Roguelike & Roguelite, what do these terms really mean?

Nov 27, 2020
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This thread is similar to the @ZedClampet post about Immersive Sims:
(9) What is an 'immersive sim'? | PC Gamer Forums

I see these terms, Roguelike & Rougelite, bounced around in the description of games, generally in the RPG category, and I really don't know, or understand, what those terms mean. I've read the Wiki:
Roguelike - Wikipedia

I get the perma-death part, but is that always the case? And is there a difference between Roguelike & Roguelite (must be)? Maybe someone can explain, in layman's terms, how those "labels" affect gameplay. Rogue has always held the connotation of stealth, sneaking, lockpicking, and possibly assassination; but those old-school thoughts may not apply here.
 

Kaamos_Llama

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In Roguelike you carry nothing through to the next run apart from your own knowledge. In Roguelite its run based but you can earn upgrades and bonuses to give yourself a better chance the next time.

Simple as that really :)


Edit:
Not as simple as that! See @Pifanjrs post, and the Berlin definition from the wiki.
 
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Rogue has always held the connotation of stealth, sneaking, lockpicking, and possibly assassination; but those old-school thoughts may not apply here.
The "Rogue" part of Rogueli(k/t)e refers to the video game called Rogue, which doesn't have that much of a focus on stealth, sneaking, lockpicking and assassination.

I think @Kaamos_Llama is close, but I think there's a few more distinctions. Procedural generation of levels is a pretty big one. There's been plenty of games, especially old-school ones, where you had to restart the entire game once you died, but I wouldn't call all of those roguelikes.

Roguelikes typically also feature inventory management as a main gameplay mechanic, where you have a limited carrying capacity and have to make choices about what to bring and what to throw away when you find new loot.

There's usually also a wide variety of enemies with different strengths and weaknesses you have to learn about.
 

Kaamos_Llama

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Procedural generation of levels is a pretty big one. There's been plenty of games, especially old-school ones, where you had to restart the entire game once you died, but I wouldn't call all of those roguelikes.
Fair point, a Double Dragon or Golden Axe were obviouly not Roguelikes, big oversight so its not simple as all that.

I've just thought of it as Spelunky would be a RogueLike (Nope its RogueLite also Slay the Spire? i dont know) and something like Dead Cells where you carry stuff over would be Roguelite. I usually think of them as 2d or top down, but I guess there was some buzz around Returnal on the PS5 earlier this year as a sort of 3d Roguelite, theres probably been others. Looking into it a bit deeper, well, it seems to go deep:


The Berlin Interpretation defined eight high-value factors:[18]


  • The game uses random dungeon generation to increase replayability.[19] Games may include pre-determined levels such as a town level common to the Moria family where the player can buy and sell equipment, but these are considered to reduce the randomness set by the Berlin Interpretation.[18] This "random generation" is nearly always based on some procedural generation approach rather than true randomness. Procedural generation uses a set of rules defined by the game developers to seed the generation of the dungeon generally to assure that each level of the dungeon can be completed by the player without special equipment, and also can generate more aesthetically-pleasing levels.[20]
  • The game uses permadeath. Once a character dies, the player must begin a new game, known as a "run", which will regenerate the game's levels anew due to procedural generation. A "save game" feature will only provide suspension of gameplay and not a limitlessly recoverable state; the stored session is deleted upon resumption or character death. Players can circumvent this by backing up stored game data ("save scumming"), an act that is usually considered cheating; the developers of Rogue introduced the permadeath feature after introducing a save function, finding that players were repeatedly loading saved games to achieve the best results.[8] According to Rogue's Michael Toy, they saw their approach to permadeath not as a means to make the game painful or difficult but to put weight on every decision the player made as to create a more immersive experience.[21]
  • The game is turn-based, giving the player as much time as needed to make a decision. Gameplay is usually step-based, where player actions are performed serially and take a variable measure of in-game time to complete. Game processes (e.g., monster movement and interaction, progressive effects such as poisoning or starvation) advance based on the passage of time dictated by these actions.[18]
  • The game is non-modal, in that every action should be available to the player regardless where they are in the game. The Interpretation notes that shops like in Angband do break this non-modality.
  • The game has a degree of complexity due to the number of different game systems in place that allow the player to complete certain goals in multiple ways, creating emergent gameplay.[18][22] For example, to get through a locked door, the player may attempt to pick the lock, kick it down, burn down the door, or even tunnel around it, depending on their current situation and inventory. A common phrase associated with NetHack is "The Dev Team Thinks of Everything" in that the developers seem to have anticipated every possible combination of actions that a player may attempt to try in their gameplay strategy, such as using gloves to protect one's character while wielding the corpse of a cockatrice as a weapon to petrify enemies by its touch.[23]
  • The player must use resource management to survive.[18] Items that help sustain the player, such as food and healing items, are in limited supply, and the player must figure out how to use these most advantageously in order to survive in the dungeon. USGamer further considers "stamina decay" as another feature related to resource management. The player's character constantly needs to find food to survive or will die from hunger, which prevents the player from exploiting health regeneration by simply either passing turns for a long period of time or fighting very weak monsters at low level dungeons.[24] Rich Carlson, one of the creators of an early roguelike-like Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, called this aspect a sort of "clock", imposing some type of deadline or limitation on how much the player can explore and creating tension in the game.[25]
  • The game is focused on hack and slash-based gameplay, where the goal is to kill many monsters, and where other peaceful options do not exist.[18]
  • The game requires the player to explore the map and discover the purpose of unidentified items in a manner that resets every playthrough. The identity of magical items, including magically enchanted items, varies from run to run. Newly discovered objects only offer a vague physical description that is randomized between games, with purposes and capabilities left unstated. For example, a "bubbly" potion might heal wounds one game, then poison the player character in the next. Items are often subject to alteration, acquiring specific traits, such as a curse, or direct player modification.[18]

