Terminology: My approach to arriving at the CJ Interpretation of Roguelike:


Part 1, part 2

“We need a different name from ‘permadeath, When people talk about permadeath, they talk about us three being mean. ‘Oh, they wanted to make it extra hard, so they threw in permadeath.’ [But] permadeath is [just] an example of ‘consequence persistence’.”

Rogue co-creator Glenn Wichman

While looking for references for these posts I found the above phrase, and it exemplifies a core concept of my interpretation of roguelikes: To focus on the higher principles and on the experiences the mechanics enable rather than focusing on the mechanics themselves.

For example


I consider my current project “Lenurian”, to be a realtime roguelike. I understand that not everyone will agree, because to many people the turn based nature is integral to the experience. I realized that what I liked most in turn based games(including roguelikes) was the way it enabled Tactical complexity: combat/exploration focused on Positioning, situational awareness, carefull thinking, etc…, so to me those things are what gives the roguelike feel, and turn base gameplay is just one possible way to enable those things. To other people the important thing is the turn based gameplay and the things I like are secondary. However, It is perfectly possible to create a roguelike that perfectly complies with the Temple of the roguelike´s Classic Roguelike Definition but make it so simple and straightforward, that the player will never have many options to consider and there will be no tactical complexity.

What If we have a roguelike with a timer for your actions (like a chess clock)? it is mechanically very close to a traditional roguelike(And indeed would be considered a roguelike by many definitions ), but that feeling of time-control  that enables a player to carefully weight every possible decision vanishes. In comparison, a real time game that allows one to creep around, observe the environment and it´s denizens, plan according to what was observed and only then act(Maybe something like hitman or Deus Ex on a dungeon) Would feel closer to that feeling, despite being real time(Anyway, that is my thesis will see If I can make it work when/if Lenurian is ready).

“Consequence Persistance” is the principle from which permadeath springs, but there are other ways to manifest it. the Soulsborne games and Sekiro are not roguelikes, but their single-automatic save system combined with a persistent world is one way of applying this principle: these games have a single save slot per character, and saving is automatic, meaning that the player has to deal with the consequences of all his action when dealing with NPCs questlines. sekiro has an additional mechanic where friendly NPCs get weaker when the player dies.i believe this kind of mechanic can arguably be MORE punishing and engaging than permadeath, since it forces the player to keep dealing with the consequences of failure instead of simply wiping the slate clean.

Many people(including all of those that use the berlin interpretation) consider the fact the player and non-player characters follow the same rules, to be  a relatively unimportant aspect of a roguelike, but to me it is absolutely essential(moreso than permadeath), this sort of consistence is something that stands at the core of my appreciation of roguelikes, and roguelikes that don´t have that don´t really interest me.

So my approach is to focus less on the mechanics, and more on the principles behind them and what they enable.

Let´s use ASCII graphics as an example: To some people they are integral to the experience, similar to how some people prefer books without illustrations in order to have their imaginations do all the work, to others, gameplay is more important and aesthetics is barely relevant. In my case, graphics that show extra information, like equipment/weapons/class of the characters/monster enhances the roguelike feel, because the graphics remain clear and unambiguous but gives me more information to consider tactically ,helping me engage with the aforementioned tactical complexity aspect of the game, and to engage with other subsystems ( e.g.: the inventory systems).Conversely is perfectly easily to make a game that uses ASCII graphics badly(e.g.: The creator might prioritize aesthetics and choose a font that makes the Upper Case “I” and lower case “l” look the same so that it is hard for the player to know if they are against an “Iron Golen” or a “leprechaun”), and many Roguelike definitions would be more inclusive of the latter example then of tile graphics.
But what if instead of focusing on “ASCII Graphics” we focused on “Unambiguous Graphics prioritizing clarity and gameplay over aesthetics”? We would have a much more inclusive definition that nonetheless readily accept clear tile graphics over unclear ASCII. That is the approach I try to follow.


Tags: ,

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The CJ Interpretation of Roguelike | CJ´s Cave - September 3, 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: