Building a better roguelike

Recently I’ve been playing a whole slew of games.
One of them, which kinda intrigued me was Fallout online (no, not fallout 76, fallout online, built by fans).

More specifically fallout online 2.

On the surface it is your typical fallout 1-2. But, as soon as you dive into it you discover there is a whole set of changes which made into it.

You can mine and process materials, harvest trash for random crafting elements, break down looted guns with a chance to recover elements out of them. Elements used in new fix-boy system to craft new guns, ammo, armor and a lot of other stuff (tho most of it requires traveling to cities with working benches).

There are new caravan routes, locations from fallout 1 and 2 present, some of them are dungeons, some of them are not.

There is also a crappy real-time mode which is worse than in fallout tactics.

But most important thing and why I am writing this article is how game deals with player death. You see – you have a camp. Or rather – you get camping materials and you build a tent.

In said tent you store your stuff. When you venture our and eventually die – you loose everything which was on you. But – you retain your level and stats, “cloned” back into the world at one of the respawn camps, and travel back to your tent to rearm and venture back into the fray.

This mechanic alone completely turns old fallout model on its head because, and i cannot stress importance of it enough – fallout now is a roguelike. All the elements are there.

And most important part – it has a built in progression system which feels natural and flows within the game, so every death doesn’t cost you your whole progress but rather a part of it.

That realization kinda made me question how we build modern roguelikes, and artificial progression systems, which albeit do help, don’t usually hook player deep enough.

Save/load might work, but working towards a goal despite setbacks even as grim as death feels like better way of engaging player.

Tho it didn’t occur to me that it was a roguelike immediately, but rather when I played some caves of qud, and had to savescum to avoid busywork of starting over and over dozens of times (which i did at first but then decided against it).

I think that knowledge, in essence, would help me (and you hopefully) to build better roguelikes. Speaking of which – stay tuned.