Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Episode 16: History and Future of Roguelikes

Welcome to this week's episode of Roguelike Radio. Episode 16 looks back over the history of roguelikes, with a lot of extrapolating over what might happen in future and where we'd each like the genre to go. Talking this week are Andrew Doull, Darren Grey, Ido Yehieli and Keith Burgun.

The mp3 of the podcast can be downloaded here, played in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics covered this week include:
- The hack/band schism
- How the genres has evolved and what the influences were on its evolution and features
- The rise of more diverse roguelikes
- Roguelike influences in the indie community
- The influences on Rogue itself (check out this article by Glen Wichman for more info!)
- Predicting the future (likely badly)

Join us next week for discussion of the Roguelike of the Year award. Go vote if you haven't already!


  1. I would like to apologise for my handwaving and over generalisation early on this episode to cover for the fact we're doing a podcast on the history of roguelikes without John Harris. (Who was unfortunately unavailable).

    Also my D&D pedantry is (in part) wrong. See this blog for the correct details.

  2. Great episode. I started with Hack as well. It came with reams of hints and spoilers in a text file. Printed them out on an old dot matrix with the feeding strips on the sides. I can still remember the noise and getting yelled at for using too much paper. I till have the printout, yellowed with age. "A ring is just a wand wrapped around your finger." Great memories.

    I predict a few more commercial roguelikes, handwringing by the 'hardcore' community over this change and some wonderful updates for Brogue, DF, Crawl and TOME. And hopefully POWDER. I too wish for an out of nowhere brilliant roguelike. But a large open world or just deep and varied dungeon is not on my wishlist.

    I would like to see a shorter game with a great interface. Like Binding of Isaac one would see only a fraction of the content in one play. The boss and character progression different each time. I'd really dig that.

  3. The comment about few roguelike devteams reminded me that on the Amiga there were many teams developing their freeware/shareware/public domain games.

    Non-commercial game devteam are certainly not something new. It's also not remarkable for other games that they got teams of developers/artists/contributors. But why are there so few roguelike devteams? Maybe because it was up until now more of a niche genre? If this is true we will see more games designed by teams in the next and following years.

  4. My 'lock' prediction for next year is that Diablo 3 will come out and the forums will light up with 'is this a roguelike' questions. This will culminate in a debate about adding it to next year's poll. Which will ultimately have to be decided by Mr. Doull. His decision will lead to more debate. It will get nasty early and often.

  5. l like this radio series. I'm surprised nobody is sticking up for ASCII graphics. Roguelikes descend from the unix traditional of textuality, and that tradition is still strong and will remain so. It's not mainstream, and there is a high proportion of developers there. It may not be commercially successful. But it's distinct and has strengths.

    Part of the magic of roguelikes is the complexity of the system that you can create. Having symbolic representations of ideas instead of graphics makes for a much tighter development cycle, and greater creativity. The emphasis on graphics is part of what has destroyed gaming.

    Regarding cryptic commands - this can work as an valid element of a good game. Look at Magicka.

  6. As someone who has never played a roguelike until a month ago with Dungeons of Dreadmor, and now just started on Brogue, I have to say a great big thank you to you all.

    This is the first podcast I have listened to about roguelikes, and you guys are just feeding the excitement I realize I now have for this genre.

    You mentioned in this episode that roguelikes often spoil other games for a player because of the depth and challenge they provide. I am now just beginning to see why. It has been nearly 20 years since I have had a *real* excitement over discovering and playing a single-player video game, and I am now feeling that once again, with the first few games of Brogue. I can see with more time, most other video games will unfortunately be little more than time wasters for me.

    It's great to hear people talk passionately and with knowledge and depth and experience about, what is for me, a hidden gem that more people should know about and experience. Keep going, I am so enjoying it!

  7. cratuki: That's because all the cool kids use Unicode.

    (Seriously: We talked about the advantages of symbolic representation on another episode, and are pretty conscious of how much we already repeat ourselves on various topics e.g. UI, accessibility etc.)

    Adam: That's great to hear. You should check out John Harris' @Play column as well for another insightful take on the genre.

  8. After listening to this episode, I feel very inspired/accomplished with my game so far. I hope to achieve (or already have in some ways) your discussions about emphasis on crafting/monster resources, story, and accessibility/usability.

  9. Oh Darren, you will always be my favourite host for interrupting the occasional close-minded tirade with an obvious and fair counterargument.

    I, for one, wish Nethack's popularity would die faster. The many gimmicks and novelties are fun for a little while, but it has so many questionable design decisions and lacking features compared to most significant modern roguelikes.