Roguelike Resurrection: ADOM Seeks Funding

The money is to make it into a 3D action adventure

ADOM is one of my favourite games, mostly because when people talk about how brilliant it is I sometimes think they’re talking about me. Then they say something like, “ADOM’s insistence on killing me with savage beasts is quite distressing”, and I’ve never killed anyone so it’s at that point I realise they’re talking about another more more murderous Adam, or Ancient Domains of Mystery. The latter is a glorious roguelike that I’ve been playing since I was fifteen. Development ceased in 2002, as creator Thomas Biskup presumably couldn’t devote his entire life to the game but, if he can Indiegoget enough money, he’ll return to development with a small team to help improve the game. Obligatory video below.

In this, the era of crowdfunding, we’ve seen a bunch of developers from times gone by either returning the genres they love or to the industry altogether, but this is something I didn’t expect. ADOM felt like a lost thing. I’m also pretty sure there’s a postcard from teenage me somewhere in Biskup’s house, although it’s entirely possible I forgot to post it way back when.

Thomas, if you read this, look for one from Adam in Manchester!

ADOM’s brilliance is partly due to its sense of progression, with quests and some structure beyond plumbing the depths. There’s an overworld to sit on top of its dungeons, intricate character development and a corruption mechanic that can make you sprout a tail.

He’s looking to raise $48,000 and has 59 days left to gather it. I think there’s a very good chance this one will make it and that’d make me very happy indeed.


  1. MythArcana says:

    I love these rogue-likes, but the ASCII versions are a bit rough when you get older and your eyes aren’t what they used to be. I’d like to see a tiled variation like Stone Soup or Vutlure among other things, but that’s just me.

    • Dominic White says:

      The ADOM update has an artist and a musician on the development team, suggesting that it’s going to be a graphical version.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        If that were the case, why wouldn’t they have at least created a graphical mock-up for this video so people could get a good idea of what their money is going to produce?

        From how the guy describes it, the way it looks now is the way it’s always going to look. I could be misunderstanding him though.

        • Kaira- says:

          I remember Biskup saying that there wouldn’t be support for tiles, because the way of displaying stuff via console is so deeply integrated into the code that it would be too much work to replace. However, the artist is apparently going to help modernizing the UI a fair bit, if I’ve understood correctly.

          • ADOM-Maintainer says:

            Right now we are discussing to dom something about graphical tile support. But that’s not part of the basic campaign (which can’t be really changed that now it has started and our work efforts have been estimated). But it might be an interesting stretch goal.

            I’ll discuss this once we get a little closer to the basic funding goal. If we don’t even make that there’s no sense in discussing the rest. And I’m not going to promise anything too early ;-)

            But thanks for the suggestion!

      • Chris D says:

        As far as I can tell there’s going to be an Adom 2 but they’re asking for money to polish and debug the original game. It was all a bit confusing.

        I really enjoyed ADOM so I’d happily give them some money but to be honest I’d rather it was going directly towards the sequel.

        • ADOM-Maintainer says:

          Yes, there was a lot of discussion about that on the blog ( during the past five days or so.

          Despite what some people think I care deeply for ADOM and I don’t like seeing it exist in this somewhat incomplete and broken state. And that’s the minimum goal for the campaign (besides adding some nice and new features): I want to have stable versions for as many operating systems as we can manage with as many bug fixes and patched loop holes as possible.

          Everyone who ever loved ADOM should ask himself if that’s worth anything between $10 and $50.000 (ok, the demigod pledge tier is not very probable, make that $250) and then pledge or not. The $48.000 is our realistic estimation for what baseline and afterwards we have a very strong line-up of cool new features and additions.

          So the plan is to – at least – leave ADOM in a highly playable and up to date state… if more money is collected we’ll so how far it reaches.

          The campaign shouldn’t affect ADOM II too much as I have a great team lined up and this should distribute the burden much better. And we’d have the money to buy resources to a certain extent.

