Roguelikes and why I like 'em.

I picked up Legend of Dungeon today because the Steam page said "local co-op" and it was only ten bucks. I wanted a quick co-op game to try out with Sammy, my brother. Much to my delight, the game turned out to be a roguelike and now I'm thinking about those. Let's talk.

Some time ago (two years? Three? I dunno.) I picked up a Humble Bundle with Binding of Isaac in it. I played two or three runs of the game because I like Edmund McMillen's art style and then put it down because I found it too difficult. Fast forward to last summer, when I finished my PC and I wanted to see if the game was easier with a controller. I died a few more times, repeating my last experience with it, but something was different. I found myself playing again and again, getting a tiny bit farther every time. The game wasn't too difficult anymore, i just wasn't skilled enough at it yet.

Now, I've never been good at games. I've been playing them ever since my aunt and uncle gave me a Gameboy and a Tetris cartridge, but I've never been the type of person to just pick up a game and be good at it. I mostly avoid things that frustrate me for this reason, and almost never touch competitive multiplayer bar a few Halo LAN parties. But the difficulty of a game like Spelunky or Rogue Legacy isn't frustrating to me, it's a learning experience. Every time I die, I know it's my fault. Every death is a learning experience, something that you can learn not to do next time (Don't throw the cat in the lava, Sam.) and when you reach the same challenge and sail past with your new knowledge, it's a satisfying experience that few other games can give you.

There's also something appealing to me about the idea that when you fail in a game, you have to restart the whole damn thing. I still haven't beaten Binding of Isaac, but every time I get a little closer, and I think I'll soon be at the end. I love the punishing, painful loss of having to restart from the Basement every time, but the reason I love it is because of the reward when you finally hit a new floor. You're not learning how to pass each section of the game, you're learning things that take you from the beginning to the end.

And that's the core reason that I enjoy roguelikes in the way I do: You acquire the skills to beat the entire game over the course of your many failures and few successes. It's the feeling of finally mastering a combo in a fighting game or figuring out how to take a particular corner in a driving game expanded all the way out to all of the mechanics, and the satisfaction when you finally nail it down and finish the game is unlike anything else you an get from this medium

14 Comments
17 Comments
Posted by Flacracker

Play a real Roguelike.

Online
Posted by Akyho

What Flacracker really means is such games aren't so much Roguelike but more Roguelike-like.

I am going to throw out Dwarf Fortress, except i am not going to tell you about the fortress building part. Instead I am going to tell you about Adventure mode. Which is a more up to date Rogue in some ways.

http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/ That is the download.

With One F Jef Major guiding you into the world of Dwarf Fortress Adventure mode.

How to watch a Dwarf Fortress video in ASCII characters.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxi1A8Z9KVU&list=PL5WMwekqnmUCx29oDU9TUV_yFxwnDdVAB&index=1

With Dwarf fortress Adventure mode, when in a fight every action can be your last. You can chop a mans ankles and he will fall, you can stab him in the chest a cut his lunge causing him problems in breathing.

I was in a 5 man fight, everything looked like doom form my guy. I threw my shield at a guy coming upon me as I had my sword stuck in the chest of another, it struck the man in the stomach and hut with such force it caused him to puke constantly. I then struck the man whom I have stabbed in the head and crushed his skull killing him, as arrows fly from an archer. I rushed the archers thankfully dodging the arrows (purley stats driven....the amount of times I have had a well armoured greatly skilled fighter die due to one arrow strike in the head.) I slashed the right arm of one archer and it was cut clean off sailing in an arc and his bow was dropped to the ground. I then rush the other doing much the same.

This party of bandits was then mopped up as I cut and slashed them before mostly delivering fatal blows to their heads.

ALL performed through mostly text, but all my decisions.

Or you can play Cataclysm a Dark Days Ahead. Zombie Roguelike!! Any skills learned from Dwarf Fortress will serve you well in Cataclysm. Just like recent game State of Decay you are a lone survivor dropped in a church with one task survive and thrive.

You will be faced with much loot (from food to laser guns) but every thing you do is a risk vs reward. Breaking into a house causes noise! Luring Zombies to your position, and there are MANY types of zombies. When you are running down alleys trying to escape a hoard made up of Child Zombies (Fast), normal zombies (normal) and such mad things like Shockers, Tanks and even Triffids! (giant walking flowers that slash you blinding you and poisoning you......should read the books their awesome. Day of the Triffids and Yes there was a second book Night of the Triffids except penned by another author).

