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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 @05:04AM (#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 @05:21AM (#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:4, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:30AM (#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:5, Insightful)

          by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:38AM (#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, Interesting)

            by whencanistop (1224156) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @06:29AM (#27843453) Homepage Journal
            I was trying to persuade the missus (yes really) that WoW was just really an extension of the rogue and Angband games I used to play but with the ability to play real time instead of turn based and actually play with/against real people.
            She looked at me blankly and claimed that she didn't know what Rogue and Angband were. When I showed her, she laughed and claimed that it was completely different because of the graphics.
            I maintain the similarities are there - certainly with the stats and so forth. But obviously it is a bit more advanced. As you'd expect in twenty years.

            I for one welcome our new @ symbol overlords.
            • Re:Imagination. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:05AM (#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.

              • by jank1887 (815982) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:52AM (#27843753)

                "and expect her to understand why they are important."

                I think we just learned where the real problem lies.

              • by fractoid (1076465)
                You just made me feel incredibly lucky. My wife plays WoW and understands (although doesn't share) my passion for Starcraft.

                She doesn't like Donnie Darko though. :/
              • by ahsile (187881)

                My wife refers to Nethack as "that stupid game". I managed to get her to try it once, but she died quite quickly and then never attempted it again.

                I've never actually ascended in Nethack, but I still play all the time (I've stopped for a while... it was consuming a lot of time). Even still I keep trying...

              • My wife is steadily encroaching on my top scores in Nethack. She tries at least one session a day these days.

                I guess I'm lucky like that.

            • WoW and most (if not all) MMOs are still really turn based when it comes to combat.

              There's still the roll of the dice, still that feeling that there's no immediate feedback from player to world.

              That said, yes, they are almost identical, just the graphics and the ability to play multiplayer.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by DrgnDancer (137700)

              WoW is deeply immersed in the old text games, but also in the old text Internet. In some real ways it's a graphical IRC client with a game bolted on. You ccould essentially play the whole thing with /command type syntax if you could type fast enough (and remember the commands).

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

            by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:29AM (#27844639) Homepage Journal

            Rogue/Nethack/etc. have perma-death.

            I love perma-death.

            WoW gets boring because you level up to a certain point and "then what?"

            Perma-death is awesome, and too few games utilize it.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Tokah (859694)
              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!
          • Re:Imagination. (Score:4, Informative)

            by mikael (484) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:23AM (#27845325)

            There was a multiplayer 'rogue' like game at the time 'nethack' came out. I can't remember the name, but it was like a multiplayer ASCII version of 'rogue' where people could collect wands and gold while traveling through a maze. The ultimate
            goal was to find the "Teluma of Rodney" and escape the maze. Players were rendered as diamonds or eyeballs. There were monster characters, "The Others" that were AI controlled with the number depending on level.

            Having other people to compete against did change the dynamics of the game as people would form teams to find the quest item and act as bodyguards for each other, rather than simply "yourself vs. the rest of the game world".

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by fractoid (1076465)
          The problem was more that you can turn off weather effects (for performance reasons) so people didn't want it to be "spend $4k on a gaming rig or your opponents will have a competitive advantage". Of course the latest dungeon will apparently stress out any computer more than a year old, so that does slip sometimes... then again a good mate of mine cleared Sarth3D in both 10 and 25man versions (if you understood that go take a shot of vodka and talk to a girl) using onboard video on a 4-year-old computer. I'
          • by Camann (1486759)
            Sarth1D is a dot. Sarth2D is a line. Sarth3D is four dragons.
            • by Camann (1486759)

              Sarth0D-point
              Sarth1D-line
              Sarth2D-plane
              Sarth3D-dragons

              My kingdom for an edit button. (and yes I previewed, I just screwed the joke up in spite of that)

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

        by FiveDozenWhales (1360717) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:40AM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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 @05:54AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              True, but on a MUD you need good builders. I've seen too many vanilla mobs that had great descriptions, but which were just walking bits of XP to the players because the builders didn't know how to make them fight in an interesting manner.

