Types of Roguelikes

Ive been playing a lot of nethack guys

Whenever I mention that I like to play nethack, or that I am still playing nethack, I often get questions asking if I have played "X" roguelike. The most common one being Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

While I'm alway happy to answer peoples question, these questions I often find kind of curious. The reality is that roguelikes like DCSS and wildly different from Nethack, and are even more different from the Modern style of roguelikes. So asking this question is a bit like asking "Do you like Baldurs Gate?" after someone has mentioned they like Final Fantasy.

Anyways, because I get those kind of questions often, I figured I would at least explain how these roguelikes are differnet, and what I kind of view as the three major types of roguelikes that exist today.

So here they are (in no particular order).

Modern Rogulike (The Roguelite)

FTL, Rogue Legacy, Crypt Of The Necrodancer

The Modern Roguelike is currently the most popular kind of rogulike. The term Roguelite actually captures a lot of what separates this sub-genre from the other two, but people sometimes do not like the term, thinking that it's used to put down this style of roguelike (which admittedly it may have been originally).

The two main key components that define a Modern Roguelike are: Low focus on the meta-game as a core part of the game, and a design that encourages short quick plays where randomness greatly varies the experience and provides difficulty.

A good example is Rogue Legacy. That game is very much designed for a player to replay the dungeon it generates over and over again in quick succession. You can tell that this is a core philosophy of that game by the Trait mechanic, a mechanic that only really makes sense if the player is going to have to play a lot of the game over and over again.

Rogue Legacy also introduced the cross-run progression mechanic which more of these Modern Roguelikes are adopting. This lets the user feel a sense of progression over time, and with enough perks/upgrades it helps reduce how much the randomness can affect a game.

As the term Roguelite implies, these games are meant more for short playthroughs with little attachment to any one playthrough. In fact, with many of these games, extended playing of the games can be frustrating, as the more one plays the one more gets frustrated at how much of the game is determined by randomness.

Classic Roguelike

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, ToME, Dungeons of Dredmor, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

The Classical roguelike is the second most popular type of modern roguelike. These are the closest of the current style of roguelikes to the original type of roguelikes. These are often RPGs, but do not have to be.

The main defining characteristics of the Classic Roguelike are: Low focus on the meta-game as a core part of the game, and designed for long and involved runs that can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 hours.

These roguelikes are the closest to the modern Dungeon Crawler. Think Diablo and other loot games, except with random generation of dungeons and perma-death. The games are designed for players to find lots of loot (which is randomly variant), and to progress through a lot of levels. They also tend to include many different roles that players can play with large variance between roles.

For example, Tales Of Maj'Eyal (or ToME), includes a very large world with multiple areas and dungeons. All of these areas are randomly generated, and the game includes multiple quests and plenty of monsters to kill for random loot. The main goal of the game, and most of these games, is progression for the sake of progression.

As I mentioned before, if what I'm describing doesn't sound that different from a Diablo or a Baldur's Gate, but with turn based mechanics, that is because it isn't that different. These are essentially similar to those style of games, but with perma-death and randomness.


Nethack, Spelunky

The Hacklike is the rare unicorn of the roguelike spectrum, both in terms of modern roguelikes and older roguelikes. This style of roguelike caters to a niche audience, and requires a significant investment from both the developer and player, and as a result these are somewhat rare.

The main defining characteristic of the Hacklike is: The meta-game is the game, all of the game is more or less designed around the player learning the ins and outs of the mechanics. Once enough of the metagame is understood, the game is consistently beatable. The randomness exists mainly as a variance to allow the player to learn the meta-game, and not to provide actual difficulty.

This style of roguelike is also sometimes reffered to as "puzzle games pretending to be roguelikes".

Another thing that defines a 'Hacklike' is what is called the 'YASD', or 'Yet Another Stupid Death'. Once a player has learned sufficient knowledge of the metagame, any death or loss of the game is often followed by the player thinking 'that was my fault'. This is a consequent of the strict meta-game that exists, and deaths that feel this way are called 'YASD', as they often make the player feel stupid.

Spelunky, the most modern incarnation of this aspect, introduced a new idea of the "Daily Challenge" to the genre. This was something that nethack communities had actually done before, but Spelunky was the first game to introduce it as a built in mechanic. The concept of this challenge is to provide the same dungeon to different players, and see who can do the best trying to beat it. In other words, the challenge is in who can figure out the puzzle that is the game the best.

That's all folks

And there you have it, those are the major types of roguelikes that kind of exist today. Now obviously these divisions are getting more and more fluid (Crypt of the Necrodancer for example has some modes that seem to be inspired by Hacklikes), and the genre is constantly evolving. However, I think this at least captures the major divisions between roguelikes.


Case For Final Fantasy XIII-2

Well Lightning Returns, the new game in the XIII series, is about to be released and as a result I have been thinking a ton about FFXIII-2. It’s a weird game that I feel like either slipped under the radar for a lot of people, or more likely got purposefully ignored because of how bad FFXIII is. While it’s totally fair to ignore a sequel to a game that was by all accounts pretty bad, it’s a real bummer because FFXIII-2 managed to be so good. Heck it’s in my top 3 Final Fantasy games. So since I’ve been thinking about it a lot, I decided to make this blog to try and make the case for XIII-2 and why its worth checking out.

