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Why are there so many roguelikes these days?

Pieta

Very custom
Validated User
It feels like lately, half the games I see as I browse various storefronts are roguelikes and roguelike-inspired games. How did that happen? I thought roguelikes were pretty niche games, what with the permadeath and cruel randomness and traditionally not very pleasing looks and often opague mechanics and control schemes that make you tear your hair out... Did somebody make a hugely successful roguelike I missed that started a wave?
 

yalborap

Well, that’s just Prime.
Validated User
A well designed roguelike ‘just’ requires well-refined systems and randomizers, and fairly little in the way of story or fixed content creation. I imagine this makes them quite appealing for small or solo dev teams.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Well the definition has become so blurry many more games fit in the bucket that might not have before.
 

Pieta

Very custom
Validated User
Maybe FTL's success started a trend?
I was wondering if maybe Dwarf Fortress contributed, too. It's not a typical roguelike, but it feels very adjacent.

Well the definition has become so blurry many more games fit in the bucket that might not have before.
That probably wouldn't happen unless many people felt it's advantageous to call their games that in the first place...
 

Apis Rex

Please think of the bees.
Validated User
A well designed roguelike ‘just’ requires well-refined systems and randomizers, and fairly little in the way of story or fixed content creation. I imagine this makes them quite appealing for small or solo dev teams.
This is my theory as well. A lot of the games coming out as roguelikes or rogue-lites now are shooters or platformers, and in both cases it's very hard to make compelling design. It's extremely labor-intensive to iterate, test, and re-iterate, and the sensibility of getting it right is more art than science. When they get everything dialed in perfectly like Shovel Knight or DooM 2016, they become instant classics. When they're not done perfectly, they come out, people play them a bit, and they get forgotten almost immediately. Roguelikes aren't exactly "easy" to make either, but as long as the generation system is consistently "beatable" and produces the occasional fun segment they'll be forgiven their awkward bits and people will play them for as long as the generation system keeps throwing out surprises, and the average play time on Steam (and people seeing their friends always playing a game in their friends list) turns into knock-on sales down the line.
 
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Metaphysician

Registered User
Validated User
I think its mainly because, designers have figured out that the appeal of the Roguelike is not the brutal insane difficulty or the impenetrable system complexity, but the challenge of system mastery in a short procedural game. So, there's a whole bunch of "rogue-lites" which include some form of progression across playthroughs, to facilitate a "play to learn" style. Building from genre bases other than "hardcore RPG" helps, since it makes it more clear that the expectation is to win or lose in a short time, then try again.
 

bv728

Was he a violent man?
Validated User
It feels like lately, half the games I see as I browse various storefronts are roguelikes and roguelike-inspired games. How did that happen? I thought roguelikes were pretty niche games, what with the permadeath and cruel randomness and traditionally not very pleasing looks and often opague mechanics and control schemes that make you tear your hair out... Did somebody make a hugely successful roguelike I missed that started a wave?
See Spelunky for the the kickoff of the current Wave, then follow it through Binding of Issac, FTL, Nuclear Throne, and so on. The two big breakthroughs were the idea that individual runs should be fast, and the meta-unlock element such that even failed runs could have rewards.
 

Pieta

Very custom
Validated User
Thanks everybody. What you're saying makes a lot of sense.

See Spelunky for the the kickoff of the current Wave, then follow it through Binding of Issac, FTL, Nuclear Throne, and so on. The two big breakthroughs were the idea that individual runs should be fast, and the meta-unlock element such that even failed runs could have rewards.
And I managed to miss all of them. :) But I see FTL is at -75% at humble, perhaps it's time to give it a try.
 

darkgloomie

Un-jiggly
Validated User
Thanks everybody. What you're saying makes a lot of sense.


And I managed to miss all of them. :) But I see FTL is at -75% at humble, perhaps it's time to give it a try.
The original version of Spelunky was (and is) freeware so you can try out the gameplay and see how it is.
 
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