              And it's sad, too. Long ago, when I was a low-level admin on a very large, old MUD once, I went through and fixed so many mprogs, it was absurd. If you understand the mprogs, you can make mobs that actually work as a team, which can be deliberately weakened by use of pl

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by ahsile (187881)

                We banned death progs... for just such a reason. You could have them if the admins tested and approved them.

                I remember once as a junior immortal I was building an area, and set one of my mobs to load some weapons from a different area since I hadn't built any of my own yet. I managed to send the mud into a huge death spiral the next reboot as my area was loaded before the other area. That meant that I was trying to load objects which didn't exist yet... *kaboom*

                I continued to be an immortal there for a long

                • by ahsile (187881)

                  Replying to myself... but I did put our code up for consumption on the website linked above.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by pregister (443318)

              The reason MUDs were more 'imaginative' was the level of detail that area creators could use. Text allows you to describe things to the limit of your writing abilities. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but not if the picture is designed to be rendered on legacy hardware and your selection of items to place in areas is limited by whats in the toolbox or what you can get the art department to design and add.

              MMO games are also limited by what kind of actions can be presented to the player in an intuiti

              • by fractoid (1076465)

                (in my flavor of muds, literally add_action("blah", function()); to add a "blah" verb

                And hence the origin of the term 'proc' which so many gamers use these days without understanding. "It's a weapon proc" = "when you hit with your weapon, it runs this procedure, which may cause FUCKING ANYTHING to happen but in practice usually just temporarily applies a buff to you or an instant damage spell or debuff to your target".

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by DrgnDancer (137700)

                Actually you can perform any action in the game using a /command sequence in WoW. It's primarily used for scripting, as it would be insanely difficult to play that way, but in theory you could fight a battle with "/target Kobold, /attack target, /cast fireball target, /cast frostnova..." I don't know about moving though. You may have to do that with the actual movement keys. Not that this invalidates you point, you still can't add actions or change their affects, but it is interesting to note.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by juuri (7678)

          Frees up a lot of resources?

          These days the cpu/memory used by the likes of nethack are somewhat laughable. However when nethack was *the game* to run on college unix workstations it wasn't that far behind emacs in being forbidden on many campuses simply because of the cpu and memory gobbled up. Since each instance was completely separate, a few students playing at the same time could cripple your average sun server (SunOS forever). Nethack compiles were also notorious for taking nearly as long as building y

      • Along the same lines as Rogue, it is probably one of the reasons for a strategy game I still like Empire. All pieces are the same on both sides and all cities are equal. It is a game of strategy with chance rolled in; that being the frequency of finding cities or the enemy. No gimmicky special powers (read : wtf ) that one side has that the other does not.. no fancy animations to get in the way of what something does.

        Simple games can be the best games... I am still waiting for someone to replicate Sta

        • by edremy (36408)
          I am still waiting for someone to replicate Starflight

          I've never played Starflight, but looking at Wikipedia the Escape Velocity series seems pretty similar in concept. EV Nova [ambrosiasw.com] has been ported to the PC- you might want to try the demo.

          • by Dan Ost (415913)

            Escape Velocity (plus all the mods available) is awesome...but i had to quit playing because stearing with the arrow keys made my wrist hurt.

            Of course, that was 10 years ago...

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Novus (182265)

          Simple games can be the best games... I am still waiting for someone to replicate Starflight

          Have you tried The Ur-Quan Masters [sourceforge.net]?

          However, I'd hesitate to call Starflight or Rogue "simple". Many of these games have quite a lot of depth compared to the FPS of the week.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by griego (1108909)
        In Final Fantasy XI, the weather (and day of the week, which are all named after elements) does affect spell resist rates, as well as crafting success rates. Thunder-based spells cast during lightning storms will more often land for full damage; crafting an item using a Fire Crystal on Watersday (and/or during rainy weather) will more likely result in critical failure, causing you to lose some or all of your ingredients.
      • True that. But what if you have a good game AND shiny graphics? I mean look at Quake 3. No story. Grapically very outdated too, but had shiny graphics when it was new. But still alive and kicking, with a big loving community. Think of things like CPMA and Defrag.

