Text Adventure vs. MUD vs. Roguelike vs. Dwarf Fortress

Roguelikes get their name from the UNIX game Rogue. Roguelikes dropped the English-based commands and descriptions for rooms. Instead, ASCII art (in which text characters represent objects and are used for simple line drawing) took their place. Commands were done using single-key presses (hotkeys) or menus to do things such as moving the character around the room.

Most roguelikes are single-player and turn-based, but do not necessarily have to be. The player still controlled a single character (often represented by a @ symbol). Colorful text was used to differentiate between different types of things displayed on the map.

 ------                             -  Wall

 |....|      ############           #  Unlit hallway

 |....|      #          #           .  Lit area

 |.$..+########         #           $  Some quantity of gold

 |....|       #      ---+---        +  A door

 ------       #      |.....|        |  Wall

              #      |.!...|        !  A magic potion

              #      |.....|

              #      |..@..|        @  The adventurer

   ----       #      |.....|

   |..|       #######+..D..|        D  A red dragon

   |<.+###    #      |.....|        <  Stairs to a higher level

   ----  #    #      |.?...|        ?  A magic scroll

         ######      -------

Gameplay was centered around hack-and-slash and progressing in levels and items by fighting monsters in dungeons. Since the rooms were not created with English descriptions but rather ASCII art, roguelikes had procedurally-generated levels that were unique (although formulaic) each time the player started a game.

Because there is an actual geometry and space for the map (as opposed to a MUD’s English description), “line of sight” calculations become a factor for what the player and dungeon monsters can perceive. Rather than display the full map, a “fog of war” might shroud unexplored areas.

Other aspects of roguelikes: “pets” that would follow you and attack nearby monsters, permanent-death, and magical items that are initially unidentified. (These also commonly appear in MUDs.)

Because the text characters are easily interchangeable with simple tile graphics, graphical roguelikes are also available. The Diablo games are graphical, real-time modern equivalents of roguelikes.

  • Single-player
  • Real-time
  • Player directly controls a single character
  • ASCII art
  • Hotkeys/menus for input
  • Centered around advancing stats/levels and acquiring money/items

Dwarf Fortress

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