Rougelike Characters

When you start an adventure into learning a roguelike game, such as Rogue, NetHack, ZAPM, ADOM, Powder, or even Spelunky to an extent, there are two daunting tasks that must be accomplished.

  1. Learning the Controls – Some of you are very “by the manual” types, and some of you are “learn by experimentation” types. I fancy myself towards the latter, but I’ll find myself frustrated if I don’t know anything when going into a game that may be complex to learn and establish a game plan in.
  2. PlayingYes, playing. Now, after trying to grasp the controls and the basic concept of the game, such as retrieve item X from the bottom of the dungeon, or similar ideas, you can begin playing! And playing means trying stuff out that may help you along in your quest.

But, how do you know what’s right? A whole world is open to you to explore and conquer! So, let’s use NetHack as an example, considering I’ve played that the most. So, you’re in a dungeon without a lot of items. Okay. Well, what’s that next to you? A pet? Well, what can you do with your pet? “What if I kill it?” you muse, and attack the poor animal. Uh-oh! Now you’re in trouble with your god. Due to this, you can’t pray, and die in a later sticky situation.

Now you’re dead. Time to try again! So, new character. This time you decide to let your pet annoyingly hop alongside you as you trek. Why, there’s a shop ahead! And those items look really helpful. But you don’t have any money. “I wonder if I’m faster than the shopkeeper…”

And thus you’re dead again! Well, each death is a bit of a learning experience, I suppose, so you create a new character, stuff happens, you may or may not die, ad infinitum. I’m getting at here is that every rogue-like player will experience a character’s death at one point or another. It’s what you learn from these deaths that makes the game interesting. In fact, NetHack has so many ways to die, it is considered by some to be an achievement to acquire as many as they can. At least, this is true in the annual dev/null Nethack tournament.

So, you have to die in order to learn how to approach things correctly the next time. That is, assuming you don’t spoil everything for yourself. And where’s the fun in that? I just consider that laziness. Now, I will admit spoiling bits and pieces for yourself can be helpful, but never the whole thing at once. Personal experience, and personal triumphs, make the games all the more fun.

Let Roguelike Characters Die

You’ll be glad you did!


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