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 influential are known as the Major Roguelikes:
Before their rise in popularity in the late 80s and 90s, the genre was dominated by the Major Classic Roguelikes:
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 or just dive in at the deep end and find a roguelike game to suit you.
There are several other important places in the roguelike community that you should consider visiting:
Featured Roguelike: Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead Now at version 0.C!
Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a roguelike set in a post-apocalyptic world. Surviving is difficult: you have been thrown, ill-equipped, into a landscape now riddled with monstrosities of which flesh eating zombies are neither the strangest nor the deadliest.
Yet with care and a little luck, many things are possible. You may try to eke out an existence in the forests silently executing threats and providing sustenance with your longbow. You can ride into town in a jerry-rigged vehicle, all guns blazing, to settle matters in a fog of smoke from your molotovs. You could take a more measured approach and construct an impregnable fortress, surrounded by traps to protect you from the horrors without. The longer you survive, the more skilled and adapted you will get and the better equipped and armed to deal with the threats you are presented with.
In the course of your ordeal there will be opportunities and temptations to improve or change your very nature. There are tales of survivors fitted with extraordinary cybernetics giving great power at extraordinary risk and stories too of gravely mutated survivors who, warped by their ingestion of exotic substances or radiation, now more closely resemble insects, birds or fish than their original form.
Featuring a huge generative overland area to explore and improvise and learn from as well as a variety of procedurally generated dungeon crawls to attempt, Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is an open-source roguelike that requires creativity and risk in order to survive a future where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.
New Roguelike Releases
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:
If you'd like to contribute to RogueBasin, simply create an account and log in. Feel very free to edit! We especially need more information added to the games pages and the lists - if you're a developer, consider updating your game's page, and making sure that it (and you) are included in the relevant lists.
If you're an experienced developer, consider writing articles about creating Roguelikes. There are many people new to Roguelike development, and they often need help. It's especially helpful to write articles about problems you have experienced yourself. Also you can add your name to the RGRD Wiki Project (directly, or by posting a message on rgrd saying how you want to participate). If someone sees a relevant post by you, they'll upload it to this wiki as an article.