Low-value factors from the Berlin Interpretation are:[18]


  • The game is based on controlling only a single character throughout one playthrough.
  • Monsters have behavior that is similar to the player-character, such as the ability to pick up items and use them, or cast spells.
  • The game aimed to provide a tactical challenge that may require players to play through several times to learn the appropriate tactics for survival.[18]
  • The game is presented using ASCII characters in a tile-based map.
  • The game involves exploring dungeons which are made up of rooms and interconnecting corridors. Some games may have open areas or natural features, such as rivers, though these are considered against the Berlin Interpretation.[18]
  • The game presents the status of the player and the game through numbers on the game's screen/interface.

Though this is not addressed by the Berlin Interpretation, roguelikes are generally single-player games. On multi-user systems, leaderboards are often shared between players. Some roguelikes allow traces of former player characters to appear in later game sessions in the form of ghosts or grave markings. Some games such as NetHack even have the player's former characters reappear as enemies within the dungeon. Multi-player turn-based derivatives such as TomeNET, MAngband, and Crossfire do exist and are playable online.[26]

I think I prefer my simple definition. I never even considered a Roguelike/lite could be turn based, hush my mouth!
 
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Jan 14, 2020
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I see these terms, Roguelike & Rougelite, bounced around in the description of games, generally in the RPG category, and I really don't know, or understand, what those terms mean. I've read the Wiki:
Roguelike - Wikipedia
Thanks for asking this. I've always wondered what, specifically, they meant. Typically I just considered them "arcade" games (because I'm old), and I generally stay away from them because I don't like starting over all the time (but at least you don't have to pay a quarter with every restart).

I did play Hades, however, and based on @Kaamos_Llama 's definition it would fit under the roguelite category. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn't something I'd want to play all the time. By the way, Steam has it under "Action Roguelike" and "Roguelite", but it seems like a game shouldn't be able to be both of those.

In other news, I completely forgot about the Immersive Sim thread. I don't get most of my notifications for some reason. I'll have to remember to go check that thread out again.
 

Brian Boru

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I don't get most of my notifications for some reason
Fyi I don't get any notifications, because I have them switched off—previous experience on forums is that they're not reliable for whatever reason, I never could figure it out when I ran my own forum.

For someone like us who's here regularly, New Posts should work better. I have it set as my shortcut for here:
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Give it a shot, see if it suits. You get a list of threads, pick the ones of interest.

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Zloth

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You don't need notifications if you read every thread!

I played a lot of NetHack (which came from Hack which came from Rogue) so I consider that the typical roguelike game. You don't get to keep anything from one play to another... EXCEPT that there's a chance your dead character will turn into a ghost. If you defeat the ghost, you can pick up a bunch of your old items. No clue whether that turns it into roguelike.

Death is only permanent if you don't back up your save files. ;)
 
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I appreciate everyone's comments, but I'm still a bit confused. Maybe it's partially my age, but also some of my internal confusion (at least on this topic), comes from part of the name, that being "rogue". I still don't quite understand how those terms "roguelike" & "roguelite" are used. My brain just can't shake my preconceived connotations of what a "rogue" is (too many D&D games I guess).

The "Rogue" part of Rogueli(k/t)e refers to the video game called Rogue, which doesn't have that much of a focus on stealth, sneaking, lockpicking and assassination.

I think @Kaamos_Llama is close, but I think there's a few more distinctions. Procedural generation of levels is a pretty big one. There's been plenty of games, especially old-school ones, where you had to restart the entire game once you died, but I wouldn't call all of those roguelikes.

Roguelikes typically also feature inventory management as a main gameplay mechanic, where you have a limited carrying capacity and have to make choices about what to bring and what to throw away when you find new loot.

There's usually also a wide variety of enemies with different strengths and weaknesses you have to learn about.
That original Rogue game is actually still available on Steam:

I also found a UT video that tires to explain the whole "roguelike" sub-genre:
View: https://youtu.be/C8Pw4VV_QX4


I understand the perma-death, procedurally generated levels, inventory restrictions, and variety of enemies with different strengths/weakness; so that becomes the defining characteristics of a Roguelike? And in the case of Roguelite, it's turn based combat, and can carry forward skills equipment when you die?
 
I think you've got the idea, but I'm dubious that you need all those things to count. Maybe any 3 out of the four?
Not even 3 out of 4. I think Roguelite just means "with elements from Rogue". It's like calling any game that adds RPG elements "RPGLites".

Take for example Rogue Legacy. It is described as a Roguelite, but it really only has procedurally generated environments and a sort of perma-death (you carry over money to upgrade your next characters with). It's mostly a Metroidvania.
 
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Not even 3 out of 4. I think Roguelite just means "with elements from Rogue". It's like calling any game that adds RPG elements "RPGLites".
I think that was part of my confusion with those terms, that the base definition of the term Roguelike, as well as Rouglite, had certain elements. But that term, or sub-genre, seems to be very loosely applied to some games, much like RPG is applied.
 
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The only thing i think of when i see either of those descriptions reminds me of what we used to say when i was landscaping in the summer and we would come across a lawn that was so burnt it was brown we would say..

"it's a skip" and drive on to the next.


For me it means, i'm not interested. I don't think that's what your looking for <grin> all joking aside, even with this thread i still don't know what the hell they are talking about
 

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