Encyclopedia > Roguelike

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The roguelikes are usually superficially two-dimensional dungeon-crawling computer games, most with simple text or ASCII "graphics" and many with "tiles" which replace the rather limited character set with a wider array. The genre is named after the first popular game of the genre, Rogue (1980).

Traditionally, the hero is represented by an @ sign, and a dog may for example be represented by the letter d. You control your character by short commands of one or a few keypresses rather than using the mouse or typing long sentence-like commands. For example, in Nethack you would press "r" to read a scroll and "q" to quaff (drink) a potion.

Roguelikes feature randomly generated dungeon levels, which gives them more replay value than games in which the levels are the same every time. Many do have static levels as well. Usually they are used as some kind of special, unique levels. The appearance of magical items also changes randomly from game to game. They use a Dungeons & Dragons-like turn-based combat system instead of being real-time. There is a great deal of variance in different versions in appearance, commands and even plot and strategy.

Most roguelikes are single-player, because it would be hard to make them multi-player and still maintain the principle that you should be able to think about your next move for as long as you like. However, some multi-player roguelikes such as Mangband[?] exist and are playable online. Also, on multi-user systems controlled by appointed administrators and having the required security features, the scoreboards are often "shared" between players playing the same rules and not having an opportunity to cheat by changing the game or their savefiles. Some also allow traces of former players to appear in others' games in form of ghosts os grave markings etc.

There are many communities, most notably the rec.games.roguelike hierarchy in Usenet.

A good introduction to roguelike games can be found at http://www.hut.fi/~eye/roguelike/index (http://www.hut.fi/~eye/roguelike/index), and a list of popular roguelikes appears below.

See also MUD.

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