radiance...--More--
    The voice of Odin booms out: "Congratulations, mortal!"--More--
    "In return for thy service, I grant thee the gift of Immortality!"--More--
    You ascend to the status of Demigoddess...--More--

    The scary/awesome part is I still remember more about the last level in that ascension than I do large parts of my childhood schooling.

  • Re:Imagination. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tokah (859694) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:55AM (#27846721)
    The thing is, though, you can really only enjoy permadeath in a game where the early character content is different every time. I love ADOM, permadeath works great for it. I'll tackle the puppy cave several times in one day, and each time will be different and fun. WoW is completely static, with no variation whatsoever. Worse yet, many classes don't even reach their fun gameplay point until level 20 or later!

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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