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Video Game / Rogue

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From the 1985 commercial re-release.
"Rogue is a visual CRT based fantasy game which runs under the UNIX+ timesharing system. Your goal is to grab as much treasure as you can, find the Amulet of Yendor, and get out of the Dungeons of Doom alive."
'A Guide to the Dungeons of Doom

Rogue is a 1980 video game and one of the first roguelikesnote , the one for which the genre is named. A top-down, dungeon crawling Dungeons-and-Dragons-like game, it used ASCII-based graphics to depict the player, the dungeon, and everything in it.

One of the unique features of Rogue was that each new game had a completely new, randomly generated map. Most games of the time, such as Colossal Cave, were completely pre-scripted or had limited randomness. This feature became one of the defining elements of the roguelike genre.

Rogue was originally written as a test of the curses screen handling library, which became one of the most widely used Unix application libraries. Epyx (the popular game publisher in the 80s) sold a commercial version using tile-based graphics.

A Java-based online version of the game can be found here and is free to play, while the Internet Archive hosts an online emulated version of the DOS version here. Ports to modern operating systems can be found here and on Steam.

Tropes (of most this game is either the Trope Maker or Trope Codifier) found in the game include:

  • Adaptation Expansion: While nearly all roguelikes owe their inspiration to this game, a few are actual expansions on the rogue source code base. One such enhancement was "S-Rogue", which added spell points and blesses/curses on all items.
  • All There in the Manual: The F1 key brings up a list of keyboard commands, not that the game tells you this.
  • Anti-Grinding: The game forces you to explore lower and more dangerous levels by using hunger as a time limit. Once a level has been cleared, no more food can be found unless you descend.
  • ASCII Art: When you die, you get an ASCII tombstone with your cause of death on it.
  • Boss Button: Brings up a fake DOS prompt.
  • Came Back Wrong: Some implementations allow you to resurrect as undead; among other things, it allows you to survive by drinking the blood of your kills, but real food is reduced in value and fruit is a downright waste of time ("you gnaw at the vile rambutan"). The various implementations generally seem to treat this as a cheat, although it doesn't necessarily make the game any easier.
  • Can't See a Damn Thing: Quaffing a potion of blindness would bring the message "A cloak of darkness falls around you". It was still possible to move about, but you would have to try different directions to find doors. Monsters would be referred to as "it". The effect would lift after a long time, or by quaffing a potion of healing, or see invisible.
  • Cheat Code: Typing a specific key sequence would put you in "Wizard Mode", in which you got a wand of fire with 20 charges and had the option not to die when your hit points ran out — if you could enter the proper "Wizard's password." Entering the wrong password resulted in "Hm, were you ever as smart as Ken Arnold?".
  • Copy Protection: Copying the game made the monsters do six times more damage than normal, and a special tombstone message was shown upon death: "Rest in Peace: Software Pirate. Killed by: Copy Protection Mafia."
  • Excuse Plot: You have to go retrieve the Amulet of Yendor. According to the manual, this is the test at the end of your training to join the Fighter's Guild. That's it.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: Vampires' attacks do this. The loss can be recovered by drinking healing potions while already at maximum hit points, but at greatly reduced efficiency: 1 hit point per potion of healing or 2 hit points per potion of extra healing.
  • Mega Dungeon: The Dungeons of Doom are infinitely deep, but the Amulet of Yendor is generally found around level 26-30. You can't go up levels until you've recovered it.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: What the hell are emus doing in a dungeon?
  • Mobile Shrubbery: The xeroc (Rogue's answer to D&D's mimic) disguises itself as an innocent item, and reveals itself when the player tries to pick it up. But if the player reads a scroll of aggravate monster, or is wearing a ring of aggravate monster, the xeroc will move toward them without dropping its disguise. It can be somewhat disconcerting to see a potion marching toward you. (It's even more disconcerting if the xeroc was disguised as a staircase....)
  • Nintendo Hard: Even some of the makers of the game have never completed it!
  • Oh, Crap!: Occasionally a "monster party" room will pop up, in which you are vastly outnumbered by more monsters than you thought could fit in the space. Normally you can make a good attempt at beating them by backing into the hallway and hacking and slashing your way through, but once in a while you get a monster party room on a level with one. Giant. Cavern. Good luck with that...
  • Permadeath
  • Randomly Generated Levels: Even so, the randomness wasn't totally unpredictable. Each level had exactly 9 rooms. Before dungeon level 10, some of these "rooms" would be merely a transition hallway between two more distant rooms; and after level 10, some "rooms" would be square mazes of corridors whose exits were calculated as though the entire "room" lived in the maze's upper-left corner.
  • Roguelike: They aren't called Rogue-likes for nothing.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Yendor is backwards Rodney. In most versions Rodney is the player character's default name if you leave your name blank when prompted for it at the beginning of the game.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: At extreme hunger levels your character first starts fainting and eventually dies. Made more difficult by the fact that some rings increase the rate at which you get hungry — a ring of increase damage, for example, will double your food consumption rate, while a ring of regeneration will triple it.