Roguelike Origin section at Wikipedia

I added a new section to the “Roguelike” Wikipedia article on the origins of the “roguelike” term, based on my USENET findings.


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First version


I agree words should evolve based on their usage, but I think it’s important not to forget what they were originally used for. Lots of people just fall for “roguelike” games being “like Rogue” and stop there, leaving room for a lot of ambiguity. That’s also the reason why I proposed a “Traditional Roguelike” definition to make it easier to find games that better keep the spirit of the originals.

So far, the section has survived for about half a day with some minor edits, let’s see how long it survives!


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6 hours later


Here are the references I used, for historical purposes:

  1.  Solovay, Andrew. (July 27, 1993). “CFV: reorganization”. Newsgroupnews.announce.newgroupsUsenet: would like to propose formally that a new hierarchy be created, namely This hierarchy would contain groups dedicated to discussion of rogue-type games.
  2. Panitz, Aliza. (June 18, 1993). “Time for a new level of heirarchy?” 1vsuhk$ Retrieved May 17, 2018It seems to me that we’d do a lot better taking all of the dungeon-adventure games, including ones that don’t have their own newsgroups like larn and omega, and reorganizing them under – recognizing the intrinsic similarities of all these games. It would make it a lot easier for people who like one of these games to find newsgroups about other, basically similar games, and would finally provide a home for all those random posts about Larn and other games of the same genre that keep popping up in and other inappropriate places.
  3. Solovay, Andrew. (July 2, 1993). “RFD:* hierarchy”Newsgroupnews.announce.newgroupsUsenet: 211gvmINNsnp@rodan.UU.NET. Retrieved May 17, 2018I would like to propose formally that a new hierarchy be created, namely This hierarchy would contain groups dedicated to discussion of rogue-type games.
  4. Solovay, Andrew. (July 20, 1993). “3rd RFD:* hierarchy”. Newsgroupnews.announce.newgroupsUsenet: 22ie07INNbaa@rodan.UU.NETThose people who agree on a name seem to favor “roguelike” as the least of all available evils.
  5. Grabiner, David. (March 9, 1998). “RFD:”. Newsgroupnews.announce.newgroupsUsenet: 889443102.8279@isc.orgWith the large number of Roguelike games and variants in existence and in development, there are occasional discussions about programming problems such as dungeon-generation algorithms which are of interest to designers of several games.

Two new articles added to roguetemple

Based on my recent research and considerations of the roguelikes in the videogames scene in 2018, I just published two new articles into Temple of the Roguelike. Both originate from my talk on the Roguelike Celebration 2017.

The first one is “A short history of the “roguelike” term“, which expands upon my previous article “On the Historical Origin of the “Roguelike” Term“, covering the events after the term was established and the subsequent confusion.

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A fragment from the second age of roguelike development.

The other related article is What is a Traditional Roguelike; after 10 years of trying to come up with long lists of definitions, I narrowed it down to 4 critical aspects I think traditional roguelikes should keep:

1. Permanent Consequences

The outcome of any action you take into the game cannot be rolled back by reloading a saved game (including death).

This encourages both careful tactical play and long-term strategies and planning and increases the excitement of advancing through the procedural content generated by the game.

2. Character-centric

The player personifies a single character into the game at a time, this is in contrast to both a.) games where the player doesn’t control person-like characters directly (for example puzzles) and b.) “god” style games where the player is an abstract entity creating and controlling multiple discardable “units”.

Besides providing a common, shared base format for the Traditional Roguelikes, being character-centric helps the player establish a strong relationship with the individual characters, increasing the impact of the permanent consequences.

3. Procedural content

Increases the replayability of the game by having most or all of the world be generated by the game for every new gameplay session.

In addition to providing an incentive for players to dig into the game, procedural content serves as a tool to prevent the player from being frustrated by the harsh effect of permanent consequences, having to start gameplay session from scratch frequently.

4. Turn Based

Gameplay is similar to a board game where you can think your actions carefully, having infinite time to reflect on your available options to face the situations that the game presents you with the resources you have at hand.

This is relevant given consequences are permanent, and the intent of the game is not testing how quick the player can take an acceptable decision but rather challenging him to think out the best move he can make in critical scenarios.

Researching the historical origin of the “Roguelike” term

On November 11 2017, at the Roguelike Celebration in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of doing the opening talk, titled “What is a Roguelike?, 2017 Edition”, where I explored some of the interpretations on the Roguelike term.


Something interesting I found while doing research for the talk was what could be the first efforts to organize a group of games similar to rogue under an umbrella term. This happened on Usenet, the technological precursor to Internet Forums, throughout which most of the discussion of computer games happened.

My current progress on this research indicates that the efforts to define this hierarchical relationship, intended mainly to facilitate discussion, ended up serving the purpose of creating a community of niche developers and players who through the constant usage of the term ended up giving it an evolving, collective meaning that was relatively stable until the 2010’s decade, with the growth of the indie games scene and diffusion of the more action focused “Roguelike” labeled games.

Read the full article here