        Or how Half-Life became Counterstrike in the early days.

        I think the graphics can be there, and still if it's a great game it will continue to be played.

        About the hallucinations and unpredicable ways? have you ever played System Shock 1 and 2?
        Because

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        In D&D rainy weather doesn't affect spells, and I don't recall anything about rainy weather causing fire elementals to burn any cooler. Typically natural weather doesn't affect the magical or supernatural.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by fractoid (1076465)
          What annoys me is that as a mage in WoW, I can pelt someone with a frostbolt and then a fireblast, and both do full damage. They should be going "owowowow cold... *BOOM* aaah waaaarm yay" and not take much if any damage. Also magic going 'magically' *ahem* through armour. I want to see armour absorb a goodly part of a spell and convert it to a DoT ("Your breastplate of shininess absorbs 50% of the dragon's breath. On the other hand it's now very hot, and you take 200 damage every round for the next 3 rounds
          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            You kidding? Have you ever tried putting your hand in freezing water, and then placing it in mildly warm water? It burns like hell.

            Temperature changes are what cause a lot of pain, especially in structures.

          • by Talderas (1212466)

            That would mean that all the mages in your raid would need to be frost/arcane or fire/arcane, otherwise they'd be negating a lot of their total damage.

          • Quite the contrary, mixed element spells should do more damage, especially to mechanicals and/or Dark Iron types. Massive changes in temperature aren't good for anything, but are particularly tough on metal. Going from supercooled to superheated in a very short time or vice-versa is not a good thing.

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

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:00AM (#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.

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

          by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:13AM (#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.
    • Re:Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:23AM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pipoca (1142297)
        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:4, Interesting)

          by lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:39AM (#27843289)
          here: http://diablo.chaosforge.org/ [chaosforge.org], and don't miss the Doom version here http://doom.chaosforge.org/ [chaosforge.org] (yes, the mechanics are different and they're not a copypaste of the other one)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mumb0.jumb0 (1419117)
          Diablo is an "action rpg". That basically means it's space invaders with character development.

          There is no real adventuring - despite the randomized maps, there's very little to explore (because there's very little to find, except more monsters). There's no discovery - the identify system is token and adds nothing to the game. There's no problem solving (apart from figuring out how to blast a bunch of monsters before they blast you) because there's no depth - your options are a) attack, or b) attack.

          If
          • Re:Imagination. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by zwei2stein (782480) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:20AM (#27843915) Homepage

            Diablo is, of course, simplified because of visuals versus verbosity conflict. But it still retains core - Randomized adventure, dungeon discovery. atmosphere.

            There is nothing bad at throwing out kitchen sink and doing spring cleaning. Away with steep learning curve, leave core of game.

            Problem solving, for example - typical problem solving in RL basically consists of having the luck of having right item in inventory. (and remembering to pray if everything else fails) There are gonna be lots of nuances, obscure mechanics that can be abused, lots of different options to dealing with something. But it all can be condesned to "was i lucky enough to have x in backpack?". Might as well just simplify it. For example, condesate all the "equipment rusting/melting/breaking" events to simple durability loss, or all the harm character in interesting way effects to health loss, etc ...

            Discovery another - in heart, discovery in roguelikes is as shallow as in Diablos - just uncover level to find enemies/loot, proceed to next level. But it works.

            Depth of roguelike is in player imagination, rich enviroment that adds event to trigger more imagination (meeting rust monster beating it with wooden sword), its not just that enviroment alone - without player imagination it is just pointlessly overcomplicated dungeon crawl slash roulette.

