A new book charting the history of Roguelike games has been published.
Dungeon Hacks: How NetHack, Angband, and Other Roguelikes Changed the Course of Video Games is now available in paperback form, as well as a digital download on Kindle, iBooks, and other e-reading platforms. An audio version is due sometime later in the month.
Written by Stay Awhile and Listen author David L. Craddock, Dungeon Hacks whisks readers back in time to the computer labs where seminal roguelike role-playing games (RPGs) such as Rogue and Moria originated. Roguelikes are beloved among their fans, who tout grueling difficulty, a wide breadth of character types, and procedural algorithms that generate brand new levels every time players begin a new quest as defining characteristics of the genre.
Dungeon Hacks has already been drawing praise from a number of notable game designers, including Deus Ex creator Warren Spector, and Torchlight designer Travis Baldree.
“The design of roguelike classics still resonates today, inspiring many modern game designers. Read this book and you’re understand how and why,” Spector said.
Travis Baldree has been similarly enthusiastic, praising Dungeon Hacks for “capturing the human element behind the games—the particulars of the people, the context, and the time period.”
In recent years, the Roguelike genre’s popularity has been in the ascendent, after decades of relative obscurity. Named after the genre-defining Rogue, Roguelikes typically feature randomly generated levels, survival mechanics, and plenty of dungeon crawling. The genre is known for its typically punishing level of difficulty, with many games featuring a permadeath mechanic whereby all progress is lost on character death. The genre is widely credited with inspiring the modern Action RPG genre, which comprises the likes of Diablo and Torchlight.
Back in 2013, I revisited one of the Grandfather of the genre, Angband, in a retrospective. Don’t let the ASCII graphics fool you – Angband is a challenging and highly addictive beast of a game. You can read more about it in my article: An Exercise In Typeface Terror.