Exploring Roguelike Games  book cover
1st Edition

Exploring Roguelike Games

ISBN 9780367482596
Published September 10, 2020 by CRC Press
556 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Since 1980, in-the-know computer gamers have been enthralled by the unpredictable, random, and incredibly deep gameplay of Rogue and those games inspired by it, known to fans as "roguelikes." For decades, this venerable genre was off the radar of most players and developers for a variety of reasons: deceptively simple graphics (often just text characters), high difficulty, and their demand that a player brings more of themselves to the game than your typical AAA title asks. This book covers many of the most prominent titles and explains in great detail what makes them interesting, the ways to get started playing them, the history of the genre, and more. It includes interviews, playthroughs, and hundreds of screenshots. It is a labor of love: if even a fraction of the author’s enthusiasm for these games gets through these pages to you, then you will enjoy it a great deal.

Key Features:

  • Playing tips and strategy for newcomers to the genre

  • Core roguelikes Rogue, Angband, NetHack, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, ADOM, and Brogue
  • The "lost roguelikes" Super Rogue and XRogue, and the early RPG dnd for PLATO systems
  • The Japanese console roguelikes Taloon’s Mystery Dungeon and Shiren the Wanderer
  • Lesser-known but extremely interesting games like Larn, DoomRL, HyperRogue, Incursion, and Dungeon Hack
  • "Rogue-ish" games that blur the edges of the genre, including Spelunky, HyperRogue, ToeJam & Earl, Defense of the Oasis, Out There, and Zelda Randomizer
  • Interviews with such developers as Keith Burgun (100 Rogues and Auro), Rodain Joubert (Desktop Dungeons), Josh Ge (Cogmind), Dr. Thomas Biskup (ADOM), and Robin Bandy (devnull public NetHack tournament)
  • An interview regarding Strange Adventures in Infinite Space
  • Design issues of interest to developers and enthusiasts

Author Bio:

John Harris has bumped around the Internet for more than 20 years. In addition to writing the columns @Play and Pixel Journeys for GameSetWatch and developer interviews for Gamasutra, he has spoken at Roguelike Celebration. John Harris has a MA in English Literature from Georgia Southern University.

Table of Contents

1 An Introduction to Some Rogues 1Section I Basics

2 What the Hell Does Q Do Again? 7

3 A View of the Field 11

4 Tips for Travel in Gridland 17

5  Brought to You Today by the Letter “Q” 23

6 Check and Mate 27

Section II Theory

7 The Berlin Interpretation 37

8 Roguelikes and OD&D 45

9 Storytelling, Bah! 49

10 Pushing the Silver Boulder 51

11 I Never Meta Rogue I Didn’t Like 57

Section III NetHack

12 Giant Eel Stories, Volume 1

13 Giant Eel Stories, Volume 2 67

14 Thou Art Early, but We’ll Admit Thee 71

15 I Believe It Not! 77

16 How to Win at NetHack 83

17 Spoiled for Options 95

18 Hack Hacks 99

19 A Quick Look at the NetHack Sources 105

20 Balancing a Game That Looks Balanceless 109

21 SLASH’EM: NetHack Intensified 113

22 Ten Years of the dev/null NetHack Tournament, Part 1 119

23 Ten Years of the dev/null NetHack Tournament, Part 2 123

Section IV Dungeon Crawl

25 Crawl: Skills and Advancement 137

26 Crawl: Skill Overview 143

27 Crawl: Interesting Class and Race Pairs 153

28 Crawl: Travel Functions and Play Aids 161

29 Crawl: Dungeon Sprint 167

Section V ADOM

30 ADOM, NetHack with a Goatee 175

31 Things to Do While Visiting Ancardia 179

32 Interview: Thomas Biskup on ADOM 183

Section VI Mystery Dungeon

33 The Delights of Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer 199

34 Architecture of the Mystery Dungeon 207

35 Fei’s Problems 213

36 Taloon’s Mystery Dungeon, in Great Detail 217

37 A Journey to Table Mountain, Part 1 233

38 A Journey to Table Mountain, Part 2 243

39 A Journey to Table Mountain, Part 3 251

40 A Journey to Table Mountain, Part 4 261

Section VII Various Roguelikes

41 Angband: At Last! 277

42 Cause for Incursion 283

43 Brogue and the Abandoning of Experience Points 291

44 HyperRogue 299

45 Super-Rogue, Banished to the Deeper Dungeons 307

46 XRogue Has Not Yet Ceased to Be 313

47 Larn, or, I Hocked the Car to Buy a Lance of Death 325

48 Hack’s Lost Brother 333

49 Interview: Keith Burgun on 100 Rogues 339

50 Interview: Josh Ge on Cogmind 345

Section VIII Roguelites and Related Games

51 Pixel Journeys: dnd for PLATO 363

52 ToeJam & Earl, the Roguelike That’s Not an RPG 371

53 Interview: Digital Eel on Infinite Space 375

54 Interview: Rodain Joubert on Desktop Dungeons 385

55 Spelunky 393

56 Exploring the Oasis 401

57 The Rescue of Meta-Zelda 409

58 Space Peeing Out There 415

59 Doom, Doom, Doom, Doom 421

60 DreamForge’s Dungeon Hack 425

Section VIV Design

61 The Eight Rules of Roguelike Design 435

62 Mapping the Infinite Cavern 439

63 Purposes for Randomization in Game Design 445

64 Interface Aids and the Strategy Window 451

65 Modeling Motion on a Dungeon Grid 457

66 Rogue’s Item ID in Too Much Detail 461

67 Item Design: Potions and Scrolls 471

68 Towards Building a Better Dungeon 479

Section VV Miscellaneous

69 A Coward Dies a Thousand Deaths, but My Computer, Several Thousand 487

70 Running Atari ST Rogue in 2016 491

71 Rogue and Its Inspiration 497

72 The Rights to Rogue 501

73 Some Recent Information 505



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John Harris has been bumping around the internet for over 20 years. In addition to writing the columns @Play and Pixel Journeys for GameSetWatch and developer interviews for Gamasutra, he’s spoken at Roguelike Celebration. John Harris has a MA in English Literature from Georgia Southern University.