One of the reference points I’ve revisited throughout development:
“Can I use this system for a solitaire game?”
It prompts me to ask the following question, “what do I want from a Roguelike?” I like Roguelike games, but I find many of them hard to play — whether it’s the lack of user interface, nonsensical dungeon generation, or what… I mean, somewhere between Borderlands 2 and Skyrim are the closest I’ve gotten in some time.
When I say “between,” I mean… playing one game like the other.
I don’t really know how to explain it. I developed this sort of “gaming persona” that I use to play different games. If I’m playing an NES-era game, I’m a lot more forgiving of design flaws… of a certain type. For example, Dragon Warrior was a joy to play despite the grind. I find grind intolerable in modern games.
There’s an aesthetic appeal that’s missing, and most games just can’t find it — I really don’t think it’s found in RPGs per se, but RPGs are about as close as games have come thus far — but I think we’re talking “genre busters.”
It’s a kind of dynamic puzzle, where you may find that the solution changes the farther you get into it — sometimes it’s straightforward and you get it in one go, but sometimes you find a twist, and you must withdraw and reevaluate.
It’s kind of like the cantina in the LEGO Star Wars games, which populated with mini-figures as you completed levels. You could grab up one of them if you saw them wandering around, and play as Admiral Akbar for a lark.
The world changes in response to your play.
Here’s a rule/dynamic I’ve introduced into my play-by-post 3e game:
– PCs may be built of any race or class from the basic 3e books — not exclusively the “core” PHB, DMG, and MM, but the Complete series, Environment books, Races of… and Heroes of… series, and so on, and so forth.
– You can hire mercenaries while you’re in town. Mercenaries are always 1st level, and they’re initially of the PHB races (human, halfling, half-elf, half-orc, dwarf, elf, and gnome) and NPC classes (adept, commoner, expert, and warrior).
– As the PCs make contact with various affiliations and organizations in the world (or establish their own), they can then call upon those groups to provide trained hirelings (or NPCs of other races) of the appropriate, corresponding types.
Let’s say you were playing a solo character in a Roguelike where this sort of dynamic were in place — sure, you could die and be forced to begin anew, but those connections you’d made with the world would remain in your character’s absence. You’d be missing their reputation, but their work would remain.