            • by dkleinsc (563838)

              There is nothing bad at throwing out kitchen sink

              Hey, what about kicking sinks, or tossing in rings to identify them, or having fun with the dishwasher? (Ok, that's Nethack, not rogue, but the point remains) Diablo, while enjoyable, doesn't have that kind of depth, or the very fascinating challenge of trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

          • by kalirion (728907)

            There is no real adventuring - despite the randomized maps, there's very little to explore (because there's very little to find, except more monsters). There's no discovery - the identify system is token and adds nothing to the game. There's no problem solving (apart from figuring out how to blast a bunch of monsters before they blast you) because there's no depth - your options are a) attack, or b) attack.

            If you think Diablo is basically a real-time Rogue-like, then you've misunderstood what is so great ab

        • by Rolgar (556636)

          Aren't all Rogue type games death=start over? I recall there is a hardcore mode in Diablo, which would give it the same feel. But Diablo is a combat game, where Rogue is more of a survival game. I think Rogue has more replay value for me. Diablo is easily beatable if you are a decent player. The Rogue games are much more difficult, and take much more skill and luck.

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

        Add to the list -
        Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon
        Any other Fushigi na Dungeon series (Yangus, Torneko, the original IP ones)
        Pokemon Mystery Dungeon
        Shiren the Wanderer
        Izuma Legend of the Unemployed Ninja

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Sobrique (543255)
        I am reminded of Dwarf Fortress [bay12games.com] - a game which I saw the graphics, and assumed 'oh, old game' until I realised that it was possibly the most intricate 'simulation' style game I'd ever run into. And the graphics are ascii, although I believe it has coloured text too :)
    • Re:Imagination. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:00AM (#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.

      • by Minwee (522556)

        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.

        That's probably because killing the wizard of Yendor was actually challenging.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

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

      One word: "Performance"

      Unlike many current games, you didn't need to have a special system to play rogue. It would practically run on an abacus (or at least a TI-80). No matter how slow your system, that little guy would still run like a demon.

      Except for those fucking ants. I hated those ants. Rooms full of ants. Multiplying ants.

    • by BForrester (946915) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:49AM (#27844159)

      Indeed. I can play Rogue all day at work, and everyone else assumes that I'm working at something really complicated and "techy."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      When I worked on Cthangband (Angband, a roguelike, with stuff from the Cthulhu mythos), somebody asked me about graphic tiles. I explained that, if they didn't cause insanity in the players, they wouldn't fit into the game.

  • by Norsefire (1494323) * on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:06AM (#27843181) Journal
    People would have figured out how to spell it.
  • Modern version (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @06:04AM (#27843375)

    So as a young noob I quite like these old games, but I have to admit I prefer tilesets over text, can anybody recommend a gui frontend for rogue?
    Best I've found for nethack was a qtnethack* which really sucked in some areas, is there something similar for rogue? Hell is there something that can act as a frontend for both?

    *I know there if flacon's eye but I found it much harder to see whats going on in 3D

    • Re:Modern version (Score:5, Informative)

      by TeknoHog (164938) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @06:22AM (#27843435) Homepage Journal

      While this isn't answering your question, I'd like to point out my favourite Nethack interface:

      http://glhack.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

      GnomeHack was a very nice version of the game... But the GUI-ness of it (popup windows, scrollbars, etc..) really wasn't to my taste. So I started work on glHack, to make it feel very similiar to the text-terminal version (nice & snappy). but with graphical tiles.

    • by dltaylor (7510)

      The Amiga version is very good, and in every sense that I know "modern", although you can't have one of mine to run it.

    • Re:Modern version (Score:5, Informative)

      by CommanderData (782739) <kevinhi@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:57AM (#27843773)
      Well, If you'd like a more modern rogue implementation with tilesets, and have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you could give Rogue Touch a try. I wrote this version from scratch in my spare time over last fall and winter as a way to fill in downtime from consulting. Borrowed some graphics from public domain tilesets, and drew others myself. It's a tribute to the Atari ST and Amiga versions of Rogue, and it's gained quite a following lately... as a matter of fact one of my players alerted me to this story (I used to post here regularly, but have been away for a while... had to quit reading so I could get some real work done!!).

