What is a Roguelike?
A Roguelike is usually described as a free turn-based computer game with a strong focus on intricate gameplay and replayability, and an abstract world representation using ASCII-based display, as opposed to 3D graphics. Of course, as with any genre, there are deviations from the norm.
Roguelikes allow the player an indefinite amount of time in which to make a move, making gameplay comparable more to chess than to reflex-based games like first-person shooters. Since graphics are limited (if not completely shunned), the player's imagination must come into play - gameplay is more like reading a book than watching a movie.
Of course, the best way to understand what Roguelikes are is to download and play one.
Many Roguelikes are freely available online. The most popular are:
Since the control systems of these Roguelikes are geared towards "expert" players, the novice player may be interested in trying a 'lighter' game like some of the coffeebreak roguelikes. The following may help you find out more:
If you have some ideas for a new Roguelike and would like to give development a go (or are already a seasoned developer) the RogueBasin is here to help you expand the Roguelike genre. A complete list of articles is available, but here are some to get you started: