Journal Entries of a Developer Crafting His First Roguelike Game

Terror Spheres, Earth Spheres, Quantum Spheres and Mind Traveling— My Roguelike is going to be Sci-Fi AF.

Way, way on the furthest back burner I have, I’ve kept just enough amount of hope that one day I’d be able to either develop my own video game or play a significant role in a games development team.

Certain events have conspired against all odds and I find myself in just that position. It all started with a Roguelike Game called Cogmind and an extinction threatening event called Covid 19.

Cogmind has you play as an entity who collects robot parts in order to remain alive by building himself. You continuously look for better, stronger and stranger equipment and tools as you traverse through underground caves and facilities desperately trying to find the next elevator.

The whole thing seems like a chapter out of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. You wake up and know nothing while you stumble through insanity trying to put yourself back together. I still don’t know what that game is really about. But the more I found out, the stranger it got and the closer I got to a genre I had been ignoring for years.

I would play Cogmind for 3 or 4 hours. Sometimes 6 or 7 hours straight. I’d have a nice supply of all the equipment and upgrades I wanted. And then I would die. And when you die in a Roguelike game, you lose everything and you have to start literally from scratch every single time. But I realized my in-game character wasn’t the one retaining leveled up abilities. I was.

I was learning things bit by bit every time I played. So many different ways to go about doing things. Sure, the first couple times I died, it was pretty rough and I was pretty pissed.

But once I accepted that death was part of playing the game, I would make plans for the next time I died. I saw gaming in a way I had never seen it before. And I was shocked that it had taken me this long to find my favorite genre of Gaming.

I started playing through the classics, the remakes, the variants, the updates and alternates. I played Hybrids and Rogue-lites and Roguevanias. 100’s of these are made all the time. Mostly by amateurs but a lot by some serious developers too.

They have a challenge every year called 7DRL. A challenge where developers create a completely new Roguelike game in 7 days. Some of those entries went on to become major games that lasted for years. I found a RAR package called “The Ultimate Roguelike Collection” only going back a few years and it had well over a thousand Roguelike games.

I joined one of the major Roguelike Discords and I went to post my praise for Cogmind. The actual developer responded right away and gave thanks for my praise. It turns out he also runs the sub reddits for r/Roguelike and r/RoguelikeDev

He also made a video about making your own Roguelike games. Not a tutorial. More like a road map of what to expect throughout your journey.

He went on to mention that they had great Tutorials linked in r/roguelikedev so I jumped immediately into one of the Python3 ones. The Tutorial was thorough, advanced and genuine. These guys really want other developers making Roguelikes.

Since then, I’ve gone through a few other Roguelike Tutorials — Kotlin, JavaScript, Java and the most recent one I’ve been learning uses Rust which is pretty fantastic. I’ve always wanted to learn Rust anyways so I’m pretty sure this will be the language I use for my Roguelike game.

I’m already about 2 or 3 days in but I figured I would start a Developers Diary throughout this process. Before I end this first entry I’ll give a quick synopsis of all things Roguelike and I’ll end with a sneak peak at my ideas for my game.

Roguelikes:

  1. Perma-death — When you die, you don’t get to keep anything other than what you yourself learned. And you will die a lot because they are the most difficult games out of any game genre.
  2. Options — Because a lot of the game is starting over there is usually a lot of different classes, equipment, character types, etc. to choose from. This gives them extremely high re-play-ability. Some games are so complex that you could literally never play it the same way twice. Pretty amazing.
  3. Real Time Turn Based Combat & Exploration — In a Roguelike you can take as much time as you want to make up your mind about what your about to do next. Could be healing yourself, jumping on a ledge, shooting someone, picking something up. The entire world is forever frozen waiting for your decision. After one of your “acts” has been completed it is the rest of the game worlds turn to “act”.
  4. Confusion — Not a lot of information is given to you at first. Only basic controls, maybe a small bit of exposition. Modern Roguelikes might include a manual but a lot of times, the manual is so complex and in depth that it’ll confuse you even more to try and understand it.
  5. One Goal- You’ll usually have one insanely difficult main goal to win the game. Find the orb of Zion 1000 miles inside the earth and return it to the dragon king!! (There’s a lot of D&D involved sometimes) There’s no instructions on how it can be done and most everything else that happens is created by your own choices.

In the far reaches of earth’s timeline, Mankind attempts a scientific feat that promises a new age of wonder and creation. This erroneous act becomes known as The Great Mistake. The aftermath leaves space a toxic void of unimaginable creatures mutating into chaos as fast as they multiply into armies. And the Blood Oceans on Earth so closely resemble our imagined images of Hell that it would be comical if it wasn’t so terrifyingly unsettling.

That is the opening paragraph for a short story I wrote which is what my game will be based on. Although instead of being part of Humanity. You will control the terrible army of monsters that are falling from space. Here to kill humans in an attempt at complete Genocide of Mankind.

The creature known as TerrorSphere pulls ideas for what his monsters look like from the thoughts of humans so every time you die and come back you play as familiar different known monsters — Vampires, Zombies, Werewolfs — Humans will know what your weaknesses are but you’ll be able to evolve a in order to avoid Lore Damage. You can also level up to become stronger in many different ways.

I’ve already got a cool way of manipulating the turn based system so it can pull from your speed stat.

The ultimate goal in the game is to find the last remaining Human City still standing strong — rumored to be called Tan Solace — while killing out any humans that show up along the way. Total annihilation.

I write about my journey with code, my passion for music and my experience with software. I’m actively seeking a software development roll that is 100% remote.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store