PlomRogue Development Blog

How PlomRogue Got Started

So why start writing a roguelike?

My first roguelike experience was playing NetHack. I stumbled upon it some years ago. I was not impressed. The top-down ASCII world display was an interesting touch. But I failed to learn the controls. And walking through dungeons to kill monsters did nothing for me. I gave up quickly and forgot about the genre.

Then, last year, I heard about another roguelike: Cataclysm: DDA. A friend kept talking about it and got me hooked. Its zombie apocalypse scenario worked well for me. I loved scavenging the ruins of civilization. I loved the survival simulation. I loved the wide sandbox to play around in and explore. I loved how real the world felt, how complex to interact with. It takes much learning and imagination just to survive there. With endurance, one may come to build cars, houses, cyborg bodies. All stuff can be dissected and re-combined as something else. The hero's got psychology and biochemistry to track. There's so much world in this game! And all this world needed to immerse me was crude ASCII symbols.

I spent way too much time playing this game. Soon I researched strategies, hacks, and the game's background. This path somehow led me to the RogueBasin wiki.

RogueBasin hosts lots of knowledge on roguelikes in general. There, I learned about roguelikes as a big playground for ideas. On the graphical surface (often mere ASCII), most seem simple. That's because authors focus work and computing on other things: game mechanisms, world generation algorithms, AI. Maps, stories, even art are built procedurally, not by hand. This reduces the man-power needed for creating a game. Many roguelikes are authored by individuals, not teams. One person with an idea can quickly by themselves enter the playing field. Many do, with different ideas, and the most diverse results.

One Roguebasin article in particular caught my eye: "How to Write a Roguelike in 15 Steps". I could not resist that title's promise. By now, my mind had started growing its own roguelikes ideas. (More on these later in this blog.) My mind demanded an effort to realize them.

In addition, I wanted to improve my programming skills. I've never been a professional programmer. But sometimes I do a programming project for learning or fun. I was just coming from another such effort: learning some Assembly Language and C as part of FLP. There, I built very small pieces of software not doing much. I thought: A roguelike project might enable me to go a bit further.

So I read that RogueBasin article and planned my first steps …


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