MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online ROGUELIKE Game)
This post today comes more in the form of a kind of public service
announcement to roguelike fans. For those of you who don't know,
a "roguelike" is a very old dungeon-crawl type computer game; really a
family of such games that descend from one original game called
"Rogue", that was developed back in the 1970s. Roguelike games
have a religious following, and while Rogue itself is a relic, there
are many games that were born out of it, all of them deliciously high
in detail and low in graphics.
The characteristics of a Roguelike are generally agreed to be the following:
To qualify as a Roguelike a game must
1. Be descended from or inspired by the original Rogue game
2. Use ASCII-based graphics. Some modern "reformers" have applied
graphics tiles that overlay the ASCII, but strict traditionalists
3. Have random dungeons. It doesn't matter if you're Roguelike in
every other way, if at least most of your dungeons don't change with
each new game, its not a true Roguelike.
4. Be open source. This is what has led to the massive amounts of variants.
By the early 80s, there were three principle heirs to the "Rogue"
throne. One was called "moria", another "Hack", and the third
"Angband". Each had slightly different characteristics. It was
the latter two that became wildly popular; with "Hack" being more
focused on puzzles and collecting necessary items to win the game;
while Angband focused more on slaying specific enemies. Both
games had in common that they consist of 40+ randomly generated dungeon
levels, have a dozen possible races and classes, hundreds of magic
items, hundreds of monsters. However, Hack had more neat little secrets
in the game, things you could do with special items or things you
encountered. On the other hand, Angband had a town on the surface where
you started out, and wilderness you could travel through; whereas Hack
just started right in the dungeon.
Eventually, Hack evolved into Nethack, which is where it is today.
Angband didn't so much evolve as it developed dozens and dozens of
variants (for example, Zangband; which replaces many of Angband's LoTR
imagery with stuff from Roger Zelazny's Amber series).
There's also another Roguelike, Ancient Domains of Mystery or ADOM,
which was a relative latecomer. I might be wrong, but it appears to be
descended from Angband, since it has town and wilderness travel, and
places an emphasis on completing quests.
Anyways, on to the public service announcement: I was talking to a
friend here the other day, and conversation fell upon our mutual love
for these curious Roguelike games. I don't play virtually any other
computer game. I can't stand first person shooters, I can't stand
Diablo or World of Warcraft or any of the MMORPGs. I despise them. But
I love Roguelikes. And he said something to me along the lines of "yea,
but isn't it a shame that there isn't a roguelike MMORPG?"
At which point, I replied to him that in fact, there is. It
seems few people know about it, but back in my university professor
days I would often play MAngband (see, another Angband variant), which
was "Multiplayer Angband", adapted for online play on a server.
I was not clear on whether or not MAngband still existed, but after
this conversation I went to check it out, and lo and behold, I found
And there, found out that there are still three or four MAngband
servers. I quickly got on, played my Half-Troll Warrior to level 10,
and talked a bit with the users. It is not nearly as crowded as
the old days, typically you can expect to see anything from 1-5
players on at a time.
So anyways, if you're a fan of Roguelikes, check MAngband out, the
multiplayer format makes it very enjoyable. Now, if you have never
played Roguelikes but are intrigued nonetheless, I would recommend
trying it out, but make sure you carefully
read the rules, help files, FAQs, etc. Before starting, and get a good
grasp of the various commands. The things you can do on a Roguelike are
many and varied, and you will only have a really enjoyable experience
if you take the time to learn all the options.
So good luck, and happy Hacking!
Currently Smoking: Lorenzo Calabash + Dunhill 965