      Anyway a lot of neat little tweaks were made to the formula without messing up the core game: new equipment and magic, some animations, secret characters (that have unique abilities and starting equipment), and an online leaderboard to compete with dungeon crawlers all over the world.

      Come by my website http://www.chronosoft.com/ [chronosoft.com] to see a video and check out the forums and leaderboards.
      • by Unnngh! (731758)
        Thanks for writing this, I've enjoyed Rogue Touch quite a bit. It's remained true to the original - it's a tough game and the adaptation to the iPhone was pretty smooth, without making it feel too flashy on the gfx.
    • by mikael (484)

      I played 'Vultures Claw' and 'Vultures Eye' [wikia.com] which provide a isometric view of each level based on what the ASCII rendering of 'nethack' would display. Many of the levels are exactly as you would imagine (fire levels with lava, water levels/Jubilex/Astral Planes).

      • by Rei (128717)

        I was a coder and graphics devel for that project a while back... fun stuff. :) The original Falcon's Eye had stopped being maintained and wasn't even taking new patches, so Clive spun off Vulture's Eye.

  • Multiplayer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mumb0.jumb0 (1419117) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @06:09AM (#27843391)
    I'm holding my breath for the day somebody develops a truly co-operatively multiplayer version. (No, sharing bones files/score tables doesn't count.) I know it will probably mean sacrificing turn-based play, but adding human interactivity into the already complex world(s) of Rogue will be amazing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm working on a roguelike that's based on a wilderness map rather than a dungeon map--meaning you can move as far as you want in the four cardinal directions, but not up or down levels. It features regular roguelike play nearly all of the time, but if you come close to another player on the same server, it enters a timed mode that's more similar to Diablo, and lasts as long as the two players are nearby each other.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Varka (767489)
      http://www.t-o-m-e.net/main.php?tome_current=1 [t-o-m-e.net] TomeNET is a multiplayer fantasy dungeon exploration game based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. It is a game that emphasizes intricate, challenging, and varied gameplay over graphics. Hundreds of different monsters in randomly-generated, unpredictable dungeons will strive to slay you by various means, and you counter - if you survive - by developing the skills of your choice and wielding mighty artifacts. TomeNET was originally based on Mangband 0.7.0, and it
  • Still... (Score:3, Informative)

    by morazor (1422819) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @06:11AM (#27843399)
    Despite only the most 'primitive' audiovisuals I'm still addicted to its descendants. They have some features not easily found in modern games, above all the difficulty and the challenge. Modern games often seem to be designed to let the player win.
  • by dltaylor (7510) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:05AM (#27843559)

    While porting nethack, 'way back when, we wanted to be sure that all of the levels worked, so we added a terminator-like character for the test players. Immune to poisons, more robust, ... Then one died down about level 23, and, of course, came back as a ghost. Made the game much tougher to win when playing as a tourist or whatever.

    No, we didn't purge it from the system. That would be cheating.

  • Still thriving (Score:4, Interesting)

    by soupforare (542403) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:40AM (#27843687)

    The DS is a roguelike gamers paradise at this point. I'm amazed how many commercial ones that are out there. You've got something for the hardcore [wikipedia.org], the weeaboos [wikipedia.org], the kids [wikipedia.org] and the computer nerds [gno.org]. The nethack port is worth the price of a flash cart alone. It's better than the wince/wm port!
    I know there's ones I've missed. There's also a ground-up game coded for the GBA and ported to the DS.

