I have made roguelikes many times over the years, and in my time of coding roguelikes, I have come up with my own kind of “style” for making rogue-likes.
My (and my codeveloper’s) most notable one, is the 7drl “March 15 1924”, despite its small size, it is a good means of showcasing what I mean when I say “my style”.
Recently my closest friend, and co-developer, Greg brought it to my attention That when I make a roguelike, there is always a small distinct set of features that I try and never fail to add that makes the game distinct from other roguelikes, I will list them and I will try to point out why I think they add to a game.
1:Deep Descriptions for everything (including walls and floors)
Most of the time when you play roguelikes, and you examine something (if there is even an examine function) you get simple descriptions like “it is a floor” or “it is a bat” even in nethack. While this is good for influencing the player to interpret the world themselves, I think it is bad for immersion. When I play a roguelike ,and this will be very controversial, I WANT to be immersed in the world, while most people would argue roguelikes are for tactical decisions, and for people who want to be very tactical instead of about immersion, I think that a game can be very tactical and very interesting and immersive as-well. Being immersed in a world makes it so you are more likely to play it longer, you care more about your character and the world itself.
I do love ASCII for the ability to interpret it your way, but I think that giving detailed descriptions also helps you to interpret the world, when you see “it is a floor” you probably think a very plain floor, but when the game says to you “This is a floor, it is cracked and dusty from millennia of disuse” then now the floor you envision in your head is a more interesting floor, a floor that reminds you you are in an old dusty untouched place, a floor that has history to it, a floor that is more interesting. This can only be a good thing,
Many may argue that very little people will make use of the examine function, however, I believe that if they do, then the first time they use it I want them to say “wow”, and when they say wow, I assure you it will be used more. It also adds considerable polish.
2: Simulationist ideas (eg, you are usually able to equip anything as a weapon, and can try to interact with everything even if it makes no sense in that situation, with appropriate punishments for dumb interactions.
I am a big fan of the game “dwarf fortress”, this has probably influenced my simulationist leaning when choosing roguelikes and developing them. In that game , you can equip anything as a weapon, and interact deeply with everything, if you find a person, not only can you talk to, become friends with, and join that person, but you could also kill them, and butcher them, and eat their heart and keep their brain as a trophy. People love the ability to use everything as a weapon, there are even reports of people throwing fluffy creatures called “fluffy wamblers” so hard that they have taken the heads off of bronze colossi no other mainstream game is capable of having THAT happen.
I couldnt find an image of a human being butchered (you can do that in adventure mode, but here is a pile of prepared organs)
A Bit grim to explain, but its a power the game has, I like to replicate this kind of idea in my games, in my games, you can usually use any interaction as long as it makes a slight bit of sense.
As You can see from my unreleased alpha game from several years ago “roguelegends”. (I apologize for the ascii tileset, of course I was going to add support for proper graphical tiles later)
In this image, an individual has decided it was a good idea to shove their chainmail armor in their mouth, here is the result.
In Roguelegends, one example I will use is, “consuming” items, in this game you are able to put pretty much anything in your mouth, this includes large rocks and armor, I’m not saying it will turn out well for you if you do, but you can.
I think this also adds to immersion, and it adds a procedural depth to the game, its very cool, for you to be able to interact very deeply with the items in your possession as long as its accessible, lets say you are in a tough situation, MAYBE, just MAYBE, you have a better chance at escaping when you have a deeper set of interactions. In the below video, (of our old 7drl march 15 1924, the person lping it was very interested when he found out he could examine everything, and he was more terrified as a result (it was a survival horror game). He also got stuck behind a crate, he then bashed the crate open (since that was possible in the game) to escape He bashed down a door as well, another power as a result of my focus on mechanics. He also had the ability to bash down walls (and he would have survived if he had figured it out, sadly we weren’t very clear that you could do that, so he never tried it.
One problem with adding these aspects to your game is that it hurts accessibility because interactions may become confusing, and in my current project I am working on just that, more on that when I have something to show for my work.
Good Night! And happy rogueliking.