Monday, October 3, 2016

Bringing Roguelikes Into The Future: Improv FMV?

Wayfarer, a 3/4 perspective 3-d roguelike in development
The rouguelike genre gets its name from the game Rogue, a computer game released in 1980. What set it apart from dozens of swords and sorcery games for computers at the time was the way it guaranteed that no two players would play the same game the same way twice. It used a technique called procedural generation to randomize each dungeon level. This core element of Rogue has influenced games for decades since, from Nethack to Dwarf Fortress and even platform adventures like Spelunky and top-down adventure games like Don't Starve. Often, fans of roguelike games become developers themselves.

The largest celebration and gathering celebrating the roguelike happened just last month, and I found a great write-up from speaker and attendee Josh Ge. In it, he also talks about his experience participating in what very well could be the future of the roguelike-- a game experience called "Bad News".

In an overview of the history of the roguelike, Gamasutra writer J. Bridgman talks about how one game will be blending procedural generation, improvisation action, FMV and the American Old West with Bad News, and it sounds really interesting:
“Bad News is set in a small American town in 1979 that has undergone a century of procedural world generation in the vein of Dwarf Fortress, complete with hundreds of residents who have formed subjective (and potentially false) opinions of the others in the town,” adds Ryan. “The player takes the role of a mortician’s assistant after the discovery of an unidentified body. Set with the task of finding the next of kin to inform them of the death, “the player explores the town and converses with its residents to discover the identities of both the deceased and next of kin, as well as the current location of the latter. Whenever the player encounters a town resident, an improvisational actor performs the non-player character live, adhering to the character’s generated personality, life history, and knowledge. This actor is Ben Samuel, whose earlier professional work includes Hulu’s original series Battleground.”
What do you think, readers? Is this sort of thing part of the roguelike's journey into the future, or is this a digression down a dead-end path?

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