  • ADOM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:47AM (#27843723)
    My favorite Rogue-like will always be Ancient Domains of Mystery [www.adom.de]. The control system is so much better than Nethack.
  • Poor sales? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @07:58AM (#27843781)
    I guess you could say it's an... *sunglasses* ... Epyx fail.
  • One of the coolest things i remember about Rogue was Rogomatic, which was an AI that played the game. Never saw a version for any of the Rogue descendants though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Varka (767489)
      Angband Borg: http://www.thangorodrim.net/borg.html [thangorodrim.net]
    • by shoppa (464619)

      Rogomatic was the coolest thing in the world. Circa nineteeneighty-whatever when I saw it.

      It only worked with one particular version of Rogue IIRC.

      What was really cool is we'd let it run overnight on the Unix boxes, then come in the next day and see how much fun the computer had had :-).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by xororand (860319)

      For NetHack, there's the TAEB - Tactical Amulet Extraction Bot. It's a framework for developing NetHack AIs, written in Perl. Its development still seems to be going strong but it hasn't managed to ascend a game yet, which is not an easy accomplishment for an AI.

      Sartak, a TAEB author, recently managed to predict NetHack's PRNG to acquire infinite wishes from fountains. This is considered an exploit of course, and has since been patched on public NetHack servers. Still, pretty impressive :)

      I think there's a

  • In the mid '80s when I was in a heavy coding job, I used to run 'co-routines', the compiler and Rogue... One of my co-workers hacked the code to produce a party room on every level, the variant was known as 'twinkie - because you got a big delight with every bite.'

  • When Zork and Rogue came out and people started calling computer combat games "role playing games" the real role players who knew there was more to role playing than dungeon crawls were mortified.

    So, what, now you're complaining that Warcrack isn't a real role playing game because it's not immersive, or something?

    I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @08:55AM (#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.

  • by juuri (7678) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:09AM (#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.

  • Would have been nice if the article actually talked about the different versions and ports.

    When I played it back in the day it was called Nethack. I always wondered what the difference was between that and rogue etc...

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:19PM (#27847103) Homepage

    The first version of Rogue that was widely circulated became quite a time sink for a lot of people at Caltech. This version was considerably harder than subsequent versions. It was extremely rare for anyone to actually win the game, by getting down deep, getting the Amulet of Yendor, and making it out alive.

    One undergraduate, however, had no trouble beating it. Within a couple days of his starting playing, he had all the spots on the top score list, and all of them were total winners.

    He then stopped playing, except when anyone else dared to take a spot on the top score list. Then he'd come to computing center, sit down, and 30 minutes later, the interloper would be pushed off the list.

    Naturally, we all wondered how the hell this guy was so much better than the rest of us (and, based on what our contacts at other schools told us, better than anyone at their schools, too). He didn't do anything to hide when playing--he didn't play in an office with a private terminal. He played right out in the main terminal room, where anyone who wanted could stand behind and watch.

    As far as anyone could see, he didn't do anything significantly different than the rest of us, other than he died a lot less than we did.

    Finally, he told us the secret, and we all learned an important lesson. There was no big secret--he just made every little decision correctly. For example, if he had to explore a dark room, he did it in the minimum number of steps necessary. The rest of us would use the "run until you hit something" funciton and sweep the room, which made us step on more locations, which made us have a higher chance of springing a trap.

    Traps usually weren't fatal. They just put you down a few hit points for a little while. But in that little while, a monster that he would barely survive, we would barely lose to.

    After he got the Amulet and was on the way up, he would only step on locations he'd already stepped on while descending, and so he NEVER sprang a trap on the way up.

    He knew the odds of everything (based on observation while playing, not based on looking at the code), and would use potions or scrolls at the time when they had the maximum expected utility.

    He did this for EVERY decision point in the game. He made the decision that, based on all the data available at the time, was the best decision.

    None of the things I listed above, or any of the other things he did perfectly that the rest of us only did 99% perfectly would make a noticeable difference by themselves. But put them all together, and all our tiny mistakes added up to losing for us, and the lack of any mistakes added up to winning for him.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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