Game-related ramblings.

Tag: Subset Games

The Name Game: Rebranding The Roguelike

As always, you can click on images to view larger versions.

What’s this? A Name Game post that’s actually serious? Indeed it is, but never fear, the Name Game will return to making fun of silly game names soon enough. Right now, however, the Name Game’s name-related talents are needed for something near and dear to this blog’s heart. I am speaking, of course, of the roguelike.

(If you are unfamiliar with roguelikes, you should read my introduction to the genre, and perhaps a few of the roguelike highlights that have appeared on this blog)

I recently read an interesting article (although the article itself is not recent!) arguing that the term “roguelike” is a rather poor one. It takes a genre of games and describes it entirely by its similarity to an earlier game, which is restrictive and often, to varying degrees, inaccurate. I find I agree with this reasoning, especially in light of the new and popular crop of games which borrow design elements from traditional roguelikes and expand them into new and interesting areas. I’ve used the term roguelike-like here on this blog mostly because I think it’s funny, but the reason it’s funny is it emphasizes the inherent absurdity of the original roguelike term.

Perhaps a new name is needed, then. Well, here at the Name Game, names are literally our game. We’ve got this.

Roguelike Updates: New Crawlers and Redder Rogues

Readers who are unfamiliar with rogulikes may wish to read my introduction to the genre, or some of my Roguelike Highlights posts. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

One of the two updated roguelikes I’ve been playing is somewhat timely: Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup reached v0.14 a mere three weeks ago (and is now on v0.14.1 with some bugfixes). The other is not: Red Rogue (which is actually a roguelike-like) reached v1.0.3 over a year ago (and I even mentioned it an an earlier Roguelike Updates post), but I hadn’t gone back to try it until recently. And then I found myself drawn in once more, playing it far more than I expected and being impressed all over again. I decided it was worth adding to my original post about Red Rogue with my more recent thoughts on the game.

Read on for details on these two, plus a run-down of other updated roguelikes.

Going The Distance In FTL

I’ve written about FTL before, and if you’re unfamiliar with the game you should probably read that post first. Here, I’m assuming readers have at least a passing knowledge of the game.

Back when I first wrote about FTL, over a year ago, I didn’t think I’d stick with it that long. In fact, my exact words were:

Still, I don’t think FTL will keep me hooked as long as some more involved roguelikes (and roguelike-likes), but its simplicity is really where it shines. It’s easy to learn, and offers just enough options to make multiple plays interesting and fun. It may become frustrating to have to unlock each ship, depending on what’s required, but even with just the two I have I can easily see myself jumping in for quick games or extended sessions well into the future.

Turns out my fears about FTL’s staying power were completely unfounded. I’ve gone back to FTL regularly in the last year, in my quest to unlock more ships (and alternate layouts for the ones I already have), and I’ve learned that FTL is actually a lot deeper than it seemed at first. With developers Subset Games announcing a free expansion to be released soon, I decided it was high time to write about why I keep going back.

Roguelike-like: FTL

Readers who are unfamiliar with roguelikes may wish to read my introduction on the subject first.

It seems that everyone in the world is playing FTL. It’s one of the first Kickstarter games to be finished (although it was already under development before its Kickstarter campaign), and it’s captured everyone’s imagination. It’s easy to see why: a spaceship management game, which has the player shunting power to different systems and frantically ordering crew-members to put out fires, all while making Faster Than Light (FTL, get it?) jumps to escape the rebel fleet, is something we don’t usually see. The roguelike elements — the randomized encounters and brutal difficulty that force the player to try and try again — seal the deal. Best of all, it can easily be played with one hand, being almost entirely mouse-controlled. The only key needed is the spacebar, for pausing the action to issue orders, and if you’re like me you even go to the trouble of mapping that to a spare button on the mouse [EDIT: I had to use my programmable mouse to do this; the game does not actually allow for remapping controls] for a true one-handed experience (if you’re not like me, it’s OK; reaching over to the spacebar with one hand is still very easy).

Most who have written about FTL focus on the great player-generated stories it facilitates. Here’s one example; here’s another. Since I’ve already done that extensively for my favorite roguelike, I won’t take that approach here. Instead I’m going to talk about FTL’s design, and why I think it works so well.

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