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Genres evolve and so does language

09 February 2020 — No Time To Play

Yesterday afternoon I got caught between two people on Discord. One thought Diablo doesn't qualify as a roguelike. The other hadn't even heard of Diablo; their idea of a roguelike was The Binding of Isaac. And if you think that's strange, consider this hilarious tweet. Of course roguelikes are supposed to be real-time! Making them turn-based? The horror!

Welcome to 2020.

Having just released a roguelike of my own (right before this year's 7DRL), this matters to me. I have nine of them now, which is a lot by any measure. And while they try to be modern in ways that matter, they also try to preserve what's good about the genre, such as turn-based gameplay and ASCII art. Trust me, I care.

But things change, folks. We can't go on clinging to the past. And it's a lot easier to give an old word new meanings than to invent new combinations of sounds all the time. Especially as the former provides much-needed continuity.

Not a trick question: when was the last time anyone literally hung up a phone? Think back. No, further back. In the days of Laurel & Hardy, when the earpiece in its resting position dangled from the hook instead of being balanced on top of it.

When did phones last have a literal hook at all?

And since I mentioned Laurel & Hardy: did you know that when talkies first came out, purists made a big fuss? People insisted that movies were supposed to be silent, as an inherently visual medium. Yes, seriously.

No prize for guessing what audiences thought about that. There's a reason why even silent movies came with music and sound effects; they just had to be performed live on stage while the movie played. A dead art now. And it was an art.

You win some, you lose some. Either way, life goes on. And that's why my latest game has ASCII art except in 3D, and turn-based gameplay except at the pace of an action-adventure. It is still enough "like Rogue" to deserve the name?

Trick question: nobody cares anymore. Move on and let people enjoy their omnidirectional shooters with procedural generation and permadeath.

Tags: roguelike, philosophy

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