          But can read all those details on the blog ;-)

          • The Random One says:

            So, did you guys find Adam’s postcard? Did you find mine? I didn’t send one of São Paulo because I thought Thomas probably already had one but I’ll send one if you’d like.

            Money? Pfft.

      • wodin says:

        I know i’s sad but without tile support I’m out. DF is great with a tile set. Without I can’t do it at all.

    • Unaco says:

      “I’d like to see a tiled variation like Stone Soup or Vutlure among other things, but that’s just me.”

      Sacrebleu! Someone who wants a tileset for a Roguelike!?! Unheard of! You special, unique little flower you… blazin’ a trail with your originality there.

      Hint: You’re not the only person who prefers tilesets in a RL.

      • Dominic White says:

        I’ve been playing Roguelikes since the original Rogue, and I love having graphical options now. It lets you see so much more at a glance, and a decent mouse interface makes gameplay a lot smoother and more intuitive.

        • mckertis says:

          ” It lets you see so much more at a glance”

          Actually the opposite is true. Brain registers and processes a simple symbol much faster than evaluating an image.

          “a decent mouse interface makes gameplay a lot smoother and more intuitive.”

          More like distorted. For example, Crawl has autoexplore. Does it really need the dungeon layout representation anymore ? It may as well be a random encounter system in JRPGs.

          • ADOM-Maintainer says:

            At least we have scheduled UI enhancements (like colored messages and other stuff) as one of the things we’d like to do. But we’ll discuss them with the community and take suggestions and then decide what can be done. But I agree that some things probably should be enhanced.

            Mouse support and graphics are nothing I need but we’ll listen to the community (although tile support is beyond the scope of the basic project).

          • Dominic White says:

            “Actually the opposite is true”

            Bullshit. With decent sprite graphics, I can see immediately exactly what kind of creature I’m up against, what it’s wielding, whether it’s holding anything, how big it is, what colour it is, how much health it has if there’s on-screen health bars, and if there’s a halfway decent UI I can just mouse over it for every other piece of detail.

            Brogue impressively does almost all of this with ASCII graphics, but it could still be clearer still with decent art.

            Hell, Brogue is a goddamn masterclass in UI design.
            link to

          • Dervish says:

            Blue bars for health, and no numbers? Master what now? I guess that’s more the HUD, strictly speaking, but it’s interrelated and when someone says “masterclass” I’ll be damned if I don’t find something to nitpick. But yeah mouse support is definitely a big plus.

          • Dominic White says:

            Health numbers are largely pointless. What the game DOES tell you by mousing over an enemy is exactly how often it’ll hit you, what percentage of your health it’ll do, and how many hits it could kill you in, if you rolled badly on each round. Now *that’s* useful.

          • wodin says:

            I agree with Domonic, no way is a symbol easier than a sprite. When a see a yellow Y I haven’t a clue what it is, if I see a little green man with a sword I pretty much no it’s some creature with a sword maybe a goblin or orc as it’s green.

          • Kaira- says:

            ASCII takes some time to get into it, but with use of look-command you’ll soon learn what those symbols mean… and I prefer ASCII, since it let’s me fill in the details much better than tilesets. :P

          • Dominic White says:

            By your own admission there, ASCII offers less information than sprites – if you need to use the Look command to see what it is that you’re fighting and what it’s carrying, then you’ve added an entire layer of pointless complexity to the game, while something with halfway reasonable graphics will let you see at a glance exactly what you’re up against and whatever it’s holding.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            I guess this kickstarter-alike is targeted at people who already play ADOM? I’m in my 20’s and I got into roguelikes through Stone Soup’s tiled interface, as did several of my friends. I have no doubt that previous generations are comfortable with ASCII, but a younger audience is going to want at least some kind of visual representation.

            I’m OK with not being part of the target group, but it might be a good idea to find a way to appeal to a newer generation of gamers.As it stands, acclimatizing myself to a text interface is not how I want to spend my time off work.

          • MikoSquiz says:

            I’ve been playing roguelikes for a good 20 years, and while I’m willing to put up with ASCII/ANSI, any time there’s an even vaguely decent tileset available instead the little ‘k’s and ‘o’s can bugger right the fuck off.

