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roguelikes are usually superficially two-dimensional dungeon-crawling computer games, most with simple text or ASCII "graphics" and many with "tiles" which replace the rather limited character set with a wider array. The genre is named after the first popular game of the genre, Rogue (1980).

Traditionally, the hero is represented by an "@" sign, and other characters (usually enemy monsters) are represented by letters of the alphabet. Different capitalization of letters represent different monsters. A dog, for example, may be represented by the letter "d", a dragon by a "D".

The hero is controlled by short commands of one or a few keypresses rather than using a mouse or typing long sentence-like commands. For example, in NetHack you would press "r" to read a scroll, "d" to drop an item and "q" to quaff (drink) a potion.

Roguelike games feature randomly generated dungeon levels, which gives them more replay value than games in which the levels are the same every time. Many have static levels as well. Usually they are used as some kind of special, unique level.

The appearance of magicalal items also changes randomly from game to game. Roguelike games use a Dungeons & Dragons-like turn-based combat system instead of a real-time sytem. There is a great deal of variance in different versions in appearance, commands and even plot and strategy.

Most roguelikes are single-player, because it would be hard to make them multi-player and still maintain the principle that you should be able to think about your next move for as long as you like.

However, some multi-player roguelikes such as Mangband exist and are playable online. Also, on multi-user systems controlled by appointed administrators and having the required security features, the scoreboards are often "shared" between players playing the same rules and not having an opportunity to cheat by changing the game or their savefiles. Some also allow traces of former players to appear in others' games in form of ghosts or grave markings, etc.

Traditionally in Roguelike games, "death is final". Once a character is dead, the player is expected to start over again at the beginning of the game. A game will usually provide a "save game" feature, but this is only intended to allow splitting a game across multiple sessions, and the save file will be deleted automatically when the character dies. A skilled user will usually be able to bypass this mechanism and restart after a death, but this would be considered dishonourable (or cheating) by many players. The game may provide a "wizard mode" which allows exploring the dungeon without risk of death, but again it is not possible to win honourably using such a mechanism.

There are many communities, most notably the hierarchy in Usenet.

List of Popular Roguelikes

See also: MUD

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