Rock, Paper, Shotgun have been on the cutting edge of the ludic lexicon since 1873. We coined ‘Minecraftbut‘, ‘Zachlike‘, ‘Uppie‘, and more ’em ups than is reasonable. We were there on the front lines, staring at trees, when ‘walking simulator‘ was seized as positive. And it’s only mostly for funsies that we/I distinguish between Roguelikes, roguelikes, and roguelikelikes.
Everyone calls their game a ‘roguelike’ lately, it seems sometimes. If you’re a developer concerned about the serious harm your flippancy may be doing, relax! Simply turn to Ben Porter’s tool How Roguelike is your game? and discover whether you’ve made a Roguelike, a Roguelikelike, a Roguelikelikelike, Roguelikelikelikelike, or just plain Rogue.
Simply go down the list and tick off any aspects found in your game – permadeath, turn-based, hacking and slashing, random environments, ASCII, being named Rogue, and so on – then the handy AND VERY SERIOUS tool will spit out your game’s Rogue rating. Then take that finding and correct your marketing materials, you scamps.
You might think that Porter’s deadly serious definitions jump from Roguelikelike to Roguelikelikelike too quickly, but do note that it’s Roguelikelikelike – not roguelikelikelike. That capital R warrants an extra ‘like’.
‘Roguelike’ is such a funny term. It had a very specific meaning once, directly referencing the game Rogue. Now the baseline of lower-case-r ‘roguelike’ is perhaps games which have procedurally-generated levels and minimal exposition, but the term will also sometimes imply any combination of permadeath, dungeon crawling, persistent unlocks, high difficulty, and… you know, I’m not even sure.
It’s a word so very bendy and too confusing to throw around without explanation. I like using ‘roguelikelike’ because it recognises both the historical roots and modern usage yet is so patently silly. And I do try to remember to explain quite what that means, and which roguelikelike characteristics any particular game possesses.
‘Roguelite’ can do one, mind. It’s not 1997, grandpa.
P.S. ‘video games’ is absolutely two words.