      • IC says:

        I don’t think he was claiming to be the ONLY person who preferred a tileset for his roguelikes. Is there really any reason for you to be such a colossal knob about it?

    • Geen says:

      It’s because you people can’t see into the matrix, while I can, as I play DF tile-less. I AM THE CHOSEN ONE. THERE IS NO SPOON.

  2. CrowPath says:

    Spent a huge amount of time playing this on the Amiga in the mid 90s. Definitely throwing these chaps some cash.

    • ADOM-Maintainer says:

      BTW, we still are going to support the Amiga (Jochen is a huge Amiga fans from the golden days).

  3. Lobotomist says:

    Thomas definetly deserves some cash for ADOM. One of the best roleplaying games on computers he developed for free.

    But 48000$ sounds a bit lot to me.

    He did develop the game for free in first place. If it actually had that kind of budget requirement he definitely would not (could not) do it for free.

    Also as I understood all they plan to do is squash bugs and add new content. But there is allready more content anyone non hardcore will see. And the game is pretty much stable.

    I will put some money in it as payback for old play time. (and everyone should)

    But as new enterprise , it didnt really grab me.

    • Dominic White says:

      $48k, split between four people on the development team = A pittance if this update/remake is going to be in development for more than a couple months. Even a small commercial indie game these days has an effective development budget of several hundred thousand.

      • Lobotomist says:

        Well, i guess you are right.

        Anyways. I hope it will get funded

        • ADOM-Maintainer says:

          Thanks for understanding. We really wrestled hard with the cost part as I know how hard it will be to reach that goal. But due to having failed to deliver anything between 2002 and now I did not want to run into the “I’m too optimistic about available resources” trap again. That’s how the number came to be after many Excel sheets and the like.

          • Lobotomist says:

            I am sorry about being confused about the budget.

            ADOM is easily among best roleplaying games I ever played. Think of it roguelike skyrim :)
            Its also one of easier roguelikes to get into , because its closeness to more standard RPG games.

            I am positive this game will work very well for new generation of gamers as well as for old.

            That being said, i would like to give a suggestion to Thomas:
            Do not change the graphics – but do change the interface !

            And as many will agree 3D graphic didnt bring much to game “immersion” , but modern interface on other hand only brought improvements :)

            So, if there was one thing I would add – it would be it.

  4. misterT0AST says:

    I desperately tried to get into roguelikes with Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (due to the fact that it has a nice tileset) but after being one-shotted by an ogre, being chased and killed by mosters that were stronger and faster than me I gave up. I read a commenter here saying that Stone Soup “ruined other roguelikes for him”. Well I’m not sure but the same thing might have happened to me, because when I tried Adom I just got bored of taking one step at a time and ran straight into a room with multiplying worms that ate my skin.
    Is it just because of personal preference or you think that Stone Soup DOES have a negative influence on other roguelikes you play after it?

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You may want to try Dungeons of Dredmor. It’s a roguelike that goes way beyond the standard, and it’s a blast to play. I personally can’t stand roguelikes yet I find myself putting way too much time into it.

    • Chris D says:

      The trick with most roguelikes is to find the command that allows you to keep moving until you either spot danger or hit a wall or something. Holding down one key is basically suicide. I should know, I’ve lost so many characters that way.

    • Zanchito says:

      I concur on the Dungeons of Dredmor suggestion.

    • Robert says:

      I may or may not be that poster you talk about, but I will reply on it.

      The reason that stone soup has a negative influence on me (and probably others), is that for me it’s hard to go back to ascii-roguelikes. For that reason. Ascii vs tiles. I’m spoiled.

      • misterT0AST says:

        Since I don’t have a long history with roguelikes, I may have been spoiled to begin with.
        Anyway this guy called “Namey” was the commenter I mentioned.
        link to

      • mckertis says:

        Brogue is prettier than Stone Soup. Arguably better game, too. Also shorter.