Its not just these decisions, coming across a science team you can find all manner of goodies, cybernetic implants! except...you need to kinda butcher yourself. Surgery aint easy...so you can umm....ruin your self in trying to improve yourself.

These are modern Roguelikes, vastly different from the Roguelike-likes that are Rouge legacy, Spelunky, Binding of Isaac all good games and I love them. But there is just a whole diffrent world when you enter TRUE Roguelikes.

Dungeons of Dredmor is a closer and simpler and probably more accurate take on a Roguelike as in like Rouge. It never jived with me since well I already dove into Dwarf Fortress and its deep simulation.

WTF? is Dungeons of Dredmor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyTfUnnxZV4

Another simpler Roguelike is Swords of the Stars: The pit. It satisfied me waaaay more than dredmor, but then it was sci fi and most of the game was wrapped up in mystery on crafting as well as I am a Sword of the Stars fan.

WTF is Sword of the Stars: the pit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qstolOa_jA

BUT THEN! I am utterly roguelike blinded as I was a small child I played one game alot or watched my dad play it.

Fatal labyrinth on the genesis/megadrive.

So uh....yeah...I kinda in deep on it.

Posted by EarlessShrimp

@akyho: Personally, I would recommend on top of those:

NetHack/Slash'EM - my personal go to of rogulikes. If one notices I generally mention those two games about once a month for all time. I cannot understate how freakin' amazing these games are. I only play more of Nethack because I know a lot more of the rules and have the basic strategy down for completing the game.

and easily Rogue... since, y'know. It is THE originator.

Posted by Akyho

@akyho: Personally, I would recommend on top of those:

NetHack/Slash'EM - my personal go to of rogulikes. If one notices I generally mention those two games about once a month for all time. I cannot understate how freakin' amazing these games are. I only play more of Nethack because I know a lot more of the rules and have the basic strategy down for completing the game.

and easily Rogue... since, y'know. It is THE originator.

Since initial release, NetHack has undergone years of significant improvement by the mysterious "devteam", who release a new major version every few years. Despite (or perhaps because of) the primitive graphics, this constant refinement over decades has resulted in gameplay of great depth and variety.

Two things that have interested me "mysterious dev team" and "resulted in game of great depth and variety" I must check it out.

Posted by EarlessShrimp

@akyho: If you want to go balls deep with all the features, I would say go with Slash'EM first. I mean it's called Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack for a reason. But, Nethack is an excellent place to start, and primes you for Slash'EM in a decent fashion. Be prepared to go down a rabbit hole if you like roguelikes.

Posted by Akyho

@earlessshrimp: I went through a patch last year were I cycled through like 20 roguelikes looking for a new that "one", many of dubious quality E.G Aliens:Marines (sounded cool didn't play cool, sure be killed by Xenomorphs but make it interesting.....) with me landing on Gearhead 1, a mech roguelike with out of mech and in mech action....it was ok.

So I am fully open to being sucked into a world like Nethack as I always enjoy the moments of "ok....I almost dead...drink this potion?..Screw it! damn it was poison....I am dead." or "I am super super strong everything going awesome!! Drink this potion for MORE POWER! oh...I am poisoned...and slowly going blind....fuck."

Posted by BisonHero

Note: ignore Akyho and EarlessShrimp, they will lead you astray!

Actual roguelikes, for all their attention to detail, just always strike me as really tedious. I get that they are a beloved part of gaming's past, but frankly I think they're better left in the past. Modern games have extracted some basic gameplay structure from them (permadeath, environment randomization, items and resources being random), and put them into much more playable games.

So by all means, keep playing The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, and FTL. If you really must, dip your toe into a basic roguelike like Dungeons of Dredmor, but I can't guarantee you'll get much out of it if you don't have a serious boner for 90s-and-earlier PC games.

Edited by AlexW00d

Note: ignore Akyho and EarlessShrimp, they will lead you astray!

Actual roguelikes, for all their attention to detail, just always strike me as really tedious. I get that they are a beloved part of gaming's past, but frankly I think they're better left in the past. Modern games have extracted some basic gameplay structure from them (permadeath, environment randomization, items and resources being random), and put them into much more playable games.

