Friday, April 20, 2012

Episode 31 - Rogue, with co-creator Glenn Wichman

Welcome to Roguelike Radio episode 31, where we discuss the game that inspired our whole genre - Rogue. Talking this episode are Ido Yehieli, John Harris, Jordan Starkweather, Keith Burgun, Michael Brough and our very special guest Glenn Wichman, one of the co-creators of the original Rogue.

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 story of the original creation of Rogue by Glenn Wichman and Michael Toy
- How the game evolved and the different versions for different platforms
- Defining features of the game that arose from platform limitations
- The influence of Dungeons and Dragons on the Dungeons of Doom
- Glenn's 7DRL, The Seven Day Quest
- Rogue's influence on modern roguelikes and other games
- The source of the original name "Rogue"
- Why we needed this episode before Glenn dies (according to John)

A few relevant links to find out more about Rogue:
- Many many versions of Rogue and relevant materials (old manual etc)
- Browser-based Rogue by Donnie Russell - go play now!
- Glenn's history of Rogue
- Gamasutra's history of Rogue
- The C64 box art for Rogue (somehow I think they missed the point...)

Join us next time for more exciting roguelike discussion!


  1. Was a pleasure to speak with Mr. Wichman!

  2. Hearing Rogue's text adventure influence explains a lot about why the interface of NetHack and many other roguelikes is so verb-oriented.

  3. Was really hoping I could have been a part of this episode. I Rogue is still one of my favorite games ever that I play probably more often than other roguelikes.

    Really good episode. Although I was a little disappointed tat the questions of "why an Emu?, Who is Rodney, and What came first, Rodney or Yendor?" Never came up.


  4. Well...that was just fucking awesome.

  5. I know some answers for you Legend.

    I extrapolate that the Emu was so to not encroach on the D&D property. Plus you need and 'e' monster...Also I'm not sure that all versions have the emu.

    I have heard that Rodney was a friend they had at the time. I read that on one of the 'memories' style articles on Rogue somewhere on the net.

  6. Legend: There were 5 panellists (6 if you count Darren sneaking on at the end there, uncredited). I would have clawed my way on, if not for the fact it was recorded 3 am my time.

    But yeah, great show...

  7. I just started listening to this cast and I know already that it is gonna be awesome!

  8. Who was the guy who said "Awesome." like 20 times?

  9. @Andrew: That bit with me at the end was after the show was complete, but since he gave an interesting answer I thought it worth editing into the show.

    But yeah, was quite a crowded interview, making it hard to discern who is who, though of course Glenn was the focus. Maybe we'll do another ep some time looking at Rogue's mechanics in more detail.

  10. Yes, I was the one who said awesome like a million times. Sorry for that, hahaha! It was a pleasure being on though! I was a bit star-struck.


  11. I was confused hearing Darren there... OK, this clears it up.

    I suppose "Emu" is because they wanted a monster for each letter, and there are not many monsters starting with "E"... eye, elemental, elephant... probably Emu just sounded funny... Just a guess.

    As for social roguelikes, IIRC kMoria (a PalmOS port of Moria) apparently had a feature that you can "beam" your gold and items while in town... that is, point your infrared emitter at another device with kMoria running, and you give your stuff to another player. Not balanced I suppose, but a nice idea, I think.

  12. This was a very very nice episode. A gold start to you guys for getting Glenn on the show!

    I got contacted by a very dedicated old Rogue player who mentions a Scare Monster scroll trick that wasn't mentioned in the podcast. He also uses double rings of Slow Digestion to disable the food clock, as mentioned in the podcast. Here's what he wrote:

    "I began playing the 1.49 Epyx retail copy-protected version (from your site) and was lucky enough to accumulate the proper inventory for the master trick- Infinite Scare Monster Experience!

    This video shows my character doing the SM scroll trick for the 2nd time- after having done it for a very long time on level 19 until I was a 102 HP Wizard, starting from a 12 HP no-rank thanks to a helpful Wraith. Then I went down to get the Amulet of Yendor, not picking it up until level 30 so I could accumulate more stuff (gain strength potions, enchant weapon/armor scrolls, etc...) This version offers you the Amulet of Yendor at L26 and deeper, every level, until you collect it or die. I picked it up on L30 and then went back up to L25, killing at least a dozen dragons along the way (which have the highest experience points- 6800 per Winner's Guide to Rogue).

    Dragons are great for experience but they are generated by the level. They won't spontaneously spawn while you're doing the Scare Monster scroll trick. After Dragons, the monsters with the most Exp to gain are Griffins (2000) and Jabberwocks (4000). No other monsters come close (next highest is Vampire at 350, Medusa at 200). Phantoms have only 120 and are invisible, a real pain in the ass, even though this character has a ring of See Invisible (very helpful when I was doing this trick the first time on L19). However, they stop appearing after L24. But Griffins stop appearing after L26. So it must be L25 or L26 for maximum harvest of experience.

    This Epyx 1.49 version is my favorite, and is the most polished. It seems to give you more items more regularly, and is the most fun for me. It was apparently the last version before clones and ports took over development."

    "Hi, it occurred to me that you may want to check it out. If so, restore the attached save game (rockbottom) to the 1.49 Epyx retail version. It begins with the character standing on a scroll of Scare Monster with two rings of Slow Digestion, a ring of Regeneration, a ring of See Invisible, and a staff of light, a full pack and extra items in the room. The spot is surrounded by extra food so that you can't accidentally step off the scroll and then back on with an empty pack. This safeguards against the scroll crumbling into dust. Who knows if I could ever get this inventory again in a million years!"

    I have both the save game and the video if anyone is interested.

  13. I'd love to see the vid. Upload to youtube?

  14. Here you go:

  15. Another great episode. Glenn's Atari ST Rogue was the first roguelike I ever played. What a pleasure to learn about Rogue's design and history from the man himself. Enlightening stuff.

  16. We came up with the name "Rodney" pretty much out of nowhere, though I suspect we were influenced by the character Sir Rodney from the Wizard of Id. Emu was one of several whimsical choices we made in designing the game, but it was tough matching letters to monsters while avoiding other people's intellectual property.

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