    • Skabooga says:

      I played Stone Soup many years back and had the same experience: inescapable monsters who were stronger and faster than I was, and who noticed me the instant I came across them. I too was put off by this, but don’t let it ruin roguelikes for you. I’d recommend you try Brogue: as far as roguelikes go, it tends to be fairer than most (although you will still die a lot), but there is at least the chance of losing a monster that is chasing you by clever use of traps or bodies of water, not always forcing you to rely on rare consumables for escape.

      Then again, you might just hate roguelikes, and that’s okay too.

    • The Random One says:

      Wow, really? That’s a very good description of vanilla Dungeon Crawl, where the first time you find something stronger than you it’ll also be faster than you and you’re screwed. Stone Soup turned it into a game I actually could play. Great times being a Troll Death Knight, constantly worrying whether the corpse at your feet would best serve you as a minion or as food. Or a Troll Ranger, whose long distance weapons are boulders. I called him Chucky.

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      Waltorious says:

      I’m seconding the recommendation for Brogue. It also has the auto-explore feature that you find in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, but it’s a bit simpler and won’t take as much practice before you will start to feel like you know what you’re doing. Not that Brogue is easy by any means, it’s just a smaller-scale game. Stone Soup is the kind of game you can play for years and years, so it sort of inevitably starts slowly.

      I know what you mean about Stone Soup making other roguelikes hard to play, though. I miss auto-explore in any roguelike that doesn’t have it. ADOM is tough because it’s very old-school in its interface, including missile weapons and spells that can only be fired in one of eight directions. It does not have auto-explore but it does let you fast-travel in a specific direction, stopping if you reach an intersection or spot an enemy.

      Dungeons of Dredmor is also lots of fun. No auto-explore but there’s usually something interesting just a few steps away at any given moment. It’s mostly entertaining for the ridiculous items and enemies that you’ll find.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      You could play a faster species. A Spriggan can run away from anything in the game, as far as I know. And if you come across something that’s faster than you in general, well, you should have some sort of nuke-the-bastards wand around by then, or an identified potion of invisibility or speed, or a scroll of blink, or some other way to at least get to the nearest stairs and either continue downward or escape to the previous floor and then go around.. if you haven’t anything that’ll help, you’ve either been incredibly unlucky, or haven’t been exploring diligently enough on your way down.

      I play Stone Soup a bit; I’m not very good; I die a lot. Practically every time I die I look at my inventory afterwards and go “Crap, I had one of those! Why didn’t I use it?!”

    • Odexios says:

      Well, I think it’s true that DCSS has a negative influence on other roguelikes, mainly because it’s so much better and polished than them.

      It’s true that DCSS is pretty hard and unforgiving, but it never punishes a player who was patient and careful. Well, almost never, a really unlucky game can happen sometimes, but it’s not usual.

      For instance, what you found too hard, “being one-shotted by an ogre, being chased and killed by mosters that were stronger and faster”, is something that doen’t happen to someone who knows how to play DCSS: there is almost always a way to escape from danger, be it using an escape spell, reading a scroll, drinking a potion, using a consummable or just running away to a stair. The main error that someone who isn’t used to this kind of game does is thinking that every monster found can be face immediately; Crawl pushes you to analyze the situation and run away if necessary, and especially at the beginning running away *is* necessary. I won the game only one time in one year of play, but each and every time I lost I knew the fault was mine; I don’t recall a situation in the last few months where I couldn’t have escaped death, had I been a little more careful.

      Apart from this, I find Crawl great for one reason: it’s completely removed any reason (and possibility) to grind or farm. It pushes you to explore new levels without a break, it doesn’t have shops where you can sell items (removing so any reason to pick up any item which isn’t useful and to do boring travelling between stashes of items and shops), and it lets a great deal of freedom in a strategical and tactical sense. Besides, the autoexplore and autotravel functions are something I couldn’t play a roguelike without.

  5. Bobtree says:

    ADOM was first released in 1994, last updated in 2002, still closed source (unlike every other major roguelike), and now he wants funding? WAT?

