ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

Defining the Roguelike Genre
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Author:  Davion Fuxa [ Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Defining the Roguelike Genre

This is something I've been working on since the start of the New Year. Feel free to take from it what you will.

For A Game To Be Considered A Roguelike
DavionFuxa Talks - Defining The Roguelike Genre

The first link here corresponds to a Google Doc I had wrote up, the second link to a YouTube Video of me reading the Google Doc and giving some additional insight.

As a disclaimer, anyone is free to take my definition and work with it as they wish. This is meant to be a starting point to work up a proper definition for the Roguelike genre.

Feedback is encouraged.

Author:  edge2054 [ Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

At one point you used roll when you meant role. Common error when writing about Role-playing games... with all the dice and what not ;)

Anyway I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing :)

Author:  Davion Fuxa [ Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

I assume there will be a few errors here and there. Before writing this up in Google Docs I wrote it up in Wordpad - I assume there are still a lot of errors I have yet to spot.

Author:  Yottle [ Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

I assume that you mean "static", not "non-static" in this section:
It is also allowable that a Roguelike always have non-static levels which are set to always appear in the same place, in every playthrough, but these elements should be minimal in occurrence and not take away from the randomized nature of the game when included. The player should have minimal idea of where the non-static levels are going to be found as well, though the player can know when they will be found - ie, the Boss Level will always occur at Dungeon Level N and the Town Level appears on the same place in the World Map at Location X.

Author:  Davion Fuxa [ Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

It certainly makes more sense doesn't it. Yep, Derth is allowed to always spawn in the same place on the ToME world map for ToME to be a Roguelike.

Author:  Davion Fuxa [ Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

I figured I should post this for anyone following this article that I updated the Gameplay section a little bit. Based off of some feedback from the Bay 12 Forums, part of my definition didn't fit with Character progression and the character getting progressively stronger. This has been changed - as well as a paragraph about the game environment being added.

Author:  Yottle [ Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

I suggest that a more useful approach would be to classify games as X% roguelike, rather than "roguelike" or "not roguelike".

For example, the original Rogue had entirely random dungeons. This was a big break from previous games like Adventure in which the entire dungeon and everything in it was preconfigured. So a game like Tome 2, which has a few preconfigured dungeon levels, might be 95% RL based on this criterion. Nethack, which has some preconfiigured levels and also has level memory, might be 85% RL.

There are many other criteria that might be considered: turn-based vs time based; single character vs party; item handling; stat handling, and so on. You could just average the %s over all the criteria or weight them if you think some are more important.

Someone could set an arbitrary score for a game to be officially "Roguelike": say 73.82% RL. That would be fine for games like Angband (maybe 98% RL) and Doom (maybe 5% RL). But Minecraft might have an intermediate score like 38% (I am guessing as I have never played it). TomeNet might be 80%. Those scores are much more valuable than just RL or nonRL and would avoid purity wars.

Author:  edge2054 [ Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

At this point roguelike is a genre that's evolved far past rogue. While the term does mean similar to rogue and I can agree that similarities exist along a spectrum I don't know how useful it would really be to qualify things along a percentage unless we broke rogue down into components and assigned each bit a point value.

That doesn't really seem necessary to me though. Is a sci-fi movie with strong horror elements not a horror movie? Is it not a sci-fi movie? If we just call it a sci-fi/horror doesn't that communicate that people that like sci-fi or horror might enjoy this and that people that enjoy both might really enjoy it?

Similarly we could call Diablo an action-rpg with roguelike elements and get the point across. Tome is a roguelike. Calling it X% roguelike isn't really going to communicate what percentage of it is or isn't like rogue. If it's 80% like rogue but the 20% that's not like rogue is what most appealed to the player in question we're really not helping them make an informed decision on rather or not they'll like this game. Conversely if the 20% that differs is the stuff they really hated about rogue (like consumables and an outdated interface for instance) and they make a snap decision that 80% isn't roguelike enough, they're missing out on an opportunity to check out a game they might really have enjoyed.

I guess it could be broken down to really show what percentages are like rogue and what are not. *shrugs*

Anyway I took Davion Fuxa's essay to be an opinion piece. It was even stressed several times in the essay IIRC. I don't think movie producers sit down and ask themselves what percentage of their movie is drama and what percentage is comedy. If it's a mix of both they'd just say it's a mix of both and not worry about it.

At the end of the day it's all art and entertainment and genres are just a convenient way to communicate to your target audience. Terms get diluted and break off into sub genres or mixed genres and that's just the nature of communication (and life really).

Author:  Davion Fuxa [ Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Defining the Roguelike Genre

I did have a rather big Disclaimer right after the introduction for my article. So....

Defining the Roguelike Genre wrote:
About Defining Roguelikes -

Before continuing into the definition itself, I figure a quick note regarding a couple of important questions are in order - What Purpose Does Such a Definition For Roguelikes Serve and Who Am I To Try And Form Such A Definition?

To the first question, the purpose for defining something is to determine what sets it apart from other games. Additionally, while not everyone has to technically agree with the definition, a definition is only as good as the number of people who agree with it. Hopefully this write up will help in forming a definition that people can not only agree with, but if they don’t can work into a structured definition that eventually will lead to the definition people can agree with.

To the second question, I am PC Gamer. I have played a great deal of computer games over my life, including a great many roguelikes. I also know a bit about their history, and the relation of influence that roguelikes have had on some other notable games. Unlike others who may have put forward their own 'interpretations' or 'definitions', I haven’t actually developed a roguelike either - a key component that has really gone missing from such definitions, until now.

Now, before continuing into my definition, I will also note that you do not have to agree with my definition, or at least, not agree with every specific part of it. While this definition is formed from my own opinion of what defines a roguelike, I fully admit that there may be some aspects which people may feel do not belong in defining what a roguelike is.

The main purpose for posting this write up is to help advance the discussion on what the most clear definition on what a roguelike really is may come to be; not necessarily that this specific definition ‘is’ the most clear definition of what roguelikes are. So feel free to agree with the definition entirely or to take it and remove or add to the definition as you feel is necessary to make a new one; perhaps a definition everyone can mostly agree on can be formed.


I'd go further with how we define games too by saying that The Steam Store now also break down how games as defined by the tags given to them by Users. Multiple tags can be applied to a game. A game like Doom 3 - is that a Horror or Sci-Fi Game? Is it both? According to Users of Steam, they have defined it as that, and more.

The thing about definitions, tags, and game genres is that once they are applied to something, they don't mean other titles can't also be applied; and sometimes additional tags should be applied because they help further explain whatever item you are explaining.

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