So by all means, keep playing The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, and FTL. If you really must, dip your toe into a basic roguelike like Dungeons of Dredmor, but I can't guarantee you'll get much out of it if you don't have a serious boner for 90s-and-earlier PC games.

I don't have any sort of boner for 90s and earlier PC games and I really enjoyed Dungeons of Dredmor and think SotS: The Pit is pretty great.

Maybe op should ignore you instead.

Edited by EarlessShrimp

@bisonhero: you know not of what you speak!

@akyho: Solution: always play barbarian. They start with poison resistance intrinsic. Also, your luck plays into what an unidentified potion is. Same with scrolls and the beatitude of weapons/armor etc. Just one of the many, many awesome points that make Nethack super deep.

Edited by BisonHero

@alexw00d: Maybe OP should ignore all of us, because who are we? Some guys on the Internet? Pffffffffffffffffffffft.

For what it's worth, Dungeons of Dredmor was not bad until I just got tired of how long it takes to play, and SotS: The Pit looks OK from what I've seen of it.

Edited by WillieMcBride

@bisonhero: That may be. I've actually tried to get into "real" roguelikes recently, but I did mostly find the experience tedious. Maybe it's an age thing, or maybe it's just that I specifically enjoy the game being based on skill of timing as well as knowledge of what's going on. I liked Dungeons of Dredmor, though, I just didn't mention it in the blog post. I also like the game giving me a little progress, whether that's the tunnels in Spelunky, the item unlocks in BoI, or the Rogue Legacy thing of getting better every round-though Rogue Legacy is probably my least favorite of those three.

Posted by Veektarius

I like the idea of roguelikes, but I'm not obsessive enough to continuously replay the same stretch of gameplay once I've gotten accustomed to it. What I'd really like is a roguelike that's balanced to be beaten, maybe not on the first try, but perhaps by the third once the mechanics are mastered, with higher levels of difficulty for those who want them. This is sort of the format that a game like X-Com or Civilization follows.

Edited by oldenglishC

This game should be front and center in every roguelike discussion. It's packed with content, has ridiculous amounts of customization, and is a shit load of fun.

Edited by Akyho

@bisonhero said:

Note: ignore Akyho and EarlessShrimp, they will lead you astray!

Actual roguelikes, for all their attention to detail, just always strike me as really tedious. I get that they are a beloved part of gaming's past, but frankly I think they're better left in the past. Modern games have extracted some basic gameplay structure from them (permadeath, environment randomization, items and resources being random), and put them into much more playable games.

So by all means, keep playing The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, and FTL. If you really must, dip your toe into a basic roguelike like Dungeons of Dredmor, but I can't guarantee you'll get much out of it if you don't have a serious boner for 90s-and-earlier PC games.

Id be the first to admit that ASCII character gaming is not a taste for everyone. That doesn't automatically mean you swoop in an "project" op from trying something different if he has not already, because you "think" it would not suit him.

Dwarf Fortress is free and you can get tiles for it, Cataclysm has just made graphics tiles standard and also it free its not a big deal for him to try it out. We aren't asking him to invest in our Roguelike business at the price of $200,00.

I never guaranteed him joy over them, just at least understand what they are and what a closer approximation of a Roguelike is.

Also I "don't have a serious boner for 90s-and-earlier PC games." What I do have a boner for is the experiences of survival I get in roguelikes same with Day Z. The effort to gain your status in stats and loot all destroyed in strange and interesting ways.

What people seem to miss is the motto of Roguelikes. "losing is fun!"

I like the idea of roguelikes, but I'm not obsessive enough to continuously replay the same stretch of gameplay once I've gotten accustomed to it. What I'd really like is a roguelike that's balanced to be beaten, maybe not on the first try, but perhaps by the third once the mechanics are mastered, with higher levels of difficulty for those who want them. This is sort of the format that a game like X-Com or Civilization follows.

Most proper Roguelikes are random, so its not the same game twice.

Also yeah I love X-com and Civilisations for much of the same elements of a roguelike . I dont know if you played the classic xcom or the new xcom.

The classic xcom is so awkward and buggy nowadays its impossible for me to play and I played it when it was new. Why a game thats doing all the things I wanted improved on Xcom classic has had my attention for the last week.

Xenonauts its basicly xcom without the license updated to modern standards and not the more streamlined still good recent xcom.

Id suggest you check it out...and guess who I am going to link a video of playing it?