    • ADOM-Maintainer says:

      And what’s the real problem about that? As I said dozens of times – the basic question is if a new version of ADOM is worth anything to you between $10 and $250. If the answer is “yes” please pledge as soon as possible and if the answer is “no” just leave it at that.

      Life can be very simple :-)

      And I won’t get into the “open versus closed” source discussion here ;-) That has been done a couple of times in other places (once again) a lot of times. But the highest stretch goal is to release ADOM as open source. I personally doubt we’ll get there but it will have to be seen… exciting times and scale effects on Internet are something hard to guess beforehand.

      • jrodman says:

        Is there any contract involved? Source release was stated to occur in the past, and did not.

  6. fiddlesticks says:

    I’m not too big on ADOM or roguelikes in general, but I have a lot of respect for Thomas Biskup and the time/effort he put into this game, so I might give him a small donation regardless.

    Also, props for using fixed funding rather than the awful flexible funding every other project on Indigogo seems to be madly in love with.

    • ADOM-Maintainer says:

      That’s also a matter of honor for me: Either we get enough funds to really do an awesome job or we’ll mourn and move on. To me it just doesn’t make sense to try (again) to achieve something with insufficient resources. I had that experience a couple of times between 2002 and today, you know ;-)

  7. rustybroomhandle says:

    Amiga support, eh? Gads, I wonder if my A1200 will still boot.

  8. karthink says:

    How does ADOM compare to Dwarf Fortress’ Adventure mode? I haven’t played Adventure mode in few months.

    • Skabooga says:

      It certainly isn’t as expansive as DF’s adventure mode, but ADOM plays more intuitively and with more variety in what you see and do.

  9. vodkarn says:

    I’ve been playing ADOM for roughly twenty years, Biskup can absolutely have my money.

  10. Baines says:


    Isn’t ADOM the game where the guy many years ago promised to release the source code, and then didn’t do it?

    Actually, yeah. Here is 1998 interview where he was already waffling on releasing the source:
    link to

    • Kaira- says:

      I know reading can be hard, so I’ll quote you something of interest from the answer.

      Since some impolite folks stated that they would disregard the license, I’m these days pondering whether I really will release the sources.

  11. jrodman says:

    Roguelikes should come with source. Then all this upgrading would just happen.

    • Skabooga says:

      With several other roguelikes having their code open and available, I’m not sure ADOM ever needed to go that route.

    • roguewombat says:

      That would be great! Then we could get a definitive spoiler wiki with every secret baked into the game, thereby extracting every bit of mystique out of the game that we can. :-/

      In other news: your expectation is patently false.

      • arccos says:

        Why the snark?

        If you don’t want spoilers, you don’t have to read them. Nethack is open source and people don’t generally ruin the game for themselves by looking up spoilers unless they want to. That doesn’t really affect the value of what was an all but abandoned great game going open source.

        • roguewombat says:

          I suppose it depends on intentions, and the desire for the preservation of the game’s mystery seems to come from the developer himself. That was always my understanding, but I could be wrong. If a man wishes his secret sauce to remain secret, I don’t see why “roguelikes should come with source” must apply to his game.

          And the second snark was reserved for Then all this upgrading would just happen., though admittedly that was less snark and more refutation. Just because source is included does mean anything “would just happen.” It’s still an incredible amount of work to maintain an open source project, even moreso when you weren’t the originator of the code.

          • jrodman says:

            And yet, it has happened with every other major rogulike.

            Even ones that fall into disrepair have been lifted up again many times and improved and cleaned up.

            Refutation? Opinion, more like.

    • Kaira- says:

      Preferably all software would come with their source code, but some things can’t be forced.

    • Wisq says:

      I used to think this. I used to resent ADOM for not releasing the source, and stopped playing it for that reason. I can’t figure out why I ever did either of those things.

      The Doom and Quake series have had their source code released for free under the GPL. Lots of extra cool versions were made of those games (e.g. psdoom), and lots of cool free games/mods were made using them (e.g. Tremulous). Does that mean that every FPS should be open source? Every game?

