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: The Temple of Torment
The Temple of Torment is great example of a game, based on Jotaf's Complete Roguelike Tutorial, using python+libtcod, that can evolve into very advanced form. TToT is a rather new roguelike which is highly inspired by the classics. It's a nice compromise between bandlike and hacklike. Levels are not big, as a single level takes single game screen, and the main dungeon is not persistant.
Collateral dungeons are based on hardcoded levels, like in Larn. Aukustus designed pretty big wilderness with cities, villages, ruined hamlets, rivers, etc. and lots of quests which play an important role in TToT's gameplay. It makes me feeling that developer could be inspired by ADOM.
The Temple of Torment has multiple character classes, hunger and thirst (!) mechanics, optional permadeath, multiple levels of difficulty, and features both text and tile graphics.
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.