The gameplay is solid

Commander Noel Shepard

The gameplay of XIII-2 is pretty much the same gameplay from XIII, with a little bit of Pokemon fused in. Instead of having a 6 member group (with 3 member party) you have 2 permanent party members, and a third one that can be filled by a captured monster (and rotated through). Otherwise gameplay has all the paradigm shifting, staggering, and other stuff from XIII. Which is actually a good thing, because that gameplay is probably the only thing that XIII did really well. It flubbed up pretty hard by blocking that gameplay behind hours and hours of tutorials, and frustratingly failed to open up the gameplay fully until nearly the end of the game. However, when it did open up the mechanics in XIII were pretty solid. Managing to keep the game feeling active and challenging.

The Characters are better

Don't cry Hope. You're actually not that bad in this one.

One of the weakest parts of XIII were the characters. While there were some characters in the mix who were genuinely interesting (Looking at you Sazh) there were also some characters that were downright horrible (Looking at you Hope). One the best things XIII-2 does is throw pretty much all those guys under the bus. The main characters are a new guy (Noel) and Serah, who was a minor character in XIII. XIII-2 characters do get cameos, but the only one who really plays a big part in the story is Hope, and he’s generally a lot better this time around.

The new characters are all pretty good. Noel is the new protagonist, and he has a good motivation and development throughout the game. The new villain is a lot more threatening than the one in XIII, and how the whole arc concludes with him is pretty amazing. Which brings me to my third case.

The story of XIII-2 Is Insane

Noel Auditore not actually part of the story.

For those of you coming here after having watched the XIII story recap video You may be a little confused by the abrupt change of tone and story in the middle of that video. That isn’t an artifact of the recap, that’s pretty much how abrupt it is in the actual game. XIII was a pretty straight forward story, in which the characters have to fight to save their home town, and they learn to accept each other and grow together as a team. Pretty standard JRPG stuff, and besides the interesting setting it’s just a little too bland. XIII-2 tosses all of that away, and starts off with Lightning (former main character of XIII) being erased from time, and her sister meeting a time traveling hero who tells her she has to go save her. As a result they travel together, fight monsters and time traveling computers, uncover a plot to destroy all of time, and then have to foil it.

It’s hard to describe it without giving much away, but it really feels like with XIII-2 the team was kind of just let loose to create whatever they want. The strength of Final Fantasy games has always been in the settings and characters. In spite of how much people complain about the tropes of FF, they are still more varied and interesting than the tropes of a lot of other games (Oh no, orcs are attacking the kingdom, let us fight). XIII-2’s main strength is that the setting and story was just sort of allowed to go wherever they wanted it to go, and as a result it’s all over the place but somehow still one coherent and very interesting story.

It’s also the only Final Fantasy game that I can think of that actually ends on an explicit cliffhanger, which is kind of crazy.

End Remarks

So those are my main arguments for why XIII-2 is worth a look at. It may not be for everyone, but I do feel like that game is one of the best Final Fantasy games. It certainly is the first one in a long time that really tried to shift things up in a big way.

I’m actually looking forward to Lightning Returns as well. The gameplay seems to have been radically changed (like a fusion of XIII and the Tales game mechanics), and the story seems to have gone even farther off the deep end (It’s set 500 years in the future I think? And snow is like some kind of rave king? I don’t know man).

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Testing Stuff My Friends

Woah I haven't posted a blog entry in a while?

I keep meaning to write something up about Nethack or about revisiting old MMOs (used to play a lot of Tibia), but I just keep putting it off.

Anyways Im just posting this to test some of our changes on stage, really thats it.


Giantbomb/Comicvine Changelog

Hey gang,

We did some big updates to comicvine and giantbomb today, and instead of spamming my twitter I decided just to start posting a change log here.

So with that being said, here is what changed today:


  • Comicvine now has series and episodes in their wiki, you can go over there and start adding all your favorite comic related tv shows.
  • Animated Gifs now work through our uploader, so you guys can stop embedding the images directly and making me cry.


  • Indents in the WYSIWYG are supported better now. Before if you edited something with indents it would be cleaned out when you went to edit it, no longer. (I'm not even sure indents on paragraphs was supposed to be supported in the first place, so woooo)
  • The image uploader button on the profile page should now always work
  • Non gallery pages with greater than 300 images will work in the image viewer again (I'm looking at you comicvine)
  • If you upload images by url on your gallery page, they will now append correctly to the gallery without a refresh
  • A few weird 404s (like after you sign up for a subscription) were fixed
  • When a premium chat is running and you are not premium the page now says something appropriate, rather than lying to you and saying the chat is not running.
  • The moderation queue page was fixed to look good.


Almost forgot. We've identified the problem with double posting/forum slow down and have a solution. We're still testing out the solution to see if its a permanent fix, but for now the forum posts should be faster.