      We’ve been spoiled by Nethack, Angband, other roguelikes. Why should a whole genre be declared an open source zone because of a few early examples? Are we all going to stop playing Dwarf Fortress because it’s not open source?

      Don’t get me wrong. I like open source. I love free software (“freedom” in the GPL sense). I use Linux and tons of other free software. I would love for the entire world to be GPLed one day. But I think that open source should be about promoting its growth and surpassing the quality of closed source, not about stifling software by demanding that it be open source or else not be produced.

      Also, I do also think that the ADOM license terms suggested by the author (no modified versions, etc.) are complete BS. You don’t open the source just so people can look at it; you do it so that the community can build on your efforts, or so that distributions like Debian can include your program and patch it to fit the distribution (including security patches). So I don’t blame the users for calling him on that, but it’s an unfortunate turn of events overall.

      • jrodman says:

        There isn’t a demand here. There’s a statement that this produces the best results, especially for the genre (which is primarily code, not lots of art assets too).

        Here we have a kickstarter to accomplish something, when the something could be accomplished much more sustainably and simply. That’s all.

  12. Ergates_Antius says:

    Ahh ADOM. So many delicious monsters to kill and eat, so little time.

  13. Kinth says:

    I can’t get into ASCII Rougelike’s any more, what was originally cute and endearing has become more of annoyance that just makes my eyes go blurry after 10 minutes of play.

    Dungeons of Dredmor is by far the best roguelike in a loooooong time, it’s still rough around the edges but they keep updating it and have released a full expansion for it for free. Add to that full mod support with steam workshop and it has the potential to become the best roguelike ever made. I just hope one day they make it so the armour you equip appears on the character because I love that visual progression feeling.

    • Namey says:

      They’ve been pretty clear that the armor thing wont happen. The sheer amount of art assets it would take to cover all the armors and all the available character animations is such a staggering number that getting the art done would take far too many hours, and it would be far too expensive.

  14. Tacroy says:

    Oh my god I played so much Adom when I was younger, I know exactly what’s going on in that screenshot – you’re in the first town, Terinyo, about to talk to the Druid which sends you down his quest line (instead of the village elder’s quest line). The Druid’s quest is way better because there isn’t a retarded escort quest at the end of it and you get a guaranteed artifact, even if it is cursed. (I gave that god an artifact, gods love artifacts).

    • Khelavaster says:

      Thats actually the second town, which is an anagram for “hole in the wall”, and he is presumably killing the mad doctor, good on you for trying though :)

    • Maytsh says:

      If I remember correctly, there’s actually a good reason to skip the quest because of that very reason – it effectively reduces the number of times you can get crowned by one. The reason is that crowning requires a certain character level vs. the number of artifacts generated, and late-game there are so many artifacts that you won’t ever get below the limit again. So generating artifacts early is actually a *bad* idea.

      Also, if you think gods like artifacts, try offering a few hundred blessed stomafilia herbs. These things were broken. Ah, good times :)

  15. Khelavaster says:

    If you are familiar with my name (which I’ve had for a while) you will know I’m a big fan, and obviously going to donate. Adom to me always stood so far above the competition, that it was not a competition at all.

    Alot of the newer games play way to slow and feel like a complete grind (dredmor, despite playing it 135 hours). What I have always loved is the pacing of ADOM, I just now made a new character and it took me 3 minutes to hit level 5, including finishing the small cave and finding a nice mithril sword. When you are going to have a perma death game this is essential, and at the core of its charm, and as such games with animations are actually detracting from my enjoyment. When it takes you half an hour to clear the first level, instead of 3 minutes, it gives the game an entirely different feel, one thats been lost in translation to the more casual games.

    If you have enjoyed the entry level games in this genre its time to step up to the real deal. The very best there is.

  16. ADOM-Maintainer says:

    Just too show that I am very willing to listen: Right now I have been discussing various stretch goals should the campaign be successful enough and a tile-based graphics engine is one of them:

    link to

    Please vote if you wish to be heard. Technical feasibility assumed I will